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How to Talk Like a Cyclist (31 Terms You Need to Know)

Bicycling can be great, but it can be tough to know the right words to use when talking to other cyclists. This post will teach you to talk like a cyclist.

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Cycling can be a great way to get around town, but it can be tough to know the right words when talking to other cyclists. But how can we learn to talk like a cyclist?

The best way to learn to talk like a cyclist is to hang around cyclists and pay attention to their words and phrases. If you don’t know what a word or term means, take a note, and look it up. Later, use that word in a sentence with your biker buddies. It’s that simple.

Many with a pink cycling cap, apple airpods, and sunglasses with a high performance bike. Source: unsplash
Many with a pink cycling cap, Apple Airpods, and sunglasses with a high performance bike. Source: Unsplash

But there is a lot more to discuss. So, in this article, you will learn how to talk like a cyclist and use common phrases that bicycle riders often use, so you can avoid looking like a total noobie.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on June 5, 2022, to include additional information regarding cycling terminology.

Before we get into talking like a cyclist, let’s first understand why you might want to learn how to speak like a cyclist in the first place.

The benefits of speaking like a cyclist

There are many benefits to using biker lingo and speaking like a cyclist.

1. You can have better interactions

Cyclists are familiar with the jargon and slang used by other cyclists, making interactions with them smoother. And knowing cycling terminology can help you build relationships with other cyclists and make them more likely to help you out when you need it.

2. Using the right words can help you avoid hazards

When you talk like a cyclist, you take the time to carefully phrase your sentences and use words that cyclists would typically use. This can help you avoid common road hazards and make your ride more enjoyable.

3. Become a part of a community

Every community has its own terminology. Cycling is no different. When you use the words cyclists use, you become one of them. Being a community member can give you a sense of pride and being a part of something bigger than yourself.

Are you looking for a real conversation starter? Check out these neat cycling-related novelties items. These products make some seriously awesome gifts.

Every cyclist should know these 31 common terms.

Here are a few cycling-specific terms you may encounter while reading cycling blogs or conversing with fellow riders.

Image of a man riding fixed gear bike with a sunset backdrop.
Image of a man riding a fixed gear bike with a sunset backdrop. Source: Jonny Kennaugh, Unsplash

1. Fixie

A fixie bike is a bike that does not have a gear system – it is simply a fixed wheel that the rider gears down with their feet.

2. Wonky

A term for anything that doesn’t feel right while riding. This can include mechanical failure or a grumpy riding companion.

3. JRA

It means “Just Riding Along” and comes from bike shop humor. “I was just riding along when I crashed into a tree, and the bike completely disintegrated!” How many JRA-related stories do you think bike repair people hear?

4. Bonking

Your blood sugar drops dangerously low when your body runs out of fuel. Your brain, muscles, and heart have run out of fuel. It makes you feel like $#!% in addition to being dangerous.

5. Road Rash

Crashing is the cause of this. When your skin slides across the asphalt, it causes abrasions that range from mild to severe. If you tend to get road rash quickly, try Chamois Butt’r cream to help alleviate your road rash problems.

6. Saddle Sores

This is chaffing between the legs and the seat. They usually show up in the nether regions and can be extremely painful.

7. Biff

This is slang for a motorcycle accident.

8. Attack

This racing term refers to quickly accelerating to put a gap between you and other riders.

9. Breakaway

Breakaway, like attack, is when you or a small group breaks away from the front of a larger group and moves ahead, leaving a large gap behind you.

10. Bike Box

A sign informing drivers were to halt at an intersection between the crosswalk and the white line (typically painted in a contrasting hue, such as green). Cyclists may now position themselves in front of motorists.

11. Drafting/Slipstreaming

This is called riding behind another rider to reduce your wind resistance. This can drastically reduce your wind resistance, lowering the energy required to maintain the speed by up to 30%. Slipstreaming is a common feature of most road racing tactics because it is beneficial.

12. Keep The Rubber On The Road

Break a leg! is the equivalent in the theater world. It means “Enjoy the ride!” “Please don’t crash!”

13. Echelon

This is a French term for a group of riders attempting to reach maximum drafting speed in a crosswind. As a result, a diagonal line is drawn across the track.

14. Peloton

A peloton, a French word, is a large group of cyclists with more than twenty riders.

15. Endo

This happens when a cyclist’s handlebars flip over during a crash. “End over end,” as in

16. Vitamin I

This isn’t a vitamin; it’s just that because cyclists use it so frequently. It’s called ibuprofen.

17. Cadence

This is the rate at which your pedals spin. Cadence is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM) and is frequently emphasized when attempting to improve cycling performance.

18. Spinner

This is someone who has a low gear and a high cadence. This person “spins” slowly and lightly, relying on RPMs for speed. They can go faster if they can manage more RPMs.

19. Pusher

They push pedals slowly in large gears, the polar opposite of a spinner. There is usually a lot of resistance here, leading people to believe that it is more productive when in fact, spinning is more efficient.

20. Clydesdale

This is a term used to describe large riders (not fat, just big). Clydesdale is a term used to describe 200 pounds or more riders.

21. Fred And Doris

A group of nicknames for cyclists who are new to the sport.

22. Watts

This is a power metric. Watts are a measurement of a cyclist’s power output.

23. Steed

Many cyclists refer to their bicycles as steeds. It’s a slang term for horseback riding.

24. Beater Bike

This bike, also known as the clunker, is used as a backup to the main bike. The beater bike, which is usually old and out of tune, is for lazy days and getting from point A to point B.

25. Chamois

Your padded cycling shorts are here. CHAFING, blisters and saddle sores are all reduced.

26. The Brain Bucket

It’s just your helmet, after all. Cycling hard hat is another name for it.

27. Kit

This is a reference to cyclists who dress identically. Everything is designed to match, from the jersey to the shorts and sometimes even the socks.

28. Grand Tour

The Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, and the Vuelta a Espana are the only three Grand Tours globally. They’re all professional stage races that last three weeks. Many people either observe them or pretend to.

29. Neo-Pro

These players are known as rookies in other sports. A first-year professional cyclist is known as a Neo-Pro.

30. Roadie

A road biker is referred to like this in slang. Roadies are passionate about road cycling, racing, and everything related to the sport. They have information and figures that others do not.

31. Chasers

These riders are frantically pedaling to catch up with and pass riders ahead of them.

What should you never say to a cyclist?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as it largely depends on the cyclist and the situation. However, some general things that should never be said to a cyclist include:

  1. “Move to the side!” This is usually a command that is given to make room for cars and is often ignored or followed with hostility.
  2. “You’re going too fast!” Unfortunately, this statement is often made without context or information about the cyclist’s speed, making it difficult to understand why they are going too fast.
  3. “You should have been more careful!” This phrase can come across as judgmental and insensitive, especially if the cyclist has been injured due to their cycling.
  4. “You’re going to get killed if you keep cycling like that!” This statement implies that cycling is inherently dangerous and suggests that cyclists are not responsible for their own safety.

If you want even more fun, check out this hilarious video about bike culture called “Casually Explained: Cycling” from the Casually Explained YouTube Channel.

A video about bike culture called Casually Explained: Cycling from the Casually Explained YouTube Channel.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about cycling terms and jargon.

How do cyclists talk?

Cyclists talk to each other in various ways to keep track of their position and communicate with other cyclists. Standard methods include shouting, using hand signals, and making noise with gears. When cyclists are riding in a group, they need to communicate well to stay safe and make efficient use of their resources.

Why do cyclists say up up up?

There are a few popular explanations for why cyclists say “up up up” when they’re riding their bikes. The most popular theory is that it’s a signal to other cyclists to stay away since the up up up motion might look like a gesture of aggression.

Another theory is that it warns drivers not to pass them on the road since the raised arm might look like a hand reaching out. Whatever the reason may be, it’s sure to be effective when keeping traffic safe!

What is the best way to talk like a cyclist?

The best way to talk like a cyclist is to hang around cyclists and learn and repeat what they say. They will often drop little words and phrases that might be new to you. You should note those words, then find out what they mean and start using them. It’s that simple.

Conclusion

As cyclists, we must know the right words to use when talking to other cyclists. It makes our conversations more pleasant, but it can also make us better cycling community members.

This article covered How cyclists talk, the benefits of speaking like a cyclist, and some common terms that cyclists use. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • By learning the right words to use when talking to other cyclists, you can make your cycling experience safer and more enjoyable.
  • The best way to talk like a cyclist is by hanging around cyclists and repeating what they say.
  • Pay attention to the things you should never say to a cyclist.

So, are you using some of these terms already? Do you talk like a proper cyclist? Let us know in the comments section below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for tips and tricks on fixed-gear and single-speed cycling. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

Helpful resources

Man with a pink cycling cap apple airpods and sunglasses with a high performance bike. Pinterest
Man with a pink cycling cap apple airpods and sunglasses with a high performance bike. Pinterest
Author avatar - Bradley Knight
Written By Bradley Knight
As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies, including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

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