Whether you snuck into the mountain biking scene during the pandemic like Alissa or have been riding trails for years like Baxter, you’re sure to hear some wacky slang being thrown around.


Every sport has its own language, but some get more carried away than others! Mountain biking slang is a particularly special breed, and it can sound like absolute gobbledygook to the uninitiated. So whether you’re trying to fit in with the crew, or understand the map at the trailhead, we’ve put together a definitive list of MTB words you’re sure to hear.

Mountain Bike Slang on the Trail


A berm is a banked corner within a trail. They can be steep and technical or smooth and flowy, some are wide and easy to turn in, otherwise are more of a switchback style.





Throwing your bodyweight around to get the most out of a berm or slope. Just like a surfer or skateboarder can pump their board around the bowl, good riders can pump their bike to maximise their speed and flow.



Switchbacks, you either love them or passionately despise them. These are sections of the trail that have about a 180 degree turn and are often used when climbing straight up the hill would be a little too steep.


A Line / B Line

Probably one of the more important terms – especially when you first start riding – is knowing what and where the B line is. An A line is the feature that the trail is designed around and is often quite technical or difficult. The B line is the alternative option and is usually much less difficult than the A line, so that you can still ride the trail without having to get off your bike and walk that section.

Read more: Surfing Slang 101

A-line and B-line


A feature is any part of the trail that has a bit of spice (difficulty) to it. Whether it’s a berm, a drop, a jump, these will often be referred to as features of the trail.


Rock feature



As it sounds, a drop is an area of the trail that drops off. Drops can start off quite small and be rollable, meaning you can slowly cruise over them, or be more technical, where you have to commit to them with enough speed to make it down successfully.



A gap is as it sounds, but usually occurs between jumps. There’ll be a gap or space in the trail that you need to clear (without any wheels on the trail) in order to complete the feature successfully.

Read more: Rock Climbing Slang and How To Use It (Word Beta)



Shralp essentially means to shred/rip a trail or ride flawlessly and often with a bit of speed. ‘Shralping my dude!’


Single track

A single track trail refers to the width of a trail and is approximately the width of a bike.



An off-camber section of a trail refers to the part of the trail where the outside edge is lower than the inside edge. Essentially, off-camber just means not flat, but it can be easy to slip out if you need to turn towards the high side.


A section of trail with several rises in a row. Pumpy!



Step down

A step down is similar to a drop, but a bit more advanced. With these, there’s a gap in the trail you’ll have to clear before you get to your landing which is lower than the take-off for the jump. Take some speed in!


Step up

A step up alternatively is when the landing is higher than the take-off of the jump.



A jump with separated take-off and landing (mandatory gap).


Table top

A jump with joined take-off and landing (no mandatory gap / rollable).


Hip jump

A jump where takeoff and landing are off-axis from each other. You’ll have to change the angle of your bike in midair!



A short, significantly steeper section of trail, often with rocks and roots.


Flow Trail

Typically wider, manicured trail with built up features such as berms, rollers, and jumps. Often they’re made by machines and very fast as they’re so predictable.


Technical trail

Often referred to as a tech trail, these are typically single trail style, with chutes, rock features, off-camber sections and are more difficult due to the natural terrain. You may have more exposed roots on technical trails.


5 Unmissable Mountain Bike Trails on Tassie's West Coast, Credit Dirt Ant, Natural Selection, boulders, fisheye, biking, riding

A very technical trail. Photo thanks to Dirt Art


A Rut / ‘Rutted Out ‘

Trails and berms will often be referred to as having ruts or being ‘rutted out’.

After large rainfall, if the trail doesn’t have enough drainage or the trail gets ridden often, ruts will begin to appear for riders choosing the same line. Essentially this means the trail is beginning to degrade in that specific spot, which creates the rut. Rather than being smooth and flowy, rutted sections are often bumpy and if your wheel gets stuck in one you typically have less control while riding.

Don’t be that person! Riding trails in the wet ruins them really quickly, especially in Australia. If the trails are soaked, show your respect for the trail builders and let them dry out before heading out for a ride.


Attack Position / Neutral Position

These are terms you’ll hear often, especially if you take lessons. Attack position is your ready-for-anything-the-trail-wants-to-throw-at-you position, where you’re standing on your pedals (off your seat), your hips are back, knees are bent, your arms are bent at 90 degrees over the handlebars and your head is looking up at the trail ahead.

Alternatively, a neutral position is the one you go into on the less hectic parts of trails to give your arms and legs a rest and time to stretch out.


The Now and the Next

When riding, you always want to be looking ahead at what’s coming up on the trail. When you’re moving you’re riding the ‘now’, so don’t look where your wheel already is, look to the next (1-2 metres ahead of you) and where you’ll be going next.



We’ve all been there. A washout is when your weight is incorrectly balanced between your wheels and one ends up sliding out from under you. You can have a front wheel or back wheel washout and it’ll likely occur on a berm.

Pro tip: Avoid using your front brake in corners to avoid locking up the front wheel and washing out.



Ahhh, the old classic, over the bars. Wipeouts happen and when you brake incorrectly or hit a feature badly, you may find yourself going over the handlebars of your bike, hopefully at a slow enough speed that the impact is minimal to your bike (and your body!).

Slang For Your Mountain Bike

Dual Suspension vs Hardtail

When it comes to choosing a mountain bike, they’re often categorised based on being a dual suspension or a hardtail. Dual suspension bikes have suspension in both the front and back of the bike, making for a much smoother ride.

Hardtails are lighter (and cheaper!) and only have front suspension, meaning your bike absorbs a lot less of the impact of a trail.


27.5 / 29er / Mullet

Bikes can come in a few different wheel sizes, but once you get to adult sized bikes, the industry standard is now usually 27.5 inch, 29 inch, or a combination of both. The size refers to the diameter of your wheel.

A mullet refers to a bike with a 29 inch front wheel and lighter 27.5 inch back wheel: ‘business in the front, party in the back’.

Wheel size is often a personal preference, 29ers are usually able to roll over trail features a little easier, but 27.5 can be nicer for tight berms and flicking the bike around.



This is something you hope never happens to your wheel, but when riding fast and hard, you may end up mangling a wheel so badly that it caves into the shape of a taco shell, hence: getting tacoed.


Full Face vs Half Shell Helmet

A full face is a helmet that has a chin bar that gives you more protection while riding. Half shell helmets (also called open face) have a lot more ventilation and are typically best used for more casual riding.


Dropper Post

Known as the ultimate game changer when it comes to mountain biking, a dropper post (or just ‘dropper’) allows you to adjust the height of your saddle (seat) without stopping. With the push of a button, your seat shoots up for climbs or tucks away giving you more space to get low on your bike for descents. It’s like having an extra gear.



The seat of your bike. The bike is your horse. Your two-wheeled steed. Onwards!


5 Unmissable Mountain Bike Trails on Tassie's West Coast, credit Dirt Ant, biking, riding, trails

Use the saddle to your advantage. Photo thanks to Dirt Art



This refers to the area around the handlebars where all your brakes, gears, GPS, lights, bell and clown horn might be.


Flats vs Clips, Clip-ins, Clipless

This one is a bit of a doozy, so bear with us. Flat pedals typically have a large surface area with little pins sticking out to help hold your shoe in place when heading down a trail. Be sure to watch your shins with these, or take the ultimate sacrifice and have shins that are constantly scabbing like mine from mucking around with your bike pedals while waiting in shuttle lines.

Or the alternative, which Baxter rides, is clips, which originates from clipless. This is where it gets confusing, I know. Riding with clips is when your shoes will clip into your pedals, but the term clipless is the ‘correct’ term and started from when clip-in pedals used to have toe clips and straps over the tops of shoes to keep your feet in place on the pedals.

Flats or not flats. There, fixed it for ya.


Snake Bite

Ahhh the dreaded snake bite, and not the kind where anti-venom is needed. When it comes to mountain biking, a snake bite is when you land hard on a soft tyre and the wheel pinches the inner tube of the tyre on either side. Giving it ‘snake bites’ and giving you a flat tyre. Bogus.


Tubes / Tubeless

Within your wheel you can either have an inner tube, or ride tubeless. The inner tube (commonly just referred to as ‘riding with tubes’) has to do with tyre punctures. If your tyre gets a puncture and you’re riding with tubes, the tube will likely also have been punctured, or the tube got a puncture on its own (which is actually more common). Tubes can be easily replaced and inflated with a pump to get you riding again.

Riding tubeless, means you ride without an inner tube, where the air is sealed inside of your tyre rather than the tube. If you get a puncture while riding tubeless, your tyres will have a liquid sealant in them that will hopefully be able to seal the puncture, allowing you to keep riding, depending on the size of the puncture.

Both have their pros and cons. Tubes are cheap and easy to replace, but you can’t run your tyre pressure as low, which affects your grip.


Feature Image thanks to Tourism Tropical North Queensland.