Should I Name My Bike?

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  – Bill Shakespeare

I’ve been thinking that I may have made a major mistake in my cycling program.  This error may in fact be the root cause of all my mechanical failures.

I have not named my bicycle.

I’ve noticed lately that many people have pet names for their bikes.  Many bloggers mention their bike’s name and Fat Cyclist even wrote an entire post on the subject back in 2007.  Clearly, this is a significant issue in the Cycling Community, worthy of serious attention.  The negative karma generated by my failure to name my bike may be causing all of its mechanical failures.  Seriously.  It could happen.

At first, naming my bike seemed like the sort of affectation that I could do without.  I enjoy my bike, but I really had no interest in naming it.  In fact, I still don’t.  But given the large number of named bicycles and a desire to avoid tempting the Fates, perhaps a name is in order.  I’m aware that it is bad luck to not name a boat.  I didn’t know this rule applied to bicycles, but you never know.

Choosing a name is not easy.  The list is almost infinite but what you pick says a lot about you, how you want to be perceived, and what you think of your bike.  If I decided to name my bike, I’d probably go with something along these lines:

Traveler.  The name of Robert E. Lee’s horse.  Naming my bike after a famous horse makes sense to me.  I kinda think of my bike as a horse that doesn’t require enormous amounts of hay or constant brushing and does not “do its business” in the street.  Also, I enjoy history.    The problem with Traveler is (through no fault of his own, I grant you) he happened to work for the Confederate States of America and I’m partial to the Union in that particular conflict.

Comanche.  The only living thing to survive Custer’s Last Stand (on the American side) and commonly thought to be Custer’s horse.  Except he wasn’t Custer’s horse.  Custer’s horse was a thoroughbred named Vic, whose final act on this Earth was to be made (against his druthers) into a breastwork on Custer Hill.  That’s just too confusing to explain to people every time I tell them my bike’s name.

Grey Ghost.  My bike is grey and not very ghostlike.  But the name sounds kinda cool.  So there it is.  Except Confederate Colonel John Mosby was known as “The Grey Ghost,” during his raids in the Civil War.  He did a lot of work near my home, which is a nice historical tie-in.  Although he was a Confederate, he worked closely with Northern politicians after the war, much to the chagrine of his peers, which is certainly a plus!

Conestoga.  Like the humble covered wagons that slowly moved brave pioneers across The Great Plains, my bike helps me to lumber along the highways and byways of Northern Virginia.  Like the wagon, it’s not a flashy road bike, but it (usually) gets the job done in its own pedestrian way.  There’s an additional benefit to this name: two U.S. Navy ships were named Conestoga and both had unfortunate demises – the USS Conestoga was a Civil War steamship which worked the Mississippi River.  On 8 March 1864 she collided with USS General Price and sank immediately.  The USS Conestoga (AT-54) carried out towing duties throughout World War I. She was declared lost-at-sea 30 June 1921.  In the Star Trek genre, the USS Conestoga was a starship used in the failed first attempt at deep space colonization.  Three delightfully-awful endings that somehow seem appropos to my Crosstrail!

I remain undecided on this critical issue and I therefore welcome any and all feedback: should I name my bike and what sort of name should I give it?  I await your input with bated breath.


9 thoughts on “Should I Name My Bike?

  1. Hey Steve,
    My 2cents: Yes, name your bike. Hopefully, it will be your partner for a long time. Personally, I like Heron. It’s light, flies, long, gangly legs look like the fork of a bike. Graceful, lives in the wetlands you ride around.

  2. Hmm, Have you considered Donner, in honor of the famous Donner Party? You flat out in the wilderness and end up eating your left arm off? Sorry I couldn’t resist!

    I like Grey Ghost best but they all sound good, whatever you pick out you should get vinyl lettering made for the top tube. I always think its awesome when I see someone’s customized their bike in such away.

  3. Ah, grasshopper, you don’t name the bike, she reveals her name to you as a gift. Listen to her speak in the sighing of her tires on the pavement, in the gentle rhythm of the sounds of your cadence, and in your heart as the two of you become one. She will tell you when you are listening. RevRider

    • You are indeed wise in the ways of the bike, Revrider-san! I shall listen intently and see what I hear. I hope I don’t accidentally end up in a ditch while leaning forward in an attempt to interpret the creakings of my front fork! 🙂

  4. I have given female names to all of my bikes: Mercedes, Jaguar, Lexus and Tatiyana. I know — they all sound like the names of the “dancers” at the local bar. However, I have not named my new Surly Necromancer Pugs yet — it is so big and slow that I am thinking of calling her Oprah.

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