The historical origins of the word “squid”, when used in the context of motorcycle riders, are a bit vague. The most graphic, and possibly the most apt, is that a rider who crashes without any safety equipment can sometimes look like the multi-tentacled sea creature, with entrails and bodily bits splayed about. Other theories involve contractions, like “squirrely kid,” or acronyms, like “Speed Quickly Until I Die.”
The squid is the type of motorcyclist who rides recklessly, without proper safety precautions, exuding pretentions of racer-ness or stunt-lord status, and with fashion trumping common sense when selecting or de-selecting equipment. They can be found alone or in packs, but always attempting to attract attention, and often doing so in illegal ways. Their riding abilities tend to be minimal, far exceeded by their confidence, which can lead to unhappy consequences if the rider does not grow out of their squid phase in time.
There are varying levels of squid-ness, from the T-shirt and sandals wearing 250cc rider struggling to pass Dodge Caravans on the highway, to the T-shirt and sandals wearing Hayabusa rider who has never been on the highway because they only have their learners permit. The highest level of squid-ability involves not having any license or insurance at all. These are the giant, deep-sea squids that enjoy burnouts at every stop light and make a game of running from law enforcement.
Delve into the world of the motorcycle squid with these 25 examples of motorcycle modifications championed by the common squid.
24 License Plate Relocation
The squid’s biggest enemy, besides the police, is the license plate. This offending feature of every road legal motorcycle must be hidden away as far as is humanly possible without entirely obscuring it, leading to creative mounting positions like on the side of swingarms, or, as shown here, tucked far under the tail section, almost completely in front of the rear wheel. The more polite squids will attempt to light up the plate in a useless attempt to remain legal, while higher level squids will mount the plate almost horizontal, so it virtually faces the ground.
23 Shorty Levers
Beautifully machined, multi-adjustable shorty levers may approach the fine line between squid and function, but until they are seen on Valentino Rossi or Marc Marquez’s MotoGP machines, they land on the “fashion” side of the border. A proper length lever allows for multiple hand and finger positions, and easy manipulation in emergency situations. Accidentally slipping a finger off of the end of a shorty lever when a car turns in front of you is not worth the cool factor of a CNC machined, anodized stubby stalk.
Having a green headlight is not enough for the discerning squid these days, so the next step is to attempt to make the entire motorcycle glow in various shades of gaudy colors. Car guys have been doing it for years, why not the two-wheelers? The advent of LED technology has allowed the squidly among us to customize their rides with programmable light shows controlled by smartphone apps that claim a million possible colors. If you are making a modern interpretation of Prince’s 1981 Hondamatic, the exact correct shade of underglow purple is surely possible.
21 Spiked Bar Ends
Motorcycles are considered unsafe vehicles at the very best of times, so why not add to that danger-fueled adrenaline rush with sharp metal spikes protruding from the most potentially damage inducing areas of the bike? Having the ends of the handlebars well protected with sharp tips will have all the other guys and girls cowering in the shadow of your unfathomable machismo, and you will be safe in the knowledge that even the most mundane parking lot tip over will have destructive consequences. Skewered squid for dinner anyone?
20 Blade Levers
Like the spiked bar ends, converting your tried and true conventional brake and clutch levers to sharp, bladed weapons is the ultimate way of communicating the message, “Me bad, you scared, you run now”. Weaponizing your motorcycle can only bring good things to you and those around you, like bringing a puppy to a retirement home or donating to a registered charity. The sharper the better, and extra bonus points if they were manufactured in a third world country by toddlers, which invariably they will have been.
19 Lowered Bikes
Like the automotive “stance” craze, permanently lowering your motorcycle brings style points rivaled only by gold-encrusted Gucci sandals. Ruining both handling and comfort, living the low life makes perfect sense for those who do not actually enjoy the riding part of owning a motorcycle. This is another modification that goes well with a stretched swingarm and super-wide rear tire. Super-extra bonus points for the pictured bike, as it is an already very low Honda Grom, so I’m guessing the owner drags both knees just going straight.
18 Bad Decals
Race bikes have stickers, so naturally a street bike needs them, too. The pictured decal is actually quite funny, but often the squid lacks such vision and will apply HRC stickers to a Ninja, or Monster Energy stickers to every fairing panel of their Hyosung. Knowledgeable squids know that every decal adds at least five horsepower, and Calvin peeing on some sort of brand logo adds at least 20. No matter that the bike is equipped with Showa forks, the Öhlins stickers give street cred through the roof.
17 Tiny Mirrors
The pictured tiny mirrors come with the classy brand name “Pig Spotters”, and are de rigueur for full squid status. Stock sportbike mirrors are already quite diminutive, so why not replace them with something even smaller, and placed flush with the bodywork? The aerodynamic gains are immeasurable, and the joy of having a great view of one’s forearm tattoos is undeniable. The real bonus is that they are almost impervious to crash damage from the inevitable crash that will happen when changing lanes into an overtaking truck.
16 Aftermarket Turn Signal Mirrors
There are motorcycles that are equipped stock with well-engineered integrated mirrors and turn signals, but the aftermarket varieties tend to be of much lesser quality. Not only are the signals not up to OEM standards, but the lens and bulb assemblies tend to intrude on the adjustment range of the mirror, often rendering them quite useless for their intended purpose. The result is an integrated turn signal and mirror that neither signals nor reflects properly, thus making them a near perfect squid friendly motorcycle modification.
15 Ape Hangers
Ape hangers are possibly the biggest head-scratchers in existence for non-squids. They don’t look good, they aren’t even remotely comfortable, they compromise handling and operation of the controls, and the higher ones are even illegal in some jurisdictions. Why would anyone want such goofy contraptions on their beloved steeds? Most of the other modifications on this list at least pretend to be some sort of aesthetic or performance upgrade, but ape hangers defy all odds in being the most useless motorcycle modification ever performed by more than just one lunatic.
14 Stretched Swingarms
One of the easiest squid mods to spot, the stretched swingarm signals the rider’s intention to be the next Larry McBride, except they likely have no idea who Larry McBride is, nor will their bikes ever see a drag strip. What the extended swingarm will do is ruin the handling of any motorcycle it is attached to, add considerable unsprung weight, cost a swingarm and a leg, and notify everyone within line of sight that the rider has more cash than dash. They are typically used in conjunction with another item on this list, the overly wide tire.
13 Chain Guard Delete
This seemingly minor feature of every street bike looks oh so tempting to expunge when the squid wishes to lose those many milligrams of weight and signal their superbike racing intentions. Like an infected appendix or tonsil, the chain guard must be removed for the squid to survive bike night at the local coffee shop. The spray of chain lube all over the rear of the bike is a small price to pay, and the extra danger from anything getting caught in there feeds the squid’s adrenaline rush.
12 Flip Up Plates
A squid-logical extension of simply relocating the offending license plate, the flip up plate is for the squid that wants to evade the authorities but hasn’t reached the extreme level of squidlyness by simply running no plate at all. These are marketed by the flip up plate manufacturers as “for off-road use only,” which obviously makes no sense because if you are off the road, you don’t need a plate anyway. But the squid cares not about such legal mumbo-jumbo, as long as that unpleasant piece of jailhouse manufactured metal can be hidden out of sight at the flip of a switch.
11 Crashed Bike Becomes Stunt Bike
Crashed your beautiful sportbike? You now have a stunt bike! Simply repairing the damaged fairings is too expensive, and converting the bike to a tasteful naked is too…classy? So keep any remaining plastics on the bike, file down the rough edges, put a big dent in the top of the tank, and you have your very own wheelie/stoppie/drift machine. At least, that’s what the Craigslist ad invariably says. Before stunting, these were sold as “crashed bike, sold as is.” Now it’s, “stunt ready machine, serious offers only!”
10 Too Wide Tires
The super-wide rear tire modification takes some serious commitment. One can’t just lever on a 300mm rear tire to a stock bike and go posing. A new rear wheel, swingarm, a method of getting the brake to fit and the chain to line up, takes some real squid-genuity. Spending that much time and money, adding that much unnecessary weight, and ruining the handling to that extent is a cross the next-level squid has to bear to impress the ladies and gentlemen on Main Street, Anytown.
9 Knobby Tires on Street Bikes
The scrambler bike fashion trend is currently in full-force, and along with it, knobby tires mounted to bikes that will never leave the paved road. The scramblers of yore were essentially dual-purpose bikes fashioned from ordinary road bikes with the goal of winning races held on tracks with a combination of dirt and pavement. Knobbies were essential for the dirt sections, with the corresponding trade-off in road performance a necessary evil. Today, knobby tires are being slapped on street bikes simply for the look, and the diminished pavement performance is in the name of fashion, not function.
8 Armored Vests and T-Shirts
One thing the fashionable squid is always in short supply of is safety equipment, but for some reason, the armored vest had become the go-to accessory for the modern tentacled rider. Manufactured from nylon, foam and hard plastic, these vests were originally intended to complement an existing jacket or race suit, but such accouterments are missing from any talented squid’s wardrobe. Therefore the vest must be worn with nothing more than a t-shirt because those expensive full arm tattoos must be visible at all times.
7 Colored Headlights
If the squid is anything, they are courteous to the road users around them, so they often take the time and the money to replace their blinding white headlights with ones that have more pleasing colors such as blue, orange, or the very confusing red. The squid’s own safety and adherence to the letter of the law is thrown out the door when the comfort of those around them is at stake. Besides, white is just so bland compared to a nice, dim, barely visible purple hue.
6 Pod Filters
With the advent of fuel injection and improved engineering on the part of the manufacturers and common sense on the part of riders, this one has become less popular with squid nation. Long ago, a carbureted GSX-R was not squid worthy without a set of individual pod filters, one for each carb. They ruined fueling and destroyed midrange, but boy did they look racy! The pictured pods, paired with proper CR carbs, are likely properly tuned and offer meaningful performance gains, but your typical street bike typically has not been upgraded to that extent.
5 Flushmount Turn Signals
Turn signals are another bane of the squid rider. These offending safety features, placed far out on ugly stalks, insult the squid’s aesthetic sensibilities almost as much as the license plate. Thus, the squid tears the stock signals off and replaces them with the smallest LEDs known to man, mounted so flush to the bodywork as to be invisible from most angles. They come beautifully machined, tailored to fit any individual motorcycle model, and will make any street bike 1000 cool points better at every doughnut shop stop in the city.
4 Large Visor Stickers
Like the spiked helmet modification, this one might be considered a fun upgrade or harmless gag, but covering the entire visor with a large sticker - even one with thousands of tiny holes - qualifies it for squid certification. If you’ve had a chance to look through one of these stickers, you will see that the amount of visual restriction they impart is small but not insignificant, and when relying on sight as the most important sensory input keeping the rider alive, blocking it in any way is not a good idea. Tinted visors filter the sun’s rays, but they don’t cause thousands of tiny blind spots.
3 Dark Tinted Windscreens
The windscreen on a sportbike is designed for aerodynamic efficiency and to simultaneously protect a rider from the wind and allow them to see forward when in a tuck position at high speed. What better time (when going fast) and place (right in the rider’s vision) for the squid to place an overly dark piece of warped plastic. The most talented squids on a tight budget will forgo the aftermarket versions and simply paint the stock windscreen completely opaque black, hopefully with the highest quality paints found in their parents’ shed or basement.
2 Race Takeoffs on the Street
Race tires and DOT legal race tires are for racing. They don’t last very long, they require time to heat up to operating temperature, and they don’t deal well with too many heat cycles before going off, regardless of how new they are. They also do not operate very well at all at cooler temperatures. So even brand new, these tires are not a good choice for street riding. But the squid, being so smart, so racy, and so short on money, will purchase used up race tires to use on their street bikes. These “take offs” typically have minimal or no tread, and have been heat-cycled past their useable lifespan, but boy do they look racy, and no chicken strips!
1 Loud Exhausts
A decent exhaust pipe can both make power and save weight, but they do not have to be obnoxiously loud to achieve these advantages. “Loud pipes save lives,” says the loud pipes appreciation club. Except, this theory only works when other drivers are behind the loud-piped motorcycle, which is not the situation in which most motorcycle accidents happen. The most dangerous situation for motorcyclists to be in is approaching an intersection with an oncoming car turning left in front of them. Unless your loud pipe points forward, it is not going to help you there.
Sources: sgi.sk.ca, revzilla.com