The Wild Wave
July 18th, 2013

Broadly speaking, all motorcyclists are family in that we all face a common enemy; i.e., little old ladies behind the wheels of Buicks who are intent on running us over at intersections. That said, we are also tribal, if not Balkanized.

On the highway, we greet one another by a wave, and by a wave I don’t mean the Royal wave and I certainly wouldn’t recommend the middle finger wave. It’s more like the Papal wave—left arm outstretched at the eight-o’clock position, index and middle fingers extended. But you don’t confer blessings on just everybody—only upon those you deem worthy.

For instance, I don’t wave at teenagers on bullet bikes. What’s the point of initiating something that will never develop into a long-term relationship, given the short life expectancy of adolescents who ride crotch rockets?

Normally, I don’t wave at Harley Davidsons. Why? Because I ride a BMW, which, as everyone knows, is the anti-Harley. Our modes of dress, our hairstyles, our table manners, our political orientations. our body mass indexes,  are all diametrically opposed. Unlike myself, Harley riders are pack animals. You almost never encounter a solitary Harley rider on the road; however, on those rare occasions when I do, I always wave. Why? Because I’m guessing he and I might have something in common after all.

Harley riders, except those who ride alone, never wave at Beemer riders and they absolutely never wave at Japanese bikes. Why? Because Harley riders are (as a general rule) xenophobes. They disdain all things not made in the U.S.A., no matter that bikes not made in the U.S.A. go faster and farther and don’t leave behind a trail of oil.

I usually wave at Japanese bikes; however, I’m reluctant to wave at Honda Gold Wings. Why? Because Gold Wingers (also known as Lead Wingers) are notoriously clannish. Once I went camping with some Gold Wingers and it didn’t go well. Their idea of roughing it means taking everything you own with you, and of course they can do it because their bikes are huge and are usually pulling a trailer. However, should I ever encounter a Gold Winger who isn’t towing a trailer, a wife, all his worldly belongings and a stupid teddy bear, then I shall give him a wave.

Of course, not all motorcyclists are male. Some are female, and I always wave at women matter the make of the motorcycle—or scooter, for that matter. They never wave back.

-Richard Menzies