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Talking Offroad

By Adam Marsal

Have you ever been a bit stumped by some of the phrases you hear from mountain bikers? Here are a few terms to help you communicate. There’s quite a number of offroad cycling articles coming during the next weeks so you’ll find those phrases definitely useful!


If you have seen a rabbit jumping then you’ll have a good idea what this one is about. What skateboarders call an “ollie” is known as a “bunny hop” by mountain biker. It is a jump which gets both wheels into the air without the rider using any sort of ramp.


A drop is a kind of jump, which involves riders taking off downwards rather than up into the air, and potentially travelling longer distances. Novice bikers are afraid of drops because when you are riding up to one you cannot see where you are going to land and how far away the landing site is.

A downhill mountain biker launches off a drop on the Amasa Back Trail in Moab, UT.
(Photo: Profimedia.cz)


It’s simply a mountain bike with no rear suspension. This used to apply for all bikes, but more and more are now being produced with rear suspension, to increase rider comfort, handling and safety.


A narrow trail that is only wide enough for one bike. Mountain bikers love their single tracks to be long and twisty with loads of bumps and jumps. Recently single tracks have been built exclusively for bikes in some areas.

single track
(Photo: Profimedia.cz)


It’s a slang term for a jump that takes you high up and a vey long distance.


Regular party goers may associate this with something else, but for mountain bikers it refers to the line or route chosen by the rider when riding down a hill or tackling a difficult section.


This is a very old, but still fairly popular trick, which involves the rider angling the bike when in the air so that the wheels do not point towards the ground, but are virtually parallel with the ground. You have to return to the original position before landing!

mtb dirt jump
(Photo: Profimedia.cz)


If you don’t ride a bike and someone tells you to pass them the WD or GT, you probably won’t have the foggiest idea what they mean. They are the two most common brands of lubricants, which keep your bike running properly. They are ideal for chains, gear changers, bowden cables, basically everything that is supposed to move smoothly and not scrape or grind.


It’s a trick that boys use to show off on bikes all round the world. All it involves is riding along on your back wheel. You need a good sense of balance to do it. To start a wheelie you lean your weight over the handlebars and then snap back quickly with your whole body, but don’t overdo it! If you feel like you are going to go over backwards, pull your rear brake and that should make your front wheel go forward again through inertia.

Pulling a wheelie in the woods
(Photo: Profimedia.cz)


The generic name for all kinds of clip-less pedals that save riders up to twenty-five percent of their effort. You clip on your cleat and pedal away. When you stop, just don’t forget to unclip though! SPD stands for Shimano Pedalling Dynamics. It was not the first system providing a perfect fusion between the rider’s shoe and the pedal, but it has become the most widely used.