Life on bikes

The biker slang dictionary R to Z

The biker slang dictionary R to Z

The Biker & Bike Dictionary A to G

The Biker & Bike Dictionary H to Q


Bringing up the rear end (see below) of Biker & Bike’s biker slang dictionary.


Race can – A normally lighter muffler with less restriction to enable a faster expulsion of air from the exhaust system.

Rat – A less-than-showroom-condition motorcycle, often made on purpose to look like a sellotape together piece of shit. i love ‘em.

Rear end – The back end of the bike – swing arm, rear wheel etc.

Rear ender – Being shunted from behind by, normally, a hapless car driver.

Rebound – The length the suspension travels when returning from compression.

Red line – Th point on the rev counter you are meant to reach before changing gear. Kidding. Not.

Renthal – maker of very cool after-market parts including sprockets, chains, brake pads but normally used to describe flat handle bars.

Restricted – Engines that have been limited to a certain horsepower to make them eligible for riders not yet on a full motorcycle licence.

Rice burner – Japanese bikes.

Rich – 1) Ducati Panigale owner. 2) Too much fuel in the air/fuel mixture. The opposite would be lean.

Rigid – Bike without a pivoted swing arm.

Road rash – Viscous scraping-off of your skin, caused by ‘going down the road’ without proper protection, you idiot. Seriously, you’re on a high-powered bike and any spill above 30mph could go down to the bone. Have a word with yourself.

Rolling on/off – Twisting the throttle to accelerate/decelerate.

Rossi Rep – There’s this chap called Valentino Rossi who is quite quick on a race bike. Some people like to emulate him by having a bike replicate his bike’s fairing design. Can be applied to one-piece racing leathers too.

Rubber – Your tyres.



Shimmy – Worrisome wobble at high speed.

Shocks – Short for shock absorbers, natch.

Shiny Side Up – Staying upright on the bike. As opposed to ending up removed from it by an illegal u-turn merchant.

Short shift – Changing up gear before necessary, normally to avoid having to do it at a later point or to avoid shell-spin on a damp surface. Or to improve fuel economy. Wuss.

Single – One pot engine.

Signals – Leaving standard turning signals to one side, here are bike specific hand signals:

Nod head to one side when another bike comes towards you – Hello.
Opening and closing left hand – You’ve left your indicator on.
Rapid brake light flashing – Hazard ahead (and my bike doesn’t have hazard warning lights).
Point at petrol tank to another group rider – I need to brim it.
Rub belly – I’m hungry.
Tap helmet a few times – Rozzers in the vicinity.
Waving left leg – Says thank you when someone has moved over to let you pass.
Waving right leg – Indicates you have a sore leg from riding for too long.

Sissy bar – Slightly derogatory term for the grab handle behind the pillion. But way more PC than the alternative ‘bitch bar’, which is really, you know, quite unpleasant.

Skid Lid – Helmet

Slam – To lower the bike’s suspension.

Slicks – Racing tyres. No grooves means more rubber means more surface areas gripping the tarmac.

Slipper clutch – Partially disengages the engine from the drive train, to stop the rear wheel trying to drive the engine faster.

SMIDSY – Sorry mate, I didn’t see you.

Speed wobble – Frightening moment when the handlebars start to slap from side-to-side without you asking them to. Gently roll off the throttle. Or get a damper.

Sportsbike – Normally 600cc class bike built to emulate racing bikes.

Sports tourer – Not as jumpy as a tourer, not as quick as a sports or superbike.

Spill – Coming off the bike when you hadn’t planned to.

Springs – Spring-style shock absorber, normally sits under your bum and stops you bouncing around too much,

Standing on the brakes – Pulling up very quickly, avoiding potential disaster, laughing about it in the pub afterwards.

Standing the bike up – Pulling on the anchors in a corner, during which the motorbike will stop leaning and become upright.

Superbike – Racing orientated bike of 1000cc or thereabouts. This is what you want, really.

Static – Noise test at track days where the decibel level of your cans is tested when the bike is at standstill. Normally worried about endlessly the first time you do a new track and you don’t know how nice the marshals are.

Streetfighter – A stripped-down sports bike, devoid of fairings and other superfluous weight, and often given a more aggressive stance. can look sick, can look shite.

Stickies – Soft compound tyres that warm up quicker and offer greater adhesion to Tarmac.

Stoppie – Like a wheelie, but using the wrong end of the bike.

Straight through – Pipes that have little in the way of restrictions, like catalytic converters and baffles. Lovely and loud but not helpful at MOT time.

Stroker – Not what you might think. Actually a two-stroke engine.

Suicide shift – Old fashion gear change where the rider had to let go of the handle bars when changing gear. Scary.

Sump – Stops oil falling out of the bottom of your engine. Check the nut thingy underneath it regularly, as you don’t want oil falling in the path of your rear tyre…

Swapping paint – When racers come together.

Swingarm – Attaches the rear wheel to the bike frame, via a pivoted link, allowing the bike to move up and down with the suspension.



Tailgunner – Last rider in the group, responsible for making sure no-one gets lost.

Tankslapper – When a speed wobble turns into blind panic as the handle bars slam against the side of the fuel tank. Really not ideal.

Target fixation – Focussing on a specific object or line and steering towards it rather than the line you would have taken. On a race track it’s probably another rider who has gone off and you find yourself inadvertently following them. On the road it’s that dead fox that you think to yourself ‘don’t run over the roadkill’. Before you do exactly that.

Tats – Tattoos. Not strictly a biker terms and you don’t really have to have them to pass your licence. Contrary to opinion.

Textiles – Protective gear made from tough (hopefully) man-made textile, rather than leather.

The Island – Shorthand for the Isle of Man, normally used as a term of reverence by bikers who have experienced the madness that is the TT.

The Ton – Reaching 100mph.

Thumper – Large engined single-cylinder bike.

Top end – 1) The top of the engine, where all of the delicate bits concerned with creating a bang in the cylinder are located. 2) The maximum speed your steed will go.

Torque – If you ask me it’s how quick it feels. The official explanation is here.

Tourer – Built for longer distance riding where having a more comfortable bum is favoured over outright speed.

Totalled – Beyond repair after coming to an unplanned stop.

Travel – The distance the suspension forks and shocks move, up and down.

Trials bike – Off-road competition bikes, very light with high ground clearance so you can go over rocks and shit.

Trick – A bike featuring lots of high-end after market parts, normally performance orientated. Like wavy brake discs or a unique suspension set up.

Trickle-charger – Get one to keep your battery topped up over winter if you don’t ride every day.

Triple – Three cylinder engine, much favoured by Triumph, that coupled with a racing exhaust makes one of the sweetest sounds you are ever likely to hear and has the riding advantage of a more constant power band.

Trump – Twat from America.

Trumpet – Any Triumph bike.

Tyre warmers – Snuggle blankets for race tyres so they reach operating temperature quicker. Beloved by track day riders who don’t realise most of the heat is lost while they wait to get their wrist band and noise test passed sticker checked by the marshals.

TT – The world’s most glorious sporting event, held annually on the Isle of Man.

Twin – Two cylinder bike. Really, you want a V-twin if you are going down this route.

Twisties – A series of head-bendingly great corners.

Two up – Carrying a pillion. Ahhh, sweet.


Upside-down forks – AKA Inverted forks. Where the telescopic section of the fork is at the bottom top of the fork (where it’s attached to the yoke) instead of the axle end.

Urban – Kind of another term for commuter bikes – smaller engined, light and nimble bikes for navigating the city more easily than a big bike.



V-Twin – Two cylinder engine with the cylinders arranged in an angled V which produces more bottom end torque, increased engine breaking and, which the right end can, a really nice sound. Actually, there are a lot more V engines that we should mention, like V4’s etc. but hey, the V-twin is the one you really wanted to know about, right?


Wash out – Losing the front wheel in a slide to one side.

Wave – Less popular than the Nod now.

Waxer – Someone who spends more than cleaning the bike than riding it.

Wear bar – Visible strip that should be below the tread on your tyres. If it’s at the same height, you need new tyres, matey.

Weekend Warrior – Only rides at the weekend. Nothing wrong with that if you can’t ride during the week. I hear you say.

Went down – Binned it.

Wheelie – C’mon, you know what a wheelie is! You’ve been doing them since you were six, after all.

Wrench – 1) Mechanic. 2) Tool.

Wrenching – Fixing, improving, inadvertently wrecking your bike by doing mechanical stuff yourself.


Yamahog/Yamaharley – Japanese bikes that resemble Harley-Davidsons.

Yoshi – Yoshimura exhausts, beloved of racers and people who want to be racers.


Z Bar – Handlebar style popular on custom choppers.

Zuki – Useful when you can’t be bothered to pronounce the first syllable of Suzuki.

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