Mountain bike orienteering

Mountain bike orienteering

Mountain Bike orienteer with hard tail mountain bike, clipless pedals, and map holder.
Highest governing body International Orienteering Federation
Contact Non-contact
Team members Individual
Mixed gender Separate categories
Type Outdoor
Mountain bike orienteering

Mountain bike orienteering (MTB-O or MTBO) is an orienteering endurance racing sport on a mountain bike where navigation is done along trails and tracks. Compared with foot orienteering, competitors usually are not permitted to leave the trail and track network. Navigation tactics are similar to ski-orienteering, where the major focus is route choice while navigating. The main difference compared to ski-orienteering is that navigation is done at a higher pace, because the bike can reach higher speeds. As the biker reaches higher speeds, map reading becomes more challenging.


Preferred bike type is a robust mountain bike meant for cross-country cycling, but any type of bike can be used. Depending on terrain type either hard tailed or full suspension mountain bikes are more appropriate. Clipless pedals with a special cycling shoe are mostly used by serious cyclists to enable maximum power output, and to keep feet secure on the pedals. Bicycle helmets are usually a requirement in competitions.

Special equipment

A map holder attached to the handlebar of the bike is an essential piece of equipment in mountain bike orienteering, and most holders allow the map to be rotated. Known brands for map holders are Mapdec, Miry, Devotech, Nordenmark, Autopilot and Windchill.[1] Many riders also use some type of a cord with a spring-loaded mechanism to draw the cord back after use for their electronic timing chips/cards. Compasses may be used but electronic navigational aids (such as GPS-based watches) are not permitted. Competitors may carry repair tools and spare parts during races.


Maps are usually smaller scale (1:10 000 – 1:30 000) and less detailed than standard orienteering maps. Trails and tracks are marked on mountain bike orienteering maps based on their riding difficulty, with four classifications: easy, slow, difficult and impossible to ride. Also, obstacles that require a dismount are usually marked on the map.[2][3]

Organization and events

MTB-O is one of four orienteering sports governed by the International Orienteering Federation. The first World Championship event was held in 2002 in Fontainebleau, France. Since 2004 the World Championships have been held annually. European Championships have been held annually since 2006. Mountain bike orienteering is most popular in European countries and Australia.[4]

Mountain bike orienteers

The most successful mountain bike orienteer is Mika Tervala, Finland who has taken ten World Championship and five European Championship medals. Other successful mountain bike orienteers are Michaela Gigon, Ruslan Gritsan, Adrian Jackson, Christine Schaffner and Päivi Tommola.[5]

See also


  1. "Review Of The Roadmaster granite peak mountain bike for men". 21 March 2016. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  2. "Welcome to Orienteering!". Orienteering Association of Western Australia. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
  3. "International Specification for MTB Orienteering Maps 2007" (PDF). International Orienteering Federation. 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
  4. "Mountain Bikes". Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  5. "World MTB Orienteering Championships". International Orienteering Federation. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
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