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Motorcycle hand signals: How to talk to your fellow riders

Charles Fleming shows you the most common hand signals motorcyclists use to communicate.

Motorcycle hand signals are an important part of riding, but not just the ones you use to tell fellow motorists that you’re turning right or left -- or the one you use when you get cut off.

There’s a whole other lexicon of hand signals that can mean anything from “Watch out -- police ahead” to “Hey, dummy -- you left your blinker on” to “It’s time for a bathroom break.”

There isn’t universal agreement on usage or meaning, and some of the signals don’t mean the same thing in motorocycling as they do in other sports. Some riders give a “victory” sign to indicate the road ahead is clear, while others use a “thumbs up.” And a repeated tap on top of the head can mean “Police ahead” to a biker but can mean “All clear” to a water skier.

But this selection of Southern California hand signs is a good general indicator of how riders around Los Angeles are talking to one another -- and what they mean.

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Check out this helpful video for a guide to some of the more essential signals, for riding on the street and in the dirt.

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