Birth of the mountain bike
The MTB or Mountain Bike is a bicycle that allows to ride on uneven terrain thanks to wide and serrated tyres. The actual mountain bike (MTB) in English, designed specifically to ride off the road, was born in the 1970s in the United States.
It was in 1979 that Tom Ritchey assisted by Gary Fischer and Charlie Kelly created the first brand of MTB (mountainbikes) and the first production of mountain bike series.
Very soon the enthusiasm for mountain biking became important and numerous international competitions were created: 1984 first Roc d'Azur, 1990 first cross-country and downhill World Championship, 1996 Olympic discipline. This is how MTB models adapted to each type of practice are developed. Today, brands offer different ranges ranging from cheap MTBs to the top-of-the-range model for extreme practices such as downhill.
The different types of MTB and equipment
The practice of mountain biking has evolved enormously since its creation in the 70s and the offer has adapted to the different practices that have emerged: enduro, cross country, descent, all-mountain.... MTBs are distinguished by the size of the wheels: 26, 27.5 or 29 inches, the presence of suspensions at the front and/or rear, the travel and the rigidity and lightness of the frame (made of steel, aluminium, titanium or carbon). Today almost all mountain bikes are equipped with disc brakes.
- For cross country or hiking, MTB bikes are now generally in 29 inches and have a front suspension. The fact of not having shock absorbers at the rear saves weight and allows a more efficient pedaling. However, there are still more and more full-suspension mountain bikes for this discipline. The 26-inch wheels are still used, thanks to their small size they offer good manoeuvrability and allow for effective relaunch. Note that 26 inch MTBs are the old MTB standard and are less and less used today.
For enduro, downhill, all-mountain and freeride, MTBs have wheels generally in 27.5 inches and are suspended at the front and rear. The frame is light (even heavier than a semi-rigid) and cushioned well, it's comfortable and efficient in technical downhills.
- Enduro MTB: a clever combination of a cross-country bike and a downhill bike. The enduro mountain bike is usually a fully suspended MTB with a clearance of between 140 and 160 mm. It's made of aluminium, carbon or titanium.
- Cross-country MTB: mostly semi-rigid with a suspension at the front, the cross-country mountain bike is lightweight and allows you to perform well on pedaling. Full-suspension cross-country MTBs offer greater comfort and are used more and more in competition. The frame is made of carbon or aluminium.
- DH MTB or MTB Downhill MTB: it's a lightweight and durable bike with front and rear suspensions. There are also semi-rigid DH bikes that are more affordable if you want a cheap mountain bike. The center of gravity of the frame of a downhill MTB is low and therefore more stable, it allows the pilot to handle it more easily. It's usually made of aluminium or carbon, knowing that the carbon bike will be lighter and will better absorb the vibrations for better comfort.
- Freeride MTB: equipped with front and rear suspensions, the free ride mountain bike is equipped with disc brakes. Designed for stunt riding, it's reinforced in several places to absorb shocks.
- The all-mountain MTB: designed for a versatile practice, this mountain bike has full-suspension and lightness going for it.
- The dirt MTB : inspired by the BMX, the dirt bike is compact and solid, easy to handle for jumps and stunts. It's used extensively in indoor and outdoor bike parks.
When you make your choice, whether it's a cheap mountain bike with a minimum of equipment or a more sophisticated and therefore more expensive MTB, you'll quickly enjoy the steep trails. A carbon MTB is ideal if you're looking for performance. Men's mountain bikes and women's bikes can be distinguished as the black mountain bike is distinguished from the red mountain bike. Indeed, the geometry of women's mountain bike frames is different.
The rider's equipment can range from a minimalist outfit (cycling shorts, jersey, gloves, helmet and goggles for cross-country for example) to a safety-oriented outfit (back protector, full-face helmets, protections) for the extreme practices.
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