No one seems to know where the term ‘motorcycle squid’ came from or when it was first used. What we do know is that today it is used as a derogatory term for a poor motorcycle rider.
What is a motorcycle squid? Motorcycle squids are riders who show no common sense or consideration for other road users, wear inappropriate clothing and who ride recklessly and immaturely. They also tend to over estimate their ability on 2 wheels.
The squid abbreviation is often quoted by responsible riders: Stupidly Quick, Underdressed, Ignorant & Dangerous.
3 Types of Motorcycle Squid
The New Motorcycle Rider
While this type of squid can include mature riders, the new rider tends to be a young motorcyclist and we’ve all been this guy or gal. We do half a day’s basic training, get our license and then hit the road like a viking on wheels, a hooligan hell bent on scaring the crap out of the natives and pillaging the local villages.
This squid will usually not be wearing the proper gear and can often be seen dressed in T-shirt, a pair of shorts and trainers.
Even though most of us have been guilty of the above when we got our first bike, as wiser and older bikers we now pass on our wisdom to new riders in the hope they’ll reign in their new found freedom and ride appropriately. At least, until they have some miles under their wheels.
Like us at their age though, they’ll probably not listen.
The Naked Squid Rider
Naked bikes are now the biggest selling style of motorcycle. They offer the power of the top sport bikes but with a more comfortable riding position.
The majority of naked bike owners want something they can commute on in the week but then use it for track days at the weekend and that’s where these bikes come into their own.
For the motorcycle squid on a naked though, it’s all about the torque and they’re easily spotted as they prefer to ride with their front wheel pointing skyward.
The Sport Bike Squid
While this squid biker will almost always wear protective gear they consider all roads to be part of the Isle of Man TT course.
Just to be clear, if you’re riding a high performance liter bike then there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be in full leathers.
Take the knee sliders off for street riding, they’re for the track.
Either you are actually getting your knee down in which case you are riding at unsafe speeds for public roads
you’ve taken the angle grinder to your sliders to give you some cred and you’re wearing them for posing at your local Costa with all the other Quartararo wannabes. Either way, it makes you a sport bike squid.
Top 5 Things That Scream You’re a Squid Rider
Believing a motorcycle training course is beneath you
The single best thing you can do to increase your chances of avoiding becoming a motorcycle squid is to take a motorcycle training course and learn the relevant skills required to keep you and other road users safe.
Most people wouldn’t dream of getting behind the wheel of a car on their own and with no previous driving lessons and try to get across town yet 100’s of over confident new bikers get on a motorcycle for the first time every day and hit the road.
You ride in flip flops
Dress sense is usually the squids giveaway and flip flops are the big red flag that screams “look at me, I’m a squid.”
Seriously, there’s every chance you will have to learn to walk again if you have a spill with nothing on your feet but these. Get some decent motorcycle boots to protect your toes, feet and ankles.
Pulling a wheelie down town
Apart from your dress sense, popping a wheelie on a busy road is probably the biggest giveaway to everyone around you that you’re a bonafide motorcycle squid.
Leave that stuff for the empty parking lots or out of town on a clear road. You think it looks cool but in reality every driver who sees you is thinking “what an idiot.”
Bragging about the number of falls you’ve taken
We’ve all met someone like you, a rider who claims he’s taken multiple spills and wears each like some sort of badge of honor.
A good, experienced rider will tell you about his near misses. How he avoided the car that ran a red light, the lorry that changed lanes without looking etc. He avoided taking a spill because he’s an experienced motorcyclist who rides with his wits about him.
Crashing once or even twice can be considered bad luck, multiple times though, (if they actually happened) just means you’re a poor rider who
- doesn’t pay attention to the road
- gets too close to the vehicle in front
- constantly rides recklessly
- constantly goes too fast
Not wearing a helmet
We’ve never had so many types of motorcycle helmet to choose from or data available showing us the benefits of a helmet.
A motorcycle helmet instantly reduces your risk of death during a crash by 37% and reduces your risk of head injury during an accident by 69%
Yet the squid still rides without a helmet because he thinks it looks cooler.
How Not to Be a Motorcycle Squid
Rules of the Road
Being a motorcycle squid is the opposite of cool. Not only do car and truck drivers not like irresponsible motorcyclists but other bikers don’t like them either because they give good bikers and the motorcycle community in general a bad name.
So, the first thing you can do is to ride responsibly when you are in town by sticking to the speed limits, using your turn signals, showing consideration to other road users, filtering only where it’s safe to do so etc.
As well as ensuring you won’t be labeled a squid, it will help keep you and others safe.
If you don’t know, that stands for “All The Gear, All The Time.”
I don’t care how hot it is, having a lot of skin on show when riding is just asking for trouble and most bikers cringe when they see a squid on a Ducati Monster or similar wearing shorts and a short sleeve shirt.
Only the other day I was filling up the tank of the work van when a woman in early 40’s pulled up at the fuel pump opposite me on a scooter. She had a blouse, skirt and sandals on.
Arms, legs, fingers and toes all exposed. I’m pretty sure if if wasn’t a legal requirement the helmet would have been missing as well.
I weighed up the odds on her thanking me for my advice or kicking off if I mentioned her choice of riding gear and decided against it.
However, when I came back from paying for my fuel she was just putting a sandwich and drink in the under seat compartment and I couldn’t help myself.
I mentioned that her hands and feet were the most vulnerable in a motorcycle accident and it would be a really good idea to get a decent pair of motorcycle gloves and boots for commuting to work and back.
She was appreciative of the tips and told me it was all new to her and that the scooter had simply been purchased as a way to beat the ever increasing fuel prices.
I put this one down to ignorance rather than a “I don’t care, I’ll never end up going down” attitude.
So what protective clothing should you get?
If you don’t want to be labeled a motorcycle squid you should at a minimum have a motorcycle jacket and jeans/trousers, gloves and boots.
Motorcycle gear is made to survive a certain amount of sliding down the road before coming apart and exposing your flesh to the road surface. As a general rule the longer the slide time the item has the dearer the gear and the faster the bike you ride, the longer the slide time you need.
If you’re a motorcycle squid who rides without the appropriate gear you should search for videos and images of motorcycle accidents and see what damage road rash can do to you.
If you don’t care what happens to yourself, spare a thought for those who have to pick up the pieces such as emergency services and your family.
- Remember ATGATT and always have the right gear
- Respect the rules of the road
- Use some common sense when on the road
- You will always learn something by taking a motorcycle safety course
- Before every ride tell yourself you are not immortal
- Stick to the speed limits
- Be considerate to other road users
- Head out of town when you want to have a blast
- Use an empty parking lot when you want to practice wheelies and other stunts
Do all motorcyclists end up going down?
Even if you ride defensively you can’t be lucky all the time. If it’s not another road user that pulls out on you or cuts you up it’ll just be something else that gets you.
A wet drain cover or some wet leaves, a loose dog under the wheel or a bird in the face, a snapped chain or other malfunction, they’re all out to put you down at least once in your riding lifetime.
One thing you can do to reduce your chances of taking a slide down the tarmac is to avoid riding with motorcycle squids.
If someone you’re riding with is pushing harder than you are comfortable with then just let him go. If they’re popping wheelies in built up areas or doing 50mph past the local school it’s time to find a more mature riding buddy or ride solo.
Friday 11th of November 2022
I've been riding for a while and I still marvel at what I did and the fact that I am still alive... Minus some minor bits like skin, muscles, bones and DNA smeared over various routes at various times.
If I had it to do all over again... I'll start off wearing gear and being more conservative in my riding.
I understand it's cooler to sweat than to bleed.
Just wish the newbie riders shared the same sentiments.