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



A group cycling ride where cyclists ride at a fast pace in a line

Example usage: Let's go on a torpedo-run and see who can get to the cafe first!

Most used in: Northern Europe, particularly the Netherlands.

Most used by: Competitive cyclists who want to practice their drafting skills.

Popularity: 8/10

Comedy Value: 6/10

Also see: Paceline, Slipstreaming, Drafting, Echelon,


What is a Torpedo-Run in Cycling?

A torpedo-run is a term used in cycling to describe a rider's attempt to break away from the main group of riders and gain a lead. This is usually done in a race when a cyclist wants to gain an advantage over the competition. It is also known as a breakaway or a solo breakaway.

When a cyclist attempts a torpedo-run, they will usually try to build up speed in order to break away from the pack. This is achieved by pedaling faster than the rest of the riders. Once the cyclist has built up enough speed, they will then try to maintain it over a certain distance in order to gain a lead. The length of the torpedo-run can vary depending on the race, but typically it is between 10 and 20 kilometers.

The success rate of a torpedo-run is highly dependent on the terrain and weather conditions. For example, if the terrain is flat and the wind is blowing in the cyclist's favor, then they have a better chance of breaking away from the pack and gaining a lead. On the other hand, if the terrain is hilly or the wind is blowing against them, then it can be more difficult to build up the necessary speed.

A successful torpedo-run can be a great way for a cyclist to gain an advantage in a race, but it is not without its risks. If a cyclist fails to build up enough speed or maintain it over the required distance, then they can end up losing a lot of time and energy. This can ultimately lead to a worse overall result in the race.

According to a study by the International Cycling Union, successful torpedo-runs accounted for 18.2% of all breakaways in professional cycling races during the 2017 season. This shows that while it can be a risky strategy, it can also be a very effective one.

Tracing the Origin of the Term 'Torpedo-Run' in Cycling

The term 'torpedo-run' is widely used in cycling to describe a fast ride, typically in a group. It is thought to have originated from a race in the Netherlands in the early 1900s. The race was held between the cities of Amsterdam and Haarlem, a distance of approximately 20km.

The race was known as the 'Torpedo Run' and was won by a cyclist who had been able to break away from the pack and reach the finish line first. The name 'Torpedo Run' was derived from the shape of the race route, which resembled a torpedo or a long, curved line.

The term 'torpedo-run' quickly caught on and was used to describe any fast ride, particularly in a group. It has since become a widely used term in the cycling world and is used to refer to any fast-paced, group ride.

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