Cycling vocabulary might be confusing for new riders, but understanding these terms is crucial for becoming a more experienced cyclist. Here’s a glossary of commonly used words for your next ride.

In addition to being an environmentally friendly and enjoyable commuting option, cycling not only alleviates stress but also helps maintain fitness – a favored pursuit among many working professionals. Yet, for newcomers to the cycling community, the multitude of terms and jargon used by riders can be bewildering.

Keen on understanding the distinctions between pelotons and pacelines? This guide to cycling vocabulary has got you covered. Scroll down to find explanations of key techniques, equipment, and expressions, allowing you to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of cycling terminology.


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Cycling terms and definitions

Being acquainted with the following cycling terminology is essential, whether you engage in daily rides or hop on your bike once a week.

Types of bikes

  • BMX Bike
  • Road Bike
  • Mountain Bike
  • Hybrid Bike

Bike parts and components

Need to repair or upgrade a component? This compilation of bike vocabulary has you covered:

Rear Racks:Mounted over the bike’s rear wheel, usually attached to the frame or seat post, featuring a platform or frame with supporting bars for accommodating panniers (storage bags) on either side.

Frame: The primary structure of the bike, typically crafted from steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, or titanium.

Brakes: Devices employed to slow down or halt the bike. Common types include rim brakes, disc brakes (mechanical or hydraulic), and coaster brakes (activated by pedaling backward).

Fork: This bike component holds the front wheel and links it to the frame. It may also feature suspension for absorbing shocks.

Wheels: The circular structures comprising rims, spokes, and hubs, providing support and enabling the bike to roll.

Gears: Mechanisms enabling riders to adjust resistance, making pedaling easier or increasing power input for greater speed. Bikes may have multiple gears, controlled by shifters, to adapt to diverse terrains and riding conditions.

Cycling racks: Also recognized as bike racks, these accessories offer a means to carry items or transport cargo on a bicycle, available in various shapes and sizes. Common types of cycling racks encompass:

 Front Racks: Installed over the bike’s front wheel, typically attached to the fork or handlebars.

Frame-mounted Racks: Attached directly to the bike frame, often near the rear wheel, suitable for bikes with special mounting points or eyelets (small metal holes).

 Seatpost Racks: Mounted on the seatpost (the metal tube connecting the saddle to the bike frame), equipped with a platform for carrying small loads or lightweight items.


Cycling apparel and accessories

  • Helmet
  • Gloves
  • Shoes
  • Cycling glasses
  • Water bottle cage

Cycling jargon and lingo

Having grasped the fundamentals of cycling vocabulary, let’s delve into more intricate terms. Similar to acquiring business abbreviations relevant to your profession, understanding when and how to employ the following cycling jargon can elevate your proficiency and make you sound like a seasoned pro in no time.

Group riding terms

  • Paceline
  • Draft
  • Lead-out
  • Rotating Paceline
  • Bunch sprint:

Race and competition terms

  • Peloton
  • Breakaway
  • Podium
  • Sprint
  • Domestique

Training and fitness terms

  • Cadence
  • Intervals
  • Threshold
  • VO2 max
  • Base mile

Common cycling slang

Broom wagon:

The broom wagon is the vehicle (usually a van) that follows a race or group ride to pick up (sweep up) cyclists who can no longer continue due to fatigue, injury, or mechanical issues.

Example: “Don’t worry, if we can’t finish, the broom wagon will give us a lift.”


This term is used to describe a cyclist who exhibits novice or inexperienced behavior, often marked by outdated or mismatched gear and excessive enthusiasm.

Example: “I accidentally wore my jersey backward. I feel like a complete Fred!”


A wheelsucker is a cyclist who consistently rides closely behind others in a group, taking advantage of the draft without contributing their fair share of work at the front.

Example: “That guy never takes a turn at the front. He’s always a wheelsucker!”


This term signifies being both Fred-like and friendly, typically used to portray a cyclist who deviates from traditional cycling norms but remains enthusiastic and supportive.

Example: “Even though she may not have the right tires for this terrain, she’s always smiling and cheering others on. She’s Fredly.”


To bonk, as a verb, refers to when a cyclist experiences extreme fatigue or depletion of energy reserves during a long ride, leading to a sudden decline in performance.

Example: “I didn’t fuel properly and bonked on that hill. I had nothing left in the tank.”


This equation justifies the number of bikes a cyclist should own, with the ideal number always being one more than the current number.

Example: “I can’t resist getting a new bike. It’s the N+1 rule in action!”

Chamois time:

Chamois time refers to the time spent off the bike after a ride, particularly when cyclists relax, recover, and share stories about their adventures.

Example: “Let’s grab a coffee and enjoy some chamois time before we head home.”

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The power of leveling up your English skills

To fully embrace the stress-relieving advantages of cycling as a post-work pastime, mastering the cycling lexicon is essential. Enhancing your cycling vocabulary not only aids in selecting the right equipment but also facilitates connections with fellow enthusiasts, empowering you to tackle demanding routes and terrains with confidence.

If work-related stress frequently affects your well-being, consider making substantial changes to your career. Unsure where to start? Improving your English proficiency might be the solution.

Having strong English skills can unlock new career prospects, enhance your prospects of landing your ideal job, contribute to career advancements, establish robust professional connections, and elevate your self-assurance – all pivotal factors for achieving greater job satisfaction and relaxation.

What is your English level?

Find out your A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2 level of English with our quick, free online test.