This guide will introduce you to some of the most commonly used terms in road cycling, from A to Z. Whether you’re new to the sport or just looking to brush up on your knowledge, this guide will help you become more familiar with the lingo used by cyclists.
Road Cycling Lingo – from A to Z
Aero: Or “aerodynamic:
A term used to describe a position, equipment, or technique that reduces wind resistance and therefore makes you faster.
An aggressive move made by a rider, usually in an attempt to drop other riders or break away from the pack.
A type of riding where one cyclist tries to prevent another from passing them, usually by riding in front of them and preventing them from getting by.
Also known as “hitting the wall”, this is when a cyclist has run out of energy and can no longer continue at the same pace.
When a small group of riders or a single rider pulls ahead of the pack.
To catch up to and pass another rider or group of riders.
A group of riders riding together.
The number of revolutions of the crank per minute. Cadence is often measured by a bike computer or GPS device.
A century ride is a bike ride of 100 miles or more. Century rides are often organized as fundraisers or as challenging personal goals.
A type of bicycle tire that has a bead that hooks onto the rim. Clinchers are the most common type of tire used on road bikes.
A type of bike race that is held on a short course, typically around 1-2 kilometers in length. Criterium races are characterized by their fast pace and mass start.
A type of bike racing that is held on a course that combines pavement, dirt, and obstacles. Cyclocross races are typically held in the fall and winter months.
Riding close behind another rider in order to take advantage of their slipstream. Drafting can help riders save energy and ride faster.
The lower part of the handlebars on a road bike. Drops are typically used for descents and when riding in a more aerodynamic position.
Shifting the gears on a bike so that the chain moves to a larger cog or ring. Downshifting makes pedaling easier but can also make the bike slower.
A formation of riders in which cyclists ride close together in a line, taking turns at the front to minimize wind resistance.
A designated area where riders can receive food and drinks from team staff during a race.
A position in which a rider tucks their chin down to their chest and extends their arms and legs to minimize wind resistance.
The overall standings in a stage race, determined by the cumulative time each rider has taken to complete all stages.
A long-distance road cycling event, typically 100 kilometers or more.
The smallest chainring on a bicycle, typically used for climbing hills.
Riding slightly ahead of the rider next to you, often considered bad etiquette.
A type of training in which riders alternate between periods of intense effort and recovery.
A lead rider who paces their teammates in the final stages of a race, helping them to conserve energy before they make their final sprint.
A paceline is a formation of cyclists in which each rider takes turns leading, while the other riders draft behind. This is often done to save energy, as drafting can reduce the amount of effort required to maintain a certain speed.
Parts of a Bike:
There are many different parts of a bike, but some of the most important include the frame, wheels, pedals, and handlebars.
The peloton is the main group of riders in a road race. Riders in the peloton often draft off of each other to save energy.
PR stands for personal record. A PR is the fastest time that a rider has ever ridden a certain distance.
When one rider takes a turn leading the pack in a paceline, they are said to be pulling. The rider who is pulling is typically the strongest or most experienced, as they will be doing the majority of the work.
A road race is a race that is held on a paved road. Road races can be anything from short criteriums to long stage races.
Rollers are cylindrical drums that a bike can be ridden on. They are often used by cyclists to warm up before a race or to practice their balance and pedaling technique.
RPM stands for revolutions per minute. It is a measure of how fast the pedals are turning.
A sportive is a long-distance cycling event, typically lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Sportives are often organized as mass-participation events, with riders of all abilities welcome to take part.
A stage race is a multi-day cycling event consisting of several individual races, or stages. Riders compete against each other for the overall win, with the standings resetting after each stage.
A time trial is an individual race against the clock. Riders start at intervals and are not allowed to draft behind other riders, making it a true test of individual strength and endurance.
A tour is a multi-day cycling event, typically lasting two weeks or more. The most famous tour is the Tour de France, which is held annually in July.
Tubular tires are a type of tire that is used in road racing. They are typically lighter and more supple than other types of tires, offering better performance. However, they are also more expensive and more difficult to repair if punctured.
Tubeless tires are a type of tire that is used in mountain biking and some road cycling applications. They offer better puncture resistance than tubular tires and can be used with lower air pressure for improved traction.
The Union Cycliste Internationale, or UCI, is the international governing body for cycling. The UCI sets the rules and regulations for all forms of competitive cycling, including road, track, mountain bike, and BMX.
To upshift is to shift to a higher gear. This is typically done when the rider wants to increase their speed or when they are going downhill and want to make pedaling easier.
We hope this guide has helped you better understand some of the most commonly used terms in road cycling. Whether you’re new to the sport or just wanting to brush up on your knowledge, understanding the lingo is a great way to feel more comfortable and confident when talking about cycling with others.