Bike category 4. All mountain or enduro bikes

Bike category 4

This is a question that I believe most new riders struggle with. With the number of new riders on the trails, I can’t help but ask the question, how did they decide on the bike that they’re riding? Some people just do whatever the salesmen or their friends tell them, others rent a variety of bikes beforehand, and some just buy a bike that looks cool. Personally, I think that the best option before making your mountain bike purchase is to try a variety of bikes or to just demo a mountain bike in general beforehand a couple of times to see if it is something that you like! However, with current rental conditions, this isn’t always necessarily feasible. There are a few simple questions that you can ask yourself before coming into a bike shop to make your decision and save you from making a purchase that you regret.


When I bought my first mountain bike, I envisioned myself riding large jumps, drops, and freestyle lines which guided me towards purchasing a more downhill-oriented mountain bike. I quickly learned that I wanted something more well-rounded, that could still pedal uphill efficiently, but that was still capable enough of a fun descent.

Do you envision yourself doing long-day missions that cover some serious mileage? How about going out for local trail laps with friends after work? Or do you just want to throw your bike in the back of your buddy’s pickup and have him haul you up to the top so you skip all of the pedaling uphill altogether? These are all good questions to ask yourself before looking into purchasing a bike. There are a few different classes of mountain bikes that can help you decide what category of bike to lean more towards.

Cross country

Cross country bikes are geared towards the rider who wants their bikes pedaling efficiency to be the best. These bikes are for the people that want to crush on the uphill and like long, high-intensity rides. When looking for an XC bike, you want to look for something that is centered on efficiency and being lightweight to make it an excellent uphill beast. These are great bikes for those that enjoy long miles and prioritize climbing over descending.

Trail bikes are still classified as a lighter-weight bike but will be more around the upper 20’s to lower 30’s weight-wise. Their suspension travel can range anywhere from 120mm (4.7”) of travel all the way up to 150mm (6”) of travel.

trail mountain bikes

Trail bikes are the category that most think of when they refer to a “mountain bike”. They are the “do it all” bike, the bike that is going to climb/pedal well uphill, and then be fun on the way down. They are a perfect in-between bike that is going to be a bit more capable on the downhill than an XC bike. It’s more relaxed frame geometry creates a bike that mends the gap between the two categories of uphill riders and downhill riders. Do you see yourself going on a long backcountry ride with friends, or just going out for a quick ride on your local trails after work? Then this would be a good fit for you! This bike is categorized by its longer suspension travel, more gravity-oriented tires (something chunkier that will grip better), and better braking capabilities.

bike, category, mountain, enduro, bikes

All Mountain/Enduro bikes are going to be a heavier bike that sits in the 30 lb range. Their suspension travel ranges from 150mm (6”) of travel up to 170mm (6.7”) of travel making this a very capable bike that can take big hits and still feel plush, forgiving, and comfortable.

What Are Category Climbs In Cycling, And How Are They Determined?

In road cycling races, climbs are categorized to indicate their difficulty to riders and spectators.

In races with a King of the Mountains classification, the category of a climb also dictates how many points are on offer for the riders who reach the summit first.

Cycling climbing categories were first introduced by the Tour de France, but were soon adopted by the other Grand Tours (the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España) and have since become commonplace in cycling races across the world.

An important point to remember about cycling climbing categories is that they’re very subjective.

Besides length and gradient, the category assigned to a climb is affected by a whole host of variables including:

  • The length of the entire stage
bike, category, mountain, enduro, bikes
  • The position of the climb within the stage
  • The position of the stage within the Tour as a whole
  • Commercial considerations

The boundaries between cycling climbing categories can be very blurred. A mountain that features at the finish line of a lengthy stage in the Tour de France as Hors Catégorie (HC) one year might only be a Category 1 climb the next year if it falls early on in a shorter stage.

Similarly, a hill that might normally be uncategorized could end up as a Category 4 if it appears on a very flat stage early in the Tour, so that the race organizers can break the tedium of the TV coverage and generate some early interest in the King of the Mountains classification.

What are the 5 Cycling Climb Categories?

There are five grades of category climbs in cycling, but there are no hard and fast rules defining them.

We’ve tried to give you a rough idea of what a typical climb might look like for each category, but you’ll be able to find exceptions to all of them!

Category 4

These are the easiest of the categorized climbs, with the least King of the Mountain points on offer.

They’re unlikely to make or break a race – unless they’re placed right at the end of a stage – but they’ll still get a cyclist’s blood pumping.

Not all climbs are categorized. If a climb is placed in Category 4, the race organizers feel it is significant enough to be worth awarding King of the Mountain points and signalling to media and spectators as a point of interest, but is still less of a challenge than the higher categories.

As a rough guide, a typical Category 4 climb might be 2 km long at a gradient of around 6%. Alternatively, a longer Category 4 could stretch to around 4 km, but at an average of 4% (or less).

Category 3

A Category 3 climb can be just as short as a Category 4, but will pack more of a punch.

Even the shortest Category 3 is unlikely to have an average gradient above 7%, but they can feature steep, peloton-splitting ramps.

A great example is the Cauberg (a pivotal feature of the Amstel Gold Race route), which featured as a Category 3 in the 2006 Tour de France despite being only 1.5 km long with an average gradient of 5%. However, it rises to 12% for a short 300m section, and broke the peloton in the final kilometres before the line in that year’s race.

A longer, flatter Category 3 could stretch up to 6 km or so, but at a gradient of around 4%.

Category 2

Category 2 climbs will get you seriously out of puff.

They’re usually among the biggest climbs outside of the mountainous terrain of the Alps of the Pyrenees – though you’ll find plenty of Category 2 climbs there as well.

A short Category 2 climb could be 5 km at 8%, while a longer one could average 4% for 15 km or more.

Category 1

Among the toughest around, Category 1 climbs are unlikely to be found outside the mountains. Even the toughest climbers in the peloton will be grimacing and grunting as they grind their way up these.

A Category 1 could be anywhere from 6 km at upwards of 8%, all the way to 20 km at 5%.

However, a typical Category 1 climb will often be bumped up to HC if it comes towards the end of a long, arduous stage, or if it includes a summit finish.

Hors Catégorie (HC)

The most brutal mountain roads Tour organizers can find to separate the wheat from the chaff, only true cycling masochists enjoy an Hors Catégorie (HC) climb.

Enduro Vs Cross Country Mountain Biking | Which Is Best For You?

Translating ominously as “beyond categorization”, Hors Catégorie climbs are the longest, steepest, and most iconic mountains around.

Rarely less than 15 km in length, they’re typically combined with a punishing gradient to get the peloton’s legs screaming.

At an 8.5% average, traversing 21 hairpin bends and over 1120 metres (3700 ft) of elevation gain, the infamous Alpe d’Huez ascent is a prime example of an Hors Catégorie climb.

often than not, Grand Tours are won and lost on Category 1 and Hors Catégorie (HC) climbs.

Why (And When) Were Cycling Climb Categories Created?

The Tour de France introduced the Mountain Classification at its 1933 edition, and with it categorized climbs were born.

At the time, there was only one category; the first ten riders up a marked climb were awarded points from 10 to the leader, down to 1 for the tenth man over.

This scoring system was the same regardless of the difficulty of the climb, and at the end of Le Tour the cyclist with the most points was crowned as Champion of the Mountain Classification (AKA the King of the Mountains).

This new classification proved a big draw for spectators, who flocked to line the roads of the biggest mountain stages, and the Tour decided to build on this popularity by splitting the climbs into two categories. Category 1 marked the toughest climbs, which were now awarded extra points.

As the Mountain Classification’s popularity continued to grow, more categories were added. 1949’s Tour saw the introduction of Category 3 climbs; Category 4 was added in 1962; and finally the intimidatingly-titled Hors Catégorie in 1979.

Downcountry mountain bikes

With more suspension travel, downcountry bikes are for people who want similar climbing characteristics to a cross-country bike but more downhill ability. Andy Lloyd / Our Media

Trail vs Enduro Bike: What you need to know

Downcountry bikes aim to balance a cross-country bike’s efficiency with a trail bike’s downhill capability. ‘Downcountry’ is a relatively new mountain bike discipline and isn’t that well defined as a result. But in terms of suspension, these bikes range from beefed up cross-country at 110mm of travel, to lightweight trail with around 130mm front and rear travel. Having slightly more travel than an outright cross-country bike means downcountry bikes are more capable on descents. However, with shorter travel than trail bikes, they still offer greater pedalling efficiency than burlier bikes. Downcountry bike frames can be made lighter than trail bikes because the demand on the frame is less. This means they require less material in their construction because they don’t require the same amount of strength as a trail or enduro bike needs. Downcountry bikes usually feature stronger, stiffer forks, with thicker stanchions, usually 34mm in diameter. This gives higher levels of rigidity to the fork, making steering inputs more direct, although concessions are still made to weight savings.

Trail mountain bikes

Trail bikes feature enough suspension travel for most types of riding, being ‘under-gunned’ only on the gnarliest of tracks. Russell Burton / Our Media

Trail bikes are one of the most popular types of mountain bike. They are designed to straddle the line between enduro bikes and cross-country bikes, providing a ride that’s fun but capable. Confident on descents and fairly capable on climbs, trail bikes typically have between 120 and 160mm of suspension travel. Trail bikes at the longer end of the suspension-travel spectrum cross the boundary into all-mountain. Typically, these bikes will feature beefier frame construction to deal with the added suspension travel. The optimum amount of travel depends on what terrain or trails you like to ride, and where you’d like to progress with your riding. 140mm is ideal for even the toughest trail centres, with more travel being required for gnarlier ambitions. Forks with mid-sized stanchions, either 34mm, 35mm or 36mm in diameter, are common on trail bikes. These shift the balance away from lightness toward rigid stability for better handling while descending. Less flexibility in the fork will mean more direct steering input, making the bike feel more planted through the rough stuff.

different types of mountain bikes

Not all mountain bikes are created equal. Each MTB discipline is different and therefore has different needs. While the differences are not always crystal clear, you can mainly distinguish the types based on their suspension systems.

Cross Country Bike

  • through forests
  • through fields
  • on gravel paths
  • on meadow paths
  • through paths with smaller gradients and descents

The FOCUS with cross county MTB is on maneuverability and a sporty riding position.

Frame: hard and carbon Suspension: Hardtail Amount of suspension give: 100 – 120 mm

All Mountain Bike Enduro Bike

  • easy and longer tours in the lowlands (at around 10. 14 kg, it is considered light)
  • ascents
  • downhill descents on easy and medium-difficulty trails
  • small jumps and drops

Suspension: Fully Amount of suspension give: 120 – 160 mm

You can reduce or lock the give on the suspension system on many models. This makes it easier for you to ride uphill.

  • faster descents than the all mountain bike
  • higher jumps than the all mountain bike
  • easier to ride uphill than with the freeride mountain bike

Downhill bikes are very similar to the freeride bikes. That’s why the amount of suspension give was increased, and the Enduro has wider tyres.

Amount of suspension give: 140. 180 mm

Downhill Mountain Bike

Amount of suspension give: 180 to 250 mm

Freeride Mountain Bike

  • very steep terrain
  • technical obstacles and trails
  • Long and high jumps and drops

While the freeride mountain bike is slightly lighter than its downhill counterpark, it’s still no featherweight. Very stable components are used to ensure mountain bikes withstands extreme jumps (up to 20 meters). Therefore, mountain bikes are priced a bit higher.

Suspension: Fully

Amount of suspension give: 165 – 200 mm

Some Freeride mountain bikes are also suitable for uphill riding.

Fat Bikes

You can recognize fat bikes by their wide tyres. At 4 to 4.8 inches, they are twice as wide as conventional mountain bike tyres.

A suspension system is often not included with fat bikes. The wide tires are kept at below normal levels to absorb most of the shock.

What is the right mountain bike for me?

Deciding which mountain bike is the right one depends where you want to go and how much adrenaline you need.

Alpine Crossing Tours

If you want a bit more fun while trail riding, we recommend the

Fun in the snow and sand

You can read up on „Biking in Winter“ and gain some tips and tricks along the way.

Adrenalin on steep and demanding trails

  • If it’s all about the thrill of speed, go with the Downhill Mountain Bike.
  • For extreme gradients and technicall trails, the Freeride Mountain Bike is the right call.

A decision has been made. What now?

You know which mountain bike is the right one for you, but don’t know how or where to begin?

We recommend starting with a mountain bike course, as the risk of injury on trails due to inexperience is high. In the courses, you will not only learn effective riding techniques, but also how to change the inner tube or adjust your bike correctly. You can often find courses in local sports stores, clubs or with mountain bike manufacturers.

To make mountain biking fun, the right clothes are essential. In our Online Shop, you’ll find long and short sleeved jerseys for mountain biking. In our 3D Designer you can even design your jersey yourself as you see fit.

Leave a Comment