The MTB Singletrail Scale Simply Explained.
to the blog overviewAugust 25 2022 | Gernot Mikenda

The MTB Singletrail scale simply explained

As with sport climbers who use rating systems to indicate their technical difficulty of climbing routes, the MTB single trail scale used for mountain bike trails. This scale was developed and classified by ambitious bike athletes. It provides information about how demanding a trail is. Through the scale you know whether you are suitable for the route and if so, then you can prepare well for the conditions. The MTB scale gives important information and is also recognized by official associations.

Now the MTB scale is explained, but what does single trail mean?

The single trail, as the name might suggest, is a mountain bike trail where you can't ride side by side because it's very narrow. You can imagine these trails partly like the trails that trail runners or even hikers use when they climb a peak.

Is there anything better than exploring the world on two tires?

MTB single trail scale - levels

Briefly about the classification of the Singletrail scale. It is divided into three difficulty classes: easy (S0 and S1), medium (S2) and difficult (S3, S4 and S5). Colors are also used, which you should know. Green for easy, blue for medium and red for hard. 

It is also important to mention what criteria are used to judge the trails:

  • Trail conditions
  • Obstacles
  • Gradient
  • Curves

A trail usually does not have only one difficulty level. That is, a trail, judged with "S1", may also contain passages that are difficulty level "S2". The difficulty level only indicates that the majority of the trail, for example, difficulty level is "S1". 

Good to know: The driving requirement may change due to different weather conditions. 

Single Trail "S0" - easy

Trails with the difficulty level S0 can be ridden by any mountain biker without any problems, as they are characterized by solid ground, little slope and sweeping curves. Mostly these trails are on meadows, forests or gravel roads, where there are little to no obstacles, such as roots or rocks.

Single Trail "S1" - light

These trails may have occasional obstacles in the form of potholes, gullies, roots or larger rocks. Tighter turns and a gradient of 40 % may also be possible.

Single Trail "S2" - medium

Here you should already have an advanced driving technique, because you can expect higher steps, larger stones and roots as well as stairs. In addition, the ground is mainly loose and the slope here can be up to 70 %, this raises the difficulty level.

Single Trail "S3" - difficult

This trail requires good bike control, constant concentration and already a fairly advanced riding technique, regarding exact braking and balance. Many large roots, loose scree, rocks, slippery ground, tight hairpin turns and a gradient of more than 70 ° await you.

Single Trail "S4" - difficult

At this scale, you already need bike control with trail techniques, as it becomes tighter and tighter turns, where you even have to move the rear wheel. Otherwise, the conditions are the same as in the previous level.

Single Trail "S5" - difficult

This level is characterized by loose, slippery and rocky ground, high obstacles, some of which must be jumped over, very narrow hairpin turns and extreme steepness. Only extreme athletes attempt this level of difficulty, as even hikers already have difficulties here.

Stay safe on the trail

Safe is safe

The risk of injury when you do sports is always there, but especially when mountain biking something can happen often and quickly. Therefore, you should protect yourself.

The following things should be considered: 

  • Always wear a helmet, no matter how easy the track is!
  • Wear, depending on the level of difficulty, certain protections (neck protector, shin guards or back protector) 
  • Use suitable footwear - no sandals, but sports shoes!
  • Cycling gloves are also possible.
  • In sunny weather, use a sunscreen so the sun doesn't blind you.

Doesn't that sound exciting? Mountain biking in the mountains - a pure adrenaline kick. Would you like to experience that too, then take a look at our mountain bike tours. Maybe you will find the right trip for you!