1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
Results 1 to 24 of 24
  1. #1
    KC Weekend Warrior
    Reputation: the.rebot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    116

    Definitions of riding styles

    Found these good descriptions and thought I'd share.

    XC/XC Racing (fast, flowy singletrack, no drops)

    Trail (XC combined with some technical riding and small drops under 1 to 2 feet)

    All Mountain (Trail with more technical features and drops up to 4 feet)

    Downhill (Race courses requiring 7 inches of suspension travel or more)

    Freeride (Like DH but without the structure and typically bigger drops and features)

    Dirt Jump (if you do it...you know it)

    SOURCE: http://mountain.bike198.com/
    '12 Giant Trance X1, Mavic Crossride Wheels, StansTubeless, SPD Pedals

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: JonathanGennick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    4,831
    XC = Racing. Spandex is often involved.

    Trail = WTF?

    All Mountain = What I tell everyone that I do, because it sounds cool.

    Freeride = What I aspire to do, in the same way that people who buy SUVs have dreams about tearing it up on muddy doubletrack, but they never really do.

    Downhill = What I am too lame to be able to do.

    Dirt Jump = The type of bike I ride when I want to be a poser.

    (I do have a very nice dirt-jump bike. I can get maybe three inches of air at the local skate park. That probably qualifies me for poser status).

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: fireball_jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    301
    To me there's just mountain biking and downhill mountain biking, the difference being in one you go up and down, and in the other you just go down.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: JonathanGennick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    4,831
    Quote Originally Posted by fireball_jones View Post
    To me there's just mountain biking and downhill mountain biking, the difference being in one you go up and down, and in the other you just go down.
    Freeride and dirt-jumping, and downhill too, strike me as legit categories. "Trail" is the category that used to make me go "wtf?", but I can see the distinction now. A racer wants a bike with geometry optimized for racing. Someone riding for fun and exercise will often be happier with a more relaxed, non-racy geometry.

    Mostly, the categories make some sense to me. Even though we do often laugh at all the fine gradations, they really do exist. People really do ride in different ways.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    3,012
    Funny, for me it's been

    XC= any trails that I not using a lift to get to the top

    DH= lift trails
    13 Lenz Lunchbox punkass
    12 TallboyC Frame for Sale-Large

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    830
    XC/XC Racing - 4" or less of travel. Pinned rims.

    Trail - about 5" of travel. Welded rims

    All Mountain - about 6" of travel. Welded rims

    Downhill (Race courses requiring 7 inches of suspension travel or more). Welded rims
    2009 Access 9.5 29er
    2010 Diamondback Insight RS (700c hybrid)
    Velorazzo frame build (26)

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: boomn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    9,647
    I think the different aspects of this get lumped together too often

    Bikes get categorized as XC, trail, AM, etc to help people quickly understand some basic properties of a bike without looking at each detail of components and geometry. Travel is only one of those numbers and isn't necessarily the best indication on it's own. Some people hate it because "it's marketing" but people naturally categorize things for the reason I listed above.

    Riding gets categorized as XC, AM, etc based on what you do with your bike. For me riding becomes something you might call "all mountain" once you start going out of your way to take rougher lines, turn trail features into drops, hit the big optional drops, etc. Notice that these styles of riding can often be done on the same trail that others are riding as "xc" and can often be done on the same bike too. Bigger bikes exist because they are better suited to that harder riding and more appropriately durable, but they aren't necessarily required

    Trails, to me, can't really be categorized. Not only can many trails be ridden in different ways to suit a riding style, but there is lots of variation from location to location of what a baseline "xc" trail might possibly entail. Whatever is common and close to home tends to get ridden a lot by people with their "xc" bikes and become's those people's "xc" trails. Some people's home trails are smooth and flowy, some people's home trails are rooty and rocky, some people's home trails are really gnarly and have plenty of drops, etc. An XC trail in BC is practically FR compared to an XC trail in Kansas

    Me? I just go "mountain biking" and will attempt to ride whatever is in front of me as I see fit at the time. Sometimes I'm going "all mountain" with a rigid bike, sometimes I'm cruising smooth trails with a 5" FS "trail" bike

  8. #8
    T.W.O.
    Reputation: mimi1885's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    7,766
    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
    Trail = WTF?
    Wednesday, Thursday, Friday?

    BTW, I do my XC in baggies and even flat pedals.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: JonathanGennick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    4,831
    Quote Originally Posted by boomn View Post
    Trails, to me, can't really be categorized. Not only can many trails be ridden in different ways to suit a riding style, ...
    This is an interesting point to ponder. How does one distinguish an XC trail from a Trail trail from an All Mountain trail?

    The categories for trails probably need to be separate from how we categorize riding styles.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    2
    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
    This is an interesting point to ponder. How does one distinguish an XC trail from a Trail trail from an All Mountain trail?

    The categories for trails probably need to be separate from how we categorize riding styles.
    I'd say that an AM trail is something you drop your seat for or run the risk of being voilated.

    But again that would vary between riders.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    17
    Interesting

  12. #12
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    12,324
    Quote Originally Posted by the.rebot View Post
    Found these good descriptions and thought I'd share.

    XC/XC Racing (fast, flowy singletrack, no drops)

    Trail (XC combined with some technical riding and small drops under 1 to 2 feet)

    All Mountain (Trail with more technical features and drops up to 4 feet)

    Downhill (Race courses requiring 7 inches of suspension travel or more)

    Freeride (Like DH but without the structure and typically bigger drops and features)

    Dirt Jump (if you do it...you know it)

    SOURCE: Bike198 | Mountain Bike Reviews, Beginner to Extreme Mountain Biking Tips
    One of these days, I'm going to have to copy-paste one of my "pussification of XC" rants onto my computer so I can copy-paste it when these threads pop up. Or get revived. I really liked boomn's post, btw.

    According to these definitions, the last XC course I competed on wasn't XC at all - it had plenty of ledges to drop off of. And the one I'm going to be on next weekend is probably questionable too - part of it had a Super-D on it last weekend, and lots of it gets shuttled.

    Suppose a series of riders is riding a false-flat descent and comes upon a mogul. The XC approach is to pump it, and gain a little extra speed. The trail guy might boost it, because it's fun. Really, most XC riders who actually like mountain biking would probably boost it too, for the same reason, unless it's a race day and the rider in question is waaay too serious for his own good. The AM guy boosts it and says it was bigger. The FR guy boosts it and wishes the landing was a skinny. The DH guy doesn't notice it was there - too small.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  13. #13
    Nickel Havr
    Reputation: Eckstream1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    1,184
    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Suppose a series of riders is riding a false-flat descent and comes upon a mogul. The XC approach is to pump it, and gain a little extra speed. The trail guy might boost it, because it's fun. Really, most XC riders who actually like mountain biking would probably boost it too, for the same reason, unless it's a race day and the rider in question is waaay too serious for his own good. The AM guy boosts it and says it was bigger. The FR guy boosts it and wishes the landing was a skinny. The DH guy doesn't notice it was there - too small.

    Quote Originally Posted by William Blake
    Great things are done when men and mountains meet. This is not done by jostling in the street .

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation: C.M.S's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    497
    " The AM guy boosts it and says it was bigger. The FR guy boosts it and wishes the landing was a skinny. The DH guy doesn't notice it was there - too small. "

    Now that's some good stuff. !!
    WARNING : Do not ride your bicycle until you have read and thoroughly understood the owners manual.

  15. #15
    Picture Unrelated
    Reputation: zebrahum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    4,924
    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    One of these days, I'm going to have to copy-paste one of my "pussification of XC" rants onto my computer so I can copy-paste it when these threads pop up. Or get revived. I really liked boomn's post, btw.

    According to these definitions, the last XC course I competed on wasn't XC at all - it had plenty of ledges to drop off of. And the one I'm going to be on next weekend is probably questionable too - part of it had a Super-D on it last weekend, and lots of it gets shuttled.
    The trail system closest to my house had an XC race there this weekend. And shock! they were riding the DH flow trail as part of the race course. I wonder how all their times suffered as they all walked down the entire trail because they were on measly XC race bikes. Or maybe they rode it because they're on bikes and all capable of riding their bikes on whatever terrain they need to .

    I tend to believe it's the bike design intent that gets the classification and not the rider. I know people who ride their DH bikes as XC trail bikes, people who ride their XC bikes lift served, and I ride my huge AM bike here locally which is far more suitable to 29er hardtails than 7" AM bikes. I take it back, why do we need to classify things? I'm with TwoTone, let's go back to XC = pedal up DH = get a ride up.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation: CarolinaLL6's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    1,080
    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    Funny, for me it's been

    XC= any trails that I not using a lift to get to the top

    DH= lift trails
    I like this definition.

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    75
    Well... Ummm I agree we many time over classify but at the same time because what BC has is much different than Kansas. The way I think of it isn't bike specific but more rider specific. Obviously exceptions apply for all. So if I say I like XC and trail riding, you all have a clue about what kind of riding I prefer regaurdless of what or where I ride.


    XC/XC Racing - Just about anybody can ride. Good riders and racers just do it 10x faster. Speed makes the trail become technical. Hills (up or down) stress fitness over technical ability. Single track or wider with good flow. Putting a foot down just about never happens.

    Trail - First timers and my wife can ride it, but will put a foot down here and there. Penalty for missing a corner isn't huge. There are difficult sections to ride at any speed.

    All Mountain - You better have experience and be a good technical rider. 50% might put a foot down or hike-a-bike on the most technical areas. Penalty on tough technical areas may include a paramedic.

    Downhill - You don't ride up. Penalty for screwing up manytimes includes a paramedic.

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation: DavidR1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    1,696
    Quote Originally Posted by fireball_jones View Post
    To me there's just mountain biking and downhill mountain biking, the difference being in one you go up and down, and in the other you just go down.


    All the rest is just marketing BS.
    CyclingCentralVa.org

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation: boomn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    9,647
    Quote Originally Posted by DavidR1 View Post


    All the rest is just marketing BS.
    You mean other than the fact that those "BS" terms are legitimately used by a whole lot of riders? If I mention an AM hardtail then you have some idea of what I'm talking about without me having to go on to specify a bunch of things about geometry, strength, travel, tires, etc. Hence why us riders help create and perpetuate these terms. Bikes themselves are more specialized in these ways than they were 10 and especially 20 years ago, hence why terms to classify them are also so much more prevalent. The same basic idea applies to riding style too. If you convince everyone to stop using those specific "marketing BS" terms they'll figure some other new terms on their own to fill the same basic need for simpler categorization and differentiation

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation: DavidR1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    1,696
    Quote Originally Posted by boomn View Post
    You mean other than the fact that those "BS" terms are legitimately used by a whole lot of riders? If I mention an AM hardtail then you have some idea of what I'm talking about without me having to go on to specify a bunch of things about geometry, strength, travel, tires, etc. Hence why us riders help create and perpetuate these terms. Bikes themselves are more specialized in these ways than they were 10 and especially 20 years ago, hence why terms to classify them are also so much more prevalent. The same basic idea applies to riding style too. If you convince everyone to stop using those specific "marketing BS" terms they'll figure some other new terms on their own to fill the same basic need for simpler categorization and differentiation
    While that is one way to look at it, I think there is a much simpler way. You have long travel hardtails or FS, short travel hardtails or FS. That is it, 4 categories for which almost every mountain bike will fall within, hence the reason I call marketing BS.

    Now I think any attempt to categorize a trail is ridiculous. It all depends on what your used to. And categorizing a rider...give me a break.
    CyclingCentralVa.org

  21. #21
    mtbr member
    Reputation: boomn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    9,647
    Quote Originally Posted by DavidR1 View Post
    While that is one way to look at it, I think there is a much simpler way. You have long travel hardtails or FS, short travel hardtails or FS. That is it, 4 categories for which almost every mountain bike will fall within, hence the reason I call marketing BS.

    Now I think any attempt to categorize a trail is ridiculous. It all depends on what your used to. And categorizing a rider...give me a break.
    Yep, I agree on the last points. As for your break down of bikes I don't think it's a bad way to look at it but in the end it's the same exact thing just with different words

  22. #22
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    12,324
    I really have no problem with the idea that someone might categorize me as a XC rider. I primarily ride trails without a lot of constructed features, I like getting to the tops of things, I compete, I do training miles on the road... The parts that bug me are that people have been developing a perception of XC riders as being poor bike handlers, or complete wimps about catching a little air, and of XC bikes as being inadequate for attacking a descent or catching a little air. I agree they're not the weapon of choice for winning at DH or doing a freeway gap. But come on - still a mountain bike. Granted some people who do mainly XC are pretty crappy bike handlers. But that makes those people crappy bike handlers, not the entire group of XC riders crappy bike handlers.

    I actually don't think that categorizing bikes by amount of travel works particularly well either. There are 4X and slopestyle bikes built for 100mm suspension forks, and dirt jump bikes for 60mm and 80mm forks. I wouldn't consider them in the same category as my very traditional XC hardtail. Travel keeps getting longer and longer on AM and Trail bikes, and some now have more travel than older DH bikes did.

    I do agree that people get too much into categorization. Just because XC is my main thing doesn't mean I never go to skills parks or to riding spots with downhill-only singletrack and fire road climbs. And XC is hardly my only discipline - I also race 'cross, and I've done a little competition on the road.

    Flippancy aside, having names, and developing some understanding of them, means that it's a lot easier to figure out how and what to ride with new people. Naming some favorite trail networks works too, at least within a locale, but it can have some problems - the skills park I frequent most often, when I'm in the mood for that, has a clover-shaped XC loop around it, flow lines in the middle, and a clearing with skinnies and pump tracks. I usually ride about 6 miles and 900' of climbing to get there, and emphasize the XC trails once there. That would be a bummer ride for someone who brought his dirt jump bike. Being able to discuss this stuff would let me know that maybe it's better just to park at the skills park, rather than at the bottom of this other trail that reaches it. And if someone is traveling, naming riding spots may as well be speaking another language. On the 'net, it helps to discuss equipment.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation: DavidR1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    1,696
    Quote Originally Posted by boomn View Post
    Yep, I agree on the last points. As for your break down of bikes I don't think it's a bad way to look at it but in the end it's the same exact thing just with different words
    I think we agree, less categories = less confusion to me. It can be a hard enough learning curve for people new to the sport.
    Where the marketing comes into play is that they are seemingly trying to convice people that they need a special bike for each "discipline" that has been manufactured by these marketing departments. This just isn't the case.
    CyclingCentralVa.org

  24. #24
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Colo Springs E's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    581
    Back in the day we just called it mountain biking... I have no idea what I do, except that I've never shuttled. I ride trails, negotiate rocks and roots, deal with some drop-offs, try to nail quick technical ascents, like doing some fun flowy stuff... Sometimes, I just like going at a chill pace, other times I like to really push myself. I dunno, is that 'all mountain?'

Similar Threads

  1. Definitions of Riding Styles
    By elcoolio1 in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 06-24-2011, 03:43 PM
  2. n00b Question... Help with riding definitions.
    By xxbrittonxx in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 08-18-2010, 10:27 PM
  3. styles of riding>?!
    By carlos91 in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 07-22-2010, 01:16 PM
  4. Definitions of Types/Styles of riding
    By L4NE4 in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 12-27-2007, 03:59 PM
  5. Different riding styles
    By Nova in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 05-20-2004, 10:21 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •