Motorcycle Glossary Reference Guide

The glossary of terms Ehline Law Firm provides information related to motorcycles, motorcycle safety, and motorcycle laws. Some riders may be familiar, while others may not. Feel free to peruse these below definitions. Also, contact us if we are missing an appropriate term for riding.

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Blind Spot – This is an area where a driver of a motor vehicle is unable to see the motorcyclist using their windows or mirrors. Turning compounds the problem.

Bodily Injury – Bodily injury refers to the wounds a motorcyclist sustains during a motorcycle crash and in their personal injury claim against the at-fault party or insurance company.

Bodily Injury Liability Insurance – Bodily injury liability insurance is a part of the motorcycle rider's liability insurance policy. This is an amount of money that protects the motorist when a claim is filed against them for bodily injury after an accident. This type of coverage is required in most states including California.


Civil Claim – This is a claim such as a personal injury or wrongful death. It gets filed with the civil court if the plaintiff is seeking compensation.

Civil Liability – This is when a defendant person or entity is at fault for an accident. So they are the defendant in a claim. Also, if a jury or judge agrees, the law considers them liable for the damages. Damages are the money they must pay to compensate for their negligent towards the plaintiff.

Clutch Lever – This is the clutch to change gears on a motorcycle. It is on the left hand-grip of the handlebars on the bike. It connects power from the engine to the rear wheel.

Collision Insurance Coverage – This is a type of insurance coverage that will pay damages for the motorcycle involved in a collision with another object. Objects may include, a wall, median, utility pole, etc. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners data shows that approximately 72% of motorists carry this type of coverage. This will pay for damages to the bike in the event the rider hits a pothole or debris that damage the motorcycle. It will not cover the hit object. But the property damage liability coverage within the insurance policy will pay for some or all of those damages.

Comprehensive Insurance Coverage – This is a type of insurance coverage that is optional. Also, it is part of "full coverage" insurance. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners data shows that approximately 77% of motorists carry this type of insurance. Comprehensive coverage will pay for the motorcycle if it is stolen or damaged. But the damage could be from hail, flood, earthquakes, falling objects, fire, vandalism, and collision with an animal. The expense of this type of insurance depends on the risk of loss or damage. In the event the bike is damaged or stolen, the payment amount is based upon motorcycle's value at the time of the loss.

Cruiser – A cruiser is a model of bike, which is long and low. The bike has a low seat with foot pegs located forward. Also, it has raked front forks and a fat rear tire. The forward footpegs and fat rear tire help to absorb the extreme roughness and vibration. That way you can be comfortable for longer rides. Harley Davidson is one of the most commonly known bikes that have a cruiser model.

Cut Out Bypass Devices – The Cut-Out and Bypass device is illegal in most states. This is because it bypasses the internal exhaust system on a motorcycle or other vehicle. Doing this causes the bike to release increased emissions into the atmosphere. So this poses a danger to Tree Huggers. This is because it diverts the gasses bypassing the mufflers. But it does increase the speed of the bike.


Damages – Damages form part of a motorcycle accident claim. Here, the plaintiff seeks compensation for losses separate from medical expenses. So this is compensation for damages such as loss of wages, repair or replacement of the bike. But it may include other losses from the defendant's negligence.

Dresser – This is a motorcycle model designed for long rides. And it can be referred to as a touring bike. But these motorcycles generally have storage, windshields and other comforts for the rider and passenger.


Floorboard – This is a type of footrest that the rider can place their entire foot and located below the engine of the motorcycle.

Foot Peg – Footpegs are common on most motorcycle designs in both the front and rear for the rider and passenger to place their feet. These are a round bar with a flat top that will accommodate the instep of the foot.

Friction Zone – This is the area where the clutch level begins sending power from the engine to the rear wheel. It stops prior to the clutch becoming thoroughly engaged.


Handlebars – This is the steering element of the bike. Also, it is the control center for the clutch, brakes and other components. Also, the bike is controlled into leans by these while riding.


Lane Splitting – Lane splitting and lane sharing are unique to bikers. This is legal in some states including California. Most states, however, do not permit lane splitting. So this means that two motorcycles share the same lane in the same place on the roadway. The law in California says when lane sharing occurs, riders must do so in a safe manner.

Liability Insurance – Liability insurance is required in most states. And it provides protection for the insured rider or driver in the event of an accident. This amount compensates claimants for bodily injury and property damage. But it may also cover losses. However, it may not cover your property losses.

Line – This refers to a motorcycle approaching a wide turn and following a line to decrease the amount of braking and lean. Generally, the rider will begin the line from a right turn beginning from the left portion of the lane.


The margin of Safety – This should concern all riders. This remains the time to stop and space between other vehicles.

Medical Payment Coverage – This coverage known as Med-Pay. Mostly, is not be required in all states. But it helps pay physicians and hospital expenses. Also, it provides coverage for funeral costs. But again, this is optional with insurance companies. Most carriers offer a variety of coverage amounts.

Modulated Headlight – This is also called the front lamp on a motorcycle. And like other motor vehicles, it modulates between high and low beams. In most states regulations exist for the speed the upper and lower beams must modulate.

Motorcycle License Endorsement – Motorcycle riders must obtain a motorcycle license endorsement on their driver's license. Otherwise, they cannot legally operate a bike on the roadway. In most states, individuals must take a written exam and a road skill test. As a matter of fact, they must pass both to receive the endorsement. This is an exceptional addition to driving privileges to operate a two-wheeled vehicle. Also, this endorsement transfers from one state to another.

Motorcycle Owner’s Manual – This manual contains information related to the operation and care of the specific design of the motorcycle. It includes maintenance, trouble shooting height, weight, axle ratio, and other information.


Negligence – Negligence is the careless or reckless action of another. Any harm from acting unreasonably can lead to negligence. Last, it causes injury, death or property damage to another person.


Overriding the Headlight – This pertains to night riding for motorcyclists. And this deals with the stopping distance beyond the rider's sight their headlamp illuminates. Riders should decrease speed during hours of darkness. Some riders find the headlights of larger vehicles around them helpful for visibility.


Pain and Suffering – A personal injury claim always involves the plaintiff seeking money for the physical pain and mental suffering. This is part of the "general" damage caused by the negligent actions of the defendant.

Panniers – Panniers are another name for motorcycle storage saddlebags. Fabric, leather, plastic or metal are the conventional materials used to build these. Typically, they are on "Bagger" Bikes.

Personal Injury Protection – This is a type of insurance that includes medical expenses, loss of wages, funeral costs. And it can also cover other damages such as babysitters, housekeepers or other services. But this is most commonly found in states with no-fault automobile insurance systems.

Property Damage Liability – This is insurance coverage that pays compensation to another person for damages caused to their assets from an accident. The coverage includes buildings, garage doors, and utility poles. So anything damaged by the at-fault driver receives coverage.

Punitive Damages – Punitive damages are awarded if the defendant actions were egregious, willful or malicious. It compensates separately from injury and damage compensation. It is designed to punish the negligent defendant.


Road Rash – Road rash occurs in motorcycle accidents when the skin comes in contact with the asphalt. So naturally, it results in scrapes, cuts, and burning of the skin. This is medically referred to as soft tissue damage. But sometimes it will grind the bones into dust too. So road rash is similar to and includes friction burns.


Saddlebags – Saddlebags are containers located on the sides and rear of the motorcycle. They carry items. They are constructed from various materials depending on the design and maker of the bike.

Spark Arrestor – The spark arrestor device protects the engine and people. It keeps sparks, flaming debris and other dangers from escaping. Usually, the construction consists of metal gauze material built into the muffler.

Statute of Limitations – The statute of limitations is the time limit in which a plaintiff can file a legal claim. This period begins from the date of the motorcycle crash. Also, it depends on the entity and how long the statute of limitations will run. Also, state, local and government agencies may or may not have a shorter amount of time than a private person to file the claim. Plaintiff may give up the right to compensation if he or she fails to act timely.


Third Party – The third party in an insurance claim will be anyone that was operating the vehicle. In any event, it is anyone other than the policyholder or family members. The first party is the policyholder. The second party is the insurance company. The third party would be the injury causing persons. But this only remains true if they or someone they control caused the motorcycle wreck.

Throttle – The throttle on a motorcycle is on the right hand-grip of the handlebar. This device controls the speed of the engine.

Twelve Second Rule – This universal safety precaution for riders advises keeping a safe distance. Also, it dictates that riders look ahead to recognize vulnerabilities. Also, this remains the typical amount of time motorcyclists need to react or prepare for a situation.


Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage – This is a policy of additional coverage. It protects against underinsured or uninsured in a crash. Also, it remains beneficial in most hit and run accidents. But many carriers require some contact between the other vehicle.


Wrongful DeathWrongful death that is a result of a fatal motorcycle accident is compensable. Most of all, this accidental death was avoidable. But this is only true if the other driver wasn't negligent. As a consequence, the family of the deceased sues the at fault party. Recovering compensation remains the object.

Motorcycle Accident Attorney – If harm came to you or a loved one in a motorcycle crash, call Ehline Law Firm. Call us toll-free at (213) 596-9642 to schedule a free consultation.

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