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Old 03-08-06, 08:07 PM   #1
mcoine
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Define: xc, trail, all mountain

what is really the difference?
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Old 03-08-06, 08:11 PM   #2
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I'm wondering about this too.
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Old 03-08-06, 08:55 PM   #3
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that is a VERY good question, i dont really know.
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Old 03-08-06, 08:56 PM   #4
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Okay, I'll take a shot at generalizing:
  • Trail - less "serious" riding, with typically heavier bikes and/or lower-end components. Guess this could be defined as less time on the trail, or less technical singletrack and more fire-road.
  • All-mountain: Sturdier than either XC or trail, designed for those who want to do some drop or other bigger hits, and are less concerned with pure speed / weight
  • XC - Designed for least weight and maximum velocity. Typically less travel, sometimes more aggressive (lower) position on bike.
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Old 03-08-06, 08:58 PM   #5
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ahhhh thats very informative!
i really didnt see a huge difference between all mtn and trail until now
thx!
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Old 03-08-06, 08:59 PM   #6
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i think it is kind of a marketing thing. in my mind

trail: bikes that can go up with little fuss and handle technical things also. basically it is for trails that you would ride. . .

xc: bikes that are ment to stay on the ground, and not take hard descents. and are very good at climbing. also, light.

all mountain: a trail bike on some steroids. they go up, but its a workout. can do some drops, and are good at descending.
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Old 03-08-06, 09:01 PM   #7
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Sounds pretty good, however there are some bike manufactures that call their bikes all mountain that are really sweet and light. eg Cannondale Rush, my friend just got his last week and he says it's sub 25
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Old 03-08-06, 09:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zx108
i think it is kind of a marketing thing. in my mind

trail: bikes that can go up with little fuss and handle technical things also. basically it is for trails that you would ride. . .

xc: bikes that are ment to stay on the ground, and not take hard descents. and are very good at climbing. also, light.

all mountain: a trail bike on some steroids. they go up, but its a workout. can do some drops, and are good at descending.
I like your set of definitions. trail bikes are not to be confused with MUP bikes or paved trails. Trail bikes can handle technical obsticles, like logs, sharp turns, and rough terrain.
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Old 03-08-06, 09:30 PM   #9
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They're all the same.
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Old 03-08-06, 09:58 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by gastro
They're all the same.

thank you! This is what I thought, but I see people using all three terms in one sentence. Also, whoever said its a marketing tool, I think that is true also.

I remember a time when there was just mountain biking, then downhill was created which in turn created the need to call regular mtn biking cross country. Then freeride, which I would call trials without points. Whats next?
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Old 03-08-06, 10:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcoine
I remember a time when there was just mountain biking, then downhill was created which in turn created the need to call regular mtn biking cross country.
When I started MTBing back in the 80s that's how things were so I tend to go by those definitions.
  • Downhill - limited to just riding down
  • XC - Up, down and all around... may include jumps and stunts as well.

All these new definitions tend to be a variation (mainly of XC) of the above two but just like how everyone in the music industry likes to create new classifications, the same seems to hold true for the marketting types in the MTBing world.
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Old 03-08-06, 10:41 PM   #12
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For me:

XC = Uphill and downhill, I would say a lot of single track, mainly on trails, but involves technical sections including rocks etc. Its more fun to ride when your fit.

Trail = This is a hard one for me to define, I guess its trail riding, but i'm not really familier with it.

All Mountain = Takes a lot more of a beating, i would still relate all mountain to XC, however it will go downhill a bit better but not climb as good as XC. I guess All Mountain is rougg stuff including small drops jumps etc, but you can still push the bike uphill.
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Old 03-09-06, 12:36 AM   #13
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XC = up and down hills. Single track, fire roads, anything really. Up to 2 foot drops, small jumps, log hopping etc.

Trail = same as XC.

All Mountain = XC with 3+ foot drops.

It isnt until you get into freeride, downhill and trials that i see much of a difference really.
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Old 03-09-06, 12:42 AM   #14
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So would you say an All Mountain bike is cabable to ride XC (with ups and downs), but is just a bit more stronger and a bit more heavier?
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Old 03-09-06, 12:47 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Litespeed35
[*]XC - Designed for least weight and maximum velocity. Typically less travel, sometimes more aggressive (lower) position on bike.[/list]
Expanded exp'.

Saddle higher, more areo\bent over position. Saddle position for max crank\leg strength delivery. IMO.
Frame may have less slope in the toptube...and longer rear triangle?

XC -to freeride I see a slightly different frame. Freeride smaller -heavier build\possibly gusseted.
All mountain covers both, but won't excell in either catagory -generic.

Mostly it's the build\component choice. An XC bike isn't running 32T chainrings =speed bike.

Again IMO, I don't get to ride many different bikes.

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Old 03-09-06, 12:49 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue_neon
So would you say an All Mountain bike is cabable to ride XC (with ups and downs), but is just a bit more stronger and a bit more heavier?
I think its rather silly to let the label a marketer gave a bike determin what you use it for. Is a compact car only for driving back and forth on roads? Is a truck only for hauling construction equipment and trailors? Is an SUV only for offroad use in less then steller conditions? No, each can do the other's "job". There may be differences in ability but that is more dependent upon the quality and focus of the car. A H2 has become the soccermom commuter of choice for example. Does it do poorly at this job? No, it still travels fine place to place although using a smaller car might be more efficient and a better fit for the task.

Before I extend that analogy way past its due, I'll give one final example: Walmart sells plenty of mountain bikes, does that mean they are capable of riding on mountains?
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Old 03-09-06, 12:53 AM   #17
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It's not about weather its possible, its more is that bike the best choice for your needs. If you had the choice of a Free Ride bike and an XC bike for riding XC i'm sure you would choose an XC bike built for that condition. Sure you COULd use a free ride bike, but you wouldn't if you had the choice. Also since manufatures lable their products under categories usually XC, All Mountain Free Ride etc, its good to have an idea on the differn'ces between them.
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Old 03-09-06, 02:07 AM   #18
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I didnt think freeride was an option here...

XC/trail/all mountain are all very similar to me. I think they all do the same things well, and will do the same other things poorly. The only difference in my opinion is "all mountain" can handle slightly bigger drops/jumps than XC/trail....although its still essentially an XC bike to me.

Freeride and downhill is a whole different animal.
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Old 03-09-06, 02:10 AM   #19
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XC -
This bikes are built for speed and are lightweight (MUST be less then 14kg) XC
bikes rear suspension is usually around 3inch-4inch. Not recommended to do jumps.

Trail -
This bikes is more like a All-mountain/XC hybrid from my opinion, its not the lightest
bike around but its not heavier then All-mountain. These bikes are able to handle
a few short jumps cause its rear suspension is usually 4inch only. And this bike is also able to handle jumps.

All Mountain -
These bikes usually come to 5-6inch of rear suspension, its can be categorized also as a trail (5inch)/freeride (6inch) bike. Its very capable in handling everything and the best choice if you are in a light freeriding and dont want your bike to be heavy, Its slightly heavier then Trail Bikes but still good for all purpose.

Downhill -
A bicycle designed only to race downhill, forget it if you are planning to ride this bike up a steep mountain its heavy cause its components are all reinforced. If you love going downhill very fast, get this kind of bikes cause if you fell and the bike flew off, the frame is most likely to be ok, dont know about the components though. If im not mistaken its rear suspension is usually 7-8inch

Freeride -
The strongest bike type. These bikes is STRONG and i really mean it, you can also use this bike as a Downhill bike if you wish cause the way its build is almost the same. Oh yeah and these kind of bikes usually have the longest travel cause you will be doing A LOT of big jumps. Go to www.youtube.com and search for Freeriding, watch the video to be amazed at what these kind of bikes can do. It will make you amazed at what bicycles can do.

Last edited by wheelhot; 03-09-06 at 02:30 AM.
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Old 03-09-06, 02:14 AM   #20
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I didnt think freeride was an option here...

XC/trail/all mountain are all very similar to me. I think they all do the same things well, and will do the same other things poorly. The only difference in my opinion is "all mountain" can handle slightly bigger drops/jumps than XC/trail....although its still essentially an XC bike to me.

Freeride and downhill is a whole different animal.
To me -freeride is a style of riding. Loose -anything, trail or not.
Bust a move and don't think twice. My freeride is close to the ground.

DH is different than free......eh, ride it loose what's under you.

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Old 03-09-06, 03:21 AM   #21
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One of the things I think we mountain bikers are very poor at doing is distinguishing between advertising pressures which obscure the line between activity and marketting. In the past, everyone rode the same kind of bike and it worked equally well for all types riding disciplines which one today would segregate into XC, trail, freeride, downhill, etc... It was all simply known as offroad mountain biking.

The first mountain bike races were technically more of downhill races as the Mt. Tam crew really only "competed" on the downhill portions of their rides. Later on as their bikes got lighter and became actual MTBs as opposed to cobbled-together balloon-tyre cruisers with BMX parts, "racing" took on an XC component because they could compete against one another without having to push their bikes uphill.

For a long time the division between these two types of riding was pretty clear and remained so even as MTBing started becoming formalised in the racing world. Downhill MTB racing was often done on the same bike as XC racing and usually by those who still had enough energy after a XC race to compete in another race. Then as people started specialising in racing XC or DH, manufacturers and thus marketting started advertising a bike that could do well in one area or another... sometimes to the detriment of the other.

This type of marketting approach seems to have run rampant so that today people are lead to believe that a bike labelled "freeride" can't possibly be ridden on smooth rolling "cross country" terrain without the rider fatiguing and going home via airlift in a stretcher with a drip tube attached. Or a bike labelled "cross country" can't be hopped over anything larger than a grain of sand otherwise it will instantly decompose mid-air leaving the rider with a misty cloud of what was once their bike.

To date, I have not seen anything at a trailhead which says something like, "for 'Trail-approved' bikes only". In my mind the marketting labels the manufacturers give to their products is simply a poor substitute for a rider's self-imposed restriction based on their own evaluation of their skill. The labelling is a convenience thing...whether it's convenient for the consumer or the manufacturer is a matter of debate.
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Old 03-09-06, 06:19 AM   #22
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Some of your points are true cause I know a person who is using a KonaStinkyDeluxe and he pedals uphill very fast. Basically for me there is XC/Trail, Trail/XC, AllMountain/Freeride/Downhill bikes. Cause I dont really see the difference between AllMountain or Freeride or Downhill. All Mountain bikes usually gives a slightly more suspension then Trail bikes and are less then Downhill and Freeride bikes. So technically speaking if you are into a light freeride then All mountain is fine. I believe the only real difference between Freeride and Downhill bikes is the frame geometry. Downhill bikes are usually not recommended for freeride but Freeride bikes can do both like Amiel Cavier who won the junior downhill championship some time ago (last year). Hes using a Giant Faith to go downhill. And now giant has designed a Downhill specific called Giant Glory only to do Downhill. So technically it all depends on what kind of rider you are. If you are not into jumps, go for Trail/XC cause you can do both and you will only get a slightly weight penalty. If you want a bike that can do light freeride and still can pedal uphill and race downhill, the All-Mountain bike category is for you. Or for people who wants to make huge jumps and join downhill competition I suggest Freeride bikes.
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Old 03-09-06, 06:22 AM   #23
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This has been beat to death on here. The way I see it, it's a way for bike companys to get you to buy another bike.
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Old 03-09-06, 06:26 AM   #24
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yeah, so most important is what kind of rider are you. If you are casual rider and love to push your bike to the limit then maybe All-Mountain or Downhill or Freeride bikes is for you cause you are the abuse kind of rider but If you are like me a weight weenie and dont do jumps and love to ride far then Trail/XC (4inch rear) is for you.
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Old 03-09-06, 09:07 AM   #25
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All mountain ain't for me. Drops like that are starting to take longer for me to recover from. I like singletrack XC/trail mostly and I definitely limit my air time to as near zero as I can.

I like fairly technical ride that is challenging, fast as possible, but not requiring a pilots license. I consider this XC/Trail.

The people I see riding bikezilla, and dropping down the side of 2 screamers full speed to jump a log make my knees hurt just watching. I consider this all mountain/downhill/crazy as hell.

Don't get me wrong I'm not punk, I just want to walk well into my later years.
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