Motorcycle Terms: All Riders Should Know These

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Key Takeaways

  • Do a full bike check before leaving the house.
  • Respect other motorcycle riders and cars on the road.
  • Make sure your bike is street-legal before taking it out.

Motorcycle terms and sayings are part of the motorcycle culture and have been for decades. And can often save the life of a rider.

Motorcycle terms, gestures, and sayings can be used for humor amongst riders but can also be used to convey serious messages that could save a life. Be it the tip of a helmet or the point of a finger, different sayings and gestures can mean completely different things.

In this article, we will cover some of the most needed and useful motorcycle terms that all riders should know. From A-Z, we got your back.

In this article...


The Motorcycle Riders Dictionary, a Guide to Motorcycle Slang


1%er (One-Percenter)

The term is used to describe a small minority of bike riders who are not law-abiding citizens adhering to social norms. They are often advertised with patches or tattoos in a diamond shape.


A motorcycle that starts up on the first go.

1-Piece (One-Piece)

A one-piece is a form of protective gear that covers the rider's entire body, From the neck all the way to the ankle.


A configuration where two tailpipes are joined into a single pipe.

2-Piece Outfit

Refers to two pieces of protective garment, typically a jacket of sorts and pants, which can be fastened at the waist. This type of clothing is often worn by law enforcement and first responders.

2-Second Rule

The 2-second rule is a widely accepted estimation of the safe trailing distance between moving vehicles. This rule should be followed when behind a motorcycle, as they are able to stop quicker than cars can.


2-stroke engines are characterized by a piston assembly that runs two engine strokes per cycle. Compared to other engine types, 2-stroke engines are more lightweight and compact. Additionally, 2-stroke engines typically have higher power-to-weight ratios.

3-Piece Patch/3 Patch

An arrangement of backcloth patches is employed by a few motorcycle clubs.


An engine configuration where the piston(s) move through four strokes (intake, compression, power, and exhaust) during one operating cycle.

6-Bend Handlebars

A type of handlebar popular in chopper culture that features six bends.


Hells Angels, (H as in the 8th letter in the English alphabet and A, the 1st letter of the alphabet.)



This means an Anti-lock braking system, the same as in a car.


AFFA stands for, Angels Forever, Forever Angels. A sign of loyalty and respect in the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club.


Stands for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.


The term refers to always being dressed for safety (helmets, jackets, etc.) at all times while riding. All The Gear All The Time.


The American Motorcyclist Association.


Stands for accessories and parts that were not made by the manufacturer. Parts That have not been made by the original equipment manufacturer.


This is the term used for older BMW bikes with air-cooled engines.

Analog Gauges

These are mechanical, clock-like gauges.

Anti-Dive System

A front-end suspension component that reduces fork compression while braking.

Ape Hangers

The high handlebars on this bike allow the motorcycle rider to assume a posture that is similar to that of an ape dangling from a branch instead of the normal upright riding position. This provides a more comfortable ride and makes it easier to control the bike.


The term "apex" is used to describe the highest point of a curve at which the rider reaches the maximum lean angle while going through a turn. This is the point where the rider must make the most precise inputs to the bike in order to maintain control and achieve the fastest possible exit speed from the turn.


The term used to describe a person who belongs to a bike club. Although, the term is more frequently used by people who are not part of the bike-riding community.



Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.


Bavarian Motor Works (Bayerische Motoren Werke AG), The German car and Motorcycle company.


Birmingham Small Arms.


The tube at the top of a motorbike frame to which the fuel tank is usually attached.

Back Warmer

The person who sits behind you on the bike.


Your stomping ground; an area you frequent a lot while riding.


A sound-stopping wall inside of the muffler.


A motorcycle with mounted saddlebags. Like a touring bike.


A large, square-shaped scarf made of lightweight fabric typically worn around the neck and head. It can protect the face and head from the sun and dust and serve a variety of practical uses.

Bar Hopper

A bike used to travel between bars.

Basket Case

A motorcycle that is disassembled, parts everywhere.


The edge of a bike rubber hoop that fits snugly against the wheel rim


A tail light styled like a beehive.


A slang term for BMW vehicles.

Belt Drive

A part of the engine that transfers power by way of a belt.


Not to be left at home.

Big Dog

A North American motorcycle company.

Big Five

Refers to the five most prominent motorcycle manufacturers: Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Harley Davidson



Honda motorcycle. Fun Fact, the Honda CB750 was the first Sports Bike.


Cubic centimeter

CE Armor/CE Certified

There are a few systems in place that are designed to rate the effectiveness and safety of motorcycle riding gear, but the CE Armor/CE Certified system is the most widely used in Europe. This system is designed to give riders a clear understanding of the level of protection their armor will provide in the event of an accident.


Christian Motorcycle Association

Café Racer

Custom motorcycles take design cues from the British street-racing motorcycles of the 1960s and 1970s.


A four-wheel vehicle, Car, Van, or truck.


An aftermarket exhaust muffler typically used on sports bikes; designed to reduce noise.

Canyon Carving

A road with a lot of twists and turns, preferably out in the mountains.


A term used for a style of the tail light.

Center Stand

It's just like a kickstand, but it lifts the driving wheel off the ground. This is a great way to store your motorcycle or take a break on a long ride.


Going 100 mph


A chain is used for the transfer of power between the engine and the rear wheel.


Protective riding equipment that covers the legs but not the groin.


The local headquarters for a biker association.

Chase Vehicle

A truck or car that follows a group of bikers to assist with mechanical difficulties or bike trouble.


The motorcycle's frame and suspension unit of a bike.


A term used for a bike that has been changed and customized over the years; all unnecessary bits have been chopped off.


A person who does not belong to a motorcycle club and has no affiliation with any club.


The ranking, patches, and uniforms of a motorcycle club.


A bike used for cruising the town, not a race or rat bike. Cruiser Motorcycles are something more comfortable.



Dual Overhead Cam.


Dual Overhead Valves.

Dirt Bike

Off-road motorcycles; they're not legally allowed on the road and in traffic.


This is what happens when the front suspension compresses due to very hard braking. The front wheels of the bike will dig into the ground, and the back wheels will, at times, lift.


Slang word for Helmet.


A head covering made of cloth.

Drag Bars

A style of the handlebar.

Drag Pipes

A short exhaust pipe seen on cruiser and touring bikes.

Dual Sports

Dual Sport Motorcycles Are for both on and off-road use.


Earned/Earned or Bought

This term refers to whether or not patches were earned or bought. Some clubs sell certain patches, while others have their members earn them.

Easy Rider

This is a motorcycle magazine, and it is also a movie.


Enduros are basically road-legal dirt bikes, also known as Dual Sports bikes.

Exhaust Wrap

A cloth that has been insulated and then wrapped around the exhaust system in order to hold the heat.



The front end of the motorcycle is made for the best wind resistance.


These are the heat sumps often found on air-cooled motorcycle engines.


When the rear tire of the bike slides from side to side.

Flat Spot

When the bike has reached a certain engine speed in one of the gear ratios and more rpm cannot be gained.

Flying Colors

Wear the colors, emblems, and badges of your club.

Foot Pegs

The pegs on which you rest your feet while riding.


Gas Guzzler

A bike that has a large gas tank and uses a lot of fuel.


Gone but never forgotten.

Getting Patched

Graduating into a club or earring more badges.

Giggle Gas


GP Armour

This is the kind of protective gear worn in motorcycle racing.


Murphy's cousin, the Gremlin, is responsible for all mechanical problems.


Hand Signals

These can be anything from signaling to form a certain formation or to warn other bikers of upcoming traffic.

Harley Davidson

The biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the United States.

Helmet Head

The way your hair looks after taking off your helmet.

Helmet Stickers

Funky stickers that bikers used to customize their helmets.

High Side

A riding incident in which a rider goes flying over the bike.


The nickname given to a large bike, like a Harley.



A biker who is not affiliated or part of any club.


An older motorcycle manufacturer.



Ink Slinger

A tattoo artist.

Inline Four

Refers to an engine configuration in which all four cylinders are lined up in a straight row.

Inline Six

All six cylinders are lined up in a straight row.

Inline Triple

All three cylinders lined up in a straight row.



The part in the carb in which fuel flows through.

Jet Needle

This controls the flow of fuel-air mixture delivery to the bike's engine.

Jockey Shift

A gear shift lever commonly found on some older American-made motorcycles. It allows the rider to change gears without having to take their hand off the throttle, which can improve the rider's control and make it easier to shift gears while riding at high speeds.


Engine cylinders.



A bike that has to be kick-started manually.


The device that allows the motorbike to stand on its own. A small peddle is kicked down near the footrests.

King and Queen Seat

A one-piece seat designed so that the passenger sits higher than the driver. The passenger seat is higher than the driver's.


Harley Davidson-produced bike engine manufactured from the mid-'30s to the late '40s.



To install spokes on a wheel.

Lane Splitting

Driving between lanes.


Biker clothing made of leather, aka Leather gear, worn with the appropriate safety gear. Sites like Cyclegear and Amazon sell great leathers.


Motorcycle Helmet


The route you intend to go.

Lone Wolf

A rider who has no club ties.

Low Side

A motorcycle incident in which a rider maneuvers themselves into a slide with one leg stuck under the bike during the fall.


MC and M/C

Means a motorcycle club.


A planned social event.


The flared-out end of an exhaust pipe.

Metric Cruiser

A Cruiser-style bike or a foreign-manufactured bike like the universal Japanese motorcycles.

Monkey Butt

Numb butt from a long ride.

Mother Chapter

The OG chapter of a club.


Naked Bike

These are bikes without body fairing. One bike will often be naked while building a custom bike.


This is the front end of a motorcycle frame, located right behind the steering head assembly.

Nitrous Oxide/N2O

Gas that is oxygen-rich.


A "Nomad" is a biker who travels between chapters.


New and old stock and or nitrous.



This term stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer.


In short, Outlaws Forever, Forever Outlaws.


This is the overhead Cam.

Oil Bag

Oil Tank.

Old Lady

A Biker's significant other.


A uniquely fabricated bike part or bike.

Organ Donor

A rider who refuses to wear protective headgear. Or a bike that is used to part up another bike. If you don't have an organ donor bike, check out Revzilla for a wide variety of spares.



When you see the Letter "P" on a biker's jacket, it means "President."

Pancake Engine

Motorcycle's engine is horizontal.

Pasta Rocket

This is an Italian sports bike.

Patch Holder

A member of an MC Club.


The emblems and symbols sewn onto biker jackets.


Race Bikes

A motorcycle that is used for racing.


An organized ride with club members, sometimes involving camping.

Rat Bike

A Rat bike is a bike that is mostly not cared for. It can be in good or bad condition. Used mainly when the main bike is going through a service.


Customizable foot pegs that allow a rider to change the height of his footrests. Loved by touring motorcycle owners.


A term used for a person who rides a motorcycle. A motorcycle rider or rider, just like the person who sails a boat is a sailor.


This is a two-stroke motorcycle.

Road Rash

The peeled-back inflamed skin after falling off your bike.



Also known as "The Salt" are the Bonneville Salt flats.


A type of race tire.

Steering Head

The pivot at which the fork attaches and is what helps determine the steering.


This is the term for a reverse wheelie. Where the rider goes up on the front wheel, as opposed to the rear tire. Going upon either motorcycle tire is dangerous and should never be done without training. This can also be damaging to motorcycle tires. Always check that your front brake is working before doing this.


A long road with an ongoing, consistent turn.



A slang term for a small bike and or a beginner's bike. This term could possibly be seen as derogatory.

Track Day

This can be for Dirt bikes or any kind of biker club; everyone meets up and has a day on the track.


A motorcycle with three wheels, two in the back and one in the front.


Torque is a critical quantity in many applications, such as in bike engines and in electric motors. Like the Nissan leaf, It is also important in machines such as lathes and drill presses, where it is used to rotate the workpiece.


This is the slang term for winding roads or roads with a lot of twists and turns.


Refers to a kind of motorcycle engine that completes its cycle in two strokes.



Universal Japanese Motorcycle. Mainly produced in the 1970s.


Vintage Hog

Refers to a vintage bike.


A type of engine configuration where the cylinders are lined up in a V formation.


Wave/The Wave

This is the biker's way of saying hi to one another; it could be a peace sign or any form of hand signal when passing.


When a biker goes up on the back tire, this can be damaging to the rear wheel hub as well as the rear suspension.



A type of handlebar.