The Mountain Bike Slang Dictionary
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- A -
acro-brat n. little kids who use their bikes like pogo sticks, with
pegs coming out of the front axle. Should be confined to the
circus or other freak show reviews.
air n. space between the tires and the ground. (Both tires must
be off the ground or it isn't "air".) Said to be caught or gotten.
anchor n. your child, or children (anchors) that keep(s) you
from riding. "Wait till you anchors grow up, you'll have road rash
for breakfast and prunes for dinner!" To be used as an endearing, not
ano adj. frequently-misspelled abbreviation for "anodized".
See purple ano.
ATB n. All-Terrain Bike or Biking. A synonym for MTB.
auger v. to involuntarily take samples of the local geology,
usually with one's face, during a crash. See face plant.
- B -
bacon n. scabs on a rider's knees, elbows, or other body parts.
bail v. to jump off in order to avoid an imminent crash.
beartrap 1) v. to slip off one pedal, causing the other pedal
to slam one in the shin, when one gets kracked with a pedal. 2) n.
the toothlike scars resulting from being beartrapped.
betty n. any female rider.
biff n. a crash. Synonyms: wipeout. v. "I biffed and then wiped
away the blood."
biopace adj. a now-discredited Shimano techno-fad where the
chainrings were made intentionally not circular -- instead, they
were elliptical, in order to (allegedly) smooth the power delivery,
by giving the rider an effectively lower gear for part of the spin
cycle. Now used to describe any uneven pedaling motion. Also used as
a synonym for pogo-ing.
boing-boing n. a bike with full (front and rear) suspension.
Might possibly be considered offensive by certain owners of said
boink v. same as bonk.
bolt-on n. a woman with breast implants. Derived from the term
for after-market bicycle parts that are literally bolted on.
bomb v. to ride with wild disreagard to personal safety.
bonk v. to run out of energy or grow exhausted on a ride. "I
bonked so early it was embarrassing."
bra n. the rubber strip placed inside the rim to protect the
tube from the nipples.
brain n. a biking computer, usually featuring an odometer, speedometer,
clock, and other "important" display modes.
brain bucket n. helmet.
brain sieve n. a helmet featuring more vents than protective
bring home a Christmas tree v. to ride (or crash) through dense
bushes, so leaves and branches are hanging from your bike
and helmet. See prune.
BSG n. acronym for "Bike Store Guy".
bunny n. 1. same as betty, but used to emphasize the female
rider's body; could be considerd insulting to some. 2. female
bunny hop v. to lift both wheels off the ground by crouching
down and then exploding upward, pulling the bike with you.
Useful for clearing obstructions, such as curbs, potholes, logs. Differs
from its older BMX & trials meaning -- see jump.
burrito n. a rim braking surface that's bent inward towards
the tube, forming a section that looks rolled like a burrito.
buzz n. euphoric feeling. Commonly used after a particularly
hard passage is successfully completed. "I got such a buzz after
that uphill grunt."
- C -
carve v. (from skiing) to ride with great speed around the corners
of a twisting fire road.
captain crash v. to "go down with the ship". Usually the result
of a novice spud-user failing to clip out in time.
cashed adj. to be too tired to ride any farther; bonked.
chainring tattoo n. the dotted-line scar you get from gouging
your shin on the chainring. See rookie mark.
chainsuck n. condition when the bike chain gets jammed between
the frame and the chain rings, or when the chainring is so
worn that it holds onto the chain and lifts it up to meet the incoming
part of the chain.
chunder v. to crash.
clean v. to negotiate a trail successfully without crashing.
"I cleaned that last section."
cleanie n. one who desires to remain clean; a wimp who will
not have fun, stays on the clean trails.
clipless adj. misleading name for a pedal-and-shoe system where
the clips or cleats clip onto the soles of special shoes. Called
"clipless" because you can't see the clips when you're clipped in.
Contrast with toe clips.
clip out (or, sometimes, click out) v. to disengage one's spuds.
cloon n. slamming into the ground, resulting in a ringing head,
or a delay in the action. Term used in biking, skiing, and snow
cockrotter n. one who allows his bike to fall in disrepair,
and whose bike invariably fails him at some point in every ride. These
people don't know why their bike always breaks, and often would rather
buy new parts than keep their bike in good condition.
condom n. the little plastic or rubber thing that protects your
tube's valve stem from rim damage.
corndog v. to become covered in silt, usually after a fall.
cranial disharmony adv. how one's head feels after augering.
"When my lid nailed that rock, I had a definite feeling of cranial
crotch-testing n. sudden impact between a male rider's private
parts and something very hard and pointy, such as a handlebar
stem or seat.
curb grind n. expensive erasure of low-hanging, shiny parts
of the bike on a curb or rock.
curb slide v. to place the front wheel up on a curb and allow
the rear tire to scrape along the curb, usually resulting in a loud
- D -
dab v. to put a foot down in order to catch your balance on a difficult
section of trail. "I made it without crashing, but I had to
death cookies n. fist-sized rocks that knock your bike in every
direction but the one you want to proceed in.
death march n. a ride that turns into an investigation of your
endurance limit. "The bridge was out, and I had to go all the way
back the way I came. So the morning's nice, easy ride turned into a
Bataan death march."
dialed in adj. when a bike is set up nicely and everything works
digger n. a face plant. "Look at that guy on that gnarly single
track... he's going to go over the bars and do a digger."
dirt bike n. an off-road motorcycle. Usually louder than MTBs.
drillium n. any part with lots of holes drilled in it to make
dual-track n. a dirt road used by four-wheeled vehicles rarely
enough that their tires have made ruts that became parallel
singletracks. Also called doubletrack. See singletrack.
- E -
endo n. the maneuver of flying unexpectedly over the handlebars,
thus being forcibly ejected from the bike. Short for "end over
end". "I hit that rock and went endo like nobody's business." See "superman".
In BMX riding, "endo" used to be a synonym for
engine n. the rider.
enscarfment n. a food break at the edge of a cliff.
- F -
face plant n. hitting the ground face first. "Joe hit a tree root
and did a spectacular face plant." Synonyms: auger, digger, soil
sample, spring planting.
fair grunt n. an expression exclusively used non-chalantly by
others to describe a death march, in hopes others will try it, fail,
and revere them as bike gods.
first blood n. credit to the first rider in a group who crashes
and starts bleeding as a result.
foot fault n. when a rider can't disengage his cleats from the
pedals before falling over. See horizontal track stand.
fred n. 1) a person who spends a lot of money on his bike and
clothing, but still can't ride. "What a fred -- too much Lycra and
titanium and not enough skill." Synonym for poser. Occasionally called
a "barney". 2) (from road riding) a person who has a
mishmash of old gear, does't care at all about technology or fashion,
didn't race or follow racing, etc. Often identified by
chainring marks on white calf socks. Used by "serious" roadies to disparage
utility cyclists and touring riders, especially after
these totally unfashionable "freds" drop the "serious" roadies on hills
because the "serious" guys were really posers. According
to popular myth, "Fred" was a well-known grumpy old touring rider,
who really was named Fred.
front wheelie n. what endo used to mean in BMX: a trick where
the rider applies the front brake and lifts the back wheel off
the ground; this is the basis for many BMX tricks. Most riders cannot
pedal effectively while doing a front wheelie.
FS or F/S adj. an ambiguous term, can mean Front Suspension
or Full Suspension. Not used by anyone who wishes to be
- G -
giblets n. all the colorful parts and pieces that you can add or
change out on a bike.
gonzo adj. treacherous, extreme. "That vertical drop was sheer
granny gear n. the lowest gear available on a bike, which only
a grandmother would need to use; designed for steep uphill
climbing, but extremely easy to pedal in on flat ground.
gravity check n. a fall.
grindies n. e.g., "All that dried mud and sand left me with
a loud case of the grindies in my drivetrain."
grunt n. a very difficult climb, requiring use of the granny
gutter bunny n. a bicycling commuter.
- H -
half-track n. a trail so narrow and/or overgrown that you'd hesitate
even to call it singletrack.
hammer v. to ride fast and hard. n. someone who hammers.
hardtail n. any bike with front suspension but no rear suspension.
Contrast with rigid and F/S.
HOHA n. Hateful Old Hikers Association. "HOHA members hate mountain
bicyclists with a fervor exceeding that of rabid
honk v. to vomit due to cycling exurtion.
horizontal track stand n. a foot fault that happens at a stop
- I -
IMBA n. International Mountain Biking Association. An organization
for trail advocacy.
impedimentia n. all the junk on a bike that impeeds performance
and looks bad.
involuntary dismount n. a crash.
- J -
jet v. to accelerate quickly; to go very fast.
jump n. or v. where we now say bunny hop, BMXers used to say
- K -
kack n. an injury to the shin received while doing trials, a kack
can be the result of any injury receive during technical riding.
kick-out n. a bunny hop in which the rider pushes the back tire
to one side.
- L -
LBS n. acronym for "Local Bike Shop".
lid n. helmet.
line n. the desirable path or strategy to take on a tricky trail
- M -
male blindness n. when a male rider watches a beautiful female ride
over rough terrain and stares intensely at all the jiggling
parts, making him too dizzy to see straight when it's his turn to ride
the same terrain.
mandibular disharmony adv. how one's jaw feels when it and the
handle bars attempt to occupy the same space and time.
"Fuck!" "Pray, whats wrong?" "I've got mandibular disharmony."
mantrap n. hole covered with autumn leaves, resembling solid
earth and effective at eating the front wheel of the unsuspecting
Marin n. (muh RINN') the county in Northern California where
MTBing is said to have been invented. Just north of the
Golden Gate Bridge.
mo n. momentum. "If you don't get in gear at the bottom of that
hill, you'll lose your mo."
mojo n. charm or icon worn by a biker or attached to the bike.
MTB n. the activity of MounTain Biking. Or a mountain bike itself.
v. "MTBing". See ATB, OHV, ORV, VTT.
mud diving n. what happens when a bike slows abruptly in mud,
throwing the rider into wet goo.
mud-ectomy v. 1) a shower after a ride on a muddy trail. 2)
the act of becoming clean.
- N -
nard guard n. used to prevent wang chung.
nipple n. the nut at the end of a spoke that nobody knows the
real name for.
nirvana n. the state of being in absolute control and totally
in tune with your bike, the trail, and your physical strength. "I was
just doing it all so smoothly and delicately and quickly, it was nirvana!"
Synonym for The Zone.
NORBA n. National Off-Road Bicycling Association. They organize
most of the larger races.
nosepickium n. the crusties you pick from your nose after a
ride in a dusty environ.
- O -
OHV, ORV n. Acronyms for Off-Highway Vehicle and Off-Road Vehicle.
These have motors and are not bicycles.
over-the-bar blood donor n. a rider who is injured while doing an endo.
- P -
panic skid v. to try with all one's will and strength to prevent
an impending stack by attempting to implant one's heels as deeply
as possible in the ground. Usually a dumb idea.
pimp n. a Bike Store Guy who is always trying to sell stuff
on the trail. "Blow off, pimp. If I want your opinion, I'll give it to
pogo v. to bounce on a full-suspension bike like a pogo stick.
Also, for a full-suspension bike to bounce annoyingly and
poser n. derogatory term for people with $7,000 bikes that never
see an actual trail. Usually found near a trail head and never
dirty. Seinfeld may be an example. Synonym for fred.
potato chip n. a wheel that has been bent badly, but not taco'd.
powerslide n. a two-wheel sideways slide, with the foot opposite
the direction of travel kept on the ground.
prune v. to use one's bike or helmet to remove leaves and branches
from the surrounding flora. Usually unintentional.
purple ano adj. anodized aluminum in purple. Some riders need
to obtain as much of this as possible. It comes in other colors,
but they are of no consequence here.
push-push n. 1. a novice's pedaling motion, consisting of alternately
pushing each foot down, instead of spinning. 2. a Shimano
techno-fad shifting system.
- R -
R&D n. Ripoff & Duplication, or Research & Development.
rag dolly v. to wreck in such a way that one's person is tossed
like a flimsy scrap of cloth. "Did you see me rag dolly back
there? I think I pierced my ear on a tree branch."
retro-grouch n. a rider who prefers an old bike with old components
and isn't fond of new, high-tech equipment.
'rhoid buffing v. going down a hill so steep that your butt
touches the rear wheel.
Ride On! n. a parting phrase used by riders with out much else
rigid n. a bike with no suspension.
roadie n. a rider who prefers riding on paved surfaces.
road rash n. large abrasions on a rider's legs and body caused
by a crash, particularly on asphalt.
rock-ectomy v. removing rocks, dirt, gravel from one's person
after a yard sale. "Some betty stopped by and performed a
rock ectomy on my knee after the wreck, I think she digs my scene."
rocket fuel n. the mandatory pre-ride coffee.
rockwell v. an unintentionally performed hardness test rendered
by a trial side object on your anatomy or possesions. Requires
the use of a number to rate the event. "I 50 Rockwelled on that last
buster." "No way, dude, it was at least a 60!"
rookie mark n. chain grease on a rider's pant leg. "Give that
guy extra points for his rookie mark. It's even on the wrong leg!"
See chainring tattoo.
roost v. to go fast or accelerate quickly. Or, to stop suddenly.
- S -
schmooz v.the act of reaching a trail head and not riding. What
is done when one really can't stand the thought of starting a
ride. Talking. Bullshitting.
scream 1) n. a real biker's dream ride. 2) n. a long, straight,
and deceptively steep hill. 3) v. to bomb so fast one can't pedal
fast enough to make a difference.
singletrack n. trail just wide enough for one person or bike
-- the MTBer's holy grail. Contrast with dual-track.
skid lid n. helmet.
skid row n. that section of trail that nobody ever expects or
remembers that always appears too suddenly when riding too fast.
Usually switchbacks. Named after all the skid tracks left there from
sky v. to jump extremely high. To get big air.
snake bite n. a double puncture of an inner tube, caused by
hitting an obstacle too hard or by under-inflation of tires.
snowmine n. an object hidden by snow on the trail. "Be careful
of the snowmines -- you know, rocks, logs, hibernating
soil sample n. a face plant.
spike v. to obtain a chainring tattoo on the back of the calf,
usually the result of a newbie trying to dab or panic skid at high
spin v. smooth pedal motion. Opposite of push-push.
spring planting n. a face plant.
spuds n. "SPD" (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) clipless pedals.
stack n. crash. v. crash.
steed n. your bike, the reason for your existence.
stoned adj. describes a rider after a crash which imbeds stones
into the rider's skin.
STI adj. "Shimano Total Integration" -- a marketing ploy that
forces you to buy new brakes when you replace your shifters.
superman n. a rider who flies over the handlebars and doesn't
hit the ground for a long time. This may result in injury, but when
it doesn't, it's really funny for everyone else.
swag n. the stuff that manufacturers and vendors donate to be
given away at bike related events. When you race, go to bike
shows, help put on events, write bike articles, you are often rewarded
with swag. Sometimes called "schwag".
- T -
table-top n. a jump in which the rider throws the bike sideways
in mid-air. Less commonly, a jump made over a hill that
reaches a plateau and goes back down.
taco v. to bend a wheel over on itself, in the shape of a taco.
"I taco'd my wheel, and it cost me a hundred bucks." Worse than
a potato chip.
tea party n. when a whole group of riders stops and chats, and
nobody seems to want to ride on.
technical n. a section of trail that is difficult to ride because
of rocks, tree roots, steep drops.
techno-fad n. a screwy or unique technology that a dominant
company (usually Shimano) tries to foist upon the innocent
cycling public. Past techno-fads include Biopace chainrings, and overly
complex "thumb-thumb" or "push-push" shifters.
techno-weenie n. a rider who knows more about the newest MTB
parts and techno-fads than about the trails. Someone who
buys lots of gadgets to add supposed iotas of performance to the bike.
Greeting a friend whom we haven't seen in a year, I
might say "Hi, Marta!" A techno-weenie might say "Oooh, you got White
Industries hubs on that bike now?"
thrash 1) v. to cause severe ecological damage to a trail, usually
during the wet season. 2) adj. a damaged trail "That trail's
really thrashed after last winter."
three-hour tour n. a ride that looks like a piece of cake at
the outset but turns out to be a death march. Derived from the
theme song to "Gilligan's Island."
ti n. titanium. Some riders would replace their watches, rings,
glasses frames, and gold tooth-fillings with titanium if they could
toe clips n. a clip-and-strap system that connects a rider's
feet and toes to her pedals. Toe clips usually don't require special
tombstone n. one of those damn little rocks protruding out of
the trail which you don't notice because you are having a
heart-attack climbing the hill.
tornado v. to balance on your front wheel while turning your
back wheel 90-180 degrees in either direction.
track stand n. (from road-cycling) a maneuver where the rider
stops the bike and attempts to remain standing.
trail swag n. equipment or accessories dropped by other bikers
and found on the trail.
tricked out adj. when a bike has the latest and hottest components.
tweak n. a jump during which the rider twists the handlebars
back and forth in mid-air, the more times the better. v. 1. to
slightly injure a part of the body or the bike in a crash. "I tweaked
my wrist when I fell." 2. to make a minor adjustment. "My
brake pads were rubbing but I tweaked the cable and it went away."
- U -
unobtanium adj. describing a bike or accessory made from expensive,
high-tech material. A play on "unobtainable" and
- V -
vegetable tunnel n. a singletrack that is heavily overgrown with
foliage, so a rider must duck and bend to get through it.
void n. 1) to empty the contents of one's bladder. "Where were
you, man? We waited for at least two minutes." "Sorry, dude,
I had to void, my back teeth were floating." 2) a deep chasm that you
have to clear or you will die.
VTT n. Velo Tout-Terrain, the French term for mountain biking.
Velo = bike, Tout = all, and don't even ask me about
vultures n. spectators who line up at dangerous obstacles in
hopes of seeing blood.
- W -
wang chung n. what you might get when your stem has no nard guard.
washboard n. small, regular undulations of the soil surface
that make for a very rough ride.
wash out v. to have the front tire lose traction, especially
while going around a corner.
weight-weenie n. a MTB owner (not even necessarily a rider)
who is more concerned with how many milligrams a certain
component saves off the bike's total weight than with how to be a better
wheelie n. lifting the front wheel off the ground, usually with
some combination of pulling on the handlebars, pedaling harder,
wild pigs n. poorly adjusted brake pads that squeal in use.
winky a reflector. "Nice winky set, fred!"
wipeout n. a crash. v. ("wipe out") to crash.
WOMBATS n. "WOmen's Mountain Biking And Tea Society", a Marin-based
organization founded by writer and former
MTB racer Jacquie Phelan.
wonky adj. not functioning properly. "I bailed, and now my wheel
is all wonky and all I hear are wild pigs."
- Y -
yard sale n. (from skiing) a horrendous crash that leaves all your
various "wares" -- water bottles, pump, tool bag, etc. --
scattered as if on display for sale.
- Z -
The Zone n. a state of mind experienced while riding. You don't
think, you just do. A truly mystical experience that can't be
fully explained, but when you get there you'll know it and strive to
reach it again.
zone out v. a state of mind where you think you've reached The
Zone, but you really just stopped paying attention to what
you're doing. Usually used as an excuse for a particularly embarrassing
zonk v. same as bonk.
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