The 5 Types of mountain bikes

Find out which mountain bike best suits you

Riding leisurly through the mountains or riding a daring trail - there's a bike for every discipline. In this article, we'll explain the differences between mountain bikes, what Hardtail or Fully means and help you find which mountain bike best suits you.

A mountain bike catching sick air

Hardtail or Fully - What's the difference?

The term Hardtail or Fully does not describe the bike's frame. Rather, it describes the bike's suspension system.

Fully = Full Suspension MTB

With the Fully, the front wheel and back portion of the bike have suspension. The Fully suspension helps compensate for shocks in uneven terrain, and a front suspension helps the front wheel maintain contact with the ground when going uphill. Suspension also helps protect your back.

Where a Fully shines:

  • high speeds
  • challenging and steep terrain
  • Jumps and drops
  • Disadvantages of a fully :

  • heavy
  • expensive due to large components
  • maintenance-intensive
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    Hardtail (back wheel has no suspension)

    With Hardtail, just the front wheel has suspension. The rear wheel does not have suspension. A Hardtail is suitable if you:

  • want to be fast and agile on the road
  • bike mainly on forest roads and flat tracks
  • 5 different types of mountain bikes

    Not all mountain bikes are created equal. Each MTB discipline is different and therefore has different needs. While the differences are not always crystal clear, you can mainly distinguish the types based on their suspension systems.

    Cross Country Biker
    Cross country bikes are very typical for competitions

    Cross Country Bike

    The bike is mainly used in cross-country races. Races usually take place:

  • through forests
  • through fields
  • on gravel paths
  • on meadow paths
  • through paths with smaller gradients and descents
  • The focus with cross county MTB is on maneuverability and a sporty riding position.

    Frame: hard and carbon
    Suspension: Hardtail
    Amount of suspension give: 100 – 120 mm

    All Mountain Bike & Enduro Bike

    The All Mountain Bike describes a wide range of uses, namely in the mountains. It is suitable for

  • easy and longer tours in the lowlands (at around 10 - 14 kg, it is considered light)
  • ascents
  • downhill descents on easy and medium-difficulty trails
  • small jumps and drops
  • Suspension: Fully
    Amount of suspension give: 120 – 160 mm

    You can reduce or lock the give on the suspension system on many models. This makes it easier for you to ride uphill.

    The Enduro Bike is a mix between the all mountain bike and the freeride mountain bike. It is designed for a wide range of uses:

  • faster descents than the all mountain bike
  • higher jumps than the all mountain bike
  • easier to ride uphill than with the freeride mountain bike
  • Downhill bikes are very similar to the freeride bikes. That's why the amount of suspension give was increased, and the Enduro has wider tyres.

    Amount of suspension give: 140 - 180 mm

    Touring on a enduro mountain bike
    All Mountain Bikes or Enduros are versatile and work great on almost any terrain.

    Downhill Mountain Bike

    The downhill mountain bike is made

  • to traverse challenging trails with steep gradients as fast as possible.

  • The shape of the downhill mountain bike is unmistakable: wide handle bars, thick tyres and a low saddle, for an optimal centre of gravity.

    This type of mountain bike is quite heavy at 18 kg, because the frame must withstand the stress of big jumps. The tyres are thick and have good grip. Riding uphill is virtually impossible for a downhill mountain bike.

    Amount of suspension give: 180 to 250 mm

    Downhill biker on the rocks
    For downhill bikes, it's all about speed.

    Freeride Mountain Bike

    The bike is cross between a downhill and cross country mountain bike. They are made for

  • very steep terrain
  • technical obstacles and trails
  • Long and high jumps and drops
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    While the freeride mountain bike is slightly lighter than its downhill counterpark, it's still no featherweight. Very stable components are used to ensure mountain bikes withstands extreme jumps (up to 20 meters). Therefore, mountain bikes are priced a bit higher.

    Suspension: Fully

    Amount of suspension give: 165 – 200 mm

    Some Freeride mountain bikes are also suitable for uphill riding.

    Freerider in the forest
    The Freeride mountain bike is for extreme slopes and obstacles.

    Fat Bikes

    Fat bikes are made for tough surfaces, for example

  • snow
  • ice
  • sand and
  • surfaces with bad traction
  • You can recognise fat bikes by their wide tyres. At 4 to 4.8 inches, they are twice as wide as conventional mountain bike tyres.

    A suspension system is often not included with fat bikes. The wide tyres are kept at below normal levels to absorb most of the shock.

    Fat Bikes can be recognised by their very wide tyres.

    What is the right mountain bike for me?

    Deciding which mountain bike is the right one depends where you want to go and how much adrenaline you need.

    Alpine Crossing & Tours

    For a long tour in the mountains, you'll need a mountain bike that can cope with any terrain and slope, and the bike shouldn't weigh too much, thereby slowing you down. Perfectly suited for the task is the

  • All Mountain Bike

  • If you want a bit more fun while trail riding, we recommend the

  • Enduro
  • Enduro bike rider in the Alps
    For longer tours the All Mountain Bike and the Enduro are best.

    Fun in the snow and sand

    Before writing off sand and snow. We recommend dawning on thicker tyres. For this, we recommend a

  • Fat Bike
  • You can read up on „Biking in Winter“ and gain some tips and tricks along the way.

    Going up the mountain and then down on exciting trails

    If you're planning to ascend mountains at a leisurely pace and reward yourself with an exciting downhill run, then you should opt for

  • Enduro
  • Adrenalin on steep and demanding trails

    You'd rather do without riding uphill. You spend your time in bike parks or on trails that you can reach with the lift. Downhill, you're looking for the ultimate adrenaline kick.

  • If it's all about the thrill of speed, go with the Downhill Mountain Bike.
  • For extreme gradients and technicall trails, the Freeride Mountain Bike is the right call.
  • Freeriding at the bike park
    Bike parks or easily accessible trails are the home of downhill bikers and freeriders.

    A decision has been made. What now?

    You know which mountain bike is the right one for you, but don't know how or where to begin?

    We recommend starting with a mountain bike course, as the risk of injury on trails due to inexperience is high. In the courses, you will not only learn effective riding techniques, but also how to change the inner tube or adjust your bike correctly. You can often find courses in local sports stores, clubs or with mountain bike manufacturers.

    To make mountain biking fun, the right clothes are essential. In our Online Shop, you'll find long and short sleeved jerseys for mountain biking. In our 3D Designer you can even design your jersey yourself as you see fit.


    Image Credits: Title Image: RyanJLane/iStock, Image 1: GibsonPictures/iStock, Image 2: GibsonPictures/iStock, Image 3: yanik88/iStock, Image 4: RyanJLane/iStock, Image 5: sergeyryzhov/iStock, Bild 6: piola666/iStock, Image 7: GibsonPictures/iStock