At their most basic, motorcycles have two wheels, an engine, a steering wheel and somewhere to sit. But in the modern world, they’re much more than that. Engines are powerful, efficient and reliable, chassis and tyre technology gives racetrack-level grip and handling, and clever electronics add layers of safety to prevent accidents.
For the first time in years, motorcycles have entered a new phase of growth. Discounted tolls, free parking in non-car spaces and HOV lanes make them an attractive mode of transport for city dwellers. The rise of small-displacement adult sized motor bikes from Asia also means that perspective riders no longer need to be limited to large and outdated used machines or the wheezing 49cc scooters of old.
With a little practice, riding a motorcycle is surprisingly similar to riding a bicycle. Both use a technique called “comfortable pedaling.” You press on the handgrips or handlebars in the direction that you want to go, and they move in that direction. The center of gravity is higher on a motorcycle than on a bicycle, but good rider coordination can overcome that issue.
If you’re planning on getting your license to ride a motorcycle, or are already riding one, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the lingo of the biker gangs that share the roads with you. The following glossary, compiled by members of The Manual community, may help you communicate with other riders more effectively. It might even save your life.