Different Types of Mountain Bikes and Disciplines Explained

Many novice bikers have a one-track mind about what mountain biking entails. While all mountain bikes are designed to withstand the rigorous off-road terrain and constant wear and tear, there are actually numerous types of bikes made for different disciplines. Where and how you ride your bike can make all the difference.


Whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned athlete, knowing about the different types of mountain biking styles is beneficial. Choosing the right bike for your discipline will ensure that you make the most out of your ride.

5 Different Types of Biking Disciplines

Cross Country

cross country mountain bikingThe most common form of mountain biking is cross country. It involves riding for extended periods of time through trails.

While it doesn’t usually involve extreme obstacles like other forms of mountain biking, it does require great endurance. It also requires significant control in order to maneuver through the trail.

Most cross country trails involve long periods of climbing and descending the mountain. Trails incorporate winding paths and banked turns to make climbing the mountain more efficient. However, cross country trails vary greatly, requiring bikers to make their way through open spaces filled with mud and narrow gravel paths in the same run. This will test your ability to handle the bike. The discipline gets more challenging if time trials and races are put into the mix.

All Mountain

all-mouintain-bikingIf you’re looking for something more action-packed, all mountain biking is the way to go. All mountain bikinginvolves more varied terrain and challenging obstacles. Essentially, it involves riding through the mountain’s natural terrain.

While trails may be present to guide bikers, they aren’t easy to maneuver by any means. All mountain biking takes advantage of the mountain’s natural features, such as drops and jumps.

It’s incredibly challenging, requiring great skill, control, and fearlessness. These types of trails are unpredictable and much more adventurous than a standard cross country trail. Be prepared to focus at all times as you make daring jumps through the mountain’s landscape.


downhill riding mountainbikeTo goal of downhill riding is speed. Unlike cross country trails that involve curves and snaking paths, downhill trails are usually straight down through the mountain terrain.

In fact, most riders don’t use a specific trail at all. Instead, they use their focus and control to successfully get down the mountain at the fastest speed possible. Competitions and races require bikers to achieve blazing speeds, making it a very thrilling discipline for rider and spectators.

Bikers don’t ride up the mountain. They either walk up a specific trail or are taken up via a lift system. It’s one of the most extreme forms of mountain biking and requires excellent skill and control. Riders are faced with incredibly rough tracks of mountain that have huge jumps and constantly changing obstacles.

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