Salagou, France

MTB Singletrack Riding


SingletrackIf you’ve been around Mountain Biking for a while you will know something about Singletrack. If you are new to the sport, you will undoubtedly come across Singletracks and after some practice will come to love them as many riders do.

“Singletrack (or single track) describes a type of mountain biking trail that is approximately the width of the bike. It contrasts with double-track or fire road which is wide enough for four-wheeled off-road vehicles. It is often smooth and flowing, but may also feature technical rocky sections, go over tree roots, and include berms, banked turns, switch-backs, hills, drops, jumps, and so forth. Singletrack which descends significantly, and in the most downward direction, is said to be following the fall line” (Wikipedia).

Although many bike parks have specifically designed singletrack sections, some of the most challenging I’ve found are out on back country rides. They are pleasingly littered with Technical Trail Features (TTF’s) such as trees across the trail, rock gardens, jumps, deep muddy puddles, stream beds, hidden roots and switchbacks. Not to mention well camouflaged drops and climbs with over-hanging brambles that leave thorn tattoos on unprotected skin.

If you’re unfamiliar with any of the TTF terms, you can check out descriptions here.

Focus is essential to stay on track and avoiding the tunnel vision often created by trees, bushes and other natural features can be a huge challenge. Confidence and Skills Development is crucial, but you don’t have to get out on a gnarly Singletrack until you’re ready. There are plenty of ‘tame’ places to practice and hone your skills.

Look at this video from GMBN . . .

Top 10 Tips For Riding Singletrack - How To Ride Singletrack Faster


If you like to read, this book from Robert Hurst is a refreshing look at the art of Singletrack riding. Hurst doesn’t focus on training, equipment or other aspects of riding that he says have already been beaten to death in other books. Instead, he focuses on the art of riding the trails.


The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) developed “Rules of the Trail” to allow safe-passage for all trail users and to contribute to environmental protection. Many of the back-country Singletracks I know are on shared trails so awareness and respect of these simple guidelines is essential.

Comments & Questions

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6 thoughts on “MTB Singletrack Riding

  1. Hello Steve, I must say that this article is very helpful and informative. I enjoy riding a bike with my friends but I am not a professional yet. I did hear about singletrack riding and I think it is awesome. I plan to advance a little when it comes to mountain riding as I like adrenaline.

    1. Hi Danijel, Thanks for your comments. I must say that I’m a bit of an adrenaline junky too 🙂 Now it’s time to go out on the trails for a couple of hours… practice makes perfect. 

  2. This was a wonderful and well-put article. I know very little about mountain biking and this made me want to get out there and tackle the world. I love the idea of single tracks now but I should probably look into getting an actual bike first. I will check out your site more when I am looking into that. Kind Regards

    1. Hi Ian, Thanks for your comments. If ever you need any help with finding the right bike for you, I will be glad to help. Watch out for BSO’s . . . Bike Shaped Objects that look like mountain bikes but often are nowhere near the real thing. You don’t need to spend a fortune but research well is key. Good luck, Steve

  3. Hi Steve,

    I love a bit of single track, especially when it is varied with different features. I love riding the man made stuff, but prefer natural tech terrain that is more of a challenge, especially when out on an all day enduro ride in the mountains. I live in the French alps and have the benefit of using the ski lift system during the summer to give me access to terrain further afield. There are no lifts open in the autumn and there is a huge risk of getting shot by hunters. I will check out the art of mountain biking book, it is a new one to me. Thanks for your post.

    1. Hi Tom, thanks for your comments. I’m on the other side of France on the edge of the Pyrenees. Yes; hunters are a challenge here too, even when I ride marked VTT trails. Do give me a shout if you’re ever over this way. There are some great trails and plenty of singletracks. A couple of weeks ago I got stuck behind a couple of hunting dogs on a singletrack and no matter what I did they wouldn’t move out of the way. I shouted, whistled, bounced my bike around, all to no avail and much amusement of the two riders behind me.

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