16 Motorcycle Hand Signals You Should Know About

In 1938, the modern flashing turn signal was patented. Shortly after which most major automobile manufacturers offered this feature. Nowadays, most countries require turn signals on all new vehicles that are driven on public roadways.

Many a time, however, just depending on the lights of your motorcycle alone might not cut it. It may be raining too hard for the lights to be visible to the person behind you. Or for some unfortunate (hopefully not) reason, the lights on your bike stopped working (replace them as soon as the chance if this is the case). 

Person with hands out on a motorcycle
Photo by divaap on Unsplash

But regardless of most instances, hand signals just happen to be much more visible than turn signals. Even if you’re not faced with the problems listed above, learning what each hand signal means is good practice for a motorcycle rider.

16 Motorcycle Hand Signals

Left Turn Hand Signal

This signal is to let the person behind you know that you’re about to make a left turn.

  • Extend your left arm straight 
  • Incline it to your body at an angle of 90 degrees
  • Keep your arm faced toward the ground

Right Turn Hand Signal

This signal is to let the person behind you know that you’re about to make a right turn.

Since most of you are right-handed, we highly recommend signaling with the left hand unless you’re ambidextrous. Controlling the throttle with your weak hand is a recipe for disaster.

  • Extend your left arm 
  • Bend it at the elbow 
  • Point your hand upwards

Stop Hand Signal

This is to let the person behind you know that you plan on pulling over.

  • Bend your left arm down at the elbow, while keeping the rest straight
  • Keep your palm faced back

To Let The Person Behind You Speed Up

If you’re unfamiliar with the area you’re in and know that you’re about to arrive at your intended destination, you’re probably going to be slowing down.

In such situations, giving the person behind you the signal to speed up/ overtake you is good manners.

To do so:

  • Extend your arm straight out
  • Keep your palm facing up 
  • Repeatedly swing your arm upwards

To Tell The Person Behind You To Slow Down

There are going to be times where you’re in a situation similar to the one described above and see something like a traffic jam, roadblock, or accident ahead while you drive on a narrow road without ample space for overtaking.

In such situations, letting the person behind know they should slow down is paramount.

To do so:

  • Extended your arm straight out
  • Keep your palm facing down
  • Swing your arm down towards your side

Follow Me Signal

This signal has more to do with common sense and less out of necessity. However, a simple gesture such as a regular swing towards your body may throw the person tailing you (or worse, other folks on the road) off by confusing them.

Which is why you should:

  • Extend your arm straight up
  • Keep your palm faced forward

Lead Me Signal

If you want to switch places with the person behind you, do the following:

  • Extend your arm upwards at a degree of 45° to your body
  • Keep your palm faced forward with a pointed index finger
  • Swing your hand in an arc from back to front

To Let The Person Behind Know About A Hazard In The Roadway

This one is pretty simple.

If the hazard is on the left, point at it with your left hand.

If the hazard is on the right, point at it with your right foot.

To Notify Your Group To Form In Single File

If you’re riding your motorcycle in a group and are approaching a narrow roadway, you need to signal the other drivers in your group ahead of time to enter into a single file line by: 

  • Raising your arm into the air 
  • Holding up your index finger

To Notify Your Group To Form In Double File

If you’re in the same situation described above but riding down a slightly wider roadway where you have ample space for your group to assemble in double file:

  • Raise your arm into the air 
  • Hold your hand up with both index and middle fingers in a “V” shape

We recommend double file over single file if you have enough space as it is more orderly than a staggered formation on a highway.

To Make A Comfort Stop

  • Extend your forearm
  • Clench your fist
  • Shake it up and down 

To Make A Refreshment Stop

If you’re feeling hungry and/or tired and want to pull over for a quick pick-me-up:

  • Place your thumb to your mouth
  • Keep your fingers closed in a drinking gesture

Again, common sense.

Turn Signal On

To let the person behind you know that you just switched the turn signal on, do the following.

  • Extend your arm
  • Open and close your hands with your thumb and fingers out

When You’re About To Pull Over

You need to do this ahead of time when you intend to park your motorcycle and not all of a sudden, so the person behind you has enough time to react appropriately.

  • Position your arm as if you’re about to take a right turn
  • Swing your forearm towards your shoulder

To Notify The Person Behind That Cops Are Ahead

To let the people driving behind you know that policeman are ahead, do the following:

  • Tap the top of your helmet with the palm faced down
  • Keep doing so for an appropriate amount of time

When Pulling Over For Fuel

When alerting the people behind that your fuel is low and that you’re about to pull over for gas, do the following:

  • Keep your arm at the side
  • Point towards the tank with the finger extended

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *