Different Types of Mountain Bikes
Mountain bikes nowadays are extremely diverse and specified. Here's a breakdown of the types of mountain bikes out there: cross-country, trail, all-mountain, freeride, downhill, and dirt jump / skate park mountain bikes.
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These bikes encompass the majority of mountain bikes sold. They are either front-suspended or dual suspended, typically have 4" or less of suspension travel, and are extremely lightweight. Ideal for:
- Beginners looking for a lightweight, fun bicycle to ride off-road.
- Fitness buffs that see hills as personal challenges.
- Aspiring competitors in racing events or 24-hour adventure races.
- Commuters that want a durable bicycle to handle potholes and the occasional crash.
Trail Bikes and All-Mountain Bikes
These bikes are the fastest growing segment in the mountain bike world. They have the geometry and overall riding characteristics of cross-country bicycles, but with more travel and strength for taking on aggressive trails and light jumps. A great all-around trail bike can do everything well and shines in every kind of riding condition. Typical weight ranges from 28-35 pounds, with 4-6" of travel. Ideal for:
- Those who tended to break their toys as kids.
- Those who see boulders as obstacles to jump off instead of avoid.
- Advanced mountain bikers looking for more challenges off-road.
- Riders who want three mountain bikes but don't want a divorce.
These bikes tend to attract a different breed of rider. They have insane suspension travel and are built to survive a nuclear storm. Most radical, though, is its riding position - slack and low on the rear wheel so the rider is more laid back and in control while descending. Your intuition is correct: all that travel and strength means a much harder climb and less maneuverability in tight sections, but for those lucky enough to ride one, none of that matters. A typical freeride bike weighs 32-40 pounds and offers 6-8" of travel. Ideal for:
- Those with motocross backgrounds.
- Adventure seekers looking to land jumps and bomb down hills.
- Folks willing to torture themselves going up a hill for two hours.
These are pretty much what their name implies. Used exclusively in terrain parks (Northstar, for example) and shuttling with buddies, they can go down fast. Real fast. Downhill bicycles can weigh more than 40 pounds and offer between 8-12" of travel. Ideal for:
- Going uphill really fast in the opposite direction.
- Finding out your tolerance for pain.
Dirt Jump/Skate Park Style Mountain Bikes
These are fun little life getaways used for dirt-jumping, on the pump track, and urban assault. They generally have a single chainring up front (or even a single speed altogether) and ride slack for optimum gravity-fighting performance. Ideal for:
- Having fun with buddies or collecting street citations.
- Impressing friends and loved ones.