Learn more about motorcycle slang, lingo & technical jargon in the motorcycle slang term dictionary!
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Ape Hangers - High motorcycle handlebars, often with handgrips at or above the shoulders. This causes the rider to look like they are hanging like an ape from a branch.
Armor - Motorcycle riding gear often has foam pads
in strategic areas called armor. Some jackets have motorcycle
armor permanently built-in, while in other styles it is removable.
The are many types of motorcycle
armor including Dual Density, Memory Foam, GP armor, Molded Rubber
& Core Comp varieties. There is currently no regulated standard
in the US. The most trusted standard was developed by the
European Commission and is marked CE approved.
Back Door - The last rider in a group ride. Customarily, the most experienced motorcycle rider. Also known as sweep or tail gunner.
Baffle - Sound deadening material inside the muffler. Materials used for this vary. Aftermarket motorcycle exhausts often allow the rider to add or remove baffles to adjust the back pressure to tune performance.
Ballistic Nylon - A nylon fabric with a basket weave for added tear and abrasion resistance developed by Dupont. Often used in textile motorcycle gear.
Belly-Shover - A motorcycle racer. The term is derived from the aggressive riding posture common to sport bikes that positions the motorcycle riders stomach over the tank.
Big Slab - The interstate highway
Binders - Motorcycle brakes
Blip - Quickly rev then release the throttle
Blown Bike - A supercharged motorcycle
Brain Bucket - A motorcycle helmet
Bronson Rock - Something that is not a standard tool that is used to repair a motorcycle. In the show Then Came Bronson, a rock was used to straighten out a bent fender so that he could continue the ride.
Bubble Gum Machine - Patting the top of the helmet as a signal to other rides that police are ahead.
Burnout - Spinning out the rear wheel usually with the front brake locked. Done briefly before a race to warm up the rear tire or done for show that burns a lot of rubber and is a fast way to shorten the tire's life.
Busa - A Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa - a notoriously powerful motorcycle.
Caning it - To ride a motorcycle very aggressively.
Carving - Riding a motorcycle hard and fast through curves and corners with the bike leaning near horizontal. Sometimes known as "canyon carving."
Catwalk - Another term for a wheelie
CE Armor - Armor that has met the European safety requirements. There currently is no US standard for motorcycle armor.
Chase Vehicle - A truck or van that rides behind a group of motorcycle rider on a long trip to haul any vehicles that break down along the way.
Cherry Tops - Law enforcement squad cars
Chicken Strips - The remaining tread on a sport bike. The more tread on the side of the motorcycle tire, the more of a "chicken" the rider is. More aggressive riders lean harder into the turns wearing the tread on the sidewalls.
Chopper - A motorcycle that has an extended front
end with a greater angle than standard
bikes. The term originates from the fact that early
riders would cut away, or chop, unnecessary portions of
the bike and frame to reduce weight. The raked front end
makes for a motorcycle that is stable but not agile. Recently,
choppers have gain attention through the popularity of Jesse
James of West Coast Choppers and the Tuttle family's Orange
County Choppers, featured on the Discovery Channel.
Core-Comp Armor - A style of motorcycle armor made up of energy absorbing
polystyrene cells sandwiched between layers of foam rubber
then sealed in an abrasion resistant ballistic nylon. This
is a very advanced style of CE approved armor.
Corn Snakes - At harvest time in rural parts of the country, dried cornstalks blow across the road looking like snakes.
Countersteering - At speed a motorcycle is controlled by turning the
handlebars away from direction you want to turn. It is summarized
in push the right handgrip forward to turn right, push the
left handgrip forward to turn left. Motorcycle
steering is accomplished by leaning and turning your
front wheel to the left will make the bike lean (and turn)
right and vice versa.
Coupon - A speeding ticket
Cordura - A fabric manufactured by Dupont of high strength, textured nylon fiber believed to offer more abrasion and tear resistance than other textiles. Often used in the manufacturing of textile motorcycle riding gear.
Crack It - Roll on the throttle
Crotch Rocket - A small sport bike with high horsepower, often with an aggressive riding posture.
Crash Bungs - Plastic bumpers that attach to a motorcycle
frame to protect the bike's fairing in case it is dropped.
Often used by stunt riders to avoid expensive repairs to
body panels. Also called mushrooms or
Cruiser - Cruisers are low and long motorcycles including many motorcycles
in the Harley-Davidson lineup. They tend to be big and heavy
but usually have a pretty powerful engine to match.
Detonation - This is an engine condition in which the usually smooth and controlled combustion process has a violent and out of sequence burst. This sudden spike in combustion can drastically increase the pressure in the cylinder but is too fast to effectively contribute to the engine's output. Instead, the combustion chamber itself must absorb the excess energy. This is a very good way to shorten the lifespan of an engine. Detonation is actually a slang term for the official condition called "knock." Detonation is closely related to pre-ignition.
Displacement - Displacement is the volume of space the piston travels through in one stroke of the engine. It is measured in cubic centimeters (cc) or cubic inches (ci). The greater the displacement, the more gas and air can by used during combustion and the more energy (horsepower) the engine can generate.
Donor Cycle - Nickname most often used by medical professional or emergency workers (police and firefighters) to describe a motorcycle.
Drag Bars - Motorcycle handlebars that are low and straight, not sweeping up from the risers.
Drag Pipes - Low short exhaust pipes running along the frame.
Dual Density Armor - This is the cheapest and most common form of motorcycle armor. As the name indicates there are two separate densities of foam sandwiched together. The difference in firmness between the two types of foam helps make the armor more versatile in protecting the rider from different types of impact.
Dual Sport - Dual
Sport motorcycles designed for both on and off-road
use like my Kawasaki KLR 650. The balance between the two
uses varies with some basically being dirt
bikes with necessary parts to be street legal (ie turn
signals) while others are more or less standard
motorcycles but with suspensions capable of handling
the demands of the trail.
Duals - A motorcycle with duals has two separate exhaust pipes (usually one for the front cylinder and one for the rear).
Eat Asphalt - Slang term for crash.
ECM - Acronym for Electronic Control Module is the computer that controls ignition, timing, fuel to air ratio and more. On cars it is often referred to as the ECU, the electric control unit.
Endo - Stopping with the rear wheel off the ground (the opposite of a wheelie). Sometimes called a stoppie.
Enduro - An enduro motorcycle is designed for both
on-road and off-road use. The term is has lost popularity
in recent years in favor of the term dual sport.
Fairing - The plastic body panels that protect the rider from the wind and rain and (to some extent) from other debris.
Fathead - The dual cam V-Twin manufactured from 1999 - today.
Flathead - V-Twin engine manufactured from 1929 - 1972
Fast Riding Award - A Speeding Ticket
Fat - Slang term meaning the engine is run rich
(too much fuel compared to air). This can result in thicker
exhaust, fouled spark plugs and occasionally engine bogging.
Fishtails - An exhaust tip that resembles a fishtail.
Flogging it - Riding hard with wide open throttle
Four Banger - Inline four cylinder engine. This
engine is commonly used in cars and is one of the more powerful
powerplants you will find in a motorcycle.
Front Door - First rider in a group ride.
Gag it - Rolling on to wide open throttle in high gear from a rolling start of about 50 mph.
Gear - A toothed machine part that meshes with another toothed part to transmit motion or to change speed or direction. On motorcycles there are gears in the transmission, rear wheel and elsewhere.
Gear ratio - The number of teeth on each gear that are connected at a given time. If a gear with 60 teeth in use is connected to one with 30, there is a 2:1 gear ratio. The gear ratios in the transmission determines how hard the motorcycle has to work at a given speed and gear. The gear ratio between the drive sprocket and the rear wheel can affect the bike's torque.
Get Off - Another term for dropping the motorcycle
Giggle Gas - Slang term for nitrous oxide. When nitrous is injected into an engine it provides an instant, though temporary power boost. This works since the engine can use the oxygen in the nitrous oxide in the combustion process. Nitrous systems come in wet and dry varieties with wet connecting to the fuel system and dry to the air intake.
Gixer - GSXR series motorcycles
Goatsbelly - Late model Vulcan motorcycles had an unusual looking silencing chamber in the exhaust system fondly referred to as a goatsbelly.
Gore-Tex - This is one of the most respected of waterproof fabrics. The advanced membrane technology prevents water from penetrating but allows sweat and moisture to evaporate out. This material is used in popular motorcycle rain gear.
Grabbing a Handful - This term can mean either applying the brakes or rolling on the throttle quickly and firmly.
Gumball - A gumball is a nickname for a motorcycle's rear tire after a long burnout since much of the tread will have been worn off leaving smooth rubber.
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