Published: 03rd Aug 2023 Images: Scottish Cycling

#YourTimeToRide – How to Get Involved in MTB DH

Do you have a need for speed? Like the idea of going downhill at speed? Then Downhill Mountain Biking could be for you.

Downhill Mountain Biking is a style of mountain biking practiced on steep, often rough terrain, that can features jumps, drops, rock gardens and other obstacles. Jumps can be up to and including 12 meters, and drops can be greater than three meters.

Fear not – just like skiing there are various grades of trails, from greens and blues for beginners, up to blacks for those who want the biggest thrill, but have the skill level to match. This makes Downhill Mountain Biking a brilliant, progressive form of cycling. And remember, even World Champions had to start somewhere, so don’t be put off by the challenge!

A downhill bike is a robust mountain bike, with suspension that has more travel and dampening (in other words bouncier) to help you absorb the rough terrain, tough wheels and grippy tyres. In simple terms it’s designed to help you go downhill very fast, and as comfortably as possible.

Downhill can be a social sport, or something you do on your own on the many trail centres across Scotland. But nothing beats that post run debrief with friends! You will meet people on common ground, and many stories will be shared. It’ll break down barriers and create friendships for life. The adventurer with a need for speed, and the adrenaline seeker will very quickly be hooked and want to keep coming back for more.

What’s more, Downhill gives you the ultimate sense of freedom and an appreciation of life.

To find your nearest club catering for Downhill, or your closest trail centre where you’ll likely meet like minded people, check out our Activity Finder on the Get Involved section of our website here

Not sure what you need to get started? Then check out this hand Ride Guide that our friends at Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) have put together.

Heading up to Fort William? Then you may catch a glimpse of Phoebe Gale. Phoebe is from the small village of Denholm in the Scottish Borders. As a child she was into football before deciding that mountain biking was for her and joined KICC – her local club.

This is her first year competing as a senior but make no mistake she has some serious skills! As a Junior she has won the UCI MTB World Cup in Les Gets, France and Maribor, Slovenia.

If Phoebe or any of our other MTB DH riders inspire you then you should check out where you can ride and what clubs are near you below.

Where to Ride

You are spoiled for choice in Scotland for places to ride Downhill with Fort William being the most iconic, a host to many World-class event.

Trails tend to vary in length and difficulty, with features incorporated to increase the technical challenge. Most trail centres have a coloured grading system describing the trails. The links below are useful sources to find trails.

Mountain biking – Forestry and Land Scotland

Scottish Mountain Bike Ride Guides – DMBinS

Clubs in Scotland

There are many clubs in Scotland that focus on MTB DH amongst other disciplines. In the Southwest, AE Bike Association are a newly affiliated club that this year hosted a round of the Race the Worlds Mini DH series.

AE and Galloway Hillbillies, also based in Southwest at Kirroughtree, could be described as sister clubs, with Stepping Stanes being the youth club feeding into AE.

All are based at one of our 7stanes mountain biking – Forestry and Land Scotland locations and have great café for after your ride.

To find a club near you click here.


Racing in MTB Downhill can be split into three; Mini-DH, short course and then the full-on course. The races are built and designed based on age and ability, and are a great stepping stone for youngster to progress from early ages.

Races start at one point and end at another. Qualifying rounds place the riders into an order and those timed fastest get to go last in the final race. This builds tension as each rider finishes’ faster than the one before, the faster rider then jumps into the ‘hot seat’. In essence the last one in the seat at end of that categories races wins.

Races run throughout the year, but main racing is from Spring to Autumn.