Dirt-kicking, speed racing, and cool gear—mountain bikers are the ‘cool kids’ of cycling, and everybody wants to try it! Mountain biking is an exciting form of cycling celebrated for its adventurous and competitive nature.
From the unique styles of mountain biking to essential gear, you’re about to race into the world of this exciting sport.
The 4 Types of Mountain Biking
Did you know that mountain biking comes in many styles? Mountain biking has four main subcategories of the sport. Each is characterized by the types of terrain for the routes, the length of the routes, the kind of gear, and the type of bike ideal for it.
The four types of mountain biking are:
- Cross country
Here’s what makes each type of mountain biking unique!
As the only type of mountain biking granted an official sport in the Olympics, it’s one of the most popular types of cycling. From summits to valleys and everything in between, cross country takes you on the ride of a lifetime.
Cross-country mountain biking takes you on long routes that cross various terrains within one ride—so, make sure that you’re prepared for anything that comes at you. You’ll ride across dirt trails through dense woodlands, take things easy with a cruise down a paved road, or even make a splash while crossing a stream.
The best bikes for cross-country biking are comfortable and lightweight for enduring the long ride. For most traditional cross-country trails, hardtails (front suspension bikes) or softails (bikes with front and back suspension) will work. Remember that the more suspension that you have (millimeters of travel allowed by the front and back suspension) the cushier the ride will be because your frame will absorb the terrain. But that also means the more energy it will take to pedal uphill.
What goes up must come down in this mountain biking test for endurance. Gravity will simultaneously be your greatest enemy and ally as you’re challenged to cycle to a summit and then speed down the downhill trails.
Gear up for the competitive Enduro ride, with riders using full-face helmets, goggles, gloves, knee pads, and elbow pads. The clock is off as you navigate your way to the trail’s highest point. Then, it’s a race against the clock as you compete for the fastest time to reach the bottom. There will be plenty of curves, dips, and sharp turns along the way, so stay vigilant!
For the intense downhill ride, you must have a full suspension bike —front and rear suspension—with at least 1600MM of travel in the front. The amount of travel that you have in your back suspension depends on your weight. Have the bike shop calibrate your suspension before taking your bike home.
Imagine the fun of Enduro mountain biking without the pressure of the clock. All-Mountain biking brings you on a similar journey to the summit and the foot of a mountain. However, this type of riding is more the scenic route as compared to the more adrenaline-pumping Enduro.
Prepare your mind and bike for the off-road cycle through nature. All-Mountain biking puts all your cycling skills to the test, like endurance, balance, and speed. For the best success during your ride, use a bike designed with thick tires for enduring the rough natural terrains and has full suspension for the downhill journey.
There are all-mountain biking routes for all skill levels. Follow popular mountain trails or carve out your own course while trekking through the wilderness.
You’ll get a rush of adrenaline the entire ride with downhill mountain biking. It’s widely known and has championship races held in the US and Europe. Competitive styles of downhill cycling use a timer, but riders can also enjoy it leisurely.
With downhill mountain biking, the wilder the ride, the better. So, on expert trails, expect tons of downhill jumps, leaving a trail of dust as you skid around a series of switchbacks. For downhill rides, you often do not ride up to smash down the mountain. If you’re riding at a bike park, these are typically ski parks converted in the off-season. You and your bike will ride a gondola up to one of the peaks and your trailhead.
Because downhill bikes do not need to climb, they’re designed with specialized geometry so that you can position your body off the back of the bike for steep descents. The bike’s geometry will keep you centered and agile all the way down. Downhill bikes have the most travel in the front than any other type of bike.
Before setting off on the nearest track to give mountain biking a try, it’s essential to have the proper gear to maintain safety and perform efficiently on the tracks. So, whether it’s your first time on the mountain biking trails or you’re well-seasoned in the sport, there is cycling gear that everyone should have, including:
- Water bottle
- Bike and tire repair kit
- First-aid kit
- Survival kit
- Backup gear
- Extra clothing
Simplify your packing efforts with a backpack that’s both functional and practical for any style of mountain biking. The Impetro Backpack System is specially designed for mountain bikers. This modular backpack system has one base unit and three zip-on packs to accommodate mountain biking, skiing, mountaineering.
The Impetro Bike Pack brings efficiency for the rider with features such as straps over the front to prevent movement during your ride and multiple compartments for storing all the essential items for your ride.