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  • Paul


I recently received an invitation to a motorcycle event in sunny southern California, to which there was quite a bit of detail attached. The event was to be held at the Rock Pile Ranch in a place called the Piute Mountains. There was to be overnight camping and the ride out itself was to consist of two 70 mile laps of off road trails. The organisers took care to inform people that it was an uninsured event on their own private property and left their cell phone numbers on the invitation should they need to be contacted with any questions. A curious footnote on the invite quite simply read “NO SQUIDS”. I didn't know what to make of this, my curiosity eventually got the better of me and I got in touch with the organisers and asked the question, “What is a Squid?” The answer was quite simple; there are some people who can ride bikes and there are some people who can't. In the middle there are people who own and ride motorcycles. They straddle both camps, in the sense that they think they can ride a bike, but they really can't do so very well. 

Further research revealed that there are two different definitions for the term squid when applied to someone on a bike. The first one is 'Stupidly Quick, Under-dressed and Imminently Dead'. And here we've got to look at the lack of talent in the inexperienced road rider who unfortunately doesn't realise just how inexperienced they are. The origin of the acronym is vague, but it seems to have something to do with US sailors who would ride around on two stroke machinery usually at breakneck speed while still feeling some element of motion from being on their ships, all the time of course, being completely under-dressed for the event. More recently, the sailors have been replaced by stunters, the most notable of whom would include Star Boys and the oddly named Rough Riders. The footage that they seem most proud of is that of their high speed rolling stoppie going wrong where the rider falls over the front of the motorcycle and lands hard on the ground wearing a t shirt and a pair of jeans. All of which is done on a public freeway somewhere in the US.

The second definition was that SQUID came from SQUirrelly kID, the Kid part referring to the age of the rider, and the squirrelly from surfer term for somebody who was unstable and unlikely to travel in a consistently straight line. This particular example used to be a regular feature at trackdays, to describe a rider who was liable to pass you at a wonderfully high speed on the straights only to be found parked up in the kitty litter several corners later. They would then drag the bike back out on track and do it all over again. Either of these definitions describes a rider that most of us would feel just a little uncomfortable sharing a road or track with. 

Over the years the term has taken root in American motorcycle culture. These days, SQUIDS are the type of people who get their first licence and go out and buy a Gixxer 1000. They then spend lots of money on aftermarket exhausts and one off paint schemes but very little or none on appropriate motorcycle clothing. Or training. The more experienced motorcycle riders and particularly racers, get no end of amusement from the antics of the young and the dumb. And now several people have contributed to write the Squid purity test, a detailed multiple-choice questionnaire asking questions such as:

When out riding with a group you:[a] keep a steady pace with the group[b] pass slower riders in the twisty parts[c] give it full throttle on the straights to catch up with all the riders who passed you in the twisties.  

Here in Ireland, we seem to be a lot more fortunate than the riders in southern California as a result of our training culture. But wait for an outbreak of good weather and we’ll still see a phenomenal number of riders who are happy to take to the streets wearing casual clothing such as trainers and jeans and those wonderful fake leather jackets purchased from fashion stores in shopping centres.

New Compulsory Basic Training has been mandatory for all new licence holders for some time now and the syllabus includes instruction on what clothing does what and why it’s important. This might give us some hope that we may, as motorcyclists evolve somewhat as a result.  Meanwhile thanks to increased safety standards it's difficult to get onto a track day these days in Mondello Park without doing the introductory training, and no one is getting out on circuit without the correct clothing. But there’s is still the odd track day novice who knows better and just can't be told.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where you are riding in a group with the under talented and overconfident simply stop and ride on a twistier road or move up a group at the track day. If fast on the straights and slow in the corners sounds like you get some training. We’ll be on the same track so please, NO SQUIDS!


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