Everything About Mountain Biking Disciplines

Mountain bike disciplines

We’ve discussed the mountain bike types, and now it’s the turn to touch on the mountain biking disciplines for beginners or even intermediate riders who are looking to try different styles.

If you’re not a big fan of road cycling, you’ll love to hear that mountain biking is actually healthy, even though it can get quite dangerous – depending on the discipline.

Therefore, you’ll find out everything you need to know about mountain biking disciplines. If you don’t have a favorite discipline by now – you’ll have one by the end of the post.

And if you’re looking to experiment and try out different disciplines – you’re in the right place.

5 Main Types of Mountain Biking Disciplines

Mountain bike disciplines

You’re most likely heard of at least a few different mountain biking disciplines, if not all 5, but in case you’re new to mountain biking – here they are!

Cross Country

Cross country

Cross country is the most common mountain biking discipline and it’s a discipline that involves extended periods of time where a rider is riding through trails.

If you’re new to mountain biking, this is the discipline we would recommend you to get into. It doesn’t involve extreme obstacles, yet it requires great endurance.

If you’re going cross country riding, expect to cross a lot of hills, but don’t be afraid to face banked turns and winding paths.

Sometimes, there’s even narrow gravel and mud which can test your ability to handle your mountain bike.  If you ever get involved in time trials and races – you’ll face the most challenging mix of requirements.

All Mountain

All mountain

Feeling pretty skilled and you are an adrenaline junkie who is looking for action-packed discipline? Good news, you’ve found it!

All mountain discipline is full of varied terrain, challenging obstacles, and it even involves riding through the natural terrain.

Sometimes, you’ll come across trails in all mountain discipline, but they’re only there to guide the riders. Even though this discipline might seem like a lot of fun because of the adventurous challenges – it’s actually really challenging.

Expect daring jumps and tackling the mountain’s landscape.



Looking for speed? Downhill is all about riding fast. Downhill involves riders who ride straight down the mountain terrain.

When we say terrain, that’s because downhill usually doesn’t feature a trail, yet riders choose their own path depending on their skills, speed, and maneuverability.

The goal is one and it’s simple – get down the mountain as fastest as possible. Thought all-terrain mountain biking is exciting enough? You haven’t tried downhill discipline yet!

What’s even better yet is that the riders don’t ride the mountain uphill, yet usually push their bikes and only ride downhill.

But be aware that you’ll face huge jumps and you’ll be constantly challenging obstacles.

Dirt Jump


Dirt jump is the only discipline which doesn’t happen in the mountain terrain yet it is done in dirt parks.

That’s because this discipline consists of built ramps which usually vary in height, and they’re the main way riders get challenged.

Of course, dirt jump discipline is all about tricks and what you can do in the air, so if you can imagine yourself achieving the right speed and mastering the tricks in the air – this is the perfect discipline for you.



Freeride is the fifth mountain bike discipline which is often compared to downhill mountain discipline, but it’s a discipline which focuses on biking and tricks.

Therefore, this type of discipline involves a lot of different trails and riding areas. What’s great about this discipline is that there are often no rules or guides you have to follow, yet you get to take the full advantage of the mountain’s natural terrain.

What is the Difference Between Cross Country and Downhill Discipline?

Even though these two mountain bike disciplines get mixed mostly by new mountain bike cyclists – there is a significant difference. Once you learn it, you’ll never mistaken cross country for downhill discipline, and vice-versa.

Cross country is a mountain bike discipline that involves curves and snaking paths, while downhill trails are always a straight down path through the mountain.

Another way you’ll know how to recognize both types of disciplines is quite simple. Cross country discipline is almost always ridden through the trail that is made to guide the riders.

On the other hand, downhill discipline doesn’t follow a trail, yet riders have the freedom to choose their own ways which they consider to be the fastest and the most efficient as their end result is to get down the mountain as fast as possible.

Why is XC (Cross Country) Discipline so Popular?


Other mountain bike disciplines include a lot faster speeds, require a lot more skills, and even better stamina and overall strength.

Cross country discipline involves both up hills and down hills which still doesn’t make it the fastest discipline but a discipline which is quite enjoyable once you get a hang of it.

It’s also a discipline that is every beginner’s choice and if you ask even the best professionals in the mountain bike industry – they’ll all say the same.

But don’t underestimate the cross country discipline. If you’re getting into mountain biking, there’s one thing you need to know for sure. Mountain biking isn’t simple or easy and you’ll have to put a lot of effort, sweat, and dedication before you finally start mastering it and enjoying the trails you ride.


There you have it! Cross country is the most popular discipline out of all mountain biking disciplines, but if you’re looking for a discipline that will offer the biggest adrenaline boost – our choice lays with downhill discipline!

It’s also one of the most dangerous disciplines out there, so we never recommend beginners to get into the downhill discipline without any previous experience in other disciplines.

What is the first discipline you’ve started your mountain biking journey? What is your recommendation? We’d love to hear about your experience or even listen to advice and tips – so if you have any experience to share, feel free to comment below!

If you’re a beginner who’s just starting out – get down below in the comments and feel free to ask anything.

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