Suburban Assault

I’m Embracing My Inner Fred

with 14 comments

Riding The Fuji

Me Testing A Bike On My Driveway - I Typically Wear My Helmet. Pic By My Wife.

I’ve been bicycling for a while and I’m ashamed to admit, it isn’t until recently that I’d heard the term “Fred” when it comes to cyclists. A quick Google search lead me to discover that there’s actually a Wikipedia page about it. Here is their official definition:

Fred is a derisive term used by “serious” road cyclists to describe other cyclists who do not conform to serious road cyclists’ norms with regard to dress and equipment, and appear amateurish to them. The term is generally reserved for men, while the female Fred is sometimes called a Doris or a Wilma.

The exact qualities that define one as a “Fred” vary widely among regions and cyclists. Some of the definitions used for the term are actually completely contradictory.

Wikipedia then goes on to explain that there are actually several meanings to the term. Here is my simple break down:

1) The “Amateur”: Used by ‘serious’ road cyclists (I’m assuming the sports guys) towards anybody who doesn’t dress in the same type of high-tech clothes or ride the same type of high-tech bikes. Although unfashionable, these Freds are not total novice cyclists. They actually ride fairly frequently – sometimes dropping those ‘serious’ cyclists.

2) The Poser: This is the guy who buys all the expensive clothes and bikes, but doesn’t have the talent or commitment to justify having them. This is the guy riding the super light racing bike down the local bike path at minimal speeds. This Fred can be spotted by their limited skill or lack of knowledge.

3) The Gear Geek: This is the guy who uses all the biking gear and equipment – at times, to excess. This Fred is the ‘uncool’ cyclist who rides with the mirrors, fenders, bells, racks, reflective gear, baskets, bags, etc. This is the guy who doesn’t mind putting together a homemade solution like duct-taping flashlights to their handlebar or zip-tying a freezer basket to their racks. This Fred will sacrifice speed and performance to gain safety, maintenance and comfort.

Get the full and complete descriptions on the Wikipedia page.

So, where do I fit in?
Well, I probably fall under both 1 and 3. I am definitely NOT a ‘serious’ road cyclist, and you’ll probably never see me in expensive, high-tech clothes on an expensive, high-tech bike. Although I take cycling seriously, I’m not a racer nor do I ride for sport. I ride for fun and utility.

Speaking of utility, I’m not the guy with mirrors, reflective gear or bells, but I wouldn’t put it past myself to use them. I am definitely the homemade modification guy, and I always carry enough gear to take care of most roadside emergencies.

I guess, 2 out of 3 makes me a Fred. Are you a Fred (or Wilma)?



Heading To Main Street Park

Dallas Cycle Sunday

Riding Up To Lake Lavon Dam

Written by dickdavid

September 10, 2011 at 6:20 am

14 Responses

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  1. My understanding is that one can’t be a Fred unless one is a roadie. DIY spirit or lack of spandex does not necessarily make one a Fred.

    Jenny R

    September 10, 2011 at 6:45 am

    • I thought so too – which would explain why I might not have heard before.

      However, I’ve read the term used outside of that context – in a few places. PLUS, the third definition on Wiki (yes, I know isn’t the most accurate source of information) kinda leads me to believe there is a broader use of the name. Also, and maybe it’s my misinterpretation of the first definition, ‘roadies’ refer to those not dressing like them (I would assume in spandex) are Freds – meaning the rest of us.

      I concede that I’ve never heard the term before, so if I’ve misinterpreted it or took the Wiki definition wrong, then I apologize.


      September 10, 2011 at 10:54 am

      • Well just because some Freds may call the rest of us Freds doesn’t mean we are… 😛

        Jenny R

        September 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm

  2. Golly, you bike people certainly are a contentious lot!

    Steve A

    September 10, 2011 at 8:25 am

  3. Who knew! I am a total type 1 Fred.


    September 10, 2011 at 11:26 am

  4. This is a whole knew concept to me, except for maybe Gear Geek and I usually consider a person in that category when it comes to excess – usually with respect an excessive preoccupation with safety equipment. More than one tail light, more than one bike bell, etc.

    I don’t come into too much contact w/ the mighty Lycra crowd but I do hear the stories. We upright, regular dress cyclists just refer to the judgmental ones as A$$#*&@!.


    September 10, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    • LOL Karen! Agreed!

      Jenny R

      September 10, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    • The stories you hear are just that. The Lycra crowd where I live are mostly decent, just give them room to pass and don’t expect them to wave when they’re concentrating on the road, or to stop and chat mid-ride. I’ve met more than a few judgemental A$$#*&@ upright regular dress cyclists, too.

      adam in toronto

      September 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm

      • The bike and clothes don’t make the jerk. They come in all shapes and sizes.


        September 11, 2011 at 1:44 pm

  5. If you’re not finishing up the Vuelta Espana today, you’re a Fred. And it’s OK.

    I’m type 1 with a bit of 3 (but I hope the mud and dirt on my frame counteracts the reflective tape and fenders).

    adam in toronto

    September 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm

  6. I say, if you ride a bicycle in clothing that is what you would wear to dinner on a first date that we should call you an “Adrienne”, or the male version an “Adrian” : )


    September 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm

  7. Hi! My name is Doris. Great write up.

    Jo Duran

    September 13, 2011 at 10:07 am

  8. I met a real live type 3 Fred the other day. He had all kinds of bar ends, 3 brake calipers, a customized saddle… all done himself.

    Jenny R.

    September 13, 2011 at 10:29 am

  9. Proud to be a Wilma. The geared-out crowd scares me. While I do find bike jerseys’ pockets to be oh-so handy, I typically stay away from them unless I go on a long ride. Who needs a costume to ride?

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