If you're new to mountain biking some of the jargon might be a bit confusing. We've provided explanations of a few of the more common words you might hear below:

Bikes

  • Full sus: a mountain bike with suspension systems at the front (in the forks) and rear. Short for ‘full suspension’.

  • Hard tail: a mountain bike with suspension at the front, rigid frame at the rear.

  • Granny ring: the smallest of the front chainrings, which comes in handy on the steepest climbs.

  • Granny gear: the lowest gear you can ride.

Trail types

  • Cross-country: usually a circuit of trail that includes a combination of singletrack and forest roads. Can include more exposed land. Often written as ‘XC’.

  • Downhill: a very steep, fast, technical course, black-graded, often ridden with a specialist bike. Often written as 'DH'.

  • Freeride/fun park: areas of trail with lots of jumps, berms, camel bumps, drop-offs.

  • Singletrack: narrow trail of varying width, often through trees.

Trail features

  • Berm: a steeply banked corner which it’s possible to take at speed. Trails can be described as 'bermy'.

  • Bomb hole: a large crater-style hole.

  • Boulder garden/rock garden: a section of the trail strewn with stones and rocks.

  • Camel bumps: two jumps placed one after the other with a gap in between.

  • Double: see camel bumps.

  • Drop off: steep and sudden drop in the trail. Often a vertical drop down the side of a rock.

  • Gnarly: a section of trail that’s especially rough and rugged and often steep.

  • North Shore/timber trail: raised timber trails often referred to as 'North Shore' having originated in Canada, where mountain bike trails are built across boggy ground. Can take trail across loose or wet ground.

  • Off camber: opposite to a berm, when the slope hinders cornering at speed.

  • Powder run: dry, dusty stretch of trail.

  • Switchback: when the trail turns tightly on a climb and goes back on itself. Also known as a hairpin.

  • See-saw: just like in a play park, but for bikes - go slow in the middle to allow the see-saw to drop gently!

  • Skinny: a wooden beam, roughly 6 inches or less in width, raised off the ground.

  • Step down: a much less severe version of a drop-off.

  • Step up: a step in the trail that requires you to lift the front wheel first, quickly followed by the back wheel.

  • Tabletop: ramped bit of trail leading to a plateau, with a ramp down the other side – or two camel bumps with the gap between them filled in.

Our website uses cookies.

By continuing, we assume your permission to deploy cookies, as detailed in our Privacy and Cookies policies.