10 hand signals every motorcycle rider should know

Illustration of a motorcyclist signaling a right turn.
January 28, 2022

Since motorcycles don't have as many standard built-in signals as other vehicles, it's often up to you to communicate through hand signals to tell other drivers—and the rest of your riding group—what your next move is. Here are 10 important hand signals to recognize, practice, and add to your riding repertoire.

1. Turn left or right

Hold your left arm out straight at your side to indicate you're about to turn left. To signal a right turn, hold your left arm out at your side and bend up at the elbow to make a right angle, and make a fist.

Illustration of motorcyclists signaling left and right turns

2. Stop

Even though your motorcycle likely has brake lights, it's still courteous to indicate when you're about to come to a stop. Hold your left arm out to your side and turn it down with your palm facing backward.

Illustration of a motorcyclist signaling a stop.

3. Ride single-file or side-by-side

If you want to let your fellow riders know you should all be riding single-file in your lane, hold your left arm up at your side in a 90-degree angle with your index finger in the air. Similarly, if you want your group to ride side-by-side, hold up your left arm with two fingers in the air.

Illustration of a motorcyclist signaling to ride single-file and side by side.

4. Slow down

Put your left arm out to your side with your palm facing down, then move your arm down. This should let everyone in your group know to reduce their speed.

Illustration of a motorcyclist signaling slowing down.

5. Speed up

Put your left arm out to your side with your palm facing up, then raise your arm to direct the rest of your group to increase their speed. Just make sure you adhere to the speed limit.

Illustration of a motorcyclist signaling to increase speed.

6. Pull over

If you need to quickly notify your group that you're about to pull off, raise your left arm out and above your helmet. Point your index finger toward the roadside shoulder.

Illustration of a motorcyclist signaling to pull over by extending left arm up and toward roadside.

7. Stop for gas

Extend your left arm to the side and point at your fuel tank. This will give the other riders a heads up that you plan to pull over for a fuel stop at the next opportunity.

Illustration of a motorcyclist extending left arm to indicate stopping for fuel

8. Stop for food or refreshment

Need to stop for a quick drink or a bite to eat? Lift your left fist to the side of your head with your thumb pointing to your mouth. This will let others know it's about time to stop for a different type of refueling.

Illustration of a motorcyclist signaling to stop for food or drink.

9. Stop for comfort

Taking frequent stretch breaks can help you stay comfortable and focused on long rides. To signal your intent to pull over to stretch, extend your left forearm out to your side with your fist closed. Move your forearm up and down in small movements.

Illustration of a motorcyclist signaling to stop to stretch.

10. Watch for hazard ahead

If you see a hazard in the roadway like debris or roadkill, be sure to warn your fellow riders. If the hazard is on your left, then point toward the road with your left hand. If the hazard is coming up on your right, then point with your right foot.

Illustration of a motorcyclist signaling to point out a hazard to fellow riders.

Get your motorcycle hand signal download

If you’re looking for a downloadable quick reference to our 10 hand signals, you’re in luck. For those of you in Texas, here’s your hand signal guide. Enjoy your ride!

Related links

Now that you know these useful motorcycle hand signals, take a motorcycle safety course to learn additional strategies to help keep yourself and others safe on the road.

As much as you’d like to, you can’t keep your eyes on your bike all the time. That’s why it’s crucial to take steps to help protect your motorcycle from theft, whether you’re at home or out on the road.

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*Data accuracy is subject to this article's publication date.

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