Breaking Down Motorcycle Jargon: A Beginner's Guide

Breaking Down Motorcycle Jargon: A Beginner's Guide

Motorcycling is a thrilling and exhilarating hobby that offers freedom and adventure on two wheels. However, for newcomers to the world of motorcycles, it can sometimes feel like stepping into a foreign land filled with confusing terminology and jargon.

Motorcycle Types

Starting with the basics: motorcycle types. Understanding the different categories of motorcycles can be incredibly helpful:

  • Cruisers: These are known for their relaxed, laid-back riding position and iconic designs. 
  • Sportbikes: Built for speed and agility, sportbikes have a more aggressive riding position. 
  • Touring Bikes: Designed for long-distance travel, touring bikes often come equipped with saddlebags, comfortable seats, and windshields.
  • Dirt Bikes: These off-road machines are lightweight and built for rough terrains. 

Motorcycle Parts

Understanding the various components of a motorcycle is crucial for both riding and maintenance:

  • Frame: The skeleton of the motorcycle that holds everything together.
  • Engine: The heart of the bike that generates power. Common engine configurations include inline-four, V-twin, and single-cylinder.
  • Suspension: Keeps your ride smooth by absorbing bumps and shocks. Components include forks (front) and shocks (rear).
  • Tires: The only point of contact with the road, tires come in various types like street, off-road, and sport.

Riding Techniques

To become a skilled rider, you'll need to learn some essential riding techniques:

  • Countersteering: Pushing the handlebars in the opposite direction you want to turn. This is how you initiate a turn at higher speeds.
  • Counterbalance: Shifting your body weight to balance the bike during turns.
  • Lane Splitting: Riding between slow-moving or stopped vehicles, legal in some regions.

Safety Gear

Safety gear is non-negotiable in motorcycling:

  • Helmet: Protects your head in case of a crash. Look for DOT or ECE certification.
  • Boots: Provide ankle support and grip for your feet.
  • Tops, Gloves, and Pants that offer protection from abrasion in case of a fall. You'll want to look for gear lined with Aramid (you may have heard of it as Kevlar) this is a high tech fabric that's 5X stronger than steel but isn't bulky. CE Armor will help protect you from impact.

At NBT Clothing we offer a range of protective gear with Aramid and CE Armor:

The License to Ride Pants Aramid Edition:

TensileTough aramid Lining in the glute & knee area.
High-quality material blend to optimize comfort, durability, and flexibility.
Free CE approved knee & hip armor.
Stretch elastic accordion panels above knees and lower back.

The Bia Goddess Skinny Jeans:

TensileTough™ aramid lining for road rash protection in the glute and knee area.
High-quality material blend to optimize comfort, durability, and flexibility.
Free CE-approved knee & hip impact protection armor.

The Body Guard Hoodie:

TensileTough™ aramid lining in elbows, shoulders, and back.
High-quality material blend to optimize comfort, durability, and flexibility.
Free CE-approved armor in elbows, shoulders, and back.
Soft-to-the-touch cotton exterior.
Polyester mesh interior for extra comfort.
Large zip kangaroo pouch to secure your items.
Belt loop prevents ride-up at high speeds.

The Free Riding' Flannel Aramid Edition:

Fully Lined - TensileTough™ Aramid.
High-quality material blend to optimize comfort, durability, and flexibility.
Free Removable CE armor in elbows, shoulders, and back to keep you safe.
Adjustable wrist cuffs to control airflow.
Soft-to-the-touch cotton exterior.
Polyester mesh interior for extra comfort.

The Stealth Series Moto Gloves:

Lightweight, Comfortable, and Durable.
Constructed with ARMORTEX Anti Abrasion | Anti-Tear Fabric.
Armored Knuckles | Impact Protection.
Reinforced Palm and Thumb Guard.
Touchscreen Compatible.
Breathable and Lightweight.
Secure Velcro Wrist Straps.
Water and Dirt Repellent.
High Tenacity Grip.

Maintenance Terms

Keeping your motorcycle in top shape is essential:

  • Chain Maintenance: Lubricating and adjusting the chain that transfers power from the engine to the rear wheel.
  • Valve Clearance: Adjusting the space between the valves and the camshaft to ensure optimal engine performance.
  • Tune-up: General maintenance that includes tasks like changing the oil, replacing spark plugs, and checking the air filter.

Motorcycle culture has its own set of slang and jargon terms that riders often use to describe various aspects of riding, gear, and behavior. Here are some slang motorcycle jargon terms:

  • Squid: This term refers to an inexperienced or reckless rider who typically doesn't wear proper protective gear, such as a helmet or full riding gear. Squids are known for their risky riding behavior.
  • ATGATT: An acronym for "All The Gear, All The Time." This emphasizes the importance of wearing full protective gear, including helmet, jacket, gloves, pants, and boots whenever riding.
  • Cager: A term used by motorcyclists to describe drivers of cars or other enclosed vehicles. It's often used in a slightly derogatory manner, implying that car drivers may not be as aware of or considerate toward motorcyclists.
  • Twisties: Refers to winding or curvy roads that are enjoyable for motorcycle riders. Riders often seek out twisty roads for the thrill of leaning into turns.
  • Biker Wave: A common practice where motorcyclists acknowledge each other with a wave when passing by on the road. The wave can vary from a simple hand gesture to more elaborate signals.
  • Lane Splitting: Riding a motorcycle between lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic, usually in congested areas. 
  • Dresser: Short for "dresser motorcycle" or "dressing," it refers to large touring motorcycles known for their comfortable features and storage capacity, often favored for long-distance rides.
  • Saddle Sore: A term used to describe a rider who has traveled a long distance in a single day and experienced discomfort or fatigue from being in the saddle for an extended period.
  • Chicken Strips: The unused portions of a motorcycle tire's tread on the outer edges. Some riders use the width of these strips as an indicator of a rider's skill and lean angle.

  • Stoppie: A stunt where the rider applies the front brake hard enough to lift the rear wheel off the ground momentarily.
  • Wheelie: A stunt where the rider lifts the front wheel of the motorcycle off the ground, balancing on the rear wheel.
  • Lowside: A type of motorcycle crash where the bike loses traction on its side and slides out from under the rider.
  • Highside: Another type of motorcycle crash where the bike regains traction abruptly, causing the rider to be thrown over the handlebars.
  • RAT Bike: Short for "Rough and Tough" bike, referring to a motorcycle with a rugged, unfinished appearance often associated with the custom or bobber style.
  • Crotch Rocket: A slang term for sportbikes or high-performance motorcycles known for their speed and aggressive riding positions.

These terms are used by riders to communicate within the motorcycle community and may vary in meaning or usage depending on regional motorcycle culture and personal interpretation.


Navigating the world of motorcycling jargon can be intimidating, but with time and experience, you'll become fluent in the language of two-wheel enthusiasts. As you embark on your motorcycling journey with NBT Clothing, remember that safety and proper maintenance are just as important as understanding the terminology. So, gear up, hit the road, and enjoy the thrilling adventure that motorcycling has to offer!

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