Motocross Dictionary & Terms

Motocross Terminology & Glossary – Learn the Talk

Like in any other sport, Motocross riders have a language of their own.

If you’re new to the sport or just not up-to-date on the latest motocross terminology, you may find yourself feeling left out or just not knowing what to say.

While some terms are more or less clear, others are just a big ??

To give you, and everyone else like you, a least some basic knowledge we’ve put together a list of some dirt bike related terms and slang words.

Do we have them all? Well no, not yet. But we are working on it! And we feel this lits of mx dictionary is a pretty good starting point.

Let’s go ride some mx lingo!

Jump to Terms/Words Beginning With:

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24-Hour Race:
A race that takes place over 24 hours.

To land with the front wheel on the back of the landing and the rear wheel on the front of the landing, resulting in a very hard impact. You case the jump.


Aftermarket Parts:
The supply of parts for off-road machines that are NOT supplied by the company that made your bike.

The amount of time spent in the air when jumping.

Air Spring:
A device used in forks and shocks that uses air pressure rather than a metal spring to support the rider.

American Motorcycle Association. The governing body for MX in the USA.

Arm Pump:
A symptom from a rider gripping the bar too hard causing the forearms muscles to get hard restricting blood flow.

Attack Position:
A neutral position on the bike that provides ideal balance and maximum range of motion to negotiate the terrain.


Baby Head Rocks:
Loose, round rocks about the size of a baby’s head. Tricky riding surface.

A slow rider “marking” the back of the pack.

A surface that faces away from the rider. Landing on and using backsides is great for keeping speed.

Jumped off the bike (to avoid a nasty crash).

While airborne, rider keeps both hands on the grips and extends legs straight out between arms and over handlebars.

For riding in dense tree areas. Metal pieces on handlebars that protect your hands from trees.

Large banked corner on a track.

A plastic vessel that carries water in your backpack/camelback and is accessible via a tube.

Good looking parts that may or may not have a specific function on your bike.

Usually used to describe when you charge at the whoops and skim across the top of them.

Block Pass:
A block pass is when a racer passes another racer in a corner and makes them slow down or lose momentum. With our without contact. A good passing technique if a rider is hard to get around.

Blown Out:
A corner that used to have a bank in it but that bank has been moved & destroyed by the riders.

Blue Groove:
Clay that has been packed down and dried. Basically, it’s as hard as cement. It turns blue after riding on it for a while.

Acronym for bicycle motocross. A form of racing conducted on a track consisting of a start gate, several berms, and jumps & rollers. Done with bikes using 20-inch wheels.

Bolt-On Grips:
Handlebar grips that are clamped to the bar with bolts instead of the old fashioned way of using glue, wire or just the rubber itself.

A jump that sends the rider far rather than high.

Bottom Out:
To use all of the bike’s suspension. Can be heard with a metallic clank.

Can be used when describing going all out. You can use it in pretty much any situation. Comes from the beautiful sound a 2 stroke engine makes while riding it fast. Brraaaap!

Brain Bucket:
Your helmet.

Brake Check:
Sort of a block pass but in reverse. If you are in front of someone, typically in a corner, you brake to screw up a racer’s momentum behind you.

Brake Dive:
The tendency for the front suspension to compress under braking forces, causes the front of the bike to drop and the head angle to steepen.

Brake Slide:
When you lock up the back brake forcing the rear wheel to slide out as you turn.

Braking Bumps:
Small bumps created by riders from continually braking, usually before corners. As the race continues, these bumps become bigger and require more control over them.

Pretty much anyone else if you hang with the cool boys.


Came up Short:
When an obstacle is not completely cleared. Often a jump you didn’t catch the backside of.

Can Can:
When a rider move one of his legs over the fuel tank to the opposite side of the bike while airborne. The rider must get his leg to the normal riding position in time for the landing (otherwise he performs a can’t can’t :)). In a No-Footed Can-Can, both legs are extended away from the bike.

To aggressively ride a turn with high traction and speed, without any tire slippage. Also sometimes referred to as holding the inside line.

You case a jump when you land with the front wheel on the back of the landing and the rear wheel on the front of the landing, resulting in a very hard impact. The motor and frame hit the dirt because of the impact.

Cubic centimeters, referring to the bike motor size.

Loose, random, sometimes chunky dirt.

Clapped Out:
Used to describe a bike that has seen better days. The bike is usually a couple of years old and not very good maintained.

The ‘groups’ riders are separated into. They are based on the age of the rider, bike size or skill level. These are called classes. Used in racing.

When you ride through a tough section just perfect.

While airborne, laying the motorcycle flat while bringing the back of the bike around.

The area in which a rider can move on the bike. Often referring to the bars and steering area, but also the space between the bars and the seat.

Coil Spring:
A traditional metal spring used in some forks and shocks. Yields for a smoother ride but is heavier than an air spring.

Compression Damping:
Refers to systems that slow the rate of compression in a suspension fork or rear shock.

Concrete Start:
When the starting block is made out of concrete.

A high-speed turning technique in which the rider momentarily steers counter to the desired direction of travel. Eg; for a left turn – the rider first steers slightly to the right. This causes the bike to lean to the right via gyroscopic forces and making the bike turn more precise.

When the front and rear wheel are not in the same rut.


A hydraulic circuit that controls the movement of oil through a suspension fork or shock.

Dialed In:
When everything on your bike is running perfect & smoothly, you are said to be “dialed in”.

Ditch Humper:
A bike that is ragged out and used for play purpose.

Did Not Finish. You were not able to finish the race. Not something you want to see next to your name in the results.

Did not start. A rider that was registered to race but didn’t show up at the gate.

To spin the motorcycle in a circle while spinning the rear wheel. This will make a circle on the ground, a donut.

Double Jump:
Two separate jumps next to each other with a gap between them (rider flies over the gap).

Two trails that run parallel to each other (also called tractor trail or Jeep trail).

Shifting to a lower gear.

Dragon Back:
A whooped out ski type jump. Looks like a dragons back.

When cornering forces exceed available traction. This causes the tires to get pushed sideways through the turn.

Dropping In:
Dropping into a runway towards, for example, a jump.

Disqualified. When a rider is removed from the competition, by a jury or race organization.


Eat It:
A crash.

When one goes over the bars.

A style of riding done in the woods.


The frontside of a jump, the part you ride on.

Face Plant:
A fall off the bike where you land on your face.

Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme. The governing body for all things motorcycles.

When the rider lets the bike work for him to be as smooth as possible in his technique.

Flat Landed:
When you jump too far and land on flat ground. You missed the backside.

Riding smooth and just having a good time.

A timed competition judged on the rider’s ability to perform aerial maneuvers.

Any surface that faces towards the rider. Landing on the front side of a jump is a big no-no. Opposite of backside.


A distance horizontally between two points that need to be jumped.

Goon Riding:
Someone that is messing around trying to look like a tool while riding. Typically a faster rider just having a laugh.

Extreme riding terrain.

Used to describe the stickers placed on bikes.

“Just keep grinding”. To work hard and do so over a long period of time.

When your suspension becomes compressed due to g-forces. An example of this would be riding down a hill fast with a short smooth transition up another hill. The g-force at the bottom of the transition will collapse the suspension and cause a g-out.


Hand Guards:
Attachments for the handlebars and grips. They block a riders hands from any direct impact.

Track surface made of compact dry dirt. Often slippery.

High Side:
When you slide in a corner and the suddenly get traction, causing your bike to flip over.

Hip Jump:
A jump with the landing at a different angle from the takeoff. The rider must turn in the air.

To holeshot means that you reach the first turn in the lead. One of the best feelings in racing!

When the bike is riding you, you are bucked all over the place. Usually happens in the whoops.


In the Weeds:
Off the track – either through a mistake of your own or by being forced off by another rider.

Involuntary Dismount:
A crash.


A jump that sends the rider high rather than far.

To swing the rear tire sideways while keeping the front wheel on the ground.

Reference to a motocross tyre.


One full ride around the track.

A lapper is someone in a race that is a full lap down from the leaders. He or she gets lapped.

Last Chance Qualifier. In a race where you have to qualify for the final, some races have on last chance for riders not yet qualified. The Last Chance to Qualify.

Le Mans Start:
A start procedure in which the riders have to run to their waiting bikes to get going.

A helmet.

The desirable path or way you want to ride a section. You’re always looking for the fastest line, or in some cases the safest.

The takeoff surface of a jump.

The stuff dirt bike dreams are made of. It is a perfectly aerated soil known for its fluffy consistency, usually made of sand/clay mixture.

When the front end of the bike goes into an uncontrolled wheelie and back over itself as the rider falls off in disbelief.

Loose over Hardpack:
Sand, dust, or fine gravel on top of a hard surface. Very slippery!


Monkey Butt:
Your rear-end after you have ridden miles of trails.

Either a slang term for a motorcycle or more commonly the term used to describe each race at a motocross or outdoor event.

Mud Diving:
What happens when a bike slows abruptly in mud, throwing the rider into wet mush.

Short for Motocross.

The motocross world championship.


Nac Nac:
A trick performed while airborne in which both legs are positioned on the same side of the bike and one gets extended out from the bike.

Nose Heavy:
When you’re in the air and about to land with to much front tire first.


Original Equipment Manufacturer, the company that made your motorcycle.

On the Pipe:
When a rider or bike is going very fast. This expression refers to when a dirt bike’s two-stroke engine is operating at optimum rpm.

A crash, fall off the bike.

Sloped ground that makes handling difficult.

Open Face Helmet:
A helmet that covers the top of the head and sides, but leaves the face open.

Over The Bar – when the bike comes to a stop and the rider flies out the front door (over the bar).

To enter a turn or other obstacle too fast (coming in to hot). Makes it impossible to make the turn or section perfectly.



Panic Rev:
When you’re airborne and you are nose heavy in the air, twisting the throttle wide open will cause the rear tire to spin very fast, and that will lift the nose of the bike helping you to land evenly on 2 tires.

A 50cc dirt bike, also a class of racing.

Pile Up:
More than one bike involved in a crash. Bikes and riders might be laying on top of each other.

“I just kept it pinned” – meaning they had the throttle wide open in a section of the track.

Pit Board:
A large sign shown to the rider as he goes past. Pit crews use the pit board to show a rider’s position or to give other information, to the rider.

The area where riders and their crew set up for racing.

Is the plastic panels that attach onto the bike like “fenders” and “shrouds”. More often then not, they are covered in graphics.

How much power the bike has or makes. More isn’t always better if you can’t control it.

Power Shift:
The act of shifting without using the clutch. You can shift faster by doing this, but really mess up your clutch.

Power Slide:
Sliding the bike sideways while accelerating.

In a race situation: it is the time given for a rider to get acquainted with the track before the race. In everyday life: training.

Refers to the force applied to spring component before external loads, such as rider weight, are applied. More preload makes the suspension sag less and less preload makes the suspension sag more. Adjusting preload affects the ride height of the suspension.

Pre Jump:
To leave the face of a jump before reaching the top.

Prerace Routine:
A sequence of tasks and habits performed to get yourself and the bike ready to race.

The schedule of events for the day. Race program.

The tire inflation measurement. It stands for pounds per square inch.


A jump with 4 peaks. One step longer than a triple.


This is an old word for cool that has come back to be a new word for cool as things that go around come around.

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, with lots of control, throttle, and style. As if riding on rails.

Refers to the rate at which the suspension component returns to its original configuration after absorbing a shock.

Rear Wheel drift:
To drift the rear wheel while the front wheel stays planted.

Instead of turning the throttle and ending up with your wrist bent, reach down first and then pull the throttle back so that your hand and wrist are in their original position yet the power is increased.

Rhythm Section:
A section in an sx-track that requires skill. Contains different kinds of obstacles.

Riders Meeting:
The gathering of all of the riders at a race. Takes place right before the races begin to review any information riders may need before the race.

Riding Gear:
All of the apparel and protective equipment that a person wears while riding.

To ride with an aggressive flow.

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

Roll Offs:
A thin clear plastic film on goggles that you can adjust while riding. Clears the lens from dirt.

Dirt or gravel thrown into the air by accelerating or drifting in a corner. You can get “roosted” by another rider and machine. It can hurt, really bad…

Revolutions per minute. Used to describe how many times the crankshaft revolves around its axis in one minute.

Rutted or Ruts:
Used to describe track conditions. “That corner is so rutted out.” Tires have been digging into the dirt causing long ruts. This can be very hard to ride, especially if you’re not used to it.


Same, But Different:
It’s the same but different. When something is new but still the same. Makes total sense :).

Someone who is riding in a class that is slower than their own capabilities. The sandbagger does this to have a better chance of winning. Not cool!

Refers to how much a suspension compresses when the rider sits on the bike. Sag is often used as one parameter when tuning a suspension for a rider. Manages the effectiveness and plushness of the suspension.

A term used to describe a type of cross country off-road motorcycle racing.

“Scrubbing a jump” is a term used to describe the action when a rider attempts to stay low while jumping a jump or obstacle. You lay the bike over and try to absorb the suspension. You want to keep the bike on the ground – keeping it on the ground means more speed.

Schrader Valve:
The type of valve used on mx tubes, and also most cars and trucks. They are spring-loaded to release air or let it in.

Seat Bounce:
A jumping technique were you are sitting down while taking off from the lip of a jump. You do this to compress the suspension and help bounce you off of the takeoff. With this, you can clear longer jumps straight out from a corner. Commonly used in Supercross.

Send It:
“Just send it” – meaning just go for it. Most times a jump but can also be used regarding a section.

A part of the frame that controls the movement of the rear suspension.

Short Shift:
Shifting to the next gear before your at the optimum point of power in your current gear.

Negotiating tracks with a higher-than-usual level of expertise.

Crazy, cool, insane.

Side Grass:
Grass on the side of the trail, often containing rocks and/or stumps.

A narrow trail that must be ridden single file.

A set of three consecutive double jumps. An eight pack if four doubles etc.

When something is hard or you don’t feel 100% safe doing it. Can be a difficult section or jump on a track.

When a rider hits the top of each whoop with each tire, in a whoops section. The net result is the bike traveling in a straight line across the tops of the whoops instead of jumping through them.

Used to describe a slippery track.

Slip the Clutch:
When a rider gradually releases the clutch lever.

Soil Sample:
Getting a face full of dirt.

A rider that has no skill, but does not realize it and never improves. Typically can be found giving bogus advice to other riders.

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 avoiding being passed.

A rider, most of the times a beginner, that just doesn’t look good on the track. He has no riding style what so ever.

When you loose control of the bike for a second and the bike is sliding around on you.


When the gate falls, the race is on. The gate is usually out of metal.

Step Down:
A jump with a gap, where the landing is lower than the takeoff.

Step Up:
A jump where the landing is higher than the takeoff.

To be exited and overly pleased about something, often a very good experience on the bike.

When a rider uses his front brake to raise the rear wheel off the ground while rolling or coming to a full stop.

Stuff, Stuffed:
An especially forceful block pass made with contact to another rider.

Super Pumped:

This is a class designation. Supermini includes the fastest kids that are still on minibikes (typically 85cc to 105cc engines).

A system of springs, shock absorbers, and levers that allows the wheels to move in relation to the frame.

The undesirable tendency for the rear end to bounce from side to side through bumps and whoops.



A jump with a flat top between the takeoff and the landing. Can either be jumped or safely rolled over. Also the technique of laying the bike flat in the air (pancake).

Soil that has a very large amount of traction, usually describes clay.

To collide, intentional or not, with another rider at a right angle, forming a T.

A thin plastic sheet that goes over your goggles lens. You can stack up to 10-12 of them and use them for clear vision. When you get roosted, dirt will hit your goggles and stick. You then pull a tear off to clear your vision.

Technical Briefing:
A meeting that all riders must attend at the beginning of the race day.

The Zone:
A state of mind experienced while riding. You don’t think, you just do. A truly mystical experience that can’t be fully explained, but when you get there you’ll know it and strive to reach it again.

A jump containing three moguls. You can either jump all of them, aka triple or go single, single, single or double, single. etc.

Turn it Over:
A term used whenever someone attempts to start a bike. Can be used to tell someone to kick start their bike.

Two-Wheel Drift:
To drift with booth tires. Supercool when done in control!


To shift into a higher gear.


Wash Out:
To have the front tire lose traction, especially while going around a corner, causing you to fall over.

Small, regular undulations of the soil surface that make for a very rough ride.

Wide Freeking (or Fu*!%ing) Open (with regards to the throttle).

Wheel Tap:
You tap the wheel on a bump, edge of a jump, log or whatever, to go into the air again. By using the suspension’s compression.

When you accelerate to raise the front wheel of the bike.

Movement when jumping when you push the back of the bike out to the side. Do this by entering a jump in a slight angle, turning the bike to the side.

Wipe Out:
A crash.

Whiskey Throttle:
When a rider gives too much throttle and then starts to slip off the back of the bike, this causes their hand to just pull on the throttle even more and eventually the rider goes out of control. Big crash!

Whoops, are a series of smaller (sometimes scary big though) moguls or hills in succession. To get thru them fastest possible you need enough speed to be able to skip along the tops. You blitz them. Not easy for beginners or intermediates.

Not functioning properly. Something is off.

Actually doing the maintenance and repair work on a bike.


The infamous blistered inside of the right thumb from the stock grips and handlebar. This is well known to us blue riders.

Yard Sale:
A horrendous crash that leaves bike parts and mx gear etc. – scattered all over the place as if on display for sale.

Ok, so there it is! Our motocross and dirt bike lexicon.

Hopefully, you’ll have learned a new word or two!

About the Author Tobi

Hey there, I've been riding Moto for almost all of my life and gone through my fair share of gear sets & products. Hopefully, this experience will come in handy for you when you read our recommendations here at :)