Bike naming is a vastly underappreciated art. You have a situation where companies have an unparalleled opportunity to market themselves, to make a lasting impression about their company, bike culture and their customers, and to celebrate an industry. And then what do they come up with? Trek. Specialized. Giant. The XTC. The NR. The Y-33. Yes the initials stood for something, but even that wasn’t interesting.
So in the spirit of giving credit where due, and in the hope that in doing so we will spur bike namers everywhere to strive a bit more for the inspired and unconventional and dare we say edgy, here’s Bike Intelligencer’s Top 10 bike names of all time. Undoubtedly we have forgotten or unintentionally omitted some deserving candidates, so feel free to forward your personal favorites and we’ll toss ‘em into the hopper.
10. Klein Attitude. Gary Klein’s contributions to popularizing mountain biking are in danger of fading after Trek bought out the aluminum frame pioneer out in the 1990s and gradually killed his mtb line. The Attitude makes the list because it was a naming breakthrough. It didn’t riff off of car names, it wasn’t mundanely descriptive, it didn’t rely on dumb acronyms and it didn’t involve meaningless initials. Instead it opened bike naming to a whole new arena of suggestive and intuitive association rather than literal designation. You don’t find any Attitudes out on the trail today, but the current generation of bike naming is firmly rooted in the Attitude tradition.
9. Schwinn Spitfire. For many of us, the Spitfire was the ride we learned on, and it had an appropriately sassy name for a bike that, in its heyday, could do everything. I broke just about every part on mine before I outgrew it, but nothing rivaled the Spitfire back in the day.
8. Santa Cruz Nomad. Most of Santa Cruz’s names, while a cut above, suffer from Big Bike Company hand-over-the-mouth yawniness, and the Nomad doesn’t exactly push the envelope. But for this particular bike in today’s particular environment, “Nomad” evokes just the right flavor for long epic cross-country rides.
7. Ibis Mojo. Scot Nicol knows how to name things — remember Moron tubing and the handjob? — and Mojo does as Mojo says. Mine is nicknamed “JuJu.”
6. Turner Burner. Dave Turner has turned out some great bikes over the years, but the Burner not only defined a category — the light, short-travel XC mountain bike that could double as a racer — it did so with flair and panache. I called all the Turners I owned “Burners” in homage, because Dave unfortunately fell victim to initialitis in later models.
5. Cove Hummer. When I first started riding the Vancouver B.C. Northshore in the early 1990s, titanium hardtail Hummers were all over the place as the one bike that the Shore couldn’t break. That was the rep ti had back then. Of course they eventually did break, usually around the head tube. But they had the Cove lifetime warranty, they were way cool, and they started the company’s naming convention built around sexual innuendo. Even so, it took awhile before I quit wondering why a gnarly bulletproof Canadian huckbuster would be named after a fragile nectar-sipping bird.
4. Evil Revolt. The newest addition to the list, released earlier this year, the Revolt has the right name for redefining downhill suspension. Evil isn’t really evil, of course. It’s just … bad.
3. Knolly Delirium T. The DT, as it’s affectionately nicknamed (cf delirium tremens), is all you could ask for in an indestructible tank like the Knolly, and perfectly captures the mixed emotions of the monster drop you try for the first time on a DT. You’re delirious for trying, you’re trembling from anticipation, and yet despite it all you just can’t face going through withdrawal.
2. Surly Pugsley. Just wonderful. Surly is a great bike company name, and Pugsley is simply inspired.
1. Banshee Scream. No one will ever top Banshee’s signature frame because Banshee is the best bike company name ever and Scream is all you could ask for in a monster freeriding rig that starts the adrenaline squirting as soon as you throw your leg over the top tube. Riding to the accompaniment of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell,” you cry,”More MORE MORE!!!”