Skill and Fitness Levels Explained

With the technical nature of mountain biking, trying to assess your own ability level can be doubly difficult. We hope these descriptions help you to position yourself and choose the perfect tour.

H+I Adventures skill and fitness levels explained

At H+I Adventures we strive to make sure that every single rider is booked onto the perfect trip for them. It’s not an exact science or an easy task, but over the years we’ve developed lots of little ways of teasing out of you the information we need to discern which tour will be best for you.

The start of this process is for you to read the skill and fitness levels required by each adventure, which you’ll find in the ‘Full details’ tab on every tour page of our website.

However, in order for you to get a sense of what we mean by our skill and fitness levels, and to compare each one to see which best represents your mountain biking experience, here’s the complete guide to our skill and fitness levels. In each case, this is the minimum requirement and you can expect to be pushed technically and/or physically at certain points throughout your mountain bike tour.

Skill

Skill levels

Novice+

  • You have some experience (one year) of riding a bike off-road, you own a mountain bike and use it
  • You can change gear, brake and pedal efficiently
  • You bike on canal paths, forest roads, double track and occasional singletrack
  • You may be a road or touring biker who has seen the light and wants to do some more mountain biking, and have ridden off road since seeing the light
  • And the ‘+’ part of ‘Novice+’ means that you’re aspiring to ride sections of singletrack during your adventure with us

Our Novice+ mountain bike tours include, our mountain bike safari in Namibia, and our Tastes + Trails of Scotland adventure.

Intermediate

  • You have been mountain biking regularly for at least two years
  • You can brake, use gears and corner with confidence
  • You have good bike handling skills, and are confident riding rough double track and non-technical singletrack
  • You are competent at riding undulating trails with moderate climbs and descents on both double and singletrack, but tend to get off and walk technical singletrack sections
  • You ride approx. four times per month throughout your biking season

If you think Intermediate is your level, take a look at our tours in Croatia, the Yukon in Canada, and the Cairngorms in Scotland.

Intermediate+

  • You are generally comfortable riding most types of terrain in different conditions: singletrack, double track, muddy, dry, loose, bedrock…
  • You can brake, use gears and corner instinctively
  • You’ll have a go on moderate technical features, such as small rock gardens, small drops and steeper sections, but may get off and walk certain technical features
  • You ride more than once a week throughout your biking season
  • And the ‘+’ part of ‘Intermediate+’ means that you will be aiming to tackle more of those moderate technical features

Our Intermediate+ adventures include: SloveniaNepalNew Zealand and Chile + Patagonia.

Advanced

  • You are very confident handling most types of riding and obstacles, including drops (up to 1 foot), rocks, logs, switchbacks, larger rock gardens and sustained technical singletrack
  • You can brake, use gears and corner instinctively
  • You have excellent bike handling skills and can lift front and rear wheels, do small jumps, corner, climb and descend steep trails
  • You have considerable experience of riding on a wide variety of technical terrains including: rocky, rooty, muddy, loose, fast singletrack, exposed trails, bedrock for extended periods
  • You ride at least twice a week and rarely get off and walk sections
  • You can climb and descend comfortably on technical singletrack for as long as required

If you’re looking for something Advanced, you have our coast-to-coast ScotlandBritish Columbia, and Ecuador adventures to choose from.

Advanced+

  • You were born on a bike!
  • You can tackle anything the trail throws at you and have experience of riding all types of trail and obstacles (large, loose rocks, roots, drop-offs, logs, north shore…)
  • You take every opportunity you can to get out on your bike, in all weathers, and you’re happy to ride all day long
  • And the ‘+’ part of ‘Advanced+’ means that you will be up for taking on the challenge of long hike-a-bikes and long, technical descents, potentially in difficult weather conditions

Finally, if you’re at the top of your mountain biking game and looking for a real challenge, you could go for Torridon + Skye, Scotland or our Norway expedition.

These are generic skill levels, but you’ll notice that on each tour page, underneath the skill and fitness levels, there’s also a description of the types of trails that you can expect to find on that specific adventure. So, you can add context to the skill and fitness level explanations.

Fit?

Fitness levels

Level 1 & 2

All of our trips are physically demanding so we don’t offer any tours below fitness Level 3 described below.

Level 3

  • You exercise at least once a week for more than 45 minutes throughout the year
  • You can ride a mountain bike at a relaxed pace for up to three hours a day, with snack and photo stops, for three consecutive days
  • You can tackle one or two mountain bike climbs of up to 200m each per day with little or no walking

Level 4

  • You have a reasonable level of mountain bike fitness, exercising at least twice a week for one hour or more, throughout the whole year
  • You can ride a mountain bike for up to five hours per day at a moderate pace, with snack and photo stops, for three consecutive days
  • You are capable of tackling one or two moderate mountain bike climbs per day, of up to 400 metres each

Level 5

  • You have a good level of bike fitness, exercising at least three times every week throughout the year, for an hour at a time
  • You can ride a mountain bike for up to six hours a day at a moderate pace, with snack and photo stops, for three or more consecutive days
  • You can tackle two or three fairly significant climbs a day, up to 600 metres each

Level 6

  • You have an excellent level of bike fitness, exercising four or five times every week throughout the year, for at least an hour at a time
  • You are comfortable mountain biking up to six hours a day at a moderate pace, with snack and photo stops, for four or more consecutive days
  • You can tackle several serious climbs a day, up to 600 metres each

Level 7

  • You are in peak physical condition and exercise or ride your bike nearly every single day for at least 90 minutes at a time
  • You can ride and work seriously hard on the trail for 8 hours each day and for up to 7 days in a row
  • It doesn’t matter how many many steep climbs you have to tackle in a day – you’ll just keep looking for more

For further Skills advice, why not read our “Skills part 2” and “Skills part 3” and “Riding techniques explained” blog posts.

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