Talk:Mountain biking

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Cleaned up

Deleted some old now irrelevant discussions -- see archive if you are interested in how tags were worked out. --Extremecarver 23:10, 4 February 2010 (UTC)


I think the mountainbike portal is pretty complete and stable now. Would be great if the Italian and German page were updated.--Extremecarver 23:10, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Still missing

What we are still missing is a proper format for depicting nice routes/trails that are not official routes (most official mtb routes are plain boring if you're not a XC addict). I don't like the subjective factor on it, but see no other chance than to make relations for the favourite personal routes. It should be clear that they are not official (however if people start mapping underground wastwater systems, and that IMHO crap even makes it a featured Image, we should add our favourite trails into osm too (as relations). I think from a technical standpoint we have covered all important features.--Extremecarver 23:10, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

I like the idea of mapping favourite routes. There should be some indication of what 'type' of biker likes the route. Maybe even think of more than just mountainbikes. E.g., I'm biking on a trekking bike (by which I mean a cross bike with full street kit) and I like the mtb-maps. I just keep to the tracks with grade 0-1. Something similar could work for the favourite routes. Maybe it would even be possible to have family friendly routes etc. tikey 09:01, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

@ vibrog / outdated/abandoned proposals

Try not to dig out abandoned proposals. Marked Trails has been abandoned. So it should not be advised for usage. If you wan't to use it then contact HawkeeKubajz for reopening that proposal. I find it pretty usefull too (but not in it's current state). As for Proposed_features/Dry_weather I think this has been largely replaced by Access (date on / date off) and is therefore not needed. I don't think either of theese two tags are used widely so before advising to use these tags, the respective proposals have to be worked on. Otherwise we will end up changing the guideline on how to best tag mountainbiketrails every week.

Ouch, I oversaw that marked_trail is abandoned (probably because I didn't want to know it was). Not having the ability to reference marked trails on hiking and mountain biking maps is terrible. marked_trail or a similar tag needs to be part of a tag kit for trails. Anyone of us who want to take up that work again? I'd prefer to see marked_trail in a draft status, at least, i'm using it a lot. --vibrog 10:24, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
The only thing "approved" we have, and that is not that bad is trail_visibility=* . It is not enought, but it is at least something. Colored marks on trail should probably re-open, and I would be in favor of, but don't have the energy to re-open because the color is not "that" important Sletuffe 13:04, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
When I find the time I'll try to reopen marked trails. We need to find a not too difficult system (i.e. to put all possible color combinations into a table and the user then chooses only a number to put into the tag as recommended action. I have added key:incline to the list. I think it is somehow approved, if it is not please take it out again and we will should open one more proposal for it.--Extremecarver 14:02, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Please reopen! But remember, not all Trails are marked by colors, there are also numbers, shapes, or even pictures! --Kaivi 11:56, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
A trailblazed=yes-scheme is adequate for me. Then one can imagine extensions for it, such as trailblazed:color=*, trailblazed:symbol=*, trailblazed:number=*. Can be combined with operator=*: In Norway, that will indicate color as operators (DNT, Skiforeningen) have norms for marking (DNT use a blue paint for trailblazing, NCS code S 1040-B). Using operator here may lead to a problem though, if there is a groomed ski trail in the winter, because there is different operators for skiing and hiking seasons. -- vibrog 06:04, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Archived - why does it need to be so difficult

I could do with some examples of already tagged MTB ways of different kinds.

Given that I am "just a guy who goes out riding", I have no idea of all these grading systems. What I am looking for as a basic tag is something like mtb=yes. Most of the trails I ride in both directions. I.e. they aren't uphill or downhill. OK there are a few trails that I pass that have black diamond or blue square on them.

All the different classifications? Around here "North Shore" refers to a place ;)

I'd appreciate comments on some local ways here 1 and 2 most of these are tagged with highway=cycleway. I've seen that this is not preferred, yet elsewhere I see "The highway=cycleway is the primary way to indicate that the used way is mainly or exclusively for bicycles." Doesn't a dedicated MTB track fit this description? --EliotB 08:59, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Please read through some of the discussions here, the problem is that mtb=yes would be a legal description (mtbikes allowed) which doesn't serve our purpose at all, because legally a mtb is simply a bicycle. If it's not artificially built for mtbikes, it usually isn't primarilly for us. Of course now we could invent a tag to say mtbiking is possible here, but then that would be completely different for mtbikers what they see as rideable, therefore the classification scheme. We classify in a way that the average person would describe it (path, track, etc...) but then add the difficulty for mtbiking. Furthermore this relieves us from the pressure that in many places the majority of ways used for mtbiking is used illegally, classifying the difficulty is not forbidden however, saying mtb=yes would be propagating to use ways not legal for mtbiking. So we can have a way with bicycle=no (legal description) and mtb:scale=2 (technical description so we know what to expect). --Extremecarver 09:21, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
OK, I understand the legal thing now. Still if possible I'd like to see some links to example tracks of different kinds that are tagged "correctly" according to current proposals - that is with sufficient tags that they could be rendered as MTB tracks, and no excessive or incorrect tags. My local tracks are mostly purpose made singletrack for MTB, through natural landscape and hazards, in general park (not MTB park as such).
You know this page, don't you - there are the pictures to the classification? Concerning Uphill. The general tagging is mtb:scale (based on the Singletails Scale), Mainly for USA there is the IMBA scale, a user from NZ just said that they have their own system too, so they would tag mtb:scale:nz=1-6. The mtb:scale:uphill is universal - as all scales only look at the downhill or level difficulty. So ways that go down steep, can additionally be tagged with mtb:scale:uphill to indicate how difficult it is to go uphill. If you tracks are more or less level - then you don't need it.

Local rating systems

I think it would be good to be able to tag trails both with mtb:scale (universal rating scale) but also a local scale. For example, if a given mountain uses Green/Blue/Black, that information might be more useful to a given user than the mtb:scale tag. It's also easier to tag, and doesn't require a personal assessment of the tag. Thoughts? Stevage 00:12, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Well there needs to be some sort of machine readability with local trail scales. At least in Europe local trail scales are usually only used on purpose built/designed tracks. And what difficulty is classified black on one bikepark might be blue or green on another. Often such trails lift accessed and for orientation you probably don't need to know local scale. I don't think local scales provide much information except that you can correspond to some maps being displayed in the resort. I would think mtb:scale:local=value would be an appropriate key.
Both cross-country skiing and downhill skiing ways/relations use piste:difficulty=easy|intermediate|advanced which translates to blue, red and black respectively. I think this kind of classification is commonly used for many sports related trails/courses. My proposal would therefor be to use mtb:difficulty with easy|intermediate|advanced values for an entire relation. The scale tags should IMHO be used on individual ways, in any MTB trail, these scales can obviously very much vary. My site uses that to render the trails accordingly: --Arminus 19:59, 17 May 2011 (BST)

Entry points to MTB trails

When I ride in new areas, it would really help me to know where the local trails/tracks/singles start, so I can ride them in the right direction. By "start" I mean an entry point on a track that is a) easily accessible from nearby tracks, and b) allows to ride a specific trail/track/single in the "right" direction, such that will allow me to ride along local riders, and not opposite to them. Hence, a track can have several such entry points. My suggestion is to mark such nodes with the tag 'highway=trailhead'. Such tags already exist on OSM. Before submitting a proposal for this, I'd like to get some feedback on this idea. It was already discussed a bit at the forum [1]. --adrukh 19:59, 5 October 2010 (BST)

Proposed move to 'Mountain biking'

Can I suggest that we move this article to 'Mountain biking'? The proposed tile would fit well with Hiking, Whitewater sports and Winter sports which cover similar activities and interests.

good, no problems for me. sletuffe 15:31, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
okay (though mountainbiking and not mountain biking), but put a hardlink here so that it still works. Though usually one doesn't speak about Mountain biking but simple MTB or Mountainbike or Mountainbiking -- don't use 2 words. --Extremecarver 18:44, 21 December 2011 (UTC)
Resolved: Page was moved --Aharvey (talk) 12:27, 18 May 2022 (UTC)

Merge maps section with List of OSM based Services#Biking, Geocaching, Hiking, Sport

All the links to external material is difficult to keep up to date because they come and go, change their domain etc. I propose merging all linked maps to the more comprehensive and better maintained collection of mountain biking maps and just link that page.

Difficulty modifiers

I propose to add modifiers to mtb:scale for wet conditions - this can have largely varying impact on the trails (from close to none or even making the trail easier, to making it impossible to ride). Does this make sense to others as well? --Hopet (talk) 11:32, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

Well I suppose that wont get tagged often. One can deduct it a bit based on surface. Rocks bare_rock or similar will get tremendously difficult. Of course also roots are adding up a lot if wet, but then I would rather have this not on the difficulty but by adding it as a generic key.--Extremecarver (talk) 12:01, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
Bare rock can be quite different: granite usually is not that slippery when wet (unless there is moss or lichen on it), while wet limestone (calcite) is only for people with suicidal tendencies. Around Brno (CZ), we have both of these rock types and it looks to me easier to tell - mtb:scale:wet=4 rather then specifying surface=bare_rock, rock_type=limestone and deducing the properties from that ;). The same applies for mud: some roads feature mud that is thin and not sticky at all and they are fun to ride when wet. Other roads get filled with sticky mud and they become pain in the ... wheel ;) Some paths also feature relatively thin mud, that is however extremely slippery. This why it felt easier for me to define just a few riding conditions (dry-default, wet, maybe also windy) and have either mtb:scale:<condition>, or possibly mtb:danger:<condition>. This btw brings me to another topic: how about having mtb:danger? mtb:description may contain a lot of possible things to describe, while mtb:danger is more specific. --Hopet (talk) 09:24, 6 April 2013 (UTC)


I would stick to just one difficulty scale (mtb:scale=*), but I'd prefer surface values were more accurate. Some values seem duplicate. For instance, what's the difference between surface=ground and surface=dirt? Other times I can't find a proper value. A path on compact rock is different from one with fixed stones, or from one with loose stones. The dimension of stones is also significant, but common values don't make a distinction, usually. I agree that it's not that important for people walking on trails, but for riders on a mtb such differences are extremely important.

Personally I would use:

  • surface=rocky for a compact rock surface
  • surface=pebbles for (little? about 5cm in diameter?) smooth rounded stones (but what about little stones that are not smooth? pebbles may be confusing)
  • surface=stones for medium size rocks (10-20cm?)
  • surface=boulders for larger stones (20+ cm?)

But how can we differentiate fixed rocks from loose rocks?

Finally, in the Alps we have many old mule tracks. They were built so that mules could easily walk on them, and were generally paved with stones taken from the nearby area [2], [3], [4]. surface=cobblestone does not seem a proper choice, as the stones of mule tracks are less regular than those of typical cobblestone, varying in dimension from 10 to 20-30cm. To me, surface=cobblestone is rather the paving of some streets in old villages [5], [6], [7]. How should we map the surface of such mule tracks?

I think it'd be helpful to have a list of the most common values for surface=*, values that should be discussed here and agreed on. --solitone (talk) 09:54, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

As I pointed out in my previous comment, it makes a lot of difference what type of the rock it is and what type of the mud it is in order to just, how bad it is going to be when the rain starts. This was my reason for mtb:scale:wet=* tag, which would make it fairly easy. Otherwise I agree with your comment on certain duplicate surface values and suggested clarification of what different types should actually mean. --Hopet (talk) 12:46, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
After some research and discussion in the italian OSM mailing list, it seems to me that surface=cobblestone is generally the most appropriate tag for paved mule paths, like these: [8] [9] [10] --solitone (talk) 06:51, 23 April 2014 (UTC)
Still no clear idea what values are preferable for surface. E.g. how to distinguish loose rocks from fixed rocks? what about the size of rocks? --solitone (talk) 16:47, 20 May 2018 (UTC)

How to map ways that are possible but really no fun or places where to dismount for technical (not legal reasons)?

  • ways that are possible but no fun: a short bridge in a park with steps up and down. You could surely do it but no great fun to do around the families with children feeding the ducks.
  • bridge:structure=simple-suspension: many of them may be doable but on some it would be highly advisable to dismount for various non-legal reasons.

RicoZ (talk) 10:14, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

How about using class:bicycle:mtb=* and class:bicycle:mtb:technical=* keys? --Hopet (talk) 11:15, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, another key that should be better known. RicoZ (talk) 13:45, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
I've been using class:bicycle:mtb=* to highlight recommended trails on my mountain bike map, using an yellow glow for positive values, and transparent for negative values. Reitstoen (talk) 10:10, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

highway=path foot=designated  ??? The page contains the advice "if a way is tagged highway=footway and mtbiking is possible change to highway=path foot=designated". What is the purpose of this? Either way mountain biking is not allowed? RicoZ (talk) 12:53, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

mountain paths should not be tagged highway=footway. on the other hand, footways are supposed not to be used by bycicles. --ppong (talk) 17:17, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
How about changing the page to say "Sometimes ways on which mtbiking is both legal and possible are still tagged as highway=footway. In these cases you should change the tagging to highway=path and add appropriate foot=* and bicycle=* tags. But before doing so please double check that the way is indeed not a designated footway where mtbiking is not allowed (although it might be technically possible)." Sure, that's very long, but at least more correct than what is currently on the page. --Mstriewe (talk) 19:03, 22 September 2015 (UTC)

Trail centres

In the UK, we have many "Mountian Biking Trail Centres", often within Forestry Commission (or Natural Resources Wales) land which have free public access. Others are on private land and you pay to get in. These usually have way-marked, man-made and graded trails, car parking, usually a cafe and toilets, and sometimes a skills area/pump track, bike wash, bike shop, bike hire, etc. The trails are often of an all-weather construction.

This is not just a place where trails have been built, but a place that is designed for tourists to bring their bikes and follow the way marked trails without any local knowledge, and provide appropriate visitor facilities. They are the kind of place that you might drive over a hundred miles to visit and be guaranteed good riding.

I'm sure there are equivalents in other countries but I don't know anything about them.

Any suggestions for how to tag such places? There doesn't seem to be anything on it in the wiki currently, and there is a lack of a complete UK map of these facilities that I can find anywhere.


Daveemtb (talk) 14:28, 30 August 2017 (UTC)

If it is public access cross country trails in an area where other activities take place (e.g. Swinley Forest or Moors Valley) I wouldn't tag the area in any special way. I'd just create individual trail segments as one way cycle paths then create routes with route = mtb for each route. If it's a public bike park which is only for cycling I've seen "Park" used and used it myself (e.g. Watchmoor Bike Park in Moors Valley). If possible I'd add routes but that can be tricky in a bike park. I think I'd do the same for a pay to ride bike park. I'd probably also tag skills area or pump track as a park too. --Zabdiel (talk) 10:50, 1 September 2020 (UTC)


The current text about roundtrip actually describes a circular route, I propose to deprecate the tag in favor of something clearer like “circular” —Dieterdreist (talk) 08:10, 12 April 2019 (UTC)

mtb key

No mention of the key “mtb” which according to taginfo is the mostly used tag with mtb in it. What is the meaning? —Dieterdreist (talk) 08:11, 12 April 2019 (UTC)

It appears to be used mainly with highway=* and often with tracktype=*, suggesting this is an access tag. The main values are "yes", "no" and "designated", which also fit the access=* and bicycle=* pattern. See --Jeisenbe (talk) 12:19, 19 January 2020 (UTC)
Hi, I see this discussion just after creating the mtb=* page. It looks also to me that the key is used as a legal access/vehicule key. --Florimondable (talk) 20:49, 7 April 2020 (UTC)
Hi and thanks for your page. Yes, I also see it as an alternative way to specify legal access to mountain bikes, even though I believe that bicycle=* should be enough for this purpose. The other reason people use it is to tag a path as suitable for mountain bikes, but also in this case I don't feel it is particularly useful, since, unless there is some legal restriction, any path would be suitable for mountain bikes. It would be just a matter of difficulty, and so you'd better use use mtb:scale=*.
Thanks for your modifications of the page, I think we cover the current usage of the key. --Florimondable (talk) 10:03, 8 April 2020 (UTC)

How to best tag a MTB/downhill trail?

How to best tag a MTB/downhill trail, i.e. a path specifically created for mountain bikes or downhill bikes where it is forbidden to walk (and ride horses)? I've seen some tagged as highway=path + bicycle=designated (which seems to be equivalent to highway=cycleway), but this seems wrong as implies an ordinary cycle path which it's definitely not. While it may be legal to drive on a MTB/downhill trail with a city, racing or touring bike, it's certainly wiser to use a nearby road. In my opinion, something like mtb=designated would be better. Or is there already a better solution? --Dafadllyn (talk) 19:41, 21 December 2020 (UTC)

This was the idea behind Proposed_features/Tag:path=mtb, as a way to mark purpose built mountain bike trails. In my view highway=cycleway should have been used for purpose any built/designated bicycle paths regardless of the type of bicycle it's designed for and other tags like surface=*, smoothness=*, mtb:scale=* used to provide the distinction between an urban cycle path and a mountain bike track, but this was rejected on the mailing list. Unfortunately there was no clear consensus from that proposal on a way forward, but I still use this tag until we get something approved. --Aharvey (talk) 11:41, 18 May 2022 (UTC)

Skills area - how to tag

While hiking on trails shared with mountain biking, I sometimes come across a skills area with ramps added to the trail for extra fun. How should these be tagged? --Wordplay (talk) 14:12, 16 March 2021 (UTC)

I'm not aware of existing tags, they are also known as technical trail features we should document some, eg.

mtb:feature=aframe/berm/drop/jump/gap_jump/log/roller_coaster/beam/wall --Aharvey (talk) 11:12, 18 May 2022 (UTC)

A Line / B Line

Not sure how wide-spread this concept is but many mountain biking trails will have short sections which diverge and then rejoin again. Usually they are signposted as the "A line" and "B line", where the "A line" is usually the main track and the "B line" is an alternate, mostly but not always the "A line" will be more difficult and the "B line" can be thought of as a detour around this difficult section.

I suggest the tag mtb:line=A/B to mark this where they are signposted. --Aharvey (talk) 04:29, 18 May 2022 (UTC)

loc_ref=* would be better supported. Are you using Role main and Role alternative for them now? --- Kovposch (talk) 07:16, 18 May 2022 (UTC)
Thanks for your comment. In some regions they may have specific meanings like A is harder, B is easier so this gets lost by using Role main and Role alternative. It's just I read something now that A line is the main route and B line a detour and it's just that most of the time the harder route is considered the true/proper track. It may imply you need to use them as tags instead of roles, so role=main and role=alternative, because sometimes there will be a mountain biking track that's not really part of any route, so therefore no relation can be created. It just has a sign for A/B line but nothing else. Maybe loc_ref=* could work, but I don't really see this as a ref because they have specific meanings rather than say a bus stand number. --Aharvey (talk) 10:37, 18 May 2022 (UTC)