In the past two decades or so, Alpine mountain biking has gone from a somewhat niche sport enjoyed by semi-serious hobbyists and competitive cyclists to widen its appeal considerably to include other demographics. A few timely marketing campaigns, coupled with the area’s natural charm, has caused many people’s heads to turn towards the French and Swiss mountains as a potential destination for an active family or couples’ holiday.
With this increase in popularity came, of course, a parallel boom in sales for sports bikes, namely mountain bikes. Alpine mountain biking is considerably more demanding, in terms of sturdiness and technical features, than road cycling, and many potential enthusiasts wishing to engage in this activity find themselves forced to purchase a new, better bike. And that, usually, is where the doubts begin.
The reason so many hobbyists have questions which bike is the best has to do with the fact that this is an eminently technical field. Most people have only the vaguest of notions about the different types of bicycle available on the market, and as soon as the conversation veers towards the technical, the deer-in-headlights stares begin.
This is why this article will not seek to be a heavily technical, jargon-filled guide about the ideal configuration of a bike for Alpine mountain biking; rather, it is an overview of the two types of bikes laymen and women simply wishing to enjoy an active holiday can opt for before taking off to the French or Swiss slopes.
All About The Bike
Contrary to what less informed parties might think, these bikes are not the only type of cycle suitable for tackling the Alpine slopes. While they are the most popular type of bicycle seen around the area – and continue to be the best-selling type of cycle worldwide – visitors to the Alps can also opt for a hybrid cycle in order to achieve a good performance out on the track.
As the name indicates, a hybrid is suitable for both road or track duties, as well as off-road cycling. While the bike has yet to be made that can execute both these functions to perfection, hybrids tend to perform each of them to a sufficiently high standard to constitute a viable alternative.
When compared to MTBs, hybrid cycles feature the skinnier and smoother tyres usually found on road bikes, which gives them a considerable speed advantage when compared to their clunkier mountain-specific counterparts. However, this type of bicycle still manages to be considerably more resistant than a road bike, thereby combining the best features of both types of vehicle in one handy package.
Ultimately, it is up to the rider to decide which type of bike best suits his or her needs. In doing so, they should take into account, for instance, what type of Alpine mountain biking they will be partaking in: for a mixture of road cycling and off-road, a hybrid bike will be best, while more straightforward track or downhill cycling might be best with a ‘pure’ mountain bike. Whichever the final decision happens to be, however, it is important that riders know what they are buying (and why) prior to setting out to find the perfect cycle.