If you spend any time around a group of bikers, you're bound to hear some biker slang. Many riders band together to form motorcycle clubs. These are great ways to build camaraderie, enjoy the open road, and give back to the local community. Some clubs are formalized, others involve a group of friends who casually band together to cruise down the highway.
Of course, there's also the solo rider, known as the lone wolf, who likes the quiet and ease of a ride alone. If you ever find yourself in the presence of these lovers of life, we've got some biker slang terms here that'll help you understand their lingo.
Let's start with the fun-loving riders themselves. From citizens to independents, there are many ways for these friends to refer to one another.
Since many riders like to go out with their clubs or a band of friends, it's likely you'll find a bunch of motorcycles roaring by together. Whoever holds the role of front door is the first rider in the group.
This is the last rider in the group who's customarily the most experienced rider. The back door is also known as the sweep or tail gunner.
Members of a motorcycle club are known as citizens. Those who like to ride alone are known as independents.
A weekend warrior is an occasional biker. Maybe he or she just goes out for a cruise on weekends, as opposed to a daily ride.
This is a term of endearment for a biker's girlfriend or wife. If a biker refers to his lady as such, you'll know to keep your paws off.
Outlaw bikers (those who seek that designation) have their own unique subculture. They often call themselves the "One Percenters." That designation comes from a riot in 1947 during a motorcycle rally in California. The riots, which may have been exaggerated by the media, captured so much attention that Life magazine did a story on them.
The picture they used of a fierce-looking biker surrounded by beer bottles was so sensationalized it caused the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) to respond. They released a statement saying 99% of all bikers were upright citizens and only the one percent, or the "One Percenters," caused trouble. In truth, a number of "outlaw" clubs do a huge range of community work and charity events, regardless of their status within the AMA.
If you're loving this exploration of an American subculture, take a look at this History of American Slang Words. It'll help you see where many of our more casual undertones come from.
There's no denying the fact that bikers have their own unique flair. Let's take a look at the number of ways to address their vests, patches, and more.
Bikers often dress in the traditional black leather uniform, but if you take notice, you'll see many wear vests embroidered with various patches. The patches, or their "colors," have many meanings.
Some patches show which club they belong to or are affiliated with. New bikers who undergo an initiation rite and are accepted are "patched." That means they've earned their stripes - or patches - and can officially sport the patch on their clothing.
All motorcycle riders need to wear a "dome," biker slang for a helmet. Depending on their preference, bikers may also wear "cuts," a denim jacket with the sleeves cut off. It frequently serves as a canvas for patches and logos. It is usually worn as the outside layer of clothing, often worn over a leather jacket.
The vest or jacket may be emblazoned with the biker's "road name" - his or her nickname within the motorcycle club and subculture.
Every bit of slang we use has an implication. That's why we always want to make sure we fully understand the lingo we're using. For more on that, check out How Slang Affects the English Language.
Of course, there's also some general lingo for the biker who takes a spill on the side of the highway or has a preference for the position of the handlebars. Here are a few miscellaneous tidbits:
Eating asphalt is, perhaps, the number one thing bikers try to avoid. In fact, this is why bikers are so meticulous about their leather gear. If you're eating asphalt, you've crashed your bike and your body has hit the ground.
This is a bike built for comfort and flair rather than speed or performance. Touring bikes are a favorite amongst weekend warriors.
Some bikers prefer a straight-up form of ape hangers, or high handlebars that rise up to the shoulders.
The tuck is a stance where the biker keeps his or her head low and arms tight to the side. This makes the rider one with the motorcycle, reducing the drag from the wind
If you're considering life as a biker, let the adventure begin! Whether you plan to ride alone as a weekend warrior, or with the camaraderie of a local club, it's helpful to know some motorcycle lingo. Here at YourDictionary, we love our slang.
If you're planning on spending a lot of time on the road, you want to be careful to avoid any accidents and incidents with the police. Take a look at these Slang Words for Police as you make sure you stay on the right side of the law.