On September 20, 2023
Mountain Biking

Talk the talk


Lingo to help spectators understand common mountain bike terms

Trail features

Berm, noun, a banked corner that can be ridden faster than a flat corner. A common feature in any mountain bike park.

Booter, noun, a large jump that requires a lot of commitment.

Flow, adjective or noun, the way a trail is constructed, much of the time by excavation machines, for a more smooth, predictable surface. Flow trails consist of berms, rollers, and/or jumps. 

Rake & ride, adjective or noun, an old-style method of trail building that uses the terrain’s natural fall line and exposes roots, rocks and other natural features. Some are so rough they’ll “chatter the fillings out of your teeth.”

Gap, noun, a jump takeoff and landing  with no dirt in the middle, increasing the risk for the rider. 

Kicker, noun, a jump with a steep takeoff, giving the rider a lot of lift.

Loam, noun, specific type of loose, dry dirt, which is desirable for its driftability.

Roller, noun, a bump in the trail used to gain speed by pumping over it. 

Skinny, noun, a narrow piece of wood (similar to a balance beam) for riding a bike across, requiring balance skills.

Step-down, noun, a jump where the landing is lower than the take off. 

Step-up, noun, a jump where the landing is higher than the take off. 

Table-top, noun, a jump where the gap is filled in with dirt. 

Singletrack, noun, a narrow MTB trail that’s the width of a single bike.

Doubletrack, noun, two trails that run parallel to each other; also called a Jeep trail.

Riding style

Boost, verb, to go fast and high off a jump.

Bottom out, verb, to use up all the travel (suspension) on the bike from a large impact off a drop or jump. 

Case, verb, to not clear the landing of the jump or gap. 

Clean, verb, to complete a section of trail without crashing, stopping or taking your feet off the pedals.

Gnarly, adjective, an especially difficult feature or part of trail.

Huck, verb, launching off a big jump, often without much regard for the consequences. 

OTB, acronym, over the bars, as in, a crash.

Pump, verb, a technique where a rider gains speed without pedaling. 

Scrub, verb, a motocross technique used to keep low and fast over a jump.

Shred, verb, negotiating trails with a higher-than-usual level of expertise.

Whip, verb, when the bike is pushed sideways in the air. 

Misc. terms

Dialed, verb, when everything is working and runs smoothly.

Granny gear, noun, the lowest (easiest) gear, as in, only your grandmother would need to use it; but good for extreme steeps (or for the profoundly out-of-shape).

Lunch laps, noun, when you have about 40 minutes to get in a quick ride mid-day.

MTB, acronym, for mountain bike.

PSI, acronym, pounds per square inch, the measurement used for tire inflation. 

Session, verb, to repeat a section of trail until you have perfected it; or simply, to go out and ride with friends.



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