On this website we have decided to use a similar grading system to that used in the UK by Forest Enterprise. Its slightly different to the IMBA grades used in Australia where they have only one grade (Blue) covering both the moderate (Blue) and difficult (Red) that we prefer. We feel it gives a better indication for people relatively new to the sport.
As with all grading systems its VERY subjective and is only an indication. Ride within your limits and ride what you can see. (This is good advice but we would be lying if we said we always follow it!!)
Green grade – easy trails
- Green grade trails are suitable for: beginners or novice cyclists.
- Bike required: most bikes and mountain bike hybrids are suitable.
- Skills needed: basic bike skills are required for this grade.
- Trail and surface types: these will be relatively flat and wide. Trail surface might be loose, uneven or muddy at times. Might include short flowing singletrack-style sections. Some green routes can take trailers.
- Gradients and technical trail features: climbs and descents are mostly shallow. No challenging features.
- Suggested fitness level: suitable for most people in good health.
Blue grade – moderate trails
- Blue grade trails are suitable for: intermediate cyclists or mountain bikers with basic off-road riding skills.
- Bike required: basic mountain bike or mountain bike hybrid.
- Skills needed: basic off-road riding skills to cope with uneven surfaces and small obstacles.
- Trail and surface types: as for ‘green’, plus specially constructed singletrack trails. Trail surface might include small obstacles of root and rock.
- Gradients and technical trail features: most gradients are moderate but might include short steep sections. Includes small technical trail features (such as roots and rock).
- Suggested fitness level: a good standard of fitness can help.
Red grade – difficult trails
- Red grade trails are suitable for: proficient mountain bikers with good off-roading skills.
- Bike required: quality off-road mountain bikes.
- Skills needed: good off-roading skills and techniques to cope with technical trail features.
- Trail and surface types: steeper and tougher, mostly singletrack with technical sections. Expect very variable surface types.
- Gradients or technical trail features: a wide range of climbs and descents of a challenging nature will be present. Expect boardwalks, berms, large rocks, medium steps, drop-offs, cambers and water crossings.
- Suggested fitness level: a higher level of fitness and stamina is required.
Black grade – severe trails
- Black grade trails are suitable for: expert mountain bike users, used to physically demanding routes.
- Bike required: a good quality off-road mountain bike is needed.
- Skills needed: advanced level off-roading skills and technical ability.
- Trail and surface types: as for ‘red’, but with an expectation of greater challenge and continuous difficulty. Can include any useable trail and might include exposed open hill sections.
- Gradients or technical trail features: expect large, committing and unavoidable technical trail features. Sections will be challenging and variable. Might also have ‘downhill’ style sections.
- Suggested fitness level: suitable for very active people used to prolonged effort.