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Define mountain biking?

danlightbulbdanlightbulb Posts: 660
edited December 2012 in MTB general
I got thinking today after watching some mtb videos on you tube. These guys were insane, dropping off 50 foot or higher ledges in utah. Anyway it got me thinking 'what is mountain biking' as there are so many variants. What does xc really mean.? What is downhill? What is freeride? Which one do i do? Which one would i like to do? What bikes are needed for the different types? Will i ever be capable enough or mad enough to drop off a 50 foot ledge or jjump 50 foot gaps? How the hell do you even learn how to do that in the first place!!
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  • ilovedirtilovedirt Posts: 5,798
    Do what you want, though it's pretty obvious what people mean when they say "XC", etc.
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    B'Twin Triban 5
  • ilovedirt wrote:
    Do what you want, though it's pretty obvious what people mean when they say "XC", etc.

    It isnt that obvious to be honest. Is it still xc if theres a jump involved somewhere along the way?

    At what point does an all mountain bike become necessary?

    There are alot of questions like this around.

    Can you do 50 foot drops?
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    There is allways some overlap, XC merges into trail merges into AM into freeride, downhill stands out slightly on it's own as in terms of the courses they could be anywhere from the top end of trail to near freeride.

    An AM bike becomes necesary when you need it!

    decent XC bike will cope fine with any UK trail centre for example....and as Martyn Ashton has shown you can do trials stunts on a roadbike....
  • querhochquerhoch Posts: 111
    Mountain Bike is a marketing term, so there isnt a specific or defining characteristic. huge gaps are done on a 'mountain bike', same goes for DH, XC, FR etc. theyre different disciplines that can be performed on a 'mountain bike'. Theyre all mountain biking but only in that sense.
  • lawmanlawman Posts: 6,868
    A lot of it is all marketing, with the exception of out and out xc and DH racing. A lot of people would say they ride xc, but of they only ever ride trail centres, surely a better term would be trail rider? I ride bits of everything, from xc, trail centres, mountains (and I mean proper mountains) and the occasional light bit of DH stuff... pretty hard to pin that down to one "type" of mountain biking. Technically I would be an "all-mountain" rider, or enduro or whatever you want to call it these days. It depends what you ride, as is always said there is a difference between DH and riding downhills!

  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    Well put LM.....except for me trails are properly gnarlier versions of XC tracks, a trail centre doesn't actually (to my mind) have a trail....that has of course opened another can of invertbrates!
  • LagrangeLagrange Posts: 652
    My Great Grandfather used to say that when you were on a bike and the bike was on a mountain then you were 'mountain biking'.
  • lawmanlawman Posts: 6,868
    Well put LM.....except for me trails are properly gnarlier versions of XC tracks, a trail centre doesn't actually (to my mind) have a trail....that has of course opened another can of invertbrates!

    again its all down to interpretation ;) Modern day society in general can be pretty fickle, many of us will believe whatever we read, the mass media and marketing hold a greater power than any government when it comes to actually implanting an ideology in our heads, and marketers exploit this to sell new bikes... give it a new tag and you can be assured it will sell. In all honesty I think this where 650b has come about from, we had 26ers, then 29ers, and once 29ers proved pretty hard to nail on long travel bikes, a massive section of the market, the marketers had to come up with something new that could cover the whole bike spectrum and low and behold, we now have 650b for the masses. This makes it even harder to pin down disciplines, as who knows what the marketing boffins will come up with next, the game is constantly changing.

  • stubsstubs Posts: 5,001
    At its broadest sense its anything off the tarmac. Mountain Bike was a trade name originally and back in the mists of the 80s we called it All Terrain Biking "ATB" which I think is a better name because particulary in Britain how often do most of us get the chance to ride up a Mountain.

    When I was a kid in the early 70s we used to build off road bikes out of anything we could bodge together and we called it Scrambling. Wish we had been Beardy Californian Hippies then we could have claimed to have invented Mountain Biking.
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  • sniper68sniper68 Posts: 2,899
    stubs wrote:
    When I was a kid in the early 70s we used to build off road bikes out of anything we could bodge together and we called it Scrambling
    Usually a "racer"(when road bikes were called racers :wink: ) with cow-horns,thrashed in the local woods until the wheels were too bent to spin :mrgreen:
  • ilovedirtilovedirt Posts: 5,798
    XC is when you go and pedal up hills on a bike with knobbly tyres, downhill is when you push or get a lift up the hill. Anything in between is open to interpretation, and to be honest, I honestly couldn't care less. These little definitions are only really important when it comes to racing, so that you have some idea of the race format and what type of bike is appropriate, otherwise, why should it matter?

    And FYI, I ride a bit of everything.
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  • Graham KGraham K Posts: 329
    Whats the difference in FR and XC?

    I like just going out, picking up paths and ways and basically discovering new ground, up hill and down dale with abit of everything involved, and if it means going up a mountain or falling off it then so be it, not afraid to tackle anything infront of me anyway.
    Trail centres I find are full on and very compact, and where my trail; centre buddy can dust me around the centres I can dust him out in the open land.
    Personally I dont care what I get defined as, aslong as I enjoy myself whilst I am out there thats the main thing.
  • querhochquerhoch Posts: 111
    Graham K wrote:
    Whats the difference in FR and XC?

    how often you shave your legs and eat muesli
  • stubsstubs Posts: 5,001
    ibbo68 wrote:
    stubs wrote:
    When I was a kid in the early 70s we used to build off road bikes out of anything we could bodge together and we called it Scrambling
    Usually a "racer"(when road bikes were called racers :wink: ) with cow-horns,thrashed in the local woods until the wheels were too bent to spin :mrgreen:
    :lol:

    I built several scramblers the best was a BSA frame with 24" wheels. I pinched the forks and front 26" wheel off my Mums bike fitted cowhorns and a larger freewheel, stripped off anything that wasnt welded on, wired on the grips and took a file to the pedals so my Dunlop Green Flash pumps wouldnt slip off. Rode it eveywhere till the back wheel exploded halfway down a flight of steps at the railway station and I got to the bottom before the bike.
    Fig rolls: proof that god loves cyclists and that she wants us to do another lap
  • sniper68sniper68 Posts: 2,899
    stubs wrote:
    ibbo68 wrote:
    stubs wrote:
    When I was a kid in the early 70s we used to build off road bikes out of anything we could bodge together and we called it Scrambling
    Usually a "racer"(when road bikes were called racers :wink: ) with cow-horns,thrashed in the local woods until the wheels were too bent to spin :mrgreen:
    :lol:

    I built several scramblers the best was a BSA frame with 24" wheels. I pinched the forks and front 26" wheel off my Mums bike fitted cowhorns and a larger freewheel, stripped off anything that wasnt welded on, wired on the grips and took a file to the pedals so my Dunlop Green Flash pumps wouldnt slip off. Rode it eveywhere till the back wheel exploded halfway down a flight of steps at the railway station and I got to the bottom before the bike.

    Happy days 8)
  • querhochquerhoch Posts: 111
    I think I might have invented mountain biking with a Grifter when I was about 12.
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    Will i ever be capable enough or mad enough to drop off a 50 foot ledge or jjump 50 foot gaps? How the hell do you even learn how to do that in the first place!!

    You would be surprised. A year ago I would only ride very small jumps, now I'm happy to hit 20+ foot gaps and 10 foot drops. It's almost all about having the bottle to do it and once you have done the small stuff you can work up to big stuff quickly. You learn by riding with people who are better than you.
    On some downhill tracks it's easier to hit a big jump rather than take a chicken line.
    There are many types of mountain biking, they are all fun but they aren't all for everyone. I can enjoy a 7 hour XC ride just as much as I enjoy a day on my downhill bike.
  • Define Mountain Biking,

    hmmn,

    so Much more Awsome than being a Roady!!! :-D
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  • jimothy78jimothy78 Posts: 1,407
    I must say that as a relative newbie I definitely find references to these kind of categories a bit baffling. I can understand the distinction between pure downhill and the others, in that if you're not riding uphill, obviously the bike can afford to be a very specialised piece of equipment. But if you asked me what the distinction was between xc and all-mountain I'd be at a loss to tell you. The idea that "trail" is a kind of riding/bike seems crazy to me (surely wherever we ride they're all trails).

    And don't get me started on gradings - to my mind its a complete nonsense to categorise trails (or should that be "trails") according to technicality and distance and gradient/ascent on a single green-blue-red-black scale. If I had my way, the colour grading would be reserved for techicality, as it can't be easily quantified whilst the other factors can be.

    Then you throw into the mix the idea I've seen repeated several times that a downhill red is different to a trail-centre red, and my head's just about ready to explode.
  • I still just ride bikes...
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    I still just ride bikes...
    ...in the dirt.
    I don't do smileys.

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  • jimothy78 wrote:
    And don't get me started on gradings - to my mind its a complete nonsense to categorise trails (or should that be "trails") according to technicality and distance and gradient/ascent on a single green-blue-red-black scale. If I had my way, the colour grading would be reserved for techicality, as it can't be easily quantified whilst the other factors can be.

    Then you throw into the mix the idea I've seen repeated several times that a downhill red is different to a trail-centre red, and my head's just about ready to explode.

    This I agree with. It would be quite simple to say a trail is 20km long(which we get anyway), 1000m of ascending and a gnarlyness factor of X out of 10. Would be much better than a red/black grading system. Gnarlyness could be quite easily defined by the size of the biggest technical feature on the trail. Eg the Degla freeride area (what is freeride anyway??) has a 3ft ish drop on it. This would probably be a gnarlyness factor of about 5/10 for the UK? However compared to that stuff I watched in Utah it would be a 1/10.

    So on the same scale what would cannock be? There are no non-rollable drops at all on the red (a couple on the optional black lines). Very little opportunity for jumping either. So I guess it would be only a 1 or 2 out of 10.

    Hopton wood is more technical than cannock, not as fast as degla but bit more rocky / rooty in sections. I'd say its marginally more tricky than degla but its a red whereas degla is a black.

    Dragons back at coed-y-brenin was the hardest trail Ive ridden in my year of riding. If there was one place I've been where I'd have liked a full suss it would have been that one. And it had several non-rollable (or at least very difficult to roll) features.

    I think that when you start thinking about it logically, it can work to categorise things a bit better. And yes I am one of those types of people who overthinks everything!

    What would people here have classified the olympic mtb course as, grading wise. As far as I could see it was mostly stoned trail, a small gap jump, and a couple of rollable rocky bits. But then again the camera does hide steepness I find.
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    Who cares? Just ride it or don't.
    I don't do smileys.

    There is no secret ingredient - Kung Fu Panda

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  • ilovedirtilovedirt Posts: 5,798
    jimothy78 wrote:
    I must say that as a relative newbie I definitely find references to these kind of categories a bit baffling. I can understand the distinction between pure downhill and the others, in that if you're not riding uphill, obviously the bike can afford to be a very specialised piece of equipment. But if you asked me what the distinction was between xc and all-mountain I'd be at a loss to tell you. The idea that "trail" is a kind of riding/bike seems crazy to me (surely wherever we ride they're all trails).

    And don't get me started on gradings - to my mind its a complete nonsense to categorise trails (or should that be "trails") according to technicality and distance and gradient/ascent on a single green-blue-red-black scale. If I had my way, the colour grading would be reserved for techicality, as it can't be easily quantified whilst the other factors can be.

    Then you throw into the mix the idea I've seen repeated several times that a downhill red is different to a trail-centre red, and my head's just about ready to explode.
    I agree, I have no idea what "trail riding" is. I've heard the phrase thrown about several times and still don't know. From what I can gather, it's when you ride more man made stuff something like an easy downhill trail, but then ride back up again? But then that's my idea of a good XC ride? And what's all mountain? Again, if you're riding steep technical stuff whilst still pedalling up hills, that's just my idea of a decent XC ride. None of this boring fire road descent type censored .

    Though I kind of get the grading thing, mostly just to prevent lawsuits, however a red downhill trail is definitely very different to a red XC trail. Though when you're at a downhill centre, you can pick and choose what you like, and it's easy enough to just start from the easiest and work your way up if you're not too confident. Generally, except from length, nothing about any grade of trail centre trail really worries me at all. Even on the black trails, everything is always rollable and never particularly steep or tech.
    Production Privee Shan

    B'Twin Triban 5
  • cooldad wrote:
    Who cares? Just ride it or don't.

    Lol cooldad you are a cynical sod aren't you!

    How do you decide whether or not to try an unknown trail? Unless you're a pro then there must be stuff you haven't got the skills, balls or bike to ride somewhere?
  • Ask... isn't that what the forum is for?
  • lawmanlawman Posts: 6,868
    cooldad wrote:
    Who cares? Just ride it or don't.

    Lol cooldad you are a cynical sod aren't you!

    How do you decide whether or not to try an unknown trail? Unless you're a pro then there must be stuff you haven't got the skills, balls or bike to ride somewhere?

    Weigh up the options, if you feel you can't do it, don't. If you reckon you can tackle it, by all means give it ago. I've been riding for nearly 9 years and I still find stuff that I have to think about twice before trying out. Maybe in that time I've had too many near misses and falls to know what my limits are, I know some of my less experienced mates are more ballsy than I am, but that doesn't bother me too much. As long as I come back from a ride feeling I rode the best I could the majority of the time and I have a smile on my face cos the trail was awesome, then that's all that matters to me.

    I think beginners often get too wound up in all the marketing that they don't understand. The beauty of the sport is, with the exception of proper DH, you can do pretty any kind of riding on a £500 hardtail, which is pretty accessible for a lot of people. From there you can take your time to build up a knowledge of what you enjoy most, forget what your mates say, at the end of the day you ride the bike and you know what you want from it once you get the real knowledge of what rewards you most from a trail. It takes a long time to understand what you really want from a bike, sometimes it can take years, but you have to learn for yourself your limits and the attributes of bikes that you like and dislike.

  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    Pretty much this ^^^^^^
    I ride whatever's there. If I can't ride it fast I'll ride it slow. If I can't ride it at all I'll find a chicken run, or carry the bike, or find an alternative route.
    I don't just barrel down everything and hope for the best just because a sign says it's blue or red or purple or beige.
    I prefer natural Singletrack anyway, so normally there are no signs.
    Plus I'm a bit slow so if I hear screams up front I just slow down more.
    I don't do smileys.

    There is no secret ingredient - Kung Fu Panda

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  • cooldad wrote:
    Pretty much this ^^^^^^
    I ride whatever's there. If I can't ride it fast I'll ride it slow. If I can't ride it at all I'll find a chicken run, or carry the bike, or find an alternative route.
    I don't just barrel down everything and hope for the best just because a sign says it's blue or red or purple or beige.
    I prefer natural Singletrack anyway, so normally there are no signs.
    Plus I'm a bit slow so if I hear screams up front I just slow down more.

    I understand, and sorry for calling you a sod...

    My problem is that I get frustrated with myself for not being good enough to do what others can do.

    So as another example take Degla again, that 3ft drop on the freeride bit is something I haven't plucked up the courage to try, but that infuriates me, because I know that it should be easy as others can do it just fine.
  • 97th choice97th choice Posts: 2,305
    querhoch wrote:
    I think I might have invented mountain biking with a Grifter when I was about 12.

    Unless you are in your mid forties I beat you too it on my Raleigh arena.
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