5 English Expressions about Cycling

During the British summer, cycling becomes a popular hobby across the country. You may have seen the Eastbourne Cycling Festival in June? Or watched the Tour De France last month?

I write this blog post to help you learn more vocabulary related to bicycles (also called ‘bikes’), so you can talk about bicycles to your friends in English during the summer.


Parts of a Bicycle

Martin's Bike 1Martin's Bike 2

Idiomatic Language: Bikes

There are many spoken idiomatic expressions in English, which you should try to use when speaking. It will improve your overall fluency and other people will think your English is amazing.


1. “On your/yer bike!”

This is common expression which means “Go away!“. It is quite informal and you should try to use it with friends around the same age as you. You cannot use this expression with someone older than you.

a. “Can I borrow £10 please mate?

b. “I’m not lending you any money! On your bike Steve!

2. “To back pedal”

When you cycle, you push your legs forward and your pedals move forward but if you pedal backwards, you will go back. The phrase, “to back pedal“, literally means to change your opinion to the complete opposite. This phrase is usually used in the news or in newspapers, so you may hear it on the TV more often.

a. “The Health Secretary appeared to back pedal his decision on salt in our food. Initially, he was against any reforms but now he seems to have changed his mind.

3. “To get on your bike”

This is a very British phrase which means “to find work“. You may hear older people or politicians using this phrase to the younger generation.

a. “David Cameron has told young people to get on their bikes and get employed.


4. “Freewheel”

If you are literally freewheeling, you are riding a bicycle downhill and not pedalling. This idiom is related to the cycling as a ‘freewheeler’ is not controlled or limited by rules.

“Our teacher let us have a freewheeling discussion today. 

She led a freewheeling life in the city.” (Merriam-Webster online dictionary)


5. “Doing something in tandem”

A tandem bicycle (Image sourced from Wikipedia 2015)

A tandem bicycle is quite unique as two or more people can cycle together and these are very long bicycles. Usually a family use a tandem bicycle and you may see them from time-to-time. If you are ‘doing something in tandem‘, you are doing something at the same time with someone else.

a. “The London office usually works in tandem with the New York office“.


I hope that you have a chance to use some of these expressions and idioms in class. Try and use them as much as possible when speaking outside of class.


Posted in The LTC Blog, English Vocabulary |