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How to define Biking vs. Cycling Mar 18, 2022
How to define Biking vs. Cycling


Bicycle aficionado or not, you’ve probably encountered the terms ‘biking’ and ‘cycling’ many times. Biking and cycling normally involves the same thing – a bicycle. If these two words supposedly have interchangeable meanings, then why do some people prefer to use one over the other? In this article, we break down the differences and put iron out the confusion once and for all!

Cycling professionals usually use both of these words depending on the context. Cyclists and bikers can both ride bicycles, but what about other cycle types like unicycles and tricycles? Before we talk about the different ways these two words are used, let us first take a brief look at the history of the bicycle.

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Biking is an activity that involves a bicycle. You can ride the bike on a road, bike path, a mountain trail, or rough terrain. Some use the term “biking” to refer specifically to a mountain biking context, and it is often associated with riding a heavy duty bicycle on rougher terrain.

Mountain biking usually takes place on mountain trails, dirt roads, or parks. It first originated as a sport in California, United States. The first bikers who engaged in the sport used a type of bike called cruiser bicycles. This single-speed bicycle comes with balloon tyres and an upright seating posture. It has fewer gears, which make it the perfect bike when you want to simply enjoy riding without thinking about what gears to control. Nowadays, people who engage in mountain biking and off-the-road biking use mountain bikes.

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Cycling is an activity that involves a two-wheeled bicycle, unicycle, or tricycle, either for recreation, as a sport or as a mode of transportation. The following are some popular forms of cycling.

Track cycling – cycling on a track oval
Road cycling – cycling on paved roads
Cyclocross – cycling over rough open country.
Tandem cycling – riding a bicycle built for two people
Cycling is also a popular form of recreation and bicycles are a popular means of transportation around the world. Cycling also developed to be a tourist activity. Cyclotourism or bicycle tourism is about touring a certain location through the use of a bicycle.


With the given definitions, it seems as though biking and cycling almost have the same meaning. However, there are subtle differences between the usage of the two words. Here are some of the different uses of the two words:

Although cycling and biking carry the same meaning, some people also define biking as riding a motorcycle. Since motorcycles are also called “bikes”, it is only natural to also refer to motorcyclists as “bikers” and the act of motorcycling “biking”.
Cycling enthusiasts refer to cyclists as people who ride a cycle, which can be a bicycle or any kind of cycle. They also use the word cycling as a habit or sport. This difference is evident and can be seen in the names of riding events. Most racing events and competitions are called cycling.
Mountain biking is a sport that uses a bicycle but is done on rough terrain. It is sometimes simply referred to as biking. It involves different categories, such as free riding, dirt jumping, downhill, trail riding, and cross country. Mountain bikes are constructed differently from normal bicycles. Designed to endure rough terrain, mountain bikes have flat and wider handle bars, lower gear ratios, off-road tyres that provide more traction, and suspension forks.
Sports organisations such as the International Cycling Union and Cycling Australia use the word “cycling” to refer to riding a bike a sport.
Bicycle magazines seem to use the word biking to refer to the act of riding a motor bicycle. However, some observed that cycling is used by more formal writers, while biking is usually part of a more informal and colloquial language.
An indoor activity that involves an indoor cycling bike or a spinning bike is also called cycling or indoor cycling. It is an exercise that uses a stationary bike to get the health benefits that riding a bicycle can offer. However, outdoor cycling works out more muscle groups because you are working on different terrains. On the other hand, indoor cycling works out the legs predominantly.
In conclusion, although these two words are used interchangeably, it’s useful for you to check how bicycle enthusiasts and riders refer to their sport or hobby. For some, the differences between the two terms are irrelevant, but for others the subtle differences are worth noting. It can certainly help when searching online to use both terms, to get well rounded information. With a little research, the context in which “biking” and “cycling” are used will become clear.

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