Mountain bike racing
Technical assistance area for cross-country events at the 2009 world championships
Highest governing bodyUCI
NicknamesMTB racing
ContactNo, although bodies do touch
Team membersIndividuals
Mixed-sexYes, separate competitions
TypeCycle sport
EquipmentMountain bike, downhill bike
Country or regionWorldwide
OlympicYes, men's and women's since the 1996 Olympics

Mountain bike racing (shortened MTB or ATB racing) is the competitive cycle sport discipline of mountain biking held on off-road terrain. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) recognised the discipline relatively late in 1990, when it sanctioned the world championships in Durango, Colorado. The first UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series took place in 1988. Its nine-race circuit covered two continents—Europe and North America—and was sponsored by Grundig. Cross-country racing was the only World Cup sport at this time. In 1993, a six-event downhill World Cup was introduced. In 1996, cross-country mountain biking events were added to the Olympic Games. In 2006, cross-country mountain biking events became part of the World Deaf Cycling Championships for the first time in San Francisco, USA.[1]

In the United States, there are three USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Calendars: Endurance, Gravity and Ultra-Endurance. USA Cycling runs the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships. There are mountain bike racing types that are not recognized by the UCI, such as mountain bike orienteering that is governed by the IOF.


Mountain bike racing is as old as the first appearance of the mountain bike itself, when the originators, calling themselves klunkers, descended with their heavily modified beach cruiser bikes as predecessors of modern mountain bikes from numerous mountains in California against a rudimentary time measurement. The famous Repack racing down-hill against the time near Fairfax, Marin County, CA took place in 1976.

The oldest organised cross-country (XC) racing-like event, however, is believed to take place from Crested Butte to Aspen in Colorado in 1978. It took 10 years before the UCI recognised racing on mountain bikes as a regular cycling discipline in 1990. In the meantime, the phenomenon of mountain bike racing spread across the U.S.A. under the umbrella of NORBA.

The most plausible, although still speculative reason, was an early resemblance of the racing courses for mountain bikes with the cyclo-cross discipline, with a major difference: the mountain bike racing track was significantly longer (a cyclo-cross course has 2.5–3.5 km versus 4+ km for a XC track) and free of artificial obstacles. With the rapid advancement of mountain bike gear, namely stronger brakes and suspension, the mountain bike racing could take place on even more technical tracks making it more dissimilar to the cyclo-cross discipline.

Mountain bike racing became an Olympic discipline in 1996 and a cross-country type mountain biking race has been held ever since its debut at the summer Olympic games in Atlanta. Given the enormous variation of terrain a mountain bike can navigate, a division took place as a cause of riders' specialisation.


Marc Beaumont of Great Britain riding a downhill race the 2009 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships held at Mount Stromlo, near Canberra, Australia
Trials events feature large jumps between artificial obstacles.

Notable events

The main events in mountain bike racing are the cross-country event at the Summer Olympics and the World Championships and World Cup organized every year by the UCI at various venues around the World.

There are also other notable events in some countries, like Crankworx, a week-long event in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada; MTB Himalaya in India; Chupacabras, a race in Juárez, Mexico; The Nedbank Tour de Tuli in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, Cape Epic in South Africa; Sea Otter Classic in the United States; Mountain Mayhem in the United Kingdom; La Ruta de los Conquistadores in Costa Rica and Red Bull Rampage Tour in Virgin, UT.

The International Triathlon Union conducts an annual Cross Triathlon Championship race annually. Additionally, the XTERRA Triathlon is a private off-road series and concluding with a championship each year in Maui.

Electric bicycle races include Enduro World Series's EWS-E, Union Cycliste Internationale's E-Mountain Bike Cross-country World Cup and Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme's E-Xbike World Cup.

See also


  1. ^ "2006 World Deaf Championships Schedule". Archived from the original on 9 May 2006. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  2. ^ "Four cross (4X) mountain biking". 2004-11-09.
  3. ^ Bicycling magazine, "That Time I Went Full Enduro," Gloria Liu, June 2017.
  4. ^ The 10th Annual Pisgah Stage Race (April 9–14, 2018), Brevard, North Carolina.