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Cycling Jargon for Beginners

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Cycling Jargon for Beginners

To someone who’s new to cycling, a bicycle is a frame, two wheels, chains, pedals and a bunch of other ‘watchamacallit’s and ‘thingy’s. We have all been there! And then, as you start cycling often, sometimes with a group, you hear terms being used. ‘Cadence? Drafting? Pull?’ What?! Confused? Don’t worry, we got your back. Read on for common cycling jargon, and it’s meaning.


  • Crankset – A part of the larger drivetrain, the crankset is the front set of sprockets closest to the pedals. It is the crank arms (attached to the pedals) that rotate them.
  • Cassette – The cassette is the set of sprockets on the rear wheel, driven around by the bicycle chain. The chain moves up and down the cassette as the rider changes gears.
  • Cog – As one of the rings in the cassette, a cog is also known as a sprocket or gear. The whole set is called a cassette or cogset.
  • Hub – Where the rotation happens. The hub is the center of a bicycle wheel that allows you to roll smoothly along your way.
  • Granny Gear – As the lowest gear ratio possible, this will be easy spinning on flats, but comes in real handy when it comes to those climbs. (PS - No offence to all the lovely grandmas out there!)

  • Cycling Jargon for Beginners-1
    Cycling Jargon for Beginners-2

    Tire and Wheel-Related Technical Terms

  • Tubeless Tires – The name pretty much spells it out for you. Tubeless tires don’t have the inner tube that the clincher set up has, and instead the tire is mounted tightly to the rim using the combination of pressure and liquid sealant. The plus side is – no pinch flats!
  • Tubular Tire – An almost entirely race specific tire option, tubular tires are glued to a V-shaped rim. They are ultra-light, but an absolute pain to fix. Most racers choose to replace the entire wheel rather than attempt mending.
  • Clincher Tires – The classic tire design that consists of a U-shaped rim and open tire casing with a replaceable inner tube inside.
  • PSI – Pounds per square inch, PSI is the amount of air pressure in the tire. Be sure to check out the manufacturer’s suggested PSI before pumping up your tires!

  • Cyclist-Specific Technical Terms

  • Attack – This term sounds aggressive, and it usually is! Attacking is a sudden attempt to pull away from a rider or group. If you do attack - you got to mean it and come through!
  • Bonk – We’ve all heard of hitting the wall, when you have no energy left due to a very real glycogen depletion. The dreaded bonk comes in the form of muscle cramping, mental fogginess, or the physical inability to go any further.
  • Cadence –You’re going to hear this one a lot. Cadence refers to the number of revolutions per minute or pedal rate. There’s no magical number (the jury is still out), but generally speaking stronger riders will be more efficient at a higher cadence.
  • Roadie – Your new nickname! A roadie refers to a dedicated and awesome road cyclists.
  • Drafting – Cycling close behind the rider ahead of you to block the wind, reducing your energy output by up to 30 percent. Just be sure to take your turn in the front.
  • RPM – Rotations per minute, your RPMs measure your pedaling rate (aka cadence).
  • Pull – Taking your turn at the front of a line of riders so they can draft behind you is to “take a pull.” It is a tactic used by groups for each rider to take a turn, switching out often for maximum efficiency, especially when there’s a strong headwind.
  • Time Trial – A race against the clock, a time trial is often a staggered sprint race.

  • Cycling Jargon for Beginners-3

    Beginners, these are a few basic terms to get familiar with, and not get flummoxed the next time you go to the service station/ join a big group for a ride! The list of cycling vocabulary is endless, keep tuned for more on that! Till then, Keep Cycling!


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