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Mountain Biking Is Dominated By These Major Categories:

Posted Mar 11 2009 3:18pm

Cross-Country (XC) is the most popular form of mountain biking, and the standard for most riders. It 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 25-30 lbs, and has 0-4 inches of suspension travel front and sometimes rear. Some XC riders aspire to XC racing, which is even more physically demanding than regular XC, and like all sports at an elite level requires years of training to compete at a national level. Quickly expanding All-mountain (AM) bike category typically provides 5-7 inches of rear and front suspension travel and stronger components then XC models, while still providing overall weight suitable for climbing and descending on a variety of terrain.

Dirt Jumping (DJ) is one of the names given to the practice of riding bikes over shaped mounds of dirt or soil and becoming airborne. The idea is that after riding over the ‘take off’ the rider will become momentarily airborne, and aim to land on the ‘landing’. Dirt jumping can be done on almost anything with wheels, but it is usually executed on a bicycle. tricks e.g backflips are performed in the air as well.

Downhill (DH) is, in the most general sense, riding mountain bikes downhill. The rider usually 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 SkipRatt often precludes any serious climbing. While cross country riding inevitably has a downhill component, Downhill (or DH for short) usually refers to racing-oriented downhill riding. Downhill-specific bikes are universally equipped with front and rear suspension, large disc brakes, and use heavier frame tubing than other mountain bikes. Because of their extremely steep terrain (often located in summer at ski resorts), downhill courses are one of the most physically demanding and dangerous venues for mountain biking. They include large jumps (up to and including 40 feet), drops of 10+ feet, and are generally rough and steep top to bottom. To negotiate these obstacles at race speed, racers must possess a unique combination of total body strength, aerobic and anaerobic fitness, and mental control. Minimum body protection in a true downhill setting is knee pads and a full face helmet with goggles, although riders and racers commonly sport full body suits to protect themselves. Downhill bikes now weigh around 35 -40 lbs, while professional downhill mountain bikes can weigh as little as 33 lbs, fully equipped with custom carbon fibre parts, air suspension tubeless tires and more. Downhill frames get anywhere from 7 to 10 inches of travel and are usually mounted with an 8 inch travel dual-crown fork.

Freeride / Big Hit / Hucking. Freeride, as the name suggests is a ‘do anything’ discipline that encompasses everything from downhill racing (see above) 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. 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. “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 30-40 lbs with 4-7 inches of suspension front and rear is a good generalization.

Trials riding consists of hopping and jumping bikes over obstacles. It can be performed either off-road or in an urban environment. It requires an excellent sense of balance. As with Dirt Jumping and BMX-style riding, emphasis is placed on style, originality and technique. 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.

Short Cross or Speed Cross (SC) is the newest form of mountain biking. The idea is to ride short, narrow forest paths with rocks, roots and dints, but not necessarily any ramps on them. The optimal length of the paths are from a few tens to hundreds of meters. The shortness is to provide extreme speed and thrilling to get through the hindrances as fast as possible without crashing. The altitude of the paths does not have to vary much. The ultimate direction of the paths from vertical aspect can be the both ways, either up or down. The transitions between these essential parts are to be taken lightly and stopping at the beginning of every path is to provide maximum amount of thrilling action gained through the speed. The bikes for this purpose can vary from XC to FR.

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