Every motorcycle rider hopes they will never be a squid during their lifetime on the road. Usually, when they get on a motorcycle for the first time, they are, though. Some will never grow out of it. Most, however, develop a level of self-awareness—along with a desire to survive—and put their inner squid out to sea.
Squid is a surfing term for "squirrely kid" that has spread to motorcycle culture. To be a squid, you may exhibit one or all of their undesirable traits. Squids in the wild are not difficult to spot because they are always the riders that are making a nuisance of themselves.
Medical studies have shown that squids typically have an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain responsible for judgment, impulse control, and attention. It’s not known what causes this and a cure is yet to be discovered.
Meanwhile, a recent survey showed that way too many motorcycle videos online feature squid-like behavior. This affliction is particularly prevalent amongst young motorcycle bloggers. The condition that causes the squid-like attitude and style is not contagious—but for your own protection, it is recommended to spend as little time around them as possible.
If you know a squid or have a friend who is has started to exhibit the beginnings of squid-like behavior, we urge you to please share this article with them. Squids don’t only pose a danger to themselves, but to everyone else around them. Therefore, in the interest of public safety, here are 20 things squids mistakenly think it’s still safe to do in 2019.
Being a squid is all about living life on the edge. A government-issued license is just a meaningless piece of paper and can infringe on a squid's right to be a squid. Often, squids won’t even have a motorcycle license or a registered bike because they just don't care about rules of any kind. However, squids won’t tell you they don’t have a license because deep down they know it’s one the least-intelligent things that a person can do. They know that if they get pulled over by police, they are going to be hit with a massive fine. They know that if they injure themselves—or worse, somebody else—their medical bills will bankrupt them because they have no license, no registration, and no insurance.
A common squid behavior is to constantly rev their bike's engine to its maximum limit. They see the redline as a target to be aimed at and will spend as much time bouncing the engine off its rev limiter, mostly because they think it sounds radical. By making as much noise as possible, the squid is issuing a challenge to all other riders who may consider them a lesser rider. Squids don’t realize this is not healthy for the engine and if they did, they wouldn’t care. They simply don’t have the brain capacity to consider that fuel cutout will make an engine run lean or that spark cutout can damage the exhaust.
I want to try an experiment. Open your internet browser and Google "best motorcycle helmets" and look at the results. Do you see any mohawk helmets in the list? Let me tell you why. While squids will often shrug off safety gear, there is a growing trend amongst their species to wear the most ridiculous looking helmet available and these are often decorated with fake mohawks or metal spikes. They go out thinking everyone will think they are the coolest, until they have an accident and one of those spikes has to be surgically removed. Even worse, they could potentially get detached and become a hazard to everybody else.
How many years somebody will spend riding a motorcycle often doesn’t depend on their own driving skills but the skills of the motorists around them. Accidents happen when we least expect them and the best way to come out unscathed is to wear adequate protective clothing. This means proper riding boots instead of sneakers and a riding jacket instead of a t-shirt. Squids think they look cool for some reason but every single person who sees them is thinking they are ridiculous. Bitumen rashes hurt and hospital trips are expensive. It takes around 30 seconds to get kitted up properly before you go on a ride and will ensure you enjoy riding motorcycles for years to come.
If I wasn’t limited by title length, this would say "pop fat wheelies in traffic on a road bike while not wearing any protective gear" or something similar. Because I do ride a motorcycle, I get how much fun they are when you’re goofing around with your friends—but at the risk of sounding like someone’s mother, there’s a time and a place for it. Believe it or not, wheelies are not difficult; even kids can do them. However, too many people don’t learn to wheelie properly because they’ve never been on a dirt bike and they don’t have any kind of clutch control. Even worse, bad wheelies are terrible for bikes and can cause clutch wear and oil starvation.
In some places, lane splitting is allowed and in some places, it’s not, mostly it’s tolerated because of the advantages it gives everyone. By lane splitting on a motorcycle—that is, riding between two lanes of traffic—the motorcyclist is spending less time sitting in traffic, reducing congestion for road users around them and lowering total vehicle emissions output. How squids mess this up is by treating cars like they are in some kind of one-sided race, not riding to the conditions, and lane splitting during dangerous conditions. The problems with lane splitting is that car drivers don’t consider that a motorcycle may be coming up alongside them, so they may change lanes without checking. By riding appropriately when performing this maneuver, the risk is minimized.
With the advent of online videos, people are often in a competition with each other to see who can do the most extreme stunt. This has led to a rise in police chases with footage from the squid generally making its way online so other squids can revel in their audacity and pat one another on the back at how ridiculous they all are. Obviously, a police pursuit puts innocent lives in danger: not only the squid who is being chased but the policeman and other road users who have nothing to do with the squid's generally poor life choices. Police will only try to stop somebody if there is a problem and trying to outrun them will only make that problem worse.
A lot of squids generally don’t spend much time around other motorcycle enthusiasts, partly because squids can only be tolerated in short doses. But if they did, they would discover a very welcoming community that participates in track days and gives people a chance to cut loose on their motorcycles and improve their riding skills in a safe, controlled environment. You can usually tell this type of squid because they will wear a full leather race suit on the road and take corners at angles that would put Valentino Rossi to shame while dragging their knee on every corner. Riding dangerously does not prove anything and should only ever be done on the track.
When it comes to safety, the usual line is that some protection is better than none—but in the motorcycle world, buying cheap protective gear is akin to throwing away money and hoping for the best. Good protective gear not only protects a rider from accidents and abrasions, it also protects them from the elements. There's not much worse than getting caught in a hailstorm wearing a t-shirt and an open-faced helmet. However, the squid follows the line of thought that the more skin they are flashing, the better. After all, what’s the point of working out your biceps five days a week if you’re just going to hide them under a jacket, right?
When race is life and a squid wants everyone to know just what a hardcore track warrior he really is despite never actually having been to a track day, a common technique is to just run race compound tires on their motorbike all year round. This is not only dangerous, it’s incredibly unwise, and although the only people that will probably notice are other motorcyclists, they are all silently judging and laughing at you. The tires will also wear out incredibly fast due to the abrasive nature of the road. If you’re not sure what you’re doing when it comes to tires, go to a tire shop and tell them. Ask for their recommendation. You’ll look far sillier if you run slicks and total your bike.
I can admit that some motorcycles look amazing without the side mirrors. But there is still absolutely no way I would remove them on my motorcycle. Part of the success of enjoying a long life as a motorcycle enthusiast is knowing what traffic is doing behind you at any given moment and with no mirrors, that’s virtually impossible. It also gives police just one more reason to pull you over, as in many areas a motorcycle must have at least one functioning mirror. If aesthetics are the reason you’re contemplating mirror removal, consider at least getting a bar mirror because it could save your life one day.
Two words that should never be used in the same sentence are stretched and sportsbike. However, for whatever reason, some squid somewhere got the idea that this was a great idea and the stretching craze was born. Stretching the swingarm on a motorcycle used to be a favorite mod amongst drag racers to help keep the front wheel down. Sportsbikes, on the other hand, aren’t designed to only travel in a straight line; they need to be able to turn, as well. By stretching the swing arm, you will increase the turning radius to more like that of a school bus. Stretching the swingarm of a sportsbike is really the worst of style coupled with the peak of squidliness.
The trend of fitting neon underglow to cars came and went fairly quickly—thank goodness. But, unfortunately, it persists in the motorcycle world, with too many people thinking it looks awesome. Aside from these types of lights being banned in most areas, it’s incredibly distracting to other motorists—and when there’s not much separating their car from your skin, the last thing you want to do is distract a driver. Another problem is they are typically installed by people who aren’t auto electricians and therefore, don’t put any thought into how a dodgy wiring system could become a hazard. And who doesn’t want to ride around on top of a shoddy electrical nightmare?
You may have been spending months perfecting some trick, spending every waking second thinking about it. One day, you are out riding when you spot a fellow motorcycle rider. This is your moment to shine! You ride at double the speed limit to catch up and rev your bike to get their attention. You draw a final breath before popping the largest wheelie the world has ever seen. Sparks are flying off your bike's tail as it scrapes along the road. You set the front wheel down and wait for the other rider to give you a high five but he fails to acknowledge your awesomeness. Most people out riding are just out enjoying themselves and could not care less about your perceived riding prowess.
High-speed stoppies (also called endos) are one of the most dangerous maneuvers that can be performed on a motorcycle. Typically used in street freestyle competitions, they have also become a favorite trick by immature, irrational, unintelligent human beings—or squids, as we now know them. Visually stunning but also pointless and dangerous, if things go pear-shaped when a stoppie is being performed, there is no safety mechanism to lower the bike back down. If you mess up once you’ve committed, you can expect an asphalt sandwich. Performing a stoppie is a masterclass in balance and public roads are the worst place to do them because of the additional hazards.
Now, there is nothing particularly wrong with group rides; getting your friends together and exploring roads you’ve never ridden can be a lot of fun. But problems arise when a group of squids (a squad?) get together because they are usually unorganized, riding way too close to one another, and then someone showboats and eats the pavement, making other people go down as well. There are thousands of videos of this exact scenario happening. A group ride doesn’t have to be strictly regimented but it is much safer to follow some basic safety advice, such as riding in a staggered formation, passing in formation, not going rogue, and not performing stunts when you’re in a group.
The biggest thing that squids must realize is that, when they’re on their bikes, interacting with other road users, they are representing all of us. If a car driver has a bad experience with a sportsbike rider who’s being a bit of a tool, you can bet that they’re going to think that every motorcycle rider is the same. If someone is giving you a hard time or cuts you off, give them some space and shrug it off. The other, more dangerous problem with this is that the motorcycle rider is almost always going to come off second-best in any kind of altercation with a car. It’s better to ride with a Zen mind and not let anybody upset you.
Every motorcycle rider knows that tinted visors are cool and mirrored visors are cooler. But do you know what is uncool? Wearing either of them at night! The people who do this seem to fall into two categories: they are either trying to conceal their identity or are too lazy to change their visor to a clear one. It is possible to have some degree of visibility if you get caught out and a tinted visor is all you have but really, you can only see car lights and streetlights. Potholes are impossible to pick up. A solution that I use is to keep a pair of clear glasses in your bike storage so you can flip your visor up and still have eye protection.
Considering how bright squids love to make their bikes, it's puzzling that they seem to have a preference for dark clothing. It’s true that most motorcycle jackets and pants seem to have been color coordinated by an emo teenager but there are simple ways to get around it. One trick is to make one item on your clothing or your bike brightly colored, like your helmet or your backpack. Even worse than black are colors that are just off neutral like grey or brown because they blend into the surroundings so well. This is especially important if you’re going to be riding at night or in heavy traffic and it only takes a little effort to make a huge difference.
The ride of the choice for the common squid is usually a Yamaha R1 or R6, but occasionally, they will be seen on a Suzuki GSX. They prefer to display bright colors on their bikes and oftentimes, lots of chrome, in the hope of attracting a partner with whom they can have baby squidlets. For the squid, buying a motorcycle because its particular characteristics will help them become a better rider is completely out of the question. If a squid is ever seen riding a motorcycle smaller than 600cc, he will be banished from his squad. A squid won’t have any idea what the best beginner motorcycle is because they’ve never ridden one.
Sources: Top Speed, Complex, and Ride Apart.