Saddle Slang is sponsored by Rehook. Check out our tools, bike care and apparel


Noun, Verb

Climbing switchback is a sharp turn in the road while climbing a hill, often in a zig-zag pattern.

Example usage: 'I was climbing a switchback on the road and had to make a sharp turn.'

Most used in: Mountainous regions with steep climbs.

Most used by: Cyclists who enjoy steep climbs.

Popularity: 8/10

Comedy Value: 2/10

Also see: Switchback turn, hairpin turn, hairpin bend, hairpin corner, sharp bend, sharp corner,


What is a Climbing Switchback?

A climbing switchback is a type of route often used by cyclists to ascend a steep incline. It involves a series of tight, zig-zag turns that allow the cyclist to gradually climb the hill without having to pedal too hard. This type of route is often used in hilly regions and is popular among recreational and competitive cyclists alike.

The switchback is usually marked by a series of signposts or arrows indicating the direction of the turns. This allows cyclists to gain elevation in a controlled manner and avoid any potential hazards. The switchback is designed to make it easier for cyclists to traverse the terrain, allowing them to reach the summit with less effort.

Statistics show that the use of a climbing switchback can help cyclists use up to 30% less energy when compared to riding straight up a hill. This makes it a great option for cyclists who are looking to conserve energy and make their ride more efficient.

Overall, the climbing switchback is a great option for cyclists who are looking to climb a hill with less effort. It is a popular route for recreational and competitive cyclists alike and can help save energy when compared to riding straight up a hill.


The Origin of the Cycling Term 'Climbing Switchback'

The cycling term “climbing switchback” was first used in the early 1900s in the United States. It was coined by mountain bikers who used the term to refer to a type of steep, winding ascent. The term was used to describe the technique of cycling up a steep hill by zigzagging back and forth in a series of switchbacks.

The term is derived from the railroad industry, where switchbacks were used to climb steep inclines. The technique was first used by cyclists in the early 20th century to traverse the difficult terrain of the American West. By the mid-20th century, switchbacks became a popular tool for mountain bikers to climb steep hills and trails.

Today, the term “climbing switchback” is used to describe any type of winding ascent on a bicycle. It is a common technique used by cyclists to ascend steep hills and trails, and it is a key component of mountain biking.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Saddle Slang

Find definitions for all of the technical terms, slang, and acronyms used in cycling. From the different types of bikes and their components, to training techniques, racing terminology and put downs, this dictionary has it all.

Talk the Talk
1 of 3