Mountain biking terms and slang can be confusing, even for a seasoned rider. Sometimes the words that come out of mountain biker’s mouth sound like they came straight from a Californian surfer’s brain. The two pastimes do share similar roots to be sure, but mountain biking has developed a dialect all its own. Check out this glossary of MTB terms to help demystify what your riding buddies are saying out on the trail.
1 + 1 = 1: An equation often used by single speed enthusiasts to describe their gearing of choice. Roughly it means “one gear plus one gear equals one gear”. This originated with a guy referring to how close he was to his wife, meaning “me plus her equals one person.” Can also refer to the fact that two wheels are in concert to produce one result.
1x: Pronounced “one by.” A drivetrain with 1 gear up front (at the crankset) and multiple gears on the back wheel.
2x: Pronounced “two by.” A drivetrain with 2 gears up front (at the crankset) and multiple gears on the back wheel.
3x: Pronounced “three by.” A drivetrain with 3 gears up front (at the crankset) and multiple gears on the back wheel
26: Typically refers to 26 inch diameter wheels, which is the classic mountain bike wheel size. Bikes with 26-inch wheels may be referred to as 26ers.
27.5: Pronounced “twenty-seven and a half”Typically refers to 27.5-inch diameter wheels—also knowns as 650b.
27.5+: Pronounced “twenty-seven and a half plus” Refers to 27.5-inch wheels with plus-sized (2.8″ or larger) tires.
29: Typically refers to 29 inch diameter wheels. Bikes with 29-inch wheels may be referred to as 29ers. Some riders who are critical of the larger (newer) wheel size, may snidely criticize a 29er’s wheels by calling them “wagon wheels“.
29+: Refers to 29-inch wheels with plus-sized (2.8″ or larger) tires.
650b: The technical term for 27.5 inch mountain bike wheels. See 27.5
A-frame: A boardwalk span constructed to help riders navigate over obstacles such as a large fallen tree. From the side, the boardwalk’s shape resembles the letter “A”.
All-Mountain: 1. Refers to all-purpose trail bikes, which are mountain bikes designed to handle pretty much any trail conditions you can throw at them during a full day of riding. A well-made all-mountain trail bike can handle cross-country (XC) and downhill equally well.
2. Refers to a type of mountain bike riding/racing that involves steep climbing, large drops, and technical sections than the cross-country discipline. May also be called Enduro. These competitions are raced in stages that are sometimes completed over two or three days.
AM: See All-Mountain.
Alloy: Typically refers to an aluminum-alloy bike frame. Alloy frames are the most common type of mountain bikes available due to their comparative ease of manufacturing, lower cost, and durability. Want to see how an alloy frame is made? Check out this video: How It’s Made / Season 23 Episode 13 / Mountain Bikes
Armor: 1. A section of trail covered by natural stone, bricks, or other hard material for the purpose of repairing erosion and/or preventing future erosion. Creek crossings are often one of the most common places to be armored. 2. Refers to protection that riders wear, such as knee pads, elbow pads, sternum pads, etc.
Attack Position: As opposed to Neutral Position, Attack Position is used when the trail becomes steep, rocky, or otherwise filled with sketchy technical features. In general, Attack Position my be described as having your butt up off the saddle with your weight evenly distributed on your pedals in a semi-standing posture, hips back, a deep bend in your elbows and knees, chest down and head up, looking down the trail. And don’t forget to keep your index fingers covering your brake levers. Also, the steeper the downhill, the further back your hips should be over the rear wheel. (May also be known as “Ready Position”)
Baby Heads: Round rocks on the trail the size of…well…baby heads.
“Dude, I think I ran over every baby head on the trail during that descent.”
Bail: To jump off your bike to avoid a more serious crash. Always remember that bikes can always be repaired or replaced, so dump the bike and save yourself when necessary.
“I had to bail or I would have split my helmet on that tree.”
Bandit Trail: A trail which has been created upon a property without the knowledge and consent of the property owner or land manager. In some areas, bandit trails may develop somewhat naturally as local residents begin forging a walking path across undeveloped land either to serve as a shortcut to somewhere else, simply enjoy nature, or out of necessity due to lack of sidewalks. In time, bikers may discover these trail and begin riding them. Other times, bandit trails may develop as off-shoots of sanctioned trails as riders see an opportunity to extend a trail’s length by forging a new path through adjacent, undeveloped land. We at NTX Trails don’t encourage the formation or use of bandit trails. Would you want dozens of mountain bikers riding across your property without permission? We didn’t think so.
Bark Tattoo: The abrasion left behind when you graze your hand, arm, or leg against a tree at high speed.
Berm: A banked corner formed out of the natural soil that can be ridden much faster and more smoothly than a flat corner, but takes a little extra skill to navigate correctly and efficiently. Berms are a very common trail feature.
Biff: To wipeout.
Bikeoholic: A person addicted to cycling. They can’t control how often they think or talk about riding their bike(s).
Boardwalk: A man-made surface such as a bridge that is constructed of wood and meant to literally bridge a gap that may otherwise be unridable or unsafe for the average rider. Some boardwalks are used to level out severely off-camber sections of trail, or to simply provide and interesting break in what may be an otherwise tame or boring section. See also North Shore or Rowlett Creek Preserve
Bomb: To race down a trail (typically a sketch downhill) as fast as possible with little regard for the consequences.
“Dude, I totally bombed that run! I need to check my Strava.”
Booter: Can refer to either a huge jump or a purpose-built structure designed to jump you up to a higher segment of the trail.
Bonk: Running out of energy so suddenly that you simply can’t go on. Symptoms of bonking include poor balance, worse line choice than usual, and an inability to remember your own first name.
“Dude, I bonked so bad that I don’t remember how I got back to the car. Wait, this isn’t my car…”
Bottom Bracket: The place on the bike where the crankset connects to the frame, allowing it to rotate freely. The bottom bracket contains the spindle to which the crankset attaches, and the greased bearings that allow the cranks to rotate while pedaling.
Brap/Braap/Braaaaaaaap: While traditionally an onomatopoeia of the sound of a motorcycle’s two-stroke engine, in mountain biking terms it refers to the sound knobby tires make while aggressively shredding the trail.
Bridge: This one’s easy. A bridge is a man-made span—typically constructed from wood—that extends the trail across a gap such as a river or ditch that would either be impossible or unsafe for the average rider to attempt. May also be called a boardwalk.
BSO: Bike Shaped Object. A cheap bike designed to look like a mountain bike that you’d typically find at a big box store or supermarket. These bikes are not recommended for actual off-road use.
Bunny Hop: A technique to add to your skills repertoire so that you can clear technical features such as rocks logs without stopping.
Burp: Burping only happens with a tubeless tire setup, not with tires running tubes. A tire can burp air when the lateral force applied to the wheel distorts the tire and momentarily unseats the tire’s bead, allowing much of the air to leak out all at once. This sudden leakage typically creates a literally burping sound, and can sometimes result in a crash because of the sudden, dramatic loss of tire pressure.
Cadence: Your spin rate or pedaling rate—the number of revolutions of the cranks per minute. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry about this, just keep spinning!
“That rock garden totally screwed up my cadence. I was in the zone but now my flow is gone.”
Carbon: The latest, greatest thing in bike frame and component technology is manufacturing those parts out of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is extremely light and has a very high tensile strength while still allowing a proper amount of flex (not too little, not too much). The downside is that carbon frames and components costs a great deal more than their alloy or steel counterparts. To learn more about how carbon frame are made, check out this video from GCN: Trek Factory Tour – From Rolls Of Carbon Fiber To Complete Bikes In Waterloo, Wisconsin
Chain Ring: The front cog on a bicycle attached to the cranks. May also be called a Sprocket.
Chain Stretch: Over time, your bike’s chain wears out because the metal bushing wear the chain pins down. This increases the spacing between the links, which decreases your drivetrain’s performance.
Chain Suck: When your bike chain gets jammed between either the chainrings or between the crank and the frame.
“Chainsuck totally killed my flow.”
Chain Tattoo: A greasy stain left on the inside of your leg or on your sock when you’re new to riding and brush your leg against your chain.
Chatter: Used to mutually describe a section of trail that has a lot of loose rocks and the sound your bike makes while riding over such conditions.
Chainstay: The part of a bike frame that connects your bottom bracket to your rear axle. So called because it is the part of the frame nearest the chain. The chain often slaps against the chainstay while riding over rough conditions, so many bikes either come with chainstay protective covers or post-market covers are added by bike owners.
Chamois: Pronounced “shammy.” A padded liner found in cycling shorts and cycling bids that is meant to alleviate pressure on your butt and sensitive private areas, and prevent chaffing due to friction and sweat or moisture.
Chunder: The truth is, in Australian slang, chunder means “vomit.” Thankfully, in mountain biking terms, the word doesn’t refer to what you feel like doing at the end of a hard climb. Instead, chunder is yet another way of describing extremely rocky, technical terrain—particularly a rock-strewn downhill.
“How’d you like the chunder on that descent, bro? That was sick.”
Clean (verb): To ride through a section of trail without crashing, stopping, or taking your feet off of the pedals.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever cleaned that rooty uphill climb.”
Clipless: Often a confusing term, riding clipless actually means that a rider’s shoes are actually clipped into their pedals. Some riders call this clipped, or clipped-in. The confusing nature of the term goes back to the days when some riders actually had toe clip cages that surrounded the rider’s foot which were very hard to get out of quickly. Modern clipless cleats and pedals allow riders to release their feet quickly—usually with a simple twisting motion.
“Learning how to ride clipless was challenging at first, but it’s really helped smooth out my pedal stroke.”
CO2: Some trail riders carry CO2 inflators in their bike bag in case they need to quickly air up their tires while out on the trail—especially after a burp or other major air pressure loss. CO2 inflators can air up a tire much more quickly than a frame pump, but are typically only good for one or two uses before the CO2 cartridge must be replaced.
“Thanks for loaning me a CO2, dude. I would have been walking my bike out if you hadn’t.”
Cockpit: The handlebars, stems, and everything attached to them. The place where the rider controls the bike with their hands.
Contact Patch: The size of the tire’s surface area in contact with the ground at any given time. The larger a tire’s contact patch, the better the traction. Larger contact patches also produce more resistance which can lead to slower rotational velocity.
Cover: To keep at least one finger—typically the index finger—on the brake levers at all times.
Coward Levers: Brake levers.
Crank or Crank Arm: The portion of the crankset that connects the pedals to the spindle.
Crankset: The portion of a bicycle drivetrain that consists of the spindle, one or more chain rings (sprockets), and the crank arm.
Creek Crossing: Exactly what it sounds like: a place along the trail where said trail crosses a creek. Creek crossings may be wet or dry, depending on current weather conditions.
Cross-Country: Of the three main types of mountain biking disciplines, cross-country is the least extreme and most popular in terms of participation. Cross-country racing involves racing from point-to-point along pre-marked trail sections in the fastest time possible. Cross-country races may cover a variety of trail types from flowy singletrack and endurance climbs to technical descents.
Crunchy: Similar to chunder or chatter, crunchy is often used to describe a trail that is covered in loose rocks which make the ride more technical and treacherous.
Cutty: To slide into a turn, bank, or berm in such a way that you kick up a good amount of dust and dirt as you catch your rear wheel on the bank. It’s hard to explain, so why not watch How to Cutty a Mountain Bike with Brendan Fairclough.
Cyclocross: A form of bicycle racing that typically takes place in the fall or winter upon courses that feature a mixture of singletrack, grass, pavement, steep hills, and man made obstacles that often require the rider to quickly dismount and carry their bike over the obstruction before remounting and continuing on two wheel. Cyclocross bikes are similar to road racing bikes in that their lightweight, have narrow tires, and drop handlebars. These bikes also share similarities with mountain bikes by using knobby tires, disc brakes, lower gearing, and stronger frames. Cyclocross is a form of racing that draws both road-centric and mountain biking-centric riders.
Cycologist: A bike mechanic or cycling friend who knows pretty much everything about repairing or setting up bicycles. A specialist who can help you with your bike.
Cycolopath: A person who enjoys or gains pleasure from cycling-induced pain and suffering.
Dab: To take a foot off of your pedal and lightly touch the ground to maintain balance or keep yourself from crashing.
Dailed: Can refer to when your bike is set up so well that it feels perfect beneath you as you ride. Can also refer to riding a section of trail aggressively and with such perfect flow that your riding buddies comment that your riding is “dialed today.”
Danger Noodle: A snake, typically venomous.
Depression: What you feel when all the trails in your area are closed.
Derailleur: The mechanism that moves the bike chain, shifting it to different cogs. Most often refers to the rear derailleur which is hanging from the very rear of the bike frame.
Derailleur Hanger: A small piece of metal attached to the bike frame at the rear dropout (or rear axle) to which the rear derailleur is attached. These hangers are designed to bend or break off so that the strain of an impact does not bend or otherwise permanently damage the bike frame. Each bike frame model typically has a unique-shaped derailleur hanger, and it’s a good idea to keep a spare in your bike bag in case of catastrophic failure.
Dirt Jump: Can refer to either the practice of riding a bike over jumps made of dirt or soil. Can also refer to the jump itself.
Ditch: Literally, a ditch. OK, it can also refer to bailing from your bike in an attempt to avoid serious injury.
“I had to ditch my bike to avoid that falling tree.”
Dope: Very good or awesome.
“Whoa, those wheels are dope!”
Double: Another name for a gap jump—a jump with an empty space between the take off ramp and the landing ramp that increases risk for the rider.
Doubletrack: Two trails that run parallel to one another. Typically these are simply jeep trails or fire roads. Doubletrack trails allow riders to ride side-by-side.
Downhill: Often considered as the most extreme discipline of mountain biking, downhill mountain biking takes place on steep, rough terrain that features jumps, drops, rock gardens, lots of roots, and other technical obstacles. Downhill racing bikes are heavier and stronger than most other mountain bikes, featuring front and rear suspensions with longer travel to help glide over obstacles. Of particular difference is the double-crown fork usually found on downhill bikes, which mounts the fork to the bottom and top of the frame’s head tube.
Downshift: Shifting to a lower gear.
Downside: A downwards-facing slope designed for building speed. These are normally found after a jump.
Drop: A technical trail feature where the trail’s elevation abruptly changes at a steep enough angle so that your front tire cannot easily roll down to the lower elevation.
Drivetrain: Collectively, the front cranks, chain, derailleurs, and rear cassette on a bike. Like the transmission in a car, your bike won’t go very far without a drivetrain.
Dropped: Getting left behind on a group ride because you’re either slower than the pack, crash, or have a mechanical issue. A cool group of riders won’t leave you behind if you’ve crashed or have trouble. If they do, you need to find better friends. However, getting dropped because you’re slow may be their way of pushing you to get faster.
Dropper Post: A seat post capable of being raised or lowered while riding by pressing a lever.
Dropping In: What a mountain biker may yell when beginning their descent into a steeply angled section of singletrack while other riders are around.
Dropouts: The place on a bike frame where the rear wheel’s axle slides into place. Combined with quick release skewers, a dropout allows the rear wheel to be removed without derailing the chain.
Dualie: Another name for a full suspension, or dual suspension, bicycle—one which has both a front and rear suspension. This is typically a non-US term.
Dual Suspension: A full suspension bicycle—one with both front and rear suspension.
Dude: Generally refers to anyone of the male gender, but in MTB terms it can often be a term of endearment granted only to the closest of riding buddies.
“I love riding singletrack with my dudes.”
Elevated Tread Surface: A fancy-sounding name for a boardwalk, bridge, or other feature constructed out of wood. This term is often used for purpose-built features found upon Army Corp of Engineer land because, while they don’t allow trail designers to build bridges they may allow an “elevated tread surface.” Sound like the same thing? Yeah, you’re right. It does.
Endo: A crash where the rider goes over the handlebars. See also OTB
Enduro: One of the three main disciplines of mountain bike racing, enduro racing typically has a greater focus of downhill sections (which are timed) in proportion to uphill and cross country sections.
Face Slappers: When trees, bushes, and vines grow enough that their branches hang out over the trail and unavoidably slap you in the face as you ride.
Fat Bike: A bike with tires typically 3 inches wide or wider.
Fattie: Slang term for a fat bike.
Feather/Feathering: (Also called Modulating). A technique whereby the rider is gently pulling a brake lever in order to control their speed rather than come to a complete stop. Feathering involves a light touch, and it’s not necessarily constant pressure. Pressure is applied to the brake lever off and on as needed.
Fire Road: Typically any dirt or gravel road that is wide enough for emergency vehicles to use and reach remote portions of a trail.
Flat Cornering: A technique in which the rider much navigate a corner that does not have a bank or berm. It sounds easy enough, but is actually harder to navigate safely at high speeds—especially when the trail is dry.
Flow: When the corners, downhill, and obstacles along a trail fit together perfectly in a way that allows the rider to feel like they’re almost floating along the trail at high speeds.
“The hero dirt made for perfect flow today.”
Fork: Also referred to as the front fork, it is the part of the bicycle that holds the front wheel.
Front Triangle: Typically refers to the main body of the bicycle frame—consisting of the top tube, down tube, and seat tube—which collectively form a triangle.
Full Squish: Slang term for a full suspension bicycle.
Full Suspension: A mountain bike with suspension on both the front and rear wheels.
Gap/Gap Jump: A type of jump on a trail in which there is a break between the takeoff and the landing. This is different than a tabletop where the takeoff and landing surfaces are connected by a contiguous, flat section of dirt.
Gassed: Exhausted. Completely physically spent. Out of gas. Out of energy.
Geometry: The angles at which a bicycle’s three main frame tubes—top tube, down tube, and seat tube—are positioned. These angles affect how the bike handles.
Gnar: Can refer to a very difficult technical feature on the trail. Can also refer to a very rocky or rooty section of trail.
“I love shredding the gnar in Gnarkansas.”
Gnarly: Refers to something that is difficult, dangerous, challenging, or extreme, but still tons of fun.
Granny Gear: The easiest gear on a bicycle.
Gravel Grind: To go on a long-ish ride on gravel roads, typically on a dedicated gravel bike. Gravel grinds are also a type of race that combines riding on multiple surfaces such as asphalt, pavement, dirt, and gravel, but in which the majority of the distance covered is on gravel.
Greenway: A wide, flat trail in which there is little to no elevation change, and no technical obstacles.
Grinder: See Gravel Grinder
Grom: A young mountain biker, typically under the age of sixteen.
Grunt: An extremely hard climb that requires the use of a bike’s easiest gear.
Hardtail: A bike without rear suspension.
Head Tube: The part of the frame where the front fork steerer tube is mounted to the bike.
Hero Dirt: Hero dirt is when the soil is the perfect consistency, the holy grail of balance between moisture content and softness where the flow is perfect and the traction is optimum. Hero dirt has a very short lifespan, lasting for only a day or so after a trail reopens following a rainstorm. It is called “hero dirt” because when you’re riding it, you feel like the dirt consistently is actually help you be a better rider, as if you were a super-hero.
Hip Jump: Can refer to any jump that is not a straight-on jump so that your direction and/or orientation changes midair as you progress through the jump.
Huck: Riding a large jump or drop, or otherwise sketchy trail feature, without knowing what’s on the other side and without any thought for the consequences.
IMBA: The International Mountain Biking Association.
Involuntary Dismount: Crash
JRA: Just Riding Around.
“I can’t believe I cracked my frame. I was JRA, I swear!”
Jump: A technical trail feature in which both wheels of the bike lose contact with the ground at the same time. Jumps can be tiny or huge, or every size in between.
Klunker: Refers to an old mountain bike that has been kept in somewhat ridable condition. Historic: May refer to the original trail bikes cobbled together in Marin County, California to ride down Mount Tamalpais by MTB legends such as Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze, Tom Ritchey, Charlie Kelly, and others. (Learn about the beginnings of our sport and the pioneers who made it possible. Watch Klunkerz on Amazon Prime.)
Kicker: A steep jump that either sends you toward a much higher elevation on the trail, or gives you a great deal of air time.
KOM: King of the Mountain. A man/male who has the fastest time recorded on Strava on a particular segment. Also see QOM
Knobby Tires: Off-road tires that use either deep tread or a pattern of protrusions to provide more traction on unpaved surfaces.
Ladder Bridge: A boardwalk section that changes in elevation.
LBS: Local Bike Shop.
Line: A chosen path through a particular trail section. Can refer to either a good or bad choice.
“I chose the wrong line through that rock garden and almost went OTB.”
Lip: The edge of a takeoff or landing
Loam: Dirt that is soft, moist, and almost powdery in consistency. May also be referred to as hero dirt. Some areas of the world (some trails in Great Britain and the Pacific Northwest come to mind) that are naturally loamy year round. Loamy soil is especially sought after for it’s balance between superior grip and flow.
Log Ride: A trail feature where a rider literally rides along the top of a log. Sometimes the riding surface has been planed (flattened) to aid traction.
Log Roll/Log Pile: A pile of logs that has been formed into a ramp that can be rolled over where both wheels can be kept in contact with the trail surface.
Loop: A one-direction trail that begins and ends at the same point.
Loose: Often describes trail conditions in which there is loose gravel or rock sitting atop hard-packed soil. This can make the riding more treacherous in turns since the bike’s tires may loose traction.
MAMIL: Middle-aged Man in Lycra. MAMILs typically ride in packs and may be addicted to Strava. We recommend you do not attempt to approach a MAMIL in the wild, but if you must please use caution. MAMILs are known for talking about their mid-life crisis choice of bike riding incessantly.
Manual: Lifting the front wheel off the ground while in motion, and stying in motion without pedaling to maintain momentum and balance. This is primarily a non-US term. See also Wheelie
McLeod: Also known as a rakehoe, a McLeod is a tool with a double-sided blade—one side is a rake with wide, heavy tines, and the other side is a heavy, flat, sharpened hoe—one a long, wooden handle. The combination tool was created in 1905 by Malcolm McLeod, a US Forest Service ranger at the Sierra National Forest, and is the tool of choice among MTB trail builders and volunteers for trail work.
MTB: Can be short for Mountain Bike or Mountain Biking. Often used to refer to the entire sport.
n + 1: A simple principle in which n = the number of bikes you currently own, and you constant need for one more. Whenever someone looks at the fifteen bikes hanging in your personal bike shop and asks, “How many bikes do you need?” the answer is always, “n + 1.
Neutral Position: A mountain biker’s riding position for when the trail is flat or non-technical. The rider is sitting atop their saddle with a relaxed body, knees and elbows bent slightly, index fingers covering the brake levers, and weight evenly distributed on the pedals. A good, relaxed neutral position allows the rider to move into attack position quickly.
No-drop: A group ride where no one is left behind, or dropped.
Nope Rope: A snake, typically venomous.
NORBA: The National Off-Road Bicycle Association. This was USA Cycling’s mountain bike racing division back in the 1980’s and 1990’s that is now defunct.
Northshore: Raised wooden boardwalks named for the North Shore area of Vancouver, Washington where they were made popular. Also the name of one of the premier off-road trails in the Dallas area.
Off-Camber: An off-camber segment of trail describes a section where the outside edge of the trail is lower than the inside edge. The trail is no longer laterally flat and level, which makes the bike want to move toward the outside edge, so the rider must use balance and cornering-type skills to keep the bike on the trail
OTB: Over the bars. Typically describes a crash in which the rider is sent over their bike’s handlebars.
Over-Cook: To carry too much speed into an obstacle or a turn.
“I over-cooked that turn and that caused me to go OTB.”
Pinch Flat: Pinch flats happen when a bike is using inner tubes, and the tube gets pinched between the wheel rim and the tire and punctures the tube. This can create two small holes in the tube a short distance apart that resembles a snakebite. A pinch flat is sometimes referred to as a “snakebite” for this very reason.
Pinned: To ride very fast.
“I pinned it on that last section. Maybe I got a KOM.”
Pipe Crossing: At times a trail may have a length of pipe sticking up halfway out of the ground laterally or diagonally across the trail surface. These pipes are often placed for drainage to help prevent erosion.
Plus Size: Can refer to tires with a width of 2.8-inches and 3.25-inches. May also refer to a bike running plus sized tires.
Poach: To ride a trail in an unauthorized manner. Typically using private trail without paying an entrance fee, without the land manager’s knowledge and permission, or when otherwise restricted for use. This can also refer to riding in a race or rally without paying.
Presta Valve: The type of value typically found on high-pressure road and most mountain bike inner tubes. Presta valves are longer and about half as wide as their car-tire-style counterparts, which are called Schrader valves. The Presta valve was designed exclusively for bikes. Unlike a Schrader valve, which uses a check valve that allows airflow in only one direction, a Presta valve seals based on the pressure in the tube or tire. Tubeless tire setups pretty much use Presta valves exclusively, chiefly due to the lack of a check valve, which could easily clog up with tubeless sealant.
PSI: The amount of air pressure in a bike’s tube or tire measured in Pounds per Square Inch. Road bike tires usually run at much higher PSI than mountain bike tires, and tubeless setups can run even lower pressure reliably.
Pump: 1. A device for inflating tire. 2. A riding technique which allows a rider to gain speed without pedaling.
Pump track: A dirt-track or off-road surface track that consists of a loop of banked turns and roller coaster type features designed to be ridden by pumping rather than pedaling in order to gain and control speed.
QOM: Queen of the Mountain. A woman/female who has the fastest time recorded on Strava on a particular segment. Also see KOM
Quick Release (QR): Also known as a Quick Release Skewer, which is a mechanism used to attack a wheel to a bicycle frame. It consists of a rod of metal which serves as an axle. This rod is inserted through a wheel’s hub. The rod is threaded on one end and has a lever-operated cam on the other end for tightening the wheel to the frame.
Racing Stripe: When mud is flung up your back by your rear tire by riding on a muddy section of trail. See also Rooster Tail
Rad: An abbreviation of the word “radical.” If something is rad it is considered to be much better than something that is simply cool or awesome.
Rail (verb): Riding a corner so quickly it’s as if you are “on rails.”
Ratchet: A pedaling technique in which your pedal with short, partial strokes in order to clear obstacles where a full pedal stokes isn’t possible.
Reach: The horizontal distance between the center of the head tube and an imaginary vertical line that runs down through the center of the bottom bracket.
Rear Triangle: The portion of a bike frame that connects the rear wheel to the main part of the frame. It consists mainly of the seat stay—which runs from the seat tube to the rear wheel, and the chain stay—which runs from the bottom bracket to the rear wheel. On a hardtail bike, the rear triangle is welded to the front triangle. On a full suspension bike, the rear triangle is typically a completely separate piece that attaches to the front triangle via pivot bolts.
Rigid: A bike without front or back suspension.
Rock Garden: A section of trail covered with rocks.
Rock Roll: A large boulder or rock face that can be smoothly descended without either wheel loosing contact with the ground.
Roller Coaster: A section of trail that features several relatively short ups and downs, similar to a pump track, where the rider feels like they’re riding a roller coaster. Roller coasters may also be man-made sections of undulating boardwalk.
Roost: To shred a turn in such a way you kick up a lot of dust and dirt with your back wheel. This is typically accomplished by riding sideways into a berm or banked turn at speed. Some MTBers also refer to the dirt kicked up itself as roost. “You roosted that corner.”
Rooster Tail: When water flies off your back tire while riding a wet surface.
Saddle: Another (more accepted) name for a bike’s seat.
Schrader Valve: The type of tire air valve found on automobiles.
Scrub: Staying low and fast over a jump. Can also refer to making micro adjustments to your speed. “I should have scrubbed more speed before that turn. I probably wouldn’t have over-cooked it.”
Seat Stay: The part of a bike frame that connects the seat tube to the rear wheel.
Send It: To ride a trail aggressively, particularly a difficult section. To go for it. (Past tense: Sent It.)
“Dude, you sent it on that jump.”
Send ‘Er: An alternative way to say “Send it!”
Session: To repeatedly practice riding a particular technical trail feature or difficult segment until you can ride it cleanly.
“I need to session that rock garden. I keep choosing the wrong line.”
Shred: To ride a trail at a particularly skillful level, or to ride a trail very fast. Also, to go ride and have fun.
“I can’t wait to get off work and go shred the gnar.”
Shralp: Shredding the trail at a whole ‘nuther level. It’s a cross between shredding the trail and ripping it.
“This trail is sick!”
Single-speed: A mountain bike with only one gear. This is not the same as a fixie bike because the rear hub is still a free hub (allows pedaling backwards) just like any other mountain bike.
Singletrack: The most common type of mountain bike trail, so called because it is narrow and much be ridden single file.
Sketchy: May refer to a section of trail that was particularly difficult, but due to conditions outside that particular trail’s normal For instance, when a trail is very dry, corners that are typically not difficult may be harder to navigate than usual, and thus termed “sketchy” by a rider. Sketchy may also refer to a man-made feature that is rickety, old, or otherwise feels or looks unsafe.
“It’s been years since I came down that ramp, but it looks really sketchy now.”
Skinny: A man-made feature, typically made of wood, that is extremely narrow—not much wider than the width of the average mountain bike’s tires. Skinnies may be made from narrow logs or simply elevated two-by-fours and require that rider to test their balance and bike handling skills.
Skrrt: Pronounced “skuurt.” An onomatopoeia of the sound car tires make peeling out or going fast through a corner. MTBers sometimes say “skrrt” in a high-pitched voice when shredding a banked turn or berm.
Slack: Describes a head tube angle where the front fork is raked outward, closer toward parallel with the ground. Slack head tube angles can make a bike’s steering response slower but increases handling on descents.
Slop: Also known as chain slop, which refers to side-to-side wear of the bike chain that leads to slow, inconsistent shifting.
Smeash: An exclamation popularized by Seth of Seth’s Bike Hacks. It’s really just another way of saying “smash” but it sounds cooler.
“We’re gonna smeash this downhill!”
Snakebite: Slang for a pinch flat due to the two puncture holes left in an inner tube as a result of pinching the tube between the tire and wheel rim.
SS: The accepted acronym for singlespeed.
Standover Clearance: Also known as Standover Height or just Standover. This is the distance measured from the ground to the top of a bike’s top tube. On mountain bikes, this measurement is take from the middle of the top tube’s slanted angle. Standover clearance is a part of fitting a bike correctly for a rider. Most riders look for 2 to 4 inches of clearance between the top tube and their crotch when standing flat-footed on the ground over the bike.
Steel: The classic metal that some purists believe all bike frames should be made of due to it’s (perceived) superior strength to weight ratio. In all fairness, steel bike frames are generally stronger than alloy (aluminum) frames and can hold up to much more abuse than carbon frames. Steel frames also tend to vibrate much less in response to trail conditions compared to alloy frames, thus offering a smoother ride and lessening fatigue.
“The steel is real.”
Steezy: Riding in such a way that it looks effortless, stylish, and elegant.
“Rogatkin was full steezy on his Joyride run this year.”
Step-down: A feature on a trail where the rider jumps down to a lower elevation from a higher section of the trail.
Step-up: A type of jump that sends a rider up from a lower section of trail to a higher elevation.
Stoked: Excited. High on life.
“Live free, ride hard, and get stoked.” —The Singletrack Sampler
Stoppie: Essentially a front wheelie, where the front brake is carefully applied and the bake wheel is lifted so that the bike is ridden only on the front wheel.
Strava: Popular GPS tracking service used by road and off-road mountain bikers alike. Riders may track their rides and gain insights on their speed and effort, as well as compare themselves against other riders, or simply against their own previous rides. Roads and trails are divided into segments, and riders who record the fastest time on those segments are dubbed King/Queen of the Mountain until another rider posts a faster time.
Dude 1: “I got the fastest time ever on that descent, bro.”
Dude 2: “Strava or it didn’t happen, man.”
Stravasshole: Cyclists for whom Strava is more important than anything or anyone. They will go to any length to set new PRs and gain KOMs/QOMs—including running over newbies on the trail. Can often be heard yelling “STRAVA!” at slower riders, expecting them to get out of the way.
Switchback: A turn on a hill that is too steep to be climbed straight up. Switchbacks zig-zap the riders up the hill through a series of S-curves.
Table/Tabletop: A jump with a flat section of dirt in between the takeoff and the landing. A tabletop jump involves much less risk than a double (gap jump) since the rider will have a relatively safe landing area in case they come up short.
Taco: 1. The staple of Mexican food. 2. When a wheel is bent in a catastrophic crash, it often takes on the shape of a taco shell.
“No way! My wheel is totally tacoed!”
Tandem: A bike built for two. Yes, there are actually tandem mountain bikes.
Technical Trail Feature (TTF): Any feature on a trail in which the trail is no longer flat and offers additional challenges to the rider, or require additional skill to navigate properly. Such technical trail features include drops, rock gardens, and jumps. Other technical trail features may be designed to give the trail better flow or increased speed for the rider, yet also require additional skills to use properly. Berms are a good example of this type of TTF.
Teeter-totter: A type of boardwalk or skinny where a biker rides up one side of the apparatus and their weight on the far end causes it to dip back down to the ground
Trackstand: A technique where a rider learns to maintain their balance on their bike while standing up on the pedals and either keeping the bike stationary or only moving around very little. Pedaling is not allowed for a regulation trackstand. Learning to trackstand on a flat surface give a rider an improved ability to negotiate difficult sections on the trail where they must roll extremely slowly and keep their balance.
Trail Dog: A dog you bring to the trail to run ahead, behind, or alongside you as you ride. A well-trained trail dog knows how to stay out of other rider’s and hiker’s way, not chase after animals, and not get too far away from you along the trail. A good trail dog can also help scare off wild animals that could potentially cause you harm along the trail—snakes, skunks, wild boars, etc.
Travel: The distance from the bottom of your suspension’s stroke to the top of the stroke. Travel is typically measure in millimeters, or mills. The more travel your suspension has, the more expensive it will probably be to purchase.
Tree Gate: A technical trail feature where two or more trees have grown very close together and the trail path flows directly between those trees. Most tree gates offer more than enough clearance to get your through cleanly, but some tree gates may be very tight—especially for bikes with wider bars.
TTF: Technical Trail Feature.
Tubeless: Setting up a bike’s wheels to run without the use of an inner tube.
Upshift: Shifting into a higher gear.
Velominati: The “generally accepted rules of Cycling.” These are primarily for roadies, but there are some noted exceptions which definitely apply to mountain bikes. MTB-applicable rules: 3, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 25, 34, 35, 36, 40, 47, 49, 58, 61, 64, 65, 66, 68, 73, 75, 77, 87, and 94.
Wallride: A man-made, wooden technical trail feature built at a very steep angle—almost perpendicular to the trail surface—in which a rider can treat like a high-speed, high-difficulty berm.
Wash Out: When your bike wheels completely lose traction and slide laterally out from under you. Washouts typically happen on flat or loose corners, or on very loose sections of trail.
Water Bar: A drop or cut across a section of trail to help prevent erosion by forcing water to flow away from the trail. Often found on descents so that water can flow away to the sides of the trail rather than down the middle of the trail.
Weight-Weenie: A mountain bike owner who is more concerned with how many ounces individual bike component save from their bike’s total weight than becoming a better rider. Most of these types of riders tend to be overweight and the reality escapes them that the real weight savings they need to worry about is on their own body, not their bike build.
“Can you believe he spent $1,000 on a new drivetrain just to save half an ounce? He’s such a weight-weenie.”
Wheelbase: The measurement of distance from the center of a bike’s rear wheel to center of the front wheel.
Wheelie: Lifting the front wheel off of the ground while pedaling.
Whip: A trick performed during a jump while the bike is in midair. The rider stylishly pushes the bike sideways in the air and then whips the rear wheel back in line before making contact with the ground.
Wipeout: A particularly spectacular crash.
Wonky: When something on your bike is not working properly or feels wrong.
Yard Sale: When a rider crashes and all of their stuff—water bottles, nutrition, backpack, seat bag, etc.—goes everywhere. It’s as if you set all your stuff out on display for a yard sale.
Zone: When the flow is so good and your riding is so good if feels like a perfect day on the trail.
“Dude, I was so in the zone today.”