Biker Lingo, Terms and Jargon

Biker Lingo, Terms and Jargon

Posted by Mike Werner on Oct 11th 2016

Even if you are not a newbie, sometimes you got to wonder what some bikers are saying, and if you are a newbie, all you can do is shake your head wisely, not knowing what people are talking about. Terms used, or some strange technical lingo, the jargon that is used is often difficult to understand.

Terms change or adapt as well. It's part of the nature of the game, since technology evolves. So to help you understand a few things, here is a “limited” list of terms and jargon used in our motorcycle world. Feel free to let us know any other terms that may have been missed. After all, there are so many terms:

1%er – A biker belonging to an outlaw motorcycle club, like the Hells Angels. The term was coined by the AMA, when they mentioned that these biker gangs represented 1% of the biker population. You will find a “1%” patch often on their vests.

ABS - Anti-lock Braking System is a safety system that allows the wheels on a motorcycle to continue interacting with the road surface as directed by biker steering inputs while braking, preventing the wheels from locking up (that is, ceasing rotation) and therefore avoiding skidding.

Ape Hangers -Ape hanger handlebars rise far above the mounting location so that the rider must reach up to use them, hence the name. They are popular on choppers. They are available in heights up to 20 inches. Some jurisdictions have regulations on how high the handgrips may be above the seat.

Apex - the line a motorcycle must take in order to minimize the time taken to complete a curve.

Armor - The reinforced parts of your riding gear, often found in motorcycle jackets and trousers. Armor can be made out of different materials, like Kevlar, Foam or plastic, and can often be removed.

ATGATT - All The Gear, All The Time, meaning you should always wear all your protective clothing, no matter when you ride. ATGATT Gear means helmet, gloves, vest, trousers and boots.

Bagger - A motorcycle equipped with saddlebags and other touring amenities.

BAMBI - Born Again Motorbiker, a biker who having reached middle age, starts riding again after years of not riding.

Belly-Shover - A motorcycle racer who, because of the forward position on a sports bike, has the belly on the fuel tank.

BHP - Brake Horse Power. A unit of measurement for engine power output.

Big Slab - A highway or motorway.

Beemer - A BMW.

Blinkers - Turn Signals

Bob, Bobbers, Bobbed or Bobbing - A bobber is a custom motorcycle that usually has had the front fender removed, the rear fender "bobbed" or made smaller, and all superfluous parts removed to make it lighter This was all part of the early customizing done by the returning WWII fighter pilots.

Brain Bucket - A helmet

Brake horsepower - Brake horsepower (bhp) is the measure of an engine's horsepower before the loss in power caused by the gearbox, alternator, differential, water pump, and other auxiliary components such as power steering pump, muffled exhaust system, etc.

Bubble Gum Machine - The signal that there is police up ahead. The signal is accomplished by patting the top of your helmet several times so that opposing bikers can see they are riding towards a police trap.

Burnout or Burn - By holding the front brake and accelerating, the rear wheel of the bike will start spinning and burning rubber, hence the burnout.

Cafe Racer - A cafe racer, originally pronounced "kaff racer" is a term used for a type of motorcycle, as well as the motorcyclists who ride them. Both meanings have their roots in the 1960s British Rocker or Ton-up boy subculture, although the type of motorcycles were also common in Italy, France and other European countries. The term refers to a style of motorcycles that were and are used for fast rides from one coffee bar to another.

Cage - A car or SUV
Cager - Someone who drives a car.
CC - Cubic Centimeters. A 1000cc engine = 1000 cubic centimeters in volume

Center of Gravity - The point in or near a body where the force of gravity appears to act. If a body is balanced at any point on the vertical line through it's center of gravity, it will remain balanced. The center of an object's mass.
Century - 100 mph (e.g. “I did a century on the strip”)

Chicken Strips - The tread remaining on the sidewalls of a motorcycle. How much of this there is (or isn't) is how some bikers size each other up. The less chicken strips, the more angle you will have used when taking curves.
Chopper - A chopper is a type of motorcycle that was either modified from an original motorcycle design ("chopped") or built from scratch to have a hand-crafted appearance. The main features of a chopper that make it stand out are its longer frame design accompanied by a stretch front end, or increased rake angle.
Crotch Rocket - Sports motorcycle

Cruiser - Cruiser is the term for motorcycles that mimic the design style of American machines from the 1930s to the early 1960s, including those made by Harley-Davidson, Indian, Excelsior and Henderson.

Dirt Bike - Off-road motorcycles that are not legal on the street.

Doughnut - A burnout done while the front wheel stays in place, and the motorcycle turns 360% on the front wheel, making a complete circle.

Do-Rag - A cloth covering the biker's head and forehead, avoiding sweat in the eyes and helmet hair. Often used by non-bikers as fashion. Examples

Dresser - A motorcycle set up for long distance touring.
Dual Sport - A motorcycle made for both on and off the road travel.

Duc or Duck- A Ducati motorcycle.

Duck Walking - Sitting on your motorcycle, and pushing it with your feet, usually done when parking your bike, or moving forwards a few feet (like at a gas station).
Eating Asphalt - Crashing your bike
Enduro - Enduro is a form of motorcycle sport run on courses that are predominantly off-road. Enduro consists of many different obstacles and challenges.

Fairing - The plastic body panels that protect the rider from the wind and rain and from other debris.

Gearhead - Someone who is very interested and passionate about mechanical objects, like cars and motorcycles.

Gixer - Suzuki GSXR Series motorcycles.

Goose - A Moto Guzzi motorcycle.

Hack - A term for a motorcycle sidecar.

Hammer Down - Accelerate very quickly.

Heat - The police

Highsider - Being ejected from your motorcycle while riding, above the motorcycle.

H.O.G. - Harley Owners Group - but it also relates to the larger Harley models.

Hooligan Bike – See Streetfighter below

Husky - Husqvarna motorcycle.

Iron Butt - An association that promotes and holds rallies aimed at traveling very long distances. The shortest distance, the Saddle Sore, is 1,000 miles in 24 hours, the longest, the Bun Burner Gold is 1,500 miles in one day. The Iron Butt Rally is 10 days riding 1,000 miles each day.
Kawa or Kwak – Kawasaki motorcycle.

Lid - A helmet
Lowsider - A motorcycle crash with the bike falling sideways and the biker ejected sideways.
Monkey Butt - When riding for hours on end, your rear end becomes uncomfortable and becomes sore, often the result of chafing.
Moped - A motorized bicycle, often with pedals still attached for human power assistance, usually legally defined in states and provinces as having fewer than 50cc and not be capable of propelling the moped over 30 MPH (50km/h) on level ground.

Motocross - Motocross is a form of motorcycle racing held on enclosed off road circuits.

Naked Bike - Motorcycles with no or a very small fairing; allowing you to fully see the engine.

Newbie - A beginner.
OEM - Original Equipment from Manufacturer: referring to parts or components.

Organ Donor - A biker who rides without a helmet, or rides likes a squid.

Pasta Rocket - Italian Sportsbike (Ducati, Aprilia, MV Agusta, Benelli).

Patches - Emblems and symbols sewn on biker jackets and shirts, displaying an affiliation, a club, a brand, or anything that is special to the biker. 1%-ers will always have several patches on their jackets.
Pillion - A passenger on the motorcycle.
Pipes – Motorcycle's exhaust system.
PMS - Parked Motorcycle Syndrome, usually the result of not being able to ride in the winter.

Poker Run - A motorcycle run involving usually five stops where you get a card. At the end of the run, the biker with the best hand wins the run. Often used in charity runs.

Popping The Clutch - Letting go of the clutch rapidly, making it possible for the motorcycle to accelerate very quickly.
Poser - A wannabe biker, or a biker with all the gear, shiny and new, but rarely rides. Usually found at motorcycle shows with very low mileage full-chrome motorcycles.

Pucker Factor - A very close call when riding.

Rat Bike – Motorcycles made from several different parts of different motorcycles and kept on the road using as cheap as possible and usually painted matt black. Often dirty and shoddy.

Rev(s) - See Revolutions Per Minute (RPM). A term used to describe how fast an engine is spinning.

Rice Burner (or Rice Rocket) – A Japanese sportsbike (Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki).

Ride Captain - The leader of a motorcycle rider-out. The ride captain opens the ride, and is up front.

Ride Lieutenant - An experienced riders who rides as last in a ride-out, making sure that every thing goes according to plan with all the other bikers.

Road Rash - Marks from the asphalt left on your body after you have been thrown off your motorcycle, highside or lowside, and skidded alongside the road.

RPM - Revolutions Per Minute. The number of revolutions the engine makes in a minute.

RUB - Rich Urban Biker, a biker who rides an expensive motorcycle only on the weekend, and never very far. Often RUBs are Posers.

Safety Nazi - A person who rides in absolutely full safety gear, often to an extreme, obeys every law, and wants all others to do the same.

Sissy Bar - The backrest put behind the pillion part of the saddle.

Sled - A motorcycle.

Street Fighter - A bare bones sportbike (or any bike that originally had fairings) stripped of all extraneous bodywork. Also called a hooligan bike.

Two Up - Riding with a pillion.

Stock - A motorcycle set up to OEM specifications with no alterations.

Stoppie - Stopping a motorcycle by pulling only the front brake, resulting in the rear wheel lifting off the ground. Often used in stunts.

Super-motard - Supermoto or Supermotard is motorcycle racing on a circuit that alternates between three types of track: flat track, motocross and road racing, using motorcycles designed for that purpose.
Squid - A biker who rides with no protection, and rides very dangerously. A squid is usuallu considered an organ donor.

Tank Slapper - A high speed wobble resulting in the handlebars banging against the sides of the fuel tank. Usually an extreme Pucker factor.
Trials Bike - For competition over radical, rough terrain. Trials motorcycles are designed to be extremely light, minimalist off-road specialties with low gear ratios, high ground clearance and a control layout suited for a standing rider.
Trike - A three-wheeled motorcycle with no sidecar.

Trumpet - Triumph motorcycle.
Twisties - A part of a road that has many curves, turns and bends. Twisties are very much sought after when riding a motorcycle.
Wannabe - A person who wants to be a real biker, who dresses like one, who tries to behave like one, but probably only drives a SUV or a moped.
Wave - A greeting between bikers on the road, involving raising a hand, usually below the handlebars. The Wave is done to bikers on the opposite direction.

Wheelie - Sudden acceleration and slight pulling of the handlebar (unless your bike has enough torque to do it by itself), resulting in the front wheel of the motorcycle moving up in the air, and riding on the rear wheel alone.
Whoops - An obstacle section on a dirt track that has rows of mounds, requiring expertise to ride within a race.