MTB Etiquette


Cannon Fodder
First kind.

I recently bought my 9 yr old son a mountain bike which he spends just about every spare moment on. Last week some friends took him to Lysterfield which he loved. He wants to get out and about more on some trails so he has persuaded me to buy a bike which I'm picking up soon. Our local trails are at Red Hill. I'm curious to know what the general etiquette is on the trails. Specifically;
Are you supposed to be aware of who is behind you? Or do riders that want to pass just call "passing" or similar?
Any generally accepted hand signals to let a rider behind know it is safe to pass? If you have a choice do you generally pull over to the left or right?
Plan on sticking to the easier trails for a while but keen no to piss anyone off. Not sure if these places are territorial...(had a few run-ins on some surf beaches in NSW many years ago!)
Any guidance appreciated.

pink poodle

Our man in Japan
Welcome aboard! Straight up I can tell you that you and your son both need a new bike. Actually 2 bikes. And you need a van or a ute as well.

Also are you up tight or loose? You have to be one of the other. No other possibilities exist. Once you decide which it is we can work out your wardrobe. Up tight? Well some tight fitting Lycra will be just the ticket. Loose? You'll want to dress like you're in sound garden.

The only had signal you'll need is the bird. It greed your mates and let's arseholes know what you think about them.


Party Pooper
Staff member
You would be very unlikely to get territorial aggression like in the surfing world.

Proper etiquette is for a rider who catches up to you to announce their presence, and if they'd like to pass they'll call out "when you're ready" or "up ahead on the left" etc. You don't need to stop immediately, but it's polite to make room as soon as you can.

If the trails allow it it's best not to actually stop but ride slowly to the side of a wider bit of trail and get used to the process of being passed while still moving. It spoils the flow of your ride to keep stopping and starting.

Most mtb'ers will have been there before and will have no problem slowing their pace for you for a spell. You'll often read of people shouting "Strava run!!" and barging past, but I've never experienced this and think it's a bit of an urban myth.

pink poodle

Our man in Japan
On top of the bikes you've just arranged. They are old news now! You have to get on the new bike rhythm early or it becomes real hard a few years down the trail. Also get the top stuff, none of this buying what suits business. I reckon you need a full blown dh bike. A few pro race rigs from intense getting around that will give you a little extra cred. You'll be savvy for buying second hand and have the mojo of the elite pro rider it came from.

I'm the wrong side of 90kg so definitely loose.
You're never too skinny to wear Lycra. But if you're going loose you gotta love loose! Shot gun a beer in the car park before and after each ride, never drink water again, mother/Redbull/pussyjuice are your hydration now. And get three hats. Must all be worn at once, layered one over the other like a babushka doll. This way of the high velocity gnar you encounter blows your hat've still got another on ready to roll!


Likes Dirt
Agree with Tubbsy that you are very unlikely to get any real aggro on the trail. Certainly at Lysterfield you can generally tell when someone is catching you and I've never had a problem with moving aside for others or them moving aside for me with nothing more than a 'thanks and have fun'.

With everything tending to be one-way now you shouldn't have too many problems with riders coming the other way, but in my experience common sense is usually applied, if it's a crazy fast descent the guy coming up moves out of the way, if it's a steep/techy climb where youain't going to start up again if you stop then the guy coming down gives way.


Eats Squid
Any guidance appreciated.
You'll be fine - your attitude is what matters. Sometimes you'll stuff up someones line or park your bike in the wrong spot but it's fine and most people are quite forgiving on green/blue trails - worse case is they come to a stop to sort out whatever the problem is. The real issues happen when it's a lot faster flowing trails where there is less time and less margin for error. For example one of my mates accidentally stopped between a huge gap jump not knowing it was a gap jump. Lucky for the guy coming down he said a lot of people mistake it for a good spot to park their bikes.

pink poodle

Our man in Japan
Always have your ears open to the all important call of the trail:



Eats Squid
its funny but whenever I come up behind someone out on my Ebike, its amazing how polite people are and get off the trail straight away, I always say to them that they didn't have to stop for me and thank them, but I guess If you hear something that sounds like a combine harvester is about to run you over , I would do the same.
Sounds like you are already one of us, good vibes are infectious...not quite as much as corona, but really close!


I'll tells ya!
Staff member
My tip is if you come head on with another rider, just move to your left. They will likely do the same thing as it's almost a reflex reaction for us left-hand of the road drivers.

If anyone ever does come up behind you yelling "strave run" (never happened to me either). Position your fist out directly behind you and hit your breaks, hard.

Don't stop on the trail for any reason, just pop off to the side and do what you've got to do there. As others have said, things are more cruisy on the lower-end trails but on the faster ones, it can be dangerous for yourself and others when people are coming at you doing 30-40kph and have no room to stop.

It's tradition to point and laugh at anyone who is riding a Giant. They will appreciate it as in MTB circles it's an acknowledgement of shared respect.


Wheel size expert
Treat the trail the same as you would a road, keep left for slower vehicles and etc.. One thing that I always do is to keep an ear out for people smashing down or up tails and be aware of long blind corners, if you can hear another rider coming at speed it's easier to get yourself and the kid to the side of the trail and no need to stop if there's enough room for passing. One thing that Mountain bikers really hate is people stopping in the middle of trails to talk or repair bikes, so avoid those practices if you can.

It's a great sport and most people are accepting or accommodating for newer & younger riders but you'll always get that small few that can be dicks on the trails.
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Heavy machinery.
Staff member
Geez, you could really go on with do's and don'ts with this but everyone will chuck their bits in. ;)
Give way to animals and stop to pat every dog. ;)
Join in on organised trail work days, it's cool to get involved and help out doing some digging and learning good building techniques. With that in mind, take your time before you decide to build any trails of your own (if at all, some areas are very volatile). Never ever change anything on a trail, thats a big no no.
You come across a few types of people out there. Some seem like yuppie upstarts who think they're better than you, you just let them be and say G'day, they aren't all bad. Some folks love to share the cool stuff we do and thankfully thats the majority. Embrace it and make the most of it, it's a fun crowd and we're all out there caring for this big blob we live on.


Likes Dirt
He wants to get out and about more on some trails so he has persuaded me to buy a bike which I'm picking up soon. Our local trails are at Red Hill.
Just as a heads up Red Hill's trails are very unforgiving to people learning on a bike. They are steep and techy single track (track is only as wide as 1 rider) with roots, ruts and blown out corners everywhere. Also It's a steep climb back up to the top as well with a climbing track that will be difficult for a beginer to navigate and maintain cadence on the roots.

Definitely give their skills park a good go and make sure you can do everything confidently there before heading to their actual trails (probably be fine on their green trail though).