MTB Glossary of Terms
Updated: Feb 28
Like all sports, Mountain Biking comes with its own language of sorts. Here's a glossary of popular terms used in our sport.
Alloy - an aluminum mountain bike frame. Common frame material due to lower cost and durability.
Baggies - a mountain bike specific short worn over chamois pads. They offer more protection when mountain biking. Referred to as “baggies” as they are loose fitting compared to lycra bike shorts.
Bail - jumping off and ditching your bike to avoid crashing.
Bark Tattoo - an abrasion from grazing against a tree at high speeds.
Berms - a raised, banked corner built to provide more traction and allows riders to corner at higher speeds. When ridden correctly you can leave with even more speed than you had going in!
Biff - a crash or wipe out.
Bonk - running out of energy on a ride.
Booter - a large jump or feature that is designed to put you on a higher section of trail.
Bottom Bracket - connects the crankset to your bike.
Bronado- Usually experienced on opening day or closing day of any bike park in Colorado. Witnessed by the sheer number of male mountain bike riders clad in full-face bike helmets, GoPro's, and Long Travel suspension mountain bikes.
Brown Pow - is used to describe ideal riding conditions, typically after rainfall when tacky dirt forms. See Hero Dirt.
Bunny Hop - a riding technique that involves lifting both wheels off the ground.
Burp - when your tire burps air. This happens when a lateral force is applied to the wheel and distorts the tire.
Cadence - the rate at which a rider pedals, specifically the number of revolutions per minute.
Carbon - a bike frame material that is light weight, strong, and stiff but yet responsive. Typically costs more.
Chain Stay - the section of bike that connects your bottom bracket to your rear axle. The chain often slaps against this part of the frame when riding through rough sections of trail. You can purchase chain stay protective covers to help prevent this.
Chain Tattoo - greasy stains left on your leg from brushing up against your chain.
Chamois - pronounced “shammy” padded cycling shorts, meant to offer support and protection to the groin from bike saddles. Most often worn under mountain bike specific shorts.
Clean - to ride through a section of trail without crashing or stopping.
Clipless Pedals - pedals that clip into the bottom of specific mountain bike shoes. Confusing term as clipless is in fact riding “clipped-in”. But compared to old toe clip cages, clipless technology allowed riders to release their feet quicker and easier. Flat pedals are even more effective now a days in terms of releasing quicker and easier.
Crank - or crank arm is where the crankset connects the pedals to the spindle. Crank is also used when referring to pedaling hard.
Dab - when you take your foot of the pedal and lightly touch the ground.
Day Wrecker - when an unforeseeable event ruins your ride, like a crash or a mechanical that ends in hike-a-bike.
Death Ice- found on the north facing areas of trails in Colorado during the winter months. Unsuspecting Colorado riders find this after they think the trail is fully thawed and clear of snow. After discovery, riders briefly loose control of the rear tire. In severe cases, they loose the front wheel and find themselves in one or more states of crashing.
Derailleur - the bike component that shifts your bike chain to different cogs for easier or harder gearing. Front derailleurs are almost non-exist in mountain biking, leaving most bikes with just a rear derailleur.
Dialed - when you have a perfectly set-up bike for your riding OR referring to your effortless and perfect riding.
Digger- the act of one crashing in such a way that the face and/or other body part literally digs a hole in the ground once they've hit it.
Double Track - dirt paths that are spacious enough to ride two abreast, and are sometimes shared with off-road vehicles or were old motorized routes.
Downshift - shifting in to a lower gear.
Drop - when the trail or a feature on the trail changes elevation at a steep angle forcing you to “drop down”. Could be a natural rock drop or a man made feature like a wood drop.
Drive Train - the components that “drive” your bike - cranks, chainrings, chain, cassette and derailleur.
Dualie - another term for full-suspension mountain bikes or dual suspension mountain bikes.
Endo - a crash where the rider goes over their handlebars.
Enduro - a discipline of mountain bike racing where greater focus is placed on downhill sections.
Face Slappers - when trees or shrubbery are overgrown on the trail hitting you in the face.
Fattie - slang for fat bikes.
Feathering - gently pulling the brake levers in order to better control speeds, instead of forcefully pulling and coming to a complete stop.
Ferda Girls - female riders sending it and representing women on the trails!
Fire Road - graded dirt roads, typically used for service or emergency vehicle access. You will find certain areas where this riding is still prevalent, namely the Pacific Northwest, where they have an abundance of service or access roads from logging. But even local to Utah there are service / fire roads used by mountain bikers to gain access to high alpine areas!
Flow - when you are traveling downhill at high speeds, with minimal pedaling and with great style!
Fore and Aft Movement - moving backwards and forwards on your bike, a technique used during different technical features on the trail.
Fork - the part of your bike that holds your front wheel.
Front Triangle - the top tube, down tube and seat tube.
Front Wheel Lift - is lifting your front tire to ride over obstacles on the trail.
Full squish - another term for full-suspension mountain bikes.
Gap - a jump where the take off and landing are not connected. There is a gap in between the take off and landing.
Geometry - the angles of mountain bike frames, typically the top tube, down tube, head tube and seat tube.
Gnarly - a difficult, crazy or challenging section of trail.
Granny Gear - the easiest gear to pedal, used on steep uphills.
Head Tube - where the top of the front fork meets the bike frame.
Hero Dirt - when soil or dirt trails are tacky often after precipitation when the dirt still holds some moisture.
Hike-a-bike - when you have to walk your bike instead of ride. You may have to hike-a-bike on steep sections of trail, unrideable terrain or when you have an unfixable mechanical on the trail.
Kicker - a jump with a steep take-off, to “kick” or “boot” in the air.
Kitty Litter- A very loose mixture of decomposed granite, sand and dirt that inhabits several Colorado trails. Its very unpredictable to ride and, in general, can cause riders to loose control of their bike. Ride with caution. When you're on it, you will know.
LBS - Local Bike Shop
Lid - slang for helmet.
Line - the path you chose when riding, often used when determining a path or route through technical sections of trail.
Loam - similar to hero dirt, but described as dirt that is soft, moist and almost powdery. Loam is often found in the Pacific Northwest and is a normal riding condition vs. hero dirt found only after rainfall.
Loose - trail conditions when there is loose gravel, dirt or rocks on top of hard-packed soil which typically makes for less traction
Manual - similar to a wheelie, but the rider lifts the front wheel off the ground while in motion and stays in motion with enough momentum and doesn’t need to pedal to move forward.
Mechanical - usually refers to a bike malfunction or breakdown on the trail.
Moon Dust - trail conditions after a particularly dry period and the dirt or soil becomes loose and dry.
Mullet - a bike that runs a 29-inch wheel up front and a 27.5-inch wheel in the back.
Obstacle Riding - trail features like rocks, roots, logs etc. that you have to maneuver over while riding.
OBT - when you go over your handle bars during a crash.
Over-Cook - to carry too much speed into a trail obstacle, turn or jump.
Pinch Flat - when a tube inside a tire gets pinched between the rim and the tire, which causes you to flat. Also know as a “snakebite”.
Pedal Strike - when your pedal strikes the ground or trail obstacles like roots or rocks.
PBJ - Pumps Berms Jumps - usually refers to sections of trail that combines all three features.
PNW - Pacific Northwest
Presta (or Schrader) - the valve found on most mountain bikes. These valves are narrower, come to a point with a locking nut. Be sure to buy extra tubes with the correct valve.
PSI - the amount of air press that fills a tube or tire. Tubeless setups can run lower pressure than tubes or road bikes.
PR - Personal Record
Pump - a technique in which a rider can gain speed without pedaling or refers to a inflating device for your tires.
QOM / KOM - Queen of the Mountain or King of the Mountain. You obtain your QOM when you have the fastest time on a segment of trail on Strava.
Quiver Killer - a bike that can do it all, cross country steep terrain to rugged downhill terrain.
Rail - cornering with precision, speed and control (usually a berm) that you are able to leave with more speed than you started with. Ratchet - otherwise known as the half-pedal stroke. You partially pedal to clear obstacles, ride tight switchbacks and to avoid pedal strikes.
Reach - is horizontal distance between the bottom bracket and the center of the head tube.
Rear triangle - the rear half of your frame including the chain stay, seat stay and seat tube
Rear Wheel Lift - lifting exclusively your rear wheel off the ground, typically to clear obstacles.
Rigid - a bike with no suspension.
Rock Garden - sections of trail where several large or small rocks are concentrated.
Rock Roll - a large boulder or rock face that can be ridden.
Roller - is typically a series of small humps in the trail, most effectively ridden by pumping.
Roost - dirt that is kicked up behind the rider.
Rowdy - typically describes rough technical riding.
Sag - the amount of compression of suspension under the rider’s weight.
Seat Dropper Post - a type of seat that allows riders to raise and lower their seat height while riding. Send It - riding hard, riding fast, riding for fun, riding with style. Anyone can send it in their own way and style!
Session - to repeatedly practice a section of trail.
Single-track - trails that are meant to be ridden single file and are usually considered the quintessential paths for mountain biking.
Shred - to ride fast and have fun! Anyone can shred in their own way and style!
Shuttle - getting a ride to the top of a trail and then riding back down. Skinnies - a narrow man made wood feature on the trail or bike park intended to test balance and handling skills.
Slickrock - routes where large portions are slabs of rock and marked with painted-dashed lines since there isn’t a physical trail per se, found in Moab, St. George, Sedona, etc.
Stand Over Height - the clearance height in between the top tube of your bike and your crotch as you stand over your bike. You want around 2 - 4 inches of stand over height for a properly fitted bike.
Steezy - riding that is effortless, stylish and even elegant.
Stoppie - the back wheel is lifted and the front wheel is ridden on by carefully applying brake pressure. Also called a front wheelie.
Strava - a popular GPS tracking application for activities and share within a community.
Switchbacks - an s curve that allows you traverse or zigzag up and down hills or mountain sides, instead of riding straight up.
Tabletop - a jump with a flat section of dirt connecting the landing and take off. Tabletops allow riders to come up short with less consequences.
Taco - when your wheel gets bent like a taco shell, a day wrecker for sure!
Trackstand - a technique where a rider maintains their balance by simply standing on their pedals.
Trail Dog - a well trained dog that comes along on mountain bike rides!
Trailforks - a popular trail and map application for mountain bikers to find new trails and access maps and locations.
Travel - the amount of suspension or movement your suspension has.
Tree Gate - where two or more trees have grown very close together on the trail or on a trail feature. There is usually enough clearance to pass, but cringe worthy.
TTF - Technical Trail Feature
Tubeless Tires - tires that have no internal tubes. Better prevents against flats on the trails, but needs slightly more maintenance and new sealant added often.
Wallride - typically a man made feature that is built at a steep angle, in turn feeling like a wall to the rider.
Washout - when you loose traction while riding and your bike slides sideways underneath you.
Wheelie - when you lift your front wheel off the ground while pedaling.
Whip - maneuvering the back of your bike sideways while in air.
Yardsale - an epic crash in which yourself and your belongings fly in every which direction.