Visual Dictionary: Funny Motorcycle Terms You Should Know
Ever wondered how a "lowside" is different from a "highside?" Know the difference between a "bobber" and a "bar hopper?" Need to learn all your motorcycle animal terms, like "squid," "rat bike," "tar snake" and "monkey butt?" You've come to the right place my friend!
Tall handlebars on cruisers that rise above the rider’s shoulders. Often on choppers, gangster bikes, or just ridiculous custom bikes.
If you're gonna run apes...you may as well go all the way.
A big touring bike with hard saddlebags, a front fairing so wide you can barely see around it, and a front wheel big enough to be on an Escalade.
Riding gear: optional. Sunglasses and tattoos: mandatory. (Photo cred: Sinister Industries)
A heavily customized bike that would only be comfortable enough for short rides, i.e. from one bar to another; flashy hardtails and bobbers fall into this category.
Pretty straight-forward bar hopper; everything but comfortable. (Photo cred: Cro Customs)
An all-original vintage bike that the owner claims he bought for $300 from an old lady who didn’t know what it was; usually actually bought on eBay for thousands of dollars.
There's still some out there! Easy to find, but hard to afford, thanks to the Internet.
A stripped down custom bike, known for having the fenders “bobbed” (cut down) or removed.
Stripped down, no front fender, and a tiny rear one is the bobber formula.
An expression used by dirt bike bros, usually when excited about doing something badass and not caring about anything else; derived from the sound of a two-stroke dirt bike motor. The number of a's in the word is the subject of much debate.
This pretty much says it all.
Nickname for Hayabusa, normally used by people with stretched/chromed ones.
Busa. Not Hayabusa. Just Busa.
A car driver; the “cage” is the car itself. Is constantly on the phone, and doesn't even realize motorcycles exist.
1) (Pre-2010 definition) an older British motorcycle (1950s-1960s) stripped down and modified to increase performance, usually based on older Triumphs, Nortons, and BSAs. 2) (Post-2010 defintion) Loose term used to describe brand new Triumph Thruxtons or modified 1970s Honda CBs, mostly ridden by vintage-obsessed hipsters.
An actual cafe racer.
A sport bike. Also known as “murdercycle” “bullet bike” and “tree dart" (if you live in an area where the roads are surrounded by trees.)
Hey, they don't call 'em crotch rockets for nothing.
Dropping the Bike
When a bike falls over, usually when not under power (the exception is on Craigslist, where a “drop” can mean anything from “forgot to put the kickstand down” to “highsided going into Turn 4”)
Interesting, what searching "dropped bike" on Craigslist will find you.
Stunt where rider stops so hard the rear comes up, almost going “end-over-end.” Also called a “stoppie.”
Endos are so awesome, women can't restrain themselves from kissing guys who do them (at least, that's what they tell me.)
A bike made of a bunch of parts from different motorcycles, to the point where its impossible to determine its make. Ranges from total pieces of junk to very nice custom bikes.
A true Frankenbike - couldn't explain it any better than this photo.
A way to say “crash,” in an effort to make it sound less bad than it was.
Just a lil' get-off, no biggie.
A bike with no rear suspension, just a rigid frame. May have a couple of springs under the seat, but the truly hardcore forego even that. Impossible to ride very far on. See also: “bar hopper” and “back problems”
Back when guys were much tougher than they are now, hardtail jumping was a thing. In a shirt and tie even. Your grandpa was a hardass.
A nasty crash where the rear wheel violently regains traction, flinging the rider over the high side of the bike.
Being a hooligan; riding around like a badass, disregarding traffic laws, doing wheelies and stoppies, on and off road. See also: “supermoto riding” and “cheap lawyers in (your city)”
Cylinders in a motorcycle engine.
"Jugs" is slang for the cylinders in a motorcycle engine. You can see them clearly displayed here.
A common motorcycle crash where the rear loses traction and slides out; the bike slides on the “low side” that was leaned toward the ground. Usually not too bad. See also: “BikeBandit replacement OEM fairings”
A sore butt that is the unpleasant and painful end result of a long day of riding.
What did you expect to see, a burly old biker's rear end?
A bikers long-time girlfriend or wife; not a derogatory term. Normally used by Harley-types.
A biker and his ol'lady, just having a good time.
A helmet-less motorcycle rider. See also: "squid"
A sport bike rider decked out in matching one-piece racing leathers and matching gloves, boots, and helmet. Not surprisingly, they also usually match his bike.
What happens when you get caught in the rain without rain gear.
A beat-up, crappy bike that looks like it’s broken down and been McGyvered back together on the side of a desert road dozens of times. Some owners spend money and time trying to achieve this look, but most just genuinely don’t give a crap.
Rat bikes: it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get them looking this bad.
What happens when you crash a motorcycle and go asphalt surfing without proper safety gear on. The most preventable motorcycle injury, and often well-deserved.
Ouch! Wear your gear, people.
The spray of dirt made by a dirt bike ripping around a turn. Not particularly incredible in real time; but suddenly becomes epic in slow-motion, especially with dubstep music added.
An irresponsible, inexperienced rider wearing no proper gear, usually riding a brand new sport bike. See also: “motorcycle partout” on local Craigslist.
Honestly, nothing epitomizes a "squid" more than a gear-less rider with a helmet strapped to the bike.
A scary event that occurs when road demons suddenly possess your bike and the handlebars whip violently from side to side, scaring the crap out of you. Nobody knows why this happens. Just loosen your grip and ride it out (or pop a massive wheelie.)
The lines in pavement where sealant is poured over cracks. They are slick, can break your traction, and are generally just bad news.
A pit of tar snakes, coiled up and ready to strike.
When a rider, usually of a sport bike, tucks down and wraps their body over the tank to be as aerodynamic as possible. Usually done by Rossi wannabes, or normal riders on the freeway when its cold.
A non-street legal bike used strictly for riding the track; usually run hard with little concern for aesthetics. Often built from a wrecked street bike.
Most riders are upset when they wreck their bikes. Track junkies dust off the gravel and shout "Yes! A new track bike!" (Photo cred
Any Japanese motorcycle produced in the 1970s, because they all had very similar characteristics (standard seating position, inline 4-cylinder, tube frame.) Used to be great, cheap bikes until hipsters discovered them, and they are now overpriced.
The UJM: darn good bikes you can do almost anything with. Origato, Japan!
1) a series of mounds on a dirt track, usually a pretty tricky section for riders to negotiate. 2) What you say when you drop a buddies bike and nobody sees.
They don't call 'em "whoops" for nothing!
Our Visual Dictionary tried to spread the 'love' around to every part of the riding community...but if we missed something, let us know in the comments below!