MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT GLOSSARY
Ferguson & Ferguson
Attorneys at Law
Antilock Brake System: A component added to the motorcycle braking system that detects wheel lock up. The system rapidly modulates the brakes to prevent skidding (and attendant loss of traction), allowing the rider more braking control and increased riding safety.
After-Market: Any items or accessories you buy that are not from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).
Air Cooling: A method of dissipating heat from a motorcycle engine to keep it at operating temperature by way of air flow. In practice, cooling is effected by air rushing around a moving motorcycle engine and is aided by the use of small engine fins to facilitate heat transfer into the passing air. Compare Water Cooling.
Airhead: Flat-twin, BMW motorcycles with an air-cooled engine that were built from 1923 up to 1995. The airhead design was replaced by the oilhead, which uses oil, in addition to air, to transfer engine heat to the atmosphere.
American Motorcycle Association: The largest motorsports organization in the world, overseeing thousands of professional and amateur events per year. This U.S. organization campaigns for motorcyclists’ legal rights and organizes numerous motorcycling activities. The organization was founded in 1924 and has over 1000 chartered clubs.
Anti-Dive System: A front-end suspension component that reduces how much the forks compress under braking, popular in the late 1980s, but seldom used now.
Ape Hangers: Motorcycle handlebars that are very high and often raise the rider’s hands above his shoulders.
Apex: The middle or center point of a turn. This is important to motorcycle riders, since they orient their riding “line” in relation to a turn’s apex.
Armor: Protective padding used to reinforce motorcycle apparel. It is designed to absorb energy on impact to help protect the rider in the event of a crash. Armor is available to better protect a rider’s back, shoulders, chest, elbows, hips and knees.
Asphalt Sealer: 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.
Back Marker: A slow rider marking the back of a pack of motorcyclists.
Backing It In: Going into a corner with the rear of the motorcycle sliding while the rider is counter-steering. This is a way for a rider to scrub off speed and set the motorcycle up for a fast exit from the corner. “I was trying so hard I was backing it in to almost every corner.
Bagger: A motorcycle with touring accessories like saddlebags, top box, a trunk, etc.
Balaclava: A thin pull-over head and neck cover with eye slits for winter usage under a motorcycle helmet.
Bash Plate (aka Skid Plate): A protective plate fitted under the engines of off-road machines to prevent damage caused by grounding.
Bcom: Bluetooth Intercom headset for motorcycle helmets.
BDC: Bottom Dead Center: The point during crankshaft rotation at which the piston is in its lowest possible position.
Belt Drive: A method to transmit power from the transmission to the rear wheel of the motorcycle using a belt. The belt requires practically no maintenance. Harley-Davidson has used Belt-Drive systems on most of its motorcycles in recent years.
Big Twin: Any Harley Davidson brand motorcycle that is not a Sportster.
Binders: Motorcycle brakes.
Blind Corner or Blind Turn: A turn in the road that is visually obstructed and prevents the rider from seeing the path of the road around the corner. This makes the rider blind to the turning radius, approaching traffic, and road condition until after the rider has entered the turn and can then see around the trees, hillside, etc.
Block Pass: Going into a turn, a rider attempting a block pass will accelerate before the apex and slip his motorcycle on the inside of the leader, then quickly pivot and make the turn directly in front of the other rider. The rider being passed must brake because his line is now blocked.
Camber: Sideways angle or slant of the pavement.
Canyon Bites: Serious motorcycle accidents that occur while riding fast on twisty roads that are found in canyons of mountainous areas.
Centerstand: A mechanism that pivots down from the center of the motorcycle frame to support the bike vertically with the rear wheel off the ground.
Chain Drive: A common motorcycle drive system that uses a multi-link steel chain and toothed sprockets to transfer engine power to the rear wheel.
Chair (Sidecar): A one-wheeled carriage for a single passenger attached to the side of a motorcycle, producing a three-wheeled vehicle.
Chaps: Motorcycle clothing accessory designed for leg 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.
Chopper: A cruiser style bike that has a lot of the pieces of the bike chopped off.
Clip-On Engine: An engine that attaches to a conventional bicycle frame.
Clutch Lever: Located in front of the left handgrip and is used to connect power from the engine to the rear wheel.
Cruiser: A cruiser is a type of motorcycle that is low and long. They are outfitted with low seats, fat rear tires, and raked front forks. Foot pegs are located in an extreme forward position so that much of the road jolts are absorbed by the rear end.
Cut-Out and Bypass Devices: Cut-out and bypass devices are methods of bypassing the internal exhaust system of a motorcycle (or other vehicle) to divert gasses directly into the atmosphere. Many times, vehicle owners install cut-out or bypass devices on their mufflers in an attempt to make the vehicles go faster. Most states have laws prohibiting the use of such devices, which can greatly increase the release of dangerous emissions directly into the air and make vehicles louder.
Damper: Means of controlling speed of movement of the steering or suspension.
Dual Sport: Street legal motorcycles that provide varying levels of off-road capabilities. Not as focused as pure off-road or pure street motorcycles. Also known as dual-purpose.
Dump The Clutch: This is when a rider revs up the engine and quickly releases the clutch, launching the bike off the line.
Duplex: Double, having two parts. Applies to frames with two down tubes, and chains with double rows of rollers.
Dresser: Designed for long-distance travel, a dresser is also known as a touring bike and is outfitted with a windshield and storage bins.
Esses: A series of turns with quick left and right transitions.
Engine Cut Off Switch: Usually located on the right handlebar switch housing, this switch allows the motorcyclist to turn off the engine without removing his or her hand from the handlebar. Also known as the kill switch.
Floorboard: A floorboard is a type of foot rest that sits below the engine and is intended to accommodate the rider’s entire foot.
Friction Zone: Area in the travel of the clutch level that begins where the clutch starts to transmit power to the rear wheel and ends just before the clutch becomes fully engaged.
Frame Slider:Small, accessory motorcycle components designed to protect engine cases, bodywork, etc., in the event that the motorbike falls over. Frame sliders are like small knobs mounted to the engine or frame in such a way that they protrude beyond the bike’s body work, providing separation between a motorcycle’s expensive parts and the road surface in a fall.
Fork: The metal tubes that connect the front wheel to the motorcycle frame via the triple tree. For handling, the front fork is a critical motorcycle component as it allows the rider to steer. The fork, along with its attachment points on the frame establish the critical motorcycle geometry parameters of rake and trail, which in turn contribute to wheelbase.
FMVSS 218: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218. It outlines the minimum standard requirements for all motorcycle helmets. Manufacturers must submit their helmets for compliance testing.
Flickable: Used to describe the agility of a motorcycle, or how quickly a rider can “flick” the bike from side to side in turns.
Final Drive: Means of transmitting power to the driven wheel, usually by chain, shaft, or belt.
Farkles: Motorcycle enthusiasts may install accessories, called farkles (also spelled farkels), to customize their machine. The word is generally accepted to mean a combination of “function” and “sparkle”, hence, farkle. The term is well known in the North American sport touring community. Radar detectors, Global Positioning System receivers, heated grips, and satellite radios are some of those farkles. Other accessories could be aftermarket seats or bar risers, which make the motorcycle more suitable for long miles.
Fairing: An enclosure on the front of the bike containing the windshield and affording wind protection to the rider. Can be attached to the frame and not move or be attached to the fork and move as the handlebars are turned.
G-Out: A rapid transition from a long downhill to a steep uphill causing the rider to experience G-Force at the bottom. Associated with dirtbike and motocross riding.
Handlebars: Handlebars are a motorcycle’s primary control component because it’s the most common way to initiate and control motorcycle lean.
Head Tube: The outer tube which holds the bearings that allow the front fork steer tube to pivot freely.
High Side: A type of motorcycle crash that occurs when the rear wheel starts to slide in a turn (sometimes due to a locked brake and the resulting skidding tire), and then suddenly grips the pavement (which could occur when letting off the brake) flipping the bike sideways. The name derives from the side of the motorcycle that the rider will separate from. If forcibly thrown over the bike, the rider is said to have dismounted on the high side. Riders are usually advised to do a lowsider rather than a highsider if neither can be avoided. The highsider has the additional disadvantage of the rider often being catapulted into the air by the sudden jerking motion of the motorbike and the increased possibility of the motorbike sliding behind the rider with the potential of striking him or her. Because highside accidents are so much more deadly than lowside accidents, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends that if a rider locks the rear brake, it should be kept locked until the motorcycle comes to a stop. If necessary, locking the front brake to deliberately cause a lowside is recommended.
Hub-Center Steering: One of several different types of front-end suspension/steering mechanisms used in motorcycles. Hub-center steering is characterized by a swingarm that extends from the bottom of the engine/frame to the center of the front wheel instead of two forks.
Hurt Report: A study done in the late 1970’s 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.
Jockey Shifter: A motorcycle shift lever that is controlled by a rider’s hand (instead of a foot) and which sits either behind the rider’s leg or is mounted on the fuel tank. It is shorter than a Suicide Shifter. Associated with custom chopper motorcycles.
Jockey Wheel: A wheel used to maintain tension in a chain or belt.
Lane Splitting: Lane splitting, also called “lane sharing,” is the practice of riding a motorcycle between the lanes of traffic used by cars, trucks, and other vehicles, most often on a crowded interstate or freeway. Some states prohibit lane splitting. California is among the few states that allow it, as long as the motorcycle is being ridden in a “safe and prudent manner.”
Line: Efficient turns on a motorcycle begin by approaching the turn wide and following a line that requires the least amount of braking and lean. Typically, a rider taking the proper line will begin a right turn from the left portion of the lane and a right turn from the left portion of the lane.
Leathers: The form-fitting leather suit a rider wears on the street or track. Racing leathers feature special, sturdy stitching, abrasion-resistant hides, and foam and plastic armor at key points such as the back, knees, elbows and shoulders. Leathers are cut to fit a rider when he/she is sitting on the motorcycle, so they look baggy when walking around in the pits. Leathers are also used to refer to the protect riding apparel that non-racing motorcycle riders wear.
LED: Light Emitting Diode: Light Emitting Diode tail lights on some street motorcycles are brighter, more compact and simpler than conventional bulb-type lights – and require no maintenance.
Loading: Compression of a motorcycle suspension.
Low Side: A motorcycle crash that results from a wheel losing traction, allowing the bike to fall sideways. The name derives from the fact that it is usually the inward side that the motorcycle will fall on, or the side that points downward in a curve, the low side. Riders are usually advised to do a lowsider rather than a highsider if neither can be avoided. The lowsider has the advantage of the motorcycle sliding before the rider, placing it out of harm’s way.
Megaphone: An outwardly tapered high-performance exhaust.
Modular Helmet: Similar to a full face helmet, however the chin area can be pivoted up and out of the way, when a rider is stopped, for ease of communication and/or consuming food or beverages.
Motorcycle-Intelligence.com: A website about motorcycles, motorcycle gear, motorcycle riding, motorcycle destinations, motorcycle fun and motorcycle safety.
MSF: Motorcycle Safety Foundation: The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is a US national, not-for-profit organization sponsored by the U.S. manufacturers and distributors of BMW, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM , Piaggio/Vespa, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha motorcycles. It sponsors low cost motorcycle safety training for new and current riders.
Margin of Safety: Maintaining a time/space cushion all around you.
Med Pay medical bills can be paid by many different sources depending on the law of the State and the order of priority. Ask your agent how your medical bills are paid whether or not you have health insurance and whether or not the at fault driver is known or unknown. Most policies provide $1,000.00, $2,000.00, $5,000.00 or $10,000.00 in Medical coverage.
Modulated Headlight: A modulated headlight is a front lamp on a motorcycle that is wired to modulate, or quickly switch back and forth, between the upper and lower beams of the lamp from brightest to a lower intensity. Most states have laws in place regarding how quickly the headlamps may legally modulate.
Motorcycle License Endorsement: A motorcycle license endorsement is an additional licensing requirement many states impose on riders of motorcycles and other two-wheeled vehicles. In most states, written and road-skills exams must be passed to earn a motorcycle endorsement. License endorsements are also required to legally operate a tractor-trailer, school buses, and tank vehicles, or to otherwise transport hazardous materials. Many states recognize license endorsements that are earned in other states.
Naked Bikes: Sport or standard motorcycles with minimum bodywork, fairings or windshields. This is a motorbike in its most basic form. The emphasis is on functionality and ergonomics rather than aerodynamic body panels and exaggerated riding positions that are most common on sport bikes.
Named Insured is the person named in the insurance contract that will be driving the motorcycle or vehicle. Normally the spouse and any residents of the house, of the named insured who also lives at the same address will also be covered. This is one reason to keep your address current on your drivers license.
Negligence: the lack of due care or failure to act reasonably on the part of the person or corporation.
Off-Road Bike: A motorcycle designed for use in the dirt or off-pavement. They are typically not street legal, but sometimes they have lights and larger gas tanks.
Overriding the Headlight: When riding at night, the total stopping distance exceeds your sight distance. To reduce risk, keep your speed reasonable for conditions and use lights of vehicles in front of you to help you with visibility.
Panniers: Motorcycle panniers (also called saddlebags) are enclosed metal or plastic containers, or leather or fabric bags attached to the motorcycle for stowing cargo.
Peg: A peg is a type of footrest that is often cylindrically shaped and intended to accommodate only a portion of the foot.
Parked It: To be going slower than conditions allow through a turn.
Pillion: A small cushion designed for carrying a passenger mounted behind a solo saddle. Also, can refer to the passenger.
Pin It: To go full throttle: Reference to pinning the tachometer and/or the speedometer needle all the way to the right of the gauge.
PMS: Parked Motorcycle Syndrome: A condition suffered by male or female when they can’t ride their motorcycle due to bad weather.
Puck: Knee skids, attached to leathers with hook and loop material, that riders wear to slide their knees through the turns. The riders use their knee skids to judge their angle of lean, and sometimes hold up the motorcycle if it begins to wash out from under them.
Road Rash: Road rash is one of the most common motorcycle accident injuries and a term used to describe cuts, scrapes, burns, and other noticeable soft tissue injuries.
Riding The Clutch: A clutch generally consists of a disk which, in its normal state, connects the engine to the transmission. When the motorcycle is driving along, the mechanism is released or “engaged”. During a stop at traffic lights, the right hand lever is pulled in to “disengage” it. “Riding the clutch” means holding the point of friction, right at the point where engine and transmission are only just coupled. Excessive use of this technique can cause early wear of the mechanism.
Roost: The debris kicked up by a spinning rear wheel.
Saddlebag: A saddlebag is a container or pouch that is attached to the rear of the motorcycle and used to stow cargo.
Sender: An electronic sensor unit on a motorcycle conveying information about an engine to a warning light or other component.
Shaft Jacking:Unwanted motion in the rear end of motorcycles with a shaft drive. While under acceleration, the rear suspension stiffens and the machine lifts itself. When decelerating the rear suspension is compressed, giving the opposite effect. It is considered a drawback for some traditional shaft-drive designs. Some of the modern, shaft-drive systems utilize newer technology to reduce this effect.
Sintered Brake Pads: Asbestos-free brake pads made of sintered metal, with excellent friction coefficient and heat resistance characteristics. Sintering is a method for making objects from powdery metals by heating without melting until the particles adhere to each other.
Slip The Clutch: To feather or fan the clutch lever back and forth to prevent stalling the engine or spinning the rear tire.
Sport Bike: A focused motorcycle designed for speed and handling. These machines are usually equipped with aerodynamic bodywork.
Sport Tourer:A motorcycle that combines some of the handling and power of a sport bike, with some of the amenities of a touring bike, like saddlebags, comfortable ergonomics, etc. Not as focused as either a pure sport bike or a pure tourer.
Spark Arrestor: A spark arrestor is a device designed to keep sparks, small flaming debris, and or other hazards from escaping from the engine of a motorcycle or other vehicle. Most often built into the muffler and made of tightly wound metal gauze, a spark arrestor can also be effective in preventing fiery debris from starting brush fires along the side of roads.
Throttle Right hand grip that controls engine speed.
Tank Slapper What happens in rare cases when a motorcycle’s handlebars slap back and forth at high speed, often due to alignment or suspension issues.
T-Bone A category of motorcycle accident where the rider runs head-on into the side of another vehicle. Usually, the other vehicle is a car that has turned left in front of the rider and the rider cannot perform an evasive maneuver or swerve to avoid the car and hits it straight on in the side. The car is the top of the “T” and the motorcycle is the vertical part of the “T.”.
Telescopic Forks Front suspension system on a motorcycle comprised of two fork tubes which contain coil springs. The tubes “telescope” up and down to absorb road bumps. This is the most common form of motorcycle fork commercially available.
Throttle Lock Manual device fitted to the throttle of a motorcycle that applies friction to keep the throttle from moving. Used to temporarily give your hand a rest on long rides.
Tiered Licensing Tiered licensing is a safety and insurance practice that restricts a rider’s operation of a motorcycle, based on its engine displacement. The idea is to make it easier to obtain a motorcycle license for a smaller bike before a rider could become licensed for larger motorbikes.
Ton Up Refers to riding a motorcycle over 100 miles per hour.
Under Insured Motorists Coverage is coverage you purchase that and pays you if the at fault driver did not have enough insurance to cover the damage that he did. Again this is typically for your pain and suffering and injuries. In many states you must sign a form to refuse such coverage. If you did not sign the form, you normally have coverage.
Wrongful Death: If a person dies due to the fault of another, a claim may be brought to collect damages. These damages generally include both the pain and suffering the person had before death, the financial loss of beneficiaries and, in some states, for the suffering of the bereaved. The law is very complex as to who may bring the claim and the people to whom the money goes. In many states pain and suffering are not recoverable unless suit is filed before the death.
“20/40" This notation means there is $20,000 worth of insurance for a single claimant and no more than $40,000 total for all injuries to all people in a single injury accident.