As the title says, this post is going to be about mountain biking. Yes, I'm bored.
So just to introduce my fellow readers to the realm of mountain biking. I'll do my best to include photos so you kind of get the idea of the different bikes and objectives of each form. Before I start, let me introduce very briefly on what categories I will be elaborating on about below. First of all is Cross Country, the very roots of mountain biking. Afterwards I will explain on All-Mountain/Enduro. Following that will be Downhill. My personal favorite. Following up on that part will be Freeride/Slopestyle. And last but not least, Fourcross.
This is the most popular form; Cross Country or XC in short. XC mountain biking was one of the first forms of mountain biking. It was pioneered by a group of friends in the early to mid-80's. I could go into a long-winding talk about that alone but I think what I've written suffices. If you want to know more, just look it up. The internet is a HUGE library. XC bikes tend to be hardtail. A hardtail is a bicycle with only front suspension. There are of course full-suspension XC bikes. Full-suspension means it has both front and rear shock absorbers.
If you notice, the 2nd bike has what appears to be a small piston located beneath the top part of the frame. That is the rear suspension. What sets apart mountain bikes really is the amount of travel the suspension has. For example, XC bikes typically have between 80-100mm of travel. The word 'travel' refers to how much the shock absorbers will compress. A sub-category of XC is known as Trail. These bikes tend to have between 120-150mm of travel. Otherwise, they're pretty similar in terms of geometry and purpose.
The next category of mountain biking is known as All-Mountain or Enduro. It's basically the same thing. Enduro is a relatively new segment of mountain biking and All-Mountain bikes -- as the name suggests -- can go all over the mountain. All-Mountain bikes are the most versatile of all mountain bikes because they can be adjusted to do virtually every form of mountain biking. Of course there are set backs such as weight and efficiency but getting a bike under this category is much cheaper than a bike for each category. Obviously. These bikes tend to have between 160-180mm of travel. Enduro events are similar to XC but they are faster and rougher, hence the longer amount of travel. Bikes under this category are always Full-suspension.
Enduro event. Note the knee guards.
Ah, Downhill or DH. The roughest, wildest ride you'll ever have on a mountain bike. It's difficulty and danger is rivaled only by it's sister category, Freeride. Downhill bikes are ALWAYS full-suspension. A hardtail is practically suicide. Try riding any hardcore DH track with an XC hardtail and you're likely to break the frame. DH bikes typically have between 180-200mm of travel. DH riders have to suit up like motocross riders with all the guards, helmets and such. Here are the pictures. Going airborne in DH is expected. My parents aren't too keen on me participating in DH. Understandably, they're just worried for my safety.
Some of the guards worn by DH riders
Freeride/Slopestyle/Urban. The madman's sport. It's like BMX but on a mountain bike. Slopestyle is also abbreviated as SX. The guys who do it are nuts. This category is my little brother's favorite. He aspires to be able to ride like them. Freeride bikes tend to be slightly smaller and lighter than DH bikes. This allows them to be trick-able as the term goes. It allows the riders to do tricks. SX bikes come in both hardtail and full-suspension. They also tend to be single-speed though that is in not a definitive way to identify a Freeride bike. Some people setup their bikes to be brakeless, one rear brake, both brakes, etc. I notice that bikes in this category have the most variation in terms of geometry and set up. Despite the hard impact of this form of mountain biking, the bikes tend to have very little travel because the riders want maximum power transfer when jumping. Less shock absorbers means a higher jump. These bikes are also ridden in BMX bowls, vert ramps, etc because of their similarity to BMX.
Rider doing a backflip
Hardtail slopestyle bike. This one is more towards urban riding
Freeride bike. Designed to take big hits and pull of big tricks
The final form of mountain biking I will be talking about is Fourcross or 4X in short. This event is somewhat like a slalom event where multiple riders -- typically between 4 and 6 -- start off and race to cross the finish line first. Races under this category are similar to the BMX Supercross as well as the Motocross Supercross events. Riders in this event also pad-up similarly to DH riders due to the nature of the event. 4-6 riders racing side-by-side on a tight course and everyone is competing for the best line around corners and through obstacles. Crashes are common and the tendency is, when one rider goes down, at least one other rider behind him/her will go down.
Ladies 4X event
I know it's a lengthy post and probably quite boring to most of you but if you read it thoroughly and made it this far, my sincerest thanks for taking the time to read it. And if you skimmed through, I don't blame you. Hehe.
That's all for now.
None of the bikes above are actually mine. I grabbed them off the net. Most are from the bike manufacturer, Specialized. The last 2 bikes are from KONA.