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.