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Talk like a biker!
Mountain Biking Dictionary
Looking for names of bike parts? Click here.

ATV  Enemy of singletrack, hated by tree-huggers, and the transportation-of-choice those who don't want to work at their recreation.. Usage: "That ATV kicked a rock right into my face!"

Backpedal  Moving the pedals backward slightly to alter the position in the stroke, usually to avoid striking the pedal on an object sticking up on the side of the trail. Usage: "I had to backpedal to clear that rock."

Bail  To jump from the bike as it crashes, as opposed to staying clipped-in as the bike stomps you into the sandstone. Usage: "I caught the rock with the front tire, so I had to bail."

Buffed  Smoothed trail, referring to dirt singletrack. Opposite of "Cratered." Usage: "This trail is really buffed today."

Bunny hop  Making a tiny jump by throwing your weight down onto the pedals, then letting the bike rebound into the air. Usually done as the bike front tire hits a small rock or root. Usage: "I took a bunny hop over the puddle."

Catch air  To launch off an edge, rock, or root -- more than a bunny hop. When extra long or high, it's referred to as "major air." Usage: "See if you can catch air off that log."

Clean   To ride the bike successfully over or through a difficult obstacle, such as a water-diversion log, root, rock ledge, or tight turn without taking a "dab." Usage: "I cleaned that big log on the way up." "I finally rode that rocky switchback clean."

Clear  To get past or over an obstacle without striking a part of the bike. Usage: "I thought I could clear that stump, but I hit the chainring."

Click out  To deliberately disengage the cleat from the pedal, often prior to a difficult stunt, with the foot simply standing on the pedal. "I'm going to click out before trying that."

Clipped in  Locked into your pedals, rather than simply standing on the pedal. Usage: "On this section, I don't like to ride clipped in."

Chain-suck   A dreaded condition where the chain gets gooey with dirty grease or mud, and it "sucks" up around the small chain ring, locking the pedals abruptly. Usage: "I'm going to my middle ring, because I'm getting chain-suck every ten feet!"

Choke  To begin a difficult stunt, then fail due to loss of confidence or a too-timid approach. Usage: "I fell because I choked coming over the log drop."

Cratered   Trail with multiple deep horse hoofprints. Usage: "This trail is sure cratered today."

Cruise   (1) Trail that allows fast downhill riding. Usage: "North Mill Creek is a real cruise." (2) Downhill riding while letting the bike run (without brakes and without pedalling) over long sections. Usage: "I'm going to cruise this section."

Dab  To put a foot down to steady the bike during a difficult section of trail. Opposite of riding clean. Usage: "I had to take a dab on that turn."

Deadfall   Trees or major limbs that have been knocked down and are lying across the trail. Usage: "We had to stop a few times to move deadfall off the trail."

Doubletrack  Dirt road, or two bike trails side by side. What real mountain bikers try to avoid. Usage: "In two miles, we dump onto the doubletrack."

Dual suspension   Bike with both front and rear shock absorbers. Usage: "I'm going to buy a dual suspension."

Endo  To crash directly forward with the front tire stopped, so the back tire leaves the ground and the bike rotates forward and tips upside down. Usage: "I almost endo'd coming off that log."

Fall line  A term borrowed from skiing, referring to the most direct path down the slope. Usage: "At this next turn, the trail runs straight down the fall line."

Feather  To apply gentle off-and-on pressure to the brake lever. Usage: "The loose rock is a little tricky, so you should feather your brakes."

Fishtail  To slide the bike on loose rock or dirt, with the back end skidding back and forth. Usage: "I fishtailed down the entire slope."

Hike  When used by mountain bikers, refers to walking a section while your bike rolls alongside you. Usage: "The uphill here is too rough. It will be a hike."

Hammer down   To ride seriously hard and fast. See Romp. Usage: "It's getting dark. Let's hammer down."

Hardtail  Bike with front shock absorber, but no rear shock. Also called a buttkicker. Usage: "I can't believe you jumped that on a hardtail."

Hopturn  To jump into the air, pivot the bike, and land with the bike facing another direction. Usage: "The only way to ride that switchback is with a hopturn."

Horse's Butt  Human who, while riding a large smelly animal, doesn't see any reason to step the horse to the side of the trail to let bikers past. Usage: "We were stuck behind a horse's butt for a half mile."

Line  Route or path through obstacles, when different paths are possible. Usage: "I didn't pick a good line coming off that face."

Log drop  Where a log has been placed in a dirt trail for erosion control, forming a "cliff" that the bike drops off while heading downhill. Can be used to catch air. Usage: "There are some great log drops on Tibble Fork."

Loop  Trail that requires no turning back; riding one-way puts you back where you started. Usage: "The south fork can be ridden as a loop."

Not rock  Refers to air. As in, the air found adjacent to the edge of a cliff. Usage: "Be careful going around that bush. There's major Not Rock on your left."

Out-and-back  Opposite of loop. Ride one-way, then turn around and ride the same trail back to the starting point. Usage: "I ride the Ridge Trail as an out-and-back."

Pinchflat   See Snakebite

Point-to-point  One-way ride, usually a ride that's too long to do as an out-and-back. Often requires a shuttle car. Usage: "We'll ride Gemini Bridges as a point-to-point."

Portage  A long rough or extremely steep section of trail that's impossible to ride, often requiring that the bike be carried. (As opposed to a "hike," where the bike may be walked alongside the biker.) Usage: "To get up from Jackson Hole is a rough portage."

Rigid   Bike without any shock absorbers, also called a hardbody. Usage: "You'll beat yourself to death riding that trail on a rigid."

Roadkill   Dogs (and sometimes hikers) that remain in the middle of the trail as a bike approaches at high speed. Usage: "I couldn't ride 100 yards without stopping for roadkill."

Rock garden   A section of trail studded with large rocks, making it difficult to ride. Usage: "I broke a spoke in the rock garden back there."

Romp  To ride hard and fast, but with a more lighthearted approach than "hammer down." Usage: "Let's romp!"

Sand dig   Section of trail with deep soft sand, tending to bog bikes down. Usage: "There's a long sand dig from here to the mountain."

Shuttle   A car that is used to transport bikers between trail end and the vehicle that's at the trailhead.

Sidehop   To jump the bike directly sideways. Used to move the bike sideways onto small ledges or over cracks that run parallel to the direction of travel. Usage: "You'll need to sidehop the crack in the rock."

Singletrack  Narrow trail in the dirt, suitable only for bikes, horses, and hikers. Usage: "After a mile of dirt road, the trail becomes a singletrack."

Slickrock  Wide expanses of open rock, usually sandstone. Also the name of a specific trail in Moab. Usage: "Gooseberry Mesa alternates firm singletrack with great slickrock."

Slide out  To overshoot a turn, sliding sideways off the trail, due to losing grip on the trail. Usage: "Did you see me slide out on that turn?"

Snakebite   Flat tire with two adjacent holes in the tube. Caused by tube being pinched between the ground and wheel rim. Usage: "I got a snakebite coming off the conglomerate."

Spin out  (1) To lose traction with the rear tire during a difficult climb. Usage: "I was doing fine until I spun out on that rock."  (2) To slide with the back end coming around into the direction of travel, usually on a turn with a loose surface. Usage: "I scraped my knee when I spun out on that switchback."

Surfing  Two-wheel slide on loose trail debris. Usage: "I couldn't even touch my brakes without surfing."

Swamp  Wet gooey trail surface. Usage: "At this time of year, the first section of Blackhawk is a swamp."

Switchback  A tight turn, usually when the trail reverses direction while climbing a steep hill. Usage: "That switchback was too tight to ride."

Trail apples  Evidence of the passage of horses. Usage: "I ran into the brush trying to dodge the trail apples."

Trailhead   The start of the ride, where the trail can be reached by car. A trail may have several trailheads. Usage: "We'll take the Suburban up to the trailhead."

Trials  Bike stunts involving wheelstands, wheelies, balancing, and jumping onto or over objects. Usage: "We were practicing trials in the motel parking lot."

Washboard  Regular bumps in the trail, like waves on the ocean, usually created in areas where bikers apply brakes. Usage: "There's a rough washboard section before that first turn."

Water bar  Log or row of rocks placed across the trail to divert water off the trail. Usage: "There's loose rock uphill from that water bar."

Wheelie  So ride with the front tire off the ground. Used to get the front tire over an obstacle or to keep the front end up when dropping over an edge. Usage: "I didn't have enough speed to launch off the ledge, so I just wheelied off."

Wheelstand  To balance on the front tire. Often the unintended consequence of choking and applying the brakes on a steep downslope, and often followed by an endo. Usage: "I did a wheelstand coming off that log."

Wipeout  Same meaning as in surfing, except with blood and crunching sounds. Uncontrolled crash. Usage: "I had a major wipeout in the gully."