Mountain Bikes (MTB)
Mountain bikes, what for a huge list of different disciplines that goes under this broad family. Sure, large tires with knobs, suspensions and a flat bar are the common traits. But there is so much more!
Let’s start looking at some of the different possible classification, starting with the frames
Mountain Bikes Types and Styles
You’ll find everything from gravity focused through to lightweight cross country mountain bikes. We’ve broken these down into the three simple categories below, with further refinement available based on your desired riding style, price point or whether you’re after a 26in, 27.5in or 29er wheel size.
As the name implies the Full Suspension MTB are bikes that have suspension both on the front and on the back. They are normally heavier than the other kind of frames, but with 200mm travel in the front forks and a rear shock absorber in the back they can face every sort of blow on the track.
Hardtails, or Semi Rigid mountain bikes have shock absorbers only in the front and are more commonly found in Cross country bikes or XC, with a suspension travel that gets up to 110mm
Rigid mountain bikes frames, have no suspension at all, they are light, cheaper and they are basic. Yet many purists celebrate rigid bikes for they require a lot of bar handling skills.
Different Types of Mountain Bikes and Disciplines Explained
Mountain bikes are for everyone, for who enjoys rides on in the woods and for the craziest daredevil who swoosh down the steepest cliffs.
Here is a basic list of the different disciplines in MTB
Cross Country (XC) - XCO (Cross Country Olympic) or XCM (Cross-Country Marathon): Long distance, endurance based race format. Typically, hardtail or short travel full suspension (80 - 110mmm). Frames have narrow and nervous geometries, 29er or 26in size wheels are the most commons.
Disk brakes rotors vary between 140 and 160mm and the drive chain is usually with a double in front and 10 in the back.
Enduro is a mountain bike discipline where the downhills are timed, and the uphills are not, yet it is a sport where you push a lot on those pedals.
Enduro: pedal up, bomb down
All Mountain this speciality essentially involves riding through the mountain’s natural terrain. Climbs are steep and long, downhill technical and challenging.
A typical set up for this area is a full suspended bike with a travel of 120-140 in the front, 26in or 27.5in with rims that are wider than a XC, hydraulic brakes with rotors of 180mm, remote seatpost dropper
Freeride is linked to downhill mountain biking and dirt jumping and brings the MTB tricks to the state of art. As the name implies the focus is on the creativity of the rider and on her/his interpretation of the bike park course.
A typical Freeride bike have a light frame, simple to manoeuvre on the track, full suspension with a travel of at least 170mm. Gearing can go from single speed to short range (single front and 7-10 back) or even long range ( single front with 10-11 back)
Freeride: big mountains, big jumps, big bikes.
Downhill (Gravity) is a speciality where you ride the whole track downhill with great technical demand and heaps of adrenaline. The frames are the most extreme of the whole MTB family, heavier than any other category and with an extreme level of sturdiness. They are conceived for downhill aerodynamic, lower to the ground and with a head angle up to 66° and a long wheelbase. The suspension travel up to 210mm and have wide rims. Disc brakes have massive 200mm rotors. Single speed gearing comes often with a chain guide.
Best brands for Mountain Bikes
It might be a good idea for a novice to explore the best bike manufacturer catalogues to get an idea of the offer. Some of the top brands in our catalogues are Giant, Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Santa Cruz, GT, Scott, Yeti, Merida, Kona, Rocky Mountain Bicycles, Lapierre, Marin, Cube, Diamond back, Fuji and many other.
What else would make your ride a great experience?
Depending on the speciality you choose, you will also need specific accessories, clothes and protections. Heavy duty armours and full protections are a must for downhill, as much as a full face helmet. An open face helmet is mostly recommended for XC; elbow and knee protections are common in all the disciplines. MTB shorts are normally baggy and loose even if lycra is common on Crosscountry. You can choose between clipless shoes (that despite the name do clip in your pedals) or flats. Breathable jackets and thermals are the most welcome if you are riding high up in the mountain or in winter.