The mountain biking culture

Any culture manifests itself in coherence in a set of collective views, interests, and rituals. The mountain biking industry is in part defined by its culture - the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular group of people devoted to two-wheeled, human-powered, off-road machines.

Words by Norrøna Ambassador Jon Bokrantz

After more than 20 years of riding bikes across the globe, I think I have a sense of what makes us all stick together. Since all good things come in three, here is my take on three defining characteristics of mountain biking culture. It’s only a coincidence they all start with an F.

1. Family spirit

The fundamental attitude towards other people is that anyone that rides a mountain bike is your friend. Since you share the same interest in the most fun thing to do in life, you must be friends. Simple, right? This spirit is reflected in how mountain bikers have friends in every corner of the world. Anywhere you go you know someone, you can stay at other mountain bikers’ houses when you travel, just call them and ask any question, and get help to fix emergencies when parts are missing or when something is broken. Like family, there is always a mountain biker there to help you out. 

2. Friendly competitiveness.

Let’s face it, you always want to be just a little bit better than your friends.

That’s why we constantly challenge each other to go faster; compare watt numbers, race times, and results. Desperately trying to beat each other on the most prestigious Strava segments. People outside the mountain biking culture may perceive it as an unhealthy obsession with performance. But we do it for the love of continuous improvements. Going fun is fast, and nothing makes you go faster than trying to beat your closest friends. 

"Let’s face it, you always want to be just a little bit better than your friends."

3. Funny norms.

Informal rules and rituals are an inherent part of any culture, and there are tons of them in mountain biking. It may seem silly and detrimental to care about how you look and what bike you ride, and many people loathe this particular characteristic. You are not allowed to wear your sunglasses under the helmet straps, and you cannot show a gap between the shorts and the knee pads. Don’t use pilot glasses with full face helmets.

Bikers can argue for hours whether the socks should go under or over the leg warmers.

When you unconsciously start adhering to the hidden rules of the game, you’re close to becoming a mountain biker. But hey, don’t need to take it too seriously, they are mostly just for fun!

About Jon

Jon is a mountain biker from Sweden. He joined the Norrøna family in 2011 and holds a PhD degree and thereby knows a thing or two about science.

Get to know Jon

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