Mountain biking

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Mountain biking
MtnBiking SedonaMag.jpg
Mountain biker riding in the Arizona desert
Highest governing body UCI
First playedOpen to debate. Modern era began in the late 1970s
Mixed gender Separate men's & women's championship although no restrictions on women competing against men.
Olympic Since 1996

Mountain biking is a sport of riding bicycles off-road, often over rough terrain, usually using specially designed mountain bikes. Mountain bikes share similarities with other bikes but incorporate features designed to enhance durability and performance in rough terrain, such as air or coil-sprung shocks used as suspension, larger and wider wheels and tyres, stronger frame materials, and mechanically or hydraulically actuated disc brakes. Mountain biking can generally be broken down into five distinct categories: cross country, trail riding, all mountain (also referred to as "Enduro"), downhill, and freeride. [1]


This sport requires endurance, core strength and balance, bike handling skills, and self-reliance. Advanced riders pursue both steep technical descents and high incline climbs. In the case of freeride, downhill, and dirt jumping, aerial maneuvers are performed off both natural features and specially constructed jumps and ramps. [2]

Mountain bikers ride on off-road trails such as singletrack, back-country roads, wider bike park trails, fire roads, and some advanced trails are designed with jumps, berms, and drop-offs to add excitement to the trail. Riders with enduro and downhill bikes will often visit ski resorts that stay open in the summer to ride downhill-specific trails, using the ski lifts to return to the top with their bikes. Because riders are often far from civilization, there is a strong element of self-reliance in the sport. Riders learn to repair broken bikes and flat tires to avoid being stranded. Many riders carry a backpack, including water, food, tools for trailside repairs, and a first aid kit in case of injury. Group rides are common, especially on longer treks. Mountain bike orienteering adds the skill of map navigation to mountain biking.


US 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps, 1897 25thregiment bicycles.jpg
US 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps, 1897
A cross-country mountain biker climbs on an unpaved track Mountain-biker-climbs.jpg
A cross-country mountain biker climbs on an unpaved track

A mountain bike skills track in Wales
Mountain bike touring in high Alps Mountain biking.jpg
Mountain bike touring in high Alps
Mountain biker gets air in Mount Hood National Forest. MountainBiking MtHoodNF.jpg
Mountain biker gets air in Mount Hood National Forest.
Mountain bikers at Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park Mountain Bikers at Marvin Braude Gateway Park.JPG
Mountain bikers at Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park

Late 1800s

One of the first examples of bicycles modified specifically for off-road use is the expedition of Buffalo Soldiers from Missoula, Montana, to Yellowstone in August 1896. [3] [ failed verification ]


Bicycles were ridden off-road by road racing cyclists who used cyclocross as a means of keeping fit during the winter. Cyclo-cross eventually became a sport in its own right in the 1940s, with the first world championship taking place in 1950.

The Rough Stuff Fellowship was established in 1955 by off-road cyclists in the United Kingdom. [4] In Oregon, one Chemeketan club member, D. Gwynn, built a rough terrain trail bicycle in 1966. He named it a "mountain bicycle" for its intended place of use. This may be the first use of that name. [5]

In England in 1968, Geoff Apps, a motorbike trials rider, began experimenting with off-road bicycle designs. By 1979 he had developed a custom-built lightweight bicycle which was uniquely suited to the wet and muddy off-road conditions found in the south-east of England. They were designed around 2 inch x 650b Nokian snow tires though a 700x47c (28 in.) version was also produced. These were sold under the Cleland Cycles brand until late 1984. Bikes based on the Cleland design were also sold by English Cycles and Highpath Engineering until the early 1990s. [6]


There were several groups of riders in different areas of the U.S.A. who can make valid claims to playing a part in the birth of the sport. Riders in Crested Butte, Colorado, and Cupertino, California, tinkered with bikes and adapted them to the rigors of off-road riding. Modified heavy cruiser bicycles, old 1930s and '40s Schwinn bicycles retrofitted with better brakes and fat tires, were used for freewheeling down mountain trails in Marin County, California, in the mid-to-late 1970s. At the time, there were no mountain bikes. The earliest ancestors of modern mountain bikes were based around frames from cruiser bicycles such as those made by Schwinn. The Schwinn Excelsior was the frame of choice due to its geometry. Riders used balloon-tired cruisers and modified them with gears and motocross or BMX-style handlebars, creating "klunkers". The term would also be used as a verb since the term "mountain biking" was not yet in use. Riders would race down mountain fireroads, causing the hub brake to burn the grease inside, requiring the riders to repack the bearings. These were called "Repack Races" and triggered the first innovations in mountain bike technology as well as the initial interest of the public (on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin CA, there is still a trail titled "Repack"—in reference to these early competitions). The sport originated in California on Marin County's Mount Tamalpais. [7]

It was not until the late 1970s and early 1980s that road bicycle companies started to manufacture mountain bicycles using high-tech lightweight materials. Joe Breeze is normally credited with introducing the first purpose-built mountain bike in 1978. [8] Tom Ritchey then went on to make frames for a company called MountainBikes, a partnership between Gary Fisher, Charlie Kelly, John Frey (Marin County mountain biking innovator) and Tom Ritchey. Tom Ritchey, a welder with skills in frame building, also built the original bikes. The company's three partners eventually dissolved their partnership, and the company became Fisher Mountain Bikes, while Tom Ritchey started his own frame shop.

The first mountain bikes were basically road bicycle frames (with heavier tubing and different geometry) with a wider frame and fork to allow for a wider tire. The handlebars were also different in that they were a straight, transverse-mounted handlebar, rather than the dropped, curved handlebars that are typically installed on road racing bicycles. Also, some of the parts on early production mountain bicycles were taken from the BMX bicycle. Other contributors were Otis Guy and Keith Bontrager. [9]

Tom Ritchey built the first regularly available mountain bike frame, which was accessorized by Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly and sold by their company called MountainBikes (later changed to Fisher Mountain Bikes, then bought by Trek, still under the name Gary Fisher, currently sold as Trek's "Gary Fisher Collection"). The first two mass-produced mountain bikes were sold in the early 1980s: the Specialized Stumpjumper and Univega Alpina Pro. In 1988, The Great Mountain Biking Video was released, soon followed by others. In 2007, Klunkerz: A Film About Mountain Bikes was released, documenting mountain bike history during the formative period in Northern California. Additionally, a group of mountain bikers called the Laguna Rads formed a club during the mid eighties and began a weekly ride, exploring the uncharted coastal hillsides of Laguna Beach, California. [10] Industry insiders suggest that this was the birth of the freeride movement, as they were cycling up and down hills and mountains where no cycling specific trail network prexisted. The Laguna Rads have also held the longest running dowhill race once a year since 1986.

At the time, the bicycle industry was not impressed with the mountain bike, regarding mountain biking to be short-term fad. In particular, large manufacturers such as Schwinn and Fuji failed to see the significance of an all-terrain bicycle and the coming boom in 'adventure sports'. Instead, the first mass-produced mountain bikes were pioneered by new companies such as MountainBikes (later, Fisher Mountain Bikes), Ritchey, and Specialized. Specialized was an American startup company that arranged for production of mountain bike frames from factories in Japan and Taiwan. First marketed in 1981, [11] Specialized's mountain bike largely followed Tom Ritchey's frame geometry, but used TiG welding to join the frame tubes instead of fillet-brazing, a process better suited to mass production, and which helped to reduce labor and manufacturing cost. [12] The bikes were configured with 15 gears using derailleurs, a triple chainring, and a cogset with five sprockets.


Throughout the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century, mountain biking moved from a little-known sport to a mainstream activity. Mountain bikes and mountain bike gear, once only available at specialty shops or via mail order, became available at standard bike stores. By the mid-first decade of the 21st century, even some department stores began selling inexpensive mountain bikes with full-suspension and disc brakes. In the first decade of the 21st century, trends in mountain bikes included the "all-mountain bike", the 29er and the one by drivetrain (though the first mass produced 1x drivetrain was Sram's XX1 in 2012). "All-mountain bikes" were designed to descend and handle well in rough conditions, while still pedalling efficiently for climbing, and were intended to bridge the gap between cross-country bikes and those built specifically for downhill riding. They are characterized by 4–6 inches (100–150 millimetres) of fork travel. 29er bikes are those using 700c sized rims (as do most road bikes), but wider and suited for tires of two inches (50mm) width or more; the increased diameter wheel is able to roll over obstacles better and offers a greater tire contact patch, but also results in a longer wheelbase, making the bike less agile, and in less travel space for the suspension. The single-speed is considered a return to simplicity with no drivetrain components or shifters but thus requires a stronger rider.

Following the growing trend in 29-inch wheels, there have been other trends in the mountain biking community involving tire size. One of the more prevalent is the new, somewhat esoteric and exotic 650B (27.5 inch) wheelsize, based on the obscure wheel size for touring road bikes. Some riders prefer to have a larger wheel in the front than on the rear, such as on a motorcycle, to increase maneuverability. Another interesting trend in mountain bikes is outfitting dirt jump or urban bikes with rigid forks. These bikes normally use 4–5" travel suspension forks. The resulting product is used for the same purposes as the original bike. A commonly cited reason for making the change to a rigid fork is the enhancement of the rider's ability to transmit force to the ground, which is important for performing tricks. In the mid-first decade of the 21st century, an increasing number of mountain bike-oriented resorts opened. Often, they are similar to or in the same complex as a ski resort or they retrofit the concrete steps and platforms of an abandoned factory as an obstacle course, as with Ray's MTB Indoor Park. Mountain bike parks which are operated as summer season activities at ski hills usually include chairlifts that are adapted to bikes, a number of trails of varying difficulty, and bicycle rental facilities. [13]

In 2020, due to COVID-19, mountain bikes saw a surge in popularity in the USA, with some vendors reporting that they were sold out of bikes under $1000 USD. [14] [15] [16]



A hardtail mountain bike HardtailMountainBike 2010 Specialized Rockhopper.jpg
A hardtail mountain bike
A dual suspension or full suspension mountain bike, 'all-mountain' mountain bike Example all-mountain MTB.jpg
A dual suspension or full suspension mountain bike, 'all-mountain' mountain bike
Typical more stout all-mountain bike on rough terrain All Mountain Mountain Bike.jpg
Typical more stout all-mountain bike on rough terrain


Protective gear

Mountain bikers in the Port Hills, New Zealand, wearing a variety of protective gear

The level of protection worn by individual riders varies greatly and is affected by speed, trail conditions, the weather, and numerous other factors, including personal choice. Protection becomes more important where these factors may be considered to increase the possibility or severity of a crash.

A helmet and gloves are usually regarded as sufficient for the majority of non-technical riding. Full-face helmets, goggles and armored suits or jackets are frequently used in downhill mountain biking, where the extra bulk and weight may help mitigate the risks of bigger and more frequent crashes. [17]

Protective gear cannot provide immunity against injuries. For example, concussions can still occur despite the use of helmets, and spinal injuries can still occur with the use of spinal padding and neck braces. [20] [21] The use of high-tech protective gear can result in a revenge effect, whereupon some cyclists feel safe taking dangerous risks. [22]

Because the key determinant of injury risk is kinetic energy, and because kinetic energy increases with the square of the speed, effectively each doubling of speed can quadruple the injury risk. Similarly, each tripling of speed can be expected to bring a nine-fold increase in risk, and each quadrupling of speed means that a sixteen-fold risk increase must be anticipated.

Higher speeds of travel also add danger due to reaction time. Because higher speeds mean that the rider travels further during his/her reaction time, this leaves less travel distance within which to react safely. [23] This, in turn, further multiplies the risk of an injurious crash.

In general, although protective gear cannot always prevent the occurrence of injuries, the use of such equipment is appropriate, as is maintaining it in serviceable condition. Because mountain biking takes place outdoors, ultraviolet radiation from sunlight is present, and UV rays are known to degrade plastic components. [24] Accordingly, and as a general rule of thumb, a bicycle helmet should be replaced every five years, or sooner if it appears damaged. Additionally, if the helmet has been involved in an accident or has otherwise incurred impact-type damage, then it should be replaced promptly, even if it does not appear to be visibly damaged. [25]


Cross-country cycling

Cross-Country (XC) 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 9-13 kilos (20-30 lbs), and has 0–125 millimeters (0.0–4.9 inches) of suspension travel front and sometimes rear. Cross country mountain biking focuses on physical strength and endurance more than the other forms, which require greater technical skill. Cross country mountain biking is the only mountain biking discipline in the Summer Olympic Games.


All-mountain/Enduro bikes tend to have moderate-travel suspension systems and components which are stronger than XC models, typically 160-180mm of travel on a full suspension frame, but at a weight that is suitable for both climbing and descending.

Enduro racing includes elements of DH racing, but Enduro races are much longer, sometimes taking a full day to complete, and incorporate climbing sections to connect the timed downhill descents (often referred to as stages). Typically, there is a maximum time limit for how long a rider takes to reach the top of each climb.

Historically, many long-distance XC races would use the descriptor "enduro" in their race names to indicate their endurance aspect. Some long-standing race events have maintained this custom, sometimes leading to confusion with the modern Enduro format, that has been adopted to the Enduro World Series.

Enduro racing was commonly seen as a race for all abilities. While there are many recreational riders that do compete in Enduro races, the sport is increasingly attracting high-level riders such as Sam Hill or Isabeau Courdurier.


Downhill mountain biking MTB downhill.jpg
Downhill mountain biking

Downhill (DH) is, in the most general sense, riding mountain bikes downhill. Courses include large jumps (up to and including 12 meters (39 feet)), drops of 3+ meters (10+ feet), and are generally rough and steep from top to bottom. The rider commonly 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 often precludes any serious climbing.

Downhill racers must possess a unique combination of total body strength, aerobic and anaerobic fitness, mental control, as well as the acceptance of a relatively high risk of incurring serious injury.

Because of their extremely steep terrain (often located in summer at ski resorts), downhill is one of the most extreme and dangerous cycling disciplines. Minimum body protection in a true downhill setting entails wearing knee pads and a full-face helmet with goggles, albeit riders and racers commonly wear full-body suits that include padding at various locations.

Downhill-specific bikes are universally equipped with front and rear suspension, large disc brakes, and use heavier frame tubing than other mountain bikes. Downhill bicycles now weigh around 16–20 kg (35–44 lb), while the most expensive professional downhill mountain bikes can weigh as little as 15 kilograms (33 pounds), fully equipped with custom carbon fiber parts, air suspension, tubeless tires and more. Downhill frames have anywhere from 170–250 millimeters (6.7–9.8 inches) of travel and are usually equipped with a 200 millimeters (7.9 inches) travel dual-crown fork.

Four-cross/Dual Slalom

Four-cross/Dual Slalom (4X) is a discipline in which riders compete either on separate tracks, as in Dual Slalom, or on a short slalom track, as in 4X. Most bikes used are light hard-tails, although the last World Cup was actually won on a full-suspension bike. The track is downhill and has dirt jumps, berms, and gaps.

Professionals in gravity mountain biking tend to concentrate either on downhill mountain biking or 4X/dual slalom because they are very different. However, some riders, such as Cedric Gracia, used to compete in both 4X and DH, although that is becoming more rare as 4X takes on its own identity.


Freeride Free-ride.jpg

Freeride / Big Hit / Hucking, as the name suggests, is a 'do anything' discipline that encompasses everything from downhill racing 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.

"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 typical specifications are 13-18 kilos (30-40 lbs) with 150–250 millimeters (5.9–9.8 inches) of suspension front and rear. 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.

Dirt Jumping

Dirt Jumping (DJ) is the practice of riding bikes over shaped mounds of dirt or soil and becoming airborne. The goal is that after riding over the 'lip' the rider will become airborne, and aim to land on the 'knuckle'. Dirt jumping can be done on almost any bicycle, but the bikes chosen are generally smaller and more maneuverable hardtails so that tricks such as backflips, whips, and tabletops, are easier to complete. The bikes are simpler so that when a crash occurs there are fewer components to break or cause the rider injury. Bikes are typically built from sturdier materials such as steel to handle repeated heavy impacts of crashes and bails.


Trials riding consists of hopping and jumping bikes over obstacles, without touching a foot onto the ground. It can be performed either off-road or in an urban environment. This requires an excellent sense of balance. The emphasis is placed on techniques of effectively overcoming the obstacles, although street-trials (as opposed to competition-oriented trials) is much like Street and DJ, where doing tricks with style is the essence. 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.


Urban/Street is essentially the same as urban BMX (or Freestyle BMX), in which riders perform tricks by riding on/over man-made objects. The bikes are the same as those used for Dirt Jumping, having 24" or 26" wheels. Also, they are very light, many in the range of 25–30 lb (11–14 kg), and are typically hardtails with between 0-100 millimeters of the front suspension. As with Dirt Jumping and Trials, style and execution are emphasized.

Mountain bike trail riding (trail biking) Rando VTT.jpg
Mountain bike trail riding (trail biking)

Trail riding

Trail riding or trail biking is a varied and popular non-competitive form of mountain biking on recognized, and often waymarked and graded, trails; unpaved tracks, forest paths, etc. Trails may take the form of single routes or part of a larger complex, known as trail centres. Trail difficulty typically varies from gentle 'family' trails (green) through routes with increasingly technical features (blue and red) to those requiring high levels of fitness and skill (black) incorporating demanding ascents with steep technical descents comparable to less extreme downhill routes. As difficulty increases trails incorporate more Technical Trail Features such as berms, rock gardens, uneven surface, drop offs and jumps. The most basic of bike designs can be used for less severe trails, but there are "trail bike" designs which balance climbing ability with good downhill performance, almost always having 120-150mm of travel on a suspension fork, with either a hard tail or a similar travel rear suspension. Many more technical trails are also used as routes for cross country, enduro, and even downhill racing.


Mountain Bike Touring or Marathon is long-distance touring on dirt roads and single track with a mountain bike.

With the popularity of the Great Divide Trail, the Colorado Trail and other long-distance off-road biking trails, specially outfitted mountain bikes are increasingly being used for touring. Bike manufacturers like Salsa have even developed MTB touring bikes like the Fargo model.

Mixed Terrain Cycle-Touring or rough riding is a form of mountain-bike touring but involves cycling over a variety of surfaces and topography on a single route, with a single bicycle that is expected to be satisfactory for all segments. The recent surge in popularity of mixed-terrain touring is in part a reaction against the increasing specialization of the bicycle industry. Mixed-terrain bicycle travel has a storied history of focusing on efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and freedom of travel over varied surfaces. [26]


Bikepacking is a self-supported style of lightly-loaded single or multiple night mountain biking. [27] Bikepacking is similar to bike touring, however the two sports generally use different bikes and the main difference is the method of carrying gear. Bikepacking generally involves carrying less gear and using smaller frame bags while bike touring will use panniers. [28]

A typical bikepacking set-up includes a frame bag, handlebar roll, seat pack, and backpack and typical gear includes lightweight and basic camping gear, and a bike repair kit. [29]

Mountain bikes are generally used as many bike packing destinations are reached via forest-service roads or singletrack trails. [27] Mountain bikes specific to bike-packing use a slightly taller frame to get the maximum frame bag capacity. This is achieved by using a longer headtube, a more horizontal top tube, and a reduced stem degree. [30]

Generally, bikepackers tend to cover anywhere from 25 to 75 miles (40 – 120 km) in a given day as the riding can be technical. [31]


Injuries are a given factor when mountain biking, especially in the more extreme disciplines like downhill biking, free ride and dirt jumping. Injuries range from minor wounds, such as cuts and abrasions from falls on gravel or other surfaces, to major injuries such as broken bones, head or spinal injuries resulting from impacts with rocks, trees or the terrain being ridden on. [32] [33] Another risk factor is that mountain biking takes places in wilderness area so emergency response will be delayed in case of injury.

Protective equipment can protect against minor injuries and reduce the extent or seriousness of major impacts, but may not protect a rider from major impacts or accidents. To reduce the risk of injury, a rider will also take steps to minimize the risk of accidents, and thus the potential for injury; by choosing trails which fall within the range of their experience level, ensuring that they are fit enough to deal with the trail they have chosen, and keeping their bike in top mechanical condition.

Lastly, maintenance of the rider's bike is carried out more frequently for mountain biking than for utility cycling or casual commuter biking. Mountain biking places higher demands on every part of the bike. Jumps and impacts can crack the frame or damage components or the tire rims, and steep, fast descents can quickly wear out brake pads. Since the widespread adoption of hydraulic and mechanical disk brakes on most mountain bikes from the late 1990s, the issues of brake pad wear, misalignment with, or slippage of rim brake pads on rims designed for rim brakes or "V brakes", has become a non-issue. Thus, whereas a casual rider may only check over and maintain their bike every few months, a mountain biker will check and properly maintain the bike before and after every ride.

Advocacy organizations

Mountain bikers have faced land access issues from the beginnings of the sport. Some areas where the first mountain bikers have ridden have faced extreme restrictions or elimination of riding.

This opposition has led to the development of local, regional, and international mountain bike groups. The different groups that formed generally work to create new trails, maintain existing trails, and help existing trails that may have issues. Groups work with private and public entities from the individual landowner to city parks departments, on up through the state level at the DNR, and into the federal level. Different groups will work individually or together to achieve results.

Advocacy organizations work through numerous methods such as education, trail workdays, and trail patrols. Examples of the education an advocacy group can provide include: Educate local bicycle riders, property managers, and other user groups on the proper development of trails, and on the International Mountain Bicycling Association's (IMBA), "Rules of the Trail." Examples of trail work days can include: Flagging, cutting, and signing a new trail, or removing downed trees after a storm. A trail patrol is a bike rider who has had some training to help assist others (including non-cyclists), trail users.

The IMBA is a non-profit advocacy group whose mission is to create, enhance and preserve trail opportunities for mountain bikers worldwide. IMBA serves as an umbrella organization for mountain biking advocacy worldwide and represents more than 700 affiliated mountain biking groups. The group was originally formed to fight widespread trail closures. In 1988, five California mountain bike clubs linked to form IMBA. The founding clubs were: Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association, Bicycle Trails Council East Bay, Bicycle Trails Council Marin, Sacramento Rough Riders, and Responsible Organized Mountain.

Environmental impact

According to a review published by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, the environmental impact of mountain biking, as a relatively new sport, is poorly understood. The review notes that "as with all recreational pursuits, it is clear that mountain biking contributes some degree of environmental degradation". [34] Mountain biking can result in both soil and vegetation damage, which can be caused by skidding, but also by the construction of unauthorised features such as jumps and bridges, and trails themselves. [35] Several studies have reported that a mountain bike's impact on a given length of trail surface is comparable to that of a hiker, and substantially less than that of an equestrian or motorized off-road vehicle. [36] [37] [38] [39] [ unreliable source? ]

A critical literature review by Jason Lathrop on the ecological impact of mountain biking notes that while recreational trail use in general is well studied, few studies explore the specific impact of mountain biking. He quotes the Bureau of Land Management: "An estimated 13.5 million mountain bicyclists visit public lands each year to enjoy the variety of trails. What was once a low use activity that was easy to manage has become more complex". [40]

The environmental impacts of mountain biking can be greatly reduced by not riding on wet or sensitive trails, keeping speeds modest so as to minimize cornering forces and braking forces, not skidding, and by staying on the trail. [41]

Mountain biking has been demonstrated to act as a human-mediated form of seed dispersal. Due to advancements in technology mountain bikers have begun to move onto trail networks once only accessible by hikers. The nature of their movement patterns also plays an important role as a vector for seed dispersal. Mountain bikes are not bound to any specific type of infrastructure and can therefore move freely between ecological environments acting as a connecting dispersal vector between habitats. Combined with their relatively long range and speeds they also contribute to long-range dispersal. [42] In an effort to understand and assess the socio-ecological consequences of mountain bikes as a vector for seed dispersal Fabio Weiss, Tyler J. Brummer, and Gesine Pufal conducted an environmental impact study on forest trails in Freiburg, Germany. The results of the study found that although the majority of seeds detached from tires within the first 5–20 meters; small portions of seeds were still present after 200–500 meters contributing to moderate dispersal. The potential for long-distance dispersal was found through the transport of seeds on areas of the bike that did not come into frequent contact with the ground. The study also found that the majority of participants only cleaned their bikes on average every 70 km or every two rides. [42] Rides executed in two different areas have the potential to connect previously unconnected habitats creating the potential for unwanted plant invasions.

To mitigate the accidental dispersal of an unwanted invasive species, the authors of the study proposed the following measures to support conservation: [42]

a) Clean the bike between rides in different habitats, before traveling and especially before entering sensitive natural areas and regions.
b) Control weeds and non-native species at trailheads and trail margins.
c) Educate mountain bike riders about the potential dispersal of different species (good stewardship begets riding privileges).
d) Encourage cooperation between mountain bikers and managing authorities (avoid condescending regulations, establishment of monitored designated riding areas).

See also

Related Research Articles

Trail riding Traveling on trails and forest roads by horse, bicycle, motorcycle, or all-terrain vehicle

Trail riding is riding outdoors on trails, bridle paths, and forest roads, but not on roads regularly used by motorised traffic. A trail ride can be of any length, including a long distance, multi-day trip. It originated with horse riding, and in North America, the equestrian form is usually called "trail riding," or, less often "hacking." In the UK and Europe, the practice is usually called horse or pony trekking.

Mountain bike Type of bicycle

A mountain bike (MTB) or mountain bicycle is a bicycle designed for off-road cycling. Mountain bikes share some similarities with other bicycles, but incorporate features designed to enhance durability and performance in rough terrain, which makes them heavy. These typically include a suspension fork, large knobby tires, more durable wheels, more powerful brakes, straight, extra wide handlebars to improve balance and comfort over rough terrain, lower gear-ratios for climbing steep grades and sometimes rear suspension to really smooth out the trail as well as dropper-posts to quickly adjust the seat height.

Touring bicycle

A touring bicycle is a bicycle designed or modified to handle bicycle touring. To make the bikes sufficiently robust, comfortable and capable of carrying heavy loads, special features may include a long wheelbase, frame materials that favor flexibility over rigidity, heavy duty wheels, and multiple mounting points.

Cyclo-cross Form of bicycle racing

Cyclo-cross is a form of bicycle racing. Races typically take place in the autumn and winter, and consist of many laps of a short course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount. Races for senior categories are generally between 40 minutes and an hour long, with the distance varying depending on the ground conditions. The sport is strongest in the traditional road cycling countries such as Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

Cycle sport Competitive physical activity using bicycles

Cycle sport is competitive physical activity using bicycles. There are several categories of bicycle racing including road bicycle racing, cyclo-cross, mountain bike racing, track cycling, BMX, and cycle speedway. Non-racing cycling sports include artistic cycling, cycle polo, freestyle BMX and mountain bike trials. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is the world governing body for cycling and international competitive cycling events. The International Human Powered Vehicle Association is the governing body for human-powered vehicles that imposes far fewer restrictions on their design than does the UCI. The UltraMarathon Cycling Association is the governing body for many ultra-distance cycling races.

Hybrid bicycles blend characteristics from more specialized road bikes, touring bikes and mountain bikes. The resulting "hybrid" is a general-purpose bike that can tolerate a wide range of riding conditions and applications. Their stability, comfort and ease of use make them popular with novice cyclists, casual riders, commuters, and children.

Bicycle fork Bicycle piece

A bicycle fork is the part of a bicycle that holds the front wheel.

Downhill mountain biking Genre of mountain biking

Downhill mountain biking (DH) is a genre of mountain biking practiced on steep, rough terrain that often features jumps, drops, rock gardens and other obstacles.

Freeride (mountain biking) Type of mountain biking

Freeride is a discipline of mountain biking closely related to downhill biking, dirt jumping, and freestyle BMX. When riding a freerider one focuses on tricks, style, and technical trail features. Freeride is now recognized as one of the most popular disciplines within mountain biking.

Tom Ritchey is an American bicycle frame builder, Category 1 racer, fabricator, designer, and founder of Ritchey Design. Ritchey is a US pioneer in modern frame building and the first production mountain bike builder/manufacturer in the history of the sport. He is an innovator of bicycle components that have been used in winning some of the biggest cycling competitions in the world including the UCI World Championships, the Tour de France and the Olympics. In 1988, Ritchey was inducted into the inaugural Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in Crested Butte, Colorado : and 2012, inducted to the United States Bicycle Hall of Fame in Davis, California.

Glossary of cycling Bicycling terminology guide

This is a glossary of terms and jargon used in cycling, mountain biking, and cycle sport.

Mountain bike racing Competitive cycle sport discipline of mountain biking held on off-road terrain

Mountain bike racing is the competitive cycle sport discipline of mountain biking held on off-road terrain. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) recognised the discipline relatively late in 1990, when it sanctioned the world championships in Durango, Colorado. The first UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series took place in 1988. Its nine-race circuit covered two continents—Europe and North America—and was sponsored by Grundig. Cross-country racing was the only World Cup sport at this time. In 1993, a six-event downhill World Cup was introduced. In 1996, cross-country mountain biking events were added to the Olympic Games. In 2006, cross-country mountain biking events became part of the World Deaf Cycling Championships for the first time in San Francisco, USA.

Dirt jumping

Dirt jumping is the practice of riding bikes over jumps made of dirt or soil and becoming airborne. Dirt Jumping evolved alongside BMX racing and is similar to BMX or Mountain bike racing in that the rider jumps off of mounds of dirt, usually performing a midair trick in between. It differs in that the jumps are usually much larger and designed to lift the rider higher into the air. Additionally, the goal is not to complete the course with the fastest time, but rather to perform the tricks with the style. Dirt jumping can be performed on BMX bikes or specialized mountain bikes known simply as "dirt jumpers".

Downhill bike Type of mountain bike

A downhill bike is a full suspension bicycle designed for downhill cycling on particularly steep, technical trails. Unlike a typical mountain bike, durability and stability are the most important design features, compared to lighter, more versatile cross-country bikes. Downhill bikes are primarily intended for high speed descent, and downhill riders will usually push, or shuttle via chairlifts or motorized vehicles, to the trailhead. Downhill bikes share similarities with freeride bikes due to their large strong frames and increased travel.

Bicycle suspension Bicycle part

Bicycle suspension is the system, or systems, used to suspend the rider and bicycle in order to insulate them from the roughness of the terrain. Bicycle suspension is used primarily on mountain bikes, but is also common on hybrid bicycles.

Cross-country cycling

Cross-country (XC) cycling is a discipline of mountain biking. Cross-country cycling became an Olympic sport in 1996 and is the only form of mountain biking practiced at the Olympics.

Rocky Mountain Bicycles

Rocky Mountain Bicycles is a Canadian bicycle manufacturer based in Vancouver, British Columbia. The company was incorporated in 1981, and its name is a reference to the mountain range that stretches from eastern British Columbia to the southwest United States. Rocky Mountain bicycles are widely used by professional cyclists.

Mixed terrain cycle touring

Mixed terrain cycle touring, nicknamed "rough riding" in North America and very occasionally "rough stuff" in parts of the United Kingdom, involves cycling over a variety of surfaces and topography on a single route, with a single bicycle. The recent popularity of mixed terrain touring is in part a reaction against the increasing specialization of the bike industry. Focusing on freedom of travel and efficiency over varied surfaces, mixed terrain bicycle travel has a storied past, one closely linked with warfare. By comparison, today’s mixed terrain riders are generally adventure oriented, although many police departments rely on the bicycle’s versatility. In many remote parts of the world with unreliable pavement, the utility bicycle has become a dominant form of mixed terrain transportation. A new style of travel called adventure cycle-touring or expedition touring involves exploring these remote regions of the world on sturdy bicycles designed for the purpose. Off-road adventure cycling with lightweight gear, and often a rackless system, is now known as bikepacking. Bikepacking is not a new phenomenon though, as light weight - soft luggage touring has been in use for well over a century. Early settlers in Australia used bicycles with bags strapped to the handlebars, frame, and under the saddle to carry loads into the Australian outback.

Cold-weather biking

Cold-weather biking or winter biking is the use of a bicycle during months when roads and paths are covered with ice, slush and snow. Cold weather cyclists face a number of challenges in near or below freezing temperatures. Urban commuters on city streets may have to deal with "[s]now, slush, salt, and sand", which can cause rust and damage to metal bike components. Slush and ice can jam derailleurs. Some cyclists may bike differently in winter, by "slow[ing] down on turns and brak[ing] gradually" in icy conditions. Gaining traction on snow and ice-covered roads can be difficult. Winter cyclists may use bikes with front and rear fenders, metal studded winter tires and flashing LED lights. Winter cyclists may wear layers of warm clothes and "ea[r], face, and han[d]" coverings may be used. Specialized winter bikes called fatbikes, which have wide, oversized tires that are typically inflated with low pressure, are used in snow trail riding and winter bike competitions.


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