The great british biker comes of age as dictionary definition is updated

Monday, 25 February 2013

Bikers have been given an updated dictionary definition - after complaints from Britain’s two wheeled community that it was outdated.

The Oxford English Dictionary defined biker as ‘motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang’ with the example ’a long-haired biker in dirty denim’ - while the Cambridge English Dictionary still defines it as ‘a member of a gang of people riding motorcycles’ with the example ‘we were overtaken by a crowd of bikers doing over 90 mph’.

But after objections from motorcyclists, the Oxford University Press - publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary - has removed references to ‘long hair’ and ‘dirty denims’ with the definition updated to 'a motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang or group'.

Bennetts, the UK’s No.1 Bike Insurance Specialist, quizzed over 500 British bikers - and found that almost three quarters (74%) feel the old dictionary definitions don’t accurately describe bikers, with 21% saying they were ‘outraged and offended’ by the definitions.

The Bennetts study also reveals:

  • Far from the ‘long haired and dirty denim’ stereotype, fewer than one in 10 male bikers (9%) has long hair, while just under half (42%) of British bikers are also totally free from tattoos, piercings, facial hair or gang markings
  • Contrary to being a ‘member of a gang’, 65% of bikers quizzed say they spend the majority of their time riding alone
  • Over half (60%) felt the dictionary definitions were dated and irrelevant, and just TWO percent felt that they were correct and accurate descriptors

Bennetts data shows that today’s biker is most likely to be aged over 35, middle class, working in IT or telecoms and likely to ride a Honda.  Whether commuting or riding as a hobby, the image of a ‘biker’ has changed.

When the term ‘biker’ was used in the 60s and 70s, it described gangs of long haired, leather clad trouble makers who drove at dangerously high speeds, often to confront rival gangs elsewhere - described in the early 60s in the media as ‘ton-up’ boys.

Hannah Squirrell, Bennetts’ Director of Marketing and Ecommerce, added: ‘In the early 60s, ‘biker’ was a relatively new term which provoked fear among many, partly due to their image portrayed in the media.  Fortunately since then, bikers have grown away from the clichéd stereotype and now encompass all sectors of society, which is evident by the recent popularity growth of adventure-bikes and scooter sales.

‘It’s clear from the research that the image of a biker in 2013 is not the same as 50 years ago, and we’re pleased that the Oxford English Dictionary definition has finally been updated – although it’s worth pointing out that not every person who rides a motorcycle describes themselves as ‘biker’ and we’re not all members of gangs, so there is still some way to go.”

*Survey of 524 UK adults who ride a motorcycle, carried out by Vision Critical in January 2013


posted by Bennetts @ 12:30

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*In February 2015, a survey of 456 bikers by independent research company, Ipsos MORI, found Bennetts cover to be one of the most recommended by riders.

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