We call them mountain bikes, but that doesn’t mean you have to ride on an actual mountain to have fun. Mountain bike trails can be found all over, even in cities and other places you might not expect.
Wet vs. dry trails
It might sound fun to ride a muddy trail, but it’s hard on your bike and can cause extensive damage to some trails. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to understand the written and unwritten rules of your local trail system. Some areas, like the Pacific Northwest or the UK, have very loamy soil that drains well and retains its shape. Very rocky areas can also hold up well to moisture.
Most areas, however, have soil that turns to mud. Riding muddy trails accelerates erosion and turns smooth singletrack into a rutted mess. Once those ruts dry out, they’re very hard to fix. Causing damage by riding in the mud isn't being kind to your fellow riders or the builders who create and maintain your favorite trails. That's why trails in many riding areas are officially closed to riding after rain.
If you’re not sure whether or not it’s okay to ride a trail after it rains, check with your local IMBA Chapter or other local mountain biking groups. These groups are responsible for building and maintaining the trails and will often be happy to educate you more about your local trail network.
Are e-MTBs allowed on trails?
Pedal-assist electric mountain bikes are allowed on many trails, but they’re not right for every trail. The rules are different for each trail, and regulations depend on a few factors. It’s important to remember that many trails do not allow pedal-assist bikes, usually due to safety concerns. If you’re not sure, check with your local land manager or trail organization for clarification.Learn more about e-MTB rules and regulations
Mountain bike trail etiquette
Whether you’re riding with friends or alone, it’s important to understand mountain bike trail etiquette to stay safe and avoid damaging natural areas. The International Mountain Biking Association’s Rules of the Trail have been adopted worldwide to encourage responsible riding.Read IMBA's Rules of the Trail
Where do I ride?
Discovering new trails is a big part of what makes mountain biking so fun. There are a few ways to find mountain bike trails near you, and to get updates on mountain bike trail conditions.
How can I get involved in the MTB community?
For a lot of people, there’s more to mountain biking than just riding. Read on to learn how to get more involved with riders in your community, and find out how you can give back to the sport.
National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA)
NICA is the governing body for middle and high school mountain biking. NICA encourages camaraderie over competition, and they're committed to helping kids develop strong minds, bodies, and characters through mountain biking.
The International Mountain Bicycling Association creates, enhances, and protects great places to ride mountain bikes. Their work helps ensure that everyone has access to great trails—from close-to-home rides to iconic, backcountry experiences.
PeopleForBikes is an industry coalition and charitable foundation that focuses on making every bike ride safer, easier to access, and more fun.
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