Key:mtb:scale

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Public-images-osm logo.svg mtb:scale
Osm element key.svg
Description
A classification scheme for the difficulty of trails for mountainbiking
Group: Properties
Used on these elements
may be used on nodes
may be used on ways
should not be used on areas
should not be used on relations
Useful combination
mtb:scale:uphill, mtb:scale:imba, incline
Status: Approved

Rationale

Provide a classification scheme for mapping the difficulty of trails suitable for mountain-biking. Since for a mountainbike going downhill has a different difficulty than going uphill those have to be, if not flat, tagged separately.

This is one subset of several Proposals brought in concerning Mountainbike

Applies to

How to Map it - Usage, Tags and Values

The main key to be used is mtb:scale=0 to 6. This shall be used for classifying the level of difficulty of using a trail that is more or less level (no inclination) or is used for riding down. Additionally one can tag mtb:scale:uphill=0 to 5 to specify the difficulty of a way cycling uphill (it is best used with incline key, to express the direction of the way).

If a finer seperation is needed than provided by the 7 classes, "+" or "-" can be added to the value. E.g. mtb:scale=1+ for ways on the upper difficulty of "1", but not yet "2".

mtb:scale applies primarily to ways. The difficulty should be based on the general difficulty over a longer stretch of a way, there can be a few places where the difficulty is higher. Those places should be classified on a point of the way.

Crux spots or very dificult single places

In order to highlight spots on a way, that feature a difficulty that is clearly more difficult than the way in general (e.g. one full grade more difficulty), on can highlight them by placing a node on the way with the difficulty to clear that node (do not highlight every switchback of a way however). If you put a point with mtb:scale=1-6 (0 makes no sense) outside of the way, then this shows a place that is more difficult, but can be circumvented.

mtb:scale=0-6

The main tagging scale.

Tag Description Maximum incline STS equivalent Example Picture
mtb:scale=0 Gravel or packed earth. No particular difficulties. Mostly forest and meadow paths (highway=path). Sections with steps, rocks, or roots are not expected. Wide curves, easy to moderate slope. No special skills are needed to ride this. Easy to ride uphill.
  • Surface: solid and handy
  • Obstacles: no obstacles
  • Gradient: mild to moderate
  • Bends: wide
  • Driving skills: no special driving skills required

For very easy ways you can use mtb:scale=0- for harder ones (but not yet mtb:scale=1) mtb:scale=0+

- S0 S0.jpg
mtb:scale=1 Smaller obstacles like roots and small stones. Erosion damage may increase difficulty. Soil may be loose in places. Tight turns, but no hairpin turns. Riding requires care and attention, but no special skill. Obstacles can be ridden over. Difficult to ride uphill.
  • Surface: loose surface possible, small roots and stones
  • Obstacles: small obstacles, water gutter, erosion damage
  • Gradient: < 40%
  • Bends: wide
  • Driving skills: basic driving skills required, obstacles can be passed over
<40% S1 S1.jpg
mtb:scale=2 Obstacles such as large rocks and stones. Soil is often loose. Steps are expected. Wider hairpin turns, steepness of up to 70%. Requires some advanced riding skills. Only very skilled riders can go uphill on this.
  • Surface: surface usually not compacted, larger roots and stones
  • Obstacles: plain steps and stairs
  • Gradient: < 70%
  • Bends: easy hairpins
  • Driving skills: advanced driving skills required
<70% S2 S2.jpg
mtb:scale=3 Many sections with large obstacles such as boulders and large roots. Many hairpin and off-balance turns. Slippery surface and talus sections may be found. The surface may be very slippery. Constant concentration and very good skills needed. Nearly impossible to ride uphill.
  • Surface: many large roots / rocks or slippery ground, loose scree
  • Obstacles: large steps
  • Gradient: >70%
  • Bends: tight hairpins
  • Driving skills: very good bike control required
>70% S3 S3.jpg
mtb:scale=4 Very steep and difficult, with sections having large boulders and roots. Frequent loose debris. Very steep sections with very tight hairpin turns and high steps that will cause the chainring to hit the ground. Some trials techniques will be necessary. Nearly impossible to ride uphill.
  • Surface: many large roots / rocks or slippery ground, loose scree
  • Obstacles: drags, hardly driveable steps
  • Gradient: >70%
  • Bends: bail like hairpins
  • Driving skills: perfect bike control with trial skills required, like moving the rear wheel only in hairpins
- S4 S4.jpg
mtb:scale=5 Very steep and difficult with big boulder fields and debris, and landslides. Speed must be carried for counter-ascents. If at all only short passages are available for accelerating and braking. Fallen trees may make very steep passages even more difficult. Very few Mountainbikers can actually ride at this level. Most will have to push.
  • Surface: counter-ascents / rocks or slippery ground, loose scree / path is rather a Alpine hiking (>T4) path
  • Obstacles: drags, combinations of hardly driveable steps
  • Gradient: >70%
  • Bends: bail like hairpins with obstacles
  • Driving skills: excellent bike control with special trial skills required, moving the front and rear wheel is limited
- S5 S5.jpg
mtb:scale=6 Classify ways with 6 that are not rideable at all for a mtbiker. E.g. Chains or stemples (metal rungs) on a via ferrata or simply unsecured alpine pathes that are not even partly rideable for the very best mtbikers (using trial techniques). Steepness is often >45°.

If used for single points, then this highlights exceptionally difficult spots. Often spotting is impossible and falling may be lethal.

  • Surface: Path is rather a Alpine hiking (T5 or T6) path or bare rock without visible path.
  • Obstacles: Steps over 2m, rock faces,...
  • Gradient: >100%
  • Bends: no bends can be distinguished as such.
  • Driving skills: only the very best trial specialists or vertriders will try to ride these spots. Walking the place first to find a way to clear is needed.
-

mtb:scale:uphill=0-5

In the case you want to be more specific about the difficulty for going uphill. Please don't forget to also use the Key:incline on such ways so that routing software can make the way oneway. Especially for mtb:scale:uphill=4 and mtb:scale:uphill=5.

Tag Description Average incline Maximum incline Obstacles
mtb:scale:uphill=0 Graveled or hardened earth. Good Grip. Usually a highway=track. Even unskilled mountainbikers can ride up here easily. Cars with good tire clearance can go down or up without problems. <10% <15% None
mtb:scale:uphill=1 Graveled or hardened earth. Good Grip so wheelspin (also when standing) does not happen when taking care. Steep forest track or easy to ride footpath. <15% <20% Some loose objects may lay on the trail but are avoidable
mtb:scale:uphill=2 Mostly stable, unsurfaced, partly washed out, steady pedalling and ballance needed. With good technique and reasonable fitness this should be still doable however. <20% <25% Fistsize loose rocks, roots or rocky underground
mtb:scale:uphill=3 Variable Surface, tight corners, small steps, surface is rocks, earth or gras. Very good ballance and steady, round pedalling needed. Without very good skills mtbikers have to push their bike uphill <25% <30% Fistsize loose rocks, roots and branches or rocky surface
mtb:scale:uphill=4 Way is very steep, or in bad condition for pedalling uphill. Steps, trees, roots and tight corners are present and even good and strong mountainbikers will have to push or carry their bike for parts of the way <30% <40% Big loose rocks, big branches across the trail, rocky or loose surface
mtb:scale:uphill=5 Way is too steep and/or difficult to ride uphill. We need this level for signalling to other mtbikers that on this part they have to push and carry the bike. - - -

Notes to Usage of the scales

Notes

  • "Equivalent to STS" means equivalency to the german Singletrail-Skala v1.4 as found here [1]; upon which this scale is based.

You may also find a more in-depth description of the scale on that page, with more photos (just click on S0 to S5 in the upper bar to get more detailed descriptions and pictures for each level).

  • The example photos of the STS scales are from http://www.singletrail-skala.de/ and may be reused under cc-by-sa-2 or cc-by-sa-3.
  • If you click on the STS Equivalency links, you are linked to the respective difficulty grades on www.singletrail-skala.de. There are more pictures for each scale to give a better visual impression about each grade.
  • Note mtb:scale only applies to the technical difficulty of mountain biking on a trail. It says nothing regarding the legal situation. For trails where cycling/mountain biking is explicitly forbidden add bicycle=no. For trails there mountain biking/cycling is implicitly forbidden there is no key yet.

Usage examples

If only one condition is met, the respecting scale should be used. E.g.

  • a way with gradient 50% has to be tagged mtb:scale=2 or higher. Additional to signal to everyone that this way is steep mtb:scale:uphill=5 is needed.
  • a way with loose surface possible, small roots and stones that goes flat is still mtb:scale=1 and not lower mtb:scale=0. mtb:scale:uphill is not needed.
  • a way with loose surface possible, small roots and stones that goes at an average incline of 25% is mtb:scale=1 and mtb:scale:uphill=3. This is a good example for a way that is quite easy to go down, but very difficult to go up.

mtb:scale:imba=0-4

The IMBA Trail Difficulty Rating System shall be used for bikeparks. Especially for North Shore. It is adapted to mtb trails with artificial obstacles. For "natural" trails it is advised to use the mtb:scale/mtb:uphill:scale.


mtb:scale:imba= ... 0 .................... 1 ..................... 2 ..................... 3 ..................... 4 ....

Imba trail difficulty.jpg

Graphics reused with permission from IMBA.

Example Rendering of the mtb:scale using Garmin Mapsource

Map Legend Example Mapsource Rendering.png

See Also