Internet MTB Dictionary

Most of the terms and definitions in this dictionary of mountain-biking terms and slang were posted to the newsgroup and/or the mailing list. Jerry Dunn or some independent journalistic USENET republisher may have published a few of these in the LA Times as well, in May or June '95. The intro is mine.

The dividing lines are very fuzzy, among normal language, specialized jargon, and slang. Several people independently started lists of MTB slang, and I've taken the lists I've seen posted, merged them, added some terms that aren't really quite slang, and wrote a few intro paragraphs.

-- Doug

Many of the slang terms used in mountain biking come from the off-road motorcycling culture, from "trials" bicycling and BMX, and from road cycling.

And some of the (numerous!) terms for "crash" came from skiing, snowboarding, surfing, or skating (inline or boards). Other subcultures have also contributed terms now used in MTBing - for example, the word "unobtanium" had been used for decades before the advent of mountain bikes, both in auto racing and in the space program.

There's a little Internet history behind this dictionary. In February 95, Tom Purvis, from Colorado State, posted a message to the newsgroup that said, in part

Offroading needs more lore, more culture, more vernacular. ... Let us use the 'net for something really valuable - let's compile a list of bikey slang. Biff, face plant, gravity check, endo, those are pretty good terms, but let's get some of the really clever ones.

So a lively thread ensued, and I assume Jerry Dunn made another, similar request a bit later. He summarized some of it in April, for a book he has in the works...

Thanks so much for all the responses to my request for off-road bike slang, for my book (Idiom Savant Slang As It Is Slung - to be published in fall 1995). Here's the summary I said I'd post. (Any corrections?

Please e-mail me Thanks for everything! You're a *great* group of people, very helpful, articulate, and funny. All the best -- Jerry

Jerry's summary is in the exact style of, and is almost a total superset of, a list that my brother Mike sent me by e-mail in May or June (some of the entries were edited down; only one was added). He said he'd found his list in the LA Times Sunday magazine. The format and wording is too similar to be a coincidence. So... a question for Jerry Dunn, I guess Did the LA Times Mag article appear under your byline?

Jerry's original chapter title was "Off-Road Bike Riders Offer a Crash Course in Slang".

 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --              ||    "We think *every* sport should
     SunSoft->DevPro::                 ||      be played cross-country."
      Languages.ADE(C++);              ||        -- Calvin & Hobbes
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babyheads/bacon/bag/bagger/bail/balance blackout/banana scraper/beartrap/betty/biff/biopace/boing-boing/boink/bolt-on /bomb/bombers/bonk/boot/bra/brain/brain bucket/brain sieve/brand whore/bring home a Christmas tree/BSG/bunny/bunny hop/burrito/buzz

carve/captain crash/cashed/chainring tattoo/chainsuck/chi-chi/chinese toe cuffs/chunder/clean/cleanie/clipless/clip out/cloon/clotheslined/cob clearer/cockrotter/condom/corndog/cranial disharmony/crotch-testing/curb grind/curb slide/cyclephernalia

dab/death cookies/death march/dialed in/digger/dirt bike/drillium/dual boinger/dual-track


face plant/fair grunt/first blood/flying trapeze/foot fault/fred/front wheelie/FS

gear masher/gevert/giblets/gonzo/gnarl/granny gear/gravity check/grinder/grindies/grunt/gutter bunny

half-track/hamburger/hammer/hardtail/hiker log/HOHA/honk/horizontal track stand

IMBA/impedimentia/involuntary dismount

jet/John boy'ed/JRA/jump



male blindness/mandibular disharmony/mantrap/Marin/metal head/mo/mojo/monkey-motion/MTB/mud diving/mud-ectomy

nard guard/nipple/nirvana/NORBA/nosepickium/nose wheelie

OHV, ORV/organ donor/over-the-bar blood donor

panic skid/pimp/Pirelliology/POD/pogo/POS/poser/potato chip/powerslide/prang/prune/purple ano/push-push


RA#/R&D/rag dolly/redsocks/retro-grouch/'rhoid buffing/Ride On!/rigid/roadie/road rash/rock-ectomy/rockwell/rookie mark/roost

schmooz/schwag/scream/singletrack/sharkbite/skid lid/skid row/sky/snake bite/sneakers/snowmine/soil sample/spider patrol/spike/spin/spring planting/spudded/spuds/stack/steed/STI/stoked/stoned/stoppie/superman/swag

table-top/taco/tea party/technical/techno-fad/techno-weenie/thrash/three-hour tour/ti/toe clips/tombstone/tornado/track stand/trail mix/trail swag/tricked out/tweak


vegetable tunnel/void/VTT/vultures

wang chung/washboard/wash out/weight-weenie/wheelie/wheelie drop/whoop-de-doos/wild pigs/winky/wipeout/WOMBATS/wonky/wrench



Zone, The/zone out/zonk

CST Approved See E2 FAQ: Copyrighted Material:  Usenet Postings, Presumed Public Domain


The Dictionary of Mountain Bike Slang writeup is a derivative of a piece titled Internet MTB Dictionary (MounTain Bike) which was widely posted on the internet.  The MTB version was created from a lively thread the Usenet group solicited by Tom Purvis in February 1995.  This thread was compiled by Doug Landauer &  Jim Frost, and was later expanded by Jerry Dunn, who used the discussion without permission in an LA Times article and later in a book about slang.  Mr. Dunn's pieces are both copyright protected, the original Usenet messages and the compilation by Landauer and Frost, do not appear to be explicitly copyrighted.

This writeup credits Landauer and Frost, and cites their version as a source.  The primary node contains a single writeup listing all the MTB terms as links.  "Definition" nodes and writeups appear to exist for each term (tho I haven't been exhaustive in checking this).  The Definition nodes each appear to have at least a single definition C&P from the MTB,  in many cases, these nodes also have other writeups that expand on the term and provide alternative definitions.


Considered apart from copyright issues, the Dictionary of Mountain Bike Slang has considerable merit.  The terminology of mountain bikers overlaps that of surfers, skaters, skiers and other extreme sports to a large extent. The terms have an insidious way of creeping into the general vernacular and, in some cases losing track of their original meaning entirely.  For example, my friends and I were "Catching Air," on the motocross track when Michael Jordan was still a kid.

The unadorned factoid nature of the definition writeups is a neutral value in my book.  We sometimes prize fact nodes as a class, but trash the most succinct of them as "too short." If a brief definition is the only writeup in a node, and it's an accurate explanation of the term, then it has an intrinsic merit worthy of protection until a better candidate presents itself.  There is value in breadth as well as depth I believe.

The copyright status of this work is clouded at best.  I have written permission requests to both "compilers" of the Internet MTB Dictionary but have not, as of yet, received a reply.  I have some doubt as to the legal grounds on which Landauer and Frost could grant us permission to repost anyway, since they clearly didn't write most of the material themselves in the first place.  Jerry Dunn has apparently caused some ire among the original Usenet group by publishing their work for profit under his own imprimateur.  The material posted on E2 cites MTB rather than Dunn's work, and doesn't appear to contain C&P text from Dunn's publications.

Anyone who feels they have ownership of any of the materials in this writeup need only contact the E2 Management to have it removed or more properly credited. -gom

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