Types of Mountain Biking
There are lots of different kinds of mountain biking. When choosing a bike, always be mindful of the type of riding you intend to do. That said, let’s examine some of the most popular types of mountain biking.
Cross-country (also called XC) mountain biking takes place on pretty easy terrain. Most frequently, XC consists of trail riding or very light off-road. These are fairly basic rides, and do not require any specialized equipment or training. For example, this might entailing riding around the neighborhood or backyard.
Freeride (aka Big Hit) riding involves lots of drops, jumps, ramps, and other (often man-made) obstacles. Bikes built for freeriding generally have a significant suspension travel (150-200mm) and are built sturdy enough to handle serious collisions. In a freeride situation, riders get to the top of the mountain by shuttle or ski lift, although sometimes they ride up to the top, depending on the mountain conditions.
Downhill riding (aka DH) consist of high-speed rides over dangerous, steep terrain. A downhill bike is built specifically for performance and speed. The best downhillers maintain a balance between pure speed and brute durability. They’re mean to go down rough, serious hills as fast as humanly possible. With that in mind, a good downhill bike is built to take a serious beating and move fast, but it is generally poor at any uphill riding.
In a downhill race, the fastest rider to the finish line wins.
Dual Slalom is a specialized form of racing. In this race, two riders go head-to-head in a man-made course with gated turns (think slalom skiing). Often additional obstacles are scarted through the course, such as rocks, jumps, and bumps.
The fastest racer to the bottom wins, though racers are penalized a small amount of time for hitting or missing any of the gates. Dual Slalom runs are usually pretty short, about 30 seconds or so. In recent years this type of race has become more and more common in both local and international biking events.