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New to motorcycling? Read our A-Z of motorcycle jargon.

We get that it can be daunting when starting out on your motorcycle journey. Jargon is all over the place with plenty of acronyms and abbreviations. We have compiled a list, with definitions to try and make life easier.

Jargon
So many words are confusing!

A

A licence: A full UK A licence is an unrestricted licence allowing the holder to ride any capacity or power motorcycle.

A1 licence: This is the licence you get after completing your CBT (Compulsory basic training). This is for 17+ years of age on machines up to 125cc. The next step after A1 is the A2 licence.

A2 licence: The UK A2 licence allows riders aged 19 and above, to ride a motorcycle with no more than 47 bhp. This can be an A2 bike from the factory or a larger motorcycle restricted down as long as it’s no more than 94 horsepower in standard trim.

ABS: Anti-lock braking systems; a system designed to prevent the wheels locking under extreme braking preventing skidding.

Aftermarket: Parts purchased and fitted after the motorcycle leaves the factory.

Armour: Protective padding added to garments to help mitigate impacts.

4SR leathers
Protective armour inside a pair of leathers

Auto-blipper: What is an autoblipper? Well, put simply it’s a device used to match the engine revs to the road speed for use when changing down a gear. This allows downshifting without the use of the clutch lever, in opposite to a quickshifter.


Apex: The point closest to the middle of the corner.

Aquaplane: This is where the amount of water in front of a tyre builds up faster than the tyre tread can remove it. This water generates a layer of water, causing the tyre to lift off the floor, losing grip.

Bored under lockdown? Check these 10 films to watch!

B

Baffle: an internal noise dampener commonly found in exhausts. Sometimes removable.

Beemer: A BMW motorbike.

Bobbin(s): a mushroom-shaped object that mounts to the forks or swing-arm which allows paddock stands to lift the motorcycle (see: paddock stand).

Bobber: a style of motorcycle, typically has shortened mudguards and other custom parts.

The Triumph Bobber

Bottom Out: Reaching the maximum amount of suspension travel, when you hit the bottom. If this happens, try getting your suspension set up by an expert.

Box frame: A hollow profiled frame usually rectangle, which is welded together.

Brembo: A braking system manufacturer.

Bushing: a rubber insert that absorbs vibration.

Bimble: a causal ride for fun.

C

Cat: Catalytic converter, a device fitted to motorcycles by manufacturers to reduce emissions levels and swiftly removed by owners to generate more power.

Cager: somebody who drives a car

Carbon Fibre: A composite material providing lightweight and strong components.

CBT: Compulsory Basic Training, required in the UK to ride a 125cc motorcycle, (or 50cc for 16-year-olds) with L plates.

Ceramic Coating: A coating which is applied to the motorcycle which helps water to bead off and dirt not to stick. See this article for more information.

Chicken Strips: Edges of the tire which are unused. This varies between bikes and rider.

Chicken strip edge

Chopper: a style of motorcycle, usually fitted with high handlebars and footplates.

Crash bobbin(s): protective objects bolted on to the motorcycle to prevent damage during a crash or drop.

Crotch Rocket: a fast motorcycle, usually of sports variety.

Countersteer: the action of steering a motorcycle by pushing the bars in the opposite direction to the turn.

Read about MV Agusta’s new tourer, Turismo Veloce 800

D

Damping: Damping is the process of reducing the oscillation of the spring in a suspension unit when it compresses or rebounds.

Dyno: Dynamometer, used for measuring the performance of an engine or motorcycle. This takes a reading from either the wheel or flywheel. A wheel hp reading will be lower than an engine hp reading due to drivetrain losses.

Disc Brakes: A braking system that uses an external calliper that clamps friction material onto a fixed disc attached to the wheel.

Motorcycle disc brake and caliper

Drum Brakes: a braking system that uses two internal friction shoes that expand into a drum fixed to the inside of the wheel. This system was replaced by the Disc brake.

Double D Ring: a helmet securing system that feeds through two D shaped metal rings.

Dry Clutch: A clutch commonly seen on race bikes. It has no oil inside the clutch and uses airflow to keep the friction plates cool and clean.

DID: a brand of chain for certain bikes. They are the primary brand of chain for many manufacturers.

E

ECU: an Engine Control Unit, the brain making the engine and other systems like ABS, Traction control and anti-wheelie work.

Euro 4: A motorcycle standard introduced in 2017 to reduce pollution and increase the safety of motorcycles. This is superceded by Euro 5 (see below).

Euro 5: Introduced in 2021it further increases the standards from euro 4 to improve safety and reduce emissions.

End can: an exhaust silencer.

Racefit Titanium Growler, Yoshimura R11, , Scorpion Serket and Arrow Racetec cans.

F

Fairing: A plastic/composite shell placed over the frame and engine, mainly on sports bikes with the primary purpose to reduce drag.

The fairing on the V4S covers the engine for added aerodynamic efficiency

Fettle: to fix, tinker, or play with.

Fork: Motorcycle forks are usually telescopic combining springs and dampers to smooth out the ride for the rider.

Check out our review of Moto GP20 here

G

Geometry: the various angles which compose a motorcycle including rake, trail, and wheelbase length.

Gear ratio: the difference in size between the input and output gear cogs in the gearbox. These can affect the acceleration and top speed of the motorcycle.

Gore-Tex: a waterproof material applied to clothing. Commonly on textiles, boots, and gloves to ensure waterproof qualities.

H

Hardtail: A motorcycle with only front forks and a fixed rear end.

Hydroplane: when a thick layer of water builds up underneath a tire preventing traction. See aquaplane

I

Inverted forks: Also called Upside down forks (USD), inverted forks have the slider near the axle, whereas conventional forks have the slider at the top at the yoke. Benefits include increased stiffness.

J

(Go Faster) Juice: fuel

K

Knee Down: hanging off the bike, and scraping one’s knee on the tarmac as one takes a corner, allowing greater lean angles. It’s also pretty cool.

Finally nailed the kneedown!

L

Lid: a helmet

Leathers: a protective suit made from various types of leather worn both on the road and on track. Other none-leather-based leathers are available.

LED: Light Emitting Diode, commonly used in headlights, brake lights, and indicators.

LCD: Liquid Crystal Displays, used in modern dashboards.

Looking for a new helmet? Check the 2020 Sports helmet buying guide.

M

Micro-ratchet: a helmet securing system using a corrugated clip that pushes into a ratchet.

Motorcycling unicorn: No car license, just a bike license.

O

OEM: Original equipment manufacturer parts, (see: Stock).

P

Preload: An adjustment made to suspension in effect when the suspension is at full extension.

Power commander: A brand name of tuning manufacture allowing changes to the ECU extracting better performance.

Power ranger: somebody who has matching boots, gloves leathers, and helmet.

Pinlock: a thin insert attached to the inside of the visor, stopping the visor from misting or steaming up.

A pinlock insert for a motorcycle visor

Paddock Stand: a device that is capable of lifting the swingarm or front forks of a motorcycle using bobbin(s) or pegs.

Q

Quickshifter: a device which allows for upshifts without the use of a clutch.

R

Rake: the angle of the front forks and wheel from the centre of the wheel.

Rebound: the suspension’s ability to return to normal after the suspension compresses.

Renapur: a brand product used for maintenance of leather riding equipment.

S

Seat height: the height of the seat from the ground.

Snowfoam: What is snowfoam? A cleaning product sprayed on using a pressure washer, which helps to lift dirt and debris from the surface of the paint.

Snowfoam on the R1

Street Rossi: Someone who acts like a racer, on the road.

Subframe: a second smaller frame which holds the seat and rear cowling to the main frame.

Sag: how much the suspension compresses once the rider gets on.


Swingarm: This is used to hold the rear wheel, whilst allowing it to pivot vertically.

SHARP rating: a safety rating used in the testing of helmets, lowest being zero stars and highest being five stars.

Streetfighter: a sports bike that has been modified by removing the fairings, making it look naked.

Scottoiler: brand, a constant chain lubrication device providing hassle-free chain lubrication.

Stanchion: an upright component of the frame, forming a support or barrier. Usually used in the discussion of suspension (see: fork).

Stock: standard parts (from the factory).

Sprocket(s): cog. used to connect the gearbox output to the rear wheel. Available in different sizes measured in teeth ex. 42T. Normally a small cog on the output shaft and a larger on the wheel. Ex 16/42T.

Squid: a rider lacking protective gear. Commonly seen in trainers, shorts and a vest.

T

Tractor: a slow-moving motorcycle, or one of ‘Agricultural’ build quality.

Trail: the distance from where the front wheel touches the ground to where the steering axis would touch the ground.

Top out: the maximum speed the motorcycle can go

Top out spring: a set of springs used in suspension to assist in rebound.

Trellis frame: a frame made of hollow tubes welded together. Commonly used by KTM.

Textiles: clothing made of a polymer-fabric.

Tear-off: a plastic covering for visors that can easily be removed. Applied in layers and used in racing. Prevents dirt, bugs, and rain from obscuring vision, and protects the visor from scratches.

TCS: Traction Control System, used to prevent the wheel spinning and loss of traction.

Twisty: a road with lots of nice corners and turns.

Can’t beat some good twisties

Traction: Grip, this is a variable between tyres and suspension.

W

Wheelbase: the horizontal distance between the centres of the two wheels.

Wings: accessory aerodynamic devices usually attached to fairings to help with front end grip.

Wings on the 2020 Ducati V4s

Y

Yoke: a set of plates in which the forks are inserted to hold them to the frame.

If you have any more suggestions to add to the dictionary, feel free to send us a message on twitter (@RideWithPeaks) and we’ll add it to the list!

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