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Talk the Walk: 15 Essential Cycling Jargons to Know

Drafting, drops, SAGs, ‘Kamote Riders’ — learn all about the essential cycling jargons that will help you talk like a pro.

Every sport has its own lingo and its own set of unique terms.

While it may seem like a rite of passage, learning every jargon there is to know about a particular sport, doing so isn’t just for style points or looking like a pro — sometimes, knowing the lingo is important for safety too, especially in a sport such as cycling.

We’ve broken down 15 of the most commonly used cycling jargons to catch you up:

Cycling Jargons - Aerodynamic
(Photo credit: Sprint Cycling on Instagram)

One of the most important cycling jargons is aerodynamic, especially among road bikers and triathletes. It is used to describe gear or materials that are designed to limit wind resistance to help cyclists get up to the fastest speeds possible.


Bibs are part of a cyclist’s wardrobe, and this refers to cycling shorts that have a bib attached to them instead of a waistband. These are designed like overalls because when biking long distances, an elastic waistband can cause chafing or discomfort.

Cycling Jargons - BMX
(Photo credit: Ride BMX on Instagram)

BMX is a shorthand term for bicycle motocross, which is a form of off-road biking. A BMX bike is usually used for freestyle disciplines or performing stunts. These bikes make use of more durable and bigger tires in order to withstand off-road and other rough surfaces.


Bonk is a common cycling jargon you might hear your friends using when they start to feel tired.

This is a term that is used to refer to running out of energy or losing power while pedaling. Endurance athletes might experience this if they lack proper nutrition or hydration, especially over the course of long-distance rides.

Cycling Jargons - Breakaway
(Photo credit: Sprint Cycling on Instagram)

This is a term used by athletes referring to a cyclist or a group of bikers speeding up and creating a gap between themselves and the rest of the pack. They “break away” from the rest of the riders. This is normally used in competitive settings.


Cadence is one of the important technical cycling jargons. It refers to the rate of speed at which a biker is pedaling. Usually, this can be calculated or tracked using revolutions per minute (RPM). While the “right” cadence will vary depending on the conditions of a track, as a general rule, 80 to 100 RPM is a good benchmark.


When shopping for cycling shoes, the cleats refer to the triangular metal or plastic wedge on the sole of the shoe that is designed to attack or “clip in” to your bike’s pedals. These come in several different shapes and sizes, such as the LOOK cleats or SPD, among others.

Cycling Jargons - Cyclocross
(Photo credit: Rapha on Instagram)

Sometimes referred to as ‘CX’, cyclocross is a form of cross-country bike racing and is a cross between road biking and mountain biking. These races can take place in closed circuits outdoors on dirt, gravel, grass, or other surfaces, and feature various obstacles that the racers must navigate, sometimes by getting off their bikes and carrying them for short distances.


One of the most common cycling jargons, drafting refers to cycling closely behind another rider, using the rider in front of you to “break” or block the wind out. In doing this, you will be making your ride a lot easier, gaining an advantage over the person in front of you. This is why in some cycling races and in some triathlon events, drafting is considered illegal.

Cycling Jargons - Drops
(Photo credit: Trek Bikes Philippines on Instagram)

Drops are part of a standard road bike, referring to the curved parts of a road bike’s handlebars where cyclists can drop their hands in order to get their upper body to a lower position to achieve more aerodynamics on the road.

Kamote Riders

A term used widely among Philippine cyclists, Kamote Riders describes motorcycle riders who display bad riding habits on the road. Filipinos normally use this term as a way to warn one another of dangerous riders and to remind each other to keep safe while sharing the road with other vehicles.

Mountain Bike
Cycling Jargons - Mountain Bike
(Photo credit: Specialized Philippines on Instagram)

Cyclists should definitely know the differences between bikes. A mountain bike is designed to have a light yet sturdy frame with big, heavy tires that enable a rider to go up and down hills and other rough off-road terrains.

Road Bike

On the other hand, road bikes, as the name suggests, are bikes that are designed to be used on the road. These are built to have lightweight frames, have narrower wheels and tires, include drops for additional aerodynamics, and normally don’t feature suspension.


A SAG, or sometimes called a SAG Wagon, refers to a vehicle that follows a biking group or an individual on their routes, available to provide “Support And Gear” at any given moment. These are usually present in races and among big cycling groups for safety.

Cycling Jargons - Sweepers
(Photo credit: Specialized Philippines on Instagram)

A sweeper is cycling slang for the bike leader who follows from the back of the entire group. Normally, a sweeper is someone who knows the route well and is an advanced cyclist and is there to ensure that none of the riders get left behind.

Banner image from Rapha on Instagram.

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