21 Slightly Odd Cycling Terms

21 Slightly Odd Cycling Terms

Cycling terms can be amusing or confusing, peculiar or familiar, and some are perfectly clear once you understand what they mean.  Here’s a collection of 21 odd terms related to cycling.

  1. Bibs: Cycling shorts with built-in suspenders / shoulder straps.  Think ‘overalls’ for cyclists.
  1. Chamois (aka Chammy, Shammy): The padding built into cycling shorts, to wick away moisture, prevent chafing, and provide some comfort.  A good shammy is otherwise known as your best friend.
  1. Booties: Fabric covers worn over cycling shoes for added warmth and moisture protection.  Experienced cyclists will not smirk when you mention booties.
  1. Kit: A coordinated cycling outfit.  At its basic:  shorts and a jersey.  At its extreme:  shorts, jersey, gloves, socks, shoes, cap, and perhaps even a tattoo.
  1. Clipless: A somewhat confusing term for a type of spring-loaded pedal, into which you clip a cleat which is attached to the bottom of your shoe.  Might as well also be called ‘springless’ or ‘cleatless’.
  1. Tubeless: A type of tire which does not require a rubber inner tube, because the tire is sealed directly to the metal rim of the wheel.  A far more logical term than clipless.
  1. Compact: A set of 2 chainrings (i.e. the gears at the front, by the pedals) designed to provide a better range of gearing for the average cyclist than did previous chainsets (designed for pro racers).  Anything more technical will require a separate post to explain.

21 slightly odd cycling terms

  1. Granny Gear (aka Granny Ring, triple): A third, small chainring (usually there are only two) allowing for a slower, easier ride.  Simultaneously sneered upon and appreciated.
  1. Cyclocross: A type of bike racing, usually done in the autumn or winter, over a course with varying terrain (pavement, wooded trails, gravel, grass, and steep hills, and often containing obstacles which the rider must carry their bike over).  Not for the faint of heart.  Or for those of sound mind.
  1. Hardtail: A type of mountain bike with no rear suspension, only front suspension (i.e. front shock absorbers).  And no, bikes with rear suspension aren’t called soft-tails (go with full suspension instead).
  1. Century: A ride of 100 miles.  A metric century is, as you could guess, a ride of 62.14 miles.
  1. Free-Wheeling: Coasting along without pedaling.  Allows riders to catch their breath, to take a drink, or if coordinated enough, to eat a banana.
  1. Half-Wheeling: Riding along behind someone, but then creeping forward so that your front wheel is beside their back wheel, overlapping by a half-wheel or so.  Akin to driving in someone’s blind spot.
  1. Mashing: Riding in a big, hard gear, but going at a slow cadence.  Usually reserved for going up steep hills, or when you’re really, really tired.

21 slightly odd cycling terms

  1. Spinning: Riding in a low, easy gear, but going at a fast cadence.  Can be done on the roads, in the woods, or at the gym.
  1. Hammering: Pedaling hard in the big gears, usually because of a strong headwind, or when trying to break away from the front of the pack.  Related terms:  drop the hammer, hammer-time, big-ringing.
  1. Pulling: Riding at the front of the pack;  you are breaking the wind (no not breaking wind…) and ‘pulling’ the other riders along.
  1. Endo: Short form of ‘end over end’.  Occurs when you hit the front brakes too hard, and flip over the top of your handlebars.  Not recommended.
  1. Snakebite (aka Pinch Flat): A puncture of a tire’s rubber inner-tube, characterized by having 2 small holes close together. Also not recommended.
  1. Chain suck: When your chain gets stuck, usually while shifting, to the cogs (teeth) of a chainring, causing the chain to be drawn up and wrapped around the chainring.  When this occurs, it sucks.
  1. Road Rash (aka Crash Rash):  Any scrape, scratch, or other skin abrasion caused by a crash.  Can result from doing an endo.

Any other terms you find odd?  Drop a comment in the box below.

Keep reading, and keep riding!

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