The Mountain Bike Dictionary / Glossary

The Mountain Bike Dictionary / Glossary

This is a handy glossary /dictionary of all terms mountain biking that will come your way as you start out. It's not an exhaustive list. All communities all over the world have their own language that connects them. This is ours. (feel free to comment on ones not filled in yet or to add/ challenge meanings):

Riding styles and general terms


Both wheels off the ground in a jump or off a drop


Jumped off bike (to avoid an off)


This is a device used on bicycles to protect components, usually the drivetrain, from damage in the case of a strike with an objectBerm: Large banked corner

Bomb hole:

Large hole that looks like a bomb went off. Lots of fun riding down but can be challenge getting up the  other side. Trick is maintaining momentum


Low blood sugar level. Tired / zonked / weak / drained on your ride. Avoid it by snacking regularly or using an energy drink / bar


A plastic vessel that carries water in your backpack / camelpack and is accessible via a tube

Bunny hop:

A front wheel lift followed by back wheel lift over an object


Movement when turning a corner focussing power on the front wheel i.e. carving that corner with your front wheel


A metal or plastic piece that attaches to the bottom of a shoe

Clipped in:

Riding pedals that are SPD's. Requires special shoe and cleat

Compression damping:

Refers to systems that slow the rate of compression in a front fork shock or rear shock.


Sharp corner back wheel slides

Dirt Jump:

Large mound made of dirt for jumping


Two mounds next to each other (rider jumps gap)


A distance of vertical height that needs to be cleared

Drop offs:

A drop (like a step) you need to get your bike over or down safely


Lifting up the back of the bike whilst balancing on the front tyre (and not going head over heels)

Egg Beaters:

A type of pedals that look like a whisk that clip you in

Face plant:

A fall off the bike where you land on your face


Pedals that have flat platforms (not clipped in SPD's)


This  is a discipline of mountain biking closely related to downhill cycling and dirt jumping focused on tricks, style, and technical trail features

Full suspension:

A front suspension fork and rear suspension with a rear shock and linkage that allow the rear wheel to move on pivots.


A distance horizontally between two points that needs to be jumped


A frame with a front suspension fork and no rear suspension.


Throwing yourself (i.e. you and your bike) off things e.g. a drop a or a physical object. Often used in dirt jumping and street riding.


Mound with lip for taking off from


Refers to a mechanism to disable a suspension mechanism to render it substantially rigidManual: Riding back side off the saddle on your back wheel with front wheel off the ground


Fall off the bike


Gaining momentum on your bike without pedalling


Refers to the force applied to spring component before external loads, such as rider weight, are applied. More preload makes the suspension sag less and less preload makes the suspension sag more. Adjusting preload affects the ride height of the suspension.


This is an old word for cool that has come back to be a new word for cool as things that go around come around. Also means something that requires the use of skills, usually of a physical persuasion with some element of danger involved.

Rail'd it:

Did it


Refers to the rate at which the suspension component returns to its original configuration after absorbing a shock.Rock garden: A selection of rocks on the trails that need to be ridden through / over


A mound of earth that can be ridden over or jumped

Roll Ins:

Entering from flat to near vertical steep gradient down

Roll Outs:

Leaving them at the bottom


Refers to how much a suspension moves under just the static load of the rider. Sag is often used as one parameter when tuning a suspension for a rider. Manages effectiveness and plushness of suspension


Crazy, cool, insane

Single-speed bicycle:

This is a type of bicycle with a single gear ratio

Single Pivot:

The single pivot is the simplest type of rear suspension. It simply consists of a pivot near the bottom bracket or higher up on the down tube and a single swingarm to the rear axle.


Back wheel slides put whilst braking


(Shimano Pedal Dynamics) is a design of clipless bicycle pedals.

Step Downs:

A drop that has a gap to clear

Step up:

A Jump preceded by a gap


Tight corner that allows you to change direction traversing up a mountain


Large mound with flat top you jump over


Incline on a hill e.g landing both wheels on the transition


Distance of suspension. It refers to how much movement a suspension mechanism allows. It usually measures how much the wheel axle moves.


Riding seated balancing on your back wheel


Movement when jumping when you push the back of the bike out to the side

Wiped out:

Fall off the bike / Crash