Two motorcycle questions
June 8, 2005 3:55 PM   Subscribe

I have two motorcycle questions. 1) My horn sounds like an immitation of the road runner "meep" sound. I feel like cars would pay attention to a louder, strong horn; can I purchase one that sounds better, or is my 12v (12Ah) battery the problem? 2) When I pass other motorcycles on the road, the riders always wave hello... is there a code here I should know about? Is there some signal for cop ahead or bad road conditions, etc?
posted by about_time to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total)
 
1) Not the battery, unless your headlight is also dim. Fiamm used to make some really loud horns. What are you riding?

2) No. You're on your own. At least as far as I know.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:06 PM on June 8, 2005


Perhaps the other bikers are waving because your tail light is dim!
posted by armoured-ant at 4:12 PM on June 8, 2005


2) In general, the code for waving at other motorcyclists is pretty simple. If you are riding a Harley, you wave at other Harleys and nothing else. If you are riding something other than a Harley, you wave at everything, but don't really expect the snooty Harley riders to acknowledge your pitiful existence. YMMV.
posted by ensign_ricky at 4:20 PM on June 8, 2005


The common "cop ahead" signal in South Florida was to wave your hand in a circle, a la the blue domelite of doom from a police cruiser. Couldn't be mistaken for a "hello" wave, but could well be a regional thing.
posted by phearlez at 4:24 PM on June 8, 2005


My headlight is not dim, i just charged my battery. And yeah, I've noticed that harley riders are snooty about the "yo" sign.
posted by about_time at 4:25 PM on June 8, 2005


1. There are some great horns called Magnum Blasters that will put a stock horn to shame. They are painfully loud.

2a. Waving - that's just a solidarity thing between riders. Occasionally someone won't wave back, but I never worry about it. I wave to all motorcyclists: Harleys, Beemers, moto cops, etc.

2b. The standard "cop ahead" signal is to tap the top of your helmet with your palm down.
posted by letitrain at 4:50 PM on June 8, 2005


1) I'd get a small air-horn. That's fun and cheap.

2) As a harley riding biker, I say do whatever you want. Harley riders may not like your "foreign" bike, but so what. They would still probably stop and help if your'e broke down on the side of the road.
posted by snsranch at 4:50 PM on June 8, 2005


I ride a Vespa scooter and I get love from everything on two wheels, from big street bikes to harleys to yuppies on shiny new BMWs. This is in Georgia, where waving and saying "hi" to everything is a way of life. Regionalisms abound here.

As to your horn -- get a louder horn. Immediately. Your 12v should not be a problem at all. You could also look into getting a blinker for the rear and a "cycling" headlamp at the same time. The more you can be seen and heard, the better your chances of avoiding trouble on the road.
posted by zpousman at 5:08 PM on June 8, 2005


1) Depending on your make of bike, there may already be an aftermarket horn designed for it (with a mounting bracket, wiring, etc.). Check with a local dealer, or online parts supplier. You can make your own, but often fabricating a proper bracket is a pain in the ass, especially on newer bikes with lots of plastic.


2) The code is "Greetings, my bike-riding brethren, may you always keep the tire side down".
Of course, there is always the 'finger wave' (sport bikers) which means " 'Sup, dude".
Then the 'hand at the side, down towards the pegs' (usually Harley riders) which means "Fight the power, helmet laws suck"
The 'two-up' wave(Goldwings and Beemers) meaning "We're too young for an RV, so we got this for my husband's mid-life crisis"
And my favorite 'The one arm wrapped around daddy, but the other hand waving like mad' (little kids) conveying "Wow, this is really scary, but it's the coolest thing ever"!
posted by madajb at 5:10 PM on June 8, 2005


I ride a honda shadow and it's got a weak horn too, so I'm really interested in the answer to this...

The hello gesture is one of my favorite things about riding a motorcycle. People of all kinds brought together by the love of the open road. It's like metafilter on two wheels!
posted by esch at 5:14 PM on June 8, 2005


hella supertones dude.
(don't know if they'll fit, YMMV. loud on my car)

hella loud
posted by freq at 5:25 PM on June 8, 2005


Keep your hands on the controls. Wave if you're a free livin' hound dog, yearning, between sessions of acute, cubicle boredom, that the pavement goes on forever.

Be safe.
posted by recurve at 5:37 PM on June 8, 2005


I put dual Fiamm car horns [self link] on my VTR. Way loud, but horns aren't really a good escape strategy for a bike. If you don't have an exit and you have to rely on your horn being heard and the driver not doing something stupid, you gottum heap big problem, Kimosabe.

You might want to consider hooking horns up through a relay if they're much bigger than stock. I've heard that a high-amp horn might weld the switch contacts shut, and then you have to ride down the street blaring until you can pull over and disconnect a wire.
posted by spacewrench at 5:46 PM on June 8, 2005


1) Fiamms and Hellas both come in two-pieces, low and high tone. For best results, install both. Don't forget the 10A fuse. Stronger horns is something I do to just about every bike I have owned.

2) The Motorcyclist wave is best decribed here:The Motorcyclist Wave
Still, there is a group of people who ride bikes who truly are a "breed apart." They appreciate both the engineering and the artistry in the machines they ride. Their bikes become part of who they are and how they define themselves to themselves alone.

They don't care what other people think. They don't care if anyone knows how much they paid for their bike or how fast it will go. The bike means something to them that nothing else does. They ride for themselves and not for anyone else. They don't care whether anyone knows they have a bike. They may not be able to find words to describe what it means to ride, but they still know. They might not be able to explain what it means to feel the smooth acceleration and the strength beneath them. But they understand.

These are the riders who park their bikes, begin to walk away and then stop. They turn and took back. They see something when they look at their bikes that you might not. Something more complex, something that is almost secret, sensed rather than known. They see their passion. They see a part of themselves.

These are the riders who understand why they wave to other motorcyclists. They savour the wave. It symbolizes the connection between riders, and if they saw you and your bike on the side of the road, they would stop to help and might not ask your name. They understand what you are up against every time you take your bike on the road-the drivers that do not see you, the ones that cut you off or tailgate you, the potholes that hide in wait. The rain. The cold.
posted by gen at 6:36 PM on June 8, 2005


spacewrench is right; the horn is not just a last resort for a biker, it's more of a futile wail of despair. If beeping your horn is the most useful thing you can do, you're in trouble.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:03 PM on June 8, 2005


1) My horn sounds like an immitation of the road runner "meep" sound. I feel like cars would pay attention to a louder, strong horn; can I purchase one that sounds better, or is my 12v (12Ah) battery the problem?

hella supertones dude.
(don't know if they'll fit, YMMV. loud on my car)


seconded. from my past inquiries, the consensus seems to be that they're the loudest non-air horns on the market.

2) When I pass other motorcycles on the road, the riders always wave hello... is there a code here I should know about? Is there some signal for cop ahead or bad road conditions, etc?

if you're following someone and they suddenly point at the ground, it's an indicator of roadkill or a pothole.

if you're passing someone and they stick their arm out sideways, lower than the handlebars, it's a wave hello. above the handlebars and it's legally a signal that they're turning left. but they're probably waving hello as well.

dunno of any other codes, as i've never seen anybody signal anything else.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 11:36 PM on June 8, 2005


Since I started biking (way back in the mists of time) the wave has largely given way to the nod of the head, at least where I am in the UK.
posted by Nick Jordan at 1:27 AM on June 9, 2005


Thanks for the advice. I'll certainly check out those horns. Awesome.

I don't use the horn as a last resort. However, it can remind cars turning on to your road that you are approaching if they aren't looking. It's also nice to use after you are safe to say "eff you buddy" to cars that swerve or do other stupid things.

Glad to see there is a community of riders on mefi.
posted by about_time at 4:33 AM on June 9, 2005


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