Lacondeguy and Makken fist bump.
© Bård Basberg/Red Bull Content Pool

A beginner’s dictionary of mountain biking slang

Be prepared for your first trip to the trail centre or bike park by studying the unique lingo of mountain bikers.
By Stuart Kenny
4 min readPublished on
There are various ways you can spot a mountain biker. The easiest way, of course, is when they’re riding a mountain bike. That’s the obvious giveaway. Besides that, there are the clothes: the Fox t-shirt and worn-out Five Ten shoes. There are the interests: a casual namedrop of Rachel Atherton in passing conversation for example. And then, there’s the language. Mountain biking has an entire language of its own.
Here are just a few examples of what we mean, straight from the mountain biker’s dictionary:

1. Stomp

1 min

Semenuk's winning run at Red Bull Joyride 2017

Brandon Semenuk on his way to the win at Red Bull Joyride.

Past tense: Stomped
Definition: To successfully land a trick or run – often a very, very difficult one – from great height, without flaw.
"Bro! Brandon Semenuk just, like, totally stomped the landing on that cork seven!"
Not to be confused with: Stomping, the action of heavily treading one's foot on the floor.

2. Bonk

Rob Warner recovers after doing an XCO preview in Andorra 2016.

High altitude makes this course tough


Past tense: Bonked
Definition: To lose absolutely all energy, and subsequently all enthusiasm, while deep into a mountain bike ride.
"I completely bonked right before the final climb. Sat there and cried for 25 minutes. It was pouring rain and I got a flat tyre. Brutal."
Not to be confused with: Bonking, another term for… well, you know. When someone says they bonked on their final climb, the distinction between these two is crucial.

3. Shred

UCI MTB World Cup racers Brook Macdonald and Finn Iles shred trails at Skyline Bike Park in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Brook and Finn shredding the trails

© Miles Holden

Past tense: Shredded
Definition: To ride a trail with particular fervour, passion, speed, skill and/or style.
"Ready to shred at UCI Mountain Bike World Cup?”
“Dude. I was born ready to shred."
Not to be confused with: The shredding of paper and/or popular breakfast cereal Shreddies. You don’t eat the shred. You live it.

4. Bail

Andreu Lacondeguy bails off his bike mid-air after a jump goes wrong at Rampage.

Andreu Lacondeguy bails from his bike so he doesn't get tangled up

© Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool

Past tense: Bailed
Definition: To deliberately leap off your bike, often at great risk, to avoid ending up in an even worse collision. Also, a term now commonly used to describe crashing in general.
“I bailed hard, just to be safe really… but I could totally have ridden that if I’d wanted to.”
Not to be confused with: The money you post so that a suspect can be released from pre-trial detention.

5. Dab

Danny Hart getting loose on the Hardline track

Danny Hart, foot-out, flat-out!

© Duncan Philpott

Past tense: Dabbed
Definition: To lift a foot off your pedal and stick it out for balance and control, often around a corner, and often to prevent yourself from crashing.
“If I hadn’t dabbed on that corner I would’ve ridden straight into that bush.”
Not to be confused with: That dance move all the eight-year olds, and occasionally your dad, are doing.

6. LBS

Bike shop with mountain bikes and clothing.

Local bike shops are a good place to start

© Chenthil Mohan for BigRush

Definition: An abbreviation for “local bike shop”, the place where dreams really do come true.
“It was a bit more expensive than on Amazon, but you’ve got to support the LBS.”
Not to be confused with: The abbreviation for the unit of mass, pounds. If you see someone write that the average human weighs 137lbs, which is true, remember it means 137 pounds. Not 137 bike shops.

7. Loose

Troy Brosnan rides during qualifying at the Leogang UCI DH World Cup Rd 3 in June 10, 2017

Brosnan getting loose on his way to third

© Bartek Woliński

Past tense: Loose
Definition: To ride hard, fast and stylish, but with a much higher chance of crashing or losing control.
“I rode fast and loose today!”
“Yeah, you should probably go to the hospital.”
Not to be confused with: Loose, the opposite of firm or tight. If anything, in mountain biking, riding loose is actually pretty tight, meaning cool. Which is more than a little confusing.

8. Pump

2 min

How to pump

Few techniques are as valuable on an MTB trail as the pump. Rob Warner and Tom Oehler show how to master it.

Turkish +2

Past tense: Pumped
Definition: A technique used to increase speed on a mountain bike without pedalling, involving pushing the mountain bike into the ground at appropriate moments, in a particular manner.
“I managed to pick up a whole bunch of speed there just by pumping!”
Not to be confused with: The pumping up of tyres.

9. Whip

Darren Berrecloth – whip legend

Darren Berrecloth – whip legend

© Red Bull Content Pool

Past tense: Whipped
Definition: A stylish mountain biking trick requiring great control of the bike, and involving turning the bike sideways mid-air before returning to the standard position for landing.
"The weather in Champery was mental but Danny Hart looked so in control. He stuck a huge whip of the final jump of World Championships. That man has balls of steel.”
Not to be confused with: A literal whip.

10. Roost

Loic Bruni kicking up dust in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Loïc Bruni in Queenstown roosting trails

© Miles Holden/Red Bull Content Pool

Past tense: Roost
Definition: The mud and dirt that flies up behind the bike after a rider goes into a corner. The thing that’s in all your favourite mountain bike photos.
"I thought I was in heaven when I saw you roost that corner!”
Not to be confused with: A place where birds settle to rest at night, or where bats congregate during the day. If birds and bats roosted where mountain bikers roost, it really would be an entirely different sport. Feathers everywhere.

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How to MTB

Rob Warner and Thomas Oehler's Techniques

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