Types of Mountain Bikes
By Nate Meeter 2 November 2022
When it comes to mountain biking you have to know what bike you need. There are many different types of bikes. DH (downhill), Dirt Jumper, Gravel bike, hardtail, full suspension, and cross country. I will cover all of these bikes and where they should and shouldn’t be ridden. All of the bikes require different trails to ride on. I will first talk about a downhill bike. Downhill bikes, or DH, are a bike that has a lot of travel and suspension. Most DH bikes have about 200mm of travel and have little kickback. Kickback is the time it takes the shot to decompress and shoot back into place. DH bikes are usually used as enduro bikes for downhill races. However, they are more commonly used at bike parks like Whistler and Telluride. These bikes are usually made out of aluminum. A carbon fiber DH bike would start to crack and splinter due to the amount of use and damage it can get. Full-suspension bikes are super nice because they can absorb the roughness of the trail in the middle of the bike. Full-suspension bikes are also used as enduro bikes for races but they are usually used for cross-country races. Although, they are often used at bike parks because of the amount of suspension that they can have. Because full suspension bikes don’t take as much abuse as DH bikes, they can be found in full carbon bodies. Carbon fiber is a super light material that makes mountain bikes lighter. The lighter the bike, the faster you can be up and downhill. A hardtail bike is very similar to a full suspension, the only difference is that they only have suspension in the front, unlike the full suspension that has suspension both in the front and middle. Hard tails are great for fast flowy trails but bumps will make you grip the handlebars pretty tight. These bikes can be found at bike parks but they should be used only on green to green-blue trails. A gravel bike is a lighter bike that you should mainly use on gravel roads or smooth trails. With gravel bikes, you aren’t going to be wanting to use these in a bike park or in an enduro race. These bikes are made out of aluminum and have clipless pedals, meaning your car is clipped in. Gravel bikes can be used on the road but are commonly used on gravel or smooth trails. Cross-country bikes are typically used in long-distance races. They can come in full carbon but are usually aluminum. Cross-country bikes can be used on rougher trails unlike gravel bikes, but shouldn’t be used in bike parks or on super technical trails. A dirt jumper is a fairly lightweight bike. Dirt jumpers are a hardtail bike that is, as the name implies, good at jumping. These bikes are commonly found in skate parks, bike parks, and terrain parks. Dirt jumpers can be used on rough technical trials but it's not the best due to their lightness. An all-around good bike that I’d recommend to a beginner is a hardtail. Just to get the logistics of mountain biking. Once you feel comfortable with it you can move up to the full suspension, if you want. Now don’t get me wrong, all of these bikes can be used in a mix of places. I just listed the best places for them to be ridden.
Nate Meeter is a junior at Poudre High school. He mountain bikes, skis, and plays baseball and tennis for fun and for a living, but mainly for fun. This is his first year on the Poudre Press. He also runs a blog that you can check out here.