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VTT : quels types pour quelle pratique ?

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Mountain biking: which types for which terrain?

In this Article

What are the different types of MTB for each discipline? Which MTB best meets my expectations? It’s not always easy to figure out. The diversity of practices and terrains offers enthusiasts a multitude of choices in terms of bike types. The range of MTBs is as extensive as the number of possible practices such as enduro, trail, all-mountain, or cross-country. To help you better understand and make your choice, here are the most common practices in the MTB world and our favourite models for each discipline.

Giant XTC

Cross-Country (XC) MTB - 100 to 120 mm Travel

Since its introduction to the Olympic Games in 1996, this discipline has become the most popular in the MTB world. Cross-country MTB involves reaching a certain point as quickly as possible, tackling tough climbs and technical descents. XC can be done for recreational or competitive purposes, depending on the chosen course. Races are generally short, lasting less than 2 hours on average, and take place on looped circuits that combine various challenges over several laps.

XC MTBs are characterized by their lightness (between 8 and 11 kg) and agile geometry, promoting quick handling, especially on climbs.

Ideal MTB for Cross-Country

The Orbea Oiz, a full-suspension cross-country MTB, is an ideal choice for XC competitions due to its lightness and efficiency. Overall, its geometry is quite aggressive with a head angle of 68.5 degrees and a seat tube angle of 75°. The result? Fast acceleration on descents thanks to optimal weight distribution and increased stability in turns.

Special attention has been paid to the aerodynamics of the frame tubes, a feature rarely considered on MTBs.

Regarding the shocks, the Oiz offers 120 mm of travel at both the front and rear, for a weight equivalent to 100 mm travel. Needless to say, it would be a shame to miss out on this! Its overall design ensures sufficient rigidity for each pedal stroke to translate into effective forward propulsion.

This type of MTB is particularly suitable for XC riders looking to optimize their speed on climbs or flat terrain. They are also suitable for cyclists who regularly ride on trails and gentler terrains.

If you are looking for Oiz quality at a lower cost, check out our used Orbea MTBs.

👉 Other favourite models: Scott Spark, Cannondale Scalpel, Specialized Epic, BMC Twostroke

Orbea Oiz

Trail Bikes - 130 to 150 mm Travel

Trail bikes represent the largest and most popular category of MTBs. These bikes are designed for riders looking for an MTB capable of tackling almost any challenge on various types of trails and riding styles. They are also suitable for cyclists who enjoy a balanced mix of climbs and descents on terrains ranging from easy to technical.

A trail bike can be defined in different ways, but in summary, it is a full-suspension MTB that is fun to ride and reliable enough to adapt to a variety of rides, whether it's a short ride on accessible trails or a long day in the mountains.

However, it is important to note that trail bikes are not designed to tackle the tracks of the Enduro World Series nor to be as light as cross-country models. They offer a balanced compromise between weight, geometry, and handling, allowing them to perform well on flats, climbs, and descents. These versatile MTBs can traverse rough terrains while remaining efficient during pedalling.

Ideal Bike for Trail

Equipped with the TwinLoc suspension system, which ensures optimal riding conditions, a SRAM Eagle drivetrain, and Syncros components, the Scott Genius 930 is ideal for mountain rides, whether climbing or descending, all at an affordable price.

👉 Discover our Scott MTB range

Another favourite model: Orbea Occam

Scott Genius 930

All-Mountain MTB - 140 to 160 mm Travel

All-Mountain, as its name suggests, is practiced on natural trails with elevations and obstacles. The main objective is to have fun, play on varied terrains, and enjoy the pleasures of cycling in nature. When we talk about rough terrains, we often mean irregular mountain paths with obstacles.

All-Mountain MTBs are equipped with front and rear suspensions while remaining very light (13-16kg maximum). They have good brakes and efficient suspension. Generally, the fork offers 120 to 160 mm of travel and can often be locked to tackle steep slopes. This type of MTB is versatile, high-performing, relatively lightweight, and widely available on the market, suitable for a variety of practices. Enthusiasts of this discipline generally prefer winding trails to wide alpine tracks. With the advent of electric MTBs, all-mountain has become more accessible to everyone, offering the opportunity to enjoy quality descents after easier climbs.

Ideal MTB for All-Mountain

The Canyon Spectral CF carbon MTB is a comprehensive and high-performing all-mountain bike. Featuring a front fork with 150 mm travel and a rear suspension of 140 mm, this model offers exceptional versatility. This bike ensures optimal rigidity and high-level performance, whether conquering alpine peaks or venturing on local trails.

Canyon Spectral

Enduro Bikes - 150 to 180 mm Travel

Enduro MTB is inspired by motorcycle endurance racing, with a generally downhill course focused on single-track trails. All-mountain races usually involve fairly long mountain courses, where only certain sections, often technical descents, are timed. The remaining parts of the course, considered as liaisons, are not timed. This discipline requires excellent downhill skills and good physical condition to tackle the ascending segments.

The emphasis is on downhill performance while still maintaining a bike capable of climbing slopes efficiently. Therefore, lightweight is crucial for these bikes, typically ranging from 12 to 16 kg. Thus, a mountain bike equipped with a carbon frame is considered the pinnacle of performance in this discipline.

Ultimately, an Enduro mountain bike essentially presents itself as a beefed-up All-Mountain bike. It is sturdier, capable of handling more challenging terrains, and riding at higher speeds. They also stand out for their larger suspension travel and longer, more flexible geometry compared to trail bikes.

Ideal Type of Mountain Bike for Enduro

The Cannondale Jekyll is an Enduro mountain bike equipped with a high pivot suspension. It stands out in competition, capable of performing on various downhill terrains. Behind its unique design lies remarkable versatility: it's a bike that's both accessible and high-performing, offering a smooth ride while preserving the rider. Designed with great attention, it combines ease of handling and speed, meeting the expectations of the most demanding competitors.

👉 Discover our reconditioned Cannondale mountain bikes.

Other favorite models: Specialized Stumjumper, Giant reign, Santa Cruz Nomad, Orbea Rise.

Cannondale Jekyll


Downhill Mountain Biking (DH) - Suspension travel of 180 to 200 mm

Downhill, abbreviated as "DH" in English, originated from the simple idea of descending steep and rugged slopes as quickly as possible. This extreme discipline requires great commitment and strong mental resilience, attracting thrill-seekers.

Due to the impacts endured during the descent, a specially designed mountain bike is indispensable. In this discipline, practitioners do not ride uphill but use other means such as ski lifts. This means that the bike's design can be entirely focused on downhill efficiency, with no compromise for pedaling. These bikes are specifically designed to excel in technical and steep descents, with little attention paid to their climbing capabilities. Therefore, the geometry of these bikes is very open, with specially designed head and seat angles to adapt to steep slopes and provide maximum stability at high speeds.

They are generally the heaviest among all types of mountain bikes because the focus is on climbing capabilities and rigidity. Some riders in the discipline even go so far as to add weight to their bikes to lower the center of gravity and make them more stable in the fastest and most technical sections.

The suspension travel of these bikes generally ranges from 180 to 240 mm. The forks used are often reinforced and of the "double-T" type to offer maximum rigidity during fast and aggressive descents.

Ideal Type of Mountain Bike for Downhill - Suspension travel of 180 to 200 mm

The Santa Cruz V10 is a preferred choice among several of the world's top downhill racers. The V10 is a bike as high-performing as it is accessible. With its tolerance, comfort, and playful side, it is suitable for all levels of practice.

👉 Discover our reconditioned Santa Cruz mountain bikes.

Other favorite models: Trek Session, Specialized Demo, Commencal Supreme DH.

Santa Cruz V10

Other favorite models: Liv Intrigue, Yeti SB 130, Giant Trance, Canyon Spectral.


Among all disciplines, mountain biking is perhaps the most complex in terms of category diversity. Mountain bike types vary considerably without a standard model. From cross-country to downhill, through enduro and trail, each discipline requires a bike adapted to make the most of varied terrains and challenges encountered. Whether you opt for an ultra-light full-suspension for cross-country or a sturdy, versatile model for enduro, the important thing is to find the perfect balance between performance, comfort, and riding pleasure.

Discover our complete mountain bike maintenance guide to keep your bike in good condition for as long as possible.

Bikes The Cyclist house
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