Cycling lingo explained – 21 terms every cyclist should know

Roadies are a special breed and even have their own language. From 'blowing up' and 'bonked' to 'granny gear' and 'spinner', learn the lingo and you’re in. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a seasoned pro, how many of these bike-related terms do you know?

1. Aero
Short for aerodynamic, this term is used to describe everything from bike frames and wheels to helmets.

2. Bidon
This word refers to the classic cyclist’s drink’s bottle. It’s also a French slang term for a load of old rubbish, so doubly useful.

3. Blow up
If you hear that a cyclist’s ‘blown up’ don’t panic. It means the same as ‘bonk’ - that they’ve run out of energy.

4. Bonk
We all know this word has a second meaning; it’s when a cyclist runs out of energy.

5. Breakaway
Competitors who have raced ahead of the main pack/peloton. More importantly, a kind of chocolate biscuit bar.

6. Cadence
The number of revolutions of the crank in a minute, and it’s an important concept when thinking about which gear to use.

7. Century
A 100-mile ride or race: apparently there’s one through London and Surrey.

8. Clincher
This is a word for a bog-standard tyre. ‘Clinch’ means to secure by bending a point or rim over another object; in this case a tyre over the wheel rim.

9. Crank
Sounds mysterious, but the crank is simply the bar of metal that joins the pedal to rest of the bicycle’s body and gears. There’s a tool for that.

10. Derailleur
This is a mechanism that moves your bike’s chain from gear to gear whenever you shift.

11. Domestique
A rider who works for the benefit of his or her team and leader, rather than trying to win the race.

12 .Drafting
Otherwise known as ‘slipstreaming’, this technique is a handy way for cyclists to preserve energy when riding behind others. A cyclist moving through the air creates a flow of air behind them which helps riders in their wake.

13. Flat
When you pop a tire or get a puncture in your inner tube which stops your ride. You might need some of these.

14. Granny Gear
This is the third, smallest chainring: an extremely low gear that’ll help you move your pedals. It’s a gear that some people think grandmothers would choose, but that depends on the grandmother, of course. There’s a tool for that.

15. Gruppetto or Autobus
Coming from the Italian for ‘bunch’ and French for ‘bus’ respectively, these refer to the group of stragglers following behind the main body of riders.

16. KoM or QoM
These acronyms stand for ‘King of Mountains’ and ‘Queen of Mountains’, titles reserved for the best climber in a road race. Known as a ‘GPM’ in Italian cycling.

17. Parcours
No, we’re not talking about ‘Parkour’ (fancy French free-running); ‘parcours’ means the race or stage route profile.

18. Peloton
This French word for ‘small ball of wool’ describes the main group of riders in a race.

19. Roadie
A roadie, or road geek, is a devoted road cyclist.

20. Spinner
A cyclist who pedals at a fast cadence in smaller gears. Also a word for flying cars in science fiction films.

21. Sportive
A mass participation cycling event where anyone can request a place and have a go. The Prudential RideLondon is the Europe’s largest.

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