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MTB Styles And Disciplines: Guide To 16 Different Types Of Mountain Biking


Bikes are chosen according to the terrain and riding style. Mountain Terrain Bike (MTB) is designed for an off-road experience in rough terrain.

MTB is specifically for climbing uphill, descending anywhere, and steering comfortably on sharp curves. There are plenty of options to choose an MTB, but first, let us know all about the design and purpose of the bikes.

Here are 16 different types of MTB in style and discipline.

  1. Cross-country Biking

    Cross-country is one of the most popular forms of riding. Also known as XC, it combines a normal trail with small obstacles and jumps. XC rides require lots of muscle power and long-distance rides.

    XC bikes are lightweight, not weighing more than 16 kgs. These bikes have a lockable front suspension to absorb shocks with limited travel of 120mm. Full suspensions are heavy and not suitable for these bikes. The frame is designed to give you more pedaling power with seats at level with parallel handlebars.

  2. Trail Riding

    Trail riding is all about power riding in mountainous terrain. It encompasses taking your bike off the road on bridleways, grit tracks, and trails. These bikes don’t require suspensions, although some may have front suspension for comfort. Hybrid bikes are most suited for trail rides.

    A trail ride can be of varying length, from a few hours to a multi-day ride. Trail difficulty varies from a gentle family trail to an extreme trail for professional bikers. As the difficulty increases, bumps, berms, and jumps are incorporated into the route. For difficult trails, a regular up-gradation of your bike is required.

  3. Downhill Mountain Biking

    Downhill biking, as the name suggests, is all about maintaining a balance on a downhill roll. Course may include large jumps and rugged terrain. Downhill ascent is akin to challenging gravity; you need a good grip and control to make it safe. Usually, downhill biking takes place in specially designed parks and tracks.

    Downhill bikes are designed for a speedy ascent. Bikers have to ensure that gravity doesn’t take a toll on them. The bikes come with a full suspension of up to 250 mm travel. The frame, forks, and wheels are strength reinforced to sustain those nasty rolls down. The bikes are heavy more like muddy motorbikes. The bikes have thick tires for a better grip, and the seats are lower than handlebars for easy rides.

  4. All-Mountain Biking

    All-Mountain is something in between XC and downhill biking. All-mountain is extreme with bigger obstacles and rough trails. The terrain is a mix of uphill and downhill, but you keep all the control of the momentum.

    All-Mountain bikes are heavy and robust similar to XC; these bikes have a full suspension of up to 160mm travel. The design and bike geometry is in between XC and downhill bikes. It is optimally designed to give you more power riding uphill and better control downhill.

  5. Enduro Biking

    Enduro is a competitive sports biking that involves downhill biking. However, these days enduro is more often used for fitness levels in all spheres. Enduro biking involves a more intense biking experience much similar to All-mountain biking.

    Most enduro bikers go for a full suspension up to 170 mm of travel; the suspensions give you a great riding experience in downhills and tough trails. These bikes have short stem wider bars with bigger tires for maximum control. They are generally heavy and tough built, which cost in the premium range.

  6. Dual Slalom Biking

    This biking is racing on two side-by-side, similar tracks. You go twice, and the one with the lowest time is the winner. Tracks are short in distance and take around 40 – 60 seconds to complete.

    Bikes are designed similar to downhill bikes that are rugged with heavy suspension. Even when tough, the bikes are lightweight and smaller to give more agility. They also have low brackets, slack angles, and short chainstay for max acceleration and control.

  7. Four Cross Biking

    Also known as 4X, this biking is competitive racing with four riders on the same track. It is similar to Dual Slalom but with bigger jumps and mostly downhill. The winner ends the race first. The bikes are of full suspension with a rocky section.

  8. Dirt Jumping

    As the name suggests, it is a free-style sport with an attempt to remain airborne as much as possible. The jump-built are made of piled mud and dirt for the biker to jump. The terrain is flat, incorporating jump ramps at regular intervals to make a looped circuit.

    Dirt jumping bikes have low standover height and rigid frames to keep seats out of the way when jumping. The bikes don’t have a suspension but may integrate a stiff front suspension with minimum travel. The bikes have single-speed gear with a rear disc brake.

  9. Freeride Biking

    Freeride biking combines dirt jumping and downhill biking; this is again an extreme sport that is challenging and daring. It combines stunts with big air combines with style tricks.

    The bikes are designed similar to downhill bikes with a full suspension. The frame is heavy and big for rugged performance; for a narrow steering arc, the front forks have a single crown.

  10. Urban Biking

    Urban biking is a stunt performance extreme sport. The stunts are performed on trails, flatlands, parks, verts, and streets. The bikes are similar to those used in dirt jumping with 26 inches wheels and lightweight. They have a front suspension of up to 10 mm travel. These bikes are also designed with single-speed gear and disc brakes at the rear.

  11. Marathon Biking

    Marathon or Mountain Bike Touring is long-distance biking on single-track dirt roads with an MTB. Specially designed outfitted bikes are used for long-distance touring.

    This form of biking involves cycling over varied topographical surfaces and rugged terrains. These kinds of tours are also linked with historical revolutionary tours popular in the early nineteenth century. Marathon biking is all about getting a varied experience of long trails and different terrains.

  12. Off-Road Touring

    This biking is also popularly known as bike packing or MTB touring. It involves long-distance tours on your bike with self-sustaining material and equipment. Biking off-road encounters different terrains, and you will meet different riders on the route.

    If you are touring on bike packing, you don’t need a suspension. Bikes are geared up with accessories to carry water bottles, backpacks, and camping essentials. All-Mountain Bikes and Enduro bikes are perfect for off-road touring. Always aim to keep your weight down and be self-sufficient to repair breakdowns.

  13. Fat Biking

    Bikes with oversized tires of 97 mm thickness are most suited for Fat Biking. They are designed to ride on difficult surfaces like sand, snow, and mud. Wide tires provide greater traction for a good grip which narrow tires cannot provide. You can also use them on streets, but they are not designed for smooth surfaces.

    Fat biking is great for beaches, places bound by snow for most of the year, and those living in semi-arid or desert locations. Fat tires also make riding uphill on these terrains easier.

  14. Hardtail Biking

    Hardtail is not exactly mountain biking but a term used for any bike that has front suspensions. Earlier bikes never have suspensions, and when bikes were built with suspensions, these were called hardtail bikes. Nowadays, most bikes come with suspensions. Bikes having front as well as rear suspensions are called full suspension bikes.

  15. Pump Track Biking

    Pump track skills are all about going fast without pedaling. A pump track is a short circular looped track made of permed corners, whoops, and rollers. The bikers pump the bike to gain speed and maintain good control over their bikes. In competition, bikers are timed for the complete lap, and the fastest is declared the winner.

    The bikes are designed similar to a hardtail and freeride. They are efficient, strong, and small in the frame. The suspension forks are in front, and the saddle is kept low for speed and control.

  16. Electric Mountain Bike

    Electric MTB is fitted with an electric motor to provide momentum to the bike. Most people don’t consider this as a bike as it is driven by motor power. However, it is great for people who are old and cannot pedal uphill. The bike can climb up to 2000 meters uphill with ease.

    Electric bikes are heavier than normal MTBs and can also be used as traditional bikes. The bike is fitted with a rechargeable battery that is easily recharged at home. Whether you like it or not, e-bikes are gaining popularity.


The mountain biking discipline is quite popular across the world. MTB has various sub-disciplines according to event, terrain, design, and purpose of biking. Biking is all about your passion, and rules are made to be broken. MTB gives you flexibility, adventure and you can ride the way you want.