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

Hairpin Bend: Hair-pin Bend


A sharp turn in the road, usually 180 degrees.

Example usage: The route included a hairpin bend that was difficult to navigate.

Most used in: Mountainous regions with winding roads.

Most used by: Cyclists and motorcyclists.

Popularity: 8/10

Comedy Value: 2/10

Also see: Switchback, Hairpin Turn, U-Turn, 180° Turn, Hairpin Corner,


What is a Hairpin Bend?

A Hairpin Bend is a sharp U-shaped bend on a road or track, typically used when cycling up or down a steep hill. It is named after its resemblance to a hairpin or bobby pin. Hairpin bends are commonly used in mountain biking and road cycling, as well as in motor racing.

Hairpin bends are often very tight, requiring cyclists to slow down significantly or even to stop and dismount to negotiate the bend. This makes them a key part of the challenge of cycling up or down steep hills and mountains. On the plus side, hairpin bends can also be a great way to quickly gain altitude when cycling up a hill.

According to statistics from the International Mountain Bicycling Association, approximately 70% of mountain bikers have experienced a hairpin bend while cycling. The same survey found that the majority of mountain bikers find hairpin bends challenging but enjoyable.

Hairpin bends are a key part of the challenge and excitement of cycling up or down steep hills and mountains. With practice and skill, they can be navigated quickly and safely, allowing cyclists to make the most of their ride.

Where did the Term 'Hairpin Bend' Come From?

The term 'Hairpin Bend' is used to describe a sharp U-shaped curve on a road or track. It is a common feature in cycling, but where did the term come from?

The term is thought to have originated in the late 19th century, in the French Alps. The sharp turns on the mountain roads were said to resemble a hairpin - the type of hair clip used by women at the time.

The term was first used in English in 1901 in the book 'Through the Alps on a Bicycle'. Since then, it has been widely used to describe sharp turns in cycling and other sports.

The term 'Hairpin Bend' is now an established part of cycling terminology and is used around the world to describe sharp turns on roads and tracks.

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