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



Cycling behind someone closely and drafting off them.

Example usage: I'm tailing the rider in front of me to get a better draft.

Most used in: Road cycling circles.

Most used by: Experienced cyclists who are comfortable in groups.

Popularity: 8/10

Comedy Value: 2/10

Also see: Drafting, Slipstreaming, Wheel-sucking, Freeloading,

What is Cycling Tailing?

Tailing, also known as drafting, is a key cycling technique used by professional and recreational cyclists alike. It involves one rider following closely behind another, taking advantage of the reduced air resistance created by the leading rider. This technique allows the trailing rider to conserve energy and increase their speed compared to riding alone.

The leading rider is called the “drafting partner” and the trailing rider is referred to as the “tailer.” To properly tail, the tailer must remain within a few feet of the drafting partner, taking advantage of the air pocket created by the leading rider. The tailer should also avoid pedaling at the same pace as the drafting partner, as it can create an uneven distribution of air resistance.

Cycling tailing has been studied extensively and has been proven to significantly reduce the amount of energy required to ride. In fact, studies have found that tailing can reduce the energy output of a rider by up to 40%. This makes tailing an essential technique for competitive cyclists and those looking to get the most out of their rides.

Tailing is a key technique for cyclists of all levels and can help any rider maximize their performance and conserve energy. With proper technique, cyclists can take advantage of the air resistance created by their drafting partner and enjoy the benefits of a more efficient ride.


The History of the Term 'Tailing' in Cycling

The word 'tailing' is a term used in cycling to describe the act of following another cyclist closely in order to benefit from the draft created by the rider in front. It can also be used to refer to a group of riders who are drafting together.

The term 'tailing' is believed to have originated in the early 1980s in the US. At the time, it was mainly used by road cyclists to refer to the act of drafting. The word may have been derived from the phrase 'tail wind,' which was a common term in sailing and aviation to describe a wind that blows in the same direction as a vessel or aircraft.

The term 'tailing' has since become a popular term among cyclists of all types, including mountain bikers, BMX riders, and triathletes. It is now used to describe the practice of riding in a group, taking turns leading the group to reduce the effort needed to maintain a certain speed. By doing this, riders can conserve energy and ride faster than they would be able to on their own.

Tailing is a key skill for cyclists of all levels and is an essential part of any successful race strategy. The practice of drafting together has enabled cyclists to achieve greater speeds and break records that may have once been thought impossible.

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