MOUNTAIN BIKING

Mountain biking is the sport of riding bicycles off-road, often over rough terrain, using specially designed mountain bikes. Mountain bikes share similarities with other bikes but incorporate features designed to enhance durability and performance in rough terrain. Mountain biking can generally be broken down into multiple categories: cross country (XC), trail riding, all mountain (also referred to as "Enduro"), downhill, freeride and dirt jumping. However, the majority of mountain biking falls into the categories of Trail and Cross Country riding styles.

The sport requires endurance, core strength and balance, bike handling skills, and self-reliance. Advanced riders pursue both steep technical descents and high incline climbs. In the case of freeride, downhill, and dirt jumping, aerial maneuvers are performed off both natural features and specially constructed jumps and ramps.

Mountain bikers ride on off-road trails such as singletrack, back-country roads, fire roads, and often venture to ski resorts that stay open in the summer for such activities. Because riders are often far from civilization, there is a strong ethic of self-reliance in the sport. Riders learn to repair broken bikes and flat tires to avoid being stranded. Many riders carry a backpack, including water, food, tools for trailside repairs, and a first aid kit in case of injury. Group rides are common, especially on longer treks. Mountain bike orienteering adds the skill of map navigation to mountain biking.

CROSS COUNTRY

Cross-Country generally means riding point-to-point or in a loop including climbs and descents on a variety of terrain. A typical XC bike weighs around 9-13 kilos (20-30 lbs), and has 0–125 millimeters (0.0–4.9 inches) of suspension travel front and sometimes rear.

ENDURO

All-mountain/Enduro uses bikes with a moderate-travel suspension systems and components that are usually stronger than XC models, but a weight still suitable for climbing and descending. While traditionally called All-mountain riding, this style has been adopted to the Enduro World Series. There are two formats of Enduro racing. "Big-Mountain" Enduro is similar to a DH course, but is much longer, sometimes taking a full day to complete and often incorporates climbing sections. "Gravity" enduro uses roughly equal amounts uphill and downhill, but the uphill segments are not timed. Typically, there is a maximum time limit on how long a rider has to reach the top of the climb. There is also a third category called "super-D" which is similar to XC, but has sustained climbs followed by sustained descents, with the climbs less technical than the descents. Enduro racing is seen as the "everyman's" race in North America, and while there are still extremely high level riders such as Jérôme Clémentz that race enduro full-time, most enduro racers compete for fun.

DOWNHILL

Downhill is, in the most general sense, riding mountain bikes downhill. Courses include large jumps (up to and including 12 meters (39 feet)), drops of 3+ meters (10+ feet), and are generally rough and steep from top to bottom. The rider commonly travels to the point of descent by other means than cycling, such as a ski lift or automobile, as the weight of the downhill mountain bike often precludes any serious climbing. Downhill racers must possess a unique combination of total body strength, aerobic and anaerobic fitness, mental control, as well as the acceptance of a relatively high risk of incurring serious injury. Because of their extremely steep terrain (often located in summer at ski resorts), downhill is one of the most extreme and dangerous cycling disciplines. Minimum body protection in a true downhill setting entails wearing knee pads and a full-face helmet with goggles, albeit riders and racers commonly wear full-body suits that include padding at various locations. Downhill-specific bikes are universally equipped with front and rear suspension, large disc brakes, and use heavier frame tubing than other mountain bikes. Downhill bicycles now weigh around 16–20 kg (35–44 lb), while the most expensive professional downhill mountain bikes can weigh as little as 15 kilograms (33 pounds), fully equipped with custom carbon fibre parts, air suspension, tubeless tires and more. Downhill frames have anywhere from 170–250 millimeters (6.7–9.8 inches) of travel and are usually equipped with a 200 millimeters (7.9 inches) travel dual-crown fork.

FREERIDE

Freeride, as the name suggests, is a 'do anything' discipline that encompasses everything from downhill racing without the clock to jumping, riding 'North Shore' style (elevated trails made of interconnecting bridges and logs), and generally riding trails and/or stunts that require more skill and aggressive techniques than XC. "Slopestyle" type riding is an increasingly popular genre that combines big-air, stunt-ridden freeride with BMX style tricks. Slopestyle courses are usually constructed at already established mountain bike parks and include jumps, large drops, quarter-pipes, and other wooden obstacles. There are always multiple lines through a course and riders compete for judges' points by choosing lines that highlight their particular skills. A "typical" freeride bike is hard to define, but typical specifications are 13-18 kilos (30-40 lbs) with 150–250 millimeters (5.9–9.8 inches) of suspension front and rear. Freeride bikes are generally heavier and more amply suspended than their XC counterparts, but usually retain much of their climbing ability. It is up to the rider to build his or her bike to lean more toward a preferred level of aggressiveness.

DIRT JUMP

Dirt Jumping is the practice of riding bikes over shaped mounds of dirt or soil and becoming airborne. The goal is that after riding over the 'take off' the rider will become airborne, and aim to land on the 'landing'. Dirt jumping can be done on almost any bicycle, but the bikes chosen are generally smaller and more maneuverable hardtails so that tricks e.g. backflips, are easier to complete. The bikes are simpler so that when a crash occurs there are fewer components to break or cause the rider injury. Bikes are typically built from sturdier materials such as steel to handle repeated heavy impacts of crashes and bails.

TRIALS

Trials riding consists of hopping and jumping bikes over obstacles, without touching a foot onto the ground. It can be performed either off-road or in an urban environment. This requires an excellent sense of balance. The emphasis is placed on techniques of effectively overcoming the obstacles, although street-trials (as opposed to competition-oriented trials) is much like Street and DJ, where doing tricks with style is the essence. Trials bikes look almost nothing like mountain bikes. They use either 20", 24" or 26" wheels and have very small, low frames, some types without a saddle.

© 2017 Tomislav Hosni