The Co-Motion Java, aka the Big Cat

Say My (Bike’s) Name: On Naming Your Bike

The Co-Motion Java, aka ?
The Co-Motion Java, aka ?

Do your bikes have names? If so, how did you name them? Did you give them a name you would give a person, like Betty or Howard or something?

Or is the name you gave your bike akin to something you might bestow on a pet, like Pumpkin or Spot or Patches? Did your bike speak to you somehow and tell you its name, or did it come to you in a dream?

I don’t name my bikes. Even when I was small and had a bike that had been named “Gypsy” by the manufacturer, I called it “my purple bike.” Nowadays I refer to my bikes by whatever make and model they are, like Rivendell Romulus and Surly Long Haul Trucker– LHT if I’m in a hurry.

I love my bikes and all that they do for me. I will even congratulate or thank them sometimes if a ride has gone particularly well. But naming them? Nope, I never have.

So what do you do if you don’t name bikes but you co-own a tandem with someone who does?

Felkerino, my partner in all things tandeming, isn’t much of a bike-namer either, but when it comes to our tandems he is sure that they are trying to tell him that they have a name.

Granted, the “lead sled” could not fit our Cannondale mountain tandem any better than it does. It’s perfect, and even I happily call it the lead sled.

Our previous Co-Motion Speedster was a burnt orange color, and Felkerino thought initially that it might have another title besides Speedster. “Autumn Leaf?” he said to me one day. “What? No way,” I answered. The Speedster never did offer up a name that stuck, and calling it the Speedster worked for me.

We have had our Co-Motion Java tandem since the beginning of the year, and Felkerino is pretty certain that it has a name. Initially, I could hear him murmuring something like “Shooting Star,” but that name has not picked up any traction.

If you read his most recent post, you will notice that he let slip that he’s been referring to the Java as the “Big Cat.” I think he’s waiting for some confirmation that Big Cat is, in fact, the “right” name. But I don’t know. I like to refer to it as the “Burly Beast,” but beyond that I simply refer to it as the our Co-Motion, the tandem, or the Java.

I never realized how not into naming things I was until our tandems came along. What’s to be done in a scenario where one says name the bike and the other says are you kidding?

It’s been funny to watch unfold. Big Cat. Burly Beast. Fluffy. Co-Motion Java. The tandem.

Tomato. To-mah-to. In the grand scheme of things, at least we know what the other is referencing.

So do you name your bike? I’m dying to know. And how… how did the bike get its name?

40 thoughts on “Say My (Bike’s) Name: On Naming Your Bike”

  1. I’m with you, not much on naming bikes. My Rivendell Road is just “The Riv” and my mountain bike is “The Trek”, but our Santana Noventa tandem has been known as “The Great White” due to its pearl white color, and also my penchant for singing the Jaws theme as we overtake an unsuspecting half-bike.

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  2. Most of my bikes are named by its manufacturer name and model number if I have more than one of the same brand but I do have a couple of unique names:
    Trek 1000 (Trek 1000)
    Trek 420 (Trek 420)
    Bike Friday Pocket Rocket (Tiny!)
    VO Rando (Rando)
    Trek 950 ( Commuter or Tank!)
    Black Mountain Cycles (Black Mtn Road)
    Handsome the Devil (Handsome!)

    My wife came up with the BIke Friday name because of its wheel size. She has also given names to our cars, Peppy and Zippy. Both are always happy to give Tiny a ride!

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  3. I didn’t name my bikes growing up because i alwys had just one, so it was just my bike. When i got back into biking, i one day started calling my second bike Silver to differentate it from the first. Then the first became Sapphire, and the ones to follow became Aqua, Opal, and Lapis. My newest bike a Surly Disc Trucker, which my husband got as well, only comes in a very matte, too matte, dark green, so i named it Venture, short for Aventurine, a stone of that color. My husband’s mountain bike eventually became known as Big Red, but he has yet to name his Surly. He’s not sure if he will.

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  4. I didn’t name my old Fuji or the hybrid or even my first new road bike in decades, the Specialized. But when I ordered my seven, I felt compelled to name her.

    The very first bike jersey I ever owned is a RocketGirl one by Pearl Izumi. I bought it when I started commuting. At the time, I felt like such a poser wearing “real” bike clothes, but that jersey suited me, since I work for NASA. And, so, having graduated to a bike made just for me, my biking alter ego became my bike’s identity, and she is RocketGirl. Sometimes just RG7 for short.

    I’ve also started calling the Specialized “Dolce” as if it were a name instead of a model. It just feels wrong to leave her out.

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  5. For some reason my usual naming conventions don’t seem to apply to bikes much. I do call my main commuter bike “The Tank” (it’s actually a Specialized Sirrus) and the other one “The Tricross” – or, when feeling particularly fond, “The Trusty Tricross”!

    I also have a bright yellow Dahon Speed Pro folder, known as The Speed Pro, but also as “The Yellow Submarine”, due to an unfortunate episode involving a (surprisingly deep) river, back when I lived on the Isle of Man.

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    1. Can’t help but comment… I came VERY close to calling my Surly “Sweetpea” also. Although, not for the same reasons.

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  6. I’ve started giving my bikes names in Dutch. I’m Dutch by birth, as are most of the people in my corner of Iowa. Plus, the Netherlands is solid bikes from one end to the other, so it works.

    So the gravel/road bike is named Das after the badgers that will dig right through the hard packed surface of a gravel road. The name was sealed when I noticed how often I mutter “Dig…dig….digdigdig” under my breath when struggling up a hill with a nasty loose patch.

    My utility bike (Schwinn World Tourist) is quickly becoming Zwijn (Dutch for hog, sounds like “sfwain”) The bike is heavy, a bit clunky, never washed, and has a big DIY porteur rack that messes with the handling. But it’s a fendered beast that doesn’t care about the weather. It’s my (ugly) baby.

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  7. I have yet to reach the mystical state many riders achieve where they hear their bikes calling their names to them. I have dubbed my Specialized hybrid, “Old Ironsides” to note its substantial weight and steel-like qualities, but in truth rarely use the term. Instead, I tend to call it “the hybrid,” as opposed to my other bike, which is known as “the Madone.” I’m glad I don’t have to sort out naming conventions on these things with my wife. Life is hard enough as it is!

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  8. No names for my bikes. Like you, I refer to them as “The Moots,” “The Co-Mo,” or “The Seven.” I don’t think I’ve ever given a name to an inanimate object. I wonder if that’s something we “pick up” from our childhood because I don’t recall my parents naming items like that.

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  9. Mine are pretty simple. I call my specialized Amira, “Amira” and jokingly refer to my old Giant Innova as the “Giant” (pronounced: gee-aunt but with more of a French accent to make it sound fancier).

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  10. My bikes are named. I don’t actively set out to name them but it just kind of happens. I tend to name the things I’m passionate about – my coffee table? No name. But my car (before I sold her in favor of transport-by-bike)? Named. And my bikes given my passion for cycling – named.

    Both have human names and they both just came to me during rides, usually during a strenuous stretch. I look for some words of encouragement to give the steed and just blurt out a name. Usually it sticks.

    Great blog by the way. I spent quite a few years in Northern Virginia and it’s where my love for cycling was born. You have some great stories.

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  11. I’ve only named a handful of the 50-some-odd bikes I’ve owned in my life, and only two of the eleven that I currently own are referred to by something other than make or model.

    My favorite, Woody Anne is a 2000 Surly Cross Check, named after a bar down on Winnebago Street. I’ve spent more time with this bike than any other, period.

    The other, Ruby, is a ruby-red 2010 9:Zero:7 fat bike. An obvious name, but it fits.

    Both of these bikes have been with me in times of trial. Names were made evident during events when I was exhausted, still challenged with miles to go and unable to eat. Hypoxia? Bonk? Dehydration? Maybe, but I relied upon them to get home, and they have both consistently held up their end of the bargain.

    The other nine? Just bikes.

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  12. I don’t name my bikes either, but my current ride is a yellow Quest Velomobile. Other people call it names. The yellow Banana, The Banana Bike, and even the Yellow Dildo by one female friend. I might have to name this one yet, as soon as someone comes up with one that has not being used yet.

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  13. I’m currently in possession of four bikes. In order of acquisition, they are Gregor, a stupidly big bike named for the mountain that rides (Gregor Clegane). Cherry, who was named by her previous owner, which is short for Freya’s Chariot. Haavis, who is currently unrideable… but is named for a statue in Finland. And finally Razputin, who my former roommate named because he is red. And none of my other bikes are red. What’s more interesting is they have an even gender division, even though Gregor is a girl’s bike.

    Although, everyone else around here also names their bike, but I don’t remember all of them.

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  14. Yay Game of Thrones! My roadie, an entry-level Specialized Allez, is called Jon Snow. He knows he’ll never inherit the title and lands, but he is noble and strong nonetheless and goes off to join the Black Watch, and does an honourable job defending the kingdom. Likewise my roadie will never win any grand tours, and I can’t afford anything more fancy, but he is sturdy and dependable and gets the job done (5 triathlons and one populaire this year). My other bike is Audrey (named after Audrey Hepburn) because she is a pretty little mixte that I ride to work or to the coffee shop/pub in my street attire/makeup. She even has a woven basket.

    I’ve named all my cars too. Some people are just like that …

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  15. In a sense, bikes come with names – they are the model. So for me, I guess the question is whether I re-name or nickname the bike. I don’t plan to make a change but. it can happen with time. For example my fixed gear bike is now simply “the fixie” and my LHT became Esmeralda. But my Brompton is just “the Brompton” while my Riv is Homer Hilsen.

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  16. The only bicycle I ever named was a CCM that somehow made its way south of the border to Washington, Illinois in the late 1970s. Every part was worn out, I eventually added a third wheel to it so I could compete in a high-school tricycle race, and shortly thereafter, I retired it. It was politely exotic and pretty much shot: Its name: Rocinante.

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  17. I call my rando/commute bike “my dumpster bike” simply because that’s where my wife found it and insisted I go dumpster-diving to get it. :-)

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  18. Five bikes, five names
    Blue Raleigh Grand Prix: Big Blue (pretty lame)
    Black Trek 1200: Blackie (lamer)
    Tour Easy Recumbent: (Big) Nellie. So named because I yelled “Whoa Nellie!!” as I passed 45 miles per hour fully loaded on Big Savage Mountain
    Bike Friday New World Tourist: Little Nelle after James Bond’s kit helicopter in You Only Live Twice.
    Heavy as Hell Old Specialized Sequoia: The Mule, a corruption of Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer that only he can lift.

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  19. the raleigh 10-speed i gave to myself as a college graduation present back in 1977, his name is “raleigh bronze”, because, well, he’s a raleigh, and he’s bronze in colour.
    my newer 21-speed jamis, her name is blue, because, well, she’s BLUE.

    i love them both.
    i ride “blue” more often.

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  20. Naming your bikes is such a personal thing. I wasn’t one of those people until I got my carbon roadie and suddenly, she needed a name. (Yeah, all my bikes are “she”). I have seven bikes in my garage, but only five were ever mine so of course they have names:

    Felt ZW5 (Nice Bike) is Electric Dream Machine (or EDM for short)
    Peugeot Versailles (Commuter) is Lady Rainicorn (white with rainbow accents)
    Schwinn Free Spirit (cruiser) is Free Spirit
    Specialized Crossroads Sport (comfort hybrid) is The Beast (very heavy)
    Specialized Expedition (mountain-y hybrid) is Old Faithful. I passed this bike on to my oldest several years ago.

    Great post!

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  21. John who doesn’t name his own bikes named my ANT mixte Sweetpea, which is see is a somewhat popular bike name! Didn’t know that. I like the name but usually call her the ANT. I am not much of a bike namer and other bikes I own/have owned are referred to by type or use. I am excitedly awaiting the build of a mixte road bike, using Soma’s Buena Vista frame. We’ll see if this one has a name.

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  22. My wife’s ’75 Raleigh Sprite, the bike that launched my bike-wrenching obsession, is now known as “Rollie.” My wife named my Trek mountain bike “Rootie” because of its root beer color scheme. My Raleigh Super Course, one of the last Nottingham Raleighs, is “The Fixie” an admittely unoriginal name that reflects its conversion. My wife named a lovely little Peugeot folder “Julius” after o\its color. “Orange Julius,” get it? That one went down the road via ebay after it was fixed up, so who knows what name it answers to now. Our other bikes are ridden regularly, but so far no names have emerged.

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  23. The only bike I have ever named is in fact our tandem. It’s an anodized silver Santana Sovereign that I call the “Silver Bullet”. I think it’s quite appropriate given that the frame looks like it’s made out of aluminum (Coors) beer cans and its fast!

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  24. I don’t name my bikes but they have attributes. My IF Club Racer is the green or fast bike and my Surly Cross Check is my black or slow bike. That was turned into the rabbit and the turtle by my wife. It works for me. Unlike the parable, my rabbit likes to go for long rides and will win against the turtle almost every time, except for rides like the D2R2.

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  25. I don’t set out to name my bicycles, they just come to me.

    My half-paid off Surly LHt is already names “Pauline” because the silver screen like smoggy pearl color reminded me of old silent movies like “The Perils of Pauline”, in which the heroine goes on many adventures, as I plan for the bike to do.

    My current 2010 Raleigh Venture 3.0 commuter is “Esmerelda”. The 2008 Raleigh Venture 3.0 before that was “Veronica”.

    My backup commuter 2004 Diamondback has no name.

    Had 2 Raleigh SC30s before those that I both named “Essie”

    My long ago stolen 1996 Specialized Rockhopper was “Rachel”.
    My long ago fell apart 1991 Pacific BSO had no name.My long ago stolen other 3 BSO bicycles from 1991-2001 had no names.

    Interestingly, just now realized that the higher end bikes had names, but that the BSO ones did not. Might come from having been able to ride them for much longer for many more miles. Names usually didn’t come to me until the 8th month or so, with the exception of the Surly Long Haul Trucker which I named halfway through my first test ride.

    Like I said, they just come to me, don’t know why they’re all female names like a ship

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  26. Hello to all,

    I noticed I’m naming only the bicycles that are being driven most of the time.

    Focus aluminum frame (Frank the Formula)
    70′s steel Columbus frame (flexy and comfortable ride): Steely Tony

    Sometimes I pat them if they held o.k. in a brevet or a commute. But my bicycles know that they are good, nothing to worry about. They have “anima”.

    Cheers,
    Gyro

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