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.
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Mountain Bike Terminology

    I'm just getting into mountain biking as I recently became IPMBA certified (International Police Mountain Bike Association) and would like to bike during my free time as well. I hear some terms thrown around that seem self explanatory but don't really know what they mean. I'll list some below but ANY terms related to bikes or biking that you'd like to define would be appreciated because this list isn't all inclusive as I really know very little about this new world I'm getting into.

    Cross country
    All Mountain
    Different frame materials

    Again...these are just the few I can think of at the moment...any other biking buzz words would be appreciated!

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: MrMook's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Cross country
    Probably what most people think of when they think of mountain biking. Trail riding that involves climbing and descending. XC rides can be short trips on a local trail, or epic 50 mile rides that take all day (or night).

    All Mountain
    More of a marketing term than a riding style, it's kind of like cross country, but blended a bit with downhill and "northshore" riding styles. Basically means there's some more obstacles and jumps/drops thrown in the mix. Still involves a fair amount of climbing though, as opposed to the often lift-serviced downhill courses.

    Fast, intense, and badass riding style. Pretty much requires a burly bike with lots of suspension travel designed to take big hits and drops. These bikes climb like garbage (a result of their geometry), so downhill courses are often built on ski mountains where lifts are available to get to the top.

    "Double Track" is basically a fire road, or dirt service road, and "Singletrack" is a trail that is about as narrow as the width of a Jeep tire. This is what most riders crave. Singletrack challenges your skills, and the trails are often very technical (hard) with lots of obstacles and trees. Very little room for error, as opposed to doubletrack or fire roads, where you can zig zag all over and not hit anything.

    Set of bearings that allows your steer tube (connects fork to handlebars) to rotate freely. Usually integrated, or pressed, into the headtube of your frame (the front tube with the logo).

    Bottom Bracket
    Similar to the headset, it's essentially a system of bearings that allow your cranks to rotate within your frame. BB's consist of a spindle (the "axle" your cranks attach to), a ring of bearings on each side, and threaded cups that thread into the BB shell of your frame to hold it all together. Spindles are either square-tapered, or splined, which corresponds to the type of cranks you have. Kinda like those toy sets for babies....you can't put a splined block through the square hole, and visa versa.

    Different frame materials
    Steel: Classic, inexpensive, compliant, but heavy.
    Aluminum: Very standard material these days. Light, affordable, and very rigid.
    Titanium: They say it's as compliant as steel, light as aluminum, and stronger than both. For the money, it'd better be!
    Carbon: Carbon fiber can be molded in a variety of ways to build bikes that are stiff, compliant, or both. Very light. Very expensive.

    Possibly the most important, but least obvious part of your bike. The shape of the frame, the angles of the tubes, the measurements of all that add up to the way your bike feels, handles, and operates. In motorcycle terms, think of the way a superbike and a chopper would handle. The difference is in the geometry more than the components.
    Last edited by MrMook; 06-16-2008 at 02:28 PM.

  3. #3
    don't thread on me
    Reputation: Roswell52's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Nice response...good sticky
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  4. #4
    I post too much.
    Reputation: snaky69's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    This gets asked every week or every other week, and I really feel a sticky with the necessary info is in order.

    XC ( Cross country):
    Mostly done on singletrack, in the woods. Lots of grueseome climbs rewarded by descents. Bikes are usually very light and nimble. Physically demanding. The bike will rarely if ever leave the ground. Some could argue that this is the easier side of mountain biking. Can be raced.


    All Mountain:
    XC on steroids. There is still plenty of climbing. The bikes get heavier and stronger, the descents steeper and rockier. The bike can and will leave the ground at times for some drop offs or the odd jumps. Can also be seen as light freeride.


    Balls needed. Jumping off of natural or man made obstacles such a road gaps, drops, jumps, hips, doubles, step ups and step downs. Blazing speeds can be achieved before said stunts. Bikes are burlier, have much more travel than XC or AM, and are much stronger too. Some freeride competitions exist, the red bull rampage and cranksworks comes to mind.

    (no, freeride isn’t all about hucking cliffs)

    Riding real fast down the steepest, most rocky/rooty/muddy/sandy/all of the above slopes you can find. Usually done at specific ski resorts, though some private or state operated trails do exist. Big balls needed here too. Here the bikes have the most travel to let you survive rock gardens, as well as the occasional jump and drop associated with this type of riding. Can also be raced


    4x AKA Four Cross:
    Racing on groomed motocross like tracks, as fast as your legs can push you. Extremely physically demanding and oh-so-fun!

    (gnarly, gnarly track)

    Dirt Jumping:
    I don't think a riding style name can be anymore self-explanatory than this. Jumping using big piles of dirt.

    (Pictured here is a member from MTBR, Cru Jones)


    Street, AKA Urban:

    Messing around with what you find in the urban jungle, park benches, stairs, ledges, banks, you name it.


    Trials riding
    Possibly the hardest discipline in all of biking technique wise, I think I’ll let the picture and video speak for themselves.


    P.S. : I don’t claim to be an expert in any of these types of riding, and I chose the videos as best as I could, if you can find better, PM me and I will gladly add it in.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    thanks guys, im a noob and this answered a lot of my questions also.

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