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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There's so many names and sub genres or cliques or whatever, I don't know the differences between all this stuff.

Is trail like Xc but without any pavement and gravel roads? All mountain is less than downhill...right? So if all mountain isn't Xc, but it's not downhill, then it's the same thing as trail?
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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A lot of it is cooked up by the manufacturers. It's harder to sell someone both a XC and a Trail bike if you don't have different names for them. And a lot of mountain bikers have attitude about XC riders, but basically ride XC. Naming a bike "Trail" makes it more palatable.

XC bikes also have a pretty specific job to do: they're that manufacturer's take on the bike that can get around a XC race course fastest. My favorite race courses are mostly singletrack, but they're usually loops. That means I spend about twice as much time climbing as descending, and the bikes' aptitudes reflect that. I'd expect a Trail bike to make some concessions for the sake of being more forgiving on the way down. It's a manufacturer's take on what would be the most fun for someone doing a mostly-singletrack ride for fun, rather than in competition.

Most hardtails used to have XC geometry. Now, they're more variable.

I tend to think of an All Mountain bike as being a long-travel bike that one can ride up a fire road, or even singletrack. Actually demoed one that I enjoyed several months ago. It didn't give up as much on climbs as I expected and it was a hoot on the way down. I'd expect 140-160 mm of travel on an AM bike. Trail, usually 120, but the Specialized Camber is pretty Trail, to my mind, and gets 110, and some manufacturers are figuring out how to make pretty well-rounded bikes with 130 or 140. So nothing's really set in stone.

Freeride and DH bikes still have pedals, so it's certainly possible to ride them up a fire road. But people often choose not to. These are also the bikes that people buy for shuttled riding, either at a resort or maybe using a pickup truck. I see them as having at least 160 mm of travel.

Now, what you do with a bike is your business. I think that in general, people are happiest if they choose a bike that matches their favorite kind of riding. I'm not the descender I'd like to be, and I really enjoy riding to the tops of things and the occasional race. I also enjoy climbing singletrack and find climbing fire roads boring. I'd rather climb singletrack, even if maybe I don't get to session a downhill line as many times. So when I was shopping for a new bike last year, I bought an XC race bike. I demoed some trail bikes and decided I'd rather have something that climbs a little better, at the cost of requiring a little more attention, and having a little lower speed limit, on the way down. I continue to be very happy with my shiny new bike.
 

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Many a thread on this. To me the Trail is in between AM and XC. In its simplest explanation XC is 4", Trail is 5", AM 6+". Then there's geometry.

Another take is its just an easier way to categorize your riding preferences/trail type because you want the most efficient bike for what you typically ride. To me its not about whether any bike can ride these categories or not but efficiency/most fun/enjoyment.
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