The Biker’s Nod by Ric McNally

Welcome to Thoughts from the Road. Here’s Ric McNally on the biker’s nod…   

The Bikers Nod
Picture of By Ric McNally

By Ric McNally

Motorcycle tourer and traveller

Ric is an all season, all weather rider with 13 years experience riding throughout Britain and Europe. He’s an avid motorcycle tourer and regularly camps on his bike tours. He’s always up for a few miles, a tour and a coffee with those as equally passionate about the ride. 

You can follow Ric’s adventures here: 

And check out Ric’s ride report on Mad or Nomad: The Ultimate British Isles Motorcycle Tour

The Biker's Nod: The Mark of a Human

Last summer, on my 5,000-mile epic around Britain and Ireland, I saw in real time the culture shift between locations as to how bikers acknowledge each other. Nods in their various forms are the most common, but depending on location you’ll get differences in frequency and style, from waves to foot wags. Then there’s those that simply don’t respond, and that hurts, am I not a biker too?

I thought about this ritual for many miles, until arriving at an Adventure Bike Gathering in Machynlleth, Wales. Motorcycle journalist and all-round nice guy, Chris Moss, sat in a cosy shed where he led an open forum on motorcycle culture through the decades.

It turns out (popular opinion by people in their late 50s) is that the younger generations simply don’t deserve acknowledgement because of their digital presence. The way we may consult YouTube tutorials and other sources to resolve a problem rather than wait for a fellow biker to stop and offer us assistance is somehow offensive.

Couple that with the proverbial phallus waving of “mine’s bigger than yours” and “that’s not a proper bike” and what you’re left with is a less than welcoming environment where one would want to look towards the digital medium for help rather than risk an ear bashing.

Britain’s bikers are a healthy mix of all sorts, and are usually just happy to talk about their bike. But the sour taste of being told you’re doing it wrong because you’re doing it different doesn’t sit right in my mind.

The solution? Force kindness from others!

I’ve come to ditch the nod in favour of maniacally waving at anything on two-wheels. I get a good response nine times out of ten, and when you’ve got your mates in your ear, even if the other riders don’t respond, you’re still laughing.

Best case scenario, they’ll wave back so excitedly that they’ll pull up and talk to you as an instant friend. After all, isn’t that what our community is meant to be about?

Ric McNally

What do you think? Do you nod at motorcyclists and what response do you get?

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7 thoughts on “The Biker’s Nod by Ric McNally”

  1. I hope that’s what it’s, at least in part, about – the sense of community. One which, regardless of your age or what you’re riding, brings us together.

    As someone who’s new to riding (in fact I’m starting my lessons next week), a friendly wave makes all the difference in a new world of unknowns.

    Thanks for the post, Ric!

    • I’ll always advocate another person to the cause, regardless of the cc! You’re first nod as a new rider feels great, get out there and nod! Nod to us all! 😀

  2. Force kindness from others! Excellent advice right there. We all need to be a little kinder to one another. Couldn’t agere more.

    • Maniacally waving to people doesn’t always give you the chance to see the results, I’m often told by friends riding behind me that they’re laughin as I go past. However, if my sole contribution to their lives is a mild chuckle on the road.. that’s enough for me 🙂

  3. As a rider of some 50 odd years I’ve found over the years that the nod used to be normal and a bit odd if you didn’t get one. Nowadays the response is mostly either perfunctory or absent. I don’t understand. We have a shared passion so shouldn’t it be celebrated? And it costs nothing to move your head an inch to say hi. Keep on waving Ric. We need more bikers like you flying the flag for the love of riding.

    • Nicely said, Alan!
      It’s funny, I was just thinking about nodding when I saw your comment pop up. We’re in Canada at the moment and there’s no nod here, it’s a biker wave – but kind of like a low down peace sign with your left hand. I think the lower you fly your hand the cooler it’s supposed to be haha! Compared to Japan where it’s a full on animated wave (which is a lot more fun) and some countries where you put a leg out… I’m grateful for the British nod 🙂


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