Glossary Of Bike Terms

The following terminology is used in the general cycling, as well as the more specific sports of road bicycle racing and mountain bicycle racing.

A
alleycat

A bicycle race typically organized by bicycle messengers or couriers. Alleycat races seek to replicate some of the duties that a working messenger might encounter during a typical day. The races usually consist of previously undisclosed checkpoints, which are listed on a manifest, that a racer will have to go to; once at the checkpoint the racer will have his/her manifest updated. First racer to return with a completed manifest wins. Alleycats were first formalized in Toronto, Canada in 1989, however messengers have been racing against each other for much longer. Recently, with the boom in urban cycling, many non-messengers have been participating in and organizing alleycat races.

all-rounder
A racing cyclist who excels in both climbing and time trialing, and may also be a decent sprinter. In stage races, an all-rounder seeks a top-10 place in the General Classification. Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong were notable all-rounders; Ivan Basso, Alejandro Valverde, Cadel Evans, Danilo Di Luca, and Alberto Contador are more contemporary examples. All-rounders are usually Team Leaders in both stage races and classics cycle races. The term all-rounder is also applied to a bicycle designed to function well for varied terrain and uses. Unlike the typical bike today which is specifically designed for a narrow range of use and terrain.

arrière du peloton
From French, literally the “rear of the peloton” (main group of riders).

attack
To quickly accelerate while riding in a pack, or in smaller numbers, with a view to create a gap between yourself and other riders.

autobus
A group of riders in a stage race (typically non-climbers and suffering domestiques) who ride together as a group on the mountain stages with the sole intention of finishing within the stage’s time limit to allow them to start the next day. Also known by the Italian term gruppetto.

B
bag of spanners
To totally lose all ability to pedal smoothly after overexertion but still remain on one’s bike. Expressive: “He’s pedaling like a bag of spanners”.

BBAR
Short for British Best All-Rounder, a season-long time trial competition held in the UK.

berg
The term “berg” means a climb.

beyond category
See hors catégorie.

bidon
A water bottle.

bike bling
An aftermarket component that is designed to enhance the appearance of the bike.

à bloc
Riding or going “à bloc” means giving it all you’ve got, going all out, riding as hard as one possibly can (which can be dangerous for it leaves one in a state where recovery is needed, and therefore vulnerable to being attacked). Example: “I really gave it all in the last kilometres, although I didn’t think it was possible until I crossed the line. I just went ‘à bloc’ ” –Alexander Vinokourov describing his win of the final stage of the 2005 Tour de France.

blocking
Riders of one team who set a relatively slow tempo at the front of a group to control the speed, often to the advantage of one of their teammates who may be in a break.
blow up
A rider who has gone into oxygen debt and loses the ability to maintain pace is said to have blown up, variations include popping, exploding and detonating. This is a more temporary condition than cracking or hitting the wall.

bonk
See hit the wall.

bowling ball
Someone coming quickly through the pack after getting caught. Soon to be dropped off the back.

boxed in
To be positioned in a peloton or other pack of riders, regardless of size, such that one is unable to move ahead of the other riders. This usually refers to the sprint where one is unable to improve one’s finish placing due to the inability to maneuver around other riders, e.g. “I felt really fast, but the other team had me boxed in the gutter and I couldn’t move up.”

brain bucket/lid
A bicycle helmet designed to prevent or lessen damage to the head and face of a rider; this term is considered slightly insulting and is usually used by those advocating not using helmets.

breakaway
Breakaway, or break in short, is when a small group of riders or an individual have successfully opened a gap ahead of the peloton.

bridge
When a lone rider or smaller group of riders closes the space between them and the rider or group in front of them. This term is often used to describe when riders catch up with the main pack (or peloton) of riders or those who are leading the race.

broom wagon
In road bicycle racing, a synonym for SAG wagon. The broom wagon often has a broom fixed to the front of it. This is a reified metaphor for the action of “sweeping” the course.

C
cadence
The rate at which a cyclist pedals (in revolutions per minute).

caravane
The team cars following behind the peloton in support of their racers.

Cassette
The rear cog cluster on a derailleur bicycle, that fits on a freehub. It consists only of cogs, with no ratcheting mechanism, as the ratcheting mechanism is in the freehub.

chain gang
A group of cyclists cycling in a close knit formation akin to a road race, normally for the purposes of training.

chain slap
Annoying slapping of the bike’s chain against the chainstays while riding over rough terrain.

chain suck
The tendency of a chain to stick to chain rings and be sucked up into the bike instead of coming off the chainring. Primarily caused by worn chainrings and rust on small chain rings, under high loads, and in dirty conditions.

chase
A group of one or more riders who are ahead of the peloton trying to join the race or stage leader(s). There may be none, one, or many chases at any given point in a race

chicane
A sequence of tight turns, often s-shaped, usually most important near the finish of a road-race or during a criterium.

climber
A rider who specialises in riding uphill quickly, usually due to having a high power-to-weight ratio.

clincher
A type of tire that uses a bead around the edge of the tire to attach to the rim of the wheel when inflated. The inner tube is separate.

commissaire
A race judge, in road-racing they are usually based in a car following the event.

counter attack An attack that is made when a break has been caught by chasers or the peloton.

crack When a cyclist runs out of strength or energy, they are said to have cracked. Compare with hit the wall.

criterium
A race on a closed short distance course with multiple laps. Often but not always a 4-cornered course; often includes primes (short for premiums and rhymes with ‘seems’) which are points or prizes for intermediate laps. Course length varies from 800 meters to 5 kilometers.

Cyclocross
A form of bicycle racing that consists of many laps of a short course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike past some obstacles and remount.

D
danseuse
(French: danser – to dance) – riding out of the saddle, standing up, usually in a taller gear than normal, and rocking side to side for leverage. The phrase dancing on the pedals is related.

descender
A cyclist who excels at fast descents, often using them to break away from a group, or bridge a gap.

domestique
A rider whose job it is to support and work for other riders in their team (literally “servant” in French).

door prize
A term used when a rider collides with the open door of a parked car while cycling.

drafting To ride closely behind another rider to make maximum use of their slipstream, reducing wind resistance and effort required to ride at the same speed.

drop
To be dropped is to be left behind a breakaway or the peloton for whatever reason (usually because the rider cannot sustain the tempo required to stay with the group).To drop someone is to accelerate strongly with the intent of causing following riders to no longer gain the benefit of drafting.
dropout
The slot, of various sizes and orientations, in the frame that the axles of the wheels attach to.

drop-off
A drop-off is a mountain biking term. Experienced riders who ride on black/red routes may come across them. A drop-off is a step down in the terrain and can range from 20 cm to 20 ft. Most drop offs are met either by downhill riders, or freeriders. These riders have long travel bikes above six inches for bigger drops. When attempting a drop off the rider should ensure that the bike lands on its rear wheel, or ideally, both wheels should land at the same time. A front heavy landing may result in the rider being pitched over the handlebars.

E
echelon

(French) a line of riders seeking maximum drafting in a crosswind, resulting in a diagonal line across the road.

endo
To go over the handlebars in a crash. From “end-over-end”. The endo is the basis of many of the tricks that are possible in freestyle. An Endo is when the back wheel of the bike is lifted off the ground and the bike goes up onto its front wheel only.

espoir (French: hope) Age category for riders between 19 and 22 years of age.

étape
A stage of a stage race. Also, L’Étape du Tour, an annual mass-participation event following the route of a stage of the Tour de France.

F
false flat

A low-gradient climb, usually occurring partway up a steeper climb. So-called because while it may look deceptively flat and easy (especially after the steep climb preceding it), it is still a climb.

feed zone
In road bicycle racing, a location along the course of a long race where team personnel hand musettes containing food and beverages to passing riders. In mountain bicycle racing, a limited section of the course in which riders may accept food from non-racing assistants. Sometimes this is combined with the technical assistance zone if one exists.
Ideally, a feed zone should be along a long, uncongested straight section of road, with a wide shoulder for team personnel and vehicles. A slight uphill is desirable, as it will slow the passing riders and make grabbing the musettes easier; the grade should not be so steep as to cause the riders to struggle. The roadway approaching the feed zone should be straight with a long unobstructed sightline, so riders may easily identify the personnel from their teams and position themselves for a smooth pickup.

fixed
Slang for a fixed-gear bicycle.

fixie
Slang for a fixed-gear bicycle.

flamme rouge
A red flag displayed with one kilometre remaining from the finish line of a race. Usually suspended over the road.

follow
The ability to follow is the ability to match the pace of riders who are setting the tempo. Following is easier than pulling or setting the tempo and the term can be used in a derogatory manner, e.g. “He only ever followed”.

food stop
A location on the course of a long, supported recreational ride from which volunteers dispense foods such as bananas, oranges, bread, and food bars, and beverages such as water and sports drinks, to riders who stop for refreshment. Most cyclists must eat and drink to replenish calories, fluids, and electrolytes lost while completing a long ride. Thus the food stops are important to the success of most participants. On recreational rides, riders typically stop and dismount to obtain refreshment (hence the term food stop). In contrast, long road bicycle races do not typically involve stopping for refreshment; instead, riders grab musettes containing food and beverages from team personnel who stand along the road at designated feed zones. In some events, riders obtain food handups directly from support vehicles. *See also: SAG station and SAG wagon.

Fred
An unskilled racer with aspirations to appear more capable than they in fact are, usually through expensive/high-end gear. The female counterpart is a Wilma. Another commonly used definition is a person who has outdated or mis-matched gear, doesn’t care about technology, fashion or racing, etc.

frame set
The main frame of the bicycle plus the front fork.

G
gap

A distance between two or more riders large enough for drafting to no longer be effective. Also used as verb (US English), for example: “Contador has gapped Armstrong!”. It’s much easier for a stronger rider to pull ahead of others once a gap has been achieved; without a gap, the others can draft along using significantly less power to sustain the same speed as the rider in front. While gaps are usually achieved through attacks, on mountain climbs, where slower speeds means the advantage of drafting is much less significant, riders are often gapped who simply cannot maintain the tempo of the faster riders. A gap can also refer to the space in between a jump and the landing, which is common in mountain biking.

G.C.
Abbr.: general classification. the timing splits used to determine who is winning in a stage race. calculated from the first rider over the line each day time is then measured back by gaps from the winner of the day. Time gaps are then calculated back between riders and added to the overall position of riders relative to each other. Riders can attack in stage races for time rather than winning the days stage. They are said to be “riding for G.C.”. In such circumstances alliances can form where some riders in a breakaway will work to help others win the days stage despite not contesting the finish as the overall gap the breakaway gains helps them “on G.C.”

granny gear
Two meanings related to each other:
The lowest gear ratio on a multi-speed derailleur bicycle; smallest chainring in front and the largest in back.
The smallest chainring on a crank with triple chainrings.

gruppetto
see autobus.

groupo
Also called a groupset; a complete (usually matching and certified compatible) set of bicycle drive control components. Generally includes the brake calipers, cranks, chainrings, bottom bracket, chain, front & rear derailleurs, cassette, brake and shift levers and the matching cables and housings; and may less commonly also include pedals and headset. The frame, forks, stem, seatpost, saddle, handlebars, hubs, rims, spokes, nipples and tyres are not considered part of a groupo even where manufacturers may market such components under the same product banner.

gutter
To ride in the gutter is ride close to edge of the road making it hard for others to draft.

H
half-wheel or half-wheeler

A rider that rides half a wheel in front of another on training rides and group rides. No matter how much the pursuer speeds up to keep up with him/her, s/he stays that distance ahead. Usually these people are frowned upon and less desirable to ride with.

hammer
Hammer is used in three different ways in road cycling.
as a phrase describing what happens to a rider who suddenly loses the ability to race, as in “The man with the hammer got him” or “He got hit by the man with hammer”. This is a reference to the experience boxers have when their legs become powerless and weak just before collapsing (as if they have been hit with a hammer) following a severe blow to the head. The abruptness with which this happens differentiates it from hitting the wall. Alternative expressions are “‘tapped’” short for “he got tapped by the man with hammer”.
“to put the hammer down” means to pedal hard, often with the purpose of trying to eliminate opponents in a road race. As in the phrase “We really put the hammer down and sprinted to the end”. Some commentators have been known to reference a wide range of workshop tools in their ongoing search for sporting metaphor.
more literally, the verb “to hammer” refers to pounding along powerfully on the pedals, e.g. “Leipheimer really hammered hard for the entirety of stage 19″.

handicap
A style of road racing in Australia where riders are given time handicaps in bunches, with scratch being the last riders to leave and limit being the first riders to leave. The time intervals between groups, and the allocation of riders to groups is decided by the race handicapper, based on rider’s ability, age and form. Race honours are usually awarded to the first 5 to 10 riders (depending on the size race) and to the fastest time.

Headset
The bearing system in the head tube within which the handlebars rotate.

head down
Similar to “on the rivet” but slightly less extreme. A rider making a serious effort.

hill climb (race)

A short distance uphill race, usually an individual time trial over approx. 3–5 km. See Hillclimbing (cycling).

Hit the wall
To completely run out of energy on a long ride, also known as “bonking”.

hold a wheel
Similar to follow but more dramatic. Holding a wheel may infer a rider is riding above his normal performance just to stay with a better rider or indicates he is about to be dropped or crack. Expressive “he can’t hold the wheel”.

honking
(UK English), see danseuse.

hors catégorie, or HC
The French term primarily used in cycle races (most notably, the Tour de France) to designate a climb that is “beyond categorization”, an incredibly tough climb. Most climbs are designated from Category 1 (hardest) to Category 4 (easiest), based on both steepness and length. A climb that is harder than Category 1 is designated as hors catégorie.

hors delai (HD)
A French term literally meaning “out of time”, for when a rider has finished outside the time limit in a race and is therefore eliminated.

hunger knock
Also shortened to “the knock”. See hit the wall.

I
individual time trial

Race where riders set off at fixed intervals and complete the course against the clock; fastest time wins. Drafting is not allowed.

J
jump

To aggressively increase speed without warning, hopefully creating a substantial advantage over your opponents. Also (more usually) denoting an attempt to bridge a gap from the peloton or gruppetto to a breakaway. For example: “he is trying to jump across”.

K
keirin

The keirin is a 2000 metre track event where the riders start the race in a group behind a motorised derny. The derny paces the riders for 1400 metres and then pulls off the track, at which time the cyclists begin a sprint to the finish line. Keirin racing has traditionally been practised in Japan, where it has been a professional sport for over 20 years, and in which pari-mutuel betting on the riders is permitted.

kick
Accelerating quickly with a few pedalstrokes in an effort to break away from other riders (e.g. “Contador kicks again to try to rid himself of Rasmussen”)

knock
Referred to as “the knock”. Short for “hunger knock”. See hit the wall.

L
Lanterne rouge

French for “red lantern”, as found at the end of a railway train, and the name given to the rider placed last in a race.

laughing group
Same as autobus. Riders who collect together in a road race just concerned with making it to the finish “in the time” so as not to be disqualified or “swept up”. Members of the laughing group are not concerned with contesting the finish.

lead out
Sprinting technique often used by the leadout man where the rider will accelerate to maximum speed close to the sprint point with a teammate, the sprinter, drafting behind, hoping to create space between the sprinter and the pack. When the leadout man is exhausted he will move to the side to allow his teammate to race in the sprint. Often a line of leadout men will be used to form a leadout train to drive the speed higher and higher (and to reduce the chances of other riders attacking) over the closing stages of a race. The purpose of a leadout is for the sprinter to achieve high speed at the sprint approach using as little of his own energy as possible, so he has as much energy as possible for the final sprint.

leech
A rider in a small group who does not share some of the workload by riding in the front where wind resistance is greatest, but instead conserves their energy by riding in the slipstream of one of the other riders. By analogy with leech an animal which feeds on the blood of other animals.

let go
Two meanings, one the opposite meaning of the other
To let go a rider or break is allowing a rider(s) to attack and not responding even if one has the capability to follow the attacking move. This is done for tactical reasons. Can be applied in the plural: “the peloton let the break go”.
To let go the wheels is to not be able to “hold a wheel” unable to follow the pace. “he let the wheels go” or “let go the wheel” the difference is the use of wheel rather than the rider or riders. if you let a rider or a break go you do so voluntarily. To let go a wheel is involuntary but has slightly derogatory edge in that the rider “let the wheels go” before he was pushed to his absolute limit, to be “dropped” (subtle).

limit
First riders to depart in a handicap race.

M
madison

The madison is a mass-start track event comprising teams of two riders per team. It is similar to a team points race, as points are awarded to the top finishers at the intermediate sprints and for the finishing sprint. Only one of the two team riders is racing on the track at any one time, riding for a number of laps, and then exchanging with his partner by a hand sling. The name comes from the original Madison Square Garden, which was constructed as a velodrome.

MTB
The activity of mountain biking, or a mountain bike itself.

musette
Small lightweight cotton shoulder bag, used for containing food and drink given to riders in a feed zone during a cycle race. The bag is designed so that it can be easily grabbed by a moving rider. The shoulder strap is placed over the head and one shoulder, the contents are then removed and placed into jersey pockets or bottles (bidons) are placed into bottle cages. The bag is then discarded.

N
This section has no content.

O
off the back

Getting dropped from the group/peloton.

omnium
An omnium is a multi-stage event that differs from a stage race in that points are assigned for placing in each stage rather than a time. Therefore a rider may win with a slower time than another rider, but more points. Conceivably a rider can win the omnium without finishing each event.

on the rivet
Describes a rider who is riding at maximum speed. When riding at maximum power output, a road racer often perches on the front tip of the saddle (seat), where the shell of an old-style leather saddle would be attached to the saddle frame with a rivet.

on your wheel
Phrase describing the condition of being very close to the rear wheel of the rider ahead of you. Used to inform the rider that you have positioned yourself in their slipstream for optimum drafting. For example: “I’m on your wheel”.

open road race
Generally going from point A to point B; can include multi-laps. Can also mean a club event in which non-club members can enter.

overlap
Riding in a position such that the leading edge of one’s front wheel is ahead of the trailing edge of the rear wheel of the bicycle immediately ahead. Overlap is potentially dangerous because of the instability that results if the wheels rub, and the simple fact that it allows the trailing rider to turn only in one direction (away from the wheel of the rider ahead). In road bicycle racing, overlap can be a significant cause of crashes, so beginning riders are instructed to “protect your front wheel” (avoid overlap) whenever riding in a pack.

P
paceline
Group of riders riding at high speed by drafting one another. Riders will take turns at the front to break the wind, then rotate to the back of the line to rest in the draft. Larger group rides will often form double pacelines with two columns of riders. Sometimes referred to as “bit and bit”.

palmarès
A list of races a rider has won. (French, meaning list of achievements or list of winners).

parcours
The profile of the race or stage route. (French, course, nm.)

pedaling circles
Pedaling smoothly and efficiently.

pedaling squares
Riding with considerable fatigue such that the rider is unable to maintain an efficient pedaling form that is strong and smooth.

Peloton
(from French, literally meaning little ball or platoon and also related to the English word pellet) is the large main group in a road bicycle race. May also be called the field, bunch, or pack. Riders in a group save energy by riding close (drafting or slipstreaming) near and, particularly behind, other riders. The reduction in drag is dramatic; in the middle of a well-developed group it can be as much as 40%.

pep
Originating from the popular nickname of a famous Latin American cyclist, “pep” is used as a verb meaning “to carelessly and headlessly ford (as in a small body of water).” For example, “pep” could be used in the sentence “I’m going to pep this creek”.

pogo
Lifting the front wheel of the bicycle in the air and jumping up and down on the rear wheel while in a stationary position.

poursuivant
From French, literally “pursuing” – refers to a cyclist or group of cyclists who are separated from and behind the leader(s) (tête de la course) but in front of the main group (peloton). This usually occurs when a small number of riders attempt to catch up to the leaders, either to join with them or to “bring them back to the pack” by encouraging the main group to chase them down.

power
The effective amount of energy over time being delivered by the cyclist’s legs. Measured through a power meter and normally expressed in watts over a period of time.

prime
Primes (pronounced preems, from French) are intermediate sprints within a race, usually offering a prize and/or points. Primes are a way to encourage more competitive riding, and also an opportunity for companies to gain publicity by sponsoring a prime. In a criterium, a bell is sounded on the lap preceding the prime sprint at the appropriate line for that prime sprint. The line used for prime sprints need not be the same as the start or finish line. Primes may be either predetermined for certain laps or spontaneously designated under the supervision of the Chief Referee. All primes won shall be awarded to riders even if they withdraw from the race. Lapped riders are not eligible for primes except in the following situation: when a breakaway has lapped the main field, riders in the main field and the breakaway riders are then both eligible for primes. When primes are announced for a given group, only riders in that group or behind it at the beginning of the prime lap are eligible. Prizes can be cash, merchandise, or points, depending on the race.

prologue
A short individual time trial before a stage race, used to determine which rider wears the leader’s jersey on the first stage.

pull
To take the lead on a paceline or echelon.

pull back time
To pull back time is to make up time on another rider who is ahead on G.C. “he needs to “pull back” two minutes if he wants to get in yellow”.

pull it back
to work too hard and reduce the lead of a breakaway, also used as “he needs to pull him back” or “they need to pull him back”.

pump
colloquial verb meaning to give a second person a ride on a bicycle, also known as giving a hike. The passenger may balance on the handlebars or the seat, while the biker stands to pedal.

Q
queen stage

The most difficult stage of a multi-day road race, typically involving multiple low- or beyond-category climbs.

R
ride

A rider who does a ride is one who makes an endeavour to win a race or move up on GC against the odds and pulls it off. “He did a ride”.

rim
The outer portion of the wheel, on which the tire attaches.

road race
a race on a road.

road rash
Severe skin abrasions caused from sliding on the asphalt in a crash.

rollers
A type of trainer composed of rolling cylinders under the rear wheel linked to a single rolling cylinder under the front wheel which allow the rider to practice balance while training indoors.

rotating weight
Weight (more correctly mass) that is rotating while the bike is moving, particularly the wheels. Mass near the outside edge of a wheel has about twice the stored energy of a similar non-rotating mass moving at the same speed. A bicycle wheel can be considered to be a good approximation of a hollow cylinder with most of its mass at or near the rim. The rotation of cranks, wheel hubs, and other parts are of less significance because both their radius and speed of rotation (angular velocity) are small. All mass resists changes in velocity (acceleration or deceleration) due to inertia. This resistance is noticeably greater where rotational inertia is also a significant component, so lighter wheel rims, spoke nipples, and tires will permit faster acceleration (or the same acceleration for less expenditure of energy). This effect is much reduced at lower speeds such as during hill climbing.

rouleur
A rider who is strong on flat and undulating roads. The rider is well suited for races such as Paris–Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara are examples of this.

S
SAG station

A location along the course of a long mass-participation recreational ride providing mechanical and/or medical assistance to riders in need. Volunteers at the SAG station may also dispatch SAG wagons to assist riders stranded along the course. A SAG station may also function as a food stop. “SAG” (most commonly written in all uppercase in the United States but without capitals elsewhere) comes from a 1930s British expression about riders “sagging” off the back of a group.[citation needed] It was adopted in the 1940s when road-racing restarted in Great Britain to mean a following vehicle into which riders sagged when the effort became too much and they dropped out a race. SAG is sometimes described as an acronym for ‘support and gear’, ‘gear’ referring to: mechanical support.

SAG wagon
Support motor vehicle following long races or recreational rides to pick up riders unable to complete the event. See also: food stop and SAG station. In racing events, typically the main group of riders will ride as a peloton and can be served by one or more SAG wagons trailing behind. In large recreational rides, there may be thousands of riders spread over much of the course, so ride organizers may employ roving SAG wagons to locate and assist stranded riders. In bicycle racing, another term for SAG wagon is broom wagon.

swag
Promotional items often given away for free at cycling events. Acronym for “Stuff We All Get”. Also spelled “schwag”, “shwag”.

scratch
Last riders to depart in a handicap race. Also referred to as the “scratch bunch” or “scratchies”. Also, a straightforward type of track race with a predetermined number of laps (except in the case of an “unknown scratch,” when officials ring a bell to signify one lap to go) until the finish line.

Shapes
To pull or throw shapes (origin: Irish slang for acting the “hard man”), throwing shapes is a rider whose exertions has caused him to pedal in an ungainly and un-fluid manner. A sign a rider is about to crack or has cracked. Can be used in expressive ways. “He’s throwing a whole basket of shapes”.

shelled
A rider who is having extreme difficulty keeping up with a fast pace race in a way they did not anticipate. A rider who is shelled will use up all their energy so they have nothing left for the finishing sprint, drop back out of contention, or abandon the race altogether.

Shifter
A component used by the rider to control the gearing mechanisms and select the desired gear ratio. It is usually connected to the derailleur by a mechanical actuation cable. Electronic shifting systems also exist.

singles
Australian English for tubular tyres.

sit-on and sit-in
To ride behind another rider without taking a turn on the front (thus tiring the lead rider), often in preparation for an attack or sprint finish. “Sitting in the wheels” is to take an easy ride drafted by the peloton or gruppetto. Often a strategic decision to save energy in 21 day stage race.

soft break
A breakaway that is allowed to go from the peloton in a stage race because it poses no strategic threat to any of the main contenders on GC. In French terminology a soft break is a “dishonest break”.

soigneur
A non-riding member of a team whose role is to provide support for the riders, possibly including transportation and organization of supplies, preparation of the team’s food, post-ride massages and personal encouragement.

sprinter
Rider with the ability to generate very high power over short periods (a few seconds to a minute) allowing for great finishing speeds, but usually unable to sustain sufficiently high power over long periods to be a good time triallist, and is usually too big to have a high enough power-to-weight ratio to be a good climber.

sprints
British term for tubular tyres.

squares
Similar to shapes. pedaling squares is pedaling without fluid rhythm. Pedaling in a labored fashion.

stage
One part of a multi-day race, such as the Tour de France.

stagiaire
An amateur rider, who is taken in by a professional team during the season. This lets the rider get some experience at riding a few pro races, and the team gets a chance to assess the abilities of the rider.

stair gap
A freeride term, used to describe a landing in terms of when cycling off a set of stairs.

steerer tube
The part of the fork that is inserted into the head tube of the frame, and is used to attach the fork to the frame using a headset.

stem
The component that attaches the handlebars to the steer tube of the bicycle. They come in two major types, quill and threadless. The angle and length plays a major part in how the bicycle fits the rider.

T
team

A team of professional cyclists. Usually one rider will be the team leader and the others will support him, though the team itself will be composed of a mix of riders from the various specialisations.

team time trial
Riders start in groups or teams, usually of a fixed size. The time of the nth rider of a team counts for the classification for each team member. In the 2009 edition of Tour de France, riders who are dropped from their team’s group would be scored with their own time, instead of the team time.

technical assistance zone
A designated section along the course of a mountain bike or cyclocross race along which riders are allowed to accept technical assistance (tools, spare parts, or mechanical work) from another person. In cyclocross racing the technical assistance zone is called the “pit”. Not all mountain bike races contain a technical assistance zone, instead requiring riders to carry whatever tools and spare parts they may need. A rider accepting technical assistance outside of the designated zone risks disqualification.

tempo
Steady pace at the front of a group of riders. A relatively fast tempo can be used by a group or team to control the peloton, often to make up time to a break. The group will ride at the head of the bunch and set a fast enough pace to stretch the peloton out (also known as stringing out) and discourage other riders from attacking. Setting a slower tempo can be done for the purpose of blocking [5]. A tempo is also a type of track race where two points are awarded to the first person to cross the line each lap, and one point is awarded to the second person to cross the line each lap. The winner is the person with the most points at the end of the race.

tempo pace
A level of exertion just below the rider’s anaerobic threshold. Used as a reference point in training, this is the highest level of exertion that a given rider can sustain.

tester
A time-trialist who tends to over-specialize in the discipline. Slightly derogatory.

tête de la course
From French, literally “head of the race” – the leading cyclist or group of cyclists, when separated from (in front of) the peloton.

ticket collector
A rider that sits at the back of a breakaway but doesn’t take a pull. Thus the rider gets a free ride similar to a ticket collector on a train who rides for free.

Time trial
A race against the clock where riders are started separately (ranging from 30 seconds to 5 minutes apart). The winner of the race is determined by the fastest person across the course. No drafting may be employed in a time trial as it is a solo race event.

Time trialist
A rider that can generate relatively high power over long periods of time (5 minutes to an hour or more) in a race against the clock.

track
An oval cycling track for races, banked at up to 50 degrees. Cycling tracks are usually, but not always indoors. Bicycling or cycle tracks are also called velodromes. An Olympic track is generally 250m long.

Trail Angel
a generous individual or group of individuals that provide acts of kindness to participants of outdoor events, on hiking trails or various biking routes. Trail angels are closely associated with trail magic. “Trail Angels” are commonly referred to in online hiking journals as friends of hikers, relatives or others persons who will often provide food, transportation, etc. to hikers on the trail.

trainer
A piece of equipment that a bicycle stands on so that the rear wheel can spin while the bicycle is stationary, allowing stationary riding. These are usually used when the conditions outside are bad.

Tubular tyres
Tubular tyres are cycle tyres that have the inner tube permanently stitched inside the casing. They are held in place using glue or glue-tape, and are affixed to rims which lack the sidewalls characteristic of a hook-bead rim. Tubulars take very high pressure (up to 10 bar or 145 psi, or higher for racing and track-specific tires) which reduces their rolling resistance. They typically result in wheelsets that are lower in overall weight than comparable clincher wheels, because of the shape of the rim, the tire construction, and the lack of rim strips. Tubulars can be ridden at lower pressures than clinchers without the risk of pinch flats, because of the shape of the rim. This makes them well-suited to cyclo-cross, especially in muddy conditions where low tire pressures are used. However, they are difficult to replace and repair and are generally more expensive than clinchers. Also called sew-ups, tubies, or tub.

turbo-trainer
A trainer that spins a fan assembly at the same time (for pedal resistance and air flow).

turn
A turn is a rider sharing the workload on a pace line “he took a turn” or “he is doing a lot of turns on the front”. Missing turns can be expressed thus “he has missed a few turns now and has stopped working”. In a breakaway the riders expect to share the work equally in “turns”. A rider who doesn’t take his turn is “sitting on the break”.

U
Urban

Alternatively known as a city bike, a bicycle that is designed to be ridden on the road with utilizing components of a mountain bike, similar to a hybrid bicycle.

V
velodrome

A cycling track for races. See track.

W
wall
A steep incline along a race’s course. See also hit the wall.

wheelsucker
A rider who sits on the rear wheel of others in a group or on another rider, enjoying the draft but not working.

wheelie
Lifting the front wheel of the bicycle in the air whilst riding and continue to ride on only the back wheel. The rider maintains the wheelie by applying pedalstrokes and rear brake in order to balance the bicycle on only the rear wheel.

with
In contexts such as “riding with” and “finished with” used to mean “next to each other or one behind another, close enough to be drafting”. Example: “Samuel Dumoulin (Française Des Jeux) and Simon Gerrans (Ag2r-Prevoyance) joined up with the leading four and set about working well together”.

WOL
Abbreviation of wide outside lane. An outside lane on a roadway that is wide enough to be safely shared side-by-side by a bicycle and motor vehicle. The road may be marked with partial lane markings to designate the portion of the lane to be used by bicycles.

work
To work is to do “turns on the front”, aid a group of riders by sharing the workload of working against air resistance by “pulling on the front” of the group. similar to pull. Often used expressively in-combination with other expressions:e.g. “he is hasn’t done any work all day he has just sat on the breakaway” working is used in many contexts in the peloton and road racing.

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ZZZ
Sleep  -  Very popular with riders after particulary long rides!