Yes, a video game is never going to be as good as the real thing but seeing as we have plenty of time to kill and no way to ride our bikes properly, we're going to have to turn to our controllers and screens to get our fix. In days gone by, all we had to pick from No Fear Mountain Biking or Downhill Domination, but these days there is a wide range of mountain bike adjacent games to entertain us. From free browser games and apps to full-blown console releases, here are 11 to check out.
Bike Unchained 2
Red Bull's mobile game makes full use of their athlete roster to allow you to play against 'real' pros. You can also build up a bike using components from real brands, making this feel like one of the most authentic mountain biking experiences here.
The gameplay is fairly simple and rhythm-based but getting the pumps right on the various tracks will take some practice and keep you coming back. There's also a multiplayer mode with daily and weekly events allowing you to work your way up a global ranking
Requirements: iOS or Android
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
MTBFreeride brands itself as a mountain biking simulator, which means it's aiming at a more realistic experience than the rest of the games here. What that boils down to is that you'll actually have to use your brakes and you'll crash, lots.
The first person position gives a great sense of speed and the trails are more recognizable than the huge jumps and crazy drops in other games here. There isn't a great deal of breadth to this game but just getting to the bottom with a clean run will take you... well, I've never actually done it.
Download the game, here
Requirements: Windows only, XP and up
This free browser game claimed many of my lunch hours in the library at school alongside 8 Ball Pool. It's a pretty simple, 2D game but the tracks are varied and there are even tech sections to be navigated. Plus your bike has pegs to do some 'sick' grinds.
The only game here that's not suitable for kids, Happy Wheels is a wacky game with super-gory crashes when it all goes wrong. There are a few cycling characters to take control of but you can also play as a Segway guy or an old man in a wheelchair. It's addictive fun with lots of daft levels designed by other players to try.
Requirements: Flash, iOS or Android
Mad Skills Motocross
We're definitely getting into the mtb adjacent section of the list now but Mad Skills Motocross is one hell of a time sink and will keep you addicted for hours. It's all about catching downsides and finding the rhythm through whoops sections to maintain speed through the levels. You'll need to be inch-perfect (or should that be millimeter perfect on a phone screen) to progress through the levels and even when you've done that courses are added weekly in the online mode.
Requirements: iOS or Android
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)Line Rider
One for the trail builders out there, this is all about creating a perfect flow line for a character to speed through. This game can really suck you in as you gradually tweak the track until you have an A-Line standard trail on your screen.
Price: Free online but there's also an app that costs $2.99
Shred 2! Sam Pilgrim
Shred 2! is a freeride focussed game that lets you take control of Sam Pilgrim and piece together a perfect slopestyle run. It probably has the best tricking system of any game here so if dirt jumping is your bag you may find it the most enjoyable game on the list. There are 40 levels to try out and it's one of the cheaper games here that isn't free.
Requirements: iOS, Android, Xbox, Nintendo Switch or Windows XP and above
Price: Various (depending on platform)
Descenders is about the closest thing that's out there to Downhill Domination in the modern-day. It uses procedurally generated worlds so that each time you play you face a different course, meaning it very rarely feels samey. There's now also online multiplayer which adds another element of challenge.
Requirements: Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, or Windows 7 and up.
Potentially the best game to play in self-isolation, Lonely Mountains is just about you, your bike and the hill. There's not really a racing element but each mountain features a few trails to explore to keep it interesting. The game is supposed to evoke the wonder of solitude in nature, even if that nature is a bit blockier than normal. It's definitely not the most thrilling game here but it's cool that someone has tried to do something different with the mountain biking game formula.
Requirements: PS4, Xbox One,
You all know what Zwift is by now and it could be the most entertaining way to keep yourself fit in self-isolation. That, or it'll take your mind off the fact you're stuck on a trainer instead of being out in the hills. There's now steering support and even a mountain bike trail to train on too.
Requirements: Windows 7 or above, a trainer, a bike.
Pro Cycling Manager
If you're really desperate, Pro Cycling Manager lets you take control of a Pro Tour team on the World Tour and manage them to Grand Tour glory. You're in charge of finances, recruitment, training, implementing race strategies and boosting morale throughout the season.
Requirements: Windows 10
The OG. The classic. The one game to rule them all. No game has left its mark on mountain biking than Downhill Domination. There are still a few copies floating around on eBay if you want to relive the glory days but you'll need a working Playstation 2 to play it on too.
Requirements: Playstation 2
Price: Various (second hand)