DIY Mountain Bike

What Does TRAVEL Mean on a Mountain Bike: Is More Travel Better?

what is travel on a Mountain Bike

I love riding my mountain bike down steep hills and off of lifts but I have noticed that even after adjusting my current suspension I am bottoming out on relatively small drops. That is why I decided to upgrade my suspension to have more travel distance. In this guide I will explain what that means for various kinds of bikes and suspension set ups.

What is “Travel” on a Mountain Bike?

Travel is simply the maximum distance that either the front or rear suspension of the Mountain Bike can compress, when absorbing force, before bottoming out. The higher the travel the more force the suspension can comfortably absorb. The lower amount of travel the lower amount of force absorbed.

Specialized FSR Suspension

Types of Mountain Bike Suspension

There are three types of suspension setups that any Mountain Bike might have (I will get into the third later). For right now it is most likely that your bike will either have a “Hard-Tail” or “Full Suspension” setup.

The difference between a hard-tail and a full suspension mountain bike is that on a full suspension bike there is a rear shock absorber as opposed to just the front fork. A hard-tail, therefore, will not have rear suspension components and will simply have a “hard” rear frame.

Full Suspension MTB

The differences between hard-tail and full suspension…

Price: A full suspension mountain bike will be much more expensive than a hard-tail mountain bike.

Comfort / Downhill Capability: A full suspension mountain bike is going to be much more comfortable to ride and be able to handle much higher drops. Although, this does come at the cost of reduced ability to put power into the trail.

Weight: A full suspension is going to add the components to your mountain bike so by definition will be heavier than a hard-tail

Maintenance: Again, the more parts you add the more that can go wrong and the more that needs to be adjusted.

Given this distinction between hard-tail and full suspension mountain bikes the next two sections are going to be split between talking about front and rear suspension components.

Suspension is Fun to Talk About

  • Mountain Bike Travel – Read What is Travel on a MTB and is More Better?
  • What is Lockout on a Mountain Bike Fork – all about when to use it.
  • Selecting a MTB fork is confusing, let me help with – C hoosing a Mountain Bike Suspension Fork
  • Wheels and Hub widths – Why is this so confusing? Read – How to Adapt a MTB Wheel to a Boost Fork

Front Suspension and Travel Distance on an MTB

Front Suspension Travel on an MTB

The front suspension, or forks, of any mountain bike is going to be split into a few components. The steerer tube which goes into the center of the crown which branches into two stanchions. These stanchions are what slide into the brace and slider which ends in two dropouts that attach to the wheel.

The main way that riders upgrade their front suspension is by increasing the travel of the stanchions. In essence, this is increasing the length of compression that the front suspension withstands. A shorter travel will be more responsive and allow you to put more power into the trail while a longer suspension is better for rough trails and high lifts.

Here is a chart of common travel distances on the front suspension of the mountain bike…

Another thing that is important to keep in mind is the diameter of the stanchion tubes. As the amount of travel increases so does the diameter of the stanchion to maintain durability and stability.

Here is a chart of the common stanchion tube diameters on the front suspension of the mountain bike…

As I mention before, many riders will upgrade their mountain bikes front suspension by increasing the amount of travel that the suspension is capable of. This is really only done in two scenarios as if it is done without thought then it could actually hamper performance.

  • When you have anything other than a downhill mountain bike and want to try to imitate one.
  • This one kind of ties in with the previous. But, travel distance is increased when a rider desires a more comfortable ride and intends to do mostly downhill riding with large drops. If there is a large amount of uphill riding then a long travel will only make it more difficult to ride the bike.

Something that is often mentioned on MTB suspension is a “Lockout” I explained what it is and when to use your lockout in another article on this website: What is a Lockout Fork and When to Use It

Rear Suspension and Travel Distance

Now this is where things can get really complicated. This is because there are around five main rear suspension designs that manufactures implement in mountain bikes. They are as follows…

Single Pivot: In this design the rear shock of the mountain bike is connected to a swingarm by the titular single pivot point located just above the chain rings. This is the simplest rear suspension design and therefore is often the cheapest to manufacture.

Single Pivot Suspension on MTB

The downside of the design is that the compression is going to be consistent throughout the travel of the shock as opposed to some newer designs which increase the stiffness of the rear shock as it becomes more and more compressed to hopefully prevent bottoming out.

Linkage-Driven Single Pivot: In this design there is still a swingarm connected to a single pivot point. The difference is that there is some kind of linkage which allows the manufacturers to manipulate the compression curve which was previously constant throughout the travel.

Horst-Link / Four Bar: Put simply, the rear axle of the mountain bike is not directly connected to the mainframe of the bike. This will reduce pedal bob (the bob that comes from the rhythmic nature of pedaling) and will also allow the manufacturer to manipulate the compression arc (amount of force needed to compress throughout the travel of the shock.

Twin-Link / Virtual Pivot Point: This design implements a triangular design that connects to the mainframe by two pivoting links. This design performs very similar to the Horst-Link but is not patented so is often cheaper to manufacture.

High Pivot: This is the same as the single pivot with the exception that the pivot point is placed much higher on the frame. There is also the addition of an idler pully which routs the path of the chain above the pivot point as to eliminate what would otherwise result in extremely high levels of pedal bob.

put 27 5 wheels on 26 inch mtb

Can I Put 27.5-inch Wheels on a 26-inch Wheel MTB?

Should I get a 26 inch MTB

Should I Buy a 26-Inch Mountain Bike?

Who 26 inch mountain bike

Who is a 26-Inch Mountain Bike Good For?

The rear shock and how it is sized.

The rear shock of the mountain bike is comprised of a single compression chamber as opposed to the front suspension which relies on two. The shock is placed horizontal (Often with a slight diagonal tilt) to the ground, again as opposed to the front suspension which is placed vertically to the ground.

Furthermore, the rear shock attaches to the frame of the bike by two eyelets which is actually how they (the shocks) are sized. Although, the same style shock is used no matter the design of your rear suspension.

Finding the Correct Eye-to-Eye Length of a Mountain Bike Rear Shock:

To find the eye-to-eye distance measure from the center of one pivot eyelet on the shock to the second one. This distance is the eye-to-eye length that you must use to find correctly sized rear shocks for your mountain bike.

Using shocks with incorrect eye-to-eye lengths can cause problems with the efficiency of the suspension and even can cause it to work against you. The travel on a rear shock is therefore more restricted although can vary slightly as the compression chamber can be of slightly different sized even if the overall length must be the same.

Just as with the front shock the longer the travel the better the shock will be at absorbing force, and the worse it will be for riding your mountain bike uphill (putting power to the trail).

MTB Tools I Love and Recommend

Bike Hand Repair Stand

I own each of these tools and only recommend things I own and use.

  • Bike Hand Bike Repair Stand .  Nice mountain bikes don’t have a kick stand so keeping your MTB safe but conveniently stored is essential.  I keep my bike on my stand whenever I’m not riding it.  This makes it easy to lube the chain, inflate the tires and adjust the derailleur.  Highly recommended – Bike Hand Bike Repair Stand (👈 Link to Amazon to see what thousands of others have said)
  • A basic MTB toolbox for replacing a chain, adjusting brakes and dialing in the fit.  Bike Hand has a 37-piece box that has most of the specialty bike tools to keep your MTB properly maintained.  The Bike Hand brand is value packed for the avid rider.  Check out the competitive prices with this link to Amazon 👉 Bike Hand 37 pcs Bike Repair Tool Kit
  • Get a good air pressure gauge, if you get just a tiny bit serious about MTBing you’re going to start playing with tire pressure.  A couple psi can make your tires sticking or not.  Get a good gauge, I highly recommend the Topeak Smartgauge D2 , it’s accurate, flexible and easy to use.  An Amazon best seller, here’s a link 👉 Topeak Smartgauge D2
  • Carry a multitool with you on every ride.  I’m serious, most of the time you can MacGyver something to get back to the trailhead if you have a multitool.  I’ve got the Crank Brothers M19 , it’s worn, rubbed and abused – but it still works.   Thousands sold on Amazon – check it out with this link 👉 Crank Brothers M19

How to Balance Your Suspension with a Full Suspension Mountain Bike

Balancing the amount of force that the front and rear suspensions on a full suspension mountain bike is crucial to getting the most out of said mountain bike. If one component is compressing slower or faster than the other then the comfort of the ride can be dramatically compromised. As can the overall effectiveness of the suspension system.

It is not essential that the front and rear suspensions have the exact same amount of travel although the closer they are the easier it will be to balance them. Balancing them involves adjusting the pressure inside of the chambers so that each shock, no matter the travel, bottoms out at the same time. A longer shock will need less pressure when paired with a shorter shock and vice versa.

Coil Shocks VS Air Shocks

There are two main kinds of suspension. Those which rely on springs to compress and those which rely on compressed air. The benefits of an air shock are that it is lightweight, easily tune-able, and naturally get stiffer near the point of bottoming out. The downsides are that they require more maintenance and are also not as responsive.

The reason why some rider chooses coil springs, even though they must be bought specific to the weight of the rider and are also heavier, is that they are extremely responsive. Additionally, coil springs don’t fade in stiffness when riding for long periods of time as some air coils will.

The Third Kind of Mountain Bike Suspension Setup (A Rigid Bike)

Rigid Frame MTB on Fat Tire Bike

The third, and most uncommon, form of suspension on a mountain bike is… well… to not have one at all. On a rigid bike you will not find either a front or rear suspension system and rather just a solid frame comprising the entire mountain bike.

This kind of mountain bike setup is most widely used for fat tire bikes as with a fat tire bike it is absolutely necessary to be able to put a lot of power from the pedals into the trail. This is because of the friction accosted with a fat tire.

Rigid suspension systems on fat tire bikes are able to be implemented due to the natural suspension capabilities of having such a large tire. This larger tire works to absorb force and the low pressure you can ride at work to smooth out the ride as well.

Additionally, often time rider will upgrade their rigid style mountain bikes with increased cushion seats.

Some regular tire mountain bikes implement a rigid style suspension system although they are much less comfortable to ride and require a more experienced rider. These bikes can provide a great experience if you’re constantly going uphill and don’t plan to encounter any rough terrain.


David Humphries is the creator of DIY Mountain Bike. For me a relaxing day involves riding my mountain bike to decompress after a long day. When not on my bike I can be found wrenching on it or making YouTube videos at 👉 DIY Mountain Bike Read more about David HERE .

Looking for more How To MTB articles? Click -> HERE

What Does Travel Mean On A Mountain Bike?

  /   Beginners • Tips   /  What Does Travel Mean On A Mountain Bike?

travel mountain bike meaning

OLIVER L. Author

Published: March 22, 2022

Oliver has been mountain biking for over 20 years, raced downhill nationally and is part of several mountain biking clubs and communities. He currently owns five bikes... and they all get used (as he reminds his girlfriend regularly) Read More

When you start mountain biking you will hear the term “travel” quite a bit. But what the heck is travel and what does it have to do with mountain biking?

“Hey, dude, how much travel do you have on your front fork”. This is something you will hear often and it’s referring to how much suspension you have on your bike.

Travel on a mountain bike is the distance you have for suspension and how much it will compress before you bottom out. Depending on the type of riding you do usually determines how much travel will be on your bike.

Let’s dig in more about mountain bike travel!

What is Travel on a Mountain Bike?

Travel is closely linked to pressure on a mountain bike. It refers to the distance the front or rear suspension can compress before it bottoms out. The mountain bike tends to compress when absorbing force and the more travel you have, the more force can be absorbed. With less travel, the bike might not be able to absorb as much force.

Different Mountain Bike Frames

Much like you have certain bikes for certain purposes, there are 3 different mountain bike frames to consider. These are the hardtail, the full-suspension , and the rigid frame. Each of these frames has its benefits and drawbacks, but the hardtail mainly relies on the front suspension and shock absorber:

One of the key differences between the hardtail and the full-suspension mountain bike is the design. The full-suspension mountain bike carries a shock absorber at the rear and can better control the terrain. As a brief side note, you should keep in mind that the full-suspension mountain bike is better for downhill and the hardtail has limited drag for scaling.

Differences Between The Hardtail And Full-Suspension Bikes

One of the most frustrating decisions you will need to make is choosing between the hardtail and the full-suspension frame. The rigid frame might not be ideal for all situations and challenges. Here are some of the key differences you can expect to see when choosing:

In terms of comfort, the full-suspension mountain bike is the best. It reduces the shock your body needs to deal with and makes it much easier to go downhill. On the flip side, the hardtail bike is better suited to ensure you have optimal climbing capabilities.

The full-suspension mountain bike adds another suspension to the fray. With the addition of more equipment and parts, you can expect it to be slightly more expensive. However, these bikes tend to have a better weight capacity.


Unfortunately, the fact that you have more parts spill over here as well. Having more moving components means that it is much easier for something to go wrong. The full-suspension mountain bike might be more tedious to fix when damaged.

Finally, the price is also related to the components and the technology used with the bike. If you have more intricate components, you will need to pay a bit more. The dual-suspension can be helpful, but it is also more expensive.

How Much Travel Does A Mountain Bike Need? (Front Suspension)

If competitive racing is something that you enjoy, you will need to understand the ideal travel for the front suspension. It can vary significantly depending on the bike and the discipline you perform. We have a great table that will give you some estimates to ensure that when you make upgrades, you have a guideline:

Keep in mind that these are only ranges and you might find that some of the discrepancies vary depending on the brand of the bike. The great thing is that you can upgrade your bike and improve the front suspension travel. You might need some basic knowledge and understanding of the components and how the front suspension works.

The front suspension works by having a steerer tube that enables you to control the bike. This tube will go into the center of the crown, which connects to the two stanchions. The stanchions connect to the dropouts that attach to the wheels. The main way to increase the travel on the bike is to increase the travel on the stanchions. However, you should understand the diameter of different stanchions

While upgrading the stanchions on your bike is not always a great idea, there are a couple of reasons people would do it. The only main reasons to increase the travel on your standard bike can be broken into two main reasons. If yours does not fall into any of these reasons, you might not want to do it:

1.      Imitating A Downhill Bike

Downhill mountain bikes can be very expensive. However, you can increase the diameter of the stanchions to help imitate one. Keep in mind that you should also remember that the brakes are important when going at faster speeds.

2.      More Comfort

Finally, you might want to make these changes when you are seeking more comfort when riding, Additionally, you don’t want to increase the travel when going uphill. Much like the rear suspension on the dual suspension bike, it could drag you down significantly and be frustrating.

Travel Distance And The Rear Suspension

While the front suspension might seem pretty straightforward, the rear suspension is much harder. You will also notice that there are numerous rear suspension designs that you will need to choose from. Each of these rear suspension designs serves a specific purpose when it comes to giving you value for your discipline:

Single Pivot

If you are looking for the most basic of rear suspension designs, this will be the one to go with. It consists of a titular single pivot that connects to the swing arm above the chainrings. The single pivot is one of the more basic designs you can come across and it will have consistent compression throughout the travel.

Linkage-Driven Single Pivot

While the design is very similar to that of the single pivot, it also features an additional linkage that can manipulate the compression curve. It means that your travel will have a greater degree of variation throughout the ride and you will be able to take on slightly more straining terrains with additional compression.

Host-Link/Four Bar

With this design, the rear axle is not directly connected to the mainframe. While this might sound dangerous, it eliminates the risk of pedal bob, which can often lead to injury or even losing control of the bike. The main benefit is once again that it enables the manufacturer to manipulate the compression.

Twin-Link/Virtual Pivot

If you are looking for a cheaper version of the host-link pivot, you might want to consider this one. It does not directly connect to the mainframe, but use two separate links that connect to the mainframe. It is slightly cheaper than the previous one and enables the manufacturer to manipulate the compression.

The high pivot is very similar to the single pivot. The main exception is that it is placed higher on the frame and enables more performance. The additional idler pulley will rout the path of the chain to keep it above the pivot. While it does not provide extra compression, it could significantly reduce the risk for the infamous pedal bob.

How The Rear Suspension Is Shaped

The rear suspension is slightly different than the front suspension and features a unique design. One of the first things you will notice is that it is placed horizontally and often has a slight diagonal tilt. The rear shock will attach to the bike with the help of eyelets and these eyelets are also what is used to size the rear suspension.

Balancing The Front And Rear Suspension

Whether you are a beginner or an expert, you must balance the force both of these suspensions can withstand. The more neutral they are, the more consistency you will have when riding. If they are not perfectly balanced, you could be left with a bike that does not live up to expectations and compromises comfort.

One of the main ways to adjust them is to adjust the pressure on the inside of the chamber. You want to make sure that they bottom out at the same time instead of focusing too much on the travel, Keep in mind that the different pressure and shock lengths can have an impact, which is why a professional is always needed.

Air Shocks VS Coil Shocks

When looking for shocks, you are bound to come across air shocks or coil shocks. While both of these are great, they might offer different benefits to different riders depending on their needs. You must understand the slight differences before you buy them. They could make a bit of difference to performance:

The air shocks are easier to implement and set up on your bike. However, they also get stiffer naturally, which can reduce the travel on your bike and bottoms it out. The air shocks are designed for entry-level riders and can be adjusted on the fly.

Coil Shocks

The coil shocks are more expensive and you need to make sure you buy them in comparison to your weight. It is important that you are comfortable and they can hold you up. However, they will not fade in stiffness over time and you can ride with them for a more significant time than the air shocks will allow.

What Is A Long Travel Bike?

The long-travel bike is generally a bike that has travel of 150mm-170mm. These bikes are often enduro bikes, but some of them can also be downhill bikes. They should offer more comfort, but with so much travel, they are not ideal for scaling mountains.

How Much Travel Should A Hardtail Mountain Bike Have?

The travel recommended for a hardtail bike can vary significantly from rider to rider and bike to bike. It is best to consider the size of the wheels and make sure you don’t go overboard. It is worth noting that some experts suggest a range of 120mm or even lower might be the ideal travel for your hardtail mountain bike.

Travel on your bike is not something people care for every day. As a beginner, you might never have heard of it and unless you go professional, you might not care. However, professional riders or those with ambitions to be successful should understand it. Let us know in the comment section how you go about travel.

Related Articles

What are mountain bike rock gardens.

  Oli L  •    September 5, 2022

So you're getting into mountain biking and not sure what mountain bike rock gardens are. Riding rock gardens on a mountain bike is a skill to learn when you first start riding. You might have thought that most trails will be smooth and easy to navigate through but remember that each trail is different. Preparing for these obstacles will help you become a better mountain biker. Rock gardens can come...

The Full Suspension Vs. Hardtail Debate Continues

  Oli L  •    August 28, 2022

The full suspension vs. hardtail debate continues as we look at the pros and cons of each type of bike. Both full suspension and hardtail mountain bikes are great options if you want to start mountain biking. But what do you really need to know about each type before buying one? Mountain biking has exploded in popularity in recent years. The sport involves riding through singletracks mostly in beautiful mother...

6 Mountain Bike Maintenance Tips For Beginners

  Oli L  •    August 8, 2022

There are many different types of mountain bikes out there. But, they all have one thing in common – ongoing maintenance. Mountain bike maintenance can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up damaging your bike or even yourself. Mountain bikes require proper maintenance to keep everything running smoothly. In this article, we'll show you what to do when things go wrong as a beginner...

8 Steps To Becoming A Better Mountain Biker

  Oli L  •    June 13, 2022

Mountain biking is an activity that requires skill, strength, endurance, and balance. It’s also a great way to stay fit and enjoy the outdoors. But before you hit the trails, there are a few things you need to know to become a better mountain biker. The activity requires both strength and skill. It’s also a sport that has become increasingly popular in recent years. To improve your riding skills, you...

5 Mountain Bike Racing Tips for Beginners

  Oli L  •    June 10, 2022

Mountain bikes are becoming increasingly popular in recent years. They offer an exciting way to explore the outdoors. It also offers many physical and mental health benefits on top of the friendly competition that many enjoy. We're going to go over 5 mountain bike racing tips for beginners to help you get going. MTB racing is an exciting sport that combines speed, agility, and strength in a way that few...

  Latest Articles

  popular articles,   product of the week.

Monday 17th June

  Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our monthly email on all things mountain biking:

All Gift Categories:

  • For Teenager
  • Unique Gifts
  • Funny Gifts
  • Road Cyclist

Bike A Ton

Bike A Ton is reader-supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Feel free to click away.

what is travel on a mountain bike

What is Travel on a Mountain Bike?

When someone says travel, the first thing that comes to mind is a vacation or perhaps a business trip. But if you’re looking for something different, why not take advantage of the freedom and adventure that comes with travel on a mountain bike?

Traveling on a mountain bike allows you to explore paths and trails that would otherwise be inaccessible. It’s an exhilarating experience, allowing you to see and experience places you might not have otherwise.

Why Many People Enjoy Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is also a great way to escape your busy and stressful everyday life. It’s an enjoyable form of exercise that can help you clear your head, refocus, and gain some perspective. Plus, it’s a great way to spend quality time with friends and family.

It’s important to note that mountain biking isn’t just about the destination but also the journey. You can take your time and enjoy nature at its finest, or challenge yourself and see how far you can go in a given amount of time. Either way, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience.

But did you know that travel can have a different meaning for anyone who enjoys mountain biking? That’s right! In this article, you will learn all about travel on a mountain bike.

What Is Travel On A Mountain Bike

Mountain biking travel is a term that indicates the distance of movement for any moving parts. Before, travel only referred to mountain bike suspension, but now it also incorporates dropper seat posts.

The travel distance is typically measured in millimeters (mm) and can range from 80mm on cross-country bikes to 200mm or more on downhill bikes.

Travel is a crucial aspect of mountain biking as it directly affects the bike’s performance and the rider’s comfort. More travel allows for greater absorption of shocks from bumps, rocks, and drops, making it ideal for rough terrains. However, bikes with more travel are typically heavier and less efficient on climbs or flat terrains.

With dropper post travel, the seat shifts from the typical riding position for pedaling to a lower level, enabling you to navigate technical descents more easily.

Differences Between Mountain Bike Travel Suspensions

There are three fundamental suspension systems that any Mountain Bike could have. Generally, a bike will feature either the classic “Hardtail” or modernized “Full Suspension” setup.

A hardtail mountain bike has a single suspension fork that is generally situated at the front wheel. It only has a “hard” rear frame, hence the name ‘hardtail.’ The suspension is usually limited in range, but it does offer impact absorption and increased stability for the rider.

On the other hand, a modernized “full suspension” has a suspension fork at the front and a rear suspension shock. With this setup, there is more travel for both the front and back of the bike. It offers improved impact absorption, increased control, and stability for the rider.

Here are the differences between hardtail and full suspension bikes:

travel mountain bike meaning

When it comes to comfort, a full-suspension mountain bike is the superior choice. Not only will you be more comfortable while riding, but these bikes are designed for higher drops too! However, this can come at the expense of diminished power output on the path.

A hardtail mountain bike weighs less than a full suspension bike, making it the lighter option. This is because the frame of a full-suspension bike must be made stronger to carry the additional weight of the rear suspension.

Full suspension bikes cost more than hardtails due to their increased complexity and higher-quality components.


Maintaining a full suspension is more complicated than a hardtail, as the rear shock needs to be serviced or replaced at least once a year, depending on your riding conditions.

Front Suspension: The Forks

front suspension on a mountain bike

Each mountain bike fork comprises several components: a steerer tube that runs through the center of the crown and then branches off into two stanchions that fit inside their respective brace and slider. Lastly, these lead to two dropouts attached to the wheel for stability.

The conventional approach to upgrading front suspension is to up the travel of their stanchions. To put it plainly, this method amplifies the tightening of the front suspension. A shorter journey will be more reactive, allowing you to inject additional energy into your path. A longer suspension is an ideal choice for challenging paths and high lifts.

Common Travel Distances on the Front Suspension

It’s essential to remember that the size of the stanchion tubes matters greatly. As travel increases, the stanchion’s diameter must also expand to remain strong and stable.

Common Stanchion Tube Diameters

Rear suspension: the rear shocks.

rear suspension on a mountain bike

Unlike the front suspension of a mountain bike powered by two compression chambers, its rear shock operates with only one. The shock is installed horizontally on the ground, with a slight diagonal slant, in contrast to the front suspension, which is set upright. Connecting to the bike’s frame through two eyelets makes your rear shock accurately sized and ready for use.

Rear Suspension Designs

If you’re a mountain bike enthusiast, you should be familiar with the five main rear suspension designs manufacturers use to make your rides even more enjoyable. These are the following:

1. Single Pivot

This is the most basic structure of all rear suspension designs and is generally cheaper to produce. The rear shock suspension is attached to the main frame simultaneously. The compression remains stable throughout the shock’s travel which amplifies stiffness when compressing to avoid bottoming out.

2. Linkage-Driven Single Pivot

With this design, a swingarm is still connected to one pivotal point. Despite this, the manufacturers have found a way to adjust the fixed compression curve as one move across their system.

3. Twin-Link / Virtual Pivot Point

This revolutionary design introduces a triangular structure connected to the mainframe by two swiveling connections. This design functions similarly to the Horst-Link but can frequently be produced at a lower cost due to its lack of patent protection.

4. Horst-Link / Four Bar

This design for a mountain bike features an axle that does not directly attach to the mainframe. By utilizing this system, you can eliminate the oscillation caused by regular pedaling. This also enables the manufacturer to adjust the compression arc, which is how much force needs to be applied throughout shock travel.

5. High Pivot

This is identical to the classic single pivot structure, except that the center of rotation is placed significantly higher on the frame for extra stability. Boasting an idler pulley that guides the chain path above its pivot point, this design significantly diminishes pedal bob for a more efficient cycling experience.

How To Find The Correct Eye-to-Eye Distance

The eye-to-eye distance measures the length of your shock, including any travel.

You’ll need to measure the distance between both of your shock’s eyelets to get a correct reading. Incorrect eye-to-eye lengths while using shocks can cause suspension inefficiency and adversely affect its function.

Balancing Suspension

To fully utilize a full-suspension mountain bike, it is important to understand its features and capabilities. Uneven compression rates between components can greatly affect ride comfort and suspension system performance.

The front and rear suspensions don’t have to have equal travel, but having them be similar makes it easier to balance them. To balance them, you need to adjust the pressure inside the chambers. This will ensure that each shock bottoms out at the same time, regardless of the travel. If you pair a longer shock with a shorter one, the longer one will require less pressure, and the shorter one will need more pressure.

Dropper Post: A Key Component In Mountain Bike Travel

What is a dropper post.

A dropper post, also known as an adjustable seat post, is a revolutionary piece of mountain bike equipment that allows riders to quickly and easily adjust the height of their saddle without needing to stop or dismount. This is done via a lever located on the handlebars, which controls a hydraulic or mechanical system within the post.

The primary advantage of a dropper post is that it provides the rider with the ability to adapt to varying terrain conditions on the fly. For instance, during steep descents, a lower saddle height can offer better control and stability. Conversely, on flat terrains or uphill climbs, a higher saddle position can facilitate more efficient pedaling.

dropper post

The Connection Between Dropper Posts and Travel

So, how does a dropper post relate to travel on a mountain bike? Essentially, the dropper post adds an extra dimension to the bike’s adaptability, complementing the function of the suspension system.

Just as the suspension travel allows the bike to adapt to the terrain’s vertical undulations, the dropper post enables the rider to adjust their center of gravity in response to the trail’s demands. This combination enhances the bike’s overall performance and the rider’s control and comfort, making the journey more enjoyable and safe.

Main Types of Suspension

There are two main kinds of suspension. One relies on compressed air, while the other one relies on springs.

Suspensions using air shock are lightweight, easy to adjust, and stiffer as they approach the bottoming-out point. However, these options need more upkeep and are less reactive.

Coil springs, on the other hand, are more responsive, durable, and require less maintenance. The downside of using a coil spring is that they’re heavier than air shocks and are difficult to adjust.

No matter what type of suspension you use, make sure it fits your riding style and terrain. Properly set up suspension should help you tackle any trail confidently and safely.

Some bikes don’t have a suspension, and they’re called rigid bikes. They offer a direct connection between the wheel and the frame, which can be beneficial in certain situations. Fat tire bikes are a great example of rigid suspension bikes.

Overall, your suspension has the potential to make or break your mountain biking experience. It’s important to consider your terrain, riding style, and budget when selecting a suspension setup for your bike. Properly setting and tuning your suspension will help you to get the most out of every ride.

Remember that the right suspension will depend on your unique riding style and terrain. Test different types of suspension and find what works best. With the right suspension, you can take on any challenge with confidence and style.

About The Author

' src=

Mario Baker


Hey there! We’re Antonnette and Mario, a sister-and-brother tandem who love bikes and biking.

We and our team use our extensive knowledge about bicycles to help you have a great riding experience.


Posts You Might Like

5 top hybrid bike handlebars: choose the right one for your ride, best bikepacking bags of 2024, best co2 inflators in 2024, 8 best mountain bike trainers in 2024, best bike brakes in 2024 (buying guide & reviews), 9 best bmx shoes in 2024 (with buying guide), 7 best bike helmet lights for 2024, best exercise bike for bad knees (our top 7 picks), best women’s cycling shoes (2024 buying guide & reviews), best bike baskets in 2024 (tried and tested), how fast can a mountain bike go speed limits & factors, is a bicycle considered a vehicle , bike vs bicycle: understanding the difference, gear cycle vs normal cycle: which one suits your riding style best, how many miles should you bike a day a comprehensive guide for every rider, when and how to safely enter a bike lane, mountain bike tire width: what every rider needs to know, top 5 bmx tricks for beginners to master, the complete guide to speed and agility training: unlock your athletic potential, how to choose a full suspension mountain bike: a complete guide for beginners.


Related Posts

travel mountain bike meaning

  • Help Center
  • Chat with a Ride Guide
  • 1-866-401-9636
  • Retail Store
  • Bike Services

Reset Password

We will send you an email to reset your password.

Don't have an account? Create an account

Create Account

Already have an account? Sign In

  • Favorite your products & save them to your account
  • Save a search & get notified when new products drop
  • Be first to know about the latest events & promotions

Bike Finder

Results have arrived, mtb travel - how much mtb suspension travel do you need what does it mean.

Do you want more suspension travel or less? How do you know how much you need? Here's how to decide whether a long-travel or short-travel MTB is better for you and your trails.

travel mountain bike meaning

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on: Mar 9, 2022

Posted in: MTB

You’re going to a big, important party, but you’re iffy about the dress code. Would you rather show up overdressed or underdressed?

A lot of mountain bikers face a similar dilemma, but instead of choosing the right clothes, it’s about choosing the right bike. You've probably heard certain bikes described as “too much bike” or “not enough bike.” But what does that mean?

In mountain biking, suspension travel often receives the most attention when riders are looking at bike specs. Depending on your skill, riding style, and terrain, there is likely an ideal amount of suspension travel. Other specs such as geometry , wheels , and tires  matter too, but they are usually tailored to match a bike's suspension.

Most modern mountain bikes will have somewhere between 100mm and 170mm of suspension travel. This covers everything from cross-country race machines to versatile mid-travel trail bikes to hard-hitting enduro bikes . (If you want to learn more about how mountain bikes are categorized check out our Mountain Bike Buyer’s Guide .)

So what's the right amount of travel for you?

[button] SHOP MOUNTAIN BIKES [/button]

MTB travel basics: what is travel on a mountain bike?

In case you're new to riding, mountain bike suspension travel is a measurement of how much a wheel can move to absorb bumps. On the front, mountain bike travel comes from your suspension fork. At the rear, MTB travel is provided by some configuration of frame pivots that compress a rear shock.

When to choose a long-travel MTB

Santa Cruz Hightower LT Overbiked

Long-travel bikes usually have 150-170mm of rear travel to handle tough downhill trails. Front travel often matches rear travel but sometimes can be more.

Trail and enduro bikes fall into this category. They absorb big hits and smooth out rough terrain. If you regularly ride steep or gnarly trails, a bike like this makes a lot of sense. 

If you're mostly riding mellow flow trails though, a big and burly long-travel bike might be overkill. You won't be able to use all the suspension travel you paid for. The bike may feel cumbersome, maybe a bit boring, and you’ll have to expend more energy to push it around and climb uphill.

But let’s say you lack confidence on descents. A more capable enduro bike with ample suspension travel could help you enjoy riding more by increasing your confidence, comfort, and giving you more margin for error. 

Some ride big and burly bikes everywhere because they're fit enough to pedal a long-travel bike up big climbs and on long rides without much trouble. For them, being overbiked isn't a handicap, and it's worth it for when the trail gets gnarly. If you care more about descending as fast as possible more than having a bike that's efficient for pedaling or climbing, long-travel bikes will cater more to your style.


When to choose a short-travel MTB

Santa Cruz Blur cross country XC underbiked

Short-travel bikes usually have 100-120mm of travel to maximize efficiency. In some cases, these bikes could have forks with 10-20mm more travel to make them more versatile on descents.

XC and short-travel trail bikes fall into this category. They are efficient and usually feel more agile than longer-travel bikes. If you race cross-country, do long adventure rides, or stick to mellow trails, these are the best option.

If you venture onto steep and gnarly downhill tracks with big rocks and jumps, a short-travel bike will start to feel sketchy. There’s a good chance you’ll have to ride slower and more cautiously than you would on a long-travel bike, taking easier lines and occasionally skipping tough sections.

But let’s say you dread going uphill and are constantly getting dropped by fitter riders. A bike with less travel that’s lighter and more efficient could help you go faster and expend less energy. 

If you’re a skilled rider that just wants to make riding more exciting, short-travel bikes provide a lot more trail feedback and give you less room for error. You have to stay focused, be more selective about lines, and be more active with your body. For some, this can be a more enjoyable ride experience than just sitting back and letting a long-travel bike do the hard work for you.


So how much suspension travel do I need?

Overbiked vs. Underbiked: how much suspension travel do you need?

Seth H., Merchandising Manager   "I started on an XC hardtail and rode everything, even gnarly downhills on it. It had a dropper and I did just fine. I really thought it was all I would ever need. Then I went to Moab. I rode a borrowed enduro bike on The Whole Enchilada and it kind of opened my eyes. I bought a bigger bike not long after and started riding all my regular trails again. It changed how I rode.

"Personally, I really don’t mind being overbiked for most of my riding now. I ride alone a lot so I go my own pace. But I'm also decently fit and I can keep up with everyone I ride with on my bigger bike (an Ibis Ripmo). If you’re fit, I say go as big as you want."

Chad H., Warehouse Manager   "I would prefer to be underbiked on the majority of trails. Being underbiked keeps the skills sharp and makes the trail an exciting challenge. I feel that being overbiked takes the challenge and excitement out of trails. It leads to laziness and dulls your skill as a rider.

"Right now for me, I believe the best bike for 85 percent of the riding I do will be a full suspension cross country bike, like the Santa Cruz Blur. I would add a dropper seatpost and Fox Step-Cast 34 120mm fork just to give it a tiny bit more capability. Or the new Trek Top Fuel, or possibly a Yeti SB100 are good options. It's what people are calling 'downcountry' now, even though I hate the term. It will be a little bit more capable than a full cross country bike, but it’ll have the same quick handling and speed. That'll be perfect for me." 

What about mid-travel "quiver-killer" mountain bikes?

I always keep at least two mountain bikes in my quiver: a long-travel enduro bike and a short-travel XC bike. This lets me tackle everything from downhill bike parks to short-track XC races. But for many riders, a mid-travel trail bike is all you need.

Mid-travel bikes are a good compromise between downhill performance and pedaling/climbing efficiency. They usually have 120-140mm of travel. Many call these bikes "quiver-killers," because they can do it all (well, almost). I even spent a full season on a quiver-killer , just to see how well it worked for a wide range of riding and was pleasantly surprised by how versatile it actually was.

However, these bikes don't completely excel at anything. A longer-travel bike will be better downhill and a shorter travel bike will be more efficient for racing. Ultimately, if you can only have one bike for casual riding, or you're unsure what type of mountain bike you need for your local trails, this category is the best option. 


How to choose a mountain bike

Enduro mountain bike overbiked

Are your trails rough and rocky or smooth and flowy? Are they fast and steep or tight and technical? Your terrain has a big impact on bike selection. Generally, the rougher, steeper, and faster a trail is, the more travel you'll want and vice versa. 

The second step is to know yourself. Your riding ambition is nearly as important as terrain. If you are a ripper who lives for downhills, you'll probably want to support yourself with more travel. But if your ride fantasy involves conquering high mountains, and exploring miles of backcountry trails, you might want to stay light and efficient with less travel.

No matter what, it's possible to have fun riding any bike, and having the ideal amount of suspension travel isn't everything. Keep in mind too that the rider is always going to make a far bigger difference than the bike. Fast descenders drop me on gnarly downhills riding XC hardtails, and fit climbers drop me on uphills riding heavy enduro machines. Good riders take what they have, and make it work. 

That being said, you can always play to your strengths or weaknesses. Having a bike that enhances the parts of riding that you care about the most will make mountain biking more fun. 

Are you overbiked or underbiked for your trails? Do you prefer long travel or short travel? Or do you have a bike that sits somewhere in the middle? Let us know in the comments!

travel mountain bike meaning

Guides, MTB Jun 18, 2024

How Specialized S-Sizing Works, and Why It's Kinda Genius

travel mountain bike meaning

Features, Guides, MTB Jun 17, 2024

Specialized Stumpjumper by Year: How to Buy A Used Stumpjumper

travel mountain bike meaning

Features, Latest, MTB Jun 10, 2024

Racing The First-Ever Tour Divide with Mary Metcalf

travel mountain bike meaning

Features, Latest, Learn, MTB Jun 10, 2024

Tread Setters: A Different (and Important) Take on the White Rim

travel mountain bike meaning

Bikes, Latest, MTB Apr 5, 2024

This Specialized S-Works Epic World Cup Is My Perfect Leadville Bike

travel mountain bike meaning

FAQs, Guides, Latest, MTB Apr 3, 2024

FAQ: Top 5 Mountain Bikes That Hold Their Value

travel mountain bike meaning

Bikes, Features, Latest, MTB Mar 15, 2024

Banshee Legend DH Bike Review: A Privateer’s Dream Bike

travel mountain bike meaning

Features, Latest, MTB, Tech Mar 12, 2024

RockShox Flight Attendant: Will XC Welcome Its New Electronic Overlords?

travel mountain bike meaning

Bikes, Features, Latest, MTB, Vintage Jan 24, 2024

The Tioga Racer: 1993 Raleigh John Tomac Signature Ti/Carbon

travel mountain bike meaning

Features, Fun, MTB Jan 4, 2024

Rage Against the Machine Likes Mountain Biking

travel mountain bike meaning

Bikes, Features, MTB Nov 29, 2023

The Cannondale F-Si Throwback Might Be the Most Beautiful XC Hardtail Ever

travel mountain bike meaning

Guides, MTB, Tech Nov 28, 2023

Carbon MTB Wheels: Are They Worth It vs. Aluminum MTB Wheels

New arrivals.

travel mountain bike meaning

Certified Pre-Owned

Forbidden Dreadnought GX AXS Mountain Bike - 2023, Small

travel mountain bike meaning

Santa Cruz Stigmata Force AXS Carbon CC Gravel Bike - 2020, 58cm

travel mountain bike meaning

Specialized Diverge Carbon Gravel Bike - 2022, 61cm

travel mountain bike meaning

Trek Émonda SL 6 Disc Road Bike - 2018, 58cm

travel mountain bike meaning

Trek Émonda SL 5 Disc Road Bike - 2022, 56cm

travel mountain bike meaning

Specialized Roubaix Comp Road Bike - 2019, 54cm

travel mountain bike meaning

Cervélo Caledonia 105 Road Bike - 2022, 56cm

travel mountain bike meaning

Trek Top Fuel 9.9 XX1 AXS Mountain Bike - 2021, Large

travel mountain bike meaning

Giant Roam E+ GTS 20mph Commuter E-Bike - 2022, Large

$1,599.99 $1,739.99

travel mountain bike meaning

Scott Spark 920 Mountain Bike - 2021, Large

travel mountain bike meaning

Trek Super Commuter+ 8S Commuter E-Bike - 2019, Small

travel mountain bike meaning

Factor Ostro VAM Road bike - 2023, 54cm

What is Travel on Mountain Bike: A Beginner’s Guide to Exploring the Great Outdoors on Two Wheels

From lush forests to rugged mountain terrain, there’s no limit to the adventures that await on a mountain bike. With the wind in your hair and the freedom of the great outdoors, it’s no surprise that travel on a mountain bike is becoming an increasingly popular option for thrill-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

If you’re new to the world of mountain biking, the sheer number of trail options and gear choices can be overwhelming. However, with this beginner’s guide, we hope to provide you with useful tips and information to help you get started on exploring the great outdoors on two wheels. Whether you’re planning a day trip or a longer journey, join us as we discover the joys of travel on a mountain bike.

Table of Contents

Choosing the Right Mountain Bike for Your Adventure

Mountain biking is an exciting way to explore the great outdoors on two wheels. But before you set out on your adventure, it’s essential to choose the right mountain bike. There are various types of bikes available, each designed for specific terrains and riding styles.

The first step to choosing the right bike is determining your riding style. If you’re just starting out, a trail bike is an excellent option as it’s versatile and can handle a wide range of terrains. If you’re interested in more technical and challenging terrain, consider a cross country or enduro bike. It’s also essential to consider your budget, as prices for mountain bikes can vary significantly. Ultimately, the key is to choose a bike that fits your riding style and budget and enables you to enjoy your adventure safely.

Read Also: Best Cross Country Race Mountain Bikes: Top Picks for Competitive Cyclists

Essential Gear and Equipment for Mountain Biking Trips

When it comes to embarking on a mountain biking adventure, it’s crucial to have the right gear and equipment in order to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride. Firstly, a mountain bike is obviously essential for this type of terrain. It’s recommended to invest in a bike with a sturdy frame, reliable brakes, and suspension system to handle the rough terrain. A helmet is also crucial, and it’s important to make sure that it fits properly and provides sufficient protection.

You’ll also need to consider apparel and accessories when planning for a mountain biking trip. Padded shorts and gloves can help reduce discomfort and prevent blisters, while sturdy shoes with good grip are important for keeping your feet stable on the pedals. A hydration system, such as a hydration pack or water bottle cage, will also be necessary to keep yourself hydrated during long rides. Additionally, a repair kit with essential tools such as a tire pump or patch kit can come in handy in case of any mechanical issues during the ride.

Planning Your Route: Tips for Successful Mountain Biking

One of the most important aspects of mountain biking is planning your route. Before setting out, you need to carefully consider the terrain, distance, elevation gain, and your own fitness level. Mountain biking routes can vary greatly, from smooth fire roads to technical singletracks through rugged terrain. Therefore, it’s important to choose a route that’s suitable for your skill level.

To plan your route, start by researching the area. Look for trail maps online and check reviews to get a sense of the difficulty and terrain. Start with shorter, easier trails if you’re a beginner and gradually work your way up to more challenging routes. Always carry a map, and consider using a GPS device to keep you on course. It’s also a good idea to let someone know where you’re going and what time you expect to return, as mountain biking can be unpredictable and accidents do happen.

In summary, proper planning is essential for a successful mountain biking adventure. Do your research, know your abilities, and always have a backup plan in case of emergencies. By planning ahead, you can ensure a fun and safe journey into the great outdoors on your mountain bike.

You may also like: Best Singletrack Mountain Bike Trails: Ride Your Way to Adventure

Techniques for Conquering Steep and Technical Terrain

Conquering steep and technical terrain on a mountain bike requires a combination of physical and mental strength. One of the most important techniques for tackling steep inclines is to keep your weight centered over your bike, with your arms and legs slightly bent. Use your body as a shock absorber, letting your bike move beneath you as you push yourself up the hill. Pedaling smoothly is also key, maintaining a steady cadence and using your gears to find a comfortable pace.

When it comes to technical terrain, the key is to look ahead and plan your route. Slow down before approaching obstacles and use a combination of shifting your weight and maneuvering your handlebars to navigate through. Keep your weight balanced and don’t be afraid to use your brakes when needed. Practice on less challenging terrain before working your way up to more difficult trails and remember that it’s okay to walk your bike if you encounter an obstacle that feels too challenging. With practice and perseverance, you’ll soon be riding with confidence and tackling whatever the trail throws your way.

Staying Safe on Mountain Biking Trips: Dos and Don’ts

Mountain biking trips can be exhilarating and challenging, but it is also important to prioritize safety while hitting the trails. Here are some dos and don’ts to follow to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride:

Dos: – Wear a properly fitting helmet and cycling gloves – Check your bike’s brakes and tires before heading out – Bring a first aid kit, plenty of water, and snacks – Stay on designated trails and follow all posted signs and trail markers – Let someone know your route and expected return time

Don’ts: – Don’t ride alone; always have a riding partner or group – Don’t attempt trails that are beyond your skill level – Don’t ride off-trail or create your own paths – Don’t rely solely on technology (such as GPS or phone apps) for navigation – Don’t neglect to bring important safety gear, even if it adds extra weight or bulk to your pack.

How to Turn Mountain Biking into an Eco-Friendly Adventure

As outdoor enthusiasts, it’s our responsibility to preserve the environment and protect our natural resources. You can turn your mountain biking trip into an eco-friendly adventure by making simple adjustments. First, consider using a bike that’s made of environmentally friendly materials such as bamboo or recycled aluminum. These bikes also offer a lighter weight and easy maneuvering capabilities that make off-road riding smoother and more comfortable.

Another way to be eco-friendly on your mountain bike trip is to pack reusable water bottles and refill them at water sources instead of buying disposables. Additionally, avoid leaving any trash or litter along the trail, and take care not to damage plants or wildlife. By taking these steps, you can minimize your impact on the environment and ensure that future generations can enjoy the same beautiful landscapes and natural wonders that we have today.

Related Post: How to Install Mountain Bike Handlebars: A Step-by-Step Guide

Benefits of Mountain Biking: Physical, Mental, and Emotional Wellness

Mountain biking isn’t just a fun outdoor activity, it also carries numerous health benefits for riders. Unlike other forms of exercise, biking on the mountain helps build increased physical strength and stamina. The steep inclines and terrain require your body to work harder, strong muscles, and increases endurance. Apart from strengthening leg muscles, mountain biking is a whole-body workout as it also involves upper body strength. This provides an excellent opportunity for those that are searching for a physically challenging yet enjoyable activity.

Apart from the physical benefits, mountain biking also offers several emotional and mental wellness. Riding a bike down the mountain creates a sense of freedom and exhilaration, lowering stress and improving one’s self-esteem. Studies show that mountain biking enhances cognitive functions. Therefore, the outdoor activity may provide a perfect break from the monotony of life, improving moods, and reducing stress levels. So mountain bike riders tend to be happier and healthier overall.

Final Words

In conclusion, travel on mountain bike is an adventure that offers a unique and thrilling experience. With the right equipment and planning, riders can explore remote trails and breathtaking landscapes while encountering wildlife and local cultures. It is important to remember that safety is paramount, as mountain biking can be unpredictable and challenging.

By embracing the freedom and excitement of travel on mountain bike, riders can create lasting memories and build a deeper connection with nature. Whether embarking on a solo journey or joining a group, the thrill of conquering rugged terrain and navigating through forests and mountains is truly unforgettable. So, grab your gear, plan your route, and go explore the world on two wheels!

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

  • Best Products
  • Maintenance
  • Accessories
  • Long-Term Reviews
  • BikeRadar Podcast
  • First Look Friday
  • Bike of the Week
  • Tech Features
  • Routes and Rides
  • Bike Galleries
  • BikeRadar Bargains
  • Buyer's Guides
  • Fitness & Training
  • Sizing & Fit
  • Mountain Biking UK
  • Cycling Plus
  • Bike of the Year 2024

How much suspension travel do I need on my mountain bike?

From cross-country to downhill, we take you through how much travel you can expect on the major types of mountain bike

Andy Lloyd / Our Media

Mountain bikes feature different amounts of suspension travel depending on the type of riding they're designed for.

Suspension travel describes the amount of movement a suspension fork or rear shock has. It is usually a measurement of how far the wheel axle moves in a vertical or near-vertical plane as the suspension compresses.

Depending on the discipline of riding the bike is designed for, the suspension travel can vary from 80 to 200mm. While more travel may seem better, helping you soak up lumps and bumps, it can be a hindrance if your riding includes lots of climbing or you benefit from a light, responsive bike.

This means deciding on the right amount of travel for your needs can be difficult, but there are a few factors to keep in mind, including your riding style and the type of trails and terrain you'll be tackling.

Bike manufacturers design their mountain bikes around different travel lengths, tailored to specific terrains or riding disciplines, and categorise the bikes accordingly. As a result, looking at the different categories of mountain bikes, their intended application and travel length is a handy way to determine how much travel you need and what bike you should get.

In this guide, we’ll explain the different mountain bike categories and how much suspension travel they typically have.

Cross-country mountain bikes

Cyclist riding the Giant Anthem Advanced Pro 29 1 full suspension mountain bike

The best cross-country mountain bikes are designed to compete in high-level, fast races, where lightness and pedalling efficiency are often the keys to success.

Typically, cross-country bikes have featured 80 to 100mm of travel. Because cross-country race courses have become more extreme and technical, it is now common to see bikes designed around 120mm travel front and rear, such as Scott’s Spark RC .

Using less suspension travel than other mountain bikes means cross-country bikes can be built with a lighter frame construction because less reinforcement is needed to deal with the lower frame articulation. This helps riders race up the kinds of inclines that characterise XC races .

The short-travel forks used on cross-country bikes also help to keep weight down because they utilise a lighter chassis and narrower stanchions, usually 30 to 32mm in diameter.

Stanchions are the part of the fork connected to the crown and remain rigid to the bike while the lowers move up and down over them.

The trade-off for this weight saving comes in the form of fork flex, which impacts the directness of steering inputs and the overall ability of the fork to perform in gnarlier terrain as friction levels build on the seals.

A short-travel fork will also run out of travel quicker compared to one with more travel. Although setup and damper performance will dictate a lot of factors in how proficiently it absorbs bumps, less travel means it won't absorb bigger bumps as well as a long-travel fork.

Hardtail mountain bikes are also well-represented in cross-country, because rigid frames allow for the highest pedalling efficiency. However, the traction and descending ability of full-suspension bikes make them desirable to many riders.

Downcountry mountain bikes

Rider jumping the Yeti SB120

Downcountry bikes aim to balance a cross-country bike's efficiency with a trail bike's downhill capability.

‘Downcountry’ is a relatively new mountain bike discipline and isn’t that well defined as a result. But in terms of suspension, these bikes range from beefed up cross-country at 110mm of travel, to lightweight trail with around 130mm front and rear travel.

Having slightly more travel than an outright cross-country bike means downcountry bikes are more capable on descents. However, with shorter travel than trail bikes, they still offer greater pedalling efficiency than burlier bikes.

Downcountry bike frames can be made lighter than trail bikes because the demand on the frame is less. This means they require less material in their construction because they don’t require the same amount of strength as a trail or enduro bike needs.

Downcountry bikes usually feature stronger, stiffer forks, with thicker stanchions, usually 34mm in diameter. This gives higher levels of rigidity to the fork, making steering inputs more direct, although concessions are still made to weight savings.

Trail mountain bikes

Cyclist in red top riding the Canyon Spectral 125 CF 7 full suspension mountain bike

Trail bikes are one of the most popular types of mountain bike. They are designed to straddle the line between enduro bikes and cross-country bikes, providing a ride that’s fun but capable.

Confident on descents and fairly capable on climbs, trail bikes typically have between 120 and 160mm of suspension travel.

Trail bikes at the longer end of the suspension-travel spectrum cross the boundary into all-mountain. Typically, these bikes will feature beefier frame construction to deal with the added suspension travel.

The optimum amount of travel depends on what terrain or trails you like to ride, and where you’d like to progress with your riding. 140mm is ideal for even the toughest trail centres, with more travel being required for gnarlier ambitions.

Forks with mid-sized stanchions, either 34mm, 35mm or 36mm in diameter, are common on trail bikes. These shift the balance away from lightness toward rigid stability for better handling while descending. Less flexibility in the fork will mean more direct steering input, making the bike feel more planted through the rough stuff.

Enduro mountain bikes

YT Capra Mk III Core 2 enduro mountain bike-21

Enduro bikes are designed to meet the demands of enduro racing , which consists of multiple downhill stages that riders have to reach within a set time limit. As a result, enduro bikes have to perform well on technical descents while providing a decent pedalling platform to get you to the top of the trail in good time.

Travel for enduro bikes starts at 150mm and ranges up to 180mm. There is a 190mm-travel version of RockShox’s enduro-focused ZEB fork, but you’re more likely to see this attached to a freeride or bike park bike.

Enduro bikes require a burly frame construction in order to cope with the demands of downhill trails.

Head tubes have to be stronger to deal with the extra force coming from the long-travel fork, while the rear linkage has to be able to support the extra articulation.

This added frame construction makes the frame heavier, impacting efficiency when going uphill, but the pay-off is worth it when coming back down.

Forks within this travel range prioritise rigidity over weight savings, with thicker stanchions of 36mm to 38mm, providing direct steering inputs and a solid feel as you ride over gnarly terrain.

Downhill mountain bikes

male cyclist riding orange full suspension mountain bike in woods

Downhill bikes are designed for, you guessed it, riding downhill. The discipline doesn’t require the bike to be pedalled on uphill or even flat terrain, enabling designers to focus solely on providing the best platform for descending steep and technical trails.

These bikes feature some of the longest suspension travel, ranging from 180 to 200mm, helping to protect riders from large, repeated impacts.

Frames have to be built to the highest strength levels to cope with the impacts you experience on downhill trails. Although downhill frames are heavier than those intended for other disciplines, it's less important to have light frames because you’re not pedalling them uphill.

Downhill forks feature the thickest stanchion, ranging from 35 to 40mm in diameter, because they deal with the most extreme terrain and require the greatest rigidity.

Weight isn’t a big issue for downhill bikes, so the added heft is worth the trade-off for the performance gains.

The forks on downhill bikes have a dual-crown design, meaning the fork mounts above and below the head tube, as opposed to single-crown forks, which mount only from below. This adds more torsional stiffness to the fork, helping to keep steering inputs direct through the toughest terrain and providing strength for big impacts.

Electric mountain bikes

Male cyclist in blue top riding the Nukeproof Megawatt 297 Factory full suspension eMTB

Electric mountain bikes are heavy, even compared to downhill bikes. The added weight a battery and motor bring means frames as well as components have to be engineered to cope with the extra weight – and contribute even more weight to the bike in the process.

Electric bikes can be categorised by the other disciplines featured in this article and will tend to feature the travel of that discipline.

The best electric mountain bikes will feature e-MTB specific forks and shocks, some with thicker stanchions for rigidity, and custom tunes that are suited to the heavier weight of the bike.

Because you’ll have a motor, there won’t be a trade-off in having a bike with more travel (and therefore weight), with the bike taking up the burden on the hills.

What about hardtail mountain bikes?

Male cyclist in black top riding a Radon Cragger 8.0 hardtail mountain bike over rough terrain

Hardtail mountain bikes have a suspension fork and a rigid rear end. They can be seen in a variety of disciplines, though are mainly represented in the cross-country and trail disciplines. They are also popular when it comes to budget mountain bikes because the simplicity of their design and less suspension means less cost.

As with other types of mountain bikes, fork travel is usually dependent on discipline. Cross-country hardtails typically have 100mm of travel, but more aggressive hardtails can have suspension travel of up to 150mm.

Some manufacturers will design frames with flex points in the rear triangle, allowing for vertical compliance in the frame. This improves comfort when sat in the saddle, and to a smaller extent rear-wheel traction while climbing.

Share this article

travel mountain bike meaning

Digital Writer

travel mountain bike meaning

  • Terms & Conditions
  • Subscribe to our magazines
  • Manage preferences

travel mountain bike meaning

What Does Mountain Bike Travel Mean?

travel mountain bike meaning

Perhaps when you hear the phrase mountain bike travel you picture to yourself packing a bike bag, getting on your bike, and traveling to some place that is new and exciting. But actually this is not what mountain bike travel really means at all, not even close.

Mountain bike travel refers to the suspensions of the bike and how much they can “travel” which is the distance that they can move up and down as you hit the bumps in your path. This travel distance tends to be different when it comes to the front suspension vs the rear suspension.

There are a lot of different things that can affect the travel of the suspensions on your mountain bike, some of which can be deliberately changed by a couple of settings that are found on most suspensions. There is also an ideal range that you should keep your travel at based on a variety of different factors that are unique to you.

What Is The Range Of Travel In A Mountain Bike?

The travel on a mountain bike is most often measured in millimeters and can range anywhere from 80mm to over 220mm. Some of this depends on what kind of mountain biking the suspension is made for, with the bikes that are made for the smoother trails naturally having less in terms of travel since you will not need as much.

Regular trail mountain bikes usually have suspensions in the 80-120mm range. However, for things like downhill racing you can easily find a number of options that are well over the 180mm range. Enduro mountain biking falls somewhere in between these two extremes and usually has around 140-160mm of travel to its suspensions.

How Much Travel Do You Want On Your Mountain Bike?

As you have likely already figured out from reading the previous section, the kind of mountain biking that you are doing will affect how much suspension that you want to have. As a general rule, the smoother the trails are that you will be riding on, the less suspension you will want to have. If you are going to be riding your mountain bike on the road to commute to or from work, you may not want it to have any suspension at all unless you know that there are potholes along your route that you will likely be hitting.

How much travel you should have with your suspensions can easily be summed up by two different factors: the terrain, and the style that you ride with. The terrain is obvious and can vary widely based on the trail you will be biking on, with a simple cross country trails being very different from a difficult downhill trail.

Your style, on the other hand, is completely dependent on you. If you charge down the trails, no matter how rough they are, and don’t care the slightest bit about picking what line might be the smoothest, then you will need to have more travel and therefore bigger suspensions compared to someone else who takes those trails at a more moderate pace and carefully picks their line of travel on the path.

travel mountain bike meaning

One of the things that you will want to take into consideration is that a bike suspension that offers more travel to it is not only going to be bigger in size, but it will also be heaver. This being the case, you do not really want to get a suspension for your mountain bike that has more travel than what you need it to have. This means that if the trails you are going to be mountain biking on are going to have a lot of uphill climbs you will want your suspension to be lighter and therefore have less travel to it so that it is easier to climb up those hills with your bike.

Not only does the amount of suspension affect the size and the weight, it also affects the length. This changes the position of the handlebars and tilts them further back when there is more suspension. While this is a great feature for downhill riding, if you are biking on the simpler cross country trails it is not only unnecessary but can also be uncomfortable for your hands and arms to be at that angle.

Another factor that you will want to consider when it comes to choosing how much travel that you want is to try to keep things close to even. What I mean by this is that you do not want to have a hardtail mountain bike that has no suspension in the back and a suspension that has 180mm travel or more in the front.

Why not? Well just imagine for a moment that you land at the end of a hard jump on this, now your front handlebars are going to be inches lower. If you are at a downhill angle at all this will be worse and will very likely throw you forward and possible over the handlebars – something that I don’t thing would end very well.

So to avoid this from possibly happening, you don’t want there to be too much of a difference in the travel in the front and the travel in the back on your mountain bike. This is why you can usually find more hardtail bikes that have only a small to moderate amount of travel in the front and, as you add more travel to the front, most mountain bikes have full suspensions.

Just in case you are confused, let me clarify: it is perfectly fine and even preferred to have a little more suspension in the front than in the back, just don’t go overboard with it. A 100mm suspension will travel about 4” so you likely do not want to have much more difference than that between the front and the back.

Another factor that you should consider when trying to decide the amount of suspension that you want is the size of your tires. Larger tires are known to be able to absorb some of the impact from the trail, therefore you should need a little less suspension when riding with them compared to what you would need if you are riding on a mountain bike with smaller tires.

As a general rule, start by looking at the range of the suspensions on the mountain bikes in the mountain biking discipline that most closely resembles your own biking style and the type of trails that you are riding on. If you are know you are an aggressive biker and that you will want to go down tougher trails, then you should go with suspensions that are at the higher end of the range you see.

If you are the easier rider who takes things slow, then you should be able to go with suspensions that are at the lower end of the range. However, if you have no idea where you fit when it comes to your riding style, try to hit the range somewhere in the middle. These ranges are around 80-120mm for simple trail biking; 140-160mm for Enduro biking; and over 180mm for downhill racing style mountain biking.

About The Different Suspensions

While it is a fairly obvious fact that the suspension on the front tire of a mountain bike is completely different from the suspension on the back tire of it, perhaps you don’t realize just how different these are. While there is mostly one common form of front suspension, there are around three different main designs for how the back suspension can be built.

There are a number of different technical terms that go along with telling about the different suspensions, so before I go any further let me explain what a few of them mean. A fork is what goes to both sides of your front tire and attaches this to the stem of your handlebars. While there are such things as rigid forks that have no suspension to them, for the purpose of this article I will not be talking about those and most of the time when someone simply refers to the fork they are taking about one with suspension.

A shock can refer to two things, usually however it refers to the rear suspension. The other thing that it can refer to is the compression chambers in the front fork which is the part that absorbs the impacts or “shocks” in the trail you are biking on.

A pivot is a connection that allows for rotation, like the hinges on a door frame could be called pivots since they allow the door to rotate open or closed. The linkage is the name for the piece of frame that is between the pivots.

You should already know by now what travel means, but another term that refers to the travel and is less common is stiction. Stiction is a shortened term for static friction and is what happens when the seals on a shock, that are there to keep the dust and dirt out of the shock, feel sticky and cause the suspension to move rather jerkily and not smoothly slide in and out. This mostly affects the travel when the suspension is new or when it has just been cleaned.

The last term that I will define is called the damping. The damping is a feature that can often be changed around and it is what affects the rate of movement and how much pressure it takes in order to affect the travel of the bike.

The front suspension has been around for the longest and is most commonly found in what is called a suspension fork. However, there is another option for the front suspension that is much less common but still proven to work. This second option is most often referred to as a “lefty” front suspension due to the fact that, instead of forking to be on both sides of the front wheel, it stays together and goes solely to the left side of the wheel and does not go on the right side of the wheel at all.

One of the reasons behind using a fork design is that it allows your front suspension to have two compression chambers. These chambers usually employ one of two methods in order to achieve the same effect. These two different methods involve either compressing a spring or coil or it instead features compressed air.

Since air does not have any weight, the kinds of suspensions that use compressed air tend to be lighter in weight. They are also easy to tune by simply adding air in or letting some out, and they naturally get stiffer the further down they go so that they are less likely to bottom out.

Coil spring suspension systems may be heavier, but they can often be much more responsive. They also do not gradually stay stiffer and stiffer over the course of a long, rough patch of trail like a compressed air suspension is capable of doing.

When it comes specifically to the suspension fork as a whole, however, this has a number of different parts, each of which has its own name. Starting at the wheel, the dropouts are the part that attach to both sides of the center of the wheel. Above that is the disc brake mount on one side for if you have a disc brake setup, while above that on both sides is the rim brake mounts if you have that kind of brake instead.

Just a little higher is the brace that acts as a bridge between the two sides of the fork and which also helps to stabilize it. The brace also connects the lower part of the sliders on either side, which is what the stanchions above the brace slide down into. These stanchions are connected at the top with what is called the crown, above which is the steerer tube which connects the fork to the rest of the frame.

When it comes to the rear suspensions, as mentioned, there are three basic categories that rear suspensions call fall into. The first one of these is called a single pivot design. This kind of rear suspension is the simplest option and therefore is often the cheapest and sometimes the lightest. Here the rear shock is connected to bar that goes vertically up from the pedals to the seat and forms a sheath around the bar.

Here there is the one pivot that lets it travel as well as a small piece that often connects it to the lower of the horizontal bars. A single pivot design is simple and lightweight, but this option also stands more chances of bottoming out.

The next option is called a linkage-driven single pivot. At first glance it looks very similar to a simple pivot design, however instead of forming a sheath around the bar for its pivot, this option simply goes around the bar somehow to the other side where the shock forms what looks to be its own vertical bar on the other side. For this reason it is sometimes referred to as a “faux bar” design.

After this is the horst-link suspension system which is also called a four-bar suspension sometimes, and which can also be put into the same category as twin-link pivot suspensions. These look far more complicated oftentimes than the above options. Basically the rear triangle that holds the back wheel is completely rigid.

In order to let it move it has two main points at which it pivots. One of these is where this triangle connects to the pedals, the other one is at the top of the triangle which is placed on either side of the vertical seat bar. At the top pivot point there is also a bar that goes horizontally in between the other two horizontal bars that a bike always has and which attaches to either one of them. This can sometimes make it look like a single pivot suspension, but in this case there is an actual bar and not a faux bar.

While these are the main three different categories, there are a number of variations of each with some specialized new designs for these almost always being tested out. However, most of the ones that you see will likely be one of the kinds that I mentioned.

No matter which one of these kinds of rear suspension you have on your mountain bike, most of them work in essentially the same way – after all, they are all trying to accomplish the same goal. The rear shock of a mountain bike is usually made of a single compression chamber instead of the two compression chambers that the front suspension usually uses.

This shock can be placed either vertically or horizontally depending on the design that is used for the suspension and this shock can be interchangeable as long as you get a shock that has the right size eyelet to fit into the spot correctly.

I'm a 42 year old married father of 3 that fell in love with mountain biking late in life. Mountain biking quickly became my go to fitness activity. I created this blog to help beginners to advanced riders with tips and strategies to improve your riding experience. More About Me...

Recent Posts

What Are The Key Parts Of An Electric Assist Mountain Bike?

Mountain biking is a great hobby to have, but it is not for everyone. However, electric assist mountain bikes can make mountain biking an option for you even if you are not able to do mountain biking...

Top 5 Electric Mountain Bikes Under $1,000

Electric mountain bikes can help get you where you want to go on the trails, and they can be used for commuting in a pinch as well. However, some of these bikes can be so expensive as to be way out...


Biketoworkday is supported by its audience. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

What is Travel on a Mountain Bike? – A Beginner’s Guide

Written by  Gary Johnson / Fact checked by  Henry Speciale

what is travel on a mountain bike

Traveling on a mountain bike takes you off the beaten track and offers several physical challenges. You might have to ride up steep hills and navigate rocky trails that require precise bike handling skills to maintain control.

In this case, mountain bike travel is here to play a role. It’s not about your adventure but a tool to enhance your riding experience.

So what is travel on a mountain bike? Read on to learn about mountain bike travel and explore its mechanism of action. Moreover, some useful tips are also provided to help you to get the most out of your mountain biking adventures.

Table of Contents

Travel on a Mountain Bike: What’s It?

Types of travel, short travel vs long travel mtb, mid travel vs long travel, how much mtb suspension travel do i need, how to choose a suitable travel for mtb, frequently asked questions.

Travel on a mountain bike refers to the amount of suspension travel the bike’s front and rear can provide. Suspension travel is the distance the suspension can compress and rebound, measured in millimeters (mm).

Mountain bikes are designed to handle rough terrain and uneven surfaces, so good suspension travel can significantly absorb the impact of bumps and shocks, eventually providing a smoother and more comfortable ride.

Short Travel


  • Front suspension forks with travel of up to 120mm, and no rear suspension.
  • Ideal for cross-country riding.

Mid Travel:


  • Front suspension forks with travel of 120mm to 140mm
  • Rear suspension with travel of 120mm to 140mm.
  • Best for trail riding.

Long Travel:


  • Front suspension forks with travel of 140mm to 170mm
  • Rear suspension with travel of 140mm to 170mm or more.
  • Ideal for enduro racing and downhill riding.


By having more suspension travel, long travel mountain bikes are best fit for aggressive, technical riding by providing more cushion and shock absorption on rough terrain, allowing riders to maintain control and momentum in challenging conditions.

However, they are not the ideal type of bike for all riders and terrain types. They tend to be heavier and less efficient at pedaling and climbing. It might be a waste if you purchase a long travel bike for smoother terrain or long endurance rides only.

So, you should choose short travel mountain bikes instead, which are also known as XC or short travel trail bikes. They are the best option for beginners and those who prioritize agility and don’t want to lose too much energy.

When you find it hard to make the decision, it’s recommended to choose a mid travel mountain bike. This special bike is a combination of the long travel bike and the short travel one, which eventually make them a good all-around choice for most riders.

It can handle both technical terrain and steep descents, but is also efficient enough for climbing.

1. Front suspension


Front suspension, also known as a suspension fork, is located at the front of the bike.

The suspension fork typically consists of two main components: the stanchions and the lower legs.

  • Stanchions: the upper part of the fork, which slides up and down inside the lower legs.
  • Lower legs: contain the suspension mechanism, typically one or more air springs or coil springs, and damping mechanisms such as hydraulic or mechanical systems.

They also come in different types of travel, depending on the type of mountain bike, such as 80mm – 120mm (Cross-country MTB) and up to 200mm with downhill bikes.

2. Rear suspension


There are several different designs used in mountain bike suspension systems:

  • Single pivot: Uses one pivot point between the swingarm and the mainframe. It is simple and easy to maintain, but can be less efficient and more prone to pedal bob than other types of pivots.
  • Horst link: Together with a pivot point between the swingarm and the mainframe, a horst link suspension system also uses a pivot point above and somewhat forward of the rear axle.

Despite having better anti-squat properties and increased pedaling efficiency, it can be more complex and challenging to maintain than a single pivot.

  • DW-Link: Makes use of two pivot points that are aligned along the bike’s chainstay and seatstay, and are connected by a linkage system. It provides excellent traction and anti-squat characteristics, but can be more complex and difficult to tune than others.
  • Flex pivot: Has a flexible rear triangle that can bend and twist to absorb shocks and vibrations. It is simple and lightweight, but may not provide as much shock absorption as other types of pivots.


The amount of front travel on a mountain bike you need will depend on several factors, including your riding style, the terrain you’ll be riding on, and your personal preferences.

1. 100-120mm travel

If you primarily ride on smooth or moderately rough terrain, such as dirt roads, trails, and light singletrack, the travel you need on a MTB should only range from 100mm to 120mm. This will provide enough shock absorption to improve your comfort and control without adding unnecessary weight or complexity to your bike.

2. 130mm vs 150mm travel

A 130mm travel mountain bike fork is typically used for cross-country or light trail riding with moderate technical features. Meanwhile a 150mm travel fork is more commonly used for trail and enduro riding with more intense terrain.

Some riders may prefer a 130mm fork for more technical riding, while others may find a 150mm fork to be too much for their needs.

3. 200mm travel

200mm is the most suitable fork travel you should use for downhill riding. It offers the maximum amount of shock absorption and maintenance, allowing you to tackle the most challenging terrain with confidence and agility.

A 150mm travel fork is enough for downhill riding depending on the specific trail and the rider’s skill level and preferences.

However, purchasing a bike with a longer travel fork for long-term usage is the best option since it will have better performance and provide smoother rides.


The type of riding you plan to do will have a big impact on the amount of travel you need. If you are interested in having strong feelings with steep descents and drops, a longer travel fork is what you need.

If you prefer smooth rides like cross-country trails, a shorter travel fork may be sufficient, you may not need as much travel as someone who rides tricky terrain.


Tips to balance suspension with a full suspension mountain bike

The amount of travel in the front and rear suspension should be balanced to ensure optimal shock absorption and control.

You should begin by following this step:

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for setting the sag (the amount of compression in the suspension when you sit on the bike)
  • Adjust the air pressure or preload as needed to achieve the desired sag.
  • Adjust rebound and compression damping to help balance the suspension and provide optimal shock absorption.

If you’re having difficulty balancing the suspension on your bike, consider getting professional help from experts.

What is a good amount of travel for a mountain bike?

The amount of suspension travel varies depending on the type of riding the bike is intended for. Bikes with less suspension travel have increased pedaling efficiency, lighter weight and lower maintenance requirements.

Otherwise, bikes with more suspension travel provide increased traction and better performance in extreme terrain at high speeds. The more suspension travel the bike has, the more it can absorb impacts and maintain contact with the ground, which can reduce the risk of crashes and improve the rider’s control.

H ardtail and full suspension

Hardtail suspension and full suspension are two different types of mountain bike suspensions. What is the best choice for your ride?

The answer is: It depends. So here are some aspects to consider before making a decision:

  • Design: A full suspension bike has both a suspension fork in the front and a rear suspension system, but a hardtail suspension only features a suspension fork in the front and a rigid frame on the rear of the bike.
  • Comfort: Full suspension bikes provide more comfort and better shock absorption than hardtail ones since they have more suspension systems.
  • Efficiency: Hardtail suspensions are more efficient in pedaling and climbing due to their rigid rear frame that transfers power directly to the pedals. Full suspension bikes, however, require less effort when riding on uneven trails.

What is travel on a mountain bike? What is the difference between them and how much travel do you need for a MTB? These are our answers and some tips to help you address any hitch about this topic.

We hope that by providing this helpful information, you will know what travel means on a bike and make a better decision for your next trip.


“I ride my bike to work for years, but is that enough? Our carelessness towards our surroundings has taken a toll on the environment. And now, everyone is responsible for changes; even the most minor contribution is counted. With this hope and spirit, I started with my partner to establish Biketoworkday to help more individuals commute to their work sites on their bikes.”

What Is Travel on a Mountain Bike? Explore MTB Adventures!

Are you ready to embark on an exciting adventure that combines the thrill of biking with the beauty of nature? Travel on a mountain bike is the perfect way to explore the great outdoors and push the boundaries of your physical abilities.

But what exactly is travel on a mountain bike? It can encompass a variety of experiences, from leisurely rides on scenic trails to intense mountain descents that require advanced skills. With mountain bike travel, you get to explore new destinations, connect with fellow riders, and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Travel on a mountain bike combines biking with nature exploration
  • Mountain bike travel can vary from leisurely rides to advanced mountain descents
  • Mountain bike travel allows you to explore new destinations and connect with fellow riders

Advertising links are marked with *. We receive a small commission on sales, nothing changes for you.

Mountain Biking Adventures: Discovering Nature’s Playground

There’s nothing quite like hitting the trails on a mountain bike. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie, mountain biking adventures offer a unique way to immerse yourself in nature’s playground.

The rugged terrain, the fresh air, and the freedom to explore are just some of the reasons why mountain biking has become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s a great way to stay active, challenge yourself, and discover new landscapes.

But mountain biking adventures aren’t just about the physical activity. They’re also about the mental and emotional benefits of being in nature. Research has shown that spending time in green spaces can reduce stress, improve mood, and boost cognitive function.

Exploring Trails on a Mountain Bike

One of the most exciting aspects of mountain biking adventures is exploring the trails. From rocky hillsides to lush forests, there’s a trail for every skill level and interest.

Beginner trails are usually wider and smoother, with fewer technical features. These are great for those new to mountain biking or looking for a more relaxed ride. Intermediate and advanced riders can tackle steeper terrain, tighter turns, and more challenging obstacles.

But no matter what trail you take, it’s important to approach it with the right mindset. Be prepared to accept challenges, learn new skills, and try new things. And don’t forget to stop and take in the scenery!

Mountain Biking Adventures: Tips and Tricks

Before you hit the trails, there are some things to keep in mind. First and foremost, make sure you have the right equipment. A quality mountain bike with reliable brakes and suspension is a must, as are protective gear such as a helmet, gloves, and pads.

It’s also important to stay hydrated, especially on longer rides. Bring plenty of water and snacks to keep your energy up. And don’t forget to check the weather forecast and dress accordingly.

Finally, always ride within your limits and respect the natural environment. Stick to designated trails, avoid disturbing wildlife, and leave no trace behind.

“The rhythm of the trail is a gentle heartbeat that guides me through my journey in nature’s playground.” – Dylan Jones

Mountain Bike Travel Destinations: Where to Explore

When it comes to mountain bike travel destinations, the United States boasts a plethora of scenic trails that cater to different skill levels. From the soaring heights of the Rockies to the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest, there is something for everyone.

Here are some of our top picks:

While we highly recommend exploring these destinations, it’s essential to research the trails and weather conditions beforehand, as they can vary greatly. Always check for any trail closures or advisories and pack accordingly.

Remember to respect the environment and stay on designated trails to preserve the natural beauty of these destinations for future generations.

Planning Your Mountain Bike Travel Itinerary

Planning a mountain bike travel itinerary requires some strategic thinking and careful consideration. Here are some tips to ensure you have an enjoyable experience:

  • Identify your destination: Choose a destination that aligns with your interests and skill level. Consider factors such as terrain, weather, and availability of facilities.
  • Research the trails: Research the trails available at the destination and identify which ones you want to ride. Check reviews and ratings to gauge difficulty level and suitability for your skill level.
  • Consider your travel companions: If you’re traveling with others, make sure the itinerary accommodates everyone’s skill level and interests.
  • Allocate time: Make sure to allocate enough time for each activity. Don’t cram too much into one day and allow for rest breaks.
  • Pack efficiently: Pack only the essential items, such as tools, spares, and protective gear. Don’t forget to pack clothing suitable for the weather and terrain conditions.
  • Stay flexible: Be prepared for unexpected events, such as changes in weather or trail conditions. Stay flexible and adjust your itinerary if necessary.

By following these tips, you can create a mountain bike travel itinerary that suits your interests and abilities, providing you with an unforgettable experience.

Essential Gear for Mountain Bike Travel: Be Prepared

When embarking on a mountain bike travel adventure, packing the right gear is crucial to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are some essential items we recommend bringing along:

It’s also a good idea to pack a first aid kit with essentials such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and insect repellent as well. Remember, being prepared will help you fully enjoy your mountain bike travel adventure!

Staying Safe While Mountain Biking: Tips and Precautions

At the heart of any mountain bike adventure is a desire to push ourselves and experience the thrill of overcoming challenging terrain. While this can be an exhilarating experience, it’s important to remember that safety should always be a top priority. Here are some tips and precautions to help you stay safe during your mountain bike travels:

Assess Your Skill Level and Choose Appropriate Trails

Before setting out on your mountain bike adventure, it’s important to assess your skill level and choose trails that are appropriate for your abilities. Taking on trails that are too difficult for your skill level can lead to accidents and injuries. It’s also important to remember that trail conditions can change depending on weather and other factors, so always be prepared for the unexpected.

Wear Protective Gear

Wearing protective gear is crucial to staying safe while mountain biking. Always wear a helmet and consider wearing additional protective gear such as knee and elbow pads. It’s also important to dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable, breathable clothing that won’t restrict your movement.

Bring Necessary Supplies

Make sure you bring all necessary supplies for your mountain bike adventure, including a first-aid kit, bike repair tools, and plenty of water and snacks. You should also carry a map of the trail and a compass or GPS device in case you get lost.

Ride with a Buddy

Riding with a buddy is not only more fun, but it can also be a lifesaver in the event of an accident. Make sure to communicate your route and riding plans with your buddy before setting off, and always stay within sight and earshot of each other while on the trail.

Know Your Limits

One of the most important things to remember while mountain biking is to know your limits. Pushing yourself too hard can lead to exhaustion and accidents, so take breaks when needed and listen to your body. It’s always better to play it safe and turn back if you’re feeling unsure or uncomfortable.

By following these tips and precautions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable mountain bike travel experience. So get out there and explore the beauty of nature on two wheels!

Q: What is travel on a mountain bike?

A: Travel on a mountain bike refers to the act of exploring new trails and destinations using a specialized bicycle designed for off-road terrain. It offers a thrilling and immersive way to experience nature while challenging yourself physically and mentally.

Q: What can I expect from mountain biking adventures?

A: Mountain biking adventures offer a chance to discover nature’s playground and explore breathtaking trails. You can expect a mix of excitement, adrenaline, and a deep connection with the natural environment. It’s an opportunity to push your limits, feel the rush of adrenaline, and create unforgettable memories.

Q: Where can I find the best mountain bike travel destinations?

A: Some of the best mountain bike travel destinations are scattered across the United States. From the stunning views of the Pacific Northwest to the challenging terrains of the Rocky Mountains, there are plenty of options to satisfy your wanderlust and fulfill your love for mountain biking.

Q: How do I plan a mountain bike travel itinerary?

A: Planning a mountain bike travel itinerary involves selecting suitable trails, considering the skill levels of your group, and ensuring you have enough time to explore. It’s essential to research the trails, accommodations, and nearby facilities to make the most of your trip and create an itinerary that suits your preferences and abilities.

Q: What essential gear should I pack for mountain bike travel?

A: When preparing for mountain bike travel, it’s important to pack essential gear such as a good-quality helmet, protective pads, a repair kit, hydration pack, and appropriate clothing. Carrying essential gear will ensure your safety, comfort, and enjoyment during your mountain bike adventures.

Q: How can I stay safe while mountain biking?

A: Staying safe while mountain biking involves following some important tips and precautions. These include wearing appropriate protective gear, knowing your limits, staying hydrated, checking your bike before each ride, and being aware of your surroundings. Additionally, always let someone know about your plans and carry a first-aid kit in case of emergencies.

travel mountain bike meaning

Hi dear visitor! I’m Sebastian, a bike maniac who loves to spend a lot of time on two wheels in nature (I love white chocolate, so I absolutely need a calorie-burning balance that’s fun to boot ). Blogging is my second great passion. That’s why regularly features new bike-related content.

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Popular Ressources

Guide: Buying a Bike

Most famous Cyclists of all time

Mountain Bikes

Legal Information

Legal Notice

Privacy Policy

Terms and Conditions

© 2024 | Sitemap

travel mountain bike meaning

  • Order Status

australlian flag

  • Expand menu

travel mountain bike meaning

  • Dual Suspension
  • Cross Country
  • Recreational
  • Gravel & Adventure
  • Performance
  • Drop Bar Road Bikes
  • Flat Bar Road Bikes
  • Fitness & Urban
  • Comfort & Cruiser
  • Ages 1.5 to 6 (12"/16")
  • Ages 5 to 8 (20")
  • Ages 7 to 12 (24"/26")
  • Ages 12 to Teen (27.5")
  • Ex-Demo Bikes
  • Brake Rotors
  • Brake Cables
  • Brake Lever & Calipers
  • Grips & Bar Tapes
  • Seatposts / Droppers & Levers
  • Bottom Brackets
  • Chains & Quick Links
  • Drivetrain Chargers
  • Derailleurs
  • Chain Guides
  • E-Bike Parts
  • Frame Hardware
  • Rebuild Kits
  • Clip-in Pedals
  • Flat Pedals
  • 27.5 Inch (650B)
  • 12 Inch - 26 Inch
  • Dirt Jump/ BMX Tyres
  • Gravel/ Road/ Urban Tyres
  • Axles & Quick Release
  • Hubs & End Caps
  • Bike Trailers
  • Car Bike Racks
  • Tailgate Pads
  • Bike Baskets
  • Bikepacking Bags
  • Pannier Bags
  • Pannier Racks
  • Saddle Bags
  • Bike Travel Bags
  • Travel Bags
  • Frame Straps
  • Hydration Packs
  • Bottle Cages
  • GPS Bike Computers
  • Sensors & Chest/Arm Bands
  • Computer Mounts
  • Phone Mounts
  • Indoor Trainers
  • Floor Pumps
  • Shock Pumps
  • Stands & Wall Mounts
  • Mudguards & Fenders
  • Bike Care and Cleaning
  • Multi Tools
  • Workshop Tools
  • Puncture Repair Kits
  • Sealant & Rim Tape
  • Tubeless Valves
  • Tyre Inserts
  • Casual Wear
  • MTB Helmets
  • Road / Gravel / Urban Helmets
  • Kids Helmets
  • Short Sleeve
  • Long Sleeve
  • Leg & Arm Warmers
  • Clip-in Shoes
  • Cleats for Shoes
  • Running Shoes
  • Bibs & Knicks
  • Running Shorts

Polygon - Bikes

  • View All Brands
  • Submit youur query

Best Price

  • Mountain bike

How much suspension travel do you need?

Deciding on the correct amount of travel can make or break a ride. Too much and your bike makes your bike feel lethargic and uninspiring on the flat stuff. Too little travel and it may result in a bike that isn’t up to the level of your riding. In this blog we are talking about travel and how it will affect your ride.   

travel mountain bike meaning

What is Travel?

More travel often leads to increased traction and confidence when travelling down hill through crazy terrain at the speed of sound.  .

travel mountain bike meaning

Short Travel?

On flatter, smoother trails, smaller travel bikes can hold speed easier and react more to pumping through rollers.  .

travel mountain bike meaning

While they are still agile compared to a big travel bike, the extra 20mm of travel compared to an XC bike can help a rider in the “uh oh” moments.  

travel mountain bike meaning

Long travel

Long travel bikes with 160-180mm of travel are the pinnacle of going downhill fast, while still being able to climb up a mountain. With tonnes of traction, travel to take the big hits and plenty of cushion to cover up over ambitious lines, a rider's confidence goes through the roof. The faster a bike hits a rock, root or whatever is in front of the bike, the more travel the bike will use. More travel allows the wheel to move over bigger obstacles without rider input.  

With tonnes of traction, travel to take the big hits and plenty of cushion to cover up over ambitious lines, a rider's confidence goes through the roof .  

Riders will experience less fatigue as there is less rider input to go fast. The downside to more travel is the bikes can feel lethargic under power or rider input. Cornering and pumping requires more body language to gain speed. Climbing is a challenge due to extra weight and the suspension absorbing pedal power. All of this is made up for when you point down a hill and can't wipe the smile off your face. Get on your big travel bike now by clicking here .  


If you have shuttles or chair lifts in your area and want to go as fast as possible back down, this amount of travel is perfect for you.  .

190-200mm of travel is for pure downhill speed. Pedaling efficiency is terrible for getting up a hill. The wheels move up and over obstacles easily and the rider can push harder on the downs. There is tonnes of traction for braking and changing direction even on the craziest trails. If you have shuttles or chair lifts in your area and want to go as fast as possible back down, this amount of travel is perfect for you. Pure race bikes have this much travel as they provide maximum confidence at speed down a hill. As they are a specialist bike there are a limited number of riders that actually require these bikes.  

Here at Bikes Online we find that choosing a bike with the least amount of travel for your required terrain will often lead to the best all round package.  

If you are focused on efficiency, agility and ride with a lot of rider input, smaller travel bikes are for you. If you are charging hard and racing down hills then long travel or dh bikes are for you. Riders with more skill and abilities can often benefit from the efficiency of a mid travel bike down hill but fatigue is increased due to more rider input. Bigger travel bikes require more input to change direction or maneuver so it benefits a relaxed riding style. More travel can also mask mistakes and inspire confidence for beginner riders going downhill. Just remember that more travel isn't always better, here at Bikes Online we find that choosing a bike with the least amount of travel for your required terrain will often lead to the best all round package. If you want to learn more about what bike suits you, reach out to our team or read through our educational blog posts.  

Leave a comment

Post Comment

Comments have to be approved before showing up

  • Getting Started
  • Mountain Bike
  • Road and Gravel
  • Bikes Online
  • Sustainability
  • The Bike Shed
  • Worth-it series
  • Hot products
  • Road & Gravel
Bicycles Online

Join our newsletter!

Stay updated with the latest post and products.

Australia's Highest Rated Bikes

Stamped Reviews

  • Our Promise
  • Job Opportunity
  • Ride Now, Pay Later
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Privacy Policy
  • Commercial Sales
  • Polygon Bicycle Hire
  • Fleet Program
  • Affiliate Program
  • Help Centre
  • Track your Order
  • Assembly & Tutorials
  • Buying Guides
  • Order & Payment
  • Shipping & Tracking
  • Returns & Exchanges
  • Consumer Guarantee
  • Service Network
  • Gift Certificates

APCO logo

Secure transaction powered by paypal

quantas logo

  • Interest Free Finance


Shop Now. Pay Later. 100% Interest-free.

Simple instalment plans available instantly at checkout

travel mountain bike meaning

Select Afterpay as your payment method

Use your existing debit or credit card

Complete your checkout in seconds

No long forms, instant approval online

Pay over 4 equal instalments

Pay fortnightly, enjoy your purchase straight away!

All your need is:

1) An Australian Visa or Mastercard debit/credit card; 2) To be over 18 years of age; 3) To live in Australia

To see Afterpay's complete terms, visit

© 2024 Afterpay

travel mountain bike meaning

Login to Save your Bike

Returning customer log in..

Forgot Your Username Click Here

Forgot Your Password Click Here

New Customer? Create an Account.

travel mountain bike meaning

Hi there! 👋 Is there anything we can help you with today?

travel mountain bike meaning

Suspension travel: Understanding fork length and how it affects your mountain bike

Forks come in varying lengths of suspension travel and stanchion sizes, this is what they mean for your riding

Suspension travel

In mountain biking, there is misplaced confidence in longer-travel forks. With your front wheel having to steer and balance traction on those big trail features and steep descents, the logic is often that more suspension travel is better. But is this the case?

To better understand how the suspension travel of the best mountain bike forks influences your riding and what should be best for your trails, you need to understand the relationship between terrain absorption and trail feedback.

Modern mountain bike geometries are designed explicitly around suspension travel. For example, the best XC forks for cross-country mountain bikes are short-travel forks as the trails are relatively smooth and comprise lots of climbing. They need to be light and responsive while still providing a decent range of compression.

As you move through the various types of mountain bikes, fork travel requirements change. The weight, stanchion thickness, and travel all increase to meet the demands of each discipline – and longer forks aren’t superior in every application.

Merida Ninety Six

Cross-country: 100-120mm travel, 30-32mm stanchion diameter

Shorter travel forks are generally aimed at cross-country mountain biking , designed to balance performance, lightweight and just enough suspension travel to help smooth out bumpy singletrack. 

Cross-country forks can work with narrower 30-32mm stanchions because the upper tubes aren’t exposed to much leverage. This helps to keep the overall fork weight down.

But why shouldn’t you fit a cross-country mountain bike , recommended for maximum fork travel of 120mm, with a 130mm fork? Isn’t that a great idea? Not really.

Any increase in fork travel will slacken the bike and shorten its reach. Slacker head angles boost confidence in steep descending terrain, but they make a mountain bike less agile at climbing technical singletrack as well as unbalancing the bike by moving the rider's weight backward. It will also raise the bottom bracket which will cause the bike to feel less planted and confident in corners.

For many years 100-120mm forks were designed either as ultralight racing components or cheap beginner bike suspension. That has changed with the popularity of downcountry and there are now 120mm forks that have much stiffer crowns.

Consider the terrain you are riding. A 100- to 120mm lightweight cross-country fork will be ideal if your trails are smooth and flowing. The shorter suspension travel gives a more responsive feel and you’ll enjoy greater trail feedback through the handlebar and grips.

Shorter suspension travel forks also bob less when climbing up steep trails in a standing position. Many short travel forks further support climbing with the addition of a lockout switch.

A trail mountain biker whips the bike over a jump

Trail: 120-150mm travel, 34mm stanchion diameter

The best trail mountain bike market is probably the most competitive category in mountain biking and these bikes are often ridden right up to their design capabilities.

Reasonably efficient climbers and confident descending bikes, the trail machine is a hybrid between cross-country and enduro. And as you would expect, it needs a fork with more travel and stiffness than those 100-120mm options.

There has been significant development with the Fox 34 in recent years. RockShox has reacted too with its latest Pike range, blending 35mm stanchions with low fork weight.

At 150mm of suspension travel, you are probably pushing the limits of what a 34mm stanchion can deal with, especially for aggressive trail riding. The sweet spot for suspension travel and stanchion size for trail bikes would be 130- to 140mm.

Yet again, it is a tale of less being more. If you use a 34mm stanchion fork at the upper reaches of its travel, there might be a higher risk of terrain-induced steering deflection due to flex. Those roots and rocks can ping you offline, despite being sure of your steering inputs.

Too much travel can also dull the feedback of your trail bike. We recommend that a trail fork ideally have 34mm stanchions, at 130-140mm, for a 29er - possibly, up to 150mm, for the smaller 27.5in wheel size.

As fork travel increases with trail bikes, the latitude of responsiveness from your damper becomes more complex. You will see premium trail bike forks offering high- and low-speed compression adjustment, allowing riders to balance full travel benefits on gnarly terrain without having the fork dive too much in high-speed berms. 

An enduro racer rides a corner in a dusty forest during the Bluegrass EWS Finale Ligure 2020

Enduro: 150-180mm travel, 35-38mm stanchion diameter

The fork stiffness formula is simple: when adding more suspension travel increase stanchion size.

Single-crown fork design has had to go longer, with the best enduro mountain bikes now ripping down terrain once reserved for downhill rigs. RockShox and Fox introduced 38mm stanchion single-crown forks last year, especially for the riding demands of enduro mountain biking .

Having more travel is great but potentially useless if the fork internals can’t make the best use of it. That 180mm enduro fork is pointless if it blows through its travel or is entirely unresponsive to small-bump impacts.

With 150- to 180mm single-crown forks, you don’t need a lockout control for climbing, but you want to control the multiple channels of compression and rebound. Balancing the increased leverage effect and fork dive under braking in steep terrain is the crucial enabler with long-travel single-crown forks.

As a forks suspension travel lengthens, set-up becomes crucial. This is why you'll find 150- to 180mm enduro single-crown forks with intricate compression and rebound adjusters and dials. These allow riders to make the best of all that travel by configuring the damping circuits and rebound to work across all terrain.

A decade ago, the idea of a 180mm single-crown fork that could provide an adequate compression platform for pedaling uphill was unfathomable. But today’s big-hitting 38mm single-crown forks are hugely adaptable, giving riders all the precise cornering support and cushioning when landing those huge drops or landings.

A downhill racer rolls over a rock slab on the Fort William downhill world cup track

Downhill: 180-200mm travel, 40mm stanchion diameter

These are the largest forks you can buy with the most suspension travel and a dual-crown design to cushion the rider from the huge, repeated impacts when riding the most technically demanding descents possible.

With the amount of leverage involved at 200mm of travel, and considering how slack the best downhill mountain bikes are, the dual-crown design is crucial. There would be enormous flex issues if you were to produce a single-crown fork at 200mm of travel and ride it down very steep and technical terrain.

Downhill riders are less bothered by weight or climbing efficiency. This frees engineers to focus all their resources on making the stiffest structure containing sophisticated internals and valving.

The speeds that downhill bikes roll over highly technical terrain require exceptional torsional stiffness at the axle to prevent riders from being deflected off-line and crashing. That dual-crown structure increases the stiffness of these long-travel forks, although steering angle is reduced, at very low speeds.

Dual-crown forks are at the complete opposite spectrum of those short-travel,100-120mm forks, with nearly rigid lockout control. Downhill mountain biking is solely about descending, with huge dampers that react intuitively to terrain impacts and help maintain the front tire's contact with the ground when cornering and braking.

  • Suspension 101 : Everything you need to know about your mountain bike suspension dials
  • How to adjust mountain bike suspension

Lance Branquinho is a Namibian-born journalist who graduated to mountain biking after injuries curtailed his trail running. He has a weakness for British steel hardtails, especially those which only run a single gear. As well as Bike Perfect , Lance has written for , and Cycling News.

RockShox latest Lyrik Ultimate tough trail MTB fork gets a damper upgrade and new refinements, I put it to the test to see how it fared

Mavic Deemax MIPS helmet review – a solid lid with well-designed straps but some fit issues

I tested the new Specialized Chisel FS and it's an awesome ‘economy Epic’ XC mountain bike for cash-strapped speed fiends

Most Popular

  • 2 Want to get your kids into mountain biking? BikePark Wales' green 'Kermit' trail is a brilliant introduction that left my son frothing for more
  • 3 Merida One-Twenty 600 review – budget-friendly, short travel, trail ripper
  • 4 Rapha Men's Trail Shorts review – top option for trail pedaling
  • 5 You probably don't move your heels enough as you ride, but here's how proper technique will transform your mountain biking

travel mountain bike meaning


New! Find answers in a flash with Scout, our friendly AI chat otter.


Try out unlimited access with 7 days of Outside+ for free.

Start Your Free Trial


Short or Long Travel: Which Is the Best All-Around Mountain Bike?

How much slower does a modern long-travel bike climb? And what are the differences downhill?


Heading out the door? Read this article on the Outside app available now on iOS devices for members! >","name":"in-content-cta","type":"link"}}'>Download the app .

If you want one bike to do everything, how much travel should it have? All bikes have to find a compromise between climbing and descending performance, and suspension travel is usually seen as a good indicator of where a bike sits on that spectrum.

But recently, short-travel trail bikes are a lot more capable, while long-travel bikes are much better at climbing. So how much slower is a modern long-travel bike uphill? And what are the differences downhill?

Caught up in all this is the question of tire choice. How much of the difference in climbing speed between an enduro bike and a trail bike comes down to the tires? Can fast-rolling tires close the gap? And can sticky tires make a short-travel bike descend as well as a long-travel one? Let’s find out.

travel mountain bike meaning

Nukeproof Reactor

• 130 / 150 mm travel • Weight as tested: 14.4 Kg / 31.7 lbs (“trail” tires, 200 mm rotors) • Size tested: XL • Price: $7,062

travel mountain bike meaning

Nukeproof Giga

• 170 / 180 mm travel • Weight as tested: 15.2 Kg / 33.5 lbs (“trail” tires, air shock) • Size tested: XXL • Price: $7,415

To make things as comparable as possible, I got hold of a Nukeprof Reactor RS and a Nukeproof Giga RS. The Reactor has 130 millimeters of rear travel and 150 millimeters up front, while Giga serves up 170 millimeters (rear) and 180 millimeters (front). These models have identical brakes, drivetrains, and cockpits. With the same wheels and tires fitted, only the frame and fork are different. Both use full-carbon frames and RockShox Ultimate-level suspension. The Reactor has a Lyrik fork to the Giga’s Zeb, but the difference in chassis diameter is appropriate to the travel offered in each case.

Although the photos used here were taken with a coil shock fitted to the Giga, the testing was carried out with a RockShox Super Deluxe air shock to match the shock on the Reactor. I upgraded the rear rotor size on the Reactor to 200 millimeters so both bikes could accept the same wheels for comparative testing.

I set both bikes up with 30 percent shock sag and suspension settings as I would normally have them.

For the most part, I used the wheels that came stock on the Reactor for both bikes to remove the variable of tire choice. These tires were a Maxxis Dissector, EXO+ casing, MaxTerrra compound (rear) with a Maxxis Assegai, EXO casing, MaxxTerra compound (front). For brevity, I’ll call these the “trail” tires from now on. Fitting these tires and the air shock to the Giga dropped its weight to a respectable 15.2 kilograms – only 800 grams (1.8 pounds) more than the Reactor with the same wheels.

I also tested with a stickier pair of tires (fitted to another alloy wheelset for easier wheel swaps). These were a Maxxis Assegai in DoubleDown casing, MaxxGrip compound on the rear, with a Schwalbe Magic Mary, SuperGravity casing, Soft compound, on the front. We’ll call these the “enduro” tires. These wheels/tires weighed 600 grams more than the trail wheels/tires.

travel mountain bike meaning

For the climbing test, I used a pair of SRM power meter pedals to control my effort, which I kept at a steady 250 watts. I rode both bikes up the same gentle and smooth fire road climb. I used a short climb so I could do five laps on each bike in quick succession and take an average. If I only did one or two longer climbs on each bike, there would be no way of knowing if any difference in times was down to the bike or just a fluke.

I did this first with the trail tires at my usual riding pressures (23 and 26 psi) then I re-tested the Reactor with the enduro tires. Here are the times:

travel mountain bike meaning

As you might expect, the Giga was slower on average than the Reactor, but the average time was only 0.8 percent slower. Because the Reactor wasn’t consistently quicker, and the average difference between the bikes was so small, we can’t be sure from these numbers if the difference between the bikes is real or just a fluke. In science terms, the difference wasn’t statistically significant.

But even if we take the 0.8 percent difference at face value, that’s about what we’d expect from the weight difference between the two bikes alone, suggesting the travel per se (i.e. the pedaling efficiency) wasn’t having any effect.

In contrast, with the enduro tires fitted, the Reactor went 4.1 percent slower, or 3.4 percent slower than the Giga with the trail tires. In both cases, these are statistically significant differences, because the Reactor with Enduro tires was consistently slowest. To give that some context, over a half-hour climb, the enduro tires would add about one minute and fourteen seconds to the Reactor’s time. Or to go at the same pace, you’d need to produce about 260 watts instead of 250 watts; if you’re already working hard, that could be very noticeable.

The added weight of the heavier tires would only be expected to slow things down by at most 0.6 percent, so most of that difference is down to rolling resistance. This added drag will make covering ground slower on the flat and even downhills too (so long as traction and braking aren’t what’s limiting speed).

Subjectively, you can feel a little pedal bob from either bike, but there isn’t dramatically more with the Giga. The position is quite different due to the Reactor’s lower stack height and slacker seat tube angle (74.5 degrees vs. 78 degrees); this stretches out the spine which feels much less comfortable to me, especially on long climbs. Doing timed testing over technical climbs is virtually impossible because the time can vary so much from one run to the next depending on line choice, technique and luck, but when riding over bumpy terrain the Giga is noticeably smoother. The softer suspension obviously helps here but having your weight further in front of the rear axle also reduces how much your weight lifts when the rear wheel moves over a bump. Though I can’t put a number on it, I much preferred the Giga for technical climbs.

travel mountain bike meaning

To see how they compare for descending, I chose a short local trail I know well with a good mix of roots, rocks, steep twisty sections and flat fast sections. It’s not the most technical trail in the world and it’s definitely not the roughest, but on the day of testing (which was a couple of days before taking these photographs), it was wet and slippery, making it a good challenge. To level the playing field and keep things simple, I stuck with the trail tires on the Giga and the enduro tires on the Reactor.

travel mountain bike meaning

The Giga went first, and despite doing two laps to get up to speed on the course before getting the timer out, I shaved 2-3 seconds off my time from one run to the next. This is always a problem with timed testing. My first time on the Reactor (my fourth timed run of the day) matched the first run on the Giga. It improved from there but levelled out at one minute and sixteen seconds.

I did one more run on the Reactor with the trail tires and matched my fastest times, suggesting the stickier tires weren’t much of an advantage on this course anyway. I’m sure that on a more treacherous course—or in the hands of a rider who is better at finding the limit of grip—the enduro tires would become a significant advantage.

travel mountain bike meaning

Subjectively, the enduro tires felt much more damped and surefooted and I was locking up less on the steep sections, but this didn’t seem to translate into more speed for me. Even with the sticky tires on the Reactor, the Giga felt much smoother, calmer, and more stable. The higher bar and slacker head angle combined with suspension that feels more settled “in the travel” makes going faster feel more within my comfort zone. I also felt like there was more time left on the table with the Giga, whereas the last two runs on the Reactor would be hard for me to improve on.

Because there are so many variables at play when descending, I wouldn’t read much into the times themselves. But they reveal that, although I felt closer to the edge on the Reactor, I was in fact going slower.

travel mountain bike meaning

Closing Thoughts

The biggest takeaway for me is just how much difference tire choice makes for climbing speed. Sure, the enduro tires I tested are pretty draggy, but they’re not DH tires or mud spikes, and the trail tires (with an Assegai up front) are far from the fastest you can get. In fact, they held their own even on slippery descents.

I’m sure plenty of people don’t care about going slightly faster or feeling more comfortable on steep descents; in fact, I often hear people say they find it more fun to have a sketchier ride at slower speeds. But if that’s the case, why not fit slicker tires which will offer a real boost in climbing speed as a bonus? You could always use the lockout or run 10 percent sag if you want your enduro bike to feel sketchier! Personally, I have more fun on a long travel bike as it gives me the confidence to try new lines or ride them with more commitment.

The other surprise was that the Giga was barely slower uphill than the Reactor with the same tires, and if you want to close the efficiency gap even more you could always use the lockout.

One caveat here is that a power meter may not be the best way to measure and control effort in an efficiency test when comparing suspension efficiency. I discuss this with Mike Levy in this episode of the Pinkbike Podcast , but the bottom line is that I think the power meter method is valid for measuring efficiency when pedalling sitting down (as in this test), but it doesn’t work for out-of-the-saddle sprinting, and that’s where the extra travel is more likely to be a disadvantage.

It’s also fair to say the Reactor isn’t the fastest-climbing short-travel bike out there. But the Giga probably isn’t the most efficient among 170 millimeter+ bikes either. It’s based on a downhill bike and it’s designed to be even more gravity-focussed than Nukeproof’s Mega enduro bike. More to the point, it doesn’t have a huge amount of anti-squat , and higher anti-squat levels would probably make it climb even better. In one of Levy’s efficiency tests , the 170 millimeter-travel Santa Cruz Nomad (which has quite a lot of anti-squat) was faster than the 130 millimeter Ibis Mojo (despite having slower tires), suggesting a long-travel bike with generous anti-squat can be as just as efficient as a shorter travel one.

The bottom line is that ample suspension travel needn’t be a hindrance uphill, but grippy tires will slow you down a lot. So if you want one bike to do everything, it might make sense to pick a long-travel bike with a spare set of fast-rolling tires for mellower rides.

This article first appeared on our sister site, Pinkbike .

  • Mountain Biking

Popular on Outside Online

travel mountain bike meaning

Enjoy coverage of racing, history, food, culture, travel, and tech with access to unlimited digital content from Outside Network's iconic brands.

Healthy Living

  • Clean Eating
  • Vegetarian Times
  • Yoga Journal
  • Fly Fishing Film Tour
  • National Park Trips
  • Warren Miller
  • Fastest Known Time
  • Trail Runner
  • Women's Running
  • Bicycle Retailer & Industry News
  • FinisherPix
  • Outside Events Cycling Series
  • Outside Shop

© 2024 Outside Interactive, Inc

Mountain Bike Report -

  • Recommended Gear
  • Beginner Info

mountain bike terms

Mountain Bike Terms and Slang A to Z: Ultimate Guide

Navigating the thrilling world of mountain biking isn’t just about mastering the trails—it’s also about speaking the language.

From the tight turns of berms to the adrenaline-pumping descent of sending it, the MTB community is peppered with jargon, slang, technical terms and phrases that can leave newcomers scratching their helmets.

Whether you’re a budding biker trying to decipher trail talk or a seasoned rider looking to brush up on the latest lingo, our “Mountain Bike Terms A to Z: Ultimate Guide” is here to bridge the gap. Dive in to decode the dialect of the dirt and become fluent in all things MTB.

Mountain Bike Terms A to Z

27.5 or 650b : Refers to a wheel size, which is between the old standard 26-inch and the 29er. The actual diameter of the wheel is around 27.5 inches or equivalently 650b in the metric system.

29er : Refers to mountain bikes that are designed for 29-inch wheels. These bikes are known for rolling over obstacles more easily than their 26-inch counterparts.

1x (pronounced “one-by”) : A drivetrain setup with a single chainring in the front and multiple gears in the back, e.g., 1×11 has one chainring and an 11-speed cassette.

2x (pronounced “two-by”) : Similarly, a drivetrain setup with two chainrings in the front and multiple gears in the back.

4X : Stands for “Four Cross”, a type of mountain bike racing where four bikers race downhill on a prepared, BMX like, track, simply trying to get down first.

All-Mountain (AM) : A type of mountain biking that encompasses a variety of terrains, from uphill climbs to downhill descents. All-mountain bikes are versatile, designed for both climbing efficiency and downhill performance.

Attack Position : A neutral riding position mountain bikers adopt when anticipating technical terrain. It involves standing on the pedals (not seated), elbows and knees bent, and looking ahead.

Ankling : A pedaling technique where the ankle is used to maximize the pedal stroke’s efficiency by dropping the heel at the top of the stroke and raising it at the bottom.

Armor : Protective gear worn by riders to safeguard against injuries. This can include knee pads, elbow pads, shin guards, and chest/back protection.

Air spring : A type of suspension that uses air pressure as the spring medium. The air pressure can be adjusted to alter the suspension’s response to the rider’s weight and riding style.

Alloy : Often used to describe bike components, it means they’re made from a mixture of metals. Aluminum alloy is common in bike frames and parts for its blend of lightness and strength.

Apex : The innermost point of a turn or curve. Hitting the apex correctly can help riders maintain speed and control through turns.

Aero : Short for aerodynamic. While more commonly associated with road cycling, some mountain bikers might refer to aero positions or designs when discussing speed on smoother trails or dirt roads.

Articulation : The movement and flexibility of a bike’s suspension system.

ASL (Above Sea Level) : Sometimes trail altitudes are referenced in relation to sea level, especially when discussing high-altitude riding or the effects of altitude on physical exertion.

Axle : The shaft on which the wheel revolves. In mountain biking, there are various axle standards with differing widths and attachment mechanisms.

Attack Trail : A trail segment that’s particularly aggressive or challenging.

Alternator Dropout : Found on some bikes, this feature allows for multiple drivetrain configurations. With this dropout, a rider can use a single-speed or geared setup on the same frame.

Anti-rise : Refers to how the rear brake interacts with the suspension. A bike with high anti-rise will stiffen up under braking, while one with low anti-rise remains more active.

Anti-squat : Refers to a bike’s suspension design and its behavior during pedaling. Bikes designed with anti-squat will resist suspension compression (or “squat”) when pedaling, making them more efficient.

Aheadset : A type of headset (the component on a bike where the fork goes through the frame) that is threadless. It’s a common type of headset on modern bikes.

Anodized : An electrochemical process that’s used to color and protect metal surfaces, especially aluminum. Many mountain bike parts like stems, hubs, and rims might be anodized.

Arbor : A tool used in wheel truing stands to hold the wheel in place.

Auto : Refers to a feature in some suspension forks where the lockout is automatically controlled, usually by a sensor that detects terrain changes.

Angle of Attack : The angle at which a tire makes contact with obstacles, determining how easily it rolls over them. Larger diameter wheels (like 29ers) generally have a shallower angle of attack compared to smaller wheels.

Aspect Ratio : In terms of tire construction, it refers to the height of a tire’s sidewall relative to its width. It can affect the tire’s rolling characteristics and handling.

ATA (Adjustable Travel Adjuster) : A feature found in some suspension forks that lets riders adjust the travel length, usually to optimize performance for different terrains or rides.

Auxiliary Brake : A secondary brake system, often seen on tandem mountain bikes, for additional stopping power.

Berm : A banked corner or turn, built up on the outside, which allows riders to maintain speed.

Bunny hop : A technique where riders lift both wheels off the ground simultaneously, often to clear obstacles.

Biff : A crash or fall from the bike.

Bikepacking : Combining mountain biking with lightweight camping, using specially designed bags to carry gear.

Bike Yoke : A part of some rear suspension systems connecting the rear shock to the frame.

Bikejoring : A sport where a dog (or dogs) are harnessed to a mountain bike, and they help pull the rider.

Bike Park : A designated area with purpose-built trails and features, often with uplift services for riders.

Bleed : The process of removing air from hydraulic brake lines.

Blue groove : A trail condition where the surface has a blueish tint, indicating hard-packed dirt.

Blip : A small jump or feature on a trail.

Bomb : To ride downhill rapidly.

Bottom bracket (BB) : The bearing system on which the crankset rotates, located at the junction of the bike’s seat tube and down tube.

Bottle cage : A holder for water bottles on the bike frame.

Boost : A standard for wider hub spacing, resulting in stiffer wheels.

Brake fade : Loss of braking power due to overheating, typically in hydraulic brakes.

Brake jack : A suspension response when the rear brake is applied, causing the suspension to extend.

Braap : The sound made by a tire on a trail or the joyous call of a rider enjoying a descent.

Brain : A proprietary suspension technology by Specialized that detects terrain changes to auto-adjust the suspension.

Bridge : A built wooden feature to cross over obstacles like streams or marshy areas.

Bro flow : A trail that is smoothly flowing and not overly technical.

Buffed : A trail that’s smooth, without many technical features.

Burl : A difficult or challenging section of trail.

Butting : Refers to the process of varying the thickness of a tube, often in bike frame construction, to save weight without compromising strength.

Buzzer : The sensation or sound of a rear tire buzzing close to, or making contact with, a rider’s backside on steep descents, especially with dropper posts fully dropped.

Cadence : The speed at which a cyclist pedals, often measured in revolutions per minute (RPM).

Cage : The part of a front derailleur that pushes the chain from one chainring to another. Also refers to a pedal’s surrounding structure on platform pedals.

Camber : The angle of the trail surface as it tilts from one side to the other.

Carbon : A lightweight and stiff material used in bike frames and components.

Casing : The outer layer of a tire.

Chain slap : The noise created when the chain hits the chainstay on rough terrain.

Chain suck : When the chain gets stuck between the frame and the chainring.

Chainstay : The part of the bike frame that connects the bottom bracket to the rear dropout.

Chamois : Padded shorts worn by cyclists to reduce friction and provide cushioning.

Chunder : Rough and rocky trail sections.

Clipped in : Using clipless pedals that connect directly to special cycling shoes.

Clipless pedals : A type of pedal that attaches directly to a cleat on the bottom of a special shoe, securing the rider’s foot to the pedal.

Climbing lane : A specific portion of a trail designated for uphill riders.

Clydesdale : A term used for heavier riders, typically over 200 pounds.

Cockpit : The area of the bike where the handlebars, stem, and seat are located.

Compression : A phase in the suspension’s movement when it’s being shortened.

Cornering : The technique used to ride around turns and bends.

Crankset : The component that connects the pedals to the bike, including the chainrings.

Cross-country (XC) : A type of mountain biking focused on endurance and climbing. XC bikes are typically lighter and have less suspension travel.

Crown : The part of a suspension fork that connects the two stanchions.

Crud : Mud, dirt, and other debris found on the trail.

Cruiser : A trail that’s relatively easy to ride.

Cut-off : A time limit imposed on racers to reach a certain point during a race.

Cutty : A sharp, sliding turn executed by whipping the rear of the bike around.

Cyclocomputer : An electronic device that provides riders with data like speed, distance, and time.

Cleat : The metal or plastic fitting on the sole of a cycling shoe that clips into clipless pedals.

Dab : Touching a foot to the ground for balance, especially during a technical section.

Damping : The process by which a suspension fork or rear shock controls and dissipates the energy from impacts, usually via oil resistance.

Dart : A tire puncture plug.

Dérailleur : The mechanical component that moves the chain between different gears.

DH : Short for Downhill. Refers to downhill mountain biking and bikes designed primarily for descending steep and technical terrains.

Dirt Jump (DJ) : A type of bike designed for jumping, usually with a rigid frame and a suspension fork.

Disc brakes : Brakes that operate by squeezing pads against a disc attached to the wheel hub.

Doubles : Jumps with a take-off and landing but a gap in the middle.

Dopper : Short for dropper post.

Dropper post : A height-adjustable seat post that allows riders to lower their saddles without stopping, usually with a handlebar-mounted lever.

Drivetrain : The collective components (crankset, chain, derailleurs, and cogs) that drive the bike forward.

Drop : A section of trail where there’s a sudden decrease in elevation, often requiring the rider to get airborne.

Drop in : To begin a descent or to start riding a particular section of trail.

Dust out : To crash or fall off the bike.

Duck walk : Walking the bike while straddling it, typically in challenging sections.

Dual crown : A type of suspension fork with two crowns (upper and lower), typically found on downhill bikes for added stiffness.

Dual slalom : A racing format where two riders descend parallel courses, with the winner advancing to the next round.

Dual suspension : A bike equipped with both front and rear suspension.

Dust : Fine dirt on the trail. “Dusty conditions” refer to trails covered with a layer of loose dust.

Dynaplug : A brand of tire plug used for sealing punctures in tubeless tires.

Down tube : The frame tube that runs from the head tube to the bottom bracket.

Drifter : A long and controlled skid, often used to navigate turns.

Dork disc : Slang for the plastic or metal guard located between the rear cassette and the spokes, intended to prevent the chain from dropping into the spokes.

Dialled : When a bike is set up perfectly or when a rider consistently nails a specific move or section.

Digger : Someone who builds and maintains trails.

Endo : Short for “end-over-end”. A crash where the back wheel lifts off the ground and the bike flips forward.

Enduro : A type of mountain bike racing where only the downhill sections are timed. Enduro races typically involve multiple timed stages with untimed transfer stages in between.

Epic : A long and challenging ride, or a term to describe an incredible trail or experience.

E-Bike : An electric-assist bicycle that provides riders with added power from an onboard motor.

Ergonomics : The design of bike components to fit the human body, improving comfort and efficiency.

Eyelets : Metal loops on a bike frame or fork where fenders, racks, or panniers can be attached.

External Cup Bottom Bracket : A design where the bearing cups of the bottom bracket are outside of the frame’s bottom bracket shell.

Elastomer : A type of material once commonly used in suspension forks for its springy properties.

End cap : The cap at the end of a handlebar or other component.

Engagement : Refers to how quickly a hub’s freehub mechanism catches when you start pedaling after coasting.

Exo : A type of tire sidewall protection often found in Maxxis tires.

Exposure : Refers to trails or sections of trails where there’s a steep drop-off on one or both sides, often requiring heightened caution.

Endurance : Biking for long distances, testing a rider’s stamina over time.

Extension : The phase in the suspension’s movement where it’s returning to its neutral position after being compressed.

External Routing : When the cables for brakes or gears run along the outside of the frame, as opposed to being internally routed inside the frame.

Fat Bike : A mountain bike with wide tires, typically 3.8 inches or wider, designed for soft, unstable terrain like snow or sand.

Fenders : Protective shields mounted above the bike’s tires to block mud and water from splashing onto the rider.

Flat : A level section of trail or a term for a punctured tire.

Flat Pedals : Pedals that have a broad platform without any clip-in mechanism, often used with shoes that have grippy soles.

Flow : A descriptor for trails designed with rhythm and smoothness in mind. “Flow trails” often have features like berms, rollers, and jumps that can be ridden without pedaling.

Fork : The bike component that holds the front wheel and provides front suspension on most modern mountain bikes.

Freehub : The part of the rear hub on a bike where the cassette mounts. It allows the wheel to turn without the pedals moving when coasting.

Freeride : A style of mountain biking focusing on tricks, jumps, and technical downhill sections, often in natural terrains without a set course.

Front Triangle : The main part of the bike frame, including the top tube, down tube, and seat tube.

Full-Suspension : A mountain bike equipped with both front and rear suspension.

Fully Rigid : A bike without any suspension, both the front fork and the rear are rigid.

Flick : A quick and sharp turn or maneuver of the bike.

Foot Out, Flat Out (FOFO) : A technique of taking a turn with one foot off the pedal, pushing it outward.

Full Face Helmet : A helmet that provides coverage to the entire face, including a chin guard, predominantly used in downhill and aggressive riding.

Follow Cam : A video shot from a camera mounted on a rider following another rider, capturing their line choices and maneuvers.

False Flat : A stretch of road or trail that appears flat but is slightly uphill.

Flats : Casual shoes (not clipless) for biking, usually used with flat pedals.

Floating Disc Brake : A type of disc brake rotor design where the braking surface is not fixed and can move slightly, often used to improve heat dissipation.

Frame Pack : A bag that attaches within the bike’s main triangle, used for carrying gear, especially in bikepacking.

Full Tuck : The position where a rider gets as low as possible on their bike, typically to maximize aerodynamics and speed on descents.

Gnarly : Referring to a technical, challenging, or dangerous section of trail.

Granny Gear : The smallest chainring on a bike, used for steep climbs.

Gravel Bike : A type of bike designed for mixed-terrain riding, combining features of road bikes and mountain bikes.

Grip : Traction between the tire and the ground.

Grip Shift : A type of gear shifter integrated into the handlebar grip.

Grub Screw : A small screw used in various components to secure parts or make adjustments.

Grind : Sliding along an obstacle, such as a log or rail, with the bottom of the bike frame or pedals.

Groupset : A complete collection of bike components including derailleurs, brakes, shifters, and other parts, typically from the same manufacturer.

G-Out : The point in a dip or compression where a bike’s suspension is fully compressed.

GoPro : A popular brand of action camera often used to record mountain biking adventures.

Geometry : Refers to the design and angles of a bike frame which influence how the bike handles.

Gloves : Protective handwear used by mountain bikers to improve grip and protect hands.

Gap Jump : A jump with a distinct gap between the takeoff and landing.

Green : Often used to label easy or beginner-friendly trails.

Guard : A protective component, such as a chain guard or bash guard, designed to prevent damage to the bike or rider.

Grinder : A long, challenging climb.

GPS : Global Positioning System. Devices that use satellite signals to provide navigation, often used for tracking rides or finding trails.

Gusset : A reinforcement piece added to areas of the frame that might need extra strength.

Gyro : A device allowing the handlebars and front fork to rotate 360° without tangling the brake cables, commonly seen in BMX and some freeride bikes.

Gear Ratio : The ratio between the number of teeth on the chainring and the rear cog, affecting how easy or hard it is to pedal.

Hardtail : A type of mountain bike with front suspension only and no rear suspension.

Head Angle : The angle between the ground and the bike’s head tube. Steeper angles generally make for quicker steering, while slacker angles are more stable at high speeds.

Head Tube : The part of the bike frame that the front fork goes through. The headset is located here.

Headset : The set of components on a bicycle that provides a rotatable interface between the bike fork and the head tube of the bicycle frame.

Hike-a-Bike : A section of trail that’s too difficult or steep to ride, requiring riders to carry or push their bikes.

Hub : The central part of a wheel that the spokes attach to.

Hydraulic Brakes : Brakes that use fluid to transfer force from the brake lever to the brake pads.

Hardpack : Firm, compacted soil that makes for a fast trail surface.

Huck : To jump off something, especially without knowing exactly what to expect upon landing.

Holeshot : In racing, being the first out of the gate or first into the first corner.

Horst Link : A type of rear suspension design characterized by a pivot point located between the rear wheel axle and the bottom bracket.

Hubset : The front and rear hubs considered as a set.

High-Post : Riding with the saddle raised, typically for climbing or flat sections.

Hairpin : A tight, U-shaped turn.

Hang Time : The amount of time spent in the air after a jump.

Half-lid : A helmet style that only covers the top half of the head, as opposed to a full-face helmet.

Heel Drop : A technique where riders drop their heels down when descending to get more grip and control.

Hit : A jump, drop, or other feature on a trail to be ridden over.

HOPE : A popular brand known for making bike components, especially brakes.

High Roller : A model of tire made by the brand Maxxis, known for its all-around performance.

Hard gear : A high gear ratio that’s harder to pedal but provides more speed.

High Side : A type of crash where a rider is thrown over the bike’s outside edge, often during a turn.

ISCG (International Standard Chain Guide) : A standard for mounting chain guides to mountain bike frames.

ISO : Refers to a type of brake mounting standard or a wheel size standard.

Internal Routing : Refers to cables (for brakes, gears, dropper posts, etc.) that are routed inside the frame tubes for a cleaner appearance and better protection.

Intervals : Training sessions broken up into periods of hard effort and recovery.

IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) : An organization dedicated to the promotion of mountain biking and the development of mountain bike trails.

Impact : The force or energy transmitted from one body to another during a collision.

Inflate : To fill a tire with air using a pump.

Inseam : The length from the crotch to the bottom of the leg; used to determine the correct size of a bike frame.

Insert : A protective liner that can be placed inside a mountain bike tire to protect against punctures and improve ride quality.

Integrated Headset : A type of headset where the bearings sit directly inside the headtube of the frame, as opposed to being housed in external cups.

IS (International Standard) : A common mounting standard for disc brake calipers.

Idle : The state of a bike when it’s stationary or not being pedaled.

Indemnity : Legal terms found in waivers that riders might have to sign before participating in races or using bike parks, where they agree not to hold the organizers responsible for certain types of harm or loss.

Incline : An upward slope or hill.

Intermediate : Refers to the skill level between beginner and advanced. It can also refer to trails that are designed for riders with a moderate level of experience.

Inertia : The resistance of an object (like a bike) to a change in its state of motion.

Inventory : A list or collection of items, such as bike parts or tools.

Invert : A trick where the bike is turned upside down in the air.

Jib : Using natural and man-made features on a trail to perform tricks or simply play around.

Jump : A feature on a trail that allows riders to become airborne.

JRA (Just Riding Along) : A humorous term often used when a bike breaks unexpectedly, suggesting that the rider was doing nothing unusual when it happened.

Jockey Wheels : The small wheels in a derailleur that guide the chain.

Jersey : A specialized shirt worn by mountain bikers, often with wicking capabilities and a longer back to suit the riding position.

Joint : Where two or more parts of a bike frame meet and are typically welded, brazed, or bonded together.

Joyride : Riding just for fun, without any particular purpose or destination.

Jump Line : A series of jumps in succession on a trail.

J-Hook : A type of shape some berms or turns have, looking like the letter J. They start off shallow and become steeper at the exit.

Jackknife : When the front and back end of a bike (or vehicle) move in opposite directions, typically during a skid, resembling a folding knife.

Jetting : Adjusting a carburetor to optimize performance, more applicable to motorcycles but can be referred to in older mountain biking contexts.

Judder : Rapid oscillation or shaking, often used in the context of brakes when they cause a vibrating sensation.

Junction : A point where two or more trails meet.

Junior : A category in races for young riders, typically under the age of 18.

Kickstand : A device attached to a bike allowing it to stand upright without leaning against another object. However, many mountain bikes don’t come with one as they add extra weight.

Kicker : A steep ramp or takeoff used to get air. Kickers are designed to “kick” riders upwards.

Knobby : Referring to the prominent treads on mountain bike tires designed for traction in dirt and mud.

KOM (King of the Mountain) : A term borrowed from road cycling, but in the MTB context, it often refers to the fastest time on a segment of trail, as tracked by apps like Strava.

Kit : Refers to the cycling outfit or gear a rider is wearing.

Knock Block : A system used on some Trek mountain bikes that prevents the handlebars from turning too far and causing the fork or controls to hit the frame.

Knee Pads : Protective gear worn on the knees to prevent injury during falls.

Knock-off : Often refers to a product that is a cheap or counterfeit version of a more reputable brand.

Knee Knockers : Pedals or parts of the bike that can hit or “knock” a rider’s knees when pedaling or maneuvering.

Kickout : A sudden sideways slide of the rear wheel, often intentional, for maneuvering or playful purposes.

Knee/shin guards : Extended protective gear that covers both the knees and shins.

Knock : An unusual sound coming from the bike, often indicating something is loose or broken.

Kink : A sharp bend or twist, usually in a rail or in the shape of a trail feature.

Kevlar : A strong synthetic fiber used in the making of certain bike parts, including some tires, due to its high tensile strength-to-weight ratio.

Knee-dab : Touching the ground with the knee, often used in the context of trials riding where riders aim not to put a foot down.

Kicker pedal : A pedal technique where one foot kicks downward to help start a wheelie or manual.

Line : The path or route a rider chooses through a trail section.

Loam : A type of soil that’s a mix of sand, silt, and clay. It’s often considered the perfect type of dirt for mountain biking because it provides good grip.

LBS (Local Bike Shop) : Refers to one’s nearby bicycle store.

Landing : The part of a jump where the rider is expected to land.

Linkage : The system of rods and pivots used in certain types of rear suspension designs.

Loose : A term to describe a trail surface that’s covered in small, unconsolidated rocks or dirt.

Lugged Frame : A type of bike frame construction where tubes are joined using lugs (sockets) and brazed together.

Lowside : A type of fall where the bike slides out from under the rider, usually in a turn.

Lockout : A feature on some suspension forks and shocks that ‘locks’ them to make them rigid, which can be useful for climbing or riding on roads.

Liner : A soft, often padded layer found inside helmets or protective gear for added comfort and protection.

Lube : Short for lubricant. Used on chains and other parts to reduce friction and wear.

Log Over : A fallen log on a trail that riders must go over.

Loop : A circular or circuit trail that starts and ends at the same point.

Lactic Acid : A substance that builds up in the muscles during intense exercise, leading to muscle fatigue.

Lookback : A trick where the rider turns and looks back over their shoulder while in the air.

Lap : A single circuit of a race course or trail.

Limiter Screws : Screws on a derailleur that limit its range of motion to prevent the chain from going too far in either direction.

Levo : Short for “Turbo Levo,” a popular line of electric mountain bikes made by Specialized.

Loamy : Used to describe trails or sections that are soft and earthy, typically with a mix of organic material and soil.

Long Travel : Refers to bikes with a large amount of suspension travel, often used for more aggressive riding or rough terrains.

Layback : Refers to seatposts with a bend in them, allowing the saddle to be positioned further back.

Manual : Riding on the rear wheel without pedaling, essentially a wheelie without the pedaling action.

MTB : Abbreviation for mountain bike or mountain biking.

Mudguard : A piece attached to a bike to prevent mud from splashing up.

Magic Gear : A gear ratio that allows for a single-speed setup on a bike without a chain tensioner.

Matchy-Matchy : Slang term for when a rider’s gear, bike, and accessories all match in color or style.

Mega-avalanche : A specific type of downhill race that starts on a snow-covered mountain top and descends through various terrains.

MAMIL (Middle-Aged Man in Lycra): A slightly teasing term for older male cyclists who wear traditional cycling attire.

Mud Spike : A type of tire with long, aggressive knobs designed for muddy conditions.

Mech : Short for “mechanical,” usually referring to a mechanical problem or breakdown on a bike.

Mono : Another term for doing a wheelie.

Moto : Short for “motocross.” Sometimes used to describe a style of riding or a type of trail that is reminiscent of motocross.

MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System): A safety feature in some helmets designed to reduce rotational forces on the brain from angled impacts.

Manual Machine : A training device that helps riders practice and learn how to manual.

Min-maxing : The practice of setting up a bike with seemingly opposing features, like having a long travel fork with a short travel rear, to get the best of two worlds.

Mixte Frame : A specific frame design with a dropped top tube that runs to the rear of the bike, offering easier mounting and dismounting.

Mule : A bike that is set up to carry a lot of gear, especially for bikepacking or long-distance trips.

Mud Plugger : A rider who enjoys or excels at riding in muddy conditions.

Middle Ring : On a bike with a triple chainring setup, it’s the middle chainring.

Mis-shift : Accidentally shifting to the wrong gear.

Modulation : The ability of a brake to provide variable power, rather than just ‘on’ or ‘off’, allowing for smoother braking.

Monster Cross : A type of bike or race that is a mix between a cyclocross bike and a mountain bike.

Mojo : Slang for a rider’s confidence or rhythm. Losing one’s mojo means they’re feeling off or not riding well.

Masher : Someone who pedals with a lot of force but not necessarily with a lot of efficiency.

Marzocchi : A brand known for producing mountain bike forks and shocks.

N+1 : A popular saying among cyclists which means the number of bikes one should own is the number they currently own plus one.

Narrow-wide : Refers to a type of chainring with alternating narrow and wide teeth designed to better retain the chain without the need for a chainguide.

No-drop Ride : A group ride where no one gets left behind, and the group waits for slower riders.

Nock : The feeling or sound of something knocking, usually in the context of a bike part that’s not working as it should.

Noodle : A term to describe a flexible or weak part, often referring to handlebars or a suspension component that doesn’t provide enough support.

No-hander : A trick where the rider takes both hands off the handlebars while airborne.

No-footer : Similarly, a trick where the rider takes both feet off the pedals while in the air.

Nose Bonk : Tapping or bouncing the front wheel off an object, usually while in the air.

Nose Manual : Balancing on the front wheel while moving.

Neutral Support : In races, this refers to support services (like mechanics or support vehicles) that are not affiliated with any particular team but are there to help any rider in need.

Nobby Nic : A specific model of tire made by the company Schwalbe.

North Shore : A style of mountain biking that originated in the North Shore mountains near Vancouver, Canada. It’s known for its wooden structures, bridges, and skinnies built above the forest floor.

Nukeproof : A brand of mountain bikes.

Notube : Refers to the process or setup where traditional inner tubes are eliminated, and tires are sealed directly against the rims.

Needles : Thin, closely spaced tree branches that often line a trail, requiring careful navigation.

Natural : Features on a trail that are not man-made, like rocks, roots, and drops.

Nail : To perfectly execute a jump, trick, or section of a trail.

Narly/Nar : Slang for something that’s extreme, difficult, or impressive.

Neoprene : A type of synthetic rubber often used in wet weather or mud guards due to its water-resistant properties.

OTT (Off The Top): A feature on some suspension forks, particularly by DVO, that allows for the adjustment of the initial part of the travel to be more plush or supportive.

Over the Bars (OTB) : A crash where the rider is thrown over the handlebars. Often results from a sudden stop of the front wheel.

Outside Foot Down (OFD) : Technique in cornering where the rider places the outside pedal in the downward position for better balance and traction.

Out-and-Back : A type of trail or ride where you ride to a certain point and then return on the same trail.

Off-Camber : A trail section that slopes sideways, making it challenging because it’s not level. It can lead to the bike wanting to slide out from beneath the rider.

Overdrive : The largest chainring in front paired with the smallest cog in the rear, giving the highest gear ratio.

Oversteer : When the rear wheel of the bike slides outward in a turn, potentially causing the bike to spin.

One-By (1x) : A drivetrain setup with a single chainring in the front and multiple cogs in the back.

Open Face Helmet : A helmet that does not cover the entire face, unlike a full-face helmet. It’s typically lighter and offers more ventilation but less protection.

On the Rivet : A road cycling term that’s sometimes used in mountain biking. It means pushing oneself to the limit. It’s derived from old-style leather saddles where the front-most rivet was where riders would sit when pushing hard.

Orbea : A bicycle manufacturer known for producing both road and mountain bikes.

Overshoot : Jumping too far on a jump and landing past the intended landing zone.

O-Ring : A rubber ring found on suspension forks and rear shocks that helps riders see how much travel they’re using.

Opt Outside : A movement initiated by the outdoor retailer REI, encouraging people to spend Black Friday outdoors rather than shopping.

Offset : The distance the front axle is in front of the imaginary line drawn down the steering axis. It affects bike handling.

Oval Chainring : A type of chainring that’s not perfectly circular. Its design can help in smoother power transfer throughout the pedal stroke.

Oil Slick : A multi-colored, rainbow-like finish on certain bike components, especially popular on small parts like bolts or pedals.

Organic Brake Pads : Brake pads made from organic materials. They tend to be quieter but may wear out faster than metallic pads.

Outrigger : An extended part of a shoe or protective gear designed to provide additional stability or protection.

Pinch Flat : A type of puncture that occurs when the tire is compressed against the rim, often due to a hard impact, and results in two small holes (often called a “snakebite”).

Pump Track : A circuit of rollers and banked turns designed to be ridden without pedaling, where riders “pump” their bikes to gain momentum.

Pedal Bob : The unwanted bouncing of a bike’s rear suspension in response to pedaling forces.

Pedal Strike : When the pedal hits the ground, a rock, or any other obstacle while pedaling.

Presta Valve : A type of valve commonly found on bike tubes, especially on road and mountain bikes.

Pucker Factor : Slang for a scary or sketchy section of trail that makes you tense up.

Push Bike : Another term for a bike without pedals, often used to refer to balance bikes for kids.

Preride : Riding a racecourse before the actual race to familiarize oneself with the trail.

Podium : The place where the top racers stand during the awards ceremony, typically referring to the top three spots.

Power Meter : A device used to measure a rider’s power output, commonly used for training.

Pedal Platform : A feature in some rear suspension systems or shocks designed to reduce pedal bob.

Pannier : A bag or container that attaches to the sides of a bike, especially on a bike rack.

Plus-size Tires : Tires that are wider than typical mountain bike tires, usually in the 2.6″ to 3.0″ width range.

POV : Point of View. Refers to videos or photos shot from the rider’s perspective, typically using a helmet or chest-mounted camera.

Post Mount : A type of brake mount where the brake caliper is bolted directly to the fork or frame.

Peg : Cylindrical pieces that are attached to the axles of BMX bikes for grinding and tricks. While more common in BMX, they can sometimes be found on mountain bikes for specific trick purposes.

Progressive Suspension : Suspension that becomes stiffer as it’s compressed.

Play : Unwanted movement or wobble in a part, indicating it may be loose or worn out.

PSI : Stands for “Pounds per Square Inch.” It’s the unit of measurement for tire pressure.

Pivots : Points where the bike frame components move relative to each other, especially in full suspension bikes.

Plush : Describes suspension that feels very smooth and absorbent.

Popping : A quick and light lift-off, usually off a jump or feature, using the bike’s momentum and some body movement.

Privateer : A racer who competes without significant sponsor support or without being on a major team, essentially self-funded or with minimal sponsorship.

Pull Up : Lifting the front wheel or the whole bike up into the air using the handlebars.

Pin it : Slang for riding very fast.

QR (Quick Release): A type of skewer system used on bike wheels and seatpost clamps that allows for easy removal without the need for tools. The quick-release lever can be opened and closed by hand.

Q-Factor : Refers to the distance between the outside of one crank arm to the outside of the opposite crank arm. It’s an important measurement for some riders concerning pedal efficiency and comfort.

Quad : Slang for the quadriceps muscles in the thighs, which are crucial for pedaling.

Quickstep : A rapid cadence or quick pedaling, not to be confused with the road cycling team of the same name.

Quiver : Refers to a collection of bikes that a rider might own, each suited for different types of riding. For example, one might have a downhill bike, a trail bike, and a cross-country bike in their “quiver.”

Quarter Pipe : A ramp with a curved, quarter-circular profile used in bike parks and some dirt jump areas. Riders use it to gain air, perform tricks, or to change direction.

Rigid : A bike that lacks suspension. Common for some fat bikes, singlespeeds, and old-school mountain bikes.

Rim Brake : A type of brake that uses friction applied directly to the wheel rim to slow down the bike.

Roost : The spray of dirt kicked up from a rear tire, often when cornering aggressively.

Rear Triangle : The rear section of a bicycle frame, made up of the seat stays and chain stays.

Rebound : The rate at which a suspension component returns to its original position after being compressed.

Rock Garden : A section of trail covered in loose or embedded rocks that can be challenging to navigate.

Roller : A mound or bump on a trail that riders can either pump for speed or jump over.

Rotor : The disc in a disc brake system against which the brake pads are pressed to slow the bike.

Rake : The angle of the front fork’s offset, which affects steering and handling.

Ride it out : A phrase encouraging riders to continue despite challenging or uncertain terrain ahead.

Ramp up : The increasing resistance in a suspension fork or shock as it goes through its travel.

Race Face : A brand known for producing mountain bike components.

Ratchet : A type of hub mechanism that allows the rider to coast without the pedals turning.

Rider Down : A call or warning indicating that there’s a fallen rider on the trail.

Rooty : A section of trail that’s covered in or crisscrossed by exposed tree roots.

Rubber Side Down : A colloquial way of saying “stay safe” or “don’t crash.”

Rut : A groove or depression worn into a trail, often by the passage of bike tires or water.

Rail : To ride a turn or berm particularly smoothly and quickly.

Rideable : Refers to a trail or section that can be ridden without having to dismount.

Rock Shox : A prominent brand in the mountain biking world known for its suspension products.

Resin Pads : A type of brake pad material. Resin (or organic) pads are quieter but might wear faster than sintered (metallic) pads.

Rim Profile : The cross-sectional shape of a wheel rim, which can influence tire shape and performance.

Riser Bar : A type of handlebar that rises upward from the center clamp area, offering the rider a more upright position.

Rigid Fork : A front fork without any suspension.

Rad : Slang for something cool or impressive.

Rider’s Left/Right : Directions given from the rider’s perspective, often used to indicate features or obstacles on the trail.

Singletrack : A narrow trail designed for one-way bike traffic.

Suspension : The system of shocks and springs used on bikes to absorb impact.

Stem : The component connecting the handlebars to the bike’s fork steerer tube.

Seatpost : The tube that holds the saddle and inserts into the bike frame.

Switchback : A sharp turn in the trail, usually 180 degrees, often in mountainous terrain to reduce the gradient of ascents or descents.

Strava : A popular app used by cyclists to track rides and compete in virtual segments.

Slack : Describes a bike with a laid-back head angle, often indicating a more downhill or enduro focus.

Shimano : A major manufacturer of cycling components.

SRAM : Another major manufacturer of cycling components.

Spoke : The rods connecting the bike hub to the rim.

Seat Stay : The part of the frame that connects the top of the rear triangle to the seat tube.

Skinnies : Narrow wooden or rock features that riders balance and ride across.

Shred : To ride particularly hard or aggressively.

Stack : The vertical distance from the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube.

Scrub : To ride a jump without getting too much air, staying close to the ground.

Sag : The amount by which suspension compresses under the rider’s weight when they are seated and stationary.

Saddle : The bike seat.

Stoppie : A maneuver where the rider uses the front brake to lift the rear wheel off the ground.

Slickrock : A type of smooth, rounded sandstone found in some desert regions, like Moab, Utah.

Sintered Pads : A type of brake pad material. Sintered (or metallic) pads can handle heat better and last longer than organic pads but might be noisier.

Step-up : A jump where the landing is higher than the takeoff.

Send it : To go for a big jump or challenging section with commitment.

Spd : Shimano’s clipless pedal system.

Speed Wobble : An uncontrollable oscillation of the bike, usually at high speeds.

Shuttle : Using a vehicle to get to the top of a trail, especially for downhill runs.

Slippery When Wet : A sign or warning that a trail becomes particularly slick after rain.

Short Travel : A bike with relatively small suspension travel, often intended for cross-country or light trail use.

Stanchion : The upper, usually polished tube part of a suspension fork.

Sag Setting : Adjusting the suspension to achieve the desired sag.

Snakebite : A type of puncture with two holes caused by the rim pinching the inner tube, often due to low tire pressure.

Singlespeed : A bike with only one gear.

Side Knobs : The outermost knobs on a tire, crucial for cornering grip.

Spin : Pedaling at a high cadence.

Spd-SL : Shimano’s road bike clipless pedal system, occasionally used in MTB settings.

Sealed Bearing : Bearings that are sealed from the elements to reduce maintenance and increase lifespan.

Steer Tube : The tube at the top of a fork that the stem attaches to.

Sta-True : A term indicating that a wheel remains in true alignment, without warping or bending.

Trail Bike : A versatile type of mountain bike designed for a mix of uphill and downhill riding.

Travel : Refers to the amount of suspension movement a bike has, typically measured in millimeters.

Tubeless : A type of tire setup where the tire seals directly to the rim, eliminating the need for an inner tube.

Tread : The pattern of knobs on a tire that provides grip.

Tabletop : A type of jump with a flat top. Riders can safely roll over it without jumping.

Teardrop : A type of turn on a downhill trail that sharply curves back on itself.

Technical : Describes sections of a trail that are particularly challenging due to features like rocks, roots, or tight turns.

Track Stand : The act of balancing on a bike while stationary, often used in trials riding.

Trials : A style of riding focused on balance and skill where riders navigate obstacle courses without putting their feet down.

Tuck : A position where a rider minimizes their wind resistance by tucking in their limbs.

Truing : Adjusting a wheel so it spins straight without any side-to-side wobble.

Thru-Axle : A type of axle that provides more rigidity than a traditional quick-release.

Tire Bite : Marks left on a rider’s calf or leg from the tire when slipping off the pedals.

Trailhead : The start or entrance to a trail.

Triple : Refers to a chainset with three chainrings.

Toe Clip : A device attached to a pedal that a rider’s foot slides into, predating clipless pedal systems.

Transition : The curved surface that links the bottom of a jump to the top or the part where a downhill section changes to flat or uphill.

Twist Shift : A type of gear shifting mechanism operated by twisting a section of the handlebar grip.

Tandem : A bicycle designed for two riders, one behind the other.

Tail Whip : A trick where the rider jumps and spins the bike around horizontally beneath them.

Torque : The force applied in rotation, often referred to concerning tightening bolts or when discussing the power of an electric motor.

Taco : When a wheel is bent almost in half, often from a strong impact, resembling the shape of a taco.

Tube : Refers to the inner tube inside traditional tire setups.

Tread Pattern : The arrangement and design of the knobs on a tire.

Top Tube : The frame tube that runs from the head tube to the seat tube.

Throwing Shapes : The act of doing tricks or stylish moves in the air.

Toe Overlap (or Toe Strike) : When the front of a rider’s shoe overlaps or can touch the front wheel, especially during turns.

Turbo Trainer : A device that allows a rider to ride their bike stationary, often used for indoor training.

Trail Dog : A dog that is trained to follow riders on trails, typically running behind or ahead of the rider.

Uphill : Refers to trails or sections of a trail that rise in elevation.

Urban MTB : A style of mountain biking done in urban areas, often involving jumps off of man-made structures.

U-Brake : A type of rim brake commonly found on BMX bikes and older mountain bikes.

Unweight : The act of lightening the load on a bike, especially the wheels, to clear obstacles or navigate tricky sections. This can be done by lifting off the saddle or using bunny hops.

Understeer : When the front wheel loses traction, especially in a corner, causing the bike to continue straight instead of turning.

Upgrade-itis : A humorous term used to describe a mountain biker’s constant desire to upgrade or buy new gear.

Upstroke : The upward phase of the pedal stroke.

UCI : Union Cycliste Internationale, the world governing body for the sport of cycling, including mountain biking events and races.

Ultra-Endurance Race : A race that goes beyond the typical marathon mountain biking distance, often over 100 miles.

Unicycle : A single-wheeled bike that requires considerable balance and is sometimes used for off-road or mountain unicycling.

V-Brake : A type of rim brake where the brake arms mount directly to the frame or fork, offering better stopping power than cantilever brakes. Also known as linear-pull brakes.

Valve : The component on a tube or tubeless setup where air is pumped in or let out. There are primarily two types of valves used in mountain biking: Presta and Schrader.

Volume Spacer : A component used in suspension forks or rear shocks to adjust the air volume, allowing riders to tune the progression of their suspension.

Vertical Drop : The total descent in altitude on a trail or course.

Velo : French for “bicycle,” sometimes used colloquially among cyclists.

Venting : When a hydraulic brake system gets too hot, causing boiling brake fluid which can result in brake fade or complete brake failure.

Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) : A patented suspension design used by brands like Santa Cruz and Intense that provides specific performance benefits regarding pedal efficiency and bump absorption.

Variable Terrain : A section of a trail that changes frequently, offering a mix of surfaces or challenges.

Vision : A rider’s ability to read the trail ahead and anticipate the best lines or approach for obstacles.

Wheelie : A basic bike trick where the rider lifts the front wheel off the ground and rides on the back wheel.

Whip : A bike trick where the rider throws the rear end of the bike out to one side while airborne.

Washout : When the front wheel loses traction, especially in a turn, causing the rider to fall.

Wheelbase : The distance between the centers of the front and rear wheels on a bike. A longer wheelbase typically offers more stability, while a shorter one provides maneuverability.

Wheelset : Refers to both the front and rear wheels of a bike.

Wallride : A maneuver where the rider rides along a vertical wall or surface.

Watts : A unit of power used to measure a cyclist’s performance, especially in relation to training or electronic drivetrains.

Wobble : An unstable movement of the bike, especially at high speeds, also known as “speed wobble” or “death wobble”.

Wide Bars : Handlebars that are wider than typical, providing better control and stability but potentially making tight spaces more challenging.

Water Bottle Cage : The bracket attached to a bike frame used to hold a water bottle.

Wrist Guard : Protective gear worn by riders to protect their wrists in case of a fall.

Weight Distribution : Refers to how a rider’s weight is spread across the bike, affecting handling and control.

Weld : The joints on a metal bike frame where tubes are joined.

Wicking : Refers to materials in cycling apparel that draw moisture away from the skin to keep the rider dry.

Workstand : A stand used to hold a bike off the ground, making it easier to perform maintenance or repairs.

Wings : Playful term referring to the pedals, especially when a rider’s feet fly off them in mid-air.

Wrench : Another term for a mechanic or someone who works on bikes.

World Cup : A series of international mountain biking races overseen by the UCI.

Wrap : Protective or decorative material that is applied to a frame or components to prevent damage or personalize the look of a bike.

Winter Beater : A bike used during the winter months, often older or less expensive, to avoid damaging a primary bike.

X-Country (XC) : Short for Cross Country. This refers to a type of mountain biking that generally means riding long distances on trails, including both climbing and descending. XC bikes are typically lightweight and designed for efficiency over long distances.

X-Up : A trick in which the rider turns the handlebars 180 degrees in one direction while airborne, and then turns them back before landing.

XD Driver : A type of rear hub driver body made by SRAM. It’s designed to work with their 11 and 12-speed cassettes, allowing for a 10-tooth smallest cog.

X-Fusion : A company that manufactures suspension forks and shocks for mountain bikes.

XTR : A high-end mountain bike component groupset made by Shimano. It’s considered top-of-the-line within Shimano’s mountain biking range.

XX : A designation by SRAM indicating a top-tier level of components, as in XX1 Eagle, their high-end 12-speed drivetrain.

Yard Sale : A slang term used when a rider crashes, and their equipment (bike, water bottles, tools, etc.) gets scattered all over the place, resembling a yard sale.

Yoke : A component that connects the rear shock to the bike frame in certain full-suspension designs.

Yeti : A well-known brand of mountain bikes. Yeti Cycles has been in the industry for many years and is known for producing high-quality bikes and sponsoring competitive mountain biking teams.

Yaw : Refers to the rotational movement of the bike around its vertical axis. In bike components, SRAM uses “Yaw” to describe the angle of movement in some of their front derailleurs, which is designed to improve shifting.

Youth Category : In racing, a classification for younger riders. The specific age range might vary based on the event or organization.

Zig-Zag : Refers to a winding path or trail, often used to navigate steep terrains or to add technical challenge.

Zero Stack Headset (ZS) : A type of headset where the bearings sit inside the frame as opposed to on top, which can result in a lower stack height.

Zone : Being “in the zone” refers to a mental state where the rider feels hyper-focused, connected with the trail, and performing at their best.

Zipline : Informal term for a long, straight, and steep section of trail, often with a fast descent.

Zinn : Referring to Lennard Zinn, a known figure in the mountain biking community, especially for his books on bike maintenance and his custom bicycle builds.

ZTR : Stands for “Stan’s NoTubes Racing” and is often seen on rims. Stan’s NoTubes is a company known for their tubeless tire systems.

As we navigate the dynamic trails and terrains of mountain biking, the language we use becomes an integral part of the experience. It binds the community, provides clarity during rides, and adds a dash of flair to our biking tales.

With the “Mountain Bike Terms A to Z: Ultimate Guide” in your toolkit, you’re now equipped not just to ride the trails but to talk the talk.

Whether you’re recounting a gnarly descent to fellow riders or explaining the nuances of a dropper post to a newbie, your mastery over MTB jargon, slang, and phrases will undoubtedly enhance your biking journey.

Remember, just as trails evolve and change, so does the language. Stay curious, stay updated, and most importantly, keep shredding!

travel mountain bike meaning

How Much Travel Do You Need?

travel mountain bike meaning

Simple question. Tough answer.

These days it’s near impossible to go to a bike shop and leave with a bad bike. The research, development and tech in modern mountain bikes is very impressive. They’re way more capable than bikes from even five years ago. It becomes a blessing and a curse. With literally hundreds of solid options, the difficulty becomes deciding which style of bike is best for you. Well, consider this the ultimate, be-all and end-all, no questions asked, 100% scientific, authoritative guide to helping you find your next bike.

travel mountain bike meaning

Here’s how our test went. We picked three different styles of bikes within the broader “trail bike” category (Trail meaning the bike pedals uphill, rides downhill and isn’t strictly designed for XC or DH racing. You know, the kind 95% of us ride.) Within the “Trail” category we broke it down further into just plain old Trail, All Mountain and Enduro. We chose to keep all of the bikes within the same brand to eliminate differences in suspension design and to minimize differences in geometry. We wanted this test to be all about the amount of suspension rather than geometry or platform. We chose the Santa Cruz Tallboy (Trail), Santa Cruz Hightower (All Mountain) and the Santa Cruz Megatower (Enduro) for our test. All three of our test rigs had the same level of build kit, carbon Reserve wheels and surprisingly very similar geometry. The biggest differentiator was how much travel each bike had. The Tallboy comes with 120mm out back paired to a 130mm fork, the Hightower is 140mm rear and 150mm front, while the Megatower packs a punch at 160mm front and back. Head tube angles across all three bikes only varied by 0.5 degrees.

travel mountain bike meaning

We loaded all the bikes into the shop van and hit the hills. We rode each bike on three different trails to get a good idea of how they all compare on a wide variety of terrain. Our test climb lasted about 15 minutes and had a little bit of everything. It had fast bits, steep bits, rocky bits, loose bits and paved road bits — that’s a lot of bits. We also rode a flow trail with berms, jumps and rollers. The final trail we rode really pushed some limits. It was steep and rooty with a handful of drops and loose flat corners. The trails we tested gave us a good idea of how each bike feels on an “everyday” ride as well as a ride that might be above your pay grade.

travel mountain bike meaning

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. How Much Travel Do You Need?

Conor – This went about as expected. We started the test on the enduro bikes while our legs were fresh. The Megatower climbed well enough. The steep seat tube kept my weight over the pedals and not way off the back of the bike. It had gobs of traction for the looser pitches of the climb. It felt heavy and I spent quite a bit of the climb in the easiest gear just to keep the wheels spinning. Enduro bikes are meant to be able to get you up a hill without too much fuss, but they really put an emphasis on descending. The geometry is designed to be as stable as possible down rough, steep terrain. This same geometry is what makes the bike sit back and wander up steep climbs. I own an enduro bike so I’m very familiar with how they climb. They’re not amazing, but they will do the job. I’m still able to put in big days in the mountains without being completely gassed by the end.

Brock – The enduro bike climbed well enough. Nobody ever buys an enduro bike because they’re wanting to climb a lot. My idea of riding an enduro bike is to get me to the top without hike-a-biking a DH sled. The modern geometry on this bike felt really good on the climbs, both the long, drawn-out climbs, and the short-punchy ones. The seat tube angle kept me right over the top of the bike, and I never felt like I was losing traction or working harder than I needed to be. The only noticeable downside was that I was pushing a bit of extra weight being on the enduro bike. Thanks to the Eagle gearing and the 50 tooth “granny gear,” I never had to walk this bike.

Conor – We then moved on to the all mountain bike. The Santa Cruz Hightower felt apparently lighter and snappier from the get go. It sagged into its travel less and provided a snappier ride. Sitting higher in the travel, my weight was more centered on the bike. The front wheel wandered less and tracked a straighter line when things got steep. I felt faster even though this was our second lap up the hill. All mountain bikes are designed to take you anywhere on the mountain. They need to be able to go uphill, downhill and just about anywhere. Our all mountain test bike was still a tad heavy and a little more focused on downhill performance.

Brock – After jumping onto the all mountain bike, I was really glad that Conor had chosen to ride the enduro bikes first. The difference in weight, even just being a few pounds, felt so much better to climb on. I rarely used the “granny gear” on this bike, even on the long section of pavement after getting off the dirt. It was noticeably easier to get up and over the rough, rooty sections of the climb without getting hung up, or feeling like you were exerting every last bit of energy. Overall, it felt a lot more efficient, and I felt better on this bike at the top of the hill.

Conor – Finally, moving on to the trail bike. The Tallboy made the climb a piece of cake. Again the difference in weight was rather apparent. The trail bike felt much more responsive than the other two. It accelerated quicker, tracked the straightest line no matter how steep the climb and encouraged us to push the pace a little. No Eagle gear moseying here.

Brock – The same feeling going from the enduro bike to the all mountain bike was there again changing from the all mountain to the trail bike. A lighter feel, along with more efficient pedaling urged me to thank Conor, yet again, for picking the enduro bike first, and leaving me on the trail bike to repeat the climb for the third time. Not only was it lighter than the all mountain bike, but the feeling of it being snappier was evident as well. One thing I did notice about the shorter travel in the rough sections of the climb was that it would get hung up a bit more than the longer travel bikes, meaning that momentum would get robbed by roots and rocky sections on the punchy climbs. The fix for this was better line choice, or just putting down a bit more power to push through. Again, even more so than the all mountain bike, I was using less low gears on this bike, which I bring up because this was the third time climbing within about an hour or two, and fatigue was setting in. I felt like I might just keep pedaling all day on this bike.

Our times for the ride confirmed how we felt on each of the bikes. The trail bike was the fastest while the enduro was the slowest with the all mountain bike falling somewhere in the middle.

travel mountain bike meaning

Let the fun begin. How Much Travel Do You Need?

Conor – First up is the enduro bike — fast, confident, grippy and a heck of a lot of fun. This is where Brock and I started to vary in our opinions about the bikes. Personally, I loved the enduro bike on this trail. I was able to push harder into corners, overshoot jumps and barely even feel it and hit the drops without slowing down. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. I did notice the Megatower felt a little sluggish out of the tighter corners compared to the other two bikes. It wallowed a bit under heavy pedaling efforts too. Overall, the enduro bike felt really fast but at the same time very controlled, two things that don’t always go hand in hand.

Brock – As we began our descent on the enduro bikes, my overall thought was that the enduro bike felt long and that I didn’t need it on the flow trail we had chosen. It felt like it needed to be manhandled through the tighter corners, and I didn’t feel much of a benefit except where there were sections that I carried a bit more speed than I probably should have. In the moments of misjudgment on my part, I was grateful to be on a longer travel bike that soaked it up. One in particular was a blind drop that I picked a bad line, landed further out than desired, putting me off the trail. In this situation, I think that the extra travel made up the difference of getting bounced off the bike, or recovering and riding away. In the rougher sections near the bottom, the enduro bike seemed to gain speed through the rock gardens, but lose speed in the tighter corners.

Conor – The all mountain bike was a good mix of the other two. It instilled more confidence than the trail bike without being sluggish. It had more “pop” than the Megatower but not as much as the Tallboy. The tires felt gripper and more substantial. The Hightower was a little easier to get around a corner than the enduro bike. The shorter wheelbase made the tighter section at the bottom of the trail much easier to navigate. It got back up to speed faster after a corner as well. If your trails are really tight but still difficult and rocky, the all mountain bike might be a better option than a full blown enduro rig. I was slowest on the all mountain bike, however. I felt the Hightower didn’t take enough of the “monster truck” factor from the Megatower to be fast in the rocks, but it didn’t take enough of the fast, zippy nature of the Tallboy in the corners and rollers. Or at least that’s the only way I can justify it.

Brock – I immediately felt better going downhill on the all mountain bike. It was so much easier to maneuver and plant exactly where I wanted on the trail, which I credit to the shorter wheel base, and lighter weight. The bike felt like it was encouraging me to pedal out of the corners and make extra speed in the sections where I didn’t feel comfortable on the enduro bike. Come time for the rough stuff, the bike had plenty of travel to not feel much of an effect, and keep the speeds high. When it got really rough, I could always preload the suspension, and jump over the top of it. Something that wasn’t there on the enduro bike because I felt like it needed to just plow through it. The all mountain bike felt overall more playful than the enduro bike on this trail.

Conor – Lastly the trail bike — or should we call it the skateboard with two wheels. The trail bike liked to play and pop. It felt very quick in and out of the corners. The Tallboy gives you the feeling that you’re not wasting any energy pushing through the travel. In other words, when you pump to gain speed, all of your energy is translated into making the bike go faster. Same goes for pedaling back up to speed out of a corner. Nothing is wasted. The trail bike accelerated very quickly. While the top speeds were slower, on a twisty trail like the one we rode, the maneuverable nature of the bike can bring up your average speeds resulting in a faster run. I really enjoyed the ride quality of the trail bike. Instead of my usual style (death-gripping the bars, closing my eyes and hoping I don’t run into something) I was forced to slow down a bit. Going slower I was really able to focus more on having fun, rather than being fast. It’s a style of riding I’m really starting to enjoy.

Brock – Since I used the word “playful” for the all mountain bike on this trail, I think I’d use some sort of descriptive word to emphasize the playfulness on the trail bike — super playful, extra playful, extremely playful — something like that. Or maybe I say, “grinningly playful” to put it into perspective for those who ride and get it — it was so good. Pushing it into corners, jumping over things, pulling into a manual through rough stuff, or flat stuff, or just any stuff, this bike was rad. I’m pretty sure after riding this I started running through some financial possibilities to purchase this bike and bring it home. It was at home on a fast flow trail, and made me want to ride laps over and over on it. This bike got pushed hard, and responded well. I did find the limit of it a time or two, and just kept riding. It was really surprising at how capable a short travel bike can be, and how much fun it amounts to.

travel mountain bike meaning

Watch the full flow trail runs –

travel mountain bike meaning

Things are getting serious now. How much travel do you need?

Conor – We saved the hardest trail of the day for last. This descent had enough roots to last a lifetime, steep skidder sections and plenty of trees to narrowly dodge… or hit. The enduro bike obviously ate it up. It really came into its element on the tough descent. The Megatower didn’t get hung up in the roots, in fact it seemed to just pick up speed. The rear end moved up and out of the way with ease. The steeps didn’t make the bike feel outgunned and the chunky ledges and drops didn’t get the bike bouncing and bucking around. I had the most fun during the entire day on this trail on this bike. Pushing into root littered corners at high speed is my kind of fun. I liked the way the bike stayed composed in sections where I started losing control of the other bikes. The bumps don’t disappear (that wouldn’t be any fun) rather they just feel inconsequential. I knew the trail was bumpy, I could feel it, but it didn’t seem to matter. I didn’t feel the need to grab the brakes. The bike almost dared me to see if I could go faster, push harder into a corner or pull up for a big double. My time reflected the amount of fun I was having.

Brock – The enduro bike felt like this tech trail was made for it. Or the trail felt like it was made for the enduro bike. Either way, you get the point. It ate up the steep rooty section at the top as if they weren’t there, and helped me feel confident maintaining and gaining speed through drops and steep sections. Although my time is not on track with how I felt, this was the bike I’d choose for this type of trail. The problem was, before riding this, I pushed one of the other bikes a bit harder than I should have, and got the scare of my life. This caused some hesitation on the enduro bike so I wouldn’t have a repeat of the previous run, or get bucked off the bike. My complaints of the bike being too much, or overkill on the flow trail, were nowhere to be found on this trail.

Conor – The all mountain bike handled the tough descent as you would hope. It didn’t feel quite as good as the enduro bike, but it gave me enough confidence to let loose. Compared to the Megatower, the back end felt a little more chattery and less composed in the high speed roots. The bike bounced around a little more and I found myself grabbing brakes where I didn’t need to on the enduro bike. All the drops and steep sections felt great though — there was plenty of travel to remain in control. There was enough grip for the dusty conditions and cornering felt fast.

Brock – The all mountain bike handled everything I threw at it on the tech trail, until I went too big on a drop and scared myself into grabbing the brakes before the next drop and sliding out, as mentioned above. I guess we could say I felt over confident, and pushed it too hard. Since I didn’t technically go down, I’d say pushing it too hard and finding the limits is a good thing, especially on a trail like this. The bike felt nimble, and never felt under-gunned through the roughest parts, partly due to the aggressive geometry, but also because it had just enough travel to get the job done.

Conor – The trail bike was a bit of a surprise. It handled the roots fairly well and really only felt out of its element when things got steep. The bike bucked around quite a bit more than the other two. I was on the brakes more while aboard the Tallboy. I didn’t have the same confidence as with the other bikes. The ragged edge felt quite a bit closer and at one point I lost control of the bike and hit a tree. In order to enjoy this trail on the trail bike, I had to slow down and ride a little differently. Instead of no-braking a section and plowing into everything in my way, I’d focus more on staying on a good line and hitting my braking points.

Brock – The trail bike again was grinningly fun. Before riding this bike down this particular trail, it would have never crossed my mind to take a 120mm bike down such a rowdy trail. Instead I would have opted for a longer travel bike, or a different trail. However, I would gladly ride this bike any day of the week back down this trail. It felt confident and playful throughout the whole ride. Obviously in the real rough and steep stuff, things got a bit dicey, but never too much to scare or intimidate me. If anything, I’d say that on this bike, you just feel the trail a bit more than on the longer bikes.

travel mountain bike meaning

Watch the full tech trail runs –

travel mountain bike meaning

Brock – The enduro bike was great on the tech trail, and not my favorite on the flow trail. It’s a lot of bike. Its job is to get you to the top eventually, and have a rad time coming back down. It’s happiest finding the roughest bits of trail to pilot it down, and encourages that type of riding. It’s also good at making up the differences and shortcomings of the rider. If you like to smash and bash, and perhaps need some help when things get a little out of control, this bike may be for you.

My pick out of the three bikes would be the all mountain bike. It’s a bike that’s great at pedaling mellow trails and still having a good time, or taking a shuttle to the top and riding down the gnarliest trail you can find. It’s well rounded in everything that you could do with it. The all mountain bike made me think of long days on Park City trails where I just start pedaling without an end goal in mind and end up getting lost and finding my way back to the parking lot with 30-40 miles on the odometer for the day. The long days up, across, and back down is what this bike is ideal for in my eyes. This bike is going to make a great bike for the rider that does all of the above, and needs just one bike to do it all.

The trail bike might have the most fun factor of the three. If we timed average time smiling or giggling on the bike, this would win. If you’re not the rider to go regularly push yourself on really steep trails all the time, this could be the one. If you’re out for a good time, no matter the terrain or the people you’re with, and occasionally like to get outside of your comfort zone, this could also be the bike to handle it all. It’s been dubbed the downhiller’s XC bike, and since we all love to go downhill at some point, I don’t think I could agree more.

Conor – Which bike would I pick? Short answer, I’d take the enduro bike all day. What can I say? I’m a long travel kind of guy. I like that it has your back no matter how rowdy things get. You can always rely on the bike to get you out of a spicy situation. I’m happy enough to take a penalty on the climbs to get that extra downhill performance. I don’t feel like there is such a thing as “too much travel.” Feel like your bike is too big? Ride it faster, brake less, hit jumps bigger and smash every rock in sight. I can see the advantages to shorter travel bikes, but they don’t align with my priorities very well. If you want to hit hard trails, or hate the feeling of being outgunned, an enduro bike is going to be a good choice for you. It’s got your back in every situation.

The all mountain bike felt too much like a fence sitter to me. I want a bike that can go mach burrito down a nasty trail, or I want a bike that is just down to take it easy, hit all the jumps and have a good time. For me the all mountain bike doesn’t take enough of the strengths from the enduro or trail categories to really shine. My times on the day reflect that pretty well. We didn’t have a way to measure “good times” but the hootin’ and hollerin’ was more subdued aboard the all mountain bike. And, don’t take this as me hating on the Santa Cruz Hightower. I think it makes an excellent all mountain bike. The category just isn’t for me. I think someone who doesn’t just ride buffed out singletrack, but isn’t willing to give up that extra edge of climbing performance would really enjoy an all mountain bike. I can also see people who like to ride hard trails at slower speeds really liking this category too.

The trail bike gave me a run for the money. I had a heck of a good time looking for features to hit, jumps to jump and corners to smash. It’s a riding style I’m not as used to but it’s really starting to grow on me. I could see myself buying a short travel trail bike in the future. Who knows, maybe it will even replace my long-travel squishy bike one day. I like the way these shorter travel bikes handle and the benefits can’t be ignored. For the time being though, they just don’t line up as well with the terrain I like to ride. If you like riding cruiser singletrack and the occasional rugged trail, a trail bike would be an excellent option.

Hopefully this article and series of videos helps you decide which style of bike is best for you. If you’re interested in any of the bikes we rode in our test, we have all of them in our demo fleet. If you want to try something other than a Santa Cruz demo, we have a ton of other bikes. Check out the whole list of demo bikes here .

Share this:

One response to “how much travel do you need”.

YourMomentOfZen Avatar

Nice summary. There is undeniable sex appeal for the longer travel bikes, and one might like to have more “just in case”. At the end of the day, you have to know a couple of things: where you will be riding mostly and your skill level. I agonized over choosing between an Ibis Ripley and Ripmo. I finally opted for the Ripley and it is a friggin’ blast. I still window shop the Ripmo, but I figure that can wait until I can really make the Ripley sail. It doesn’t bottom out on 4 foot drops and it is a rocket on smoother flow trails. I am also one of those oddballs that enjoys the challenges of climbing something a little on the technical side.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Blog at

Discover more from Bikers Edge

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Type your email…

Continue reading


  • Mountain Bikes
  • Gravel Bikes
  • Hybrid Bikes
  • Electric Bikes
  • Commuter Bikes
  • Exercise Bikes
  • Women’s Bikes
  • Kids’ Bikes
  • All Best Bike Brands
  • Mountain Bike Brands
  • Electric Bike Brands
  • Bike Rack Brands
  • Brand Review: Rad Power Bikes
  • Brand Review: Ride1UP Bikes

Disclaimer: Bikexchange is reader-supported . We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through the links on our site.

Best Short-Travel Full-Suspension Mountain Bikes – 100 to 130mm

ibis ripley bike

Ibis Ripley – One of the most iconic short-travel playbikes available.

Trail and Cross-Country mountain bikes offer limitless fun on various terrains. There are quite a few different mountain bike types out there, but in this review – we’ll be focusing on the lighter end of the spectrum, bikes that are considered as short travel full-suspension mountain bikes.

  • You may also like:   15 Best Full-Suspension Mountain Bikes to Consider

Best Short-Travel Full-Suspension Mountain Bikes

1 . orbea – oiz h20.

Best XC Full-Suspension Mountain Bike

Orbea OIZ H20 Bike

Aluminum / 12-Speed Shimano Deore  / 29×2.35″

MSRP: $3,599 Jenson USA

Fork : Fox 32 Float Rhythm, 120mm travel Shock : Fox i-Line DPS Performance, 120mm travel Wheels : Orbea OC1 25c

The Orbea Oiz H20 is a sleek full-suspension XC bike built for speed and efficiency. With a premium aluminum frame, quality components, and World Cup geometry, you’ll be smashing your PRs with the Oiz in no time. 

It’s ideally suited to cross-country or long-distance trail riding, with a 12-speed Shimano Deore/XT groupset that includes a 10-51T cassette.

Fox provides both the I-Line DPS Performance shock and the 32 Float Rhythm fork. To complement the lightweight Orbea OC1 rims, you get 29×2.35″ Rekon Race EXO tires.

Head tube angle: 68º / Seat tube angle: 74º / Chainstay: 435mm

Buy on Jenson USA

2 . Santa Cruz Bicycles – Blur C S

Santa Cruz Blur C S

MSRP : $5,549

Fork: RockShox SID SL Select 100mm travel Rear Shock: RockShox SIDLuxe Select+ 100mm travel Wheels:  RaceFace AR Offset 29″

The Santa Cruz Blur is the famous MTB brand’s race-ready XC bike, designed to be lightweight, fast, and efficient. 

The Blur C S uses Santa Cruz’s more affordable carbon grade, which has excellent stiffness and strength characteristics that help maximize power transfer.

A 100mm travel RockShox SidLuxe Select+ shock is enhanced by a patented SuperLight suspension linkage that keeps the weight low but enhances rear-end traction on trickier sections. 

This build comes with a SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed, 10-50T drivetrain with Level TL hydraulic disc brakes. Other notable components include the fast-rolling Maxxis Aspen 2.4″ tires, an SDG Tellis dropper for extra descending control, and lightweight RaceFace AR Offset rims. 

Pick the Santa Cruz Blur C S if you’ve got lofty XC ambitions and the budget to match. 

Buy on

3 . Pivot – Mach 4 SL Ride

pivot mach 4 SL ride mountain bike

Carbon / 12-Speed Shimano XT/SLX / 29×2.2″

MSRP: $6,199 Competitive Cyclist

Fork : Fox Float 34 Performance Step-cast 120mm  Shock : Fox Performance Float DPS 100mm  Wheels : DT Swiss X1900 alloy

The Pivot Mach 4 SL Ride is a sleek full-suspension XC MTB by a lesser-know but high-end MTB manufacturer, perfect for racers who want top performance.

The full carbon frame is incredibly light and strong, built for 29″ wheels and DW-Link suspension that perfects anti-squat characteristics for a snappy, responsive feel and extra traction. This model comes with race-ready 2.2″  Maxxis Ardent Race EXO tires.

The Mach 4 SL Ride has 100mm rear and 120mm fork suspension. In addition, you’ll have ample gearing from the 12-speed Shimano XT/SLX drivetrain. Thankfully, Pivot includes a Fox Transfer Performance Elite  dropper post with 100 to 150mm travel depending on the size. 

Choose the Pivot Mach 4 if you want to take your XC riding to the next level with a bike that’s ready for aggressive riding. 

Buy from Competitive Cyclist

4 . Niner – Jet RDO 4-Star


Carbon / 12-Speed Shimano XT / 29×2.6″

MSRP: $6,799 Jenson USA

Fork : Fox 34 Float Factory GRIP2 EVOL 130mm travel Shock : Fox Float X Factory EVOL 120mm travel Wheels : DT Swiss XM-1700 Spline 30

One of the more expensive offerings on our list, this Niner full-suspension mountain bike is a burly trail/XC bike with modern trail geometry and top-quality parts.

The RDO Carbon frame features Niner’s CVA suspension platform, integrated protection, and 2.6″ tire clearance. The 130mm travel Fox Float Factory fork and 120mm Float X Factory shock provide a plush feel on rough trails while the CVA design improves the pedaling efficiency of the system. 

A 12-speed Shimano XT drivetrain comes with RaceFace Next R carbon cranks and a 10-51T cassette. 180mm rotor XT hydraulic disc brakes round out the groupset.

An unusual inclusion is the Schwalbe Nobby Nic Addix Speedgrip 2.6″ tires which are very versatile and tough but add a little more weight. Finally, you have a KS Lev SI dropper with 100 or 150mm of travel. 

Choose the Jet RDO 4-Star if you want a highly-capable trail/XC bike with innovative design features, solid components, and long-lasting quality. 

Head tube angle: 66.5º / Seat tube angle: 76º / Chainstay: 430mm

5 . Rocky Mountain – Element Alloy 30

Rocky Mountain Element Alloy 30

Aluminum / 12-Speed Shimano Deore  / 29×2.4″

MSRP: $3,089 Jenson USA

Fork : RockShox Recon Gold 130mm Shock : RockShox Deluxe Select+ 120mm travel Wheels : WTB ST Light i27 TCS 2.0 TR 29″ (27.5″ on XS frame)

The 29″ Rocky Mountain Element Alloy 30 is a cross-country/trail MTB with a do-it-all personality.

The FORM alloy frame has relatively aggressive trail geometry which pairs well with a RockShox Recon Gold 130mm fork, Deluxe Select+ 120mm shock, and Toonie Drop dropper post for confident riding on most trails. 

The groupset includes Shimano’s Deore M6100 drivetrain with a  10-51T cassette with MT4100 hydraulic disc brakes. This setup and Maxxis Rekon 2.4 makes climbing easier and descending safer. 

Head tube angle: 65º / Seat tube angle: 76º / Chainstay: 436mm

6 . Yeti – SB120 T1

yeti sb120 cross-country mtb

Turq-Series Carbon / SRAM X01/GX Eagle / 29×2.5/2.3″

MSRP: $8,200 Jenson USA

Fork : Fox Factory 34 GRIP2 130mm  Shock : Fox Factory Float DPS 120mm Wheels : DT Swiss XM1700

The SB120 is a Yeti full-suspension MTB focused on cross-country and trail riding. This bike has an eye-watering price but has the spec and performance to match.

The Yeti SB120 T1 is built for speed and versatility with 29″ wheels and modern trail geometry. This is balanced by confidence-inspiring and premium 2.5/2.3″ Maxxis Minion DHF/Aggressor EXO tires. 

A blended SRAM groupset consists of a 12-speed, 10-52t X01/GX drivetrain that provides reliable and durable performance and G2 RSC four-piston hydraulic disc brakes. The wide gear ratio allows for easy hill climbs while powerful brakes ensure safe descents.

Consider the SB120 T1 if you want a high-end trail bike for tackling a wide variety of trails. 

Head tube angle: 66.5º / Seat tube angle: 76.5º / Chainstay: 433-443mm

7 . Co-op Cycles – DRT 3.3

A reliable, affordable XC bike

co-op cycles drt 3.3

Aluminum / 12-Speed Shimano SLX / 27.5 or 29 x2.4″

MSRP:   $3,299 REI

Fork : RockShox Revelation Motion Control RC 120 or 130mm Shock : RockShox Deluxe Select+ 120 or 130mm Wheels : WTB ST Light i30 TCS

The DRT 3.3 is a cross-country bike with plenty to offer beginner or intermediate XC mountain bikers. It features progressive wheel sizing and suspension travel based on frame size, Airsprung RockShox suspension, and premium Maxxis High Roller or Dissector tires. 

This bike has a lightweight but strong aluminum frame that helps keep the price down without sacrificing too much performance. This is boosted by a Shimano SLX 12-speed with a 10-51t climbing cassette and powerful Shimano SLX disc brakes for controlled descending. 

Head tube angle: 66/67°   /   Seat tube angle: 75°   /   Chainstay length: 433/441mm

Buy on

8 . Juliana – Wilder C R TR

Juliana Wilder C R TR Mountain Bike

MSRP : $4,899

Fork: RockShox SID RL 120mm travel Rear Shock: Fox Float Performance DPS 115mm travel Wheels: RaceFace AR Offset 

Julianna’s Wilder is a race-ready trail bike designed to tackle the toughest trails with confidence. As Santa Cruz’s women-specific brand, Julianna takes advantage of its VPP suspension system to provide the Wilder with unbeatable suspension performance.

Large 29″ RaceFace AR rims and slack geometry allow you to roll over any obstacle on the trail. In addition, female-tailored geometry and a Carbon C frame ensure the Wilder is painless to maneuver.

Finally, this bike is built on an SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain and paired with grippy Maxxis Rekon Race tires and powerful SRAM Level T hydraulic disc brakes to ensure smooth climbing ability and controlled descending. 

Buy on

9 . Marin – Rift Zone 1

Best value full-suspension mountain bike

marin rift zone 1 short-travel mountain bike

Series 3 Aluminum / 11-Speed Shimano Deore / 29×2.3″

MSRP: $1,899 Jenson USA

Fork : RockShox Recon Silver RL 130mm Shock : X-Fusion O2 Pro R 125mm Wheels : Marin Aluminum Double-Wall

The Rift Zone is a 29-inch trail mountain bike designed for speed over fast, flowy trails.

Multi-Trac suspension improves big hit absorption and delivers a more efficient pedaling platform for the 130mm RockShox Recon Silver RL fork and a 125mm X-Fusion O2 Pro R rear shock.

Vee Tire Crown Gem 29×2.3″ tires are durable but lack some grip in the corners and are slightly slow for this type of bike.

The Rift Zone 1 runs a typical 11-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain with Shimano MT201 hydraulic disc brakes and is finished off with a budget alloy seatpost instead of a dropper.

This is a solid XC/trail bike that offers excellent value for money in the entry-level category of full-sus bikes. 

Head tube angle: 65.5º / Seat tube angle: 76º / Chainstay: 425mm

  Buy on

10 . Norco – Fluid FS 2

norco fluid FS 2 mountain bike

MSRP: $2,499 Jenson USA

Fork : RockShox 35 Silver R, 130mm travel Shock : RockShox Deluxe Select, 120mm travel Wheels : Stan’s NoTubes Flow D 

The Norco Fluid is a full-suspension mountain bike with an innovative progressive frame design for enhanced fit and performance. It features 130mm of front travel and 120mm in the rear, with a reliable Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain and matching Shimano MT420 hydraulic disc brakes.

Norco chose Stan’s NoTubes Flow D rims with Maxxis Dissector 2.4″ tires for their excellent grip and durability. For a seatpost, you can rely on an X-Fusion Manic dropper. Every detail is accounted for on the Fluid FS 2, making it an excellent value trail bike.

Head tube angle: 66º / Seat tube angle: 76º / Chainstay: 431mm

Buy from

11 . GT – Sensor Sport

GT - Sensor Sport

Aluminum / MicroSHIFT Advent X, 10-Speed / 29 x 2.3″

MSRP: $2,300

Fork : RockShox Recon Silver, 140 mm Shock : X-Fusion 02 Pro RL 130mm travel Wheels : WTB Aluminum rims

The GT Sensor Sport is a full-suspension trail mountain bike designed to handle almost any trail out there .

This bike can smash climbs and thunder down descents with ease thanks to GT’s LTS rear linkage technology which soaks up trail chatter and improves traction.

The lightweight, durable aluminum frame is fitted with a RockShox Recon Silver RL 140 mm fork and an X-Fusion 02 Pro RL 130 mm shock which offer decent performance for this price range. 

This bike takes rolls along smoothly and corners confidently with 29″ wheels wrapped in WTB Breakout 2.3″ tires. Finally, you can rely on a MicroSHIFT Advent X  10-Speed drivetrain for smooth shifting and powerful but inconsistent Tektro HD-M275 hydraulic brakes. 

Head tube angle: 65.5º / Seat tube angle: 76º / Chainstay: 435mm

Buy from Jenson USA

12 . Alchemy Bikes – Arktos 120

alchemy bikes arktos 120

Carbon / 12-Speed Shimano XT / 29×2.3″

MSRP: from $4,699 Alchemy Bikes

Fork : Fox 34 29 Factory Kashima 130mm travel Shock : Fox DPX2 Factory Kashima EVOL 120mm travel Wheels : Industry Nine 29 Enduro S Hydra

The Alchemy Bikes Arktos 120 is a full-suspension XC/trail mountain bike that’s perfect for riders who enjoy charging uphill and thundering down descents.

The Alchemy carbon frame is ultra-lightweight and laterally stiff, and the seat tube allows longer dropper posts like the stock Fox Factory 175mm Transfer dropper.

The Arktos runs on Alchemy’s patented Sine Suspension dual-linkage platform. This system provides next-level performance through enhanced efficiency on climbs and improved handling and traction on chunky descents. The 130mm and 120mm Fox Factory Kashima suspension soaks up all but the most aggressive hits.

The Arktos 120 comes with a choice of three 12-speed groupsets (Shimano XT or SRAM GX/X01). Each has a hill-crushing cassette and 180mm-rotor hydraulic discs. Finally,  burly Industry Nine enduro rims are fitted with Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR 29×2.3 tires, providing plenty of capability but adding some extra weight. 

Consider the Arktos if you want high-end performance and an award-winning carbon frame at a reasonable price. 

Head tube angle: 65.75-66.5-º / Seat tube angle: 77.75-78.5º / Chainstay: 437mm

Buy on Alchemy Bikes

13 . Pivot – Trail 429 Pro

pivot trail 429 pro mountain bike

Carbon / SRAM X0 Eagle / 29×2.4″

MSRP: $9,900

Fork : Fox Factory 36 GRIP2 140mm travel Shock : Fox Factory Float X, 130mm travel Wheels : Reynolds Blacklabel carbon

Pivot Cycles is a relatively new bicycle company that has already won awards for its innovative design.

This can be seen on its Trail 429 Pro 29er full-suspension trail/XC bike, a lightweight carbon beast with top-level parts. It’s a professional XC bike for advanced riders, with modern trail geometry in the low flip-chip setting that provides confidence on steep descents. 

The suspension is tight, with a Fox Factory 36 140mm fork up front and 130mm Factory Float X shock on the rear. The DW-Link platform and carbon fiber build kit allow you to get more power from each pedal stroke, making this a highly efficient climber. 

Using the 12-speed SRAM X0, 10-52t drivetrain you get perfect shifting every time and plenty of gears for steep grades. In addition, the Trail 429 has powerful four-piston SRAM G2 RSC hydraulic disc brakes. 

Don’t miss out on the Pivot Trail 429 Pro if you’ve got a huge budget and want unbeatable trail performance to match. 

Head tube angle: 66-66.5º / Seat tube angle: 75-75.5º / Chainstay: 430-432mm

Buy from Mike's Bikes

14 . Santa Cruz Bicycles – Tallboy R

Santa Cruz tallboy r trail bike

Aluminum / 12-Speed SRAM NX Eagle / 29×2.4″

MSRP: $4,199

Fork : FOX Rhythm 34, 130mm travel Shock : Fox Float DPS Performance, 120mm travel Wheels : Race Face AR Offset 30

The Tallboy is of the most popular Santa Cruz full-suspension Mountain Bikes and this version has a tighter, more grounded feel, perfect for attacking bumpy terrain at high speed.

With the Santa Cruz Flip-Chip upper link, you can fit 29″ or 27.5″ rims and tires, although it comes standard with 29×2.4″Maxxis Dissector/Rekon EXO tires on Race Face AR Offset 30 rims.

The 12-speed SRAM NX Eagle groupset runs a wide-ratio 11-50T cassette for easy climbing and includes SRAM Guide T four-piston hydraulic disc brakes.

It’s finished off with a Burgtec Enduro MK3 stem, handlebar, SDT Tellis dropper, and Cane Creek 10 IS integrated headset.

Head tube angle: 65.7º / Seat tube angle: 76.8-76º / Chainstay: 436mm

15 . Juliana – Joplin 4 C R

Juliana Joplin 4 C R Mountain Bike 2023

Carbon C / 12-Speed SRAM NX Eagle /  29×2.4″

MSRP: $5,299

Fork : RockShox Pike Base 130mm Shock : Fox Float Performance DPS 120mm travel Wheels : Raceface AR Offset 30

The Juliana Joplin is a women’s full-suspension trail/XC mountain bike built for speed.

The premium Santa Cruz Carbon C frame is fitted with a RockShox Pike Base fork with 130mm of travel and a Float Performance DPS 120mm rear shock. These components are enhanced by the tailored lower-link VPP suspension that improves pedaling efficiency and traction. 

The drivetrain is a 12-speed SRAM NX Eagle with an 11-50t cassette for steep climbs and for braking you have SRAM Guide T hydraulic discs.

Finally, the Juliana Joplin 4 C R has an SDG Tellis dropper and 2.4″ Maxxis Dissector/Rekon 3C MaxxTerra EXO tires to provide confidence when descending on fast, chunky trails. 

Choose this women’s mountain bike if you love days on the trails with lots of elevation gain and a variety of trails. 

Head tube angle: 65.7º / Seat tube angle: 76-76.7º / Chainstay: 430-433mm

16 . Ibis – Ripley AF

🏆 Best all-around mountain bike for every terrain

ibis ripley af deore mountain bike

Aluminum / 12-Speed Shimano Deore / 29×2.4″

MSRP: $3,799 Jenson USA

Fork : Fox Float 34 Performance, 130mm travel Shock : Fox Performance Float DPS, 120mm travel Wheels : Blackbird Send Alloy Max Clearance 2.6″

Coming in at just under $4,000, this is one of those bikes that outperforms its price tag. Straight off the bat, the 12-speed Shimano Deore groupset is impressive with hydraulic disc brakes. 

Naturally, it has a premium quality aluminum frame with superb DW-Link suspension technology, offering 120mm of rear travel from Fox Performance Float DPS shock. With a similar kit upfront, you get 130mm of travel on the Float 34 fork, and it’s all rounded off with Blackbird rims and 2.4″ Maxxis  DHR II and Dissector tires. 

 Head Tube Angle: 65.5º / Seat Tube Angle: 76º / Chainstay length: 432mm

17 . Yeti – SB115 C2


grey yeti full sus mtb

Available in 3 designs

Carbon / 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle / 29×2.5″, 2.3″

MSRP: $6,200 Competitive Cyclist

Another top-class mountain bike from Yeti , this combination XC and trail bike attacks both the hills and the drops with equal vigor and aggression. The lightweight carbon frame combined with the 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle 10-52T cassette makes easy work of hills, while the Switch Infinity rear suspension technology combined with 130mm travel on the Fox Performance fork makes downhills a breeze.

You get added support from a thick 2.5″ Maxxis Minion DHF front tire and 2.3″ Aggressor on the rear, wrapped around DT Swiss rims. Oh and let’s not forget the Fox Transfer dropper seat post for added ease and enjoyment!

Head tube: 67.6 / Seat Tube: 74.1 / Chainstay: 437mm

Buy on Competitive Cyclist

18 . Santa Cruz Bicycles – Blur

santa cruz blur mountain bike

Carbon C / 12-Speed Shimano XT / 29×2.4″

MSRP: $6,599

Fork : RockShox Sid SL Select+ 100mm travel Shock : RockShox SidLuxe Select+ 100mm travel Wheels : Race Face ARC Offset 27

The race-ready Blur XC bike from Santa Cruz is designed for fast riding on cross-country trails.

The SuperLight suspension linkage combined with a 100mm RockShox Sid SL Select+ fork and SidLuxe Select+ shock provides plenty traction on the rougher stuff.

Fast-rolling 29er wheels, Maxxis Aspen 2.4″ XC racing tires, a stiff and lightweight carbon frame, and agile geometry give the Blur its high-performance personality. 

The groupset is a 12-speed Shimano XT with four-piston hydraulic disc brakes and plenty of gearing from the 10-51t cassette. 

Consider the Santa Cruz Blur if you’re ready to take your XC rides to the next level. 

Head Tube Angle: 65.7-65.4 / Seat Tube Angle: 77.5-76.8 / Chainstays: 423-433mm

Buy on Mike's Bikes   

19 . Cannondale – Habit Carbon 1 

cannondale habit carbon 1

MSRP: $5,500 Planet Cyclery

Every XC rider comes across an unexpectedly steep descent every now and again, leaving them in a precarious situation with an inadequate bike. The Cannondale Habit Carbon 1 rises to this challenge, offering an XC-specific bike that can tackle steep downhills with confidence.

It achieves this with the addition of a Cannondale DownLow dropper post combined with Cannondale’s Proportional Response Tuned suspension system. The RockShox Pike Select+ 140mm fork has slightly longer than usual travel for an XC bike, with the 130mm RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ rear shock to match. A wide-range SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain with a 10-52t cassette and SRAM G2 RSC hydraulic disc brakes make up a solid mountain-ready groupset that can tackle climbs and descents with ease.

HT: 66° / ST: 74.5° / Chainstay: 435mm

Buy on Planet Cyclery

20 . Evil – Following LS GX

Evil Following LS GX Mountain Bike 2023

MSRP: $6,450

Evil Bikes is known for making high-quality mountain bikes that push the boundaries of design and innovation. The ‘Following’ is its versatile XC offering – a high-speed MTB with 29″ wheels, semi-compact geometry, and mid-range travel that can tackle unusually harsh conditions 

The proprietary DELTA suspension system and RockShox Deluxe Ultimate RCT shock are both highly tunable to adapt to varying conditions so if you feel like doing some downhill riding, simply adjust it to your needs and hit the trails. On this version of Evil’s Following, SRAM provides decent 12-speed gearing and instant braking with its mid-level GX Eagle groupset and G2 RS disc brakes.

Where Can You Ride a Short-Travel Mountain Bike?

Short travel mountain bikes are ideal all-rounder bicycles for fast and zippy trails, whether it is flat or hilly.

Downhill mountain bikes with lots of travel are ideal for extremely rough terrain with big drops and large obstacles but provide a disadvantage on flatter terrain. 

The less stiff your suspension is, the more speed you lose when riding fast on flat terrain. So you need to choose a bike that best suits the type of riding you intend to do. For most All-mountain, Cross-country, and Trail riding, you shouldn’t need more travel than 100-130mm. MTB bikes with travel between 140-180mm are intended for intense downhill and enduro-style riding.

Of course, many of these bikes have adjustable suspension, so in some cases, you can change it for the terrain of that day. However, if you don’t intend on ever tackling extreme downhills, big jumps, or huge drops, then there is no need to spend the extra on advanced suspension with unnecessarily long travel.

Other Factors to Keep in Mind

Carbon vs. aluminum: which is better.

Which is better: Carbon or Aluminum for a full-sus. MTB? Well, carbon has taken over the whole cycling industry for a while by now, and it is not different from the mountain bike scene. As carbon-tubing gets better each year, there is a reason why mountain bikers prefer carbon over aluminum. Carbon simply has the right ‘feel’ to the whole ride, while providing enough durability and ways to form a bike.

Tires & Tire Pressure

It is recommended to use more air in the rear tire when on trails.

  • 29″ – 18-28 psi. Plus-size tires or on wider wheels (Ibis) can be run on lower,11-18 psi range
  • 27.5″ (650b) – 16-30 psi.

Lowering your tire pressure means you create more contact with the ground so if you have thin tires, less pressure will provide more grip. However, while this may be a bit more comfortable offroad it comes at the sacrifice of speed on flatter ground. Depending on your weight, you should try to find a perfect balance that isn’t too low or too hard.

Tubeless tires can usually run lower pressure since there is no tube to pinch. Similarly, wider rims can also accommodate lower tire pressure. These are all factors to consider when pumping your tires.

Suspension set-up

You should always tune your suspension correctly to accommodate your weight and riding style. This can be done by rocking up and down on the bike to measure your ‘sag’ rate and then adjusting the air or spring pressure accordingly.

If you’re going to be hitting big jumps or drops, you’ll need a wider, looser suspension to take heavy impact. If you’re riding mostly flat trails, you’ll want it stiffer so you don’t over-compress and lose speed on each little bump.

Compression / Sag / Rebound

The Sag, as mentioned earlier, is important to measure and set accordingly before heading out on the trails. Once that’s done, set the rebound damping by pushing on the front suspension and seeing if you get any ‘bounce’. Tighten it until it only rebounds once, doesn’t bounce up and down.

For the compression settings, you’ll need to specify them according to your riding style. Different shocks have different settings, so it’s down to your style and preference. Basically, add more compression damping if you want tighter traction on corners, or less if you want more absorption on big drops.

Rider Weight

It’s important to get the correct weight distribution on a full-suspension bike otherwise you could injure yourself on the trails. The longer wheelbase a bike has, the more stable it will be, so heavier riders should consider this factor. 

Bottom bracket height is also important, as the higher the less stability you get but it can’t be too close to the ground either for obvious safety reasons. Generally, these measurements can all be perfected for you in-store when you buy a new bike. It’s always a good idea to have a professional fit your bike for you.

Share this on:

travel mountain bike meaning

About the Author

travel mountain bike meaning

Mark Hartley

Leave a reply cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


travel mountain bike meaning

Trail Bikes: Short vs Long Travel

Most bike companies are offering a wide assortment of bikes, but the lines between each model aren’t always clear. Bikes with different intentions, different travels, and different geometries exist in almost every manufacturer’s stable, but what’s the difference?  And does it matter?

Three of our reviewers, Noah Bodman , Marshal Olson , and Tom Collier , took on the topic of short travel vs long travel trail bikes —  what are they, when are they appropriate, and where do their personal preferences lie?

Q: What do you consider “short” travel? “Long” travel?

Noah : It depends a bit on the context, but for normal trail riding, I’d consider “short” travel to mean 120 mm and “long” travel to mean 160 mm.

Down around 100 mm is what I’d consider to be a bike more designed for XC racing, while 180 mm and upwards I’d call a Freeride / DH bike.

Marshal : It all depends on the trail.

Very steep and prolonged rough trail: short travel = 160 mm; long travel = 200 mm+.

Backcountry rooty and rocky trails: short travel = rigid; long travel = 140 mm

Wheel size dramatically affects travel. I am happy at 140-150 mm on 26″ wheels and 650b, and 100-120 mm on 29’ers on the same trail, though the bigger suspension and littler wheels don’t handle as well, and feel more twitchy to me at my somewhat lanky 6’2’’ build. I need a longer wheelbase, slacker geometry, and softer suspension with the little wheels to slow the handling down relative to bigger wheels.

Tom : For trail riding, I think of a short-travel bike as having somewhere around 120-140 mm of travel (this applies to forks and rear suspension). A bike with less travel than that probably ought to see time with a number plate attached and a spandex clad racer in the saddle.

A bike with 150-170 mm of travel falls squarely into the long-travel trail bike realm. Any more travel than that I think of as a DH or freeride-specific bike.

Q: How do hardtails fit into this schema?

Noah : Ummm, they don’t? Ok, around 120 mm for the fork is the sweet spot. Then, going either longer or shorter is obviously worthwhile for different situations.

Marshal : Unless the trail is super steep and technical / rough, causing the rear wheel to hang up on square edges, modern hardtails are wicked fun to ride — they certainly build skills and are very rewarding. For a hardtail, I have also settled on a 120 mm fork, but run it very stiff and set up more progressively to only use 90 mm or less of available travel. This keeps the front end up and well mated to the rigid rear end, and slows down the handling a bit.

Tom : I’d knock a bit of travel off for hardtails since they can be prone to feeling unbalanced without rear suspension to match. So I would call 100-120 mm “short” travel and 130-150 mm long travel. Plenty of people seem to like hucking off things on a hardtail with a 160 mm travel fork (or more), but I think that hardtails start diving too much in corners when they have more than 140 mm forks. (But maybe the huckers don’t turn.)

Like Noah and Marshal, I target 120-130 mm as being a balance between bump absorption and diving.

8 comments on “Trail Bikes: Short vs Long Travel”

Suspension tuning and style wasn’t mentioned much. I’m not an expert tuner or anything, but even with flipping through dials and playing with air pressure, bikes, just like skis, do tend to have a certain personality of sorts. For example, lively, poppy and playful vs plush, stable and planted. For example, I found SB66s to feel more like the former (and skittish) and Nomads to feel more like the latter (and sluggish). Some of this could be geometry, but I think suspension characteristics are definitely playing a large role in the personality of the bike. I’m surprised this wasn’t mentioned by anyone. As an aside, I think shorter travel bikes are better suited towards the former, and longer travel bikes better suited towards the latter. I haven’t really looked at 275ers, mostly because they seem like a really poor allocation of my dollars with so many good 26ers going for dirt cheap (2 good bikes for the price of 1 mediocre, anyone?).

Really enjoyed this article. Great insights all around. I’m just going to need to convince the wife that I need a minimum of 3 mountain bikes. I’m sure it will go over great (haha). Lindahl, they actually have multiple articles on suspension including one that goes into a decent amount of depth on tuning your ride. Just go back to mountain biking 101 and you can find all the links there. Completely agree with your comment on the low prices of 26ers – unreal.

I’ve basically been in cryo-storage for the last decade as far as mountain bikes are concerned so this might be a question with an obvious answer but why aren’t there more long travel 29ers out there? I recently bought a Niner WFO and while I’m very happy with my purchase, there definitely isn’t the same level of selection in this category as there is in the LT 650b category. For instance, why doesn’t Santa Cruz make a 29er version of the Bronson? Is this a VHS / Beta question where one type of frame won the day “because”? Did these bikes initially come out and no one bought them? Are long travel 29ers the mono-skis of mountain biking? I’m obviously missing something. Interested in your thoughts. Thank you!

When I first got onto a 29er this summer, my thought was that bigger wheels are to mountain biking what tip rocker is to skiing: they make the sport easier to do and therefore more accessible, more fun, etc. They’re not better than smaller wheels in every situation but in places where greasy roots and steep technical trails are common, I would imagine most riders would be happier on bigger wheels than smaller. So, when I started looking around for a new bike I was expecting to find lots of companies adopting them, across the spectrum of bike types, especially on enduro bikes. But what I found was that it’s mostly XC / trail bikes with less aggressive geometry and shorter travel (Santa Cruz Tallboy, Trek Remedy, Scott Spark, etc.) that have adopted 29″ wheels while the popular enduro (aggressive, long travel) bikes from Santa Cruz, Pivot, Devinci, Yeti, Norco, etc. are all 650b/27.5 – why is this? Maybe it’s because relatively short travel but aggressive 29ers like Evil’s The Following are facilitating the same kind of riding experience a LT 650b/27.5″ bike does (i.e. you don’t “need the extra travel because of the bigger wheels… but since when does that line of thinking apply to mountain bike manufacturers)?

Being short at 5’8″ and the lack of longer travel 29ers ruled wagon wheels out for me. I don’t buy the argument that the bigger wheel make up for 20mm of travel. Travel is travel. The real reason you don’t see long travel 29ers is that your already higher on them so longer travel would negativity impact the handling of the bike and create geometry issues. 140mm 27.5 hits the sweet spot for playful trail riding for me personally. I don’t care for flowy groomed trails so xc short travel bikes aren’t for me.

One more vote for the importance of the trails you ride: Sure, langer travel bikeswap with slacker head angles climb very well these days. So, out in the big mountains, you climb for 2 hours, then rip a sustained descent for 45 minutes, that’s a great set-up

On our Midwestern trails, much of the distance of a trail is spent on short rolling hills. Having a bike that is lively pedaling out of the saddle on a short rise, having geometry that is nimble for the tight turns at slower speeds on the flats, and having firm suspension to pump every little feature, even on the uphills, makes that bike a lot more fun on these sort of trails.

So I’d argue there IS STILL a penalty for longer travel, slacker bikes.

Great article, give me more insights. Written well. We need more article like this in different subjects Thanks

Beeson, I am just under 6′-0″ and I feel that the 29ers with long travel are just way to Tall. I do not like to maneuver on stilts, and I would need a Medium with 29 and anything over 130 mm travel. also at some point the suspension will tweak, bind, or feel like it is hanging up as you are flicking around corners or clipping rocks. I tend to use my dropper any time I see Technical or tight turns, and the high profile only helps for pedal strikes… not confidence in riding my outside lugs. We need a lower center of gravity without grinding down front cogs.

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

travel mountain bike meaning

  • How to Tie a Tie
  • Best Coffee Beans
  • How to Shape a Beard
  • Best Sweaters for Men
  • Most Expensive Cognac
  • Monos vs Away Luggage
  • Best Luxury Hotel Chains
  • Fastest Cars in the World
  • Ernest Hemingway Books
  • What Does CBD Feel Like?
  • Canada Goose Alternatives
  • Fastest Motorcycles in the World

Mountain bike terminology and jargon, explained: What everything on your bike is actually named

Mountain bike terms, explained and demystified.

A Revel Rail 29 in front of a log pile

I hear it constantly, “I just got a new set of forks on my mountain bike.” I hear it and cringe. A set of forks? Any spoons or butter knives with your forks?

Mountain bike frame

Mountain bike suspension, mountain bike drivetrain, mountain bike wheels.

Regardless of the type of mountain bike you have, there are specific names for the parts of the bike frame and components. It isn’t uncommon to hear mountain bikers referring to the parts of their mountain bikes by incorrect names.

Especially if they are new to mountain biking.

At the very least, knowing the correct names of the parts of your mountain bike and its components makes for a quicker YouTube search when you have an issue.

Your mountain bike frame can be broken into two sections—the front triangle and the rear triangle. This is especially true if you have a full-suspension mountain bike , as you can literally separate the two ends. 

These two triangles are each made up of multiple tubes, welded or formed together, depending on the actual material of the mountain bike frame. And as you can imagine, each of these tubes has a different name.

In this section, I will not discuss all the rocker arms and linkage that make up the rear suspension. While linkage and rockers exist on nearly every full-suspension mountain bike, each suspension design differs. The parts discussed in this article are consistent from bike to bike.

Front triangle

Three main tubes make up your mountain bike’s front triangle—the head tube, the top tube, and the down tube. 

  • The head tube is the very front of your mountain bike frame, just beneath your handlebars. It houses the headset bearings and steer tube of your fork. 
  • The top tube extends from the top of the head tube and runs back toward your seat, connecting again at the top of the seat tube.
  • The down tube , sometimes called a bottom tube, mirrors the top tube, running from the bottom of the head tube to the bottom of the seat tube, turning into the bottom bracket housing.

Rear triangle

The rear triangle is composed of two tubes. These tubes essentially connect at the seat post, but on a full-suspension mountain bike, linkage and rockers actually connect the tubes.

  • The chainstays essentially come from the bottom bracket housing and run straight back to the mountain bike’s rear axle. The chain on your mountain bike goes around the chainstay on the drive side of your bike.
  • The seatstays are just above the chainstays on either side of your rear wheel. They intersect with the chainstays at the rear axle and run up near the top of your seat post.

The seat tube is where the front and rear triangles meet on your mountain bike. The seat tube is directly under your seat and houses your seatpost. At the bottom of the seat tube is the bottom bracket housing. This holds the bottom bracket and bearings, an essential drivetrain component.

Two main components make up the suspension on your mountain bike . First is the fork. The fork is the front suspension on your mountain bike. It is a fork—singular—not “forks,” despite many using the term, and certainly not “front shocks.”

A mountain bike fork is made up of many intricate parts—two of the main parts worth mentioning are the stanchions and lowers . The lowers house the stanchions, among all the other parts of the fork. The stanchions connect the fork’s lower to the fork’s crown. 

If your mountain bike is a hardtail, this is where this section stops. But if you mountain biking on a full suspension, you also have a rear shock  or shock. If you use the term “shock” in a bike shop, the mechanics will assume you are talking about the rear shock. 

The shock’s job is to absorb impacts on the trail, both big and small. Shocks also help provide traction for the back end of the bike.

If you’ve consumed mountain bike content on The Manual, you’ve likely heard the term “drivetrain.” If you have wondered what this means, you’re not alone. Essentially, the drivetrain has everything to do with your gears and the mechanisms that change them.

Here’s everything that makes up your drivetrain .

  • The cassette is all the individual gears, or cogs, on your mountain bike and is attached to the rear hub of your wheel. In recent years, drivetrain manufacturers have bumped the number of cogs to twelve, ranging from around ten teeth in the highest gear to 52 teeth in the lowest.
  • The derailleur hangs out with the cassette and is the mechanism responsible for moving the chain from one cog to the next. The derailleur is connected to a shifter (not pictured) on the handlebars.
  • The chainring is the other “cog” on the mountain bike. This is connected to the bottom bracket at the bottom intersection of the front and rear triangles.
  • The chain is likely the only part of the drivetrain that is not misidentified. It goes around the chainring and cassette, connecting the drivetrain.
  • The crankarm , crank, or cranks, when mentioned together, hold the pedals. One crankarm is fixed to the chainring and propels the mountain bike forward as you pedal.
  • The bottom bracket is the mechanism that connects the crankarms, allowing for pedaling and propelling the mountain bike forward.

The word “tire” is often used to refer to a wheel . Tires and wheels are different, and a wheel actually has several parts that make it up.

  • The wheel , or rim, is the metal or carbon fiber hoop that the tire sits on. Modern mountain bike wheels are tubeless, similar to cars, and use tire sealant rather than innertubes.
  • Spokes connect the wheel to the hub. If building a wheelset, make sure your wheels and hubs take the same amount of spokes—usually 28 or 32.
  • The hub is in the center of the wheel. It houses bearings and, if it is the rear hub, a ratcheting system that engages the cassette. The front and rear axles go through the hubs.
  • Tires are probably what we are most familiar with, yet many still call the “wheel” a “tire.” Tires come in different sizes and tread patterns. Your local bike shop has good suggestions for what set of tires best matches the terrain in your area.

There you have it, the meat and potatoes of mountain bike labels. Now that you know, you have no excuses.

Editors' Recommendations

  • What you need to know about mountain bike tires: A complete guide
  • 3 great tricks to corner faster on a mountain bike
  • Every rider should know these mountain bike climbing basics
  • The best long-distance bike trails across the U.S.
  • Garmin, Seiko, G-SHOCK, and more: Our picks for best outdoor watches in 2024

Travis Reill

Camping is amazing. The sights, the sounds, the fresh air, and the adventure are unparalleled, but there are some things about camping that aren't so romantic. One challenge that often annoys campers and hikers alike is the unrelenting presence of bugs, especially at night. If you find yourself constantly having to re-apply the bug spray, you might not be aware that most modern headlamps have a solution—red light.

The red light feature in headlamps is more than just a gimmick. It's a thoughtfully designed solution to a common outdoor problem. In this article, we'll shed some light on the red light feature in your favorite headlamps and lantern. Bugs aren't attracted to red light

Southern states are phenomenal for escaping cold winter days for those of us who live up north. I recently had the privilege of heading down to Sedona, Arizona, for a mountain biking media camp. I’d heard that Sedona mountain biking is incredible, but it is something you must experience for yourself.

Forgive me if this sounds a bit cliche, but Sedona is truly like stepping into a postcard. The city sits in a valley surrounded by towering red rock cliffs, with multiple trail systems reaching out from the city into these hills and cliffs. And they are not for the faint of heart.

So, you have purchased a new mountain bike and are now ready to hit the trails. But before your tires hit that excellent singletrack dirt, don’t neglect taking care of a few things on your new mountain bike.

Let’s face it: mountain bikes are expensive. They can easily cost several thousand dollars, even reaching five-digit numbers for price. When you invest that large, you want to protect that investment, prolonging the life of your mountain bike as much as possible.


  1. What Does TRAVEL Mean on a Mountain Bike: Is More Travel Better?

    Travel is simply the maximum distance that either the front or rear suspension of the Mountain Bike can compress, when absorbing force, before bottoming out. The higher the travel the more force the suspension can comfortably absorb. The lower amount of travel the lower amount of force absorbed. Specialized FSR Suspension.

  2. What Does Travel Mean On A Mountain Bike?

    Travel is closely linked to pressure on a mountain bike. It refers to the distance the front or rear suspension can compress before it bottoms out. The mountain bike tends to compress when absorbing force and the more travel you have, the more force can be absorbed. With less travel, the bike might not be able to absorb as much force.

  3. What Does TRAVEL Mean on a Mountain Bike? Exploring the Key Term

    Travel on a mountain bike refers to the amount of suspension movement that the bike's front and rear shocks can provide. It is measured in millimeters or inches and determines how much impact the bike can absorb while riding off-road. Having a good understanding of travel is crucial to experiencing the full potential of your mountain bike.

  4. What is Travel on a Mountain Bike?

    Mountain biking travel is a term that indicates the distance of movement for any moving parts. Before, travel only referred to mountain bike suspension, but now it also incorporates dropper seat posts. The travel distance is typically measured in millimeters (mm) and can range from 80mm on cross-country bikes to 200mm or more on downhill bikes.

  5. MTB Travel

    In case you're new to riding, mountain bike suspension travel is a measurement of how much a wheel can move to absorb bumps. On the front, mountain bike travel comes from your suspension fork. At the rear, MTB travel is provided by some configuration of frame pivots that compress a rear shock. Going big is easier on my 150mm enduro bike.

  6. What is Travel on a Mountain Bike?

    What does travel on a mountain bike mean? Mountain biking travel refers to how far moving parts move or "travel" and is usually measured in millimeters (mm). Travel used to refer specifically to the mountain bike (MTB) suspension, but now also includes the dropper seatpost. (Image adapted from Baltes et al.)

  7. What Is Mountain Bike Travel: A Beginner's Guide To Adventure Riding

    Mountain Bike Travel is a form of adventure travel that involves exploring natural outdoor landscapes on a mountain bike. It typically involves riding on off-road trails, through rocky terrain, over hills, and through forests, and can be an exciting way to experience the outdoors and challenge oneself physically. Mountain Bike Travel often involves camping or staying in rustic lodges along the ...

  8. What is Travel on Mountain Bike: A Beginner's Guide to Exploring the

    Travel on a mountain bike refers to the activity of using a specially designed bike to ride through rough, uneven terrain in mountainous areas. The rider navigates through trails, rocky surfaces, and various obstacles with the help of the bike's suspension system, wider tires, and sturdy frame. It's an adventurous and challenging sport that requires physical fitness, technical skills, and a ...

  9. How much suspension travel do I need on my mountain bike?

    How much suspension travel do I need on my mountain bike? | BikeRadar.

  10. What Does Mountain Bike Travel Mean?

    Mountain bike travel refers to the suspensions of the bike and how much they can "travel" which is the distance that they can move up and down as you hit the bumps in your path. This travel distance tends to be different when it comes to the front suspension vs the rear suspension. There are a lot of different things that can affect the ...

  11. What is Travel on a Mountain Bike?

    Travel on a mountain bike refers to the amount of suspension travel the bike's front and rear can provide. Suspension travel is the distance the suspension can compress and rebound, measured in millimeters (mm). Mountain bikes are designed to handle rough terrain and uneven surfaces, so good suspension travel can significantly absorb the ...

  12. What Is Travel on a Mountain Bike? Explore MTB Adventures!

    Travel on a mountain bike is the perfect way to explore the great outdoors and push the boundaries of your physical abilities. But what exactly is travel on a mountain bike? It can encompass a variety of experiences, from leisurely rides on scenic trails to intense mountain descents that require advanced skills. With mountain bike travel, you ...

  13. What does travel mean on a mountain bike?

    What does travel mean on a mountain bike?Aug 1, 2019What is "Travel" on a Mountain Bike? Travel is simply the maximum distance that either the front or rear ...

  14. How Much Suspension Travel Do You Need

    Suspension travel refers to how much a wheel moves up and down over rough terrain. On mountain bikes travel can range from 80mm on an xc bike to 200mm on a big downhill speed machine. Less travel usually means a bike is more efficient on the climbs and the suspension doesn't suck up the pedal power as much. More travel often leads to ...

  15. Suspension travel: Understanding fork length and how it ...

    Modern mountain bike geometries are designed explicitly around suspension travel. For example, the best XC forks for cross-country mountain bikes are short-travel forks as the trails are relatively smooth and comprise lots of climbing. They need to be light and responsive while still providing a decent range of compression.

  16. Short or Long Travel: Which Is the Best All-Around Mountain Bike?

    But even if we take the 0.8 percent difference at face value, that's about what we'd expect from the weight difference between the two bikes alone, suggesting the travel per se (i.e. the ...

  17. Mountain Bike Terms and Slang A to Z: Ultimate Guide

    Yard Sale: A slang term used when a rider crashes, and their equipment (bike, water bottles, tools, etc.) gets scattered all over the place, resembling a yard sale. Yoke: A component that connects the rear shock to the bike frame in certain full-suspension designs. Yeti: A well-known brand of mountain bikes.

  18. How Much Travel Do You Need?

    The all mountain bike felt too much like a fence sitter to me. I want a bike that can go mach burrito down a nasty trail, or I want a bike that is just down to take it easy, hit all the jumps and have a good time. For me the all mountain bike doesn't take enough of the strengths from the enduro or trail categories to really shine.

  19. 20 Best Short-Travel Full Suspension Bikes (100-130mm)

    Best XC Full-Suspension Mountain Bike. Aluminum / 12-Speed Shimano Deore / 29×2.35″. MSRP: $3,599. Jenson USA. Fork: Fox 32 Float Rhythm, 120mm travel. Shock: Fox i-Line DPS Performance, 120mm travel. Wheels: Orbea OC1 25c. The Orbea Oiz H20 is a sleek full-suspension XC bike built for speed and efficiency. With a premium aluminum frame ...

  20. Trail Bikes: Short vs Long Travel

    Very steep and prolonged rough trail: short travel = 160 mm; long travel = 200 mm+. Backcountry rooty and rocky trails: short travel = rigid; long travel = 140 mm. Wheel size dramatically affects travel. I am happy at 140-150 mm on 26″ wheels and 650b, and 100-120 mm on 29'ers on the same trail, though the bigger suspension and littler ...

  21. Mountain bike terminology and jargon, explained: What everything on

    TRAVEL TRAVEL. See All TRAVEL; Advice and how-tos; Destinations; Travel gear; ... But just because it's important to buy a good mountain bike doesn't mean it has to empty your wallet. These 10 ...