AM currently means a bike that sits between being definitely an enduro bike and definitely being a trail bike. Typically this means 140-150mm of rear travel and 150-160mm of front travel. It's a vague term so don't overthink it.
Means different things to different user groups (including nothing) with LOTS of overlap. Someone may rip an aggressive hardtail on terrain another couldn't ride down on an all out DH bike. As post #3 says don't worry about the semantics, ride it.
I can still remember when "bike" stood for anything and everything with two wheels that was powered by a human. At some point, we started calling one particular bike a "banana bike". Then we differentiated between "bikes" and "ten speeds". Ten speeds turned into "road bikes", and anything that went in the dirt without getting a flat was called a "mountain bike". Those conventions lasted many years. As I recall, "down hill" came next, and that settled for another few years. Then the skies opened up, and we have as many terms for different types of bikes as we have people to ride them. And what was once a down hill became an enduro, then a trail, then an all mountain, and will probably soon be referred to as an XC. Kinda like the Eagles' rock music of the 70's would be considered country today...
My opinion, terms are used more for marketing, and less for what a bike really does. What a bike does, or is capable of, is more up to the rider and what they want to do with it than the term associated with it.
AM covers trail bike to enduro bike and fall short of hard hitting bigger travel park/freeride bike.
To be fair though. The lines are getting pretty darn blurry and as big travel bikes get more efficient you can have a 160-180mm bike that pedals like a 120 mm bike that you can use for general trail use.
I think plummet hit the nail on the head. IIRC the term was coined back when suspension was really starting to pedal well... AM was a bike that was bigger than XC but not free ride (you wouldn’t see it at Rampage) which could be pedaled to the top and then bombed back down. I think DH was always DH since I’ve been riding.
Now “Trail Bike” has taken over and is about as ambiguous as AM was. Hence all the “long travel/short travel/mid travel” trail bike designations you read about online. Light duty trail bikes vs heavy hitting trail bikes, yadda yadda yadda.
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