Before today, if you had looked up the word “biker” in the Oxford English Dictionary, you would have found the following definition: “a motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang: a long-haired biker in dirty denims.” With statical studies showing that only 9% of Britain’s bikers fit the long long-hair and “dirty denims” stereotype, 74% of all British motorcyclists felt the definition was inaccurate.

Bowing to pressure from Great Britain’s motorcycling community though, Oxford University Press (the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary) has redefined “biker” to fit with slightly more modern perceptions. Accordingly, the Oxford English Dictionary now defines a biker as, “a motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang or group: a biker was involved in a collision with a car.”

While the Oxford University Press scoffs at any mentioning of an Orwellian exercise in how language controls perception, the publisher says it only made the changes after it became clear that the term “biker” was aligning itself more closely with the word “motorcyclist,” while distancing itself from associations with motorcycle gangs like the Hells Angels.

Motorcyclists, or bikers as it were, will likely take issue with the usage example though, which for reasons beyond our imagination uses the term “biker” in reference to a collision with an automobile. Perhaps, this usage is meant to show how “biker” can be linked more closely to those individuals who commute on their motorcycles, and thus are more likely to be involved in a collision with a car.

Or, considering how aggressive the British insurance industry is with motorcyclists, we can’t help but raise an eyebrow on the new wording for the OED’s “biker” definition, especially when the the main article covering the story, written by the The Telegraph, opts to include an lengthy background and opinion on the change from Bennetts Insurance Director of Marketing.

With that whole issue aside, the question remains though, do you make a distinction between the use of the word “biker” and “motorcyclist” when describing particular two-wheeled enthusiasts?

Source: The Telegraph

  • what a comical situation. The rider-lobby was strong enough to get the OED to change the definition, but even after going that far, they still have us in gangs and crashing on public roads. We bikers, should start a group and change the……. oh wait. We can’t form groups now. They’ll have us in greasy pants agin.

    Funny thing is I’m working on my bike today in the garage and, as such, my denim is dirty. I hate when they’re right.

  • Robert Smith

    Motorcyclist = person who rides a motorcycle
    Biker = person who rides a “lifestyle”

  • L2C

    @ Prich


    To me, there is a difference in perception when it comes to bikers and motorcyclists, but I do understand that bikers can also be motorcyclists, and that motorcyclists can be bikers. I use the term biker like most people, and that’s generally to refer to those motorcyclists who are in gangs and clubs that prefer the typical outlaw-biker look. Though, in some instances, such as when a parade of Harley’s go burbling by, I’ll refer to those riders as bikers, too. Even though they may just be regular old dudes showing off their classic customs.

    OED should have given the term “biker” a secondary definition that was a word for word match with the definition of “motorcyclist,” and vice versa. They could have also attached to either word a reference to the other word. Problem solved.

    But maybe what OED really wants to do is paste a picture of Daniel Craig next to the word “motorcyclist,” and a picture of Ozzy Osbourne or Rob Halford next the word “biker”. That would really help to make their point.

  • Superfish

    Here in Australia biker is someone who rides a motorcycle
    Bikie is someone in an outlaw mc

  • proudAmerican

    bi-ker (noun)

    def: A middle-aged middle-class male, often a lawyer, banker, school teacher, etc., who dresses-up in layers of dead black cowhide scraps each weekend, mounts his excessively chrome-laden v-twin motorcycle, and rides from his house to the local watering hole, not to exceed a distance of 5 miles round trip: The biker successfully “laid ‘er down” by mashing his back brake pedal, avoiding the evil front brake lever at all costs, when he overshot the corner because he was distracted by the biker at the other intersection who was revving his engine at the stop light, for no reason whatsoever.

    See also: pirate, wanna-be, poser, 1 percenter, loser, erectile dysfunction sufferer

    Not to be confused with;

    mo-tor-cy-clist (noun)

    def: One who actually rides for extended distances, knows how to properly/safely operate his motorcycle, sees no value in expensive chrome doo-dads, and chuckles at anyone wearing a black leather vest with a “gang” name affixed to the upper back: The motorcyclist wore the rubber of his rear tire to its’ edge while improving his skills at an advanced riding school.


  • MotoBell


  • TexusTim

    we dont need any type of moniker..that’s for realty shows…I never use the word biker…we seem to use the word “rider” around here…like is he a rider” …..what does he ride ?…are you going on the ride to the hill country ?….so for me the word biker is for those that have cruiser’s..sportbike guys are riders were not bikers and the only gang I belong to is the CMRA…….there are some ganster types around ……there called experts….lol

  • pooch

    I live here and that’s not true about Australia and the term Bikie belonging to Outlaw MC’s.. It’s just different terms people use. Bikie is the old term, Biker is the newer cooler term. In exactly the same way Star Trek fans don’t like to be known as ‘Trekkies’ instead they want to be known as ‘Trekkers’ – people who ride motorcycles (and actually give two f*cks about what they’re called) prefer to be called ‘Bikers’ than ‘Bikies’.

    Silly – aint it.

  • Sam Noah

    I’m a Malaysian(British based education) and love MotoGP,WSBK, IOM TT and i am totally disappointed with Oxford!!!
    I don’t do any “rituals ” to join any MC because that is bullshit. If we love motorcycle, we ride it PROPERLY(safety gear etc) and make new friends.end of story.
    outlaw in Malaysia refer to MAT REMPIT. (Mat = guy and REMPIT = love to rev the bike ) they will use 2stroke bike and “superman” while racing on the street wearing a tshirt(sweater too), open helmet and normal sneaker. They are instantly recognizable as their fashion is very vibrant don’t really follow racing and don’t have the guts to race at proper track. When i was smaller, they would race in front of my house until my father didn’t get a proper sleep.
    I hate them because they give bad image to other people who use 2 stroke bike and go to track to ride, Sepang International circuit.
    So in this article i felt like i am the mat rempit which i hate them to death.


  • Tom

    Should we push for the F_G word in the South Park episode? I ask that as a serious question as language influences perception and SP showed how to take an insult off of people who have done nothing to deserve derision and place it rightfully on those who work oh so hard to deserve it.

  • JoeD

    It really shows how non-riding folks define/perceive us. I have always called out any one who refers to me as a Biker. I RIDE MOTOCRYCLES. For a living. OCC catered to Bikers.

  • mudgun

    I’m not sure I think it matters much. On the other hand, when I pass a group pedaling themselves along a scenic mountain road I call them bikers.

  • Richard Gozinya

    I like the term Velociphile, though Moto-Caballero is also acceptable.

  • In the words of Clay Morrow: “I’m just a mechanic and a motorcycle enthusiast”.

  • cvgsp75

    How about Ass Haulers or Lane Splitters lol cause you cant do either on a Harley !!!

  • Jeff

    Of course. Biker is the 1%er and motorcyclist is the 99% others. The OED is right and whingey little twerps that think differently are wrong. btw, I’m a motorcyclist!

  • Gutterslob

    Such discrimination. This is an outrage!!
    Can’t a man marry his motorcycle in peace?!!

  • Dan

    I cannot believe this is even up for debate!!! I mean who really gives a &@#$!!! I think people should use that brain storming for something a little more useful like how many rocks or loose gravel was in that last S-CURVE or maybe which apartment that Blonde came out of with those khaki hiking shorts on!! And those of you i lost there, just remember to turn your blinker OFF! Just know living without ever experiencing two wheels, is not living at all! (NOTE: This in NO WAY pertains to people that choose to ride…………………………… SCOOTERS!)


  • pooch

    Dan – are you high ?

  • mudgun

    “Biker” …Motorcyclist who does not look or behave like the other 99% of motorcyclist.

  • Biker in the US is the equivalent of saying you’re a Harley rider.

    Sport bike riders don’t call themselves bikers in these parts. They just say ‘I ride’ or refer to themselves as riders.

    Biker = never changes those stinky ass leathers… NEVER! :-)

  • Oh man… they got it all wrong…

    Biker = a person who rides bikes.

    Bikie = a person who rides bikes in a gang.

    Then again, maybe that’s just an Aussie thing…