Sep 7, 2019

The Dirt Bike Dictionary: Lingo to Navigate the Track (Part Three)

Trail Boss

By now, you know a good chunk of motocross terms thanks to Parts One and Two of the Dirt Bike Dictionary, but you still have a few more to learn before you can call yourself a true off-roading connoisseur.

Even if you don’t plan on spending every waking moment at the motocross track, an off-roading glossary will gain you the respect of fellow riders as well as invaluable insight into the culture. You’ll also approach track obstacles confidently and master tricks with more ease and efficiency.

I remember the first time I ever took to the MX track. I’d been riding motorcycles for a few years and figured I’d stray from the beaten path just to see what it was like. At the time, my buddy owned a 2013 Suzuki RM-Z 450 and reluctantly loaned it to me (“You sure you’ll be able to handle this thing?” to which I joked “How hard can it be?”). Reality was cruel to me that day, boys and girls. Not only did I come within inches of getting roosted, I also nearly caused a pile up in a singletrack.  

Fortunately, I’m a quick learner, so everything I learned that day stayed with me the next time I raced. Nevertheless, you don’t want to find yourself in a hairy situation like I did, so here’s Part Three of the Dirt Bike Dictionary:


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Nac Nac:

This is a trick performed while the rider is airborne, where both legs are positioned on the same side of the bike and one gets extended outwards.

Nose Heavy:

When a rider is in the air and about to land with too much front tire first.



Sloped ground on the outside of the curve that makes handling difficult.

On the Pipe:

When a rider is going extremely fast. This expression refers to when a dirt bike’s two-stroke engine is operating at an rpm resulting in maximum horsepower.


Over The Bar – when the bike comes to a stop and the rider flies over the bar.


Or ‘coming in hot,’ means to enter a turn or other obstacle too fast.




Panic Rev:

This is essentially a move to correct. When a rider is nose-heavy while airborne, they will twist the throttle wide open, causing the rear tire to spin fast, thus lifting the nose of the bike. This way, they’ll land on both tires.

Pile Up:

When more than one bike is involved in a crash, leaving bikes and riders on top of each other.


“I just kept it pinned.” In other words, the rider had the throttle wide open in a section of the track.


The area where riders and their crew set up for racing. Located on the outer section of the race track, where mechanics display ‘pit boards’ to convey information about a rider’s position in the race as well as encouragement.

Power Slide:

When a rider slides the bike sideways while accelerating.

Pre Jump:

To leave the face of a jump before reaching the top.



A jump with 4 peaks. (One step longer than a ‘triple.’)


Rag Doll:

To go limp and be thrown around during a crash. Looks pretty scary from the outside.


To lay the bike sideways through a bermed turn, all while maintaining control, throttle, and style.

Rhythm Section:

A tamer version of the whoops characterized by fewer dramatic peaks and valleys; most riders use this section to hop over two or three peaks at a time.


To ride with an aggressive flow.


A smooth mound of earth that can be ridden or jumped.


If you get “roosted,” you’re getting dirt or gravel thrown at you by an accelerating rider. The dirt plume resembles a rooster tail when viewed from the side. It’s not pleasant.


Used to describe track conditions. Ruts are indentations in the track caused by continuous riding (on soft dirt especially), and they can be difficult to maneuver depending on experience.



Someone who intentionally rides in a class that does not meet his or her own capabilities in order to have a leg up in the competition. (Frowned upon.)


“Scrubbing a jump” occurs when a rider stays low while on a jump or obstacle, keeping the trajectory low. They lay the bike over to absorb the suspension, thereby gaining speed once on the ground.


A type of cross-country, off-road motorcycle racing, where riders complete multiple laps around a marked course through rugged natural terrain. (Also called a ‘hare scramble.’)

Seat Bounce:

A jumping technique commonly used in Supercross. Sometimes, riders want to clear longer jumps straight out from a corner so they will stay seated while taking off from the lip of the jump. This compresses the suspension, enabling ‘bounce’ during takeoff.

Send It:

“Just send it,” meaning just go for it. Usually refers to a jump.


Navigating tracks with surprising expertise.


A narrow trail that must be ridden single file.


A set of three consecutive double jumps. (What would an eight-pack be?)

Ski Jump:

A long drop off after an elevated section of track.


When a rider hits the top of each whoop with each tire so that the bike travels in a straight line across the tops of the whoops instead of jumping through them.

Soil Sample:

Getting a face (and possibly mouth) full of dirt.


An unskilled rider who talks the talk, but can’t walk the walk. Watch out for bogus advice from these guys.

Square Off:

To turn and pivot in the middle of a turn while going to the inside of the track. Used mainly to take a different line or to avoid being passed.


A reckless and/or beginner rider who rides beyond their abilities, without the proper gear, and is a danger to themselves and others (Stupidly Quick, Underdressed, Imminently Dead.)


An inconsistent and reckless rider. (‘Squirrely’ describes a rider who has lost control of their bike and it starts sliding around as a result.)



Step Up:

A jump, usually a double, where the landing is higher than the takeoff. (By contrast, a ‘Step Down’ is a jump with a gap, where the landing is lower than the takeoff.)


When a rider pulls his front brake enough to raise the rear wheel off the ground while coming to a full stop. (Not to be confused with an ‘endo.’)


A straight portion of the track that does not have obstacles.

Stuff, Stuffed, Stuffing:

An aggressive block pass made via contact with another rider.


‘SX’ for short. Supercross entails off-road racing, where riders compete in large arenas. SX tracks are defined by steep jumps, tight turns, and other track obstacles.


A class designation that includes the fastest kids still on minibikes (typically 85cc to 105cc engines).


Racing that is a cross between MX and road racing.


When the rear end of the bike bounces from side to side through bumps and whoops. Not good.



A jump with a flat top between the takeoff and the landing (there is no gap to jump over). Considered one of the safest jumps in dirt bike racing.


Soil that has a very large amount of traction; clay-like.


A jump consisting of a takeoff, two gaps, and two landings. The rider can choose how to clear this jump: 1) single, single, single, 2) double, single, or 3) triple. Skilled riders attempt these.


Wash Out:

When the front tire loses traction, especially while going around a corner. A crash is likely.


Small, regular undulations in the soil surface. A washboard riding surface can make for a rough ride.


Wide Open Throttle, or Wide Freaking (or Fu*!%ing) Open.

Wheel Tap:

When a rider ‘taps’ the wheel on a bump, edge of a jump, etc., in order to be airborne again. The suspension’s compression makes this possible.


A maneuver performed in the air which throws the rear end of a bike out to the side, laying the bike flat. Skilled riders do this purely for show or to ‘scrub’ energy from the bike’s suspension.

Whiskey Throttle:

When a rider gives too much throttle, causing them to slip off the back of the bike. When this happens, the throttle ends up getting pulled even more and the rider loses control.

Whoops, Whoop-de-dos:

A series of smaller moguls or hills in succession; riders skim, or ‘blitz,’ these. Not recommended for those who are just starting out.



The blistered inside of the right thumb from the stock grips and handlebar. (Blue riders, beware.)

Yard Sale:

A terrific crash that leaves bike parts and MX gear scattered everywhere. Yikes!

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