Lunchtime Debate: To nod or not to nod

Is motorcycle camaraderie coming to an end? Do you still nod? Discuss the merits of nodding to your fellow biker below

Posted: 7 December 2010
by Visordown

"...I try and nod at most types, especially those who ignore me. It's great fun to nod at a young lad on a scooter, watch him ignore you then do a u-turn chasing him down the street waving, flashing lights, beeping the horn to get his attention. It is the only way to teach them the biker nod..."

"...being on a big trailie, I mainly get confused stares back when I nod. BMWs and tourers nod to me, cruisers don't nod to anyone, they're miserable gits and folks on sportsbikes don't seem to even acknowledge it. Apart from Ducatis, who give you a great big, friendly salute, which is nice..."

"...I took a young girl pillion to a pub for lunch, and she asked me about my nervous twitch. She was sitting so close to me that she couldn't see oncoming bikers and thought I was suffering a case of tourette shuffles. I didn't really care because she'd just spent an hour mistakenly holding on to my crotch instead of the tank..."

"...I don't nod. They're not my friends, I don't know them, and all I have in common with them is we both happen to be on a motorbike. For the avoidance of doubt I don't nod at pedestrians when I'm walking or car drivers when I'm driving either..."

"...I make sure I nod to the yoofs on scoots, as when I was a yoof on a scoot it made my day to have a 'real' biker acknowledge me..."

"...I nod to everyone except spotty yoofs on scooters that wear chavport jumpers and trackies..."

"...Harleys, BMWs and scooters are on my miss list. I don't think in all my biking days I've ever had a nod returned by a Harley. BMWs always seem aloof and the only times they have ever nodded to me was when I had one, so don't bother..."

"...Nodding is so common. I prefer to stop, dismount and bow when I see another motorcyclist, doffing my helmet to him in the style of a Regency dandy. They've usually fecked off into the distance by the time I'm done, so I've no idea if they acknowledge me in return..."

"...Bloody complex this nodding thing, they should put it in the new bike test..."

"...some nods look pretty cool and others look really crap. I can't tell what mine looks like but every now and again I try different versions of a nod to see what feels best. However, if a group of three or more riders come round the corner when I'm freestyle nodding then I get confused and shake like a loony..."

"...I always nod at police bikes, that way they are looking at my head and won't notice all the illegal things on my bike..."

"...on my old R1 everyone nodded back at me, now I have a DR-Z400SM no fucker does. Well bollocks to the lot of you, ya miserable non nodding twats..."

" favourites are instructors with pupils who will always return the gesture, but the instructed tend to look baffled and start to wobble even more than they were already doing due to sensory overload..."

"...when I think about it, my nod is actually more of a twitch..."

"...It took me six months to learn to U-turn, but two years to get my nod right. I try not to waste it on chavs..."

"...When I ride pillion on my dad's bike we get nods, but when I'm out on my scooter I don't get any recognition. Not really heartbreaking, but still a bit strange to think that being ferried about, doing knob all, deserves a nod whereas battling against the elements on an underpowered piece of shite doesn't deserve a nod at all..."

"...I tend not to nod as most motorcyclists are arseholes..."
The Turd

 "...who gives a shit? The riders you've nodded to are seriously unlikely to ever encounter you again and if you haven't nodded they'll be half a mile away before either of you realise you've both broken the sanctity of the biker greeting..."

"'s an excellent form of camaraderie. You get the sensation of being part of the gang and transmitting that feeling of sheer joy that says 'hey, I'm riding a motorbike! And so are you! How cool is that?' Best of all it only takes a moment, unlike sitting in pubs and cafes having to eat foul burgers and listen to people drone on about their bike..."
Banana Boy

Yes, we like nodding: 11
No, we think it's cock: 9
It's official: the Biker Nod is in!

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Discuss this story

When I was first on my 125 learner bike I used to get the occasional nod and, sometimes, this odd sideways style nod which seems to be in favour in recent years. For the longest time I thought they were trying to tell me about a problem on the bike and, a couple of times, I actually pulled into the next lay-by and had a good look around for bits hanging off or not working.

On the question of nodding generally, I'll nod at pretty much anything on two wheels (even the occasional confused looking cyclist Most scooters, Harleys and Big tourers don't nod back, but it hasn't put me off because I get a nice little lift in my spirits when a nod is returned. From time to time a salute/black power raised fist or something else equally OTT will make me laugh out loud and totally makes my day.  

Posted: 07/12/2010 at 15:05

In the US, we usually point two fingers down or out to the side, rather than the nod. Most everyone seems to return it, except the occasional Harley dude.

Posted: 07/12/2010 at 16:05

Hardley Doodlespoon riders don't nod, because they are under some miss guided thought process that owning a 1340cc water pump that does 80mph flat out makes them better than everyone else. When, infact, they look like dicks. Ducati riders NEVER nod, because they again think they are above everyone else, big posh miserable sods. Pretty much everyone else I ever nod at nods back. It's just a nice comradely thing to do imo.

Posted: 07/12/2010 at 16:18

I've been told more than once that it unnerves car drivers, who think we're all in the same murderous gang. So, I always do the drop-hand salute (the US version of the nod); and it's usually returned.

But since it's considered a crime against the fraternity to acknowledge scooters, I skip them -- even the Pacific Coasts and Burgmans (Burgmen?).

Posted: 07/12/2010 at 16:28

Yep I nod, its the unspoken word amongst bikers if you want to ignore me well , just remember you may need help from a fellow biker one day and I'm sure we have all been in a situation where help was greatly recieved at one time.

Posted: 07/12/2010 at 18:14

here in Hungary we do the two fingers to the side salute. everyone returns it, even those dudes on choppers/cruisers. not scooterists though, as they don't even get this "wave", someone who rides a scooter is by definition NOT a biker and so not part of the gang.

Posted: 08/12/2010 at 08:26

Always nod too other bikers when possible, in the mad sprawl of South West London where most of my riding takes place and further into town, nodding at everyone would have your neck in spasms if you're not careful. Though if I'm out of town then without fail everyone even scooters get a nod, even the odd cyclist. Many a time I've seen someone miles away from anywhere on a piddly scooter and nodded out of sympathy for the madness they're undertaking. I've had the same done for me when I was on a scooter and I remember it being a real spirit lifter getting a nod from a big bike when you're struggling too even make it up a hill on your piddly 50cc. Those who don't nod back, well, I'm not too bothered if they don't, aslong as some nod back, then I'll keep nodding. As for large amounts of bikes I tend too nod too the first and last bike and those in the middle don't get a look in unless they couldn't see the first nod, and I won't look like too much of a prat nodding 3 times in a row.

Posted: 08/12/2010 at 08:39

I've always raised my hand. to all bikers regardless of engine size or mftr. I been on a puch maxi and was happy to get the nod. pulled up behind a harley once on an old stripped down melody step thru with holey exhausts; noise made him turn but he still gave me a thumbs up. So many years later, I ensure all bikers are shown respect. A couple of nods in town, a wavey leg on the fast, a raised hand on the A roads and a full blown salute to Gramps on his AJS or Ariel. Guys be careful on that ice out there.

Posted: 08/12/2010 at 09:18

Nodding, who cares, what pisses me off is when fellow bikers dont alert you about upcoming cops, I mean what sort of arse are you not to do that?

Posted: 08/12/2010 at 10:29

A nod, a wave, a leg off, I don't mind. I like to nod and receive a nod form anyone on two wheels with an engine. We should remember that a lot of scooter riders are yet to become bikers, so lets all be friendly to the newbies. I sometimes get nods back all day and then the next day I go out I nod all day and never get a one back.. Maybe my Fireblade has a cloaking device I don't know about cos sometimes drivers don't see me either!! Hmm...

Posted: 08/12/2010 at 13:19


I usually nod at all 2 wheelers, even scooter jocks 'cos the ones round my way think all their birthdays have come at once if a 'real' biker acknowledges them

The only ones I generally don't get an acknowledgement from are cruisers for some reason - some snobby elitist thing????

Posted: 08/12/2010 at 15:10

Cruisers are either snobs or have an inferiority complex  

to me all bikers are a knight on the road like me (damsel in my case)

Posted: 08/12/2010 at 18:43

countries driving on the left (UK) , bikers tend to nod. 

those riding on the right (most of the rest of Europe), bikers tend to wave.

Posted: 09/12/2010 at 19:43


Remember, like me, a lot of scooter riders are also bike riders, just on a commute...But Cruiser riders... Nah!

Posted: 10/12/2010 at 14:13

I give the nod

But can't always tell if it's returned when it's dark and lashing with rain, maybe they're too fogged up to notice? or just don't expect to see an R6 on the road in the depths of winter?

Posted: 17/12/2010 at 12:13


In August 1976 when riding my FS1E for the first time, I was nodded at by a guy on a Kettle, since that day I have always given a nod and the thumb down for any hidden surprises, some return the gesture & some dont.

Posted: 19/12/2010 at 18:52


Nod if you want, don't if you can't be a*sed. Simples.

 I always nod/wave at noobies, 'cause it meant so much to me as a youth to get recognition from 'real' bikers. Other times, if I see a bike or scoot and it's safe to do it, sure, I'll wave or nod, why not? Once a scooter rider actually waved back!

I say 'hi' to anyone I meet out hillwalking, it's the same sort of thing, just a friendly greeting, an acknowledgement of shared enjoyment in the face of mild adversity. It makes me smile and adds to the feeling of contentment  that I get riding a bike. 

Posted: 20/12/2010 at 12:41

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