Not all mountain bikes are created equal, and not all are designed for the same type of riding. Each location and rider preference is different, from Cross Country, to Trail and All-Mountain, to Enduro bikes and finally Downhill bikes. There are so many options but we are here to help narrow some of those down for you.
TRAIL / ALL-MOUNTAIN
The Trail and All-Mountain category might be the biggest, and most blurred between all of the categories. It also happens to be where most riders fall into and what most local terrain demands for bike choice. With anywhere from 110-150mm front and rear travel, these bikes cover the most range in any bike category. For the everyday rider, you can put in big rides on a bike like this as well as spend the weekend at a bike park. They might not be the fastest uphill but will be the most balanced bike out there. If your riding is 40-60% uphill and 40-60% downhill then a trail or all-mountain bike will be your top choice.
Enduro bikes are the burliest, biggest bikes that you can still pedal. These are for the rider looking to make it to the top under their own power but really focus and let loose on the downhill. With geometry angles that come close to downhill bikes, as well as the travel that is 150-180mm rear and 160-180mm front these are some big bikes for aggressive terrain. If bike parks, shuttle trails, anything chunky with big drops is your thing, and you’re riding around 20-40% uphill and 60-80% downhill, you should check out an Enduro bike.
Cross Country bikes, or, XC bikes, are for the rider who likes to put in the miles and spend lots of time in the saddle. Many refer to these as spandex wearing racers but they last few years have shaped these bikes into a bit more aggressive bikes able to handle a little more terrain. If you have lots of fire roads, some smooth or intermediate singletrack and like to climb as much or more than you go downhill, than an XC bike would be an awesome choice. These bikes have anywhere from 0-100mm of travel in the rear and 100-120mm travel up front. If your ratio looks like 50-70% uphill and 50-30% downhill, stay in this category. Downcountry style bikes, like the Yeti SB100 would also fit in this cross country category as they are pretty much beefed up XC bikes with bigger tires and a 120-130mm fork.
Downhill bikes are bikes with typically 190-200mm travel front and rear. These bikes feature a dual crown fork and normally do not have a full range drivetrain and no dropper posts. These are for only riding downhill and are either taken to the top by a shuttle or chairlift at a bike park. While not as common now since Enduro bikes and even Trail bikes have come such a long way, there are still lots of die hard riders looking for DH bikes. If you want to ride 100% downhill and only downhill, then a downhill bike is for you!