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

Hair pin bend


A sharp turn on a road or trail, resembling the shape of a hairpin.

Example usage: Be careful when taking the hair pin bend on the trail.

Most used in: Mountain biking and road cycling.

Most used by: Cyclists who prefer more technical and challenging routes.

Popularity: 8/10

Comedy Value: 2/10

Also see: Switchback, Hairpin Turn, U-Turn, Hairpin Corner,

What is a Hairpin Bend in Cycling?

A hairpin bend is a type of turn in cycling where the road or trail makes a U-shaped bend so sharp that it resembles a hairpin. It is a common feature in mountainous terrain, as it allows cyclists to negotiate steep gradients without having to switchback, or zig-zag their way up or down the mountain.

Hairpin bends are often very tight and require cyclists to slow down and navigate the turn with extreme care. It can be a challenge for cyclists to maintain their balance and navigate the turn without skidding or losing traction.

Hairpin bends are commonly found on the slopes of mountains and passes, with some of the most famous hairpin bends being part of iconic cycling routes such as the Tour de France. In fact, according to statistics from the Tour de France, the average cyclist will encounter around 40 hairpin bends during the race.


The Origin of the Hairpin Bend in Cycling

The term “hairpin bend” is commonly used in the context of cycling to describe a sharp, 180-degree turn in the road. It is believed that the term originated in the early 1900s in the Italian Alps, where the roads often had to take sharp turns in order to navigate the steep mountain terrain. The tight turns resembled the shape of a hairpin, and hence the term “hairpin bend” was born.

The term has since been adopted by cyclists around the world, and it is used to refer to any sharp turn in the road. While the term was first used in the Italian Alps, hairpin bends are found in many different geographical areas. Cyclists often have to navigate these tight turns in order to complete their rides, and they provide an extra challenge for more experienced riders.

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