Names are a tricky thing to get right. My wife and I went through a list of hundreds of names before our son was born. For months we hemmed and hawed and argued over which name was the right one. Of course, my son is more important than any bike, but if I were given the task of coming up with a good name for a new bike model, I’d probably find it just as agonizing.
So I always appreciate when a bike brand commits to model names that are bold, funny, strange, or clever. After looks and performance, a good tongue-tickling name can be a major factor in convincing me to buy a bike.
Just for fun, I decided to pick five of my all-time favorite bike names. Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite bike name that should be on my list.
Cyclocross is not for the faint of heart. It’s all about getting dirty, and every weekend, hardcore racers endure cold, pain, and filth. They don’t think twice about getting mud all over themselves and their bike — and hocking the occasional loogie when their airways fill with phlegm. In that spirit, Ibis named its cyclocross bike after that very act, something my mother used to scold me for doing. The most classic Hakkalugi is the 2010 model which came in a gorgeously disgusting snot-green color, just like the loogies it was named after. Later models like the 2014 shown here have more toned-down colors. The newest version is now a capable gravel bike but unfortunately, the name has been changed to the more mom-friendly Hakka MX.
Fat City Cycles Slim Chance
Fat City Cycles, also known as Fat Chance, was an OG mountain bike brand started by Chris Chance in 1982. Fat Chance mountain bikes are some of the most popular bikes in our Vintage Museum and the uniquely named Yo Eddy model is a crowd favorite. But the bike that really speaks to me is the rare and beautiful Slim Chance. Not many people know that Chris Chance also made road bikes like this 1992 example. These Slim Chance bikes have a small cult following and are built with high-end Columbus TSX tubing that’s rifled on the inside. The name really works because it neatly ties in with the lineage of Fat Chance mountain bikes that came before. The Slim Chance was TIG-welded without lugs, a departure from convention in that era, making this frame lighter — "slim" in more ways than one. I can’t help but appreciate the clever wordplay Chris Chance used when naming his skinny-tired bike.
All-City Nature Boy and Macho Man
As a brand, All-City Cycles has a huge list of awesome bike names like Cosmic Stallion, Gorilla Monsoon, and Electric Queen. These are all great names in their own right. But the two that really stand out to me are the Nature Boy and the Macho Man. Why? Because these bikes are named after the two greatest pro wrestlers of all time — "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair and "Macho Man" Randy Savage. These wrestlers possessed athleticism, charisma, and a great ability to sell moves. (Yes, I know pro wrestling is fake — it still rocks.) I wear Oakley Jawbreakers these days because they remind me of Randy Savage’s oversized specs. Like their namesakes, these All-City bikes are tough showmen. The Nature Boy is a steel singlespeed cyclocross bike. The Macho Man is its geared counterpart.
Pivot Cycles makes fantastic mountain bikes, but its names have never caught my attention. Many models rely on a number (e.g., Mach 4, Mach 5, Mach 6) to describe their purpose (XC, trail, enduro). This is perfectly sensible and there’s nothing wrong with it. But I want bikes with names that have emotion, not logic. Sure, Pivot has the Switchblade and the Firebird too, but those names don’t inspire me. However, there is one bike in Pivot’s line-up that I think has an absolutely perfect name — the Pivot Les. The Les is Pivot’s lightweight, XC carbon hardtail (pivotless — get it?). It’s a name so delightfully simple and clever that I can’t help but love it.
Kona is a brand that loves having fun with names. Its bikes have goofy names like Stinky, Scab, Sutra, and Jake the Snake — names that a marketing consultant probably would have vetoed immediately. But Kona has owned them and made it work. Then there’s the barely pronounceable Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. It must be the longest name ever given to a bike, and many will simply abbreviate it to Humuhumu. What is it? It’s a classic all-purpose cruiser styled like an old school mountain bike. The name comes from Hawaii’s state fish. These reef-dwelling fish have a unique rectangular shape and can make strange, audible grunts when distressed. What does this have to do with the bike? I have no clue. Kona is based in Washington state but has a very Hawaiian name. Maybe that has something to do with it. Whatever the reason, it's weird and I like it.
Over the years I've made many questionable bike purchases. Like I said, sometimes a good name is enough to fool me into opening my wallet. Here are three such bikes. They're all fantastic bikes, but in each case, the name was what first sparked my attraction.
1. Salsa El Mariachi
Salsa Cycles was founded by Ross Shafer in 1982. He didn't want to simply follow the trend of bike builders using their own names for their brands. Instead, he wanted something "spicy." So Salsa Cycles was born. The name "El Mariachi" fits into the fun-loving spirit of the brand. I liked the El Mariachi so much I've bought two, a steel and a titanium version.
Check out our Museum Series video where we meet Ross Shafer.
2. Surly Krampus
Surly Bikes is another brand that loves playful names like Karate Monkey, Ice Cream Truck, and Big Dummy. But the bike I was most drawn to was the 29+ Krampus. In Central European folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure described as "half-goat, half-demon" who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved. That made it perfect for my wintertime riding adventures.
3. REEB Sqweeb
REEB Cycles' motto is "No unfun bikes." Its name is even "Beer" spelled backward. Founded by the owner of Oskar Blues Brewery, REEB is all about making bikes that can be ridden hard. The Sqweeb is a goofy word mash-up of "Squishy REEB." The Sqweeb is my current bike, and it lives up to its name by being very plush and squishy every time I huck it off a big jump or drop.
Check out our Behind the Bikes video where we tour REEB Cycles.
Did we get it right? What are your favorite bike names? Tell us in the comments below!