top of page
  • Writer's pictureSwimBikeRun Fun

15 Terms Every Cyclist & Triathlete Needs to Know

Updated: Mar 21

updated: 11/8/2022
15 Cycling Terms Cyclists & Bike Riders Need To Know
Fun Club Flow Cycling Group Ride Pic

If you're new to cycling or you've been riding for awhile, this guide will help you understand the basics.

When it comes to riding a bike - it’s a sport that you probably learned how to do before you could even read. As an adult when it comes to cycling and hanging out with other cyclists - biking can sound far more complicated (and intimidating) than it is.

This guide will assist you whether you are new to cycling, want to get ready to participate in any of our events or club activities, or you have been riding for a while and still don't understand the difference between your bike's crank and cassette (see video below).

15 Terms Every Cyclist & Triathlete Should Know


RPM is the number of pedal strokes you take per minute of riding. If you have a bike computer on your bike, it will show you your rpm. Easy way for you to calculate your rpm is by setting a timer for one minute and counting the number of times your right foot reaches the bottom of the pedal stroke.


This is the common name for a fixed-gear bike, which is a single-speed with no brakes. (Fixed-gear bikes are popular among hipsters and urban riders), take note of the following: Because a fixie cannot coast, your legs must be moving at the same time as the bike.


This is a fancy way of saying your cycling gear. Cycling shorts come with special pads to help reduce chafing and pain when hunched forward in the riding position, a cycling jersey comes with special pockets in the rear to help you carry needed items like fuel, cycling shoes come with cleats attached to them, cycling socks come in ankle and knee length, and even a small cap worn under your helmet - called a cappie - are all part of a kit.

Shoes, Cleats, and Pedals 🚲

Cyclists benefit from special shoes that connect to distinctive compatible pedals that allow special cleats attached under the shoe to fit recessed into the pedal.


This is another way of saying you're too tired to go on. Body glycogen stores are depleted when you hit the proverbial brick wall - glycogen is stored in the muscles and provides them with energy when it's time to move or spring into action.

Drinking enough water and eating enough food before and during your ride will decrease your chances of experiencing this problem. Bonk’s bring with them muscle cramps and you can feel lethargic or light-headed. Avoid bonking or hitting the wall on long rides with rest, plenty of water, and eating a good mix of protein and carb rich foods.


If you crash and hit the pavement, you're likely to get some scrapes, cuts, and brush burns. These are nasty little nicks, scrapes and bruises are generally referred to as "road rash,". Prepare to spend some time picking gravel out of multiple layers of skin and going ouch during your next few showers.


This is the third and smallest chainring, also known as the "granny gear," because it is an extremely low gear that will help you move your pedals easily with little effort or power while going up a hill or when riding up steep long climbs.

Aero 🚲

Everything from bicycle frames and wheels to helmets and other wind-resistant gear is described using this term, which is short for aerodynamic. Aero also usually refers to being - faster and when it comes to aero gear - think more expensive.

Being aero and using aero gear is a top priority for riders who compete in cycling events or bike races, especially those who compete in time trials, criteriums, or triathlons.

Female Group Organized Cycling Ride Evetn Participants
Organized Cycling Ride Participants


This vital bike component is not only fun to say (de-rail-ee-er), but it also serves as the mechanism that moves your bike's chain from gear to gear whenever you shift. The majority of road bikes have one derailleur in the front for the chainrings and another in the back for the cassette. (This refers to the pyramid-shaped set of gears on the back wheel that the chain moves up and down.)


You know the curved part of a road bike's handlebars that you probably only see really serious riders using when you're out on the road? Those are the drops, and they will make you less comfortable while increasing your aerodynamics. Even if you're not racing, using the drops when descending a hill will lower your center of gravity and give you more control of your bike at higher speeds.


When a group of cyclists ride in a line, one behind the other, they are drafting — a technique used to reduce wind resistance and, as a result, help riders expend less energy.


Term for a group of cyclists all riding together. Benefits of riding in a peloton is to reduce drag and increase speed. When looking down from the sky - you will see that the cyclists ride as a unified unit, similar to birds flying in formation.


When you fill your tires with air, determine whether they have a Presta or Schrader valve. Presta valves are skinny and tall and Schrader valves are usually short and wide. If you ride a road bike, chances are you have a Presta, which is commonly found on high-pressure tubes used on road bikes. If air is released when you press on it, it's a Presta. Keep in mind that Prestas if handled roughly, can break at the rim or bend. Schrader valves are more convenient to use: Simply remove the cap, insert the pump, and fill your tire with air. Schraders are commonly found on a mountain bike, hybrid or beach cruiser bikes.


When riding in a group, the cyclist in front works the hardest to ride against the wind, while everyone behind benefits from a draft. When you are the lead cyclist, you are the one "taking a pull."


This is a technical term for rotational speed or the rate at which you pedal. A cadence can be determined by counting the number of pedal strokes per minute (rpm). Finding the right cadence for yourself is like finding your pedaling groove or jam.


Like anything, the bike community has their own lingo and terms. We want you to be in the know and be involved in your #cycling community or feeling empowered when you head into your local bike shop.

Knowing these 15 cycling terms will also benefit you in your local spin class, train for your first sprint triathlon or participate in a Gran Fondo.





Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page