mountain bike terms

Mountain Bike Terms and Slang A to Z: Ultimate Guide

mountain bike terms

Navigating the thrilling world of mountain biking isn’t just about mastering the trails—it’s also about speaking the language.

From the tight turns of berms to the adrenaline-pumping descent of sending it, the MTB community is peppered with jargon, slang, technical terms and phrases that can leave newcomers scratching their helmets.

Whether you’re a budding biker trying to decipher trail talk or a seasoned rider looking to brush up on the latest lingo, our “Mountain Bike Terms A to Z: Ultimate Guide” is here to bridge the gap. Dive in to decode the dialect of the dirt and become fluent in all things MTB.

Mountain Bike Terms A to Z


27.5 or 650b: Refers to a wheel size, which is between the old standard 26-inch and the 29er. The actual diameter of the wheel is around 27.5 inches or equivalently 650b in the metric system.

29er: Refers to mountain bikes that are designed for 29-inch wheels. These bikes are known for rolling over obstacles more easily than their 26-inch counterparts.

1x (pronounced “one-by”): A drivetrain setup with a single chainring in the front and multiple gears in the back, e.g., 1×11 has one chainring and an 11-speed cassette.

2x (pronounced “two-by”): Similarly, a drivetrain setup with two chainrings in the front and multiple gears in the back.

4X: Stands for “Four Cross”, a type of mountain bike racing where four bikers race downhill on a prepared, BMX like, track, simply trying to get down first.


All-Mountain (AM): A type of mountain biking that encompasses a variety of terrains, from uphill climbs to downhill descents. All-mountain bikes are versatile, designed for both climbing efficiency and downhill performance.

Attack Position: A neutral riding position mountain bikers adopt when anticipating technical terrain. It involves standing on the pedals (not seated), elbows and knees bent, and looking ahead.

Ankling: A pedaling technique where the ankle is used to maximize the pedal stroke’s efficiency by dropping the heel at the top of the stroke and raising it at the bottom.

Armor: Protective gear worn by riders to safeguard against injuries. This can include knee pads, elbow pads, shin guards, and chest/back protection.

Air spring: A type of suspension that uses air pressure as the spring medium. The air pressure can be adjusted to alter the suspension’s response to the rider’s weight and riding style.

Alloy: Often used to describe bike components, it means they’re made from a mixture of metals. Aluminum alloy is common in bike frames and parts for its blend of lightness and strength.

Apex: The innermost point of a turn or curve. Hitting the apex correctly can help riders maintain speed and control through turns.

Aero: Short for aerodynamic. While more commonly associated with road cycling, some mountain bikers might refer to aero positions or designs when discussing speed on smoother trails or dirt roads.

Articulation: The movement and flexibility of a bike’s suspension system.

ASL (Above Sea Level): Sometimes trail altitudes are referenced in relation to sea level, especially when discussing high-altitude riding or the effects of altitude on physical exertion.

Axle: The shaft on which the wheel revolves. In mountain biking, there are various axle standards with differing widths and attachment mechanisms.

Attack Trail: A trail segment that’s particularly aggressive or challenging.

Alternator Dropout: Found on some bikes, this feature allows for multiple drivetrain configurations. With this dropout, a rider can use a single-speed or geared setup on the same frame.

Anti-rise: Refers to how the rear brake interacts with the suspension. A bike with high anti-rise will stiffen up under braking, while one with low anti-rise remains more active.

Anti-squat: Refers to a bike’s suspension design and its behavior during pedaling. Bikes designed with anti-squat will resist suspension compression (or “squat”) when pedaling, making them more efficient.

Aheadset: A type of headset (the component on a bike where the fork goes through the frame) that is threadless. It’s a common type of headset on modern bikes.

Anodized: An electrochemical process that’s used to color and protect metal surfaces, especially aluminum. Many mountain bike parts like stems, hubs, and rims might be anodized.

Arbor: A tool used in wheel truing stands to hold the wheel in place.

Auto: Refers to a feature in some suspension forks where the lockout is automatically controlled, usually by a sensor that detects terrain changes.

Angle of Attack: The angle at which a tire makes contact with obstacles, determining how easily it rolls over them. Larger diameter wheels (like 29ers) generally have a shallower angle of attack compared to smaller wheels.

Aspect Ratio: In terms of tire construction, it refers to the height of a tire’s sidewall relative to its width. It can affect the tire’s rolling characteristics and handling.

ATA (Adjustable Travel Adjuster): A feature found in some suspension forks that lets riders adjust the travel length, usually to optimize performance for different terrains or rides.

Auxiliary Brake: A secondary brake system, often seen on tandem mountain bikes, for additional stopping power.


Berm: A banked corner or turn, built up on the outside, which allows riders to maintain speed.

Bunny hop: A technique where riders lift both wheels off the ground simultaneously, often to clear obstacles.

Biff: A crash or fall from the bike.

Bikepacking: Combining mountain biking with lightweight camping, using specially designed bags to carry gear.

Bike Yoke: A part of some rear suspension systems connecting the rear shock to the frame.

Bikejoring: A sport where a dog (or dogs) are harnessed to a mountain bike, and they help pull the rider.

Bike Park: A designated area with purpose-built trails and features, often with uplift services for riders.

Bleed: The process of removing air from hydraulic brake lines.

Blue groove: A trail condition where the surface has a blueish tint, indicating hard-packed dirt.

Blip: A small jump or feature on a trail.

Bomb: To ride downhill rapidly.

Bottom bracket (BB): The bearing system on which the crankset rotates, located at the junction of the bike’s seat tube and down tube.

Bottle cage: A holder for water bottles on the bike frame.

Boost: A standard for wider hub spacing, resulting in stiffer wheels.

Brake fade: Loss of braking power due to overheating, typically in hydraulic brakes.

Brake jack: A suspension response when the rear brake is applied, causing the suspension to extend.

Braap: The sound made by a tire on a trail or the joyous call of a rider enjoying a descent.

Brain: A proprietary suspension technology by Specialized that detects terrain changes to auto-adjust the suspension.

Bridge: A built wooden feature to cross over obstacles like streams or marshy areas.

Bro flow: A trail that is smoothly flowing and not overly technical.

Buffed: A trail that’s smooth, without many technical features.

Burl: A difficult or challenging section of trail.

Butting: Refers to the process of varying the thickness of a tube, often in bike frame construction, to save weight without compromising strength.

Buzzer: The sensation or sound of a rear tire buzzing close to, or making contact with, a rider’s backside on steep descents, especially with dropper posts fully dropped.


Cadence: The speed at which a cyclist pedals, often measured in revolutions per minute (RPM).

Cage: The part of a front derailleur that pushes the chain from one chainring to another. Also refers to a pedal’s surrounding structure on platform pedals.

Camber: The angle of the trail surface as it tilts from one side to the other.

Carbon: A lightweight and stiff material used in bike frames and components.

Casing: The outer layer of a tire.

Chain slap: The noise created when the chain hits the chainstay on rough terrain.

Chain suck: When the chain gets stuck between the frame and the chainring.

Chainstay: The part of the bike frame that connects the bottom bracket to the rear dropout.

Chamois: Padded shorts worn by cyclists to reduce friction and provide cushioning.

Chunder: Rough and rocky trail sections.

Clipped in: Using clipless pedals that connect directly to special cycling shoes.

Clipless pedals: A type of pedal that attaches directly to a cleat on the bottom of a special shoe, securing the rider’s foot to the pedal.

Climbing lane: A specific portion of a trail designated for uphill riders.

Clydesdale: A term used for heavier riders, typically over 200 pounds.

Cockpit: The area of the bike where the handlebars, stem, and seat are located.

Compression: A phase in the suspension’s movement when it’s being shortened.

Cornering: The technique used to ride around turns and bends.

Crankset: The component that connects the pedals to the bike, including the chainrings.

Cross-country (XC): A type of mountain biking focused on endurance and climbing. XC bikes are typically lighter and have less suspension travel.

Crown: The part of a suspension fork that connects the two stanchions.

Crud: Mud, dirt, and other debris found on the trail.

Cruiser: A trail that’s relatively easy to ride.

Cut-off: A time limit imposed on racers to reach a certain point during a race.

Cutty: A sharp, sliding turn executed by whipping the rear of the bike around.

Cyclocomputer: An electronic device that provides riders with data like speed, distance, and time.

Cleat: The metal or plastic fitting on the sole of a cycling shoe that clips into clipless pedals.


Dab: Touching a foot to the ground for balance, especially during a technical section.

Damping: The process by which a suspension fork or rear shock controls and dissipates the energy from impacts, usually via oil resistance.

Dart: A tire puncture plug.

Dérailleur: The mechanical component that moves the chain between different gears.

DH: Short for Downhill. Refers to downhill mountain biking and bikes designed primarily for descending steep and technical terrains.

Dirt Jump (DJ): A type of bike designed for jumping, usually with a rigid frame and a suspension fork.

Disc brakes: Brakes that operate by squeezing pads against a disc attached to the wheel hub.

Doubles: Jumps with a take-off and landing but a gap in the middle.

Dopper: Short for dropper post.

Dropper post: A height-adjustable seat post that allows riders to lower their saddles without stopping, usually with a handlebar-mounted lever.

Drivetrain: The collective components (crankset, chain, derailleurs, and cogs) that drive the bike forward.

Drop: A section of trail where there’s a sudden decrease in elevation, often requiring the rider to get airborne.

Drop in: To begin a descent or to start riding a particular section of trail.

Dust out: To crash or fall off the bike.

Duck walk: Walking the bike while straddling it, typically in challenging sections.

Dual crown: A type of suspension fork with two crowns (upper and lower), typically found on downhill bikes for added stiffness.

Dual slalom: A racing format where two riders descend parallel courses, with the winner advancing to the next round.

Dual suspension: A bike equipped with both front and rear suspension.

Dust: Fine dirt on the trail. “Dusty conditions” refer to trails covered with a layer of loose dust.

Dynaplug: A brand of tire plug used for sealing punctures in tubeless tires.

Down tube: The frame tube that runs from the head tube to the bottom bracket.

Drifter: A long and controlled skid, often used to navigate turns.

Dork disc: Slang for the plastic or metal guard located between the rear cassette and the spokes, intended to prevent the chain from dropping into the spokes.

Dialled: When a bike is set up perfectly or when a rider consistently nails a specific move or section.

Digger: Someone who builds and maintains trails.


Endo: Short for “end-over-end”. A crash where the back wheel lifts off the ground and the bike flips forward.

Enduro: A type of mountain bike racing where only the downhill sections are timed. Enduro races typically involve multiple timed stages with untimed transfer stages in between.

Epic: A long and challenging ride, or a term to describe an incredible trail or experience.

E-Bike: An electric-assist bicycle that provides riders with added power from an onboard motor.

Ergonomics: The design of bike components to fit the human body, improving comfort and efficiency.

Eyelets: Metal loops on a bike frame or fork where fenders, racks, or panniers can be attached.

External Cup Bottom Bracket: A design where the bearing cups of the bottom bracket are outside of the frame’s bottom bracket shell.

Elastomer: A type of material once commonly used in suspension forks for its springy properties.

End cap: The cap at the end of a handlebar or other component.

Engagement: Refers to how quickly a hub’s freehub mechanism catches when you start pedaling after coasting.

Exo: A type of tire sidewall protection often found in Maxxis tires.

Exposure: Refers to trails or sections of trails where there’s a steep drop-off on one or both sides, often requiring heightened caution.

Endurance: Biking for long distances, testing a rider’s stamina over time.

Extension: The phase in the suspension’s movement where it’s returning to its neutral position after being compressed.

External Routing: When the cables for brakes or gears run along the outside of the frame, as opposed to being internally routed inside the frame.


Fat Bike: A mountain bike with wide tires, typically 3.8 inches or wider, designed for soft, unstable terrain like snow or sand.

Fenders: Protective shields mounted above the bike’s tires to block mud and water from splashing onto the rider.

Flat: A level section of trail or a term for a punctured tire.

Flat Pedals: Pedals that have a broad platform without any clip-in mechanism, often used with shoes that have grippy soles.

Flow: A descriptor for trails designed with rhythm and smoothness in mind. “Flow trails” often have features like berms, rollers, and jumps that can be ridden without pedaling.

Fork: The bike component that holds the front wheel and provides front suspension on most modern mountain bikes.

Freehub: The part of the rear hub on a bike where the cassette mounts. It allows the wheel to turn without the pedals moving when coasting.

Freeride: A style of mountain biking focusing on tricks, jumps, and technical downhill sections, often in natural terrains without a set course.

Front Triangle: The main part of the bike frame, including the top tube, down tube, and seat tube.

Full-Suspension: A mountain bike equipped with both front and rear suspension.

Fully Rigid: A bike without any suspension, both the front fork and the rear are rigid.

Flick: A quick and sharp turn or maneuver of the bike.

Foot Out, Flat Out (FOFO): A technique of taking a turn with one foot off the pedal, pushing it outward.

Full Face Helmet: A helmet that provides coverage to the entire face, including a chin guard, predominantly used in downhill and aggressive riding.

Follow Cam: A video shot from a camera mounted on a rider following another rider, capturing their line choices and maneuvers.

False Flat: A stretch of road or trail that appears flat but is slightly uphill.

Flats: Casual shoes (not clipless) for biking, usually used with flat pedals.

Floating Disc Brake: A type of disc brake rotor design where the braking surface is not fixed and can move slightly, often used to improve heat dissipation.

Frame Pack: A bag that attaches within the bike’s main triangle, used for carrying gear, especially in bikepacking.

Full Tuck: The position where a rider gets as low as possible on their bike, typically to maximize aerodynamics and speed on descents.


Gnarly: Referring to a technical, challenging, or dangerous section of trail.

Granny Gear: The smallest chainring on a bike, used for steep climbs.

Gravel Bike: A type of bike designed for mixed-terrain riding, combining features of road bikes and mountain bikes.

Grip: Traction between the tire and the ground.

Grip Shift: A type of gear shifter integrated into the handlebar grip.

Grub Screw: A small screw used in various components to secure parts or make adjustments.

Grind: Sliding along an obstacle, such as a log or rail, with the bottom of the bike frame or pedals.

Groupset: A complete collection of bike components including derailleurs, brakes, shifters, and other parts, typically from the same manufacturer.

G-Out: The point in a dip or compression where a bike’s suspension is fully compressed.

GoPro: A popular brand of action camera often used to record mountain biking adventures.

Geometry: Refers to the design and angles of a bike frame which influence how the bike handles.

Gloves: Protective handwear used by mountain bikers to improve grip and protect hands.

Gap Jump: A jump with a distinct gap between the takeoff and landing.

Green: Often used to label easy or beginner-friendly trails.

Guard: A protective component, such as a chain guard or bash guard, designed to prevent damage to the bike or rider.

Grinder: A long, challenging climb.

GPS: Global Positioning System. Devices that use satellite signals to provide navigation, often used for tracking rides or finding trails.

Gusset: A reinforcement piece added to areas of the frame that might need extra strength.

Gyro: A device allowing the handlebars and front fork to rotate 360° without tangling the brake cables, commonly seen in BMX and some freeride bikes.

Gear Ratio: The ratio between the number of teeth on the chainring and the rear cog, affecting how easy or hard it is to pedal.


Hardtail: A type of mountain bike with front suspension only and no rear suspension.

Head Angle: The angle between the ground and the bike’s head tube. Steeper angles generally make for quicker steering, while slacker angles are more stable at high speeds.

Head Tube: The part of the bike frame that the front fork goes through. The headset is located here.

Headset: The set of components on a bicycle that provides a rotatable interface between the bike fork and the head tube of the bicycle frame.

Hike-a-Bike: A section of trail that’s too difficult or steep to ride, requiring riders to carry or push their bikes.

Hub: The central part of a wheel that the spokes attach to.

Hydraulic Brakes: Brakes that use fluid to transfer force from the brake lever to the brake pads.

Hardpack: Firm, compacted soil that makes for a fast trail surface.

Huck: To jump off something, especially without knowing exactly what to expect upon landing.

Holeshot: In racing, being the first out of the gate or first into the first corner.

Horst Link: A type of rear suspension design characterized by a pivot point located between the rear wheel axle and the bottom bracket.

Hubset: The front and rear hubs considered as a set.

High-Post: Riding with the saddle raised, typically for climbing or flat sections.

Hairpin: A tight, U-shaped turn.

Hang Time: The amount of time spent in the air after a jump.

Half-lid: A helmet style that only covers the top half of the head, as opposed to a full-face helmet.

Heel Drop: A technique where riders drop their heels down when descending to get more grip and control.

Hit: A jump, drop, or other feature on a trail to be ridden over.

HOPE: A popular brand known for making bike components, especially brakes.

High Roller: A model of tire made by the brand Maxxis, known for its all-around performance.

Hard gear: A high gear ratio that’s harder to pedal but provides more speed.

High Side: A type of crash where a rider is thrown over the bike’s outside edge, often during a turn.


ISCG (International Standard Chain Guide): A standard for mounting chain guides to mountain bike frames.

ISO: Refers to a type of brake mounting standard or a wheel size standard.

Internal Routing: Refers to cables (for brakes, gears, dropper posts, etc.) that are routed inside the frame tubes for a cleaner appearance and better protection.

Intervals: Training sessions broken up into periods of hard effort and recovery.

IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association): An organization dedicated to the promotion of mountain biking and the development of mountain bike trails.

Impact: The force or energy transmitted from one body to another during a collision.

Inflate: To fill a tire with air using a pump.

Inseam: The length from the crotch to the bottom of the leg; used to determine the correct size of a bike frame.

Insert: A protective liner that can be placed inside a mountain bike tire to protect against punctures and improve ride quality.

Integrated Headset: A type of headset where the bearings sit directly inside the headtube of the frame, as opposed to being housed in external cups.

IS (International Standard): A common mounting standard for disc brake calipers.

Idle: The state of a bike when it’s stationary or not being pedaled.

Indemnity: Legal terms found in waivers that riders might have to sign before participating in races or using bike parks, where they agree not to hold the organizers responsible for certain types of harm or loss.

Incline: An upward slope or hill.

Intermediate: Refers to the skill level between beginner and advanced. It can also refer to trails that are designed for riders with a moderate level of experience.

Inertia: The resistance of an object (like a bike) to a change in its state of motion.

Inventory: A list or collection of items, such as bike parts or tools.

Invert: A trick where the bike is turned upside down in the air.


Jib: Using natural and man-made features on a trail to perform tricks or simply play around.

Jump: A feature on a trail that allows riders to become airborne.

JRA (Just Riding Along): A humorous term often used when a bike breaks unexpectedly, suggesting that the rider was doing nothing unusual when it happened.

Jockey Wheels: The small wheels in a derailleur that guide the chain.

Jersey: A specialized shirt worn by mountain bikers, often with wicking capabilities and a longer back to suit the riding position.

Joint: Where two or more parts of a bike frame meet and are typically welded, brazed, or bonded together.

Joyride: Riding just for fun, without any particular purpose or destination.

Jump Line: A series of jumps in succession on a trail.

J-Hook: A type of shape some berms or turns have, looking like the letter J. They start off shallow and become steeper at the exit.

Jackknife: When the front and back end of a bike (or vehicle) move in opposite directions, typically during a skid, resembling a folding knife.

Jetting: Adjusting a carburetor to optimize performance, more applicable to motorcycles but can be referred to in older mountain biking contexts.

Judder: Rapid oscillation or shaking, often used in the context of brakes when they cause a vibrating sensation.

Junction: A point where two or more trails meet.

Junior: A category in races for young riders, typically under the age of 18.


Kickstand: A device attached to a bike allowing it to stand upright without leaning against another object. However, many mountain bikes don’t come with one as they add extra weight.

Kicker: A steep ramp or takeoff used to get air. Kickers are designed to “kick” riders upwards.

Knobby: Referring to the prominent treads on mountain bike tires designed for traction in dirt and mud.

KOM (King of the Mountain): A term borrowed from road cycling, but in the MTB context, it often refers to the fastest time on a segment of trail, as tracked by apps like Strava.

Kit: Refers to the cycling outfit or gear a rider is wearing.

Knock Block: A system used on some Trek mountain bikes that prevents the handlebars from turning too far and causing the fork or controls to hit the frame.

Knee Pads: Protective gear worn on the knees to prevent injury during falls.

Knock-off: Often refers to a product that is a cheap or counterfeit version of a more reputable brand.

Knee Knockers: Pedals or parts of the bike that can hit or “knock” a rider’s knees when pedaling or maneuvering.

Kickout: A sudden sideways slide of the rear wheel, often intentional, for maneuvering or playful purposes.

Knee/shin guards: Extended protective gear that covers both the knees and shins.

Knock: An unusual sound coming from the bike, often indicating something is loose or broken.

Kink: A sharp bend or twist, usually in a rail or in the shape of a trail feature.

Kevlar: A strong synthetic fiber used in the making of certain bike parts, including some tires, due to its high tensile strength-to-weight ratio.

Knee-dab: Touching the ground with the knee, often used in the context of trials riding where riders aim not to put a foot down.

Kicker pedal: A pedal technique where one foot kicks downward to help start a wheelie or manual.


Line: The path or route a rider chooses through a trail section.

Loam: A type of soil that’s a mix of sand, silt, and clay. It’s often considered the perfect type of dirt for mountain biking because it provides good grip.

LBS (Local Bike Shop): Refers to one’s nearby bicycle store.

Landing: The part of a jump where the rider is expected to land.

Linkage: The system of rods and pivots used in certain types of rear suspension designs.

Loose: A term to describe a trail surface that’s covered in small, unconsolidated rocks or dirt.

Lugged Frame: A type of bike frame construction where tubes are joined using lugs (sockets) and brazed together.

Lowside: A type of fall where the bike slides out from under the rider, usually in a turn.

Lockout: A feature on some suspension forks and shocks that ‘locks’ them to make them rigid, which can be useful for climbing or riding on roads.

Liner: A soft, often padded layer found inside helmets or protective gear for added comfort and protection.

Lube: Short for lubricant. Used on chains and other parts to reduce friction and wear.

Log Over: A fallen log on a trail that riders must go over.

Loop: A circular or circuit trail that starts and ends at the same point.

Lactic Acid: A substance that builds up in the muscles during intense exercise, leading to muscle fatigue.

Lookback: A trick where the rider turns and looks back over their shoulder while in the air.

Lap: A single circuit of a race course or trail.

Limiter Screws: Screws on a derailleur that limit its range of motion to prevent the chain from going too far in either direction.

Levo: Short for “Turbo Levo,” a popular line of electric mountain bikes made by Specialized.

Loamy: Used to describe trails or sections that are soft and earthy, typically with a mix of organic material and soil.

Long Travel: Refers to bikes with a large amount of suspension travel, often used for more aggressive riding or rough terrains.

Layback: Refers to seatposts with a bend in them, allowing the saddle to be positioned further back.


Manual: Riding on the rear wheel without pedaling, essentially a wheelie without the pedaling action.

MTB: Abbreviation for mountain bike or mountain biking.

Mudguard: A piece attached to a bike to prevent mud from splashing up.

Magic Gear: A gear ratio that allows for a single-speed setup on a bike without a chain tensioner.

Matchy-Matchy: Slang term for when a rider’s gear, bike, and accessories all match in color or style.

Mega-avalanche: A specific type of downhill race that starts on a snow-covered mountain top and descends through various terrains.

MAMIL (Middle-Aged Man in Lycra): A slightly teasing term for older male cyclists who wear traditional cycling attire.

Mud Spike: A type of tire with long, aggressive knobs designed for muddy conditions.

Mech: Short for “mechanical,” usually referring to a mechanical problem or breakdown on a bike.

Mono: Another term for doing a wheelie.

Moto: Short for “motocross.” Sometimes used to describe a style of riding or a type of trail that is reminiscent of motocross.

MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System): A safety feature in some helmets designed to reduce rotational forces on the brain from angled impacts.

Manual Machine: A training device that helps riders practice and learn how to manual.

Min-maxing: The practice of setting up a bike with seemingly opposing features, like having a long travel fork with a short travel rear, to get the best of two worlds.

Mixte Frame: A specific frame design with a dropped top tube that runs to the rear of the bike, offering easier mounting and dismounting.

Mule: A bike that is set up to carry a lot of gear, especially for bikepacking or long-distance trips.

Mud Plugger: A rider who enjoys or excels at riding in muddy conditions.

Middle Ring: On a bike with a triple chainring setup, it’s the middle chainring.

Mis-shift: Accidentally shifting to the wrong gear.

Modulation: The ability of a brake to provide variable power, rather than just ‘on’ or ‘off’, allowing for smoother braking.

Monster Cross: A type of bike or race that is a mix between a cyclocross bike and a mountain bike.

Mojo: Slang for a rider’s confidence or rhythm. Losing one’s mojo means they’re feeling off or not riding well.

Masher: Someone who pedals with a lot of force but not necessarily with a lot of efficiency.

Marzocchi: A brand known for producing mountain bike forks and shocks.


N+1: A popular saying among cyclists which means the number of bikes one should own is the number they currently own plus one.

Narrow-wide: Refers to a type of chainring with alternating narrow and wide teeth designed to better retain the chain without the need for a chainguide.

No-drop Ride: A group ride where no one gets left behind, and the group waits for slower riders.

Nock: The feeling or sound of something knocking, usually in the context of a bike part that’s not working as it should.

Noodle: A term to describe a flexible or weak part, often referring to handlebars or a suspension component that doesn’t provide enough support.

No-hander: A trick where the rider takes both hands off the handlebars while airborne.

No-footer: Similarly, a trick where the rider takes both feet off the pedals while in the air.

Nose Bonk: Tapping or bouncing the front wheel off an object, usually while in the air.

Nose Manual: Balancing on the front wheel while moving.

Neutral Support: In races, this refers to support services (like mechanics or support vehicles) that are not affiliated with any particular team but are there to help any rider in need.

Nobby Nic: A specific model of tire made by the company Schwalbe.

North Shore: A style of mountain biking that originated in the North Shore mountains near Vancouver, Canada. It’s known for its wooden structures, bridges, and skinnies built above the forest floor.

Nukeproof: A brand of mountain bikes.

Notube: Refers to the process or setup where traditional inner tubes are eliminated, and tires are sealed directly against the rims.

Needles: Thin, closely spaced tree branches that often line a trail, requiring careful navigation.

Natural: Features on a trail that are not man-made, like rocks, roots, and drops.

Nail: To perfectly execute a jump, trick, or section of a trail.

Narly/Nar: Slang for something that’s extreme, difficult, or impressive.

Neoprene: A type of synthetic rubber often used in wet weather or mud guards due to its water-resistant properties.


OTT (Off The Top): A feature on some suspension forks, particularly by DVO, that allows for the adjustment of the initial part of the travel to be more plush or supportive.

Over the Bars (OTB): A crash where the rider is thrown over the handlebars. Often results from a sudden stop of the front wheel.

Outside Foot Down (OFD): Technique in cornering where the rider places the outside pedal in the downward position for better balance and traction.

Out-and-Back: A type of trail or ride where you ride to a certain point and then return on the same trail.

Off-Camber: A trail section that slopes sideways, making it challenging because it’s not level. It can lead to the bike wanting to slide out from beneath the rider.

Overdrive: The largest chainring in front paired with the smallest cog in the rear, giving the highest gear ratio.

Oversteer: When the rear wheel of the bike slides outward in a turn, potentially causing the bike to spin.

One-By (1x): A drivetrain setup with a single chainring in the front and multiple cogs in the back.

Open Face Helmet: A helmet that does not cover the entire face, unlike a full-face helmet. It’s typically lighter and offers more ventilation but less protection.

On the Rivet: A road cycling term that’s sometimes used in mountain biking. It means pushing oneself to the limit. It’s derived from old-style leather saddles where the front-most rivet was where riders would sit when pushing hard.

Orbea: A bicycle manufacturer known for producing both road and mountain bikes.

Overshoot: Jumping too far on a jump and landing past the intended landing zone.

O-Ring: A rubber ring found on suspension forks and rear shocks that helps riders see how much travel they’re using.

Opt Outside: A movement initiated by the outdoor retailer REI, encouraging people to spend Black Friday outdoors rather than shopping.

Offset: The distance the front axle is in front of the imaginary line drawn down the steering axis. It affects bike handling.

Oval Chainring: A type of chainring that’s not perfectly circular. Its design can help in smoother power transfer throughout the pedal stroke.

Oil Slick: A multi-colored, rainbow-like finish on certain bike components, especially popular on small parts like bolts or pedals.

Organic Brake Pads: Brake pads made from organic materials. They tend to be quieter but may wear out faster than metallic pads.

Outrigger: An extended part of a shoe or protective gear designed to provide additional stability or protection.


Pinch Flat: A type of puncture that occurs when the tire is compressed against the rim, often due to a hard impact, and results in two small holes (often called a “snakebite”).

Pump Track: A circuit of rollers and banked turns designed to be ridden without pedaling, where riders “pump” their bikes to gain momentum.

Pedal Bob: The unwanted bouncing of a bike’s rear suspension in response to pedaling forces.

Pedal Strike: When the pedal hits the ground, a rock, or any other obstacle while pedaling.

Presta Valve: A type of valve commonly found on bike tubes, especially on road and mountain bikes.

Pucker Factor: Slang for a scary or sketchy section of trail that makes you tense up.

Push Bike: Another term for a bike without pedals, often used to refer to balance bikes for kids.

Preride: Riding a racecourse before the actual race to familiarize oneself with the trail.

Podium: The place where the top racers stand during the awards ceremony, typically referring to the top three spots.

Power Meter: A device used to measure a rider’s power output, commonly used for training.

Pedal Platform: A feature in some rear suspension systems or shocks designed to reduce pedal bob.

Pannier: A bag or container that attaches to the sides of a bike, especially on a bike rack.

Plus-size Tires: Tires that are wider than typical mountain bike tires, usually in the 2.6″ to 3.0″ width range.

POV: Point of View. Refers to videos or photos shot from the rider’s perspective, typically using a helmet or chest-mounted camera.

Post Mount: A type of brake mount where the brake caliper is bolted directly to the fork or frame.

Peg: Cylindrical pieces that are attached to the axles of BMX bikes for grinding and tricks. While more common in BMX, they can sometimes be found on mountain bikes for specific trick purposes.

Progressive Suspension: Suspension that becomes stiffer as it’s compressed.

Play: Unwanted movement or wobble in a part, indicating it may be loose or worn out.

PSI: Stands for “Pounds per Square Inch.” It’s the unit of measurement for tire pressure.

Pivots: Points where the bike frame components move relative to each other, especially in full suspension bikes.

Plush: Describes suspension that feels very smooth and absorbent.

Popping: A quick and light lift-off, usually off a jump or feature, using the bike’s momentum and some body movement.

Privateer: A racer who competes without significant sponsor support or without being on a major team, essentially self-funded or with minimal sponsorship.

Pull Up: Lifting the front wheel or the whole bike up into the air using the handlebars.

Pin it: Slang for riding very fast.


QR (Quick Release): A type of skewer system used on bike wheels and seatpost clamps that allows for easy removal without the need for tools. The quick-release lever can be opened and closed by hand.

Q-Factor: Refers to the distance between the outside of one crank arm to the outside of the opposite crank arm. It’s an important measurement for some riders concerning pedal efficiency and comfort.

Quad: Slang for the quadriceps muscles in the thighs, which are crucial for pedaling.

Quickstep: A rapid cadence or quick pedaling, not to be confused with the road cycling team of the same name.

Quiver: Refers to a collection of bikes that a rider might own, each suited for different types of riding. For example, one might have a downhill bike, a trail bike, and a cross-country bike in their “quiver.”

Quarter Pipe: A ramp with a curved, quarter-circular profile used in bike parks and some dirt jump areas. Riders use it to gain air, perform tricks, or to change direction.


Rigid: A bike that lacks suspension. Common for some fat bikes, singlespeeds, and old-school mountain bikes.

Rim Brake: A type of brake that uses friction applied directly to the wheel rim to slow down the bike.

Roost: The spray of dirt kicked up from a rear tire, often when cornering aggressively.

Rear Triangle: The rear section of a bicycle frame, made up of the seat stays and chain stays.

Rebound: The rate at which a suspension component returns to its original position after being compressed.

Rock Garden: A section of trail covered in loose or embedded rocks that can be challenging to navigate.

Roller: A mound or bump on a trail that riders can either pump for speed or jump over.

Rotor: The disc in a disc brake system against which the brake pads are pressed to slow the bike.

Rake: The angle of the front fork’s offset, which affects steering and handling.

Ride it out: A phrase encouraging riders to continue despite challenging or uncertain terrain ahead.

Ramp up: The increasing resistance in a suspension fork or shock as it goes through its travel.

Race Face: A brand known for producing mountain bike components.

Ratchet: A type of hub mechanism that allows the rider to coast without the pedals turning.

Rider Down: A call or warning indicating that there’s a fallen rider on the trail.

Rooty: A section of trail that’s covered in or crisscrossed by exposed tree roots.

Rubber Side Down: A colloquial way of saying “stay safe” or “don’t crash.”

Rut: A groove or depression worn into a trail, often by the passage of bike tires or water.

Rail: To ride a turn or berm particularly smoothly and quickly.

Rideable: Refers to a trail or section that can be ridden without having to dismount.

Rock Shox: A prominent brand in the mountain biking world known for its suspension products.

Resin Pads: A type of brake pad material. Resin (or organic) pads are quieter but might wear faster than sintered (metallic) pads.

Rim Profile: The cross-sectional shape of a wheel rim, which can influence tire shape and performance.

Riser Bar: A type of handlebar that rises upward from the center clamp area, offering the rider a more upright position.

Rigid Fork: A front fork without any suspension.

Rad: Slang for something cool or impressive.

Rider’s Left/Right: Directions given from the rider’s perspective, often used to indicate features or obstacles on the trail.


Singletrack: A narrow trail designed for one-way bike traffic.

Suspension: The system of shocks and springs used on bikes to absorb impact.

Stem: The component connecting the handlebars to the bike’s fork steerer tube.

Seatpost: The tube that holds the saddle and inserts into the bike frame.

Switchback: A sharp turn in the trail, usually 180 degrees, often in mountainous terrain to reduce the gradient of ascents or descents.

Strava: A popular app used by cyclists to track rides and compete in virtual segments.

Slack: Describes a bike with a laid-back head angle, often indicating a more downhill or enduro focus.

Shimano: A major manufacturer of cycling components.

SRAM: Another major manufacturer of cycling components.

Spoke: The rods connecting the bike hub to the rim.

Seat Stay: The part of the frame that connects the top of the rear triangle to the seat tube.

Skinnies: Narrow wooden or rock features that riders balance and ride across.

Shred: To ride particularly hard or aggressively.

Stack: The vertical distance from the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube.

Scrub: To ride a jump without getting too much air, staying close to the ground.

Sag: The amount by which suspension compresses under the rider’s weight when they are seated and stationary.

Saddle: The bike seat.

Stoppie: A maneuver where the rider uses the front brake to lift the rear wheel off the ground.

Slickrock: A type of smooth, rounded sandstone found in some desert regions, like Moab, Utah.

Sintered Pads: A type of brake pad material. Sintered (or metallic) pads can handle heat better and last longer than organic pads but might be noisier.

Step-up: A jump where the landing is higher than the takeoff.

Send it: To go for a big jump or challenging section with commitment.

Spd: Shimano’s clipless pedal system.

Speed Wobble: An uncontrollable oscillation of the bike, usually at high speeds.

Shuttle: Using a vehicle to get to the top of a trail, especially for downhill runs.

Slippery When Wet: A sign or warning that a trail becomes particularly slick after rain.

Short Travel: A bike with relatively small suspension travel, often intended for cross-country or light trail use.

Stanchion: The upper, usually polished tube part of a suspension fork.

Sag Setting: Adjusting the suspension to achieve the desired sag.

Snakebite: A type of puncture with two holes caused by the rim pinching the inner tube, often due to low tire pressure.

Singlespeed: A bike with only one gear.

Side Knobs: The outermost knobs on a tire, crucial for cornering grip.

Spin: Pedaling at a high cadence.

Spd-SL: Shimano’s road bike clipless pedal system, occasionally used in MTB settings.

Sealed Bearing: Bearings that are sealed from the elements to reduce maintenance and increase lifespan.

Steer Tube: The tube at the top of a fork that the stem attaches to.

Sta-True: A term indicating that a wheel remains in true alignment, without warping or bending.


Trail Bike: A versatile type of mountain bike designed for a mix of uphill and downhill riding.

Travel: Refers to the amount of suspension movement a bike has, typically measured in millimeters.

Tubeless: A type of tire setup where the tire seals directly to the rim, eliminating the need for an inner tube.

Tread: The pattern of knobs on a tire that provides grip.

Tabletop: A type of jump with a flat top. Riders can safely roll over it without jumping.

Teardrop: A type of turn on a downhill trail that sharply curves back on itself.

Technical: Describes sections of a trail that are particularly challenging due to features like rocks, roots, or tight turns.

Track Stand: The act of balancing on a bike while stationary, often used in trials riding.

Trials: A style of riding focused on balance and skill where riders navigate obstacle courses without putting their feet down.

Tuck: A position where a rider minimizes their wind resistance by tucking in their limbs.

Truing: Adjusting a wheel so it spins straight without any side-to-side wobble.

Thru-Axle: A type of axle that provides more rigidity than a traditional quick-release.

Tire Bite: Marks left on a rider’s calf or leg from the tire when slipping off the pedals.

Trailhead: The start or entrance to a trail.

Triple: Refers to a chainset with three chainrings.

Toe Clip: A device attached to a pedal that a rider’s foot slides into, predating clipless pedal systems.

Transition: The curved surface that links the bottom of a jump to the top or the part where a downhill section changes to flat or uphill.

Twist Shift: A type of gear shifting mechanism operated by twisting a section of the handlebar grip.

Tandem: A bicycle designed for two riders, one behind the other.

Tail Whip: A trick where the rider jumps and spins the bike around horizontally beneath them.

Torque: The force applied in rotation, often referred to concerning tightening bolts or when discussing the power of an electric motor.

Taco: When a wheel is bent almost in half, often from a strong impact, resembling the shape of a taco.

Tube: Refers to the inner tube inside traditional tire setups.

Tread Pattern: The arrangement and design of the knobs on a tire.

Top Tube: The frame tube that runs from the head tube to the seat tube.

Throwing Shapes: The act of doing tricks or stylish moves in the air.

Toe Overlap (or Toe Strike): When the front of a rider’s shoe overlaps or can touch the front wheel, especially during turns.

Turbo Trainer: A device that allows a rider to ride their bike stationary, often used for indoor training.

Trail Dog: A dog that is trained to follow riders on trails, typically running behind or ahead of the rider.


Uphill: Refers to trails or sections of a trail that rise in elevation.

Urban MTB: A style of mountain biking done in urban areas, often involving jumps off of man-made structures.

U-Brake: A type of rim brake commonly found on BMX bikes and older mountain bikes.

Unweight: The act of lightening the load on a bike, especially the wheels, to clear obstacles or navigate tricky sections. This can be done by lifting off the saddle or using bunny hops.

Understeer: When the front wheel loses traction, especially in a corner, causing the bike to continue straight instead of turning.

Upgrade-itis: A humorous term used to describe a mountain biker’s constant desire to upgrade or buy new gear.

Upstroke: The upward phase of the pedal stroke.

UCI: Union Cycliste Internationale, the world governing body for the sport of cycling, including mountain biking events and races.

Ultra-Endurance Race: A race that goes beyond the typical marathon mountain biking distance, often over 100 miles.

Unicycle: A single-wheeled bike that requires considerable balance and is sometimes used for off-road or mountain unicycling.


V-Brake: A type of rim brake where the brake arms mount directly to the frame or fork, offering better stopping power than cantilever brakes. Also known as linear-pull brakes.

Valve: The component on a tube or tubeless setup where air is pumped in or let out. There are primarily two types of valves used in mountain biking: Presta and Schrader.

Volume Spacer: A component used in suspension forks or rear shocks to adjust the air volume, allowing riders to tune the progression of their suspension.

Vertical Drop: The total descent in altitude on a trail or course.

Velo: French for “bicycle,” sometimes used colloquially among cyclists.

Venting: When a hydraulic brake system gets too hot, causing boiling brake fluid which can result in brake fade or complete brake failure.

Virtual Pivot Point (VPP): A patented suspension design used by brands like Santa Cruz and Intense that provides specific performance benefits regarding pedal efficiency and bump absorption.

Variable Terrain: A section of a trail that changes frequently, offering a mix of surfaces or challenges.

Vision: A rider’s ability to read the trail ahead and anticipate the best lines or approach for obstacles.


Wheelie: A basic bike trick where the rider lifts the front wheel off the ground and rides on the back wheel.

Whip: A bike trick where the rider throws the rear end of the bike out to one side while airborne.

Washout: When the front wheel loses traction, especially in a turn, causing the rider to fall.

Wheelbase: The distance between the centers of the front and rear wheels on a bike. A longer wheelbase typically offers more stability, while a shorter one provides maneuverability.

Wheelset: Refers to both the front and rear wheels of a bike.

Wallride: A maneuver where the rider rides along a vertical wall or surface.

Watts: A unit of power used to measure a cyclist’s performance, especially in relation to training or electronic drivetrains.

Wobble: An unstable movement of the bike, especially at high speeds, also known as “speed wobble” or “death wobble”.

Wide Bars: Handlebars that are wider than typical, providing better control and stability but potentially making tight spaces more challenging.

Water Bottle Cage: The bracket attached to a bike frame used to hold a water bottle.

Wrist Guard: Protective gear worn by riders to protect their wrists in case of a fall.

Weight Distribution: Refers to how a rider’s weight is spread across the bike, affecting handling and control.

Weld: The joints on a metal bike frame where tubes are joined.

Wicking: Refers to materials in cycling apparel that draw moisture away from the skin to keep the rider dry.

Workstand: A stand used to hold a bike off the ground, making it easier to perform maintenance or repairs.

Wings: Playful term referring to the pedals, especially when a rider’s feet fly off them in mid-air.

Wrench: Another term for a mechanic or someone who works on bikes.

World Cup: A series of international mountain biking races overseen by the UCI.

Wrap: Protective or decorative material that is applied to a frame or components to prevent damage or personalize the look of a bike.

Winter Beater: A bike used during the winter months, often older or less expensive, to avoid damaging a primary bike.


X-Country (XC): Short for Cross Country. This refers to a type of mountain biking that generally means riding long distances on trails, including both climbing and descending. XC bikes are typically lightweight and designed for efficiency over long distances.

X-Up: A trick in which the rider turns the handlebars 180 degrees in one direction while airborne, and then turns them back before landing.

XD Driver: A type of rear hub driver body made by SRAM. It’s designed to work with their 11 and 12-speed cassettes, allowing for a 10-tooth smallest cog.

X-Fusion: A company that manufactures suspension forks and shocks for mountain bikes.

XTR: A high-end mountain bike component groupset made by Shimano. It’s considered top-of-the-line within Shimano’s mountain biking range.

XX: A designation by SRAM indicating a top-tier level of components, as in XX1 Eagle, their high-end 12-speed drivetrain.


Yard Sale: A slang term used when a rider crashes, and their equipment (bike, water bottles, tools, etc.) gets scattered all over the place, resembling a yard sale.

Yoke: A component that connects the rear shock to the bike frame in certain full-suspension designs.

Yeti: A well-known brand of mountain bikes. Yeti Cycles has been in the industry for many years and is known for producing high-quality bikes and sponsoring competitive mountain biking teams.

Yaw: Refers to the rotational movement of the bike around its vertical axis. In bike components, SRAM uses “Yaw” to describe the angle of movement in some of their front derailleurs, which is designed to improve shifting.

Youth Category: In racing, a classification for younger riders. The specific age range might vary based on the event or organization.


Zig-Zag: Refers to a winding path or trail, often used to navigate steep terrains or to add technical challenge.

Zero Stack Headset (ZS): A type of headset where the bearings sit inside the frame as opposed to on top, which can result in a lower stack height.

Zone: Being “in the zone” refers to a mental state where the rider feels hyper-focused, connected with the trail, and performing at their best.

Zipline: Informal term for a long, straight, and steep section of trail, often with a fast descent.

Zinn: Referring to Lennard Zinn, a known figure in the mountain biking community, especially for his books on bike maintenance and his custom bicycle builds.

ZTR: Stands for “Stan’s NoTubes Racing” and is often seen on rims. Stan’s NoTubes is a company known for their tubeless tire systems.


As we navigate the dynamic trails and terrains of mountain biking, the language we use becomes an integral part of the experience. It binds the community, provides clarity during rides, and adds a dash of flair to our biking tales.

With the “Mountain Bike Terms A to Z: Ultimate Guide” in your toolkit, you’re now equipped not just to ride the trails but to talk the talk.

Whether you’re recounting a gnarly descent to fellow riders or explaining the nuances of a dropper post to a newbie, your mastery over MTB jargon, slang, and phrases will undoubtedly enhance your biking journey.

Remember, just as trails evolve and change, so does the language. Stay curious, stay updated, and most importantly, keep shredding!