Cyclist Vs Biker

It can be tricky to distinguish between cyclists and bikers, especially when language is nuanced at times, and words’ meanings can differ depending on the individual in question. It is also challenging to sum up the bicycle culture and the people involved with just one or two words. But in the end, we are left wondering what makes cyclists and bikers differ.

The terms cyclist and biker refer to a similar grouping, but there are distinctions. Cyclists tend to take biking more seriously than the average biker, but a biker could also be a mountain biker. Also, there is the complication of people who ride motorcycles, also being referred to as bikers.

What we ought to call someone who rides any form of a two-wheeled form of transportation has most definitely caused some confusing identification issues. For instance, someone who wears a leather jacket and drives a Harley Davidson might not take too kindly to being labeled as a “cyclist.” Therefore, we have compiled a comprehensive post to help you understand the distinctions.

Unraveling The Meanings Of Cyclist Vs Biker

Whether you are a bicycle buff or not, you have more than likely come across the terms “cycling” and “biking” in the past. Although we shall offer differing opinions in this post, technically, cycling and biking typically involve the same thing: a bicycle. Since these terms are often used interchangeably, why is one sometimes used over the other?

A cyclist (also sometimes confusingly referred to as a bicyclist) is an individual who rides a bicycle. This often also includes those who would refer to themselves as bikers. However, there is the issue that some put forward that a biker is a person who rides a motorcycle. In this post, we will help unravel the mystery surrounding these terms once and for all. 

So already, you can see that there is still an ongoing controversy surrounding these titles, especially amidst cyclist circles. When it comes down to it, the best thing to do is to refer to the group of people as they would categorize themselves. This causes a slight dilemma for us, though. Cyclists typically call themselves cyclists, while people who ride motorbikes use the term biker.

There are other situations where the term biker is also problematic, in which people are part of bike (bicycle) clubs but do not wish to be associated with the term “biker.” As this offers the connotation that they wear leather, are tough and rugged, and drive motorcycles. So what could be a potentially confusing reason for “biker”? Well, it could well be owed to mountain bikers.

There is a clear distinction between cycling on a track or road and biking along off-road trails and paths. Furthermore, bicycling magazines often use the term “biker” when referring to mountain bikers or off-road biking. To confuse us even more, they are prone to using the terms “cyclist,” “biker,” “bicyclist,” and “biking” somewhat haphazardly and interchangeably.

And to add to the confusion, the magazine “Cycle” was about motorcycles, but they also called them “bikes” and hardly ever used “cycles.” The readers of the magazine were “motorcyclists,” “bikers,” and “riders.” Some websites and magazines today have seemingly misguiding titles and cause us to ponder further how to compare cyclists and bikers properly.

The Confusion Caused By The Term “Biker”

There have been polls taken and research done. Interestingly, many individuals associate the term “biker” with someone who is a motorcyclist and not an individual who rides a bicycle of any form.

Additionally, bicycles and motorcycles are not the only versions of two-wheeled “vehicles” that one may come across. There are e-assist bicycles, mopeds, scooters, and e-bicycles. The issue becomes quite a problem as we then have to wonder what these individuals would be called and consider what they may refer to themselves as. In summary, language can be an endless vacuum.

So as we carry on, it is worth noting that we are not merely discussing the terms in question but their direct connotations. Varying things are implied when using cyclist and biker in different contexts; for some, each word brings a different image to mind. Thus it is challenging to pin down a concrete answer, but we shall attempt to settle the waters.

Cycling And Biking When Referring To A Bicycle

People who cycle professionally often use both of these words when referring to the sport; however, it often comes along with the need to understand the context in which they are referring to them. At the same time, we can distinguish between a cyclist and a biker. One thing is a commonality between the two, though, and that is the use of a bicycle.

For our use, we are not referring to anyone who rides any form of a motorized or engine-propelled device. And by bicycle, we are referring to a two-wheeled “vehicle” with a frame, seat, and steering handle. What distinguishes it from other two-wheeled modes of transport is that they rely entirely on one using their legs to move the pedals to be propelled forward.

Helping To Define What Cycling Is

Cycling, in the broader sense, could include using a two-wheeled bicycle, a tricycle, or even a unicycle. These are either done recreationally, as a mode of transport, or as a sport or hobby. However, for our purposes, we will focus on using a two-wheeled bicycle. Now when it comes to this form of cycling, there are various forms, and it is not merely linked with a single style.

There is road cycling (cycling on the road or a bicycle lane) and track cycling (cycling on a track oval, these bicycles often have a slightly different construct to road cycling). Additionally, there is tandem cycling (a bicycle designed to be ridden by two people simultaneously) and cyclocross (cycling over rough open country and can be mistaken for mountain biking).

Cycling as a sport became official in 1868, and the first event took place in France and was only a 1,200-metre race. In the following years, the sport gained momentum and became popular in the United States and Europe. The sport could emerge as a legitimate form due to the increased number of paved roads.

Cycling is a prevalent form of exercise because it is low-impact, and it has multiple health benefits that go along with engaging in it. It improves balance and coordination, strengthens the leg and core muscles, promotes weight loss, is known to prevent heart conditions and diseases, and even assists with mental health.

Helping To Define What Biking Is

Biking is, just like cycling, an activity that uses a bicycle. It is highly similar in many ways in that you can bike on bike paths, the road, mountain trails, and other rough terrains. The term biking or biker is often more associated with mountain biking or riding heavy-duty bicycles on more rugged terrains. 

So if we were to make a distinction, it would be that biking, or one referred to as a biker, is more likely to engage in riding on dirt roads, mountain trails, and any other form of off-road environment.

Yes, there is the argument that the term biker should be reserved for those who ride motorbikes/ motorcycles. However, that does not mean that it does not have any use or implications regarding using a bicycle to get around.


Although these two words can be used interchangeably at times, and there can be varying connotations and meanings derived from them, it is helpful to pay attention to what bicycle enthusiasts (cyclists or bikers) refer to as their sport or hobby. At times the differences are irrelevant, but there are also subtle distinctions. We would say consider the sections on defining what they are.


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