I'm not quite satisfied with the results Google Translate gave me, so I'd like to hear more from the community.

What's the action one does when pushing with his foot on a bike's pedal? Or more precisely, which verb would you use when building a sentence involving such action?
In Italian we have the rather straight-forward pedalare, which Google translates to ride, but that sounds a bit too generic in my opinion. (I think it's worth noting that, when inverting the words, pedalare is not among to ride translations)

So what do you think? Are there any other more specific verbs to use?

  • 2
    If the bicyclist is standing on the pedals and pressing them hard and quickly, the term pumping is sometimes used (in U.S. English) to describe the action.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 17:51
  • You could also ask this question in Bicycles.SE. They are the experts (friendly, too).
    – Mick
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 18:03
  • I always struggle with the lack of an English equivalent :(
    – Nemo
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 14:32

2 Answers 2


The verb would be to pedal, I believe. Perhaps to crank would work as well.

Looking at the Merriam-Webster definition of pedal, we see it has a noun form as you already know:

2 : a foot lever or treadle by which a part is activated in a mechanism

However, as we scroll down in the link, we find it also has an adjective and verb form, including:

: to push the pedals of (something, such as a bicycle)

: to ride a bicycle to a particular place

  • Yup. You could maybe strain against the pedals if you really wanted to emphasise the effort, but as you say, the "unmarked" verb is just to pedal for all contexts. And to crank [the pedals] works fine for me to indicate that it's not completely "effortless" (which could be the case with the more generic verb). Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 17:58
  • duh, it was that simple then... well thanks for the input. I guess I won't be using gT as my primary source of translation from now on and, most of all, I will dig a bit deeper before asking. (as an unrelated sidenote, if such a question was to be posted on a few other SEs I won't mention, granted I'd have gotten a lot of hate for not researching a bit more before posting)
    – nxet
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 18:14
  • @FumbleFingers Peddling furiously seems to evoke the right kind of picture in my mind's eye. Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 18:25
  • Also "push on the pedals": When you are cycling, you need to push on the pedals to move forward.
    – Graffito
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 18:45
  • "Crank" would be unlikely to be used by bikers for this meaning, as it refers to the arm that the pedal is attached to.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 18:49

I'd say it's fairly common to refer to a pedal stroke, when speaking of a single downward motion on the pedal. (Eg, "With only three pedal strokes I was off and riding abreast of the others.") But other terms are used as well.

Mandatory web reference:

If one is to believe the proponents of ankling, the rider should move the toes of the foot down at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

  • I can't quite visualize a stroke of the pedal as it doesn't connote a complete 360 degree rotation but merely the downward motion as you state in your answer. Let's hear if for the upward motion, please! Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 18:44
  • @PeterPoint - You kinda get the upward motion for free, when you do a stroke on the other pedal. The full circle is apt to be referred to as a "turn" or "rev"(olution). (And, FWIW, the rate of circling is referred to as cadence.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 18:48
  • The downvote is kind of amusing, seeing as I have a 39K rep on the Bicycling SE.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 20:00
  • Twas not I who cast the down vote! Evidently the scoundrel needs a stroke of the cane. Six of the best should do it. 39K - that's an impressive RPM Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 20:27

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