Life on bikes

The biker slang dictionary H to Q

The biker slang dictionary H to Q

The Biker & Bike Dictionary A to G
The Biker & Bike Dictionary R to Z


Part 2 of the biker slang dictionary sorts out your leans from your nods.


Hang up your boots/leathers/keys – Retire from riding. Noooooo!

Hammer down (put the) – Accelerate quickly

Hardly-Davidson – Looks like a Harley but isn’t one.

Hard tail – Bike with no rear suspension. Rider with sore bum.

Headers – Where the exhaust pipes meet the head of the engine.

Helmet head – State of your hair after a sweaty days’ riding.

High side crash in action

High side – Flipping the bike over when the rear wheel, having lost traction in a corner, suddenly grips again causing a violent anti-reaction to the centre of gravity. Can also happen if there is an engine seizure or a snapped chain that gets trapped between the wheel and the frame.

Hit the pavement – Accident, not to be confused with hitting the road, which actually means to crack on and actually get somewhere.

Hog – Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Boss Hog – Ridiculous character from 80’s TV show The Dukes of Hazzard.

Hot – ‘Going in too hot’ Entering a corner too quickly.



Idle mix – On carburetor bikes, you can manually adjust the fuel to air mixture at low revs.

Indie shop – Not a main dealer.

Ink – Tattoos. Contrary to what the Daily Mail might say, these are not compulsory for two-wheeled activities.


Jap-crap – Derogatory and wholly unjust description of any bike from a Japanese brand. Normally used by someone who has never ridden or owned one.

Jets – Fine needles which spray fuel from the carbs into the cylinder. Can get blocked, causing poor performance or can be increased in size to improve performance.

Jugs – Cylinders actually. Disappointed chaps?

Jump – Using leads attached to another bike’s battery when your own battery has given up.


K&N – Much adored maker of performance air and oil filters. Will make your bike go faster.

Kickstand – That thing on the left that stops your bike from falling over when you get off it.

Kickstart – That thing on the right of older bikes without electronic ignition. Pumped furiously it will first make you weep with frustration, before a few coughs will give you unbridled hope, filled by deep joy if you manage to get the bike actually started.

Kwaker/Kwak – Kawasaki.



L-Twin – A V-Twin engine with the cylinders laid on a 90° angle.

Lay it down – A crash where the bike slides down the road.

Leathers – Protective gear, normally referring to jacket & trousers or a one-piece racing suit made from, guess what?

Lean – Too much air in your air/fuel mixture. ‘Rich’ would be too much fuel.

Lid (AKA Skid Lid) – Crash helmet.

Light up – Start the engine, or have a cheeky fag at rest stops.

Line – The path you select to take through a corner.

Lightweight – Bike where all the materials used are designed to significantly reduce weight.

Love nudge – Bumping into another biker’s ride, normally during racing. Not really a term of endearment.

Lump – The engine.

Lung – Cylinder.



Massey (Ferguson/JCB/Tractor – Harley-Davidson

Master Cylinder – Forces hydraulic fluid into the brake cylinder.

MC – Motorcycle club

Mechanic – 1) Hero. 2) Fool who tries to earn a living fixing other people’s bikes.

Meet – Meet other bikers to swap tales of epic rides and not so epic crashes.

Megaphone – Megaphone-shaped exhaust.

Minimoto – Those annoying little miniature bikes normally ridden around council estates.

Monkey Bike – Hilarious miniature commuter bike from Honda in the 70’s and 80’s. Complete with tiny ape-hanger style bars.

Moped – Scooter that can’t go about 30mph, normally up to 50cc lump.

Motocross – Closed course off road races. A lot of fun until it comes to cleaning your bike afterwards.

Muffler – The chunky bit on the end of your exhaust that’s meant to deaden sound. I said, meant to…

Mushrooms – Crash bungs on the side of your bike. See bungs.


Naked – Unfortunately not the rider, but a sportier bike with little or no fairings.

NBD – Never Been Dropped. Funny thing to mention in an ad if it’s never been an issue for the owner…

Nod – Tip your head to the side to acknowledge another rider. See Signals for more of these little nuggets.

NOS – New Old Stock. Original Equipment from Manufacturer (OEM) parts for a classic or older bike.

NOS – Nitrous Oxide – Can you believe some nutters use this on a motorbike?

Nosie – Same as a Stoppie – a front end wheelie where it’s the back end of the bike that goes up in the air.



OEM – Original Equipment from Manufacturer – means it’s made by a brand like Yamaha or Triumph, instead of being a copy made by a third party or ‘after market’ manufacturer.

Ogri – 1) Sketch, based on a grizzly old-school biker of the same name, 2) Collective noun for old-school bikers who use engine oil for pretty much everything- beard oil, waterproofing for jeans etc. ‘Bunch of Ogri’s turned up on ratters [rat-look bikes]’.

Ohlins – The gods of suspension components.

On rails – Cornering as if it’s hard to come off.

On the ground – Exactly the opposite of being on rails.

Organ Donor – How hospital staff refer to motorcyclists. Charming. But on a serious note, you have registered, haven’t you?

Orphan – An ultra-rare motorbike that is no longer in production.

OTB – Going ‘Over the Bars’ in an accident.

Outfit – Motorcycle and sidecar.

Outlaw – Mmember of a biker gang, like the Hells Angels.

Oversteer – When the back of the back starts to skid. When the wheel catches again you could be looking at a ‘high-side’.



Paddock stand – A steel frame, often with rollers, that allows you to raise the front and rear of the bike off the ground.

Pancake (engine) – A horizontally opposed engine like the BMX Boxer

Pannier – Frame and bags/hard luggage that site either side of the bike making it look hilariously fat.

Patches – Cloth badges that either 1) Mean you are being sponsored by an oil company (or pretending to be), 2) A member of a probably very naughty bike gang.

Pegging – Pushing along a fellow biker whose bike refuses to play ball. Normally you place a foot on the rear peg of the non-starter. Unfortunately much adopted by bike thieves to get the bike away from the scene silently, before they bump-start the bike.

Petcock – Old fashioned petrol valve where you can manually switch the fuel feed from On and Off to Reserve.

Pillion – Lunatic who agrees to ride on the back of your bike.

Pinched – 1) Your bike is no longer where you left it. 2) Stopped by the police. For stealing bikes, hopefully.

Pin it – To go really rather fast.

Pipes – Your exhaust system.

Pisspot – Open faced helmet.

Porn – A heavily tricked-out bike, “That’s porn, that is.”

Popping – 1) The clutch for a faster start, 2) A wheelie, for impressing fat blokes outside the Ace Cafe or your millions of fanatical GP fans.

Powerband – The range in the revs where the most power is produced. The revs being that round dial thing with the needle that spins up fast when you blip the throttle (the handle on the right that turns a bit).

Power wheelie – Using engine power alone to pull a wheelie, as opposed to the clutch or rear brake.

Proddy – Production bikes (that you can buy for racing) as opposed to bikes built by factory teams for their sponsored racers.


Q-Tip – AKA Sunday Drivers, who are so elderly they have white hair. This lack of pigment apparently leads to a slower average speed. Which is nonsense – my grandad was still blowing Mercs off from lights aged 80, bless him.

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