Glossary Of Motorcycle Helmet Terms
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A Glossary of Motorcycle Helmet Terms and Definitions – Put a Lid On It

Are you a new motorcycle rider? Are you looking for a helmet? Or perhaps you haven’t even bought your motorcycle yet. Then you’ll probably need to study this glossary of motorcycle helmet terms and definitions. We’ve covered motorcycle terms themselves, too, so you’ll have a good overall knowledge.

  • Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
    An antilock braking system is designed to stop the wheels from locking when you apply the brake, thus preventing skidding.
  • Armor
    Armor is protective padding you can attach to your clothing, that absorbs energy on impact.
  • Asphalt sealer
    Asphalt sealer is a tar-like substance used by road maintenance crews to fill cracks in the pavement. It can be very slick and should be avoided by motorcycles.
  • Automatic-on headlamp
    An automatic-on headlamp, or a daytime running lamp (DRL), is a motorcycle’s headlamp that automatically turns on when the bike is started. It’s mandatory on all street bikes in North America because it’s proven to be effective in improving visibility of a motorcycle by other vehicles.
  • Bagger
    A bagger is a motorcycle that has saddlebags attached to it.
  • Balaclava
    A balaclava is a hood that covers the whole head and neck, with holes for the eyes, worn under motorcycle helmets and perfect for wearing motorcycle goggles in the winter.
  • Bungee cord
    A bungee cord or bungee net is an accessory used to strap something to a motorcycle. The ends of the cord (or corners of the net) have U-shaped hooks that you can anchor to various parts of the bike.
  • Chaps
    Chaps are a great clothing accessory designed for protection. They’re usually made of leather and are fastened around the waist, with an open back. They snap at the ankles and zip down the legs.
  • Co-rider
    Co-rider is the name given to the passenger on the back of the motorcycle, or in a sidecar. A rider and co-rider can clearly communicate with an intercom system while in the process of riding.
  • DOT (Department of Transportation)
    Each country has its own separate DOT. It’s a government agency that regulates all phases of transportation, including all types of vehicles, as well as roads and highways. A DOT rating on a motorcycle helmet indicates that it’s passed DOT testing and a DOT sticker can be found inside the helmet.
  • Dual Liner Ventilation System
    A dual liner ventilation system is a feature of a Shoei motorcycle helmet. It consists of vents around the forehead that maximize air-flow. It’s claim to fame is the fact that it circulates air throughout the helmet and allows warm air to be exhausted.
  • Engine Displacement
    Engine displacement refers to the volume of a piston as it moves up and down in the cylinder. It’s usually referred to in CCs, and identifies the power of the motorcycle, e.g. Honda 900CC.
  • Fairing
    Fairing is an aerodynamic windshield that’s attached to the front of a motorcycle to cut down on wind resistance, and to protect the rider.
  • FMVSS 218
    This stands for the U.S. DOT’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218, a requirement for all motorcycle helmets. It outlines the minimum standard requirements for all motorcycle helmets. Manufacturers must submit their helmets for compliance testing.v

  • Full face helmet
    A full-face helmet has a full face motorcycle helmet shield that can be raised up. It protects the whole head, giving the best protection possible.
  • Hack
    A hack is another word for a sidecar.
  • Helmet hair
    Helmet hair is the name given to the condition of your hair when you take your helmet off – usually sticking out all over the place. Bandannas or other such scarves can be used to hold your hair down, thus preventing helmet hair.
  • Hurt Report
    The Hurt Report is a study done in the late 1970s of 900 motorcycle crashes. The published report, released in 1981, is known as the “Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures”, and consists of 55 conclusions pertaining to crashes, including the effect of motorcycle riders wearing helmets.
  • Injection molded helmet
    An injection molded helmet has an outer shell that’s made by pumping melted plastic into a mold that’s shaped like the helmet shell. Injection molded helmets are quite lightweight, yet still strong.
  • Jumper Cables
    Jumper cables are necessary if your battery dies. They’re a double cable with claw connectors on either end that attach to the terminals of the batteries, thus “borrowing” power from the connected battery to the dead one.
  • Lane-splitting
    Lane-splitting is practiced by some motorcycles riders. It consists of driving between two lanes of traffic at a greater speed than the other vehicles. Although there are times when this could be dangerous, it’s actually legal in many countries. It’s illegal in most U.S. states, but California allows it if it’s done in a safe manner.
  • Leathers
    Leathers refers to any article of clothing or accessory a motorcyclist wears, including jackets, gloves, chaps or boots.
  • MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation)
    The MSF is an organization that sponsors motorcycle training programs.
  • Overbrake
    Overbrake is the process of “slamming on the brake”, which locks the wheel and sends the motorcycle into a skid. If you overbrake the front wheel, your bike may flip – and you with it!
  • Pillion
    A pillion is the back seat on a motorcycle.
  • PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome)
    PMS is a condition suffered by male or female when they can’t ride their motorcycle due to bad weather.
  • Position lamps
    Position lamps are extra filaments built into a motorcycle’s front turn signals. They act as daytime running lights.
  • Road rash
    Road rash refers to motorcyclists’ scraped skin, suffered when they’re thrown from their bikes.
  • RUB (rich urban biker)
    Rubies are the newly-emerged sector of over-40 bikers.
  • Saddlebags
    Saddlebags are bags attached to the rear wheel of a motorcycle that hang down on both sides. They can be made of either hard or soft material.
  • Snell rating
    The Snell Memorial Foundation, formed in 1957, is the world’s most popular independent motorcycle helmet testing organization. A Snell rating on a helmet, indicated by a sticker inside the helmet, states that the helmet has passed performance tests.
  • Tank bag
    A tank bag goes over the gas tank. It can be used for storing smaller, flatter items, like maps, etc. It sometimes has a clear top so a map can be viewed by the rider without pulling over.
  • Tiered licensing
    Tiered licensing is an insurance practice that restricts operation of a motorcycle, based on its engine displacement.
  • Tubeless tire
    A tubeless tire is just that – a tire without an inner tube. It’s not recommended for a motorcycle because it tends to deflate rapidly when it’s punctured, which would cause sudden loss of control for the rider.
  • Two-up
    Two-up is a term used to describe a rider and a co-rider. A two-up mustn’t exceed the recommended maximum weight for the motorcycle.
  • Wind triangle
    A wind triangle is a simple triangular-shaped piece of cloth or leather worn around the neck for protection.

Ok, are you ready? The road is calling you. Get on your bike and ride the day away. But remember what you’ve learned here. You never know when you’ll need that little snippet of information. And also remember the statistics regarding motorcycle crashes and the resulting injuries and deaths. So put a lid on it – and have fun!

About The Author

Gareth Marples is a successful freelance writer providing valuable tips and advice for consumers purchasing Shoei, Arai, Nolan, or HJC motorcycle helmets, ordering car magazines online and finding auto insurance quotes. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics.

This "Glossary of Motorcycle Helmet Terms and Definitions" reprinted with permission.

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