Need help with terms: beginner, intermediate, advanced, expert rider

I need to define the following levels for MUni because I am using them in “at a glance” trail descriptions on my website. I am looking for suggestions. Feel free to add any definitions on all or just one level. Also, let me know if the levels should have different titles, if necessary.
This link
shows a sample of the “at a glance” trail description. I just need to define in a “Key” what the levels are.

What is a Beginner rider?
What is an Intermediate rider?
What is an Advanced rider?
What is an Experienced or Expert rider?



I would use existing systems to define the levels of expertise. Probably would be best to use the U system or a variation of it to define the levels. Another possibility would be to incorporate rating system for white water. A 12" drop I can do, but multiple 12" drops in a row with lots of rough ground in between is a lot different. It depends on the amount of exposure to the rough stuff and what kind of trouble you get into when you have to bail. I can usually ride a 20" log on the ground, but put it into the air or across a stream and I’d be in trouble do to added risk factor and my mental ability to focus on the task at hand.

In summary:
Types of difficulty, surrounding area or environment and the amount of the obstacles all add to the difficulty. The U system ratings take quite a few of these things into account already.

Good site and I like your work. Now I just need to get out there to ride. By the way, if I make it out for some riding, I’ll be calling you to be my personal guide. :smiley:


Looks about right IMO

I would add a couple of categories:
…“northshore stunts”…danger

Exposed - is that refering to the danger or the sun?

Unless the trees are really dense and there’s good possibility of running into a tree, if anything more shade reduces the heat and makes things a bit easier.

I find that most mountain bike guide books do a pretty good job of describing trails and appropriate skills levels. That said, muni is a skill set unto itself, so when I think of muni as a skilled rider, a beginner mtb trail is a beginer muni trail, though it might be more challenging to someone who is a good road rider and not familiar with muni.

I adapted the following from the AWA kayaking:

  • use -, + to differentiate within the grade

Class 1: Smooth surfaces, requires no maneuvering. (Skill Level: None). Ex: paved greenway.

Class 2: Some rough surfaces, small roots and rocks, requires minor obstacle avoidance (Skill Level: Basic). Ex: beginner mountain bike trails.

Class 3: Moderately rough surfaces, medium sized roots and rocks, requires considerable obstacle avoidance, moderate hill climbing and descending, small drops (< 30 cm), brakes and protective gear suggested. (Skill Level: intermediate). Ex: intermediate mountain bike trails.

Class 4: Very rough surfaces, large roots and rocks, considerable drops, sharp maneuvers may be needed, terrain exposure leads to increased risk of injury with falls, long and/or steep climbs, steep and technical downhills, protective gear and brakes highly recommended (Skill Level: advanced). Ex: advanced mountain bike trails.

Class 5: Extremes in surfaces variablity, very large roots and rocks, high risk of injury from falls, requires constant and aggressive obstacle avoidance, full protective gear and brakes required (Skill Level: Expert). Ex: Advanced Downhill bike trails.

Class 6: The gnar, huge rocks, huge drops, Class 6 is considered hazardous even for experts using state-of-the-art equipment, and come with the warning “danger to life or limb.” (Skill Level: Certifiable crazy). Ex: Riding down Everest.

Everest wouldn’t be class 6 for the terrain; it’s actually not that difficult a climb/descent except for the altitude. K2 would be a better example.

Other than that, I like Nurse Ben’s model. One thing that mountain bike descriptions often do is conflate technical difficulty with strenuousness, so a long ride at altitude, or with a big climb in the middle, will be classified as “expert” even if the trail is smooth. So you’ll want to make a distinction between those two.

There’s some stuff you’re trying to capture in your charts which isn’t captured in the classification system; for example, whether the surface is rocky or loose. It might be worth another column, although a lot of trails can change over time.

Ah, Tom… your Internet snark skills are strong… but sometimes you just sound so SILLY!