Happy New Bike Day! Your shiny new (or new-to-you) family member is here, sitting in your
living room garage, urging you to come out and play.
Your mind is overflowing with visions of all the grand adventures you’ll have together, or the races you’ll win, or the peaceful trails and roads you’ll enjoy.
Only one task remains: it’s time to name your bike.
Choosing a name for your bike is part poetry and part intellectual puzzle. You want a bike name that suits your steed’s personality and also, by projection, your own. It should convey your hopes and dreams and roll off the tongue during long rides when you’re talking to
your bike, yourself, no one, nevermind.
I recently had the privilege of going through this process again when Stella joined the family, a new sibling to a touring bike named Black Pearl and a bikepacking rig named Shadowfax. I’m a bikepacker and long-distance cycle tourer who often rides solo; sometimes things get a little lonely out there. When I haven’t met a fellow English speaker in days or haven’t slept much during a bikepacking race, my bike is my best friend. And you can absolutely bet I’ll be addressing her by name, out loud.
But enough about me, you’re here to name your bike. This post is mostly a brainstorming guide with a few example bike names thrown in. You don’t want to simply pick from a list of bicycle names and end up with the same name as someone else’s bike, do you? No, you want the name to be unique and special, just like your precious bike.
So you’ll have to do a little creative work to find the perfect name for your new companion. But never fear, this article will give you all the inspiration you need to have fun with the process. Let’s get to it!
First, Sense Your Bike’s Vibe
Before you can choose a name for your bike, you have to get to know it. This first step is all about priming your brain with general concepts so it can effortlessly conjure up a name with the perfect connotations later on.
Your Bike’s Personality
First, think of a few traits that describe your bike’s personality as you see it, or as you want it to be. Often this ends up being a projection of the rider’s personality, but it doesn’t have to be (and you can always claim it’s not, if asked, which is part of the fun).
Would your bike be fun-loving, loyal, chill, courageous, enthusiastic, wise, ambitious, sassy, sexy, burly, elegant, strong, grandiose, understated, or flamboyant? What else?
Then, think about the bike’s role in your partnership. You chose it, so what do you want out of the relationship? Here are a few examples that blend personality and purpose to get your (mental) wheels turning:
- Rugged adventure-mobile that can take me anywhere and help me explore the world.
- Sleek race-ready machine, hungry for victory and excited to help me achieve my goals.
- Trusty companion that will grow with me and support my evolution as a cyclist, wherever it may lead.
What’s your version, in your own words?
Your Own Personality
If it’s not already obvious, you might want to think about your bike’s relation to you. Do you want it to be an expression of your own obvious qualities? What about a sneaky projection of your more private qualities, the ones you don’t usually get to express in more straightforward ways? Or how about a complement to your personality, an “opposites attract” situation?
Who knew naming a bike could be such an exercise in introspection? I’ll send you the bill for the therapy session.
Bike Name Inspiration
Now let’s take that general picture you’re building in your head and try to get specific. Below are a bunch of potential sources for bike name inspiration.
I suggest opening up a notebook or a new document on your computer and doing a proper brainstorm. Write down anything that comes to mind, no judgment, and riff on it until you exhaust all the possible variations.
Later, as a second step, you’ll go through and pick out your favorites. But for now, let loose! You never know what wacky train of thought will lead you to the perfect bike name.
Your bike’s gender (if any) is one of the first decisions you’ll have to make. Regardless of whether the name is obviously gendered or more subtle, most people have a mental image of their bike as a particular gender.
I instinctively feel all my bikes are girls, even if their names don’t strongly reflect it. My husband has boy bikes. I know women whose bikes have masculine names and men whose bikes have feminine names, and some people whose bikes are genderless or something like the bike version of non-binary.
Some people let the bike’s appearance influence their choice, and others base it on their own gender expression. There’s no way to go wrong here, so just go with your gut instinct.
The color of your bike is one of the easiest sources of name inspiration. You can be very literal here: Old Red, Big Blue, Miss Purple. You could also be a bit more abstract: Ruby, Clementine, Mercury, Sapphire.
Sometimes color is just a starting point that leads to other inspiration. I tend to like this technique. My white bike is named Shadowfax after Gandalf’s white horse in Lord of the Rings, and my black Long Haul Trucker is named Black Pearl after the ship in Pirates of the Caribbean.
Size and Stature
Let your bike’s physical attributes guide your name choice. Big and heavy? How about The Beast or Thunder Hubs. Svelte and sleek? Perhaps Zippy, Silver Bullet, or Hummingbird.
If you’re looking for a funny bike name, one technique is to contrast the name’s connotations with the bike’s appearance. Just as an example (I’m sure you can come up with something better) you could name a burly fat bike “hummingbird” or an elegant-looking road bike “Shredder.”
Animals are a very evocative source of bike name inspiration, especially for those who think of their bike in a more organic way. My own Shadowfax is named after Gandalf’s white horse in Lord of the Rings. Horses are a popular bike analogy for obvious reasons, and there are plenty of famous horses (real and fictitious) whose names work for bikes too: Black Beauty, Nellie, Flicka, Pegasus (see Mythological Figures below), and many more.
Other animals that might inspire bicycle names: birds, mountain goats, gazelle, mule, cheetah, tortoise, hare. You could be more literal (The Green Gazelle, Stubborn Mule) or go for an animal character from a book or movie (Simba, Nemo, Dumbo).
Insects are fair game too! Dragonfly, firefly, bumblebee…
Machines and Vehicles
If you prefer to think of your bike as a mechanical masterpiece rather than a living creature, seek name inspiration from cars (Thunderbird), ships (Black Pearl), trains (Thomas), rockets and spaceships (Apollo), or whatever else catches your fancy.
Make or Model
Some makes and models are good bike names all on their own, like “Gary” for a vintage Gary Fisher mountain bike, or “Stella” for my very own Chumba Stella (she has a nebula-patterned frame bag so I’m going for a space theme).
Some names lend themselves to shortening or modifying: Marly (Trek Marlin), Stumpy (Salsa Stump Jumper), Old Crusty (Crust Scapegoat)
And some cry out for more clever or abstract connections. I’d love to see someone name their Salsa brand bike either Spicy or Chunky (or one of each!).
Sure, bikes can have people names. Maybe you want to name your bike after a character in a favorite story, a historical figure you admire, your grandfather, or your first-born child. Perhaps a specific name just seems to fit or provokes giggles for some reason. I know for a fact that Lucy, Fred, Delilah, Albert, Rea, and Bridget have all been done in the past, and the options are endless.
Do you have a favorite character from a movie, TV show, book, game, comic book, song lyric, Shakespeare play, etc? Something or someone that mirrors the qualities and personality of your bike? Don’t limit yourself to human characters — animals, machines, and vehicles are great too. The options here are truly endless.
Is there a significant place you’ve ridden through, spent time in, or remember fondly? Why not incorporate it into your bike name? Examples: Sierra (mountain range), Mojave (desert), Arnold (a small mountain town). Some people name their babies this way, so why not bikes too.
Mythological figures and deities are often powerful and evocative, perfect for naming a bike! Unless you paid a lot of attention in high school, you might need to do some research. Have a look through the Greek, Roman, Hindu, Egyptian, or other collections of deities and creatures and see if anything fits.
Examples: Gaia (Greek goddess of the earth), Hermes (Greek deity, fast with wings on his heels), Diana / Artemis (goddess of wilderness and nature, among other things), Phoenix (immortal bird that rises from the ashes), Pegasus (winged horse).
Bonus: a lot of astronomical names come from mythology and also carry fun space-themed connotations: Andromeda, Mercury, Neptune, Pluto, etc.
Sometimes simple is best. Is there a quality of your bike or its personality you want to highlight or encourage? Examples: Speedy, Sly, Dusty, Sassy, Lucky (last one courtesy of Jin, who’s been biking around the world for ten years and says she needs luck).
Is there a country, culture, or language that has personal importance for you? Perhaps you can find bike name inspiration there. Some perfectly ordinary phrases take on more color in another language. Examples: El Oso (the bear in Spanish), La Dame (the lady in French), Habibi (beloved in Arabic).
Even better, perhaps you know a more unique phrase that only fluent speakers would recognize, or a word with connotations that can’t quite be translated to English.
When you need to add some obvious gravitas to your bike’s name, nothing does the trick like a royal title. You can use a creative title all on its own (Duquesa – thanks Katy McGuire) or combine it with another source of inspiration (King Kong, Sir Muddy, The Purple Princess).
We’re brainstorming here, so anything is fair game. What other categories and concepts can you mine for bike name treasure, either literal or abstract?
Weather: wind, thunder, lightning, tornado…
Nature: rivers, waterfalls, mountains, names of trees or plants…
Music: artists, band names, instruments, tempos (Presto and Lento would be great for fast and slow, respectively)…
Pet names: someone needs to name a bike “Fluffy” just for fun
Patterns and Forms
When you find the right bike name and say it out loud, it just sounds right. What is that about? Here are a few linguistic patterns and techniques that can help you zero in on a catchy name a little faster:
Rhyme: Steady Betty, Black Jack
Alliteration: Red Rover, Black Beauty, Bob the Big Blue Beast
The [Anything]: The Beast, The Tank, The Beermobile
[Name] the [Adjective(s)] [Noun]: Bob the Big Blue Beast, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Thomas the Tank Engine (ok those last two are taken, but they illustrate the pattern well)
Dissonance (when parts of the name evoke contrasting moods, usually in a humorous way): Princess of Shred, Stan the Speed Turtle
Other Bike Naming Tips
Give it time. It’s not like the
hospital bike shop requires you to choose a name before you take it home. You may need to share a few rides together before your bike’s name becomes clear.
Say it out loud. Tell a friend and invite them use it. That’s the only way to know if it truly sounds and feels right.
Ask your riding buddies for ideas. Like a trail name, sometimes a bike name is best bestowed by others.
Consider a shorter nickname. If your bike’s name is a bit verbose, you’ll eventually want an affectionate nickname. Shortening and adding “y” is always a good start. You could also go with initials; my Black Pearl affectionately became BP in casual conversation.
Still need inspiration? This post has an excellent variety of real bike name examples and the personalities behind them. You can also look to lists of names for pets, cars, boats, horses, or even babies for more ideas. Good luck and have fun!
Does your bike already have a name? Drop it in the comments below and tell us how you came up with it.
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