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Mountain biking glossary

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.