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What Happened To The Family?: MD Reader Responses

On November 16, 2002, I concluded my article by saying: “It’s the spirit of motorcycling, and all the challenges and rewards that go along with it that puts us all in the same boat/category. In general, we all ride for the same reasons, and derive the same enjoyment from being aboard our steed of choice, so why can’t the Harley rider/Goldwing rider wave to the sport bike rider, and vice versa?” Based on the responses MD received, the majority of readers feel the same way . . .

  • I read your editorial “What Happened To The Family?”,
    and I completely agree. I ride a 600cc sport bike and I wave to anyone, no matter what they’re riding. With
    some rare exceptions, the sport bikers always wave. Of the cruiser type, only about 25% wave back.
    It ticks me off and gives me a very low opinion of them, expecially when I think half of them are serious
    poseurs. “Hey, look at me in my Harley jacket, smoking my Harley cigarettes, on my brand new $25,000
    Harley!” A friend of mine who is currently researching cruisers said the in-town Harley dealer is more
    interested in selling apparel than bikes. Go figure… Anyway, I feel your pain in Kentucky.

  • Amen!
    I always wave to any oncoming riders unless either : I am shifting and need my clutch hand; I am turning, I just didn’t see you or possibly I’m doing something I should not be and have to hang on for life.
    It doesn’t matter what you’re riding as long as you’re riding. Now, Shut up and RIDE! :-)

  • Excellent article. Sadly I have noticed the same behavior here in the Seattle area. I guess I expected Harley riders to do this but when
    Wingers and BMW guys ignore my wave its a downer. But I keep waving. I really enjoy your site. Keep up the great work.

  • I am an American who rode in the USA for 35 years, and I waved at everybody. I know exactly what you are talking about. It is a negative and uniquely American phenomenon.
    I now live in Europe, and I ride a sport bike. Come to Europe – the attitude among riders is much
    different. Even the Harley riders (with the exception of the outlaw gangs, of course), and the BMW riders
    are part of the two-wheeled fraternity. Everybody waves, and everybody talks to each other when stopped.
    We even party together – it is common for clubs to invite other clubs to Oktoberfest parties, Christmas
    parties, etc. Sooooo refreshing. You would love it.

  • Our rule of thumb around here is to wave to everyone wearing a helmet.

  • I have run into the same problem here in Phoenix. I know that the time that I see a motorcycle, my hand will be raised. Though, sometimes putting that hand up will make me fell as if I am waving to the palm tree approaching opposite of me. Being in Monterey for the Superbike races or Daytona will remind everyone why we need to stick together. Let us just hope that the spirit of riding found there can overcome the segment-only recognition.
    Thank you for another good article.

  • You are absolutely right about the segregation of the motorcycle community. I’m “only” 37, but I’ve been on bikes for 30 years. I remember when everybody on bikes waved to everybody else on bikes regardless of style or brand. The specialization of motorcycle design (cruiser/sportbike/naked/touring) has created classes of riders who don’t see themselves as members of a greater community of motorcycling. I don’t know why people would want to pigeon hole themselves and only associate with one part of the motorcycle community and look down on anyone who doesn’t ride a certain type of bike. A real motorcyclist will wave to any other rider and is ready to help any other rider if they breakdown or crash.

  • Exactly !!

  • Back in the 50′s and 60′s, I experienced the same thing while driving my 58 Triumph TR3A sports car. The MG’s and TR’s would wave, as would an
    occasional Austin Healey owner, but never would one in a Porsche or Benz. I still have the TR, but on those rare occasions I drive it I am now alone on the streets.

  • The mental games that you and everyone else experiences have gone on since day one. I personally see the lack of a wave coming most from the Harley crowd..but then there are quite a few of them out there. More than I see Gold Wingers or Dual-Sport bikes. Around here it’s mostly Harleys, metric cruisers and sportbikes.
    I believe in many of them it is a form of snobbery. They want to feel extra special, and must have the need, so they don’t want to lower themselves to something less than their vaulted steed. I’ve been in some forums with a number of Harley riders, they seem to be as a unit the worst, and they at least talk it up that sportbike riders all look alike and that’s like clowns. All dressed up in their pretty colored suits and “plastic” bikes. Come back when you grow up and get a real man’s bike is their mantra.
    When I have posed the question of the seeming need of most HD riders to wear black leather and chain their wallets to their pants and don those ridiculous Nazi inspired helmets the fur really starts to fly. Why would anyone want to make motorcycling into a masquerade and look like a road pirate? Seems like their choices are not to be questioned.
    I don’t know what the answer is. But I will say that some HD riders will wave along with any other riding group. But snobbery is alive and well as we all know.

  • I just read your “What Happened To The Family” article, and commend you
    for publishing your thoughts. I have enjoyed riding since the late ’60′s and have made similar observations as the miles, smiles, and years have gone
    by. You will no doubt be offered numerous excuses as answers to your question,
    while still others will attempt to discredit or challenge the “family
    tradition.” FWIW, I will continue to wave to all family members, in anticipation that
    by doing so, my reward, will become their reward. Thanks for your efforts.

  • I personally don’t see the reason for waving at other motorcyclists. When I’m driving my pick-up truck, I don’t wave at others in their pick-ups. When I travel by air, I don’t wave at the people in other planes while they taxi on the runways. Do owners of RV’s wave at other RV’s? I don’t have a need to be accepted by others, just because we may share similarities in a chosen mode of transport. To paraphrase, keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the bars.

  • I rode HD for years, when they became popular I switched to Bueel, Guzzi, Laverda and a Bevel Duc.
    I ride with 2 friends one on a Sporty, Buell and what ever mood I am in. Sandy always get the wave, sometimes Dave and rarely me.
    oh well such as life, it really burns them when the guy on the Italian is the onlyone capable of fixing anything.

  • Great little article! I have often wondered why some riders won’t wave at you when you are on a
    “differing” mount from theirs. Being both a “Sport and Adventure Touring
    type” I cover many miles on my trips. A good trip includes multiple
    states (or at least a big N – S span here in California) on great motorcycling
    roads, and gives the opportunity to pass many others on two wheels. I
    have noticed one thing – the farther that you get from a point of significant civilization – the more likely you are to get a wave.
    Being on either a faired tourer, or a big DP bike, I usually will get
    waves from the ‘Winger crowd – who tend to be among the more social. BMW riders
    have, over the years, been very social (whether my mount was
    Roundel-equipped or not) but that seems to be changing a bit. (Even when
    I am on my RT!) The “Cruiser crowd” tends to be the most bi-polar. Either
    the friendly wave/fist/peace sign – or the “I don’t see you” stare
    straight ahead of the “big bad biker”. I’d have to say that especially, this crowd
    gets more friendly as you get farther out. Regardless of the brand or
    style of bike, I think as you get out to the boonies a bit more, people get to
    be of the mindset that “here is somebody else, doing what I like to do!”
    Birds of a feather? As riders, we are all birds of a feather. While I do lust after a nice
    Ducati (hell, even a crotch-rocket 600 these days) to add to my quiver, I
    must admit that I see some very irresponsible things being done on sport
    bikes while plying the asphalt. Maybe some feel that these “squids” are
    making their insurance rates higher, and giving them a bad name… And
    maybe there is some truth to that, but they are still riders, and they are
    enjoying some “more expressive” semblance of the freedom that is one of
    the main reasons we all ride.
    It’s really not their fault that our insurance rates go up when one of
    them, in an adrenaline-induced fit of exctasy, exceeds the limits of the
    mechanical adhesion between rubber and road and tries to become one with a
    guardrail/rock/tree (name your obstacle). People can (and will continue
    to, unfortunately) do that on virtually any type or brand of motorcycle. The fault lies in all of us – bikers and non-bikers – who have assumed the “I
    am not accountable for my own actions” mentality that seems to have pervaded
    our society more and more over the years. Someone crashes, and our
    society now feels compelled to keep the vegetable alive, in fear that if they do
    not they are liable for some horrendous lawsuit. Protect us from ourselves! Why are we like this? That is the topic for a doctoral thesis or twenty.
    But one thing that I notice is that those who choose to travel in a
    two-wheeled mode, tend to accept fate and our own failings and assume the
    risks that we may while we tool (or speed) along in a state of graceful
    bliss. Leaning our way around the turns and obstacles of the world,
    instead of steering around them. That is why, regardless of the brand or style of
    the bike, you should always try to acknowledge the other single-track
    travelers you pass in this short journey we call life.
    Hopefully you’ll see me, on one of my mounts, and whether you are with or without helmet, cruising, touring, thumping, knee dragging, or just
    stopped by the side of the road with your camera. I’ll be waving too.

  • I ride a D/S bike, only on the road occasionally, and I wave to everybody.
    If they beat me to it, I wave back. I will wave first to anybody except
    hogs. For the hogs, my trick is to not wave until the last second, at
    that point, the other guy is usually caught off guard and will wave back as a
    reflex. Most sport bikers, especially the ones in multi-colored leather
    (you know who you are) are too cool to wave to anybody. Hog riders are
    just acting tough, even though they are mostly bald old men going through a
    second childhood, or trying to attract a new woman.

  • I have to agree, bikers don’t “see” each other any more, unless you are in the” type-club mentallity” that has infested motorcycling today. How sad. Just for the record I don’t street ride any more, but I still wave when the dirtbike is in the back of the truck!

  • Saw your article on “What happened to the family?” about the waving
    phenomena.
    I’ve done my own study, riding Harleys, sport tourers, and race replicas.
    It’s not the bike that they are snubbing. It’s the helmet.
    Harley guys and gals are used to seeing the face of the people they wave
    to. If you are on a sportbike, all crunched over with a full faced
    helmet, they just don’t see you.
    If you are on a sportbike, you don’t wave to the “faces”.
    It gets confusing, though, when you wear a full faced helmet on a
    Harley! ;>)

  • Hear hear!! Well said. This is a topic that is always getting posted about, on the local board. Its amazing how convulated the responses get. You have stated the only response I can see, very well.
    It IS about motorcycling.

  • Mr. Ivins needs to move here to Colorado, so he will have to make a REAL
    ride to Temecula to see the MD folks. And he will find that almost all
    the bikers wave, at least out here in the Arkansas Valley.

    More seriously, while it is true that the bikers wave, a big reason is
    because there are so few of us this time of year. It’s been almost a
    week since there was significant snowfall, and the roads are clear and
    dry. But, it’s dropping fast through freezing right now as I type
    this. So there are not many bikes out on the road, especially not sport
    bikes.

    I went for a spin today, about 80 miles total. Got back before the sun
    clouded over, minimum temp about 35F during the ride and that was at
    Monarch Pass, elevation 11,312 feet. During the ride I saw only hard
    core long distance riders – 3 or 4 BMWs, 5 or 6 big twin H-D’s, and a
    couple Gold Wings. All but the Honda riders waved. Notice, no sport
    bikes? Well that wouldn’t have been true if someone put a mirror on the
    road, I was on a Ducati. Note however that ALL waved back (well not
    counting the Winnebikeos, what’s to say?).

    I think that riding in California, there are so many motorcycles out
    there that the other motorcycle riders sort of blend in, and you only
    notice kindred souls. It also depends on the road. On Palomar
    Mountain, the riders are almost all hitting it pretty hard, and
    concentrating on the road and the potential deer hiding in the brush.
    No time to wave. On Ortega Highway, the riders are doing the above, and
    also looking hard for CHP. Even less time to wave.

    Before I retired, I lived in Rainbow, about 10 miles south of MD
    headquarters, and commuted to my job in Orange County. About 25,000
    miles by motorcycle per year. Those miles offered little opportunity
    for waving. We commuting bikers – and there were a good many of us -
    were aware of each other without much waving. Somehow, I suspect that
    if Mr. Ivin’s product evaluations involved daily round trips (during
    rush hour) between Fallbrook and Huntington Beach, he wouldn’t be
    complaining about “the brotherhood” or lack of same. And I don’t see many commuter bike evaluations on MD, either!

  • Loved the What happened to the Family? But we also need to include Vespas etc. You should see there jaws drop when I wave at them going by on my 1999 VFR sport bike. Yes I wave at everyone, and get so frustrated by the wannabe biker on whatever choice was theirs as transportation going by and not waving. I find that true motorcyclists not wannabees no matter what they are riding will wave at you.
    Keep up the good articles. Ride Safe and keep the rubber down, and don’t forget to Wave.

  • Loved the What happened to the Family? But we also need to include Vespas etc. You should see there jaws drop when I wave at them going by on my 1999 VFR sport bike. Yes I wave at everyone, and get so frustrated by the wannabe biker on whatever choice was theirs as transportation going by and not waving. I find that true motorcyclists not wannabees no matter what they are riding will wave at you.
    Keep up the good articles. Ride Safe and keep the rubber down, and don’t forget to Wave.

  • SPOT ON!! When I was growing up for years all bikers waved we were a family,but now its like ,we are all divided.I am the owner of BILLs Motorcycles Plus Husqvarna ,& participate in most typs of racing & riding ,Your right we do not have the % clowt in this world to not be a two wheeled family.Its maybe kind of like Hondas problem with the ATV issues .Maybe motorcycles are not for everyone and what we have now is alot of non motorcycleist riding motorcycles?wich means they can take it or leave it ,but for alot of us its part of us & a way of life. I hope everyone reads your article,hell AMA should send acopy to everysingle ridere,But then most people who join AMA are real bikers. Great job.

  • I’m an avid waiver myself.
    I find of the riders I come across for the most part tend to be those of the “Harley” rider types with the” BAD ASS ” attitude look on their faces that aren’t going to respond back more than any other rider out there .
    I really think that these are the guys that are truly mad at the world because they figured out that they paid way way too much money for a crappy handling , under powered bike with bad brakes , obnoxiously loud pipes and it sucks to ride for more than a 15 minute stint .
    Yes there are non waivers of all classifications but this is the majority I see .
    I truly feel of the ones who don’t waive regardless of what they ride or how much it cost are also the ones who don’t truly share the same passion for our hobby / sport / life style as we do !
    Thanks and keep up the good work at MCD.COM !!!!!

  • Well said. Whether one’s headlight is round or polygonal, it’s good to signal “Cheerio” to all.

  • I know what you mean. I have been riding for 26 years and it has been
    disheartening to see the drop off and compartmentalization of
    motorcycling. But I have decided to wave at all riders regardless of
    the type or brand of bike that hey ride. I have noticed in the last
    year or so that more and more are waving back so maybe people have
    become more aware of the tradition or less hung up on brand
    loyalties. I started waving again when my wife started riding 5
    years ago. She waved at everybody and I was surprised how many waved
    back even the cruiser types.
    So keep the faith brotha, the time they are a changin’!

  • > I’ve noticed much the same thing since I started riding again a couple
    years ago. When I started 30 years ago everyone was waving. Now it is
    definitely selective. I’ve even noticed what seems a peer pressure
    thing most evident among cruiser types. In a group it is harder to get
    a wave than with individuals if you are on a big tourer. Maybe your
    article will nudge a few folks.

  • Come out to NC some day. Everybody waves at everybody else unless they’re from out of state. You’d get waved
    at a lot, even (particularly) when cranked over in corners, but not always by riders who don’t live in NC. We NC riders
    don’t have as much prejudice regarding rides and riding styles. You’re right, riding is the object, and we should
    be one big happy family. Heck it’s OK with me if someone wants to haul around 700 lbs at 45 horsepower. ;-) ;-)

  • I enjoyed your article – how true it is. I’ve began to think its a class issue with “those” people.
    I have been passed by Iron Horseman and they wave! yet these part-time
    riders/ executive types, don’t. Contrary to what you say, I think they are afraid to let go of the bar for
    fear of a crash…. Like the site – keep up the good work

  • Don’t even mention the “Harley” riders. they are a family of their own.
    especially the yuppie baby boomer bunch!! even when you stop and eat at
    the same places they think they’re better than you.
    I guess i’m part of the problem too but its because of them. I”ve
    waved at so many Harley riders only to be snubbed i don’t bother any more with
    them. I ride a Ducati ST4 and my wife rides a SV650s, like you said it
    shouldn’t matter as small a group as we are!!

  • I read your commentary about the brotherhood of motorcyclists with interest. Mostly because I’ve never
    experienced the genre-exclusivity you have.

    Perhaps because I live in the Northwest where year-round motorcyclists are a committed bunch, we all
    wave to each other. I ride an ’86 Kawasaki Vulcan 750 and a ’75 Gold Wing, and regardless of which bike I’m
    on, I wave to everyone, and everyone waves to me. I’m sure that when my ’64 Triumph chopper is completed in
    about a years time, I’ll still get waves from every motorcyclist out there, regardless of the bike they’re
    mounted on. And I will continue to wave to all the other motorcyclists, too.

    Perhaps in California (I assume you’re in California, isn’t everyone?) where riding year ’round requires
    less dedication than if the same motorcyclist lived in a less temperate clime, the temptation to fall into
    the motorcycle clique mentality is easier.

    I’d be curious to know if year ’round bikers in Minnesota or New England wave as much as we do out
    here in the Puget Sound region? Or if bikers in Arizona or the south experience the same
    genre-specific waving you do?

    Welcome to Motorcycle Daily. I hope it’s a great experience for you.

  • My anecdotal evidence is quite contrary to your findings. Over the last 6
    years I’ve commuted 30,000 miles on my rather un-fashionable, over-worked
    street oriented, dual sport (’89 Honda NX650). My daily route takes me
    over 20 miles along California’s Highway 33 into the oilfield town of Taft.
    Much of this route is heavily traveled by motorcyclists, at least around
    weekends and holidays during the warm weather. I see HD’s and large cruisers, sport
    bikes, touring bikes and dual sports. It is very, very, very rare when a
    rider that I encounter, does not return my wave. Often the folks in trucks
    hauling dirt bikes and quads back from Balinger Canyon and Pismo will
    wave.

  • One possible reason that riders of cruisers, touring bikes, etc. don’t
    wave at guys on sport bikes is the fact that a few of these sport bikers are
    getting a lot of bad press in my area due to their high speed antics on
    the local streets and highways. Some are even video taping their exploits and
    these tapes are ending up on the 6:00 news. I’ve seen speedo shots at 150
    mph, high speed wheelies while passing cars in traffic, and other
    dangerous acts. I know it’s the minority, not the majority that are doing these
    acts, but it gives us all a bad name.
    We’ve had the same problems with the quad crowd. We’ve lost a lot of
    private and public off-road riding area because some of the the quad riders strap
    on their 12 packs and go back in the trails riding drunk, littering, and
    harrasing non-riders. This kind of activity lumps all of us off-roaders
    (2,3, or 4 wheels) into the “bad-guy” category, even amongst people who
    were once sympathetic to our cause.
    If we would all act and ride responsibly, there would be a lot less
    trouble with the general public and elected officials.

  • This is in response to Willy Ivins “What Happened To The Family” printed in MD on Nov.16th,2002. Willy I’m sure in certain parts of this great land there exists a perfect motorcycling world. Where the sun always shines and the weather is always perfect for riding with a jacket and not sweating to death. You may pass a Motorcycle once every 10 minutes or so and wave in the brotherhood spirit that anyone who has ridin for more than 10 yrs. recalls.
    Well, wake up and smell the idiots. Our sport has turned into the well to-do, mine’s better than yours “piracy of dunces” we so enjoy today. The roads of the east coast are so jammed up with these wannabes sportin thier fresh tattoos and smoking thier phallic shaped cigars while riding or how about the wheelie riding baggy pant $200 tennis shoe wearing poseur (at least they can ride).
    Until the natural purging of these un-individuals from our sport, which seems to occur in 20yr cycles. We will remain a “disfunctional family” I do salute you for trying an intervention to reunite the family but some family members just aren’t worthy of your effort.

  • Unfortunately, those who don’t wave at you on a sportbike are never going to read MD, or much of anything else either! They are not enthusiasts the same way we are. But all is not lost: I’ll wave atcha!

  • Personally, I don’t wave. I ride sport touring bikes. I used to wave, but found that the Harley guys don’t wave back, and heck, I don’t want to wave to a helmetless, leather clad idiot anyway. The sportbike guys don’t wave because it’s too hard for them to get out of the tuck, and ruins their line, and I don’t want to distract the Goldwing types from their game of chess or solitare on the built in heads up display.
    Seriously though, I think waving is a bad habit. I have had near accidents due to waving, either to or a return, due to taking my attention off the duty at hand. I’ll sometimes give a nod, but TAKING YOUR HANDS OFF THE BARS is not a good thing, even when well intentioned.

  • Abso-damn-lutely! As a re-entry rider now 48 years old, I drove a Harley for six years and would wave at anyone and everyone on any type of two-wheeled machine. Most people would wave back, with the exception of many sport bike riders. I never understood that.
    Now that I am riding a different make of the non-cruiser genre, very few people wave. I have to chalk it up to arrogance, an over-rated value of self worth, or plain old snobbery. (Non-wavers seem to strike me as often the same people who will wander down the street with a cell phone hanging out of their ear. Please!)
    I would love for these people to drop the pretense and enjoy riding as well as appreciate the importance of other riders, regardless of their ride type/name. “We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” – Benjamin Franklin, 4 July 1776. That applies more than ever today. Lousy (as in “bad”, “uneducated” or “abysmal”) drivers in cages, oversized SUVs and their inattentive pilots, governmental regulation, and a general public disdain for “bikers” makes motorcyclists a target, literally and figuratively. As a group united, we can stand and help enact changes for the betterment of riding. Factions lead to collapse.

  • Although I can count the times I’ve replied like this on the fingers of
    one hand, I thought I would send this thought along regarding Willy Ivins
    piece about waving:
    I live and ride in the Northwest. I am currently on an SV-650 which
    replaced my GSXR-1100. On both these bikes, I found that riders of all
    manner of machines waved. Serious looking Harley bikers were, perhaps,
    even MORE likely than most to waggle a hand or nod a head. At least in this
    area, bikers seem to have remained one family. I would guess it is from
    mutually facing the rain.
    My reason to respond, though, has to do with going beyond the wave. If
    you wave, do you make some sort of more emphatic gesture if there is trouble
    ahead – bad road, a wreck or maybe a passle of law enforcement? Do you
    stop and check if a fellow biker is stopped in a strange place to see if he or
    she is in trouble and needs some help? Do you check on stopped bikers in
    remote places when you’re riding in your car as well as when you’re
    riding?
    My answer to the above, I have to say, is “sometimes”. But, just maybe,
    we could all reach out a little more to our fellow bikers and have the wave
    be a sign of something more. Maybe it could signify things are good right
    now and if they are not, help is available from all your fellow bikers. It’s
    really kind of fun to help out and usually ends in stories every bit as
    good as what would have come from continuing your trip without giving a hand.

  • The issue of getting other riders has been in the press recently, so let
    me share with you some perspective. I started riding in the mid-60′s as
    a 14 year-old and rode both road and dirt through the mid-70′s.
    Everything from Suzuki, Yamaha, a Can-Am and more than one Honda to the
    odd European oil dripper – Benelli, Norton etc.. Back then, everybody
    seemed to wave at everybody. Nobody had to put it into print as to why
    and nobody seemed to care much about who rode what. It was being a
    rider that mattered, not the ride.

    This year, after a 27 year absence, I’m back in the saddle with a ZRX.
    I can’t begin to tell you about the joy of returning to something that
    was once second to nothing in my life. Do I wave? You bet. To
    everybody. Picked up right where I left off. And all but a few wave
    back.

    I’m with you, MD. Even though there are more bikers now than ever
    before, we are still so few once we are out in traffic.

    As for those who just can’t seem to share? Well, some people need to
    receive before they can find it in themselves to give. So just keep
    receiving, and one day maybe you’ll surprise yourself and just naturally
    raise that hand off the grip as the other bike passes by.