Archive for July, 2012

My Speculations on the Use of the Word “Dialed” in the Fixed Gear Cycling Community

The first uses of the word “dial” start around 1430 as the name of a device used to tell the time of day and come from Latin for day and represented the circular path the sun makes around the earth in one day, or the device used to measure that path.

Around 1911, anything circular with one point of reference along its circumference used to precisely tune or measure something begins to be called a dial, like the knobs on a radio.
Don't touch that dial

Soon, the idiomatic expressions “dialed in” comes to be used to describe something that has been adjusted to a very precise setting. This is in reference to the need to turn knobs in order to make the adjustment. For example, in the world of photography, this person uses “dialed” as an adjective to describe a setting on a camera that is perfect for the situation at hand (The word “in” has recently been dropped from the phrasal adjective); “a dialed exposure,” then, is one that has been set to properly expose the film.

In the cycling community, a bike that is “dialed in” or “dialed” has been adjusted to properly fit the rider and perform optimally. Thus, the word “dialed” is used to describe a bike that is visually appealing for its ability to perform at a high level.

However, “dialed” has recently been used in many conversations in the fixed gear community to refer to a general visual appeal of anything related in some way to cycling, but not necessarily in reference to the proper fit or performance. In some ways it has become exclusive community parlance, and the use of the word represents identification with the fixed gear cycling community.