How to Avoid Looking Like a Squid
We have all seen that one rider that gives the rest of us a bad reputation: The Squid. But what makes you a squid and how to avoid looking like one?
Definition of ‘Squid’
Because the term ‘squid’ is a colloquialism, it doesn’t have an accurate definition, but the Urban Dictionary does a good job, defining a squid as:
“A young motorcyclist who overestimates his abilities, boasts of his riding skills when in reality he has none. Squid bikes are usually decorated with excessive chrome and various anodized bits. Rear tires are too wide for their own good, swing arm extended. Really slow in the corners, and sudden bursts of acceleration when a straight appears. Squids wear no protection, deeming themselves invincible. This fact compounds itself with the fact that they engage in ‘extreme riding,’ performing wheelies and stoppies in public areas. Squids wreck a lot. A contraction of the phrase ‘squirrely kid.'”
Whether that satisfies you as a definition or not, you definitely know a squid when you see one. One point of debate is what these types of riders actually ride. Each riding community is quick to point fingers, but the truth is that squid is an attitude and it doesn’t matter what bike they are riding. Nowadays, it is used to describe any rider who isn’t wearing the appropriate gear, related to immaturity and inexperience. Although a true squid not only rides with no gear, they also ride recklessly.
You can find squids on cruisers, but they are more likely to be found riding a sports bike, and more often than not with one wheel in the air on public roads.
Your Bike Should Not be a Fashion Accessory
There is no doubt that bikes are cool – it is one of the hundreds of reasons why we ride – and we have a natural instinct to show that fact off. However, the bike you choose, regardless if it is our first bike or your fourth, you should choose a bike that makes you a better rider, and not just to show off that you bought an incredible expensive, race-ready liter bike with a custom paint job (although there is nothing wrong with a custom paint job using high-quality motorcycle paint) without the experience to handle the power of such a bike. Riding motorbikes is a constant learning curve and its better to work your way up to your dream bike and gain experience first.
Dress for the Slide and Not for the Ride
The easiest way to spot a squid is their disregard for safety gear. You can easily see a squid in the wild riding in shorts, flip-flops and a t-shirt. Any rider with experience will tell you that the biggest danger on the road is not you, but other road users. Buy a helmet that meets all the safety requirements, a high-quality jacket, gloves and boots. Take a page from the Boy Scout’s book and always be prepared.
Turn Off That Blinker!
This visual offence catches out experienced riders as much as newbies. Unless you have self-cancelling turn signals, make sure to turn your blinkers off once you have performed the maneuver you set out to perform. Nobody wants to be that guy riding for miles down the highway with their blinkers on.
Secure Your Saddlebags
Saddlebags are perfect for carrying cargo. However, if they are not fastened properly, you can find your belongings scattered down the road. Learn how your own saddlebags fasten and make sure they are fastened correctly before you set off. Nobody wants to be picking up all your stuff from the road in the worst-case scenario.
Get to Know Your Kickstand
Sounds simple enough, right? But these spring-loaded contraptions can be a real pain for any rider. If they aren’t completely deployed, one small movement from the rider’s boot can kick them back into a stowed position. Do you want to watch as your bike takes a tumble in slow motion because you didn’t ensure the kickstand was down all the way? No, didn’t think so.
Resist the Urge to Show Off
Bikes not only look cool, but they can do really cool tricks too. You might be tempted to rev up, drop the clutch and pop a wheelie the moment the lights turn green. However, there is a time and a place for practicing your tricks, and the public road is not one of them. New riders probably don’t have the courage to pull off such a maneuver, and that increases the chances of it going wrong. So, best resist the urge to show off on the public road and save yourself from getting ridiculed when it goes wrong.
Practice Slow Speed Maneuvers
Mastering slow speed maneuvers takes serious skill, and they only way to reach this level of mastery is practice. Find an empty parking lot and practice figure 8’s, slaloms and other slow speed maneuvers. This why you can sharpen your balance and bike control, making you a better rider in general. A squid will only focus on speed, while a good rider will make any bike move around at slow speed as if it was a bicycle.
As a new rider, you will encounter tons of distracting thoughts, most of them related to staying on two wheels! As you gain experience, these thoughts will disappear and become muscle memory, but until that happens, stay calm, breathe, and focus on the essentials.
Don't Be a Jerk
A squid will give themselves away by jamming the front brake and making the forks dive or yanking open the throttle, throwing the front wheel into the air, they will cut imaginary unnecessary apexes and every time they go for a ride they treat the road like their own personal racetrack. Master the art of smooth riding, throttle and brake control, and you will get more respect from your peers and other road users.
Know Your Limits
Whether you are out on a ride with your friends or just commuting around town, you shouldn’t push your own limits. When you push them too far and cross the line, the end result is rarely a good one. This all goes back to previous points, don’t show off, learn smooth throttle control and braking, perfect low-speed maneuvers, etc. and soon you will be becoming a better and safer rider in total control of your machine.