Motorcycle Clubs and riding groups are becoming more and more popular in India. One essential part of riding in a large group is communicating with fellow riders. Although there are Bluetooth headset devices which can be used to actually talk to other riders, they are rarely used. What we do use to communicate while on two wheels are hand signals. In this story we will take a look at the most popular and important hand signals and what they mean.

To understand hand signals one must also understand the order in which large groups ride and what positions different riders hold. There is always a “Lead”: The Lead as the name suggests is the person who leads the group and rides in the very front of the group. The Lead is the rider who will initiate most hand signals which then get passed on. Also read: How to ride safe: Tips for safe motorcycle riding

Each riding group will ideally have a “Free Runner”: This is a rider who is responsible for ensuring that everyone rides in order and constantly keeps riders in check. Lastly all riding groups will have a “Sweep” or a “Tail-gunner”: This is usually a rider as experienced as the lead and is always the last person in the group. The Sweep ensures nobody is left behind and is required to stop whenever any rider in the group halts for whatever reasons.

Now let’s take a look at some popular hand signals:

Start Your Engines

start your engines

There are other signs for this as well, but raising the left hand in the air and moving it in a circular motion is the most popular sign.

Ride In A Single file

single file

The lead extends his left hand above his helmet and raises one finger, to indicate that the group must ride in one single file. This is done when the road is narrow or there is dense traffic ahead.

Ride In Two Files

two files

The lead extends his left hand above his helmet and raises two finger, to indicate that the group must ride in double files. This is done on wide roads.

Speed Up

speed up

The lead extends his left hand sideways and moves it up and down with his palm facing the sky. This indicates that the group should increase their speed.

Slow Down

slow down

The lead extends his left hand sideways and moves it up and down with his palm facing the ground. This indicates that the group should decrease their speed.

Come to a Halt

come to a halt

The Lead extends his left hand upwards with a clenched fist. This indicates that the group must comes to a full halt. Some riders also use their left hand to indicate a full halt by holding their flat palm facing back downwards.

Obstacle on the left

obstacle left

If your left hand is free then point towards the obstacle with your hand, if not then the left foot is used to indicate the obstacle.
obstacle left leg

Obstacle on the right

obstacle right correct

The right foot is used to indicate an obstacle to the right. If your right hand is free then point towards the obstacle with your hand but it is generally avoided as one ends up letting go of the front brake and throttle which may be unsafe.

Stop For Fuel

fuel stop

If you run out of fuel and need to make a fuel stop soon, take your left elbow out and point towards the tank with one finger.

Stop for food

food stop

The lead will indicate/ ask if the group should stop for food by taking his left elbow out and point towards the stomach. In India we often just clutch our finger and point them towards the mouth to signal the same thing, but for this riders have to be side by side.

Turn headlamps On/Off

headlights on off

The lead will raise his left hand over his helmet and slap the top of the helmet, also indicating to light up, to ask you to turn on or turn off your headlamp. It is also a signal telling you to check your head lamps and switch to low-beam.

There are a lot of other hand signals that are used my riders across the world and people use their own version in different group. What we’ve listed above are the basic hand signals which are required for safe group riding. Also read: How to corner safely on a motorbike

Have you ridden in a group? Do you want to discuss hand signals that you may know or have faced trouble with? Share your views in the comments section below.