Whether you ride a bike or not, you have likely come across the terms biking and cycling. Because they involve the same thing – a bicycle, these words are often used interchangeably, but are they the same?

With this information, we will explore how cycling and biking are the same and how they differ. Before answering the title question, learning more about bicycles and biking is essential.

Cycling vs Biking

All About Bicycles

A bicycle is a two-wheel vehicle that can be man-powered or electric. Bicycles have a seat, peddles, and handlebars. Bicycles can be called bikes, cycles, pushbikes, or velocipedes.

Inventors created the first bicycle in the 19th century, and its design has deviated very little over the years. Today, there are motor-driven bicycles, but the basic design has not changed.

Understanding Biking

Biking is an activity people do on a bicycle. The term biking means riding a bicycle. People ride bikes on open roads, trails, dirt roads, or parks. People of all ages can go biking.

Mountain biking is a sport that originated in California. Those first participating in this sport used a bicycle called a cruiser. Cruisers are different from traditional bikes because they have fatter tires, upright seating, and only one speed.

Today, people who like to mountain bike use a mountain bike for this activity. Mountain bikes offer rugged tires and multiple gears to handle rough terrain.

riding a mountain bike on a trail next to a lake

Understanding Cycling

Cycling can be used to describe a person riding a bike, but it is also used for riding a tricycle or unicycle. Cycling can be used for transportation, exercise, recreation, or a sport.

There are multiple types of cycling, including the following.

  • Track cycling involves cycling on an oval track.
  • Road cycling involves cycling on a paved road.
  • Tandem cycling involves riding a bicycle meant for two people.
  • Cyclocross involves cycling over rough terrain cross country.

Have you ever heard of the term cyclotourism? Cyclotourism is a growing industry that allows individuals to tour regions of the country while cycling on a bicycle.

Did you know cycling became an official sport in 1868? The first cycling event was held in France and was a 1,200-meter race. As more and more paved roads were developed throughout Europe and the United States, cycling grew in popularity.

Cycling has also become a popular form of exercise. Because it involves the entire body, cycling is beneficial for strengthening the cardiovascular system. Cycling also offers the following benefits.

  • Helps prevent heart disease
  • Improves balance and coordination
  • Promotes a healthy weight
  • Improves mental wellbeing
  • Trains your core muscles
  • Strengthens the legs
cycling racing team on a track

What Are the Differences Between Cycling and Biking?

Although many people believe cycling and biking are the same, even after reading their definitions, there are some subtle differences between the two. The following are some of the key differences.

  • Because people use biking and cycling interchangeably, this can lead to confusion. People who ride a motorcycle are considered bikers. A motorcycle is often referred to as a bike, and the act of riding a motorcycle is called biking.
  • Mountain biking is a sport that involves riding a bicycle on rough terrain. Some people refer to this sport as simply biking. Mountain biking is much different than traditional biking because it involves trails, jumps, free riding, and cross country.
  • If you read a bicycle magazine, you are going to see authors refer to biking as the act of riding a motorized bike. Often, you will find formal writings refer to cycling as riding a bicycle, while informal writings may use the term biking.
  • Cycling enthusiasts refer to those that ride cycles as being cyclists. However, the cycle may be a bicycle, tricycle, unicycle, or any other type.
  • People refer to using an indoor stationary bicycle as cycling or spinning. Riding a traditional bicycle outdoors involves more muscle groups and greater intensity, while indoor cycling predominantly focuses on the development of leg muscles.

Types of Cycles

Multiple types of cycles are available and used by people all over the world. If you are considering getting into cycling, view the following options.

Folding Cycles

If space is a problem, folding cycles are available. These cycles easily fold to fit inside a car or can be stored in a tight space. Folding bicycles typically have lower gearing than full-size bicycles.

Electric Cycles

Today, there are motorized options for both two-wheel and three-wheel cycles. These electric options run on a motor and battery. Some offer options for peddling on full manpower alone or with peddle assist. Some e-cycles require no peddling.

man and woman riding electric bikes

Hand Cycles

There are also hand cycles that allow people to work out their arms and hands. Hand cycles offer an excellent way to work out the upper body and gain strength.

Tricycles

Tricycles have three wheels, and they are not just for children. Tricycles have two wheels at the back and one in the front. Some people prefer three wheels over two because of the higher level of stability. These cycles go slower than two-wheelers.

Tandem Cycles

Tandem cycles allow two people to ride a cycle at the same time. Because both help with peddling, these bikes can be easier to ride for those who lack strength.

couple riding a tandem bike

Types of Bicycles

Did you know there are at least eleven types of bicycles in the world? The following offers a list of the types.

  • Road Bike
  • Mountain Bike
  • Touring Bike
  • Folding Bike
  • Fixed Gear Bike
  • BMX Bike
  • Recumbent Bike
  • Cruiser
  • Hybrid Bike
  • Cyclocross Bike
  • Electric Bike

Conclusion

While cycling and biking are used interchangeably, there are a few differences. The confusion comes in when motorcycling is referred to as biking. Cycling often means biking, but it can refer to riding any type of cycle.

men riding bikes on the beach

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