Trail Talk - MTB Glossary

May 04, 2015

The world of mountain bike riding can often be confusing – we tend to use a language of our own that can be difficult to follow for even the most seasoned riders.

So if you’re new to the MTB scene we’ve thrown together a few of the more common words and expressions you might commonly hear around the place. We’ve added some definitions to help clear things up so you won’t feel left out next time the topic turns to dirt!

Baggies - Loose clothing worn when riding, can vary from just regular shorts and t-shirts to overly matching motor cross style pants and jerseys. Wearing baggies tends not to offend other cafe patrons at a post ride coffee.

Bottom Out - To use up all the travel of the suspension.

Case - Landing short of the down ramp or transition from a jump. Almost always will bottom out the bike and can lead to some nasty crashes.

Chainsuck - When the chain wraps around the chain ring and jams into the frame, this is made worse by muddy conditions and worn drive trains.

Chute - Steep, narrow and straight section of trail.

Clutch Derailleur - Derailleur with a spring clutch mechanism that increases chain tension to avoid the chain coming loose and falling off, also known as type II or shadow plus derailleurs.

Cross Country/XC - Encompasses riding over mixed terrain, up, down and around hills. This discipline generally favours fitness over skill, although underestimate the skill of top line XC racers at your own peril; these riders know their way around a trail. Races come in varied formats from eliminator and crit racing to 100km marathons and multi-day stage races. Cross Country bikes can be hardtails or duallies (definitions below) with around 100mm of travel (another definition below).

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Downhill - Quite simply riding down a hill, but definitely not riding back up. Shuttle vehicles or chairlifts are used to get back to the top of the hill. The bikes used for downhill riding have around 200mm of travel.

Drift - Sliding sideways whilst cornering, rear wheel drifts are cool, two wheel drifts are the stuff of legends and front wheel drifts tend to lead to wash outs.

Dually - A bike with front and rear suspension. A bike with five inches of travel is referring to the amount of rear suspension.

Enduro - This one gets confusing, is it can refer to Gravity Enduro or Cross Country Enduro. Gravity Enduro is like a car rally stage race with timed special stages, mostly downhill and untimed liaison stages, mostly uphill. Cross Country Enduro is racing around a lap course for a set duration ranging from three hours to 24 hours.

Fat Bike - A recent phenomenon of bikes having tyres around four inches wide. They excel at riding in snow and sand.

Full Face Helmet - Similar to a motocross helmet, this helmet covers your whole head and provides a great amount of protection. Generally worn with goggles, sunglasses and a full face should NEVER be seen together!

mountain bike glossary

Full Rigid - A bike with no suspension, ridden by sadistic people who hate themselves. Usually single speed.

Hardpack - Solid dirt surface on the trail, in some cases can be as hard as concrete. This surface has a very low rolling resistance and lots of grip which leads to some fast riding conditions.

Hardtail - A bike with no rear suspension, pretty fast up hills and can be a bit of a handful down hills.

Huck - Jumping your bike off a drop off, mostly to a flat landing. Hucking to flat is pretty rad, but can sometimes end badly.

Loam - Loose dirt of varying depths on the trail. New tracks are commonly deep in loam and pine forests are another prime location for loam.

Off Camber - The banking of the corner is opposite to the direction of the corner. These corners require great skill to ride fast and in control, drifts often ensue. Sam Hill is the king of off camber.

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One by (1x) - Drive train with a single front chain ring.

Open Face Helmet - Standard bicycle helmet, visors are quite fine on a mountain bike helmet, but should be kept on the dirt and never seen on a road bike.

Railing Turns - Cornering like you are glued to the track, really fast. This is how the pros ride.

Roost - Spraying dirt or mud out from your tyres when cornering. A standard feature of mountain bike films will be riders roosting dirt onto the camera.

Sag - The amount your suspension compresses under your weight; too much sag will take away from the available travel, too little sag will make the suspension very stiff and not all the travel will be used.

Sealant - Liquid latex that helps seal tyres to the rim and seals small punctures in the tyre. Often referred to as Stan's, this can leave a very interesting looking goo ball in your tyre as it dries out and hardens.

Single Speed - A bike with one gear, it's best to have a beard and a bad attitude if you're going to ride a single speed.

Skid - Locking up your wheel, these are not cool and should never be mistaken for a drift.

Stanchion - The upright shafts of suspension forks that travel into the lowers of the fork. Black or gold stanchions are the colours to have, just to show how much your forks are worth. Scratches on stanchions are bad news, so take care and inspect them often for signs of wear.

mountain bike glossary b

Technical - The term mountain bikers often use to describe terrain that challenges their riding skills. It can include tight corners, rocks, tree roots, steep sections, rough track or ruts.

Tomahawk - The rider goes flying and somersaulting though the air after a crash. This is pretty bad news for the rider.

Travel - Not how far you have gone to ride, but the amount of movement in the suspension.

Tubeless - Putting your tyres on with no tubes. This requires a sealed internal rim surface and generally a tubeless ready tyre. Running a tubeless set up allows the use of lower tyre pressure and reduces the chances of flat tyres in most situations.

Wash Out - Turning a corner and the front wheel slides out from underneath, typically ending in the rider on the ground with some gravel rash and a bruised ego.

Now that things are cleared up, get out there on the trails and have some fun.

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