Dictionary of Bike Commuter Slang | Bike Hacks

Like the proverbial flowers that bloom in the spring or bleary eyed animals emerging from a long winter of hibernation, the recent uptick in temperatures in NYC has brought out the hibernating bike commuters.  As tulip bulbs crack the top layer of soil and spring to life, bicycles relegated to storage closets or storage racks have been dusted off, tires pumped up (in most cases), and my once sparsely populated bike path to work has sprouted a menagerie of cyclists.  So much for the days of sub zero temps and a bike path shared by the few deranged year round commuters.  This increase in the riders I am now encountering reminds me of a Bike Hacks Classic entry . . .

This dictionary started in my mind while commuting and seeing some of the same riders day after day.  I began to give them names in my head and thought to myself, "Why not create a dictionary of bike commuter slang?"

I certainly welcome others to make suggestions over time - this is by no means the end all (many of the entries below are suggestions from readers and a few come from other sites that are referenced). The more the merrier. Hopefully the dictionary will be an enduring contribution to the cycling commuter community lexicon.

Here's a sampling:

Cliptastrophy: When someone riding with clipless pedals either cannot click in or click out.

Cobweb Catcher: A bicycle shaped object, often seen hanging from a hook or leaning against the wall in a garage or basement. Often seen with flat tires and rusty chain.

Felon Bars (reader comment addition): Traditional Drop Bars that have been reversed bull-horn-style on an ancient ten-speed being ridden by an individual who is obviously cycling because he is not allowed to drive any longer.

Grasshopper: This rider's seat is as far down as it can go and when pedaling the knees achieve chin level, mimicking the bend seen in the rear legs of grasshoppers.

Hodge Podge Guy/Gal: This rider's bike is an amalgamation of bike parts that might not match and various and sundry things that were probably not meant for a bike, but have been modified to serve a purpose, are zip tied or affixed in some other random manner.

Latte Lizard: Like a reptile on a cold day, the latte lizard is slow to gain full functionality.  They can be seen wobbling side to side, a venti half-caf with "room" for chai and soy milk desperately clutched in the right hand leaving the off-hand to guide them down the sidewalk amidst disgruntled pedestrians. Can often be seen Salmoning, prepping for Organ Donation and Grasshoppering.

Reflecto Man: This is the rider who is covered head to toe in reflective gear. Commonly adorned with one of those reflective vests worn by members of road construction crews and reflective pant guard protectors on both ankles, any light that comes his way is going right back where it came from.

Tea Party: A group of riders or pedestrians who take up the whole path, thus impeding your progress.

Velookers: Rider on a bike share bike who is thoroughly unprepared to a ride bike in an urban environment.  Give the cyclotourist lots of space as he or she is likely to unexpectedly bob and weave without notice or cause.

[ Read more slang on bikehacks.com ]