Dec 18, 2020

Biker Dictionary and Road Terms (Part One)

Ericka Ellis

Dictionary of Biker Terms Part One

When it comes to throwing yourself into motorcycle riding and the riding community as a whole, there's going to be a large selection of things you're going to have to learn. For starters, it's important to prioritize learning how to actually ride a bike. If you don't know how to ride the proper way, odds are that your riding adventure might be a little short for all the wrong reasons. You'll want to learn the different styles of bikes, and what brand or model might suit what you're looking for, along with the basics behind all the gear you're going to need. After that, you might feel perfectly informed and you're ready to ride, right? Well, not exactly.

As can be true with any culture, part of the learning curve of being integrated into a new community involves familiarizing yourself with key terms. It doesn't just end there, though, because biker slang could be a tell regarding your riding experience. And while some people might not like to admit that first impressions matter, they do. So, why not try and learn everything ahead of time to make your transition a seamless one?

As always, I'm a good friend, so I've made it easy for you to make a home on the road or ace all those motorcycle trivia quiz tournaments. Check out some of the key terms in motorcycle lingo dictionary you'll want to know when you're introduced to the motorcycle culture!


1%er (One-Percenter): If 99% of motorcycle riders are law-abiding citizens of society, then the rest is the 1%. These guys usually display their outlaw affiliation on a diamond-shaped 1% patch.

1-Kicker: A well-tuned motorcycle that starts on the first kick.

2-into-1: Two exhaust pipes mated into one, such as two header pipes into one muffler pipe.

3-Piece Patch: Also called a 3 Patch, this is a configuration of back patches used by some motorcycle clubs. It’s organized with a top patch (the name of the club), a center patch (the club’s logo), and a bottom patch (territory). The top and bottom patches are referred to as “Rockers.”

6-Bends: Also called 6-Bend Handlebars, they are just that: Handlebars with six bends. These were popular in the 1970’s Chopper culture.

81: This stands for "Hell's Angels," a pretty notorious motorcycle club. The eighth letter of the alphabet is H, while the first is A. We'll leave it up to you to do the rest of the research on the group and come to your own conclusions.

99%er: The exact opposite of the 1%er. Often worn by an off-duty biker, first responders, and emergency personnel, and military. Sometimes worn by citizens as a social statement, but is often taken by 1%ers as a challenge.


ABATE: While this acronym has several meanings, ABATE is a social club and lobbying organization that seeks to preserve and regain legal rights on behalf of the motorcycling community.

Aces and 8’s: Otherwise known as the Deadman’s Hand. This is the legendary poker hand drawn by Wild Bill Hickok just before he was murdered.

Aftermarket: When you buy a new bike, you can just stick with the original, or gets tons of aftermarket additions and accessories.

AMA: You might hear fellow riders say this, and it's probably beneficial to know what they're talking about. This stands for American Motorcycle Association, which is an organization know to host races, rallies, and negotiates politics on behalf of riders.

Ape Hangers: Motorcycle handlebars that usually have hand-grips above the shoulders. The name comes from the way the bars make the rider look like “an ape hanging from a tree.”

Apex: When you're in a car, you turn around a corner. However, on a bike, you're looking for the apex of that corner. This means the point closest to the curb or shoulder, usually between the entry and exit. Plus, it's a fun word to say.

ATGATT: Well, this seems like a bit of a mouthful, eh? But compared to much of the other slang, this is an important one. This stands for "All The Gear, All The Time," and if there's one motto to live by when you're a motorcycle rider, this one isn't a bad one.  


Backbone: The top tube of a motorcycle frame where the tank is typically mounted.

Back Warmer: Your fellow rider at the back of your bike.

Backyard: An area that you ride frequently.

Baffle: A sound-deadening wall inside a muffler. (What's the best aftermarket exhaust for Harley Davidson?)

Bagger: A bike that’s equipped with saddlebags, or large, side bags, and full touring gear.

Bark-o-lounger: This is typically describes a comfortable motorcycle that's on the larger side.

Big Twin: A large V-Twin engine, especially the larger Harley-Davidson engines.

Big Five: This is the five most established motorcycle brands: Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki.

Big Four: The term used to refer to the four motorcycle gangs that the FBI recognizes as outlaw gangs. These include Hell's Angels, Outlaws, Pagans, and Bandidos.

Blip the Throttle: A quick twist of the throttle.

Blockhead: A Harley-Davidson engine produced between 1984 and 2000.

Bobber: A motorcycle that has been customized by “bobbing,” or shortening, the fenders.

Boneyard: A salvage yard, which means if you go here, you're not likely to find anything that actually works.

Brain Bucket: Helmet.

Brother: A very close friend for life.

Broomsticks: Straight handlebars.

Buddy Pegs: This is the passenger foot-pegs.

Bullet Bike: If you hear this term, odds are you'll know it's not actually coming from a rider. This is a term that the media uses often when referring to "sportsbikes." You won't hear an actual rider say this, so it should be a hint that this person isn't heavily involved in the culture.


CC: Cubic centimeter. 1,000 cc = 1 liter.

Cage: A car, truck, or van.

Cager: A driver of a car, truck, or van.

Canyon Carving: This is riding fast and hard around some long, twisty roads.

CB: If someone says this, odds are they're referring to an older Honda model. The older bikes that Honda pushes out typically started with "CB," hence why it kind of stuck.

Chapter: No, not a new chapter in a book. But not too far off! This essentially means a branch of a motorcycle club. For instance, L.A.M.A (Latin American Motorcycle Association) has a Dallas chapter.

Chassis: Frame and suspension.

Choke: Used to make cold starting an engine easier. Old systems used to “choke” out some air to increase the fuel-to-air ratio. Newer systems enrich the amount of fuel.

Chopper: You'll hear this a lot, and it's just referring to a bike cruiser with extended forks. While there's no detailed manual as to what makes a bike a chopper, there are some consistencies. This usually includes a stretched gas tank, extended forks, a V-twin engine, and maybe a fat rear tire.  

Church: A club meeting.

Citizen: A rider with no Motorcycle Club affiliation.

Clip-on: Handlebars that “clip” onto the top of the forks.

CL: This one stands for "Craigslist," and it might seem weird this term is part of the biker lingo. But, for the longest time, Craigslist was one of the only places you could try to sell your bike, without taking it back to the dealer. Until now! (hint hint, wink wink, RumbleOn).

Cogs: This is just talking about the gears in the transmission.

Colors: Logos, patches, or uniform associated with a Motorcycle Club.

Crotch Rocket: A sports bike.

Cruiser: A bike built for cruising as opposed to sports-riding or long-distance riding. These are usually a classic style with a low seat, pull-back handlebars, and lots of chrome.

Cuts: (Also called cut-off or "Kutte") A denim jacket which has the sleeves cut off. All club patches are sewn onto cuts and are part of their basic uniform, which is worn as the outermost layer of clothing. Even over leather jackets. Wikipedia states the definition of the variation "Kutte" (pronounced "cut") as a type of battle vest or "a vest or jacket which originated in the biker subculture and has now found popularity in the punk and various heavy metal subcultures."


DOHC: Dual Overhead Cam.

DOHV: Dual Overhead Valves.

DOT: This is important to know, especially if you're new to riding and buying your gear. DOT is the Department of Transportation, and when a helmet meets all the standards put in place, it's DOT-approved. Do not buy a helmet that isn't DOT-approved.

Daytona: Daytona Beach, Florida. Home to the annual American motorcycle rallies, Daytona Beach Bike Week Rally, and Biketoberfest Motorcycle Rally.

Digger: A motorcycle with a stretched and lengthened frame, and stock-length front forks.

Dome: Helmet.

Drag Bars: Handlebars that do not sweep up or back toward the rider.

Dragging Pegs: When you lean so far into a curve or turn that your foot pegs drag on the ground. In other words, don't do this. And if you hear someone praising in it, you have permission to give them some side-eye.

Drop Seat: A frame style in which the seat-rest has a lowering notch within the frame.

Dresser: No, not what you put your clothes in. This is typically slang for a "touring bike," because those bikes are usually easy to customize and "dress up."

Dumping the Bike: This isn’t a crash, really, as the bike is not under power at the time of the dump. Instead, it is more like when the bike just falls over.

Duc: This is a nickname for the Italian motorcycle brand Ducati because, for some reason, Ducati is just too much of a mouthful to say.

Rumble on,

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