We’ve all seen it: a guy on a bike at a stoplight will periodically rev his engine for no apparent reason. A few days ago at Daytona Bike Week, I witnessed a rider doing a U-turn while holding in his clutch lever and constantly blipping the throttle. Because the engine was always at a different speed, the bike lurched each time he engaged the clutch. Then there was the woman riding the custom bike with ape-hangers so tall that she looked like she had to stretch to reach them. Still, at every stoplight (I was stuck behind her for a while), she’d pull in the clutch and vroom-vroom-vroom. Although the straight pipes were noisy, I think it was her tube top and riding position that triggered all the extended looks.

This behavior isn’t just limited to rallies, either. I see riders around my little slice of suburbia on the other side of the continent doing the same thing. So, why do riders do it? Listed below are some of the reasons we’ve come up with. Let us know what we’ve left out in the comments.


  • Bruce Steever

    Cue South Park “F-Word” episode .gif or video link in three… two… one…

  • Uncommon Sense

    Because most motorcyclist in America are attention whores. Squids popping wheelies on their Gixxer through an intersection and Sons of Anarchy Cardiologists on their street glide revving their straight pipes are two sides of the same coin.

    People just want to be seen and heard. Everyone is guilty of showing off a little at some point.

    • Old MOron

      I’m not convinced. Seems like the loud pipe crew have a different motivation that the wheelie squids. The Harley F-word types get off on triggering car alarms, halting people’s conversations, interrupting people’s meals, etc. The common theme here is disturbing the peace, spoiling other people’s simple enjoyment of life. That’s much different from “Look at me. I can wheelie.”

      • Uncommon Sense

        The motivation is the same, just different methods.

        Squid: Look at me, bro! I’m on my fast bike popping wheelies or doing burnouts!

        Harley Guy: Look at me, I’m a bad ass rebel with my chromed out Harley and loud pipes.

        The objective is to bring attention to themselves. To let all lookers know they are cool.

        • Old MOron

          No, different.

          Harley Guy: you can’t enjoy your meal while I’m at the stop light. You can’t have a conversation until I leave. You can’t sleep at night because I like set off car alarms.

          That’s very different from “look at me”.

          • Starmag

            The wheelie guys are dying to be the Harley guys sound-wise but with their small “pistons” they can’t manage it, so they wheelie.

          • dbwindhorst

            Uh, no. The difference is: wheelies are kinetic fun, whether witnessed or not. Pointless blipping is just gasturbation.

          • Starmag

            Haha. “gasturbation”. Good one. I’m not a pirate, it was just a joke.

            However, in my experience the wheelie guys almost always have modified loud exhaust also.

          • dbwindhorst

            Oh, for sure. I came up riding dirt bikes though, and ride a supermoto now, so wheelies have just always been as much a practical thing as an expression of fun…or hooliganism, or whatever, or all the above.

            Come to think of it…how many bikes do you see these days that still have stock exhausts? About the least intrusive bikes I notice anymore are big Beemer gentleman-trailies.

          • Steve Kimmel

            My 94 XV750 still has the stock exhaust. It’s kind of loud for a stocker, but I like it. I don’t however go blipping around gasturbating. I’ve been riding since I was 5, started on an italjet 50cc, and worked my way up. I’ve spent more time on a bike than most people have had licenses. All that dumb sh@t burned outta me a long time ago. It’s just a fun form of transportation to me.

          • Born to Ride

            I rarely wheelie where there are witnesses. And wheelie excessively where there aren’t. Wheelies good clean fun for the whole family.

          • dbwindhorst

            I got stopped once for what was just an innocent little lift over some railroad tracks; didn’t see the cop nearby. He was cool and let me off with a warning, though.

          • Craig Hoffman

            Haha…. You and I are brothers from different mothers.

          • Tinwoods

            No one who doesn’t ride one of those backward monstrosities wants “to be the Harley guy” in any way shape or form.

          • Uncommon Sense

            You not enjoying your meal is a symptom, not the motivation. I highly doubt the Harley guy is saying let’s disturb Old MOron’s meal. Their motivation is to show off and be seen or heard. Unfortunately, in their quest to do so, they disturb people trying to enjoy a nice meal, sleep, or whatever.

          • Old MOron

            Sorry, still not convinced. If the Harley Guy were truly unaware of the harm he is causing, okay, maybe it’s an unintended consequence. But the Harley Guy knows darned well what he’s doing. He either doesn’t give a shit how miserable he makes everyone, or he gets off on it. Either way, it’s an order of magnitude worse than your basic attention whore.

          • Markus West

            Its all the same idiotic, attention whoring behavior, it all draws attention back to the rider. At least some of the wheelie kids just like popping wheelies and maybe even try to do it away from main traffic…of course some are mega idiots and do it right in traffic too and have their fellow wheelie morons film them…again its just stupid, childish, attention whoring like the sad little B’s they are, behavior.
            But the engine revving dumb F’s always seem to be doing that idiotic BS right near others, they are just as moronic as even some of the worst mouth breather wheelie kiddies. In fact the engine revving crap for brains neck beard idiots are pretty much the epitome of idiots. A wheelie could at least be fun if done safe and away from traffic. But sitting there revving your engine for no reason while drooling all over yourself in awe of how amazing a freekin’ throttle response is…as if you are a young child that just figured it out for the first time… is just F’ing stupid and makes you look F’ing stupid.

    • Tinwoods

      Most riders? F you. Do you know most riders? Have you seen most riders? “Uncommon Sense”? More like “No Sense.”

      • Uncommon Sense

        Sorry if my comment hit to close to home for you.

        • fiddlesticks

          Strong objection is not evidence that you’re right.

        • Huh?

          Overgeneralize in your posts, much?

      • halfnelson_73

        Exactly! That’s about as intelligent as saying all Italians are mafia. Or all Muslims are terrorists.

    • Kick Stand Hetra

      If we have to explain you would never understand just like every crowd there’s always a ass bikers are good ppl and do good things for there community poker runs for causes never judge what you don’t understand

      • Rider Unknown

        Punctuation. Spelling. Punctuation. Spelling. Learn it, love it, live it.

      • Douglas

        Well, Kick, maybe you could at least try to explain IT…?….if you can….which I doubt (without tipping your hand, vis-a-vis, “see how BAAAD I am, sitting atop this snarling beast…and I’M controlling it!!”)
        That means that I’m….bad….or badass….dudden it?

      • Alex Nuta

        Also drugs, violence, rape, child abuse, gang war shootings, alongside the community service and helping youths deal with bullies.
        There are all kinds. We had our issues here in Montreal.

    • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

      I used to have a job that had a parking area for bikes in a parking garage. There was this one Ahole that liked to rev his VROD with pipes and set off car alarms. He had the fortune to do it one day when I got there just before him and let him know just what kind of Ahole he was. I felt a lot better. :)

  • Starmag

    Because they are trying to shake off the carpal tunnel syndrome they got in their “bad ass” cubicle at the office?

  • blansky

    ’cause a pirate’s gotta do what a pirate’s gotta do…

    • Donnie


    • Tinwoods

      Except they’re not pirates. They just assholes.

  • Starmag

    I just have to say that the subject is a classic observation worthy of Egan, that I have often wondered about myself. Kudos.

    You can save the “is that you Peter?” because the answer is no.

  • Dick Fisk

    “Let’s see; I can paint me a sign that says ‘I’m a stupid a**hole’ and carry it around with me, but it might be hard to hold in the wind. I know, I’ll just rev my engine at stoplights – it accomplishes the same thing, but it’s much easier!”

  • JMDonald

    I was getting cash at an atm in Ladera Ranch. There was a young lady next to me at the adjacent terminal when off in the distance we heard the roar of a very load cruiser. The guy waits until his is directly behind us and blips his throttle three or four times. It was so loud it made her jump about two feet in the air. It sure seemed like it was the guys standard method of making himself known. She gave him the business about it but her outrage was wasted on the ignorant as£0le. Who does that sh#+?

  • Emptybee

    I like to give the impression, “Man, that guy’s motorcycle sure is quiet. And he’s wearing some great gear!”

    • Starmag

      By example is the best way! No oratory or typing needed.

    • Kim Moon

      Which is why I own a BMW. Very quiet, Fun to ride, and the clothing is Fantastic! LOL

    • kawatwo

      LOL Agreed. All my bikes have had stock exhausts. As long as I can hear it I’m good.

  • Tom Pava

    Maybe, the guy loves the sound. Maybe it’s not about you, or anybody else.
    Plus, every situation is different. The old Linkerts and Bendixs didn’t meter to well at an idle (nor, for that matter, did some Mikunis or Keihins) so, to keep them from loading up at a sustained idle, ya’ gotta rev ’em up a bit when sitting at a light so they don’t choke and stumble when ya’ pull away. But hey, nobody wants the straight scoop anyway. They need to assuage their insecurity by projecting the worst qualities on those they feel intimidated by.

    • Daniel Benjamin

      … and on modern bikes? Mine can idle for hours sans problem. Poor excuse.

      • Goose

        Not an excuse, just an example of posers doing dumb things tying to look cool. IIRC, the Amal GP carbs had no idle circuit. Posers saw the races blipping the throttle in the pits or on the grid, thought it looked/ sounded cool so they copied the racers.
        Probably the majority are just making noise to draw attention or just because they like the noise but I think there is also a (stupid) tradition involved. One of many MC traditions long over due to fade away.

      • Tom Pava

        Not excusing anything. Just sharing my thoughts on the fact of the older, carbureted bikes. And the habits that are formed from long familiarity.

    • Robs

      THIS. I started riding in the late 70s and this was common behavior back then. Not raving loudly, just blipping it to keep it from stumbling. I still do it, particularly when I’m a stoplight and can’t see when the light is about to change…a few extra revs on the clock for when I have to move. But I have to go to the LOOK AT MEEEEE!!! excuse for the ones that rev em high.

      • Tinwoods

        Nice try. You’re saying it’s out of habit from yesteryear? Riiiight.

        • fzrider

          I think Tom Pava is right. It had a real purpose at one time. I do it because I don’t have anything else to do, and it seems to make the green light come on sooner.

        • Tom Pava

          I am not defending anything here. This is not about winning anything. If you are not happy with what I have to say, big deal. Go feel better about yourself somewhere.

    • sgray44444

      There’s truth to that. My first bike was a CB350. I got in the habit of blipping it before taking off. I didn’t do it constantly at a stop though… just making sure it would rev clean before letting the clutch out. I often do the same thing on my V-strom because it has a tendency to stumble sometimes off idle (as did my previous V-strom), but it really is not effective, just habit.

  • spiff

    Has anyone seen the south park episode where they cover this. It’s pretty funny.

  • halfnelson_73


  • Stephen Miller

    It’s hard for me to judge, as I did this quite a bit when I was younger. On a Honda CX500 of all things. I think I also did it on my VX800. Strange bikes to act cool on!

    • halfnelson_73

      You kidding? The CX is a highly desirable bike right now. They make great platforms to build cafe racers.

  • allworld

    They are absolutely clueless that they are doing it and can’t even tell you why they do, do it. Must be a nervous twitch.
    I imagine this is why a scooter with a CVT gets more smiles than frowns by on lookers.

  • Archie Dux

    I happened to be at a hotel in Times Square when a biker parade of some kind rumbled through — not only Harleys but Hayabusas and Gixxers. It was all the same: bling, noise, lights, spectacle. I realized that was the only kind of fun you could have on a motorcycle in Manhattan, and they seemed to be enjoying themselves.

  • gunny 2shoes

    i must use self control NOT to do it when at a stoplight. doing it is just human nature, like saying um when u talk. however some are truly antisocial.

    • Tinwoods

      Not human nature at all. Just YOUR nature.

      • fzrider

        I always thought it makes the green light appear sooner, but it could just my nature.

  • lennymccall

    My bike is not loud really but I do blip occasionally because I’m impatient at a light and I want to get moving. Doesn’t matter if anyone is around, it’s not for attention, it’s cause WANNA GO DAMN IT!

  • Time To Fish

    Use to be to prevent your carburetor from flooding out and causing a stall. Now, with Fuel Injection..no need. But there are a lot of bikes still running carbs..

    • Roger Farrier

      I ride a 40 year old bike with 4 carburetors and it idles just fine. If you need to Rev your engine to keep the carb from flooding then you need to adjust the float and jet it properly. I live in Daytona and the Rev it up crowd are a bunch of attention whores. I see a lot of fuel injected bikes reving at lights while at the same time the guys on the 48 Indian or old school Honda or Bonneville choppers are idling just fine. I guess when you only ride 2 weeks out of the year you have to get all the revs in that you can.

  • Jim

    Because dad told them to ‘quit makin’ all that gosh durned racket in the driveway’! Or,maybe it’s just Tourette’s.

  • Giles Hardisty

    I do it mainly because I love the sound of my bike and I like to indulge my inner 9 year old xD

    • dbwindhorst

      And that’s a valid reason — up to a point. :>)

  • anthony branham

    Never really thought about it much, but bottom line is I don’t care. No different from the guy behind me honking to go, while the light is still red. Ride Safe!!

  • dbwindhorst

    Why? Because stupid old KTM oil light, that’s why.

  • Dave

    Because they’re total fags.

  • vasai_boy

    Since I have old bike keep it revving little so it does not shut down on me :)

    • Tinwoods

      BS. Get it tuned or buy a modern fuel-injected ride.

  • Tinwoods

    What a lame article. Doesn’t even answer (or attempt to answer) the question it asks… so I will. Because they’re insecure, little-dicked, attention-seeking asshats.

    • spiff

      Yeah Evans, tell us the answer!

    • Starmag

      This must be the part of the story before you get a heart from the wizard. Quit beating around the bush and tell us how you really feel. That’s a lot of vitrol in those comments. Put down the axe and have a drink of oil.

  • http://www.motou.info Gabe Ets-Hokin

    Maybe they adjusted their throttle free play incorrectly…

    • Evans Brasfield

      And Gabe wins the Internet for today!

      Thank you all for playing.

    • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

      May be they like to play with some cylindrical with their right hand.

  • Mahatma


  • spiff

    Years ago “Motocross Action” had a article by a motocross mom. She talked about how she was over the noise thing. Then she and her son were at the stating gates. She was in charge of keeping the bike running while he did final preparations. She had to admit it wasn’t annoying when she did it.

  • CookedDragon

    Or for the Harley riders, it’s the only way their junk motors from dying at stop lights.

  • fzrider

    I have nothing else to do at redlights, and I believe it makes the green light come on sooner.

  • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese


  • Jaime Cruz

    I blame it on excessive masturbation. Their wrists are just used to doing SOMETHING all the time…


    I rev my engine for the same reason I put extra effort into my lovemaking… I like the way my sweetheart sounds when she moans in response. It excites me even more.

    Gears, crankshafts, cams, valves, pistons… perfectly machined and engineered. Controlled explosions turned into potential energy and thrust. Parts synchronizing and meshing in perfect designed harmony. The sound of an engine is the release of all that effort. A vehicular orgasm. Who doesn’t like the sound of release?

  • Born to Ride

    Couple of reasons. I used to have to blip the throttle on my SV650 to find neutral at a stop. Also, a throttle blip is a more polite way to announce my presence to traffic while lane splitting than honking.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Stoplights are far away from that mythical rural country straightaway, hopefully with no witnesses other than perhaps a horse or a cow, when the tach is above 10,000 rpm, the throttle is pinned, the Akra full exhaust is singing that silky high pitched song and my FZ1 is pulling like a force of nature. I don’t want anyone to see this as I honestly get embarrassed when somebody sees me going 140 mph, and God forbid if a cop sees it.

    These are my own private intense adrenaline filled reveries. Back in town, burbling at 1,000 rpm at the stoplight, I am quiet as a mouse. This is my playground :)

    • Curtis Brandt

      Preach it, brother.

    • Ted

      Sweet playground. Inconspicuous, seldom noticed, quietly sliding by. No one knows what may happen when not seen. Would be far less motorcycle haters.

  • lmb511

    For the same reason dogs lick their balls – because they can.

  • Richard Polichetti

    I enjoy my VFR. As much as anybody, but I’ve never reved my engine in 25 years. It’s for jerks.

  • Nathan Hughes

    I ride a 1999 Harley sportster 883. Some call it a girls bike, some call it a beginners bike. I call it my daily driver. Any harley prior to 2007 is carbureted and may require a little blip to keep the bike from stumbling. It shoot a shot of gas down the intake and for a bit will help you get off the line better. I dont really need to do that often. Other reasons i do it is 1) as im coming to a stop at a light or in traffic ill do it so people hear me and recognize that im there so they dont turn into me. I preffer it over honking my horn. 2) if im just starting out and my choke is closed, as i start opeing up my choke i blip the engine at a stop to make sure i set the choke ok. If it revs fine, i can open the chike some more. One of the problems with air cooled engines is that if we get stuck in traffic long enough our engine starts to overheat. Mostly our engines can take it but theres a few parts that like to warp like the intakr manifold flanges. When they are warped, it can take a real long time for the engine to get warm enough to expand the gaps in the manifold.
    3) just frickin because! Sometimes cagers piss me off and listening to the sweet music of my harley makes me feel better.

    Seriously though, mind your own business.

  • Gruf Rude

    Just trying to hear their money’s worth from the $900 accessory pipes . . .

  • dpmanthei

    The big two-stroke era was just before my time, but in my opinion those riders are the only ones with a free pass to rev at stoplights. I’ve pushed a fouled two stroke dirtbike through enough mud fields to understand the importance of limiting idle time :)

  • Leland Lewis

    You missed the main reason, at least for me, I love the sound of my bike! I don’t rev as much as some guys, whom I assume just do it to irritate people, but I always seem to give a couple of “blips”, especially just before pulling away. I’ve tried not to a few times, and it is like going through withdrawal. LOL

  • John B.

    The world would be a better place if dum-dums spent time trying to figure out why smart people do what they do. Instead, we have the opposite. I don’t know why people rev their engines at stop lights, and I refuse to think about it! The current political cycle has proven beyond all doubt, non-thinkers have a clear majority, and I’m joining that club…. It’s been raining six (6) days in a row in the Metroplex, and now THIS…. Thank God for alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. You crack me up Evans! Oh look, a rabbit. What was the question?

  • Joshua Early

    Best way to PISS OFF all the assholes in cages who won’t put down their phones.

    • Evans Brasfield

      I miss carbureted bikes. I used to make mine backfire next to people talking on their phones. That got their attention!

  • giant p.p

    It’s because they’re trying to give grandma (in the car in the next lane) a heart attack.

  • Tyreezy

    Maybe I’m lying to myself and I’m an attention whore but I do it for other people’s enjoyment. We always do it in a pack at a traffic light and I don’t think any man with two testicles doesn’t get excited hearing twenty or so aftermarket pipes going at it. It just excites me & I would think it excites others too. I know when I see a guy in a Ferrari/Lamborghini & he revs that thing I have a stupid smile plastered on my face for a while after that.

    • Andre Capitao Melo

      I hope you’re being sarcastic.

  • Vrooom

    I see people doing that in the woods on a dual sport sometimes. It has to be for attention, or the confusion that loud equals fast.

  • Chuck Tate

    I usually rev at a light when coming to a stop so people don’t rear end me. I don’t do it for the “look at me” I do it so I don’t end up with a broken back, or brain damage. CBR600…

  • Thomas Schafer

    About the only thing more pointless than revving at a stop light is going to the comments section of an online magazine and complaining about people revving at a stop light.

    “Harley guys are bad” – “No, squids are bad”
    “Harley guys are worse” – “No, squids are worse”

    Wow…truly changing the world with such deep discourse!

  • noblsht

    If the day ever comes that motorcycles have to be as quiet as a commuter sedan, the riders who used to blip for the noise won’t be riding motorcycles at all.

  • Huh?

    Perhaps they’re trying to gain the attention of the idiot in the car next to them texting, eating, putting on make-up, etc… See, I can be an arrogant tool just like some commenters here. But honestly, some just do it because they feel like it, some are arrogant, and some…well, don’t really need to give an answer for it. I mean, do they really need to explain themselves to anyone? Is a “brap” here and there at a stop light breaking the law compared to what I posted above? No, it’s not.

    Perhaps some people are just anal and need to complain about anything….like keyboard commandos somehow defending innocent people who are merely texting and driving?

    But yea, do “some” do it? Sure. Is the world going to end? Nope.

  • Gary Anderson

    Because they all Learned to do that when they were all riding their mopeds, and scooters, before owning the bigger bike…Even as kids on their bicycles, they would vroom vroom at stop signs…. :)

  • HappyHighwayman

    Look At Me

  • EcoMouse

    What are these attention whore types gonna do, 25 years from now, when petrol based motorcycles are outlawed, and we’re all on electrics? Blipping not required.

  • Skorp

    I don’t know about the young guys today – but for me – (and “yes” I still play with the throttle at red lights) there was always a technical reason: Having started riding about 40 years ago, it was a necessary thing to rev your bike while idling. This come mostly from the two-stroke days and my dirt-biking days. You did this to keep incomplete combustion from fouling your plugs with oil or deposits (2-stroke / four stroke). If you just let it idle, you might find yourself trying to kick some life back into the dead beast in the middle of an intersection full of Kenworth Tractor-trailors…. Now that we have moved up into the computer age, with ECU units and almost perfect combustion control and fuel injection – the ECU actually controls the engine speed better than a human can – so, in theory, we do not need to do this anymore. But if I must be honest, playing with the throttle at red lights stil gives me a comfortable feeling that I am not going to stall ine middle of h

  • SuperKchar

    I rev to let drivers around me know I’m there. Safety reasons. I rather be loud and annoying then getting hit on my motorcycle.

    • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese


  • Lon Fonseca

    Helps keep the oil pressure up. A idling engine is bad on the motor especially if it is a high performance engine. I would assume most do it for the joy off hearing there motor rev and some for the attention.

  • Doug Erickson

    because it sounds RAD AS HELL, fam, and because some of us are born shitheads. this hobby attracts our kind!

  • David

    I used to have an old Ducati 750 with an aftermarket NCR exhaust. It sounded like a powerboat!!! And yes, I used to gun the throttle and set off car alarms. However, back then I was an immature dweeb. Karma to me as now that stuff bugs me.

  • Manicmechanic71

    I had an old British bike that used to idle beautifully until the lights were close to changing, then the evil old gits would conk out.
    I was guilty of blipping that one a bit.
    I ride a Yamaha now, so no need nowadays!

  • Markus West

    There is no reason at all to rev a properly tuned motorcycle or car engine, other then doing it because you are a moronic attention whore POS.

  • Markus West

    There is really no reason to constantly rev a properly tuned car or motorcycle engine, other then being a moronic, rude, attention whore POS.

  • Dave Brunson

    bikes idle change as the bike heats up (mine takes about 3hrs) and idle becomes faster. so you set the throttle when it’s hot, the bike can idle down a cut off at a light until it reaches it’s peek point.

    It gives more control of the clutch by keeping the RPMs up with out the motor running away People with manual transmission cars and trucks do it to

    As mentioned about blipping in a U-turn. the motor produces centrifugal force The motor can be a gyroscope in a sense helping in balance. This only works on motors that drive is at a right angle to the bike wheels. Motors that are inline, the torque and centrifugal force and cause you to fall in that case.

    As mentioned about the clutch lurching at the U-turn. He needs an add-on called a clutch tamer it fixes the lurching which is a bad clutch design common on older Harleys. trust me blipping the throttle is the best way to handle it

    Gearheads like to hear their work, other gearheads like to hear other gearheads

    Some people are wantabe assholes don’t know what they’re doing and attention hogs

  • Duncan Sterling

    This goes back to the old days of bikes with sketchy carbs and point and condenser ignitions that tended to load up while idling. An occasional blip of the throttle meant that your bike was less likely to stall when the light changed and it was time to go.

  • http://motoadventurer.com/ MotoADVR

    I undoubtedly “get this”, a lot of these squids and trolls just like being annoying and overbearing by silencing conversation and radios with their obnoxious pipes. That said, sadly I have done this; mostly out of bordom and impatience waiting on the light. There are certainly folks that do this for attention or just to be an ass, I’ve done it mostly because I’m tired of sitting and I like the sound of my Triumph. I assume that some guys honestly love the sound of their obnoxious pipes… more power to them I guess, but I certainly don’t find it appealing. All that said, it really doesn’t excuse this activity.

  • tbonpc

    It’s the Sound. No other reason.