Road Rash is an aggressive motorcycle racing game where the player assumes the role of a biker who takes part in a series of illegal races across the U.S.A. Starting at the back of the pack the objective is always to finish first on a linear course, overtaking the other bikers. This is achieved by driving very well or by playing it dirty, knocking opponents of their bikes using clubs, crowbars or your bare hands. The other racers fight back in a similar fashion and there are also hazards. All the races take place on the regular road with normal traffic (in both directions) and the cops, as well as occasional oil slicks and stray cows.
By winning races you can get promoted to a stronger division and earn cash with which you can buy a better bike. Whenever you're knocked off your bike or hit something you will have to run back to your bike and lose valuable time, plus your bike will suffer some damage. When the player crashes with cops nearby, it is possible to get busted and then you have to forfeit the race.
Like the whole Road Rash lineage, the game has arcade-like gameplay with no intention to be a motorcycle simulation. While the game has a two-player mode, this is not simultaneous.