Like any specialty, motorcycling has its own lingo. This motorcycle cheat sheet will have you sounding like a seasoned rider in no time. Now, you can easily keep up a chat with a veteran rider. Let’s learn to talk the talk.
ADV: Short for “adventure” ADV bikes can be ridden on and off road and are often called “dual sport bikes” or “adventure bikes.”
ATGATT: Short for All The Gear, All The Time.
Busa: Nickname for the iconic Suzuki Hayabusa sport bike.
Bobber: Bobbers are bikes that have been customized and typical features include a stripped-down look.
Bonnie: General nickname for a Triumph Bonneville.
Bonneville: This time we’re talking about a place, not a bike, except to say that the Triumph Bonneville motorcycle is named after the place. That place is the Bonneville Salt Flats in Nevada, where riders and drivers take their machines to find out just exactly how fast they can go.
Bullet bike: This is an outsider’s term for a sport bike.
Café racer: Riding quickly from nightspot to nightspot – usually a café – to show off and pick up girls was part of the scene.
Cage/Cager: Motorcycle slang for a car and the driver.
Choke: The carburetor “choke” disappeared from cars long ago (along with carburetors), but it’s still pretty common on motorcycles.
Chopper: Any cruiser bike with extended forks,
Cog/Cogs: Slang for the gears in the transmission.
Countersteering: Countersteering is the technique of pushing on a handlebar in the direction you want to go.
DILLIGAF: It’s an acronym for Does It Look Like I Give A F*ck.
Dresser: Slang for “touring bike”.
Dual Sport: A relatively new type of motorcycle that is a purpose-made combination of a street bike and dirt bike and can be legally ridden both on public roads or off road/on dirt. Dual sport motorcycles are also known as “adventure bikes.”
Duck/ “Duc”: Nickname for Ducati.
Enduro (“Endure-oh”): An older term that has largely been replaced by “dual-sport” but is still used by older riders when referring to street-legal dirtbikes or “enduro” racing.
Fairing: On a motorcycle, the windscreen or plastic parts near the front of the bike are called “fairings.”
Farkle/Farkles: An ADV/dual-sport term for gear you’ve added or want to add to your bike, such as more lights, GPS, heated grips and so on. U
Garage Rot: One of the worst things you can do to a motorcycle is not ride it. You can figure this one out. Either ride it, or store it properly (I say: just ride it).
Gearbox/Box: Slang for the transmission on a motorcycle.
Get-off: Get your mind out of the gutter – this is another term for “crash” and usually denotes a minor crash. It’s called a “get-off” because the rider “gets off” the bike during the crash (which is what you want to happen).
Gixxer: Slang for any Suzuki GSX-R sportbike.
Hairpin: a very tight turn.
Hard tail: Any bike with no rear suspension.
Harley: Short for Harley-Davidson, the iconic American motorcycle.
High-side: A very dangerous kind of crash where the rear tire of the motorcycle loses traction, starts to rotate around the motorcycle’s center axis, suddenly regains traction and then flips the rider into the air.
Hog/Hawg: Nickname for almost any Harley, but usually reserved for the bigger bikes in the lineup.
Hyperbike: General term for the highest-performing sport bikes,
“It’s a Honda”: A phrase often uttered by riders (usually on a Honda) in reference to the brand’s legendary reliability.
IOMTT/Isle of Man: Acronym for the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race, which takes place on the Isle of Man each year.
Katoom (Kah-toooom): Slang for the bike maker KTM.
Kawi (Cow-ee): Short for Kawasaki.
Keep The Rubber Side Down: Common way to say goodbye to another rider.
Kit: a general term for “gear”.
Leathers: Pretty much what you’d expect, this is a general term for protective gear.
Low-side: A somewhat less-dangerous kind of crash that almost always takes place during a turn.
Magic Button: Slang for the starter button.
Mod or Mods: Describing a rider is a British term for someone who rides a scooter, usually as part of a club.
Motard (Moe-tard): A motard motorcycle is essentially a dirtbike or dual sport bike that has been converted to street use and only street use.
MotoGP: MotoGP (Motorcycle Gran Prix) is the top tier of motorcycle racing.
MSF: MSF stands Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
Naked/Naked Bike: A recent term that has come to describe motorcycles that don’t have plastic bodywork covering them up.
One-percenter: Outlaw bikers most people like to steer clear of. Riders refer to them as “one-percenters” because despite their high profile in the public eye that regular riders are constantly trying to live down.
Pannier or Panny/Pannies: Fancy name for saddlebags or luggage that is located on either side of the passenger seat.
Petcock: On older motorcycles with carburetors, there’s a little toggle or switch that turns the flow of gas on and off. That’s the petcock.
Pillion: This is another name for the passenger seat on a motorcycle.
Poker Run: A ride with a set route and certain stops where each rider picks up an additional playing card.
Rally: A big group ride, often organized around a location with camping/hotels and loops to local scenic rides.
Rat Bike: A rat bike is any motorcycle in good to crappy condition you don’t really care about.
Rear-Sets: Where you put your feet while riding is important and ranges widely depending on what kind of bike you ride.
Road rash: What’s left after the stripping away of skin from unprotected parts of your body as you slide down the roadway during a crash.
Rocker: Vintage British term for a motorcycle rider, as opposed to a scooter rider (or “Mod”).
Rubbie (Rub-ee, not “ruby”): Slang for “Rich Urban Biker,” or those riders who buy expensive Harleys and then ride them only to coffee shops, bars or hardly at all.
Skins: Slang for tires.
Slicks: A special kind of tire with no tread pattern.
Squid: This is a mocking term for sportbike riders who are long on talk and short on skill, and generally means “idiot rider.” Also, squids typically don’t wear safety gear when riding.
Stoppie: A reverse wheelie. While a wheelie stands the bike up on the back wheel, a stoppie stands it up on the front.
Sturgis: Short for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, but ostensibly, it’s the small South Dakota town that hosts one of the largest (and probably most famous) motorcycle rallies in the world.
Sweeper: A long, broad, constant turn.
The Ton: These days, even the smallest of sport bikes can easily top 100 miles an hour. But way back when, owning a bike that could go that fast – known then as “doing the ton”.
Tiddler: “small bike” or “beginner bike.” Typically, bikes under 250cc qualify as tiddlers.
Track Day: Track days are organized riding events at actual race tracks.
Torque: Engines/motors make power primarily in two distinct ways: horsepower and torque. Torque is the “twisting force” an engine is able to achieve as opposed to a measure of work, which is the horsepower figure.
Twisties: slang for roads with a lot of curves.
UJM: Acronym for Universal Japanese Motorcycle.
Vintage/Classic: In general, an old motorcycle.
V-Twin: This engine configuration, which consists of a two-cylinder motor with the cylinders in a V format.
Wave/The Wave: Once you start riding, you’ll notice that other riders on motorcycles will wave or make a gesture (peace sign, thumbs up, etc) of some sort as you pass by each other. Why? It’s called The Wave, and it’s just a friendly way to say you are a member of a select group of adventurers: a motorcycle rider. So wave back.
WFO: Acronyn for Wide F*cking Open
Z-bars: A set of tallish, angled handlebars, usually found on a chopper or cruiser.