The Lexicon of a Motorcycle Rider

austindoty | July 31, 2020 | 0 | History , Lists , Riding

Things People Say Who Ride Motorcycles – Their Slang


So you got your own bike and have become pretty handy with riding it. But lately you’ve been hearing all sorts of terms and lingos you’re unfamiliar with. The riders you’ve been cruising with have been using all sorts of words you haven’t heard before. What are they saying? Like any speciality, motorcycles and their riders have a whole language and lexicon of words of their own. Trying to learn and know what they all mean can be intimidating. But it’s all right. We’ve compiled a list of the most commonly used words used on the road, along each of their definitions, to bring you up to speed.


ADV, short for “adventure”, often refers to a type of bike, those types of bikes that can be taken on and off road. This can be a dirt bike that has been modified to be able to ride on commercial roads. Riders can also sometimes refer to these bikes as dual sport or enduro bikes.


AMA refers to the American Motorcyclist Association, a large group that puts on races and rallies for riders across the country. They also work as lobbyists from time to time, advocating for laws beneficial to riders.


Ape Hangers or “Apes” are the long, vertical handlebars usually found on cruisers.


ATGATT/“AT-GATT stands for “ALL THE GEAR, ALL THE TIME”. Pretty self-explanatory. Where all your gear, all the time.


Big Twin is a large Harley-Davidson motorcycle.


Biker can be a bit more particular. Yes, it can refer to anyone that does ride a bike. However, within the terminology of those who actually ride motorcycles, it mostly just refers to a rider who is in a biker club or gang. Be careful who you do and don’t call a biker.


Bobbers are customized bikes. It stems from the practice of trimming, or “bobbing”, fenders and seats on bikes to a very minimal style.


Bullet Bike is a term most often used by those who don’t ride. What they are really trying to say is “sport-bike”.


Cage or Cager is slang for a car and their driver.


Choke is what it sounds like. It “chokes” your engine, controlling the amount of air flow. This is helpful when your engine is cold and needs a higher ratio of fuel in order to heat up.


CC and CI are two different for the Displacement of an engine, or the size of an engine. CC, commonly used by bike manufacturers in Europe and Asia, stands for cubic-centimeters, while CI, more often used in the United States, stands for cubic-inches.


Chopper is almost any cruiser with extended forks. Other distinctive traits of a chopper can be a loud engine and a fat rear tire.


Cogs is a cooler sounding word for the gears in your transmission.


DILLIGAF, “Does It Look Like I Give A F*ck”. Use this at your own discretion.


Dresser is a term reserved for touring bikes with fancy saddles and windscreens.


Fairings are windscreens and other plastic parts near the front of the bike.


Farkles are any extra editions added to your bike. Things like extra lights, a GPS system, heated grips, etc.


Gearbox, or simply Box, is slang for transmission.


Get-off is a minor crash and when the rider has to get off the bike. An ideal crash if there ever was one.


Hairpin refers to a very, very tight turn. Proceed with caution.


Hard tails are bikes with no rear suspension. Older models were usually made with this design. However, many modern motorcycle manufacturers still make them today.


High-sides can be considerably more impactful crashes. This happens when the rear tire rotates around the center axis of the bike and flips the rider over the “high-side” of the bike. These kinds of crashes are more common in races. However, they can still happen on the road. Be careful.


Hyperbike is what a high performing sports bike is called. These bikes perform at 1000cc and can travel quite fast.


Keep the rubber side down” is another way of saying “safe travels” to another rider.


Leathers are what most riders refer to protective gear as. Even if the protective gear is made of something other than leather, riders will still usually refer to it as “leathers”.


Motards are bikes that were once ADV or dual sport, like a dirt bike, but have been converted to solely on-road riding. This often means they’ve had things like suspension and tires reworked from their original purpose.


MSF, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, offers basic to advanced riding instructions. Some states around the U.S. require taking their classes before you’re able to ride.


Naked Bikes are bikes without any plastic coverings. Most bikes before the 80s came this way. But today many manufacturers put plastic coverings on their bikes to give them a more modern look.


Rat Bike is what you would call a bike that is in fair – rideable – condition but that you don’t really care too much about. It can get beat up, stepped on and pushed to the ground– it doesn’t really matter.


Skins is slang for tires.


Sportster and Sporty bikes are small, entry-level Harley Davidson bikes. They are usually more affordable than other Harleys and are easy to cruise on.


Standard is a bike that isn’t specialized to one kind of riding. They were more popular before the 80s.


Sweeper – opposite of a hairpin – is a long, broad, constant turn. Much easier to handle.


Trike is what a bike with three wheels is usually called. One in front, two in the back.


Torque is the “twisting force” of your engine. It’s the amount of measured work you get for the effort your engine puts. While horsepower can result in flashier speeds, torque usually means more results from your engine.


Twisties are roads with lots of curves and turns. They can often have a lot of hairpins.


V-Twin engines are two cylinder motors in “v” looking format. This type of engine is commonly found in Harley Davidson bikes as it’s the only engine they make.


The Wave – a thumbs up, a peace-sign, some sort of gesture – is how other bikers send their regards to you as a fellow rider. Wave back. You’re part of the club now.


W.F.O. is an acronym for the rode being “Wide F*ucking Open”, meaning, you might then be tempted to give it full throttle. Again, proceed with caution.


Z-Bars are tall angled handlebars usually found on a chopper or cruiser.


Now that you know the terminology and greater lexicon of motorcycle verbiage, don’t be shy to throw it around and show that you are indeed a rider.

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