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


Noun, Verb

Wheel-sucking is when a cyclist drafts behind another cyclist for a period of time.

Example usage: 'I was wheel-sucking for the last few kilometers of the race.'

Most used in: Road cycling races and long-distance rides.

Most used by: Experienced cyclists who are familiar with drafting techniques.

Popularity: 8/10

Comedy Value: 5/10

Also see: Drafting, Slipstreaming, Echelon Riding, Wheel Surfing,

What is Wheel-Sucking?

Wheel-sucking is a cycling term that is used to describe the act of drafting behind another cyclist. Drafting, or slipstreaming, is a technique used by cyclists to reduce the amount of wind resistance they experience while riding. This can increase their speed and improve their performance. By drafting behind another cyclist, the cyclist in front, known as the 'pilot', will create a pocket of air that the following cyclist, or 'wheel-sucker', can take advantage of and be pushed along.

In a race, wheel-sucking can be a very effective tactic when used correctly. It allows the cyclist to save energy while still maintaining a high speed. Studies have shown that drafting can reduce the amount of energy a cyclist needs to expend by up to 40%, which can be the difference between winning and losing in a race. It can also be used to create a breakaway, as the cyclist in front can set the pace and the wheel-sucker can follow without having to do as much work.

Wheel-sucking is also a popular technique among recreational cyclists. It allows them to ride longer and faster than they could on their own, and it can be a great way for a group of riders to stay together and enjoy a ride. However, it can be dangerous if the cyclists do not have the same pace or if the wheel-sucker does not know the etiquette of drafting correctly. It is important for cyclists to know the rules of the road and to be aware of their surroundings when drafting.


The Origin of the Cycling Term ‘Wheel-Sucking’

The term ‘wheel-sucking’ has been used in the cycling world since the late 1990s, originating in the United Kingdom. It is used to describe a cyclist who drafts behind another cyclist in order to gain an aerodynamic advantage.

The term was first officially used in the 1998 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine, in an article written by the journalist John Wilcockson. In the article, Wilcockson wrote that “sucking wheels” was a tactic used by professional cyclists to optimize their performance.

The term has since become widely used in the cycling community and is used to describe any cyclist who “drafts” behind another rider in order to reduce wind resistance and maximize their speed. Many professional cyclists use this tactic, especially during long races.

The term ‘wheel-sucking’ has become an integral part of the cycling lexicon, and is now used by cyclists of all levels to describe the act of drafting behind another rider.

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