Mountain Bike Trail Signage, © Tirol Werbung
Mountain Bike Trail Signage, © Tirol Werbung

Difficulty Rating System for Cycle Paths, Mountainbike Trails and Singletrack

There is no better way to truly immerse yourself in the magnificent scenery of the Heart of the Alps than from the saddle of a bike. If you love to pedal there are more than 1,000 kilometres of cycle paths, about 6,000 kilometres of designated mountainbike trails and around 300 kilometres of singletrack trails as well as several bike parks to explore around Tirol.

The Mountain Bike Model Tirol is a trail difficulty rating and waymarking system designed to help mountainbikers navigate their way around the paths and trails of Tirol. Whether your idea of a ride is an easy pedal along a flat trail, a challenging singletrack through the tall trees, the adrenaline rush of downhill mountain biking, anything goes freestyle or multi-day treks, Tirol offers countless opportunities and endless vistas for creating your own two-wheeled fantasies. As attractive as Tirol is for mountain biking, please always respect others and moderate your speed to ensure a safe and pleasant experience, free of accident and injury.

Difficulty Rating System for Mountainbike Trails

The trail difficulty rating system is used to categorise the technical difficulty of mountainbike trails. This system has been adapted from the international system used for ski pistes in ski resorts throughout the world. Trails are rated according to width, surface, average gradient, maximum gradient, natural obstacles and technical features. The four categories are Easy, Intermediate, Difficult and Expert.

  • Blue Trails – Easy
    Easy trails are most suitable for families and novice cyclists with touring bikes. These trails have a gentle gradient (ranging from 0 to 5 percent) and a relatively obstacle-free, hardened surface. Blue trails carry a very low risk. Any unavoidable hazards are identified through notices and signs.
  • Red Trails - Intermediate
    Intermediate trails require good bike handling skills. Undulating, varied and rolling terrain with gradients from 5 to 12 percent. Shared use with motor vehicle traffic, which may use the whole width of the trail.
  • Black Trails - Difficult
    Requires advanced mountain bike handling skills, suitable for quality mountain bikes. A wide range of steep climbs and descents of a challenging nature where avoidable and unavoidable obstacles may be present. Cyclists should ride carefully and look ahead at all times.
  • Yellow Trails - Expert
    Exclusively for expert mountain bikers who will expect and relish technical challenges. Any ridable or usable gradient on off-road trail that is approximately the width of the bike. May include drop- offs and challenging surfaces. Possibly extremely rocky, steep terrain, step-ups, tree roots and large jumps. Singletrack trails are divided into a number of sub-categories according to their difficulty level.

 

Difficulty rating system for singletrack trails

This scale describes the difficulty level of singletrack trails (ascent and descent) in good weather conditions without snow. It is based on the following criteria: terrain and surface, obstacles (steps, drop-offs), gradient in percent, corners (radius, length, gradient, obstacles), trail width, jumps, risk of falling and associated dangers. Singletrack trails are divided into the following difficulty levels:

  • Green - Easy Singletrack Trails (S0). Green singletrack trails are suitable for beginners and bikers with little experience of riding trails. Riders should have basic knowledge of key bike handling skills such as position on the bike, balance and braking.
  • Blue - Easy/Intermediate Singletrack Trails (S1-S2). Blue singletrack trails are suitable for both beginners and advanced riders, though bikers must have advanced bike handling skills and experience of trail riding. Requirements are good balance as well as the ability to shift body weight to overcome obstacles, descend steps, ride drop-offs and safely negotiate corners. Safe braking is also a must. Some trails in this category may contain jumps.
  • Red - Intermediate Singletrack Trails (S2-S3). Red singletrack trails are aimed at experienced trail riders. They require special bike handling skills and good or very good balance on the bike as well as advanced braking skills and the ability to ride jumps safely. Riders must be able to shift their weight on the bike to overcome obstacles safely. Step-downs and tight switchback corners may also feature on these trails.
  • Black - Expert Singletrack Trails (S3 and above). Black singletrack trails have been created with experts in mind. They require excellent bike handling skills in order to master the many challenges they pose. Requirements include excellent balance, the ability to ride tight switchbacks safely, outstanding braking, jumping skills and a range of trail-specific techniques (e.g. shifting front/back wheel).     

For details on the different levels and categories for mountainbike routes, singletrack trails and bikeparks, please click here.

Definitions

Code of Conduct


Code of Conduct, © TVB Silberregion Karwendel

Great parts of Tirol are forests and summer grazing pastures for cattle, sheep and goats. Many designated mountain bike trails crisscross these areas. Farmers and foresters work hard to conserve natural resources and to provide world-class trails for you to enjoy. Please follow these trail etiquette and wilderness protection guidelines for safe, responsible trail use.

  • Ride in control and within your ability level. You must be able to avoid other people or objects.
  • Always yield to all other trail users. Communicate your presence when approaching and slow down when passing.
  • Know your equipment, your ability, the area in which you are riding, and prepare accordingly. Obey all bicycle regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.
  • Always wear a helmet and other appropriate safety gear. Inspect your bike or have it checked by a qualified bike mechanic before you ride.
  • Keep off closed areas and obey all signs and warnings. Venturing off trails damages vegetation and creates volunteer trails. Leave gates as you have found them!
  • Respect the environment and wildlife. Do not feed, provoke or approach wildlife or livestock.
  • Plan to return before dusk to protect yourself and wildlife.
  • Take only pictures, leave only footprints. Pack out your trash and keep the environment clean and safe for other users.

Additional Code of Conduct for Singletrack Riders:

  • Always stay on marked bike trails. Do not ride on ski trails or access roads unless marked as part of a bike trail.
  • Stay alert for Alpine dangers and hazards and expect foreseeable risks.
  • Leave no trace! Stay on existing trails and do not create new ones. Do not cut switchbacks. Creating shortcut trails causes soil erosion and damages fragile vegetation.

Know the code! It is your responsibility to know the Mountain Biker’s Responsibility Code to ensure a safe and fun experience for all riders. You can help maintain trails and healthy mountain biking culture by following these guidelines.

© Bergwelt Tirol - Miteinander Erleben
Together on a good Path
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