Are You a Cyclist or a Biker?

Guest poster Don Blount’s inquiring mind wants to know.

Are you a cyclist or a biker?

I often use the two terms interchangeably to describe someone who rides road bikes., the online reference site, provides these definitions of the two terms:

Biker noun: a person who rides a bicycle, motorcycle, or motorbike, esp. in competition or as a hobby.

Cyclist noun: a person who rides or travels by bicycle, motorcycle, etc.

Any difference there would be minute.

However, a member of my bike club makes this distinction:

“I must confess that I cringe when I read about us being ‘bikers’ and going ‘biking’. I’m not a biker, I’m a cyclist. Bikers wear leather and drive motorcycles and look tough and drink beer. Cyclists wear lycra and cool pro team jerseys and drive Honda Elements that have less power than one of those motorcycles.

And I don’t go ‘biking’ either. I go cycling, like I did today; 50 miles and 3800 ft on a beautiful spring day.”

Perhaps the confusion comes from ‘mountain biking’, which means to ride a mountain bike. This is a sport I am unfamiliar with, but which I believe is distantly related to cycling even if I find the bikes repulsive looking compared with svelte road machines.”

By his definition, I would be a cyclist.

How do you see yourself? Are you a cyclist or a biker?


  1. says

    Well, my blogs name is ‘biking to live’ so for blogging purposes it’s biking. I consider myself a cyclist though in the more traditional sense. Back when I created my blog I threw around a few ideas and biking just seemed to stick.

    I’m not sure there’s a difference between the two except for the stereotypes created by people when thinking or referring to each group. Much like your friend did.

  2. spacemodular says

    I am a biker. Or bicyclist. I ride customized cruisers, cargo bikes, sound bikes, a pseudo track bike, mountain bikes, haul trailers and use bikes as my primary form of transportation. I like any bike, but my own bikes conform to my own needs and uses. I find bike racing interesting in it’s various forms, but don’t feel it should be the main reason to ride. Bikes are the means to know where you live and who lives in your neighborhood. I like building bikes and drinking beer. Cyclist always seemed a wee bit pretentious a term to me, but that’s just me. Whatever you call yourself, riding a bike is a great thing!

  3. says

    Setting aside the motorcycle, the term “biker” has a strong association with the care-free days of childhood in my mind. Through that association, a “biker” is a more recreational, casual, utilitarian, and dare I say irresponsible user of the bicycle. By contrast with that assocation, a “cyclist” is a more mature, serious, goal-oriented, and driven user of the bicycle.

    It is the same as with the distinction between “nerd”/”dork” and “geek”. I’m a geek every day… I left being a nerd and a dork behind in junior high school.

    Some days I’m a biker. Most days I’m a cyclist. Every day I’m either, I feel better than had I been a motorist.

  4. Matt says

    I’ve always thought “cyclist” sounded pretentious, so I’m a biker.

    Nasty words about mountain bikes there, Noob! I’ve always thought road bikes looked boring though, so to each his own…

    • says

      As you can see, I took a little break and ran a post by Don instead. And those are not even his words — they’re by a member of his club.

      I have nothing against mountain bikes. I own one myself.

      • Matt says

        Hm pre-coffee posting there – my bad!

        My thoughts still apply against the originator of those nasty words, though! (And in my defense, there were extra quotation marks in that section, making it a little confusing)

  5. says

    I have to agree with Tim – we should stop focusing on labels and stereotypes. I refer to myself as a cyclist. I ride a bike – I have fun – and I enjoy life in general. I think of bikers as those who ride motorcycles, but that’s just me. Call me what you want. In my opinion, labels (even derogatory ones) don’t really have any power unless I choose to let them bother me.

  6. wal says

    See, I’ve always consider myself a biker or mountain biker – I ride trails in my baggy shorts, and hit the road only to get to the trail near my house. When I hear cyclist, I think of the more serious road rider who is out in the team jersey. I think of him/her as a distant cousin I know little about, but I know somewhere along the line, we have a common bond.

    PS: No argument that road bikes are svelte, but I wouldn’t call mountain bikes ‘repulsive’…I’d say muscular. Kind of like comparing a sprinter and a football player. Both athletes, just built different for different purposes.

  7. says

    Very though provoking.. when I’m on the road (albeit on a mountain bike) I consider myself a “cyclist”. When I’m off road I consider myself a “mountain biker” since I too associate the word “biker” with motorcycles.

    Better yet, what kind of cyclist are you? Over the holidays, I found that I had become a “care-taker” cyclist. I was going through the motions of a 30 mile ride without putting a whole lot of effort into it. Fortunately I snapped out of the lull and now enjoy “working” at it.

  8. says

    LOL, well I rode “motorcycles” for 30 years, wore some leather, ect. , (don’t drink BEER!) but even then I didn’t like being called a “Biker”, I told folks I was a “Motorcyclist”, not a Biker.

    Now I ride bicycles and I too really dislike being called a “Biker”, a lot of the “Bikers” I’ve known call us bicycle folks, “Bikies”. Now I tell folks, I’m a “Bicyclist”! Hoping one day to earn the title, Touring Cyclist! :)

    B.J. Ondo

  9. Don says

    Interesting reaction. This was the opinion of one member of my bike club. When I talk about myself, I just say: “I ride bikes.” I think anyone who gets out on two wheels to improve their fitness is doing a good thing. Whether it be on a road bike or mountain bike. (I also own a mountain bike too.)

  10. says

    “biker” feels weird to me, but I also don’t want to be associated with the roadies either. I just commute on my bicycle. Is there a term for that?

  11. Ken Speake says

    OK… what about us weirdos who ride with our feet out ahead of the rest of us. I ride a 10 year old recumbent. The only jersey I own is still in the plastic bag upstairs in my drawer. The wicking high tech clothing I wear is 15-year-old Helly Hanson polypropylene long underwear. Wife says it stinks like crazy! I get a kick out of seeing the great blue heron riding the wind above me, and scaring up the deer at dusk, and averaging 13 miles an hour over a 75-minute ride. I don’t think there’s a name for us.

  12. cherryboy says

    I’m the club member that started this.

    I actually own a mountain bike, and I use it for all kinds of handy errands around my ranch. I have done some riding on trails and fire roads, including some technical single track, which I am terrible at.

    I enjoyed the comments and found the tone very civilized. But until a ‘biker bar’ sells espresso, I’ll consider myself a cyclist.

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