Flow Trail Overload? Or Never Enough Flow? - Pinkbike Poll

Mar 9, 2018
by Mike Levy  
The list of topics that can set off a comment section isn't short, but let's forget about wheel sizes, hub widths, and motorbikes disguised as mountain bikes for a few minutes to talk about what I believe is more pressing: new and existing trails being made easier and easier, er, flowier and flowier. It's a subject that I've written about before, as have many others, but let's put it to a poll to find out where we all stand on the push for more and more ''flow trails'' replacing the roots and rocks.


Save the Tech

I've been lucky to have ridden singletrack all over North and Central America, many parts of Europe, Asia, and even the Middle East, and there's been a common thread shared between most of the locals I've talked to who call those places home: their existing trails are being made easier and easier, and the focus of fresh trails seems to be only on finding the smoothest, most mundane terrain.

The supposed reasons for this aren't difficult to pinpoint. First, more and more locales are going straight instead of building rouge singletrack. That in itself is hard to argue against, especially when funding might be required, but there's little chance of getting funding for your raw, scary line when said funding is only coming because the source of it has been sold on growing the sport by attracting new riders. New riders are, understandably, scared of dying during their first few rides, and search and rescue needing to collect broken riders every other day is generally bad for business. And let's not forget that is exactly what this is... a business.

Trail associations are often (but not always) looking for funding to offset the expenses of trail work, and that funding is usually only going to come for entry-level singletrack that promises to encourage growth of the sport. More riders mean more money spent by riders, of course, which is the ROI of that funding.


Sonke and Hovey on the rocks.


Okay, so why can't guys who want difficult, technical trails just go build it themselves? They can, of course, but it's often not that simple anymore. With trail building going legit in more places, the days of wandering off into the bush to build whatever you want are, for better or worse, probably behind us. There are hoops to jump through now that higher powers are involved, so you can't just go put shovel to dirt like many of us used to. And with many trail associations seemingly focused solely on growing the sport by building entry-level trails, or trails that only get approved and funded, it's almost like these associations represent people that don't even ride yet instead of those who have been riding and investing in this sport for many, many years. Why would someone back a group that doesn't even recognize them?

Politics aside, the push for smoother trails is robbing new riders of the progression and accomplishment that's such a great part of our little sport. Worse yet, I doubt this mindset will ever do a U-turn. When something becomes no longer acceptable, easier, or quicker, it rarely reverts back to being acceptable, difficult, or slower; that's just not how us humans work. Soon we'll have a whole slew of riders who've become used to not having their skills challenged, and those riders will eventually be calling the shots years down the road. How do you think that's going to turn out?

Bring the Flow

I've been lucky to have ridden singletrack all over North and Central America, many parts of Europe, Asia, and even the Middle East, and if there's one thing that connects riders from all those locations is that we all just want to have a good time on our bikes. And you know what's a really, really good time? Coasting through a set of huge berms and snakey singletrack that delivers flow to riders without them needing pro-level skills.

Mountain biking has long been viewed by much of the general, non-riding public as a dangerous, rowdy sport that costs riders their collarbones on a regular basis. Events like the Red Bull Rampage, along with countless two-minute hucking 'edits,' have people like my mom thinking that I surely have a deathwish. I don't have a deathwish, but I do wish for endless, flowing singletrack that'll have me feeling like I'm surfing on dirt. I mean, who wouldn't have a shit eating grin on that kind of trail? Only a jerk who doesn't support their local trail association, I assume.

I don't need to point out to you how fun a downhill pump track of a trail can be, but I am going to point out why that sort of terrain can only be a good thing for our little sport. You know what people like to do? They like to have fun, and the more fun we can make mountain biking, the more people we'll get on bikes. That's great, but there's a selfish reason for wanting more riders: it should mean that we'll eventually have more trails as well due to more manpower and bigger numbers lobbying for singletrack.


Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon 6Fattie review test


Sure, a lot of those new trails are likely going to be easier than what the 'core' riders are looking for, but a good number of rookie riders will stick around long enough to want more challenging terrain, and that's when we'll hopefully see more of all types of trails, including the scary ones.

As much as I pine for the days when mountain biking was a weird, niche sport that not many people were interested in, those days are long behind us and they ain't coming back. Mountain biking is mainstream because, well, it's a damn good time, and I think we can all agree that more people need to be having a good time out in nature.

Trails that scare the bejesus out of people generally don't make for a good time, however, so let's embrace the flow instead of complaining about the berms that I know put a smile on everyone's face.



Is the push for smoother, flowier trails a good or bad thing?



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294 Comments

  • + 366
 Flow trails are fun, but they get old fast. Techy stuff is less pleasant to ride, but draws me back for "one more go" time and time again. There's no feeling quite like hitting a rock garden or off camber rooty section just right, after 5 failed attempts that spat you off at random angles or stopped you in your tracks every time. It makes railing your 40th perfect berm in 5 minutes seem a little sterile and unsatisfying by comparison.
  • + 74
 Amen. It's instant vs delayed gratification. Flow = fun, but often little challenge. Whereas techy stuff... might not seem like "fun" at first, but once you get it, you're hooked. As @taletotell said, the best part is making the techy stuff flow. Just not by reducing the tech. I loved flow when I started biking and couldn't do much, but now... it's a little routine. On the other hand, I live close to a trail system on a big hill. That place has the rootiest stuff I've ever seen. My favorite trail starts off with a monster steep climb, and then flows up and down the hill and around trees/stumps and whatnot. Strewn with roots almost the whole way. First time I rode that thing, I swerved to avoid a pile of horse crap and my front wheel kissed an enormous root. Stopped the bike cold and I went flying into the blackberry bushes. Right at the end, took a steep descent gravel hairpin too fast and wiped out. I've crashed (or come close to it) at least once per ride since then. Does it bang me up more than virtually any trail I've ridden? Sure. But has any other trail beaten the feeling that I got when I got the hang of it and started dancing across the wet roots and swooping through the hills? Not even close. Flow has it's place, but to at least some extent, LONG LIVE GNAR!
  • + 29
 Dang, didn't realize until I posted how long that got. Sorry for the manuscript. lol
  • + 21
 I definitely find myself seeking out more challenging trails. Flow is definitely fun, but I go to bed at night thinking about riding the tech.
  • + 14
 Agreed. The UK for example reasonably close to each other built in evergreen Forrestry. Aston Hill built back 22? Years ago, Swinley recently built trail centre.

Aston Hill I first rode when it was new 20ish years ago gnarly rooty slippery steep, but very short, I still go and even raced there last year. It’s still challenging it’s still fun, the black run with the years of erosion I think just gets harder every year with the roots making big sharp steps in hairpins etc. I’ve heard SO MANY people in recent years say “I don’t ride there in the wet, too dangerous, no fun as struggle to stay on the bike”. It’s generally quiet.

Swinley rammed all the time, every trail surfaced with hardcore kitty litter loads bigger and longer trails than Aston. There isn’t anything at all that’s even slightly challenging, if a root gets prominent from erosion and could become fun it’s cut out or covered back over - so boring. Yet the place is rammed all the time it’s mega popular. I hardly ever go.

The sport has changed its much more about flow and a lot less about technical skill clearing natural obstacles (like diagonal off camber root sections in the rain covered with chalk that are begging. To break your collarbone). I love a bit of flow riding blind and the first couple of times then it gets dull. A positive I guess is I think it’s spawned bigger and bigger jumps to bring the fun back. However that then gets close to dirt jumping and that’s about as far removed from natural trail riding as you can get.
  • + 44
 The rougher the better!

I see guys doing maintenance on parts of trails where they've been beat to shit by years of riding, and I'm like "Why are you fixing that? It doesn't need fixed. You're unfixing it!"
  • - 7
flag StevieJB (Mar 9, 2018 at 3:46) (Below Threshold)
 @excavator666: so true I don’t get the whole smooth the brake bumps every season thing, let them grow to holes, it the trail reverting to a natural state.
  • + 13
 My first 6 years of riding bikes was about getting wobbled on HT on chunky rocks. Then I moved to Sweden where it’s only rocks and roots and mud. Pardon me, when I go to a bike park I want to rail and fly. And I don’t find it easy by any means.
  • + 50
 Personally I’ve never seen the point in building a bmx track in the woods, plus there seems to be an over focus on jumping. I’m never going to grumble bout new trails being created but it sucks when an old fave gets the dumb down makeover.
  • + 10
 Dang. Just realist I got sucked straight in to PBs latest comment generator
  • + 15
 There's always got to be a balance of stuff. For those of us that live more rurally and most of our riding is raw, natural stuff it's great to come to bike park and ride some motorway trails full of big jumps and berms. That's good fun. Meanwhile if you live in the bike park or near it you probably get very tired very quick of smooth trails. It's got to be about having something for everyone. I can also think of quite a few good trails that have a real mix of man made, wide, smooth jumpy, flowy trail and also have raw, tech sections. There's no reason they can't coexist in the same bike parks or even the same runs
  • + 13
 isn't it this all the wheel sizes' fault?
  • + 2
 These people don't seem to ride up the hills
  • + 11
 @simonusedtoskate: And that's the problem. Build whatever you want but leave dedicated trails alone
  • + 12
 While I agree that the tech trails are inherently more challenging, I will also say that you all sound like people spoiled by choice! haha Here in Southern Ontario I would LOVE to have the choice between techy or flowy.... Instead our options, while there if you look, are few and far between. Do me a favour the next time you're going down either run; imagine those not nearly as lucky and savour the moment!
  • + 5
 I agree with you%100......However, looking down the road to the future of our sport/community there is a major factor we should all be thinking about. Funding and access. If we make it easier to get into the sport and grow our numbers we will get access to public lands and funding which only higher numbers will bring. We don't get much now because we are very small number of people. New riders will gravitate towards more challenging terrain on their own and it will never go away. This needs to be a long term strategy to grow. The barriers to entry in this sport are significant and as a community we need to consider this. New bikes are amazing but newbies will never know this if we can't get them onto trails that don't terrify them. We forget how hard it probably is because most of us have been riding for so long. If we want to grow we need trails that are good for beginners. Decent bikes are very expensive so that right there is one of the biggest barriers to entry for our sport. We can't do too much about that but we can make trails more appealing and accessible. We will always have gnar but we have not always had funding or community/political support. We still have a reputation as a bunch of wild ruffians with no regard for our own safety and this is a great way to change that.
  • + 2
 @cky78: Lots of good trails within 1hr drive from Cambridge area, nothing world class. Depends where you are I guess?
  • + 1
 My almost 8 year old lives for the flow. Rocky, rooty AND uphill isn't fun.
  • + 1
 @simonusedtoskate: Can't props you enough
  • + 4
 I think one of the factors missing here is that flow trail is usually built by machine and is much quicker to build, and if built by paid workers becomes much cheaper to build. So time and cost may also be a factor in why more flow trails are appearing.
  • + 3
 The real problem is that most flow trails suck. I've ridden flow trails that are like one long pump track, that start super tight with close spaced rollers, just like a pump track, then as you gain speed the rollers space out and get more difficult to double, the turns get a larger radius, but the berms are there to push off of, instead of breaking into, so as long as there aren't too many tourists they don't develop braking bumps. If we had a few more of those around this hate for flow trails would subside
  • + 15
 A trail doesn't have to be smooth to flow. Many builders seem to think smooth surface = flow, but some of the flowiest tracks I've ridden are also the roughest. It's about how the corners and features are linked that makes it smooth. Likewise, I have ridden smoothly surfaced trails that have no flow - corners at unnatural angles, awkward rollers etc., stop ruining fun trails in the search of 'flow' by smoothing the trail surface!
  • + 2
 Why does nobody address the flow trails at say coast gravity?? Everyone talks about how boring flow trails are, but Id argue that the "flow" jump lines at CGP are some of the best trails Ive ever ridden. I love the tech trails they have as well but I think they are both equally as good and I wouldnt want one without the other.
  • + 1
 @tom666: Now there's a sensible comment. To often I find these comments full of rather elitist 26er dh riders looking down on anyone who doesn't ride GNAR all the time. I'm fairly new to the sport and love flow with jumps and drops. That's my thing. It's a sport with many different styles. Just enjoy.
  • + 6
 Why people not trying to master flow on gnarly terrain? Wink That is the best Reward!!
  • + 1
 @cky78: Come to Sudbury my friend and experience challenging technical trails. Likely some of the best in Ontario.
  • + 2
 @hamncheez: Go to Thunder Mt, Snowshoe, Highland or Killington. I can`t keep the smile off my face as the these flow trails are perfect. Probably the fastest I have ever been are on these trails. Looking forward to them opening with my MTB parks pass.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: There's no problem in you wanting to go to a bikepark and do any flow trail you want.
Deliberately dumbing down trails is a different story altogether.
  • + 1
 well said! I remember as a noob how fun the flow was, but even then the part of the trail that I remembered was the part I couldn't clean. I would think about in between rides, and when I finally was able to ride that section it was a huge feeling of accomplishment. I think the feeling is being taken from many new riders now, as every trail now has a B line, etc. I would like trail builders to realize there is no harm in having to get off and walk a few feet now and then, and in my opinion makes for a better experience for both noobs and experts. There should be a few easy trails for folks in most networks for sure, but making all trails completely rideable via B lines seems like it robs users of the best possible experience.
  • + 3
 @harrisonjg: I think because spots are legit now there has to be a B-line. Otherwise when somebody tries to sue the park for the accident they had on the road gap they'll say there was no way around. I don't think B-lines are such a bad thing though. There's still a lot of achievement in adding in the optional doubles and features over time. Revolution Bike Park's freeride line for example at the beginning of the day I was taking the easiest line down the hill, dodging the gap jumps. By the end of the day I was hitting everything. If right at the beginning of the day I'd had no choice but to hit the bigger stuff I'd have been pretty hesitant but it's sick to be able to work new features in each run.
  • + 3
 There's enough room out there for everything for everybody.
One observation that I've made, rightly or wrongly, is that it seems that now that money is being spent on developing trails, the vast majority is spent on building flow trails, and trails for beginners. The argument is that it will help get people into the sport. Whether that's a terrible thing or a fantastic thing or somewhere in between is another discussion. But when on one hand I see some difficult trails getting shut down or sanitized, and new trails only getting approval if they are suitable for everyone, while approval for smooth trails coming easily, it makes me wonder. There wouldn't be a sport called MTB if it wasn't for the riders who've been digging and spending big bucks on crap bikes for 25 years or more for these beginners to roll into and get the spoils of public funding and costly R&D that created amazing bikes, with zero history in the sport themselves. Seems like someone is getting the short end of the stick sometimes, and it's not those folks who've never lifted a finger to create any part of what made MTB a thing in the first place.
I welcome newcomers, and I welcome a variety of trails. Do they deserve to walk into the sport and get the vast majority of $$ for trails, while expert technical terrain gets marginalized? I feel lucky to live in a place with such great riding, and I am stoked money is going to the trails, but I hope once the beginners get their infrastructure paid for with no effort on their part that some more money can go the the guys who now and over the years have tirelessly built hand built tech for free (when they can get away with it), much of which is some of the most ridden and highly rated in town.
  • + 93
 All trails are good. If all I could ride were techgnar jank I'd be happier than a pig in shit. If all I could ride were flow trails well I'd be content. Maybe a bit bored but content.

EDIT - you're going to get different responses from different locales and different people. In NV & Squampton it used to be the case that all we had were hard trails. People would start riding and come back bleeding. They'd either get good real quick or give up. That wasn't a real balanced trail system; it was just for hardcores and pretty much nothing for the noobs.

What's interesting is that now there are still some trail systems where its mostly tilted to hard trails (Whistler, Pemberton, Eagle). Meanwhile NV and Squantanamo Bay have built easier trails so people can get into the sport without getting eaten alive. So the beginners rule the blue/green trails of NV and Squamladesh then get destroyed in Whistler and Pemberton trails. I'm thinking of the gongshow of shattered faces coming off Lord of the Squirrels or Happy - Rudys-OSensation. The spike in the SAR callouts of the late season.

ANyhow massive digression but just food for thought. Maybe persuade people to use judgment and critically analyze their own skillset? Nah too controversial
  • + 3
 My only regret is that I have but one upvote to give for this comment.
  • + 54
 PICK A TRAIL STYLE AND BE A DICK ABOUT IT ALREADY
  • + 2
 @flipfantasia: you can send it on big lines bro, but I’ll never come wack on an old school track
  • + 1
 Well said leelau!
  • + 16
 How many nicknames for Squamish are there??!
  • + 10
 @leelau unrelated question : how do you find time to ski all the time in winter, bike all the time in summer, comment on every single existing skiing and biking website and work ?
  • + 8
 @leelau Nah, it's better to change a trail that someone spent a few hundred hours painstakingly making so you can ride it. If you wanted to walk down a trail you'd go for a hike, right???


If anyone cannot tell this is sarcasm. This happens all too frequently.
  • + 3
 Yes Lee, that's about sums it up.
  • + 19
 @zede: no kids! And I don't watch Tv
  • + 2
 I really got into mountain biking living in Belingham, and riding Squamish and such occasionally, That was where I got hooked. When I'm traveling and riding other, more mundane trail systems I can't help but think how I probably never would have gotten hooked if simple trails were all I knew.
  • - 3
 Matter is that different trail (I mean tech vs flow) needs different kind of bikes characteristic.
Ride a Norco Range 2016 or a Pivot 5.5 in the slow and techy and you will die from OTB due to high AS/high PK.
Ride the same bike in a flowy, quick trail and you will enjoy the stable and responsive feel of the rear suspension.

In a general way, bikes with low AS/PK behave better in the slow, techy (2015-2017 Kona Process range, Knolly's). But If you mainly ride fast and smooth track then maybe a more responsive bike will be enjoyable.
  • + 11
 "All trails are good", well said sir. The best rides (imo) start with a challenging but manageable climb. Reward at the top is a chill spot with a view while getting your snack/drink on. Then the descent starts with a healthy portion of techgnar. After you have had your fill of pucker moments and your brakes are boiling you hit the fast flow...the challenge here is to use as little brakes as possible, ride smooth and practice your "style". A perfect balance of both is the perfect ride.
  • + 12
 @Bennnnnnnybike: Squatamala, Squambabwe, Squantanamo Bay, Squambodia, Squambladesh, Squampton, Squawesome, Squish.

I am forgetting some.
  • + 2
 Squamladesh.... best one yet!!
  • + 2
 @Bennnnnnnybike: more than i knew. it's mostly Squish or Squeamish to me...
  • + 4
 This was very much my experience when I moved to North Van from Southern Alberta. I remember thinking "yeah I am pretty good at mountain biking lets head down this blue trail with black options for my fist go" (Pipeline on Fromme). I have never had my ass kicked as hard as I did on that day, took me 4 years of riding other trails on the shore until I was confident enough to take on Pipeline again. My riding, especially my technique on tech sections and wet roots, improved dramatically during my years of living in North Van..... but I also remember the first time I hit Upper Dale's after it was flowed out and thinking "man this is F$ing awesome... this I want more of this..." It all about a balance, go hit some flow to warm up, do so tech, go back to flow, then some more tech, then finish on flow to make yourself feel like a pro (which is why I always do my last lap on Bobsled when riding Fromme).
  • + 4
 @gnralized: Can you educate me on what AS and PK are? Please.
  • + 3
 Lee sums it up well. Variety is needed, progression is needed. There is a complex balance of Land Managers, environmental constraints, liability, and making sure social needs are meet in the trail network. These are the things that trail associations deal with so that many of you folks don’t have to. Most folks don’t even get this part of the equation or seem to care, they might live in nostalgia of the early days of mountain biking, and most folks don’t like change. Trails are going to evolve over time for various reasons, some good and some bad. I love tech and I love flow, having that variety is important, without it I’d be super bored. Working together to create this variety will be more productive than the internet trolling that’s out there. Get out there, support your local club, get involved, volunteer, and help shape the trails you want to see.
  • + 1
 I think it's better to just say groomed or ungroomed.
  • + 3
 @mountain-life: I heard Squamonix recently, been enjoying that one.
  • + 5
 @mountain-life: Skwikswu7mesh
  • + 5
 ridden the shore for 36 years. Seen it all. Doubt many new riders today could of handled it back then when it was get your feet wet or butt kicked. You got good or went home. Unfortunately, with biking becoming mainstream, the trails for the masses were introduced, and in my opinion, now rule. Ironically, this is exactly what the land managers/DNV et al like....less risk, less liability. I would also throw Burke into your salad of delights for the old school tech (I ride there regularly and it is the bomb...what the shore should of turned into). I am not sure the days of the 6 inch skinny 10 feet in the air will ever come back (I don't think it was a good idea or ever was) but the dumbing down of all the trails to placate to a less skilled majority is going to have a real consequence when you have whole generation of riders whom have no technical skill and EXPECT the flow, which is harder to maintain and labour intensive. You reap what you sow, I guess.
  • + 1
 @tebb: Best one yet!
  • + 64
 I think the issue is that "flow" is being categorised as fairly smooth trails with jumps, rollers, berms and drops that are mostly machined.

To me flow is nothing to do with the type of track but how it all links together. Flow is when you ride a trail so well that everything pieces together and you fly through it without any abrupt stops or huge loss of speed.

The "flow trails" are fun though and I like them but I prefer rough natural trails with rocks and roots.

They are also good for beginners, just don't want everything to become a flow trail.
  • + 6
 @RockNroller92 :

Yes get what you are saying about flow, plenty of old school rough, rocky, rooty, single track trails have ‘flow’ and are the best for it, the really skilled guys make them look smooth.

The way the article was written I took it as talking about the wide, mechanical, surfaced, smoothed, bermed tracks that have become really popular now.
  • + 8
 Couldn't agree more. No need to turn the local woods into an amusement park. Leave the over manicured and machined groomed stuff to the bike parks.
  • + 3
 Spot on, flow means a few different things to different people. I can name a few flow trails locally that are rough and fun but there are a lot of the smooth BMX track-style trails too. I do like a good flow trail to warm up on at BPW for example before moving on to the more natural stuff though, they do give instant smiles at times. Not as impressed with the move to flow trails having huge jumps though, that spoils things if you can't clear that one feature.
  • + 1
 Ya man!
  • + 7
 To further that, I would go as far as to say flow is in the rider, not the trail. Whatch how a pro downhiller can flow through the chunkiest trails. To me, that’s the fun of mountain biking, seeing my skills progress to the point that I can flow on harder and harder trails, up or down.
  • + 3
 Agreed a good rider will find flow in technical trails but it's possible to create a trail that will never flow for any rider
  • + 1
 Best comment thus far.
  • + 3
 I think you nailed it. Flow trails aren't bad, bad flow trails are bad.

Essentially, machine building techniques make it too tempting to simply smooth out the whole trail and make it uniform and the same as every other flow trail. This doesn't always have to be the case though! You can have a "flow trail" that incorporates the surrounding features and doesn't completely strip the trail of character.

The best examples I know are Knight Ide's trails in Victory Vermont (The Kingdom trail's rowdy neighbor). These trails are a mix of machine built flow, but they do an incredible job of incorporating the natural terrain and not draining the experience of difficulty. The trails are incredibly flowing, but also rough, steppy, and difficult to ride fast. However, a beginner rider could ride most of them at a slower pace very safely.

The issue is, this is HARD TO DO. It takes way more work to put the love and care into creating a flow trail that isn't a uniform ribbon of paved dirt. Hopefully more places will model themselves after Victory, and take up the mantle of tech-flow, or flow-with-purpose, or whatever you want to call it.
  • + 2
 My favorite trails are long downhills with mix of terrain. The tech beats me up, makes me focus, and is not very relaxing, it's challenging, which I like. But I also like free flowing relaxed and fast fun.

I am 100% against cleaning up a tech trail to make it flow better. But in my riding area, there are only a few trails that I can really ride fast that are fun, and those are the trails I want to bring my new riding friends to.
  • + 2
 Flow is also a hairstyle in Canada.
  • + 1
 I agree. "Flow", "smooth", and "easy" are not mutually inclusive. I've ridden ribbon-smooth trails with no flow, and flowy trails full of sharp chunky rocks.
  • + 3
 Nailed it. Flow is found when the features of a trail seamlessly work together so that you can keep your momentum through them. Typically this only happens when you dig it, ride it and reshape it to maximize the flow. I’ve railed some gnarly rock gardens with a shit ton of flow. More flow even than those dumbed down, smooth trails with the same name.
  • + 6
 One thing I hate is riders (usually pompous XCers) equating shitty anti-flow with a good, hard trail. A trail with a tree leaning over an off camber, rooty turn isn't "hard", it just means you have to slow down to a crawl because there's no way to lean the bike in the corner or you'd hit a tree. Likewise, a trail passing through a 720mm gap isn't "harder", it's just too narrow.

I get frustrated by my trails because they have sections that just stop you in your tracks, no matter how good a rider you are. To me, that's just bad trail design. I'm not opposed to super-tech, trials-esque trails, but if it's regular singletrack with some shitty "can't be done over 3km/h" feature it just annoys me... especially when it's right at the bottom of a descent when you finally have some speed.

A "flow trail" means a certain thing, but good gnarly trails also have flow.
  • + 3
 Couldn’t agree with this more. A super nasty, root and rock filled trail can have “flow”. What you said about is the exact definition of flow (sections intuitively linking into one another). I think most people think of flow as the “A-line” type trail, well these trails are super popular with riders, we can’t deny that. At the end of the day you can’t have all berms and jumps, but you can’t have all tech either. Balance is key.
  • + 2
 @rezrov:
This is far too common. Just because someone back in the day built a poorly designed trail doesn’t mean it should stay that way. It is super frustrating as a builder to look a poor trail layout and not want to improve it. Bikes are so capable these days, and we are riding way faster, some of these trails just were not designed to ride them at that speed.
  • + 26
 When I first started riding MTB, (early-nineties) all the trails were basically hiking trails we had access to, so they were rough, rooty and narrow. Later when I moved east to the US mid Atlantic, the trails were basically the same, but since it was more than a decade later, they had been built out quite a bit more and we're more extensive. They were still natural surface, rough, rooty, with drops and log crossings etc. Lately, our local trail building organization has been taking the old natural surface trails and converting them to flowier stuff. They need to be stopped.
If you want flow track, then build new lines that are flow track, but don't convert stuff that we have been riding for years to these expressways in the woods. It made me withdrawal my membership from the trail organization. I don't want to empower them to ruin more trails. I'm a little concerned, I have a tiny five or six acre tract by my house that I have some jump lines and big obstacles I like to ride. I've built it up slowly, mostly just shovel and a little saw work. Recently the trail builders came out there and rebuilt one trail, they haven't touched my jump line, yet, but I'm a bit concerned they're going to ruin it.
  • + 2
 Same thing happening out here in Oregon. Rocks and roots keep getting removed, trees getting cut down in the really narrow tech sections, etc.
  • + 7
 Dumbing down N Shore is a term I've been hearing lately. I blame low BB trend.
  • + 3
 #Züritrails
  • + 1
 Meanwhile in Italy there are almost only natural hiking trails and are forbidden to riders, Man I have no idea what you are talking about Big Grin
  • + 3
 @kanasasa: Agreed. Low BB and longer cranks than what most should be using are the most annoying things ever...I don't know how or why people tolerate them....oh wait, I do know....by turning trails into sidewalks.
  • + 1
 @PierVI: why forbidden? Only Veneto and Trentino have forbidden trails
  • + 27
 Mountain Biking *should* be challenging. Bring on the jank.
  • + 37
 Making jank flow is pretty much the definition of skill.
  • - 7
flag WAKIdesigns (Mar 9, 2018 at 3:36) (Below Threshold)
 Everything is challenging, just bring some speed to it. Just because brother opts to get wobbled on bumps and survives, doesn’t mean he’s got mad skills that people on flow trails don’t.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Agreed...if the trail is too easy, go faster.
But I think the skill sets are slightly different. Guys I need to push it to stay with on the fast flow trails, I usually can ride away from when it gets really rocky.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I remember someone saying that if the trail wasn’t challenging, you weren’t going fast enough.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns:
more speed on multi-use trails is the problem
to keep everyone happy, good trail design should have lots of natural speed bumps
  • + 5
 @WAKIdesigns: The problem is, if you go too fast on a lot of "flow trails" you end up in more danger than if you went regular fast on a tech trail. (More speed = higher consequences). You also end up hucking to flat a lot...
  • + 1
 @hangdogr: I agree but it doesn’t render my argument invalid in any way. My favorite trails have both rough bits and roller coastery bits, preferably crossing each other. Like it is in Hafjell. The Grassloypa is magic. A few jumps, inyo the singletrack, Boom! boom! boom! Tight berms, high speed into the rough, fast set of berms in S layout, into Boom boom boom, into Bolder loypa, fkng porn.
  • + 6
 @ReformedRoadie: on a related note it was mentioned several times that flow trails are "safer" I guess within. The context of someone who has literally never ridden a bike on an unpaved surface that's true, but speaking for myself I think in many cases flow trails have more risk of a major crash because the speed is so much higher.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: sounds like the perfect combo.
  • + 21
 The trails have dumbed down counter to the bikes improvements - people say 29ers roll over tech easier - trails get less tech, improved geo makes the bikes more aggressive - trails get less tech, suspension is amped up to perfection, trails get less tech. Tech trails have plenty of "flow" when you acquire skills. Too much dumbing down doesn't progress the rider or justify the bikes capabilities.
  • + 5
 I am considering a 26" FS SS bike just for flow trails when I'm with my son. My Capra is like "wake me up when you find some gnar". Smaller wheels and less suspension seems to make the "Autobahns" a bit more fun.
  • + 11
 Flow trails are fun. So are tech trails. I think a good idea to make flow trails appeal to more experienced riders is to incorporate more optional transfers into building. If there are multiple lines the trail will be more exciting and give less talented riders something to work towards on a trail they are already comfortable with.
  • + 10
 @mikelevy thanks for opening the debate. I manage the trails at Sherwood Pines in Nottinghamshire through a combination of specialised contractors but mainly through picking a shovel and rake and doing it myself with a handful of volunteers.

Last year following criticism that our main trail, the Kitchener was too tame to be graded red and faced with the unsustainable cost of managing the trail, I made the decision to let it a erode within the scope of red trails and only work on the drainage. I must admit I thought this would go down well especially since the social media voices were complaining that the Kitchener was becoming 'sanitized'.

This meant roots became more exposed, braking bumps more pronounced and on rainy days filled with water. The only work on the trail was to raise it where it had become blown out. The investment focus I thought could then pass to the blue trail, underfunded yet the preference of beginners.

This would I believed would present a real technical challenge, similar to the off-piste, ungraded, local knowledge trails of which there are many miles of despite recent timber harvesting. Sherwood has very little elevation, you have to earn your speed, it is in truth an old school XC kind of trail, it is not the all-mountain/enduro destination many of our 644,000 visitors per year on 160mm travel bikes want it to be.

Anyway, surprise surprise one year on and the dissenting voices are complaining that there is little or no visible signs of trail maintenance and nobody cares about the trails, citing braking bumps and potholes etc. that's despite me and few others spending most of the last year digging out drains or creating new ones. One person who's profile suggests he's hardcore complained there was 'No weatherproofing'.

My point I think, is that there is a generation of 'cyclists' who have only ridden in trail centres or bike parks, the phenomenal growth of trail centres in this country mean you can travel around the country ticking them off your list without ever needing to ride the Peak District, or the Lakes or other types of wild, unmanaged wilderness style rides. This means they have an expectation of groomed, machined trails and they want them maintained to flatter their self image and to do the work for them. The only thing sustainable about this is a low skill level.

Trail centres are the new Golf clubs which attract expensive cars/vans and expensive underused bikes. Is that a bad thing? No not really, the bottom line is is that there are more places to ride with less opposition than before, that realisation seems to have been lost along with perspective.
  • + 9
 I am definitely older than most here on PB, so maybe my definition of technical differs a bit from what most people would think... the last time I was back home (Vancouver) we dropped in to a trail and I was told it was "technical." I really didn't find any technical challenge there, I mean sure some roots and steep bits, but nothing like the back in the day type stuff.
Maybe it's because I've been riding on hiking trails in the alps, a lot of which are steep, rocky and nasty, or maybe it's because I always really liked the chunky stuff (and have never been a good jumper :/), who knows?,
Anyway, my favourite thing to ride these days is most definitely tech->flow->tech->flow. There's really nothing better than cleaning a really ugly death-grip-steep-loose-bastard section, to be rewarded with a nice wide open rip where you can relax a bit before the next scary section.
Flow trails are fun and have their place! My opinion is that they really have influenced what used to be the standard for a mountain bike trail. They've made them (the typical trails) a lot easier... very few obstacles in the way, and when there are, there's always a "fast line", and the goal is to be at the bottom first. Fair enough. I like going fast too, but some times it is nice to come to a screeching halt and look back at what you rode, saying to yourself: "how did I not just die?"
Huh.. haven't blah-blahed that much on the internet in years..
  • + 9
 The issue varies based on where you live. In New York the flowier trails would be considered to be a bit technical in the Park City, Utah area. I know that causes people to have bowel spasms but it is true. I've ridden a fair amount in both places. That being said, there is far less to ride here and the features are all a lot smaller. Here a 10 foot drop gets tourists stopping to take pics of just the feature even while they all dare each other to hit it. (Donkey Punch for anyone who rides the quarry next to Syracuse University) Bike parks out west have features that beggar belief (Canyons in Park City or Post Canyon in Hood River) while local governments hire backhoes to perfectly sculpt the berms for perfect flow (Rush trail for anyone who knows Draper Utah).

New York could use some more flow. Park City could use some more gnar.
The only place this pattern fails is when you start riding secret stuff in the Utah Valley. Gnar and skree and death. That is where the real Utah DH can be found.
  • + 2
 Yep. In the PNW, we've got plenty of tech, as well as some flow. Somewhere else might be a completely different story. Me, I'm happy.
  • + 1
 Utah Valley, huh??

Show me sometime!!
  • + 2
 Damn...I am in Syracuse for work. I’ll be back in May. I’ll bring the bike next time.
  • + 2
 Ixnay on the valley-bay. Keep em in Corner Canyon. They don't need to know about the other stuff...
  • + 1
 @SnowChaser: sorry I moved to NY. Surely though there is someone here @Connerv6 who could show you around...
  • + 1
 @SnowChaser: Message me, I could help a little when the hills dry out.
  • + 8
 It's more of a steepness issue. The new trails we see today built by big trail building companies, Rocky or flowy berms, simply aren't steep enough to sustain speed. A smooth trail with berms pointed dh at 25,30% grade suddenly becomes technical.
  • + 1
 Just because most bikes don't come with pedals doesn't mean you shouldn't install some.
  • + 9
 I like both style trails, but downhills with significant pedal sections are disappointing to me and I avoid them. Of all the sins IMBA has committed this is the worst. They have designed and ruined hundreds of trails doing this, their trail Designers should be held accountable for this and publicly shamed. Drives me crazy that people intentionally put pedaling sections into trails where it's not necessarily!
  • + 1
 @Flowcheckers: often the max gradient of a trail is stipulated by the land manager in the US, even at the resort's if the land is national forest or similar.
  • + 7
 Sustainable trails is a big issue not to be overlooked. This may be a reason for builders to avoid sketchy sections which involve demanding braking skills. I love utilizing those skills, but I've seen to many who rip the whole thing to shreds with a locked rear wheel because they're afraid to go over the bars. The same goes for not so flowy corners. It is fun to be delicate and find the best way around them. But those without the skills (or in too much of a hurry) too often use the rear brake to lock up a wheel to make it go around. It is a huge shame indeed but I do get that builders hate to fix that kind of stuff and eventually avoid having those on their trails. I've had discussions with the man who maintains the local trails (I usually only help, but he has the final word) and I get his point. The workaround is that we're building the technical stuff off the main line. So those too afraid can simply avoid the challenge but don't need to mess it up.

Now I still believe that sustainability can or even should imply that trails remain technical. Keep the roots in there, they keep the soil together. And keep trails narrow and tight between the trees. Wider empty sections erode more quickly. And keep the descends nice and twisty. Sure a straight line down the hill may imply that people brake less on the descend. But it also allows them to go faster until the point where they feel they go too fast and then hammer the brakes. Which typically is where the braking bumps start to develop because everyone seems to think it is not good to ride these fast.

So yeah let's say flow is a combination of rider and trail. You can build a trail so that a cyclist with minimal skill can find flow. Or you can build a trail that takes some practice and skill to find flow. And the fun bit is to acquire those skills. I'm not of the school that says the more riders the better. I'm not saying less is better. I'm just saying that trails shouldn't suffer from riders with limited skills. Or more precisely. I don't think trails should be built just so that limited skill allows them to go as fast as they would go as if it were a surfaced road. If you're new, sure go ahead and ride something technical. Awkward corners, roots, short steep bumpy sections. You'll be slow but you'll be fine. And you'll learn something. I'd rather see that than get on a trail that compensates for a lack of skill but catapults you up to speeds you can't control, crashes you're not prepared for and still teach you nothing.
  • + 1
 On the other hand of sustainability the big smooth built up trails with a lot of dirt can't handle the weather. An old trail was in good shape for all but 2 weeks in the winter and an inch plus of rain, but the new trails shouldn't be ridden for half the days of the year.
  • + 1
 Good point. A bike park near me operates that way, and it's great. The trails are everything from kids on balance bikes type to double black diamond monsters. Webs of optional features are offered on all the trails (except for the hardest trails, of course). Feeling up to it? Veer to the side and hit that wallride/skinny ladder drop/step-up gap/rock garden combo etc. Otherwise, stick with the main trail. Win-win.
  • + 1
 @bruvar: Oh yeah, I don't really like the surfacing. I get the point if it reduces the amount of maintenance required, but my experience is that it also makes it harder to read the terrain and as water always needs to find its way, it will break apart anyway. If water can't just penetrate the soil, it will roll over the surface and erode it. I think the best way to keep it together is always to keep them narrow and rooty. The roots are what keep the soil together. It is beyond me how hard it seems for some builders to grasp. Whatever you do, keep the roots in there.

@mtbikeaddict : Yeah it is cool but especially for a gravity park I can imagine it can be tricky considering the differences in velocity. It takes some good planning and mapping, but great if they can pull it off. Here it is more kind of an XC trail where we have the technical stuff off the main line. Kind of the opposite of a chicken run Wink .
  • + 7
 Definitely seems like most of the new trails are too smooth, I remember 20 yrs ago if a tree fell we would stack up smaller logs to go up and over, instead of cutting it out. And root sections used to be a fun challenge and great photo opportunity, now they are avoided or covered up.
  • + 7
 Here in Ecuador we only ride natural trails, nothing man made. We dig a bit when it is unpassable or to have a fun berm or sweet jump,but there is no funding, no trail association, no nothing, so we are full of rockgardens, roots, techy stuff. And it gets eroded more and more so its always trickier. One of the sweet things of not being in "developed countrys". And if it is to hard for you, yoy don't do enduro or dh, you do XC, and we bitch about each others haha. "First world problems"
  • + 1
 Some of the trails in Ecuador are incredible! Was stoked to travel there from Canada and ride some pretty gnarly stuff!
  • + 6
 My late 90s New England XC racing self would like to ask: What are these 'Flow Trails' you speak of?

My current, all-mountain/DH loving self says there's a place in our sport for every type of trail riding. 'Gimme dat rhythm!'

Take Page Hill in New Hampshire. You can ride super hard tech in a trail like "The Dude Abides" and then hoof over to the top of "Shock Therapy" to ride a great flow trail. I love having the ability to ride wildly different styles at the same location, in the same day. Having said that, if anyone were to take the challenging elements of "The Dude Abides" and make it beginner friendly I will drop my chamois and leave a steamer in the middle of that B-line.

Purpose built trails of any style will always have a place in our sport, but I whole-heartedly disagree with beginner lines any time a challenging feature approaches. We, as mountain bikers, possess excellent brakes. We also have feet. If you're uncomfortable riding that sketchy section, grab a fistful of brake lever, get off your bike and walk. We all have (and still do) at some point. The joy of riding mountain bikes lies in overcoming those challenges.
  • + 8
 All trails should have flow whether they are slow tech or fast and open. A trail without flow is just poorly built imo. A trail with flow is not always easy
  • + 1
 A trail without flow can also indicate an unskilled rider. Razz
  • + 6
 Variety is the spice of life. Food for thought. Also, one's skills are what really matters. Different riders need/want different levels of challenge. Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor.
  • + 5
 I like it all! I like machine built flow-trail, I like rutted out old Jeep lines in Moab, I like staring at a line for 5 minutes before attempting type of trails; I just like anything that's reasonably sustainable where I have to pay attention.

Flow trail is nice for pure speed, trying to clear jumps, etc. It also lets me feel like I'm descending for more than 12 seconds at a time on our 140 feet of elevation gain here in Wisconsin. I like the optional off-shoots and lines that flow trail offers. I think for some regions and land managers it's the best bet. Guessing a lot of people's "gnar" is still machine built, purpose built easy to ride trail (just with some man-made rock gardens).

My little kids live for flowtrail. It's like slightly down-hill graded BMX with safe jumps, max speed and large margins for error. With their 20" wheels, roots and rocks are killer.
  • + 4
 The perfect harmony of both world can bring you the most fun you can get on your bike. I rode the free ride Gotschna Freeride Trail in Davos and tase completely amazed how the managed to mix up flow, berms, north shores, jump and more. What do you think of this kind of "freeride trail" ? www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGlmmndVkVg
  • + 1
 That trail in Davos was well done
  • + 1
 I agree completely. My absolute favourite trails have elements of tech, high speed flow sections, drops and jumps. It can be exhausting white-knuckling a really techy trail for long periods just as it can get mundane flowing over a low grade roller trail where there are no consequences for line choice. But when you mix in the speed, and then having to make smart line choices over some tough roots/rocks and throw in some drops that is heaven to me. Where I ride lately I've gotten bored with the multi-use trail scene and have sought out more challenging trails. That said, they are both fun and have their place. I like going to the flow trails after a crash or time off my bike to get my confidence back up. And as much as I may say flow trails area not as exciting, they ARE still challenging in trying to hit every berm perfectly, or setting yourself up to carry max speed through corners or sections. I can't ever seem to do it so the challenge can be where you look for it. Really though my thoughts can be summed up with this overused cliche: Variety is the spice of life!
  • + 2
 I don't know if the Gotschna Freeride is really a harmony of both words. The tables are cool, but the north shores are boring and there are no rocks and roots.
  • + 4
 Can we find a new name for flow trails? It seems too many people don't understand that you don't need flow trails to get to the mental state that psychologists refer to as flow. You need to be challenged to the threshold of your skills to get there and so called flow trails just don't cut it anymore when you reach a certain skill level.

Terminology aside, we need all types of trails. Variety is key. Nice, mellow trails can still be fun for experienced riders but there need to be challenging options for riders to progress as well. And dumbing down existing trails is just ... well ... dumb.
  • + 2
 Well, reading the comment section it seems like we have what has become quite common in mountainbiking communication. There is term before it has a proper definition. My interpretation isn't well defined either, I just take it from what @mikelevy seems to mean in the article. That is, a trail built so that even those with minimal cycling skills can achieve flow on. And flow in the sense of motion I'd consider a motion with motion with smooth variations in velocity and direction. This is not entirely defined by what the terrain is like. If you watch an edit by Danny MacAskill or Chris Akrigg, they maintain fluid motion in places where most of us (me included) would be more than happy to just be rocking and hopping. And of course most of these edits are often filmed with a moving camera to maintain that sense of flow even when the rider actually stalls. I don't think many will disagree with this definition of flow in the context of motion. So thinking of it, the term flow trails doesn't really bother me when I used for what I understand as being flow trails. They're made so that even a rider with minimal skills can achieve flow (in the aforementioned sense). That doesn't mean a more skilled rider can't achieve it on a more natural trail.
  • + 1
 Most mountain bikers seem to know what is meant by "flow trail" vs "tech trail".

That said, how about mountain BMX, as in the Olympic variety.
  • + 3
 As a new rider I find it frustrating that the only thing I can find at my local trail center is flow. I suggested that the trail add something for everyone other than XC .. Freeride, steep grarly stuff etc. ( XC was in great abundance already). The reply was “ someone might hurt themselves.” The other was.. “ it’s fine for XC riders which is more the crowd we want riding here.”

Why the F$&@ ride ? Im trying to challenge myself and get into that zone where I’m thinking about the bike/ the steep section, roots tech etc etc and thats about it.

I think this is where rogue traibuilding comes from..complete and utter frustration with dumbing everything down. Or, alternatively a lack of progression..

If you can’t ride it .. watch and learn or take some lessons or maybe have some logical progression or alternate lines.

I’m in no space to ride that 15 foot drop. But this does not mean I don’t appreciate others who HAVE the capability of riding it!! Nor, do I feel I should dictate others riding. Additionally, I find something happens when sessioning stuff .. usually the more experienced guys will want to help the less experienced along as well. It all becomes a social thing ..

End rant
  • + 3
 I think flow trails can be great! If you want a challenge, go faster. Or find a kooky way to ride it. Like the 50/01 boys. But when these trails are built in a contrived manner that doesn't match what you'd naturally want to do, they can become a bit of a bummer.
As someone who spends a lot of time in the woods building trail, I think about flow constantly. No matter what terrain I'm working with. It's a lot of work, but the end result should be fun! Or scary if that's your thing!
Also, these flow trails are sometimes a result of making trails more sustainable. There are more riders now than there used to be. Your secret squirrel tech/ skid trail would be annihilated in a season if it had the same traffic.
  • + 3
 I understand the 'need' for flow trails. Chucking someone new to the sport down a black tech trail is going to be a little daunting, possibly put them off trying it again. Ultimately Id love to see a mix of tech and flow in the one trail.
  • + 3
 Some of my favorite trails offer you some challenging flow with a mix of techgnar, I hate felling like I'm riding on auto pilot, and these trails keep you on your toes. It should be about what you put into riding that makes it challenging. If the flow or techgnar get boring then your not pushing yourself. Pick a more progressive trail and step it up a notch. Last year I rode a trail 21 times and not once was the flow or tech boring. I think there should flow to even the gnarliest tech trails if not then what is the point of making trails.
  • + 3
 Fire departments here are always wanting nicer equipment, fancier "recovery equipment" and use "trail user burdens" as a need to pull in more funding to buy new toys.

Trail builders tell us they have to build trail to a width that the fire departments can get their big toys up the hill.

Trail builders get paid.
Fire departments get paid.
Trails get smoother.

Even all the new trail will deteriorate. And at some point, someone won't be able to maintain these new trails to keep their "flow" and all we are left with is bumpy, shallow, unkempt "flow" trails with muddy ruts from all the man made humps and bumps that ride slow and like crap. Then it will be US, the RIDERS FAULTS, for not "maintaining" the flow trails, which we never wanted. And if we don't have dozers, we have no way to maintain THEIR flow trails. Wink
  • + 3
 Speaking from the perspective of the Sea-to-Sky and North Van...

As long as there are people who want to walk into the mountains, build gnarly trail, and then ride it later, there will be gnarly trails to ride. The sanctioned trials are getting easier, but this area was ultra-gnarly in it's mtb-infancy, to the point where sanctioning that level of difficulty would probably not be very practical. So there really isn't much of a concern, as long as you're willing to find/build the good stuff, and can also put in the time to access it.

Another aspect is that many of the easily accessed "flow trails" degrade into rougher trails with their own unique personality. Although they may not harness the gnarness quite like an intentionally difficult triple-black masterpiece, they become more challenging and fun in a different way.

We needn't worry over here. Plenty of space, and motivated shredders who ride and build.
  • + 3
 I argue that flow trails are more dangerous for beginner riders also. Any joey can let off the brakes and get to a speed that they don't have any business being at on a flow trail. Throw some tech in there where you gotta have some skills if you want the speed.
  • + 3
 I think more challenging trails keep the e-bikes away. You cant take away their mechanical advantage but you can limit their options based on their lack of skill. I say this as most people I see on e-bikes tend to be old, new or even capable but over-compensating.
  • + 1
 I think the only thing where the e-bike may be a disadvantage would be when the trail requires lots of hopping and more trials type moves. Due to the added weight and (in general) longer geometry. But I've heard they may go even easier up a technical climb than an unassisted mountainbike.

Or maybe a trail so long that no battery lasts that long. But enough low hanging fruit like berries and brambles to recharge the rider.
  • + 2
 BMX for smooth tracks and big jumps (if you’re lucky enough to have an SX track or pro sections) and the mtb for loose & wild near death experiences.

Making junior bmx tracks down a mountain is gay. Making Fest tracks down a mountain is rad.

Like Trestle - almost died because the shit is sooo small for the speed. It wasnt fun. Grabbing brakes to not land flat or into the face of the next short ass table.

Kill the flow.
  • + 2
 People should learn to ride by some falling and some angry bike throwing, neither of those happen on flowies. But then again, some of the nastiest crashes I have ever seen were new riders on fast flowy trails, not really understanding speed management and breaking traction.
  • + 6
 The pussification of America is here.
  • + 2
 I like both. Some days I'd rather get some speed, and other days I'd rather conquer rock gardens. That being said, we don't really have any flow trails where I live, cuz there's not any elevation. Maybe that's why they're so fun to me, cuz I barely get any!
  • + 2
 I live in the alps. To be more precise, I moved to the alps for the roots-n'-rocks stuff. Pulliiiizzz, don't work on the trails I love, just keep 'em rooty n' rocky. If you like slick trails, why don't ya ride f*ckin' road bikes?!?
  • + 2
 I think what makes or is a flow trail is objective to the rider. I won't argue that berm and jump filled trails are super fun, but just because a trail isn't smooth doesn't mean it doesn't have flow. Some of the most "flowy" trails I've ridden were tight single track with roots and rocks. You could pump and jump over natural features and find a rhythm going down the trail.
  • + 2
 More riders does not necessarily mean more trails. Look at the Front Range in Colorado; the few good, technical trails are packed all weekend and aren't ridden during the week by those working a 9-5. When the legal trails no longer support the community, whether it's through terrain offered or capacity, you see overflow into the illegal side of mountain biking: Motherf*ckinbootlegtrailworks.
  • + 2
 My problem with most current flow trails is the way the difficulty is increased. Most flow trails become black by taking a standard blue flow trail and chucking a 30ft gap in there. The best flow trail I've ridden is graded as “black” and yet not a single jump is bigger than about 3 feet long and 1-2 feet high (they are gaps though so can’t be rolled smoothly). You have to commit in every turn, pump every roller and clean every jump or you’ll be punished with cases all the way through it, you have to earn the flow feeling.
  • + 5
 Flow is when you make a rough trail look smooth. No more sidewalks please.
  • + 7
 TROLL POLLS
  • + 14
 Flow trails are for E-bike uphill racing
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: nice! Sounds like a perfect spot to try the new motoped survival bike. I'm kidding of course
  • + 2
 My favorite local trail starts with flowy berms in trees, then gives way to straighter sections with rock gardens and drops, then a few more flowy berms, then a double and another straight rock garden... I think that's my favorite. Many different kinds of trail on the same trail.
  • + 2
 I like the new purpose built flow trails that have shown up near me, but I don't like that some of the other technical trails in the area have been smoothed out for more flow and bi-directional capability. Some had to be fixed for erosion but not all if it was that way.
  • + 2
 The back and forth about flow vs no flow is such a first world problem. The fact that we have bikes that are so capable is a testament to how lucky we are. If you don’t like the trail don’t ride it. If it bores you - leave room for the person that is excited about it. Don’t blame the builder for doing the work to build it. Sitting on the sideline and expecting someone to build exactly the trail you like is like sitting at home and not working expecting money to fall in your lap. If you want something go act. If not, your opinion is just noise.
  • + 6
 Rough trail is much more fun. Roots and rocks all the way.
  • + 2
 These flow trails have also enabled the trend towards low bottom bracket bikes. They're great on flow trails. But put these bikes on an old-style tech trail with log hops and step ups and it leads to more bashing of the BB shell or lower linkage
  • + 2
 If I just rode trail centres I would only own a hard tail. We have loads and loads of really great trail centres and they ‘flow’ (apart from Haldon!) but are just glorified pump tracks where you can hit everything blind. Even places like Bike Park Wales fit that. Apart from gaps and jumps, alot of the black at BPW are often easier than xc routes I remeber riding on a fully rigid in the early 90s and even now, like any given rocky decent on Exmoor/Pennines/Dales/Lakes/need I go on that you might do on a big day out.
Flow is fun and puts a smile on your face but its the differance between F1 and rallying. Both need to flow. Just in differant ways. Smooth is the ultimate outcome.
  • + 4
 A mix of both is nice. I rode techy natural for 6 days in Finale & was longing for some smooth berms & tabletops after a week of battering myself.
  • + 1
 I love rocks and roots. I love the feeling of hitting a berm just right. Luckily the local trail builders have started building trails with both, the flow and berms feel like transfers to the jank, but in a fun way that you can pump and flow and keep the adrenaline up or back off and recover for the next section.
  • + 1
 I have flow. Trails should have variety. Building a new trail with obviously bring up the subject of flow. Stashes or unsanctioned trails generally have plenty of features that give me challenge. Newbies can ride the modern flowy stuff.
  • + 2
 I like both. My local park has done a great job balancing it out. Some of my favorite trails there are tech but have corners that are bermed; It’s a great combo especially if you can carry speed through the tech.
  • + 2
 Around here, it's the IMBA and Ridge to Rivers organizations that are making dirt sidewalks. I am surprised IMBA wasn't mentioned in the article as a reason for why trails are being sanitized.
  • + 2
 The ones that kill me are bike parks that have good rideable GnarFlow (that people admit to coming to specifically because of the gnar) that decide to bulldoze it. Looking at YOU, Brian Head Resort.
  • + 1
 Well built trails over shitty trails. I've have ridden some lame ass flow trails that lacked inspiration and I've ridden stuff that makes your face hurt it's soo good. That said, give me the janky rocky crap! Mix in a few berms to keep speed up in sections that need it and point over every big rock you can. When building trail always ask why is the trail going here. If you don't have a compelling answer to that, keep looking.
  • + 1
 3rd ride on a mtb at 47yo. I went massive OTB and separated my shoulder grade 3 which is permanent. Couldn't wait to get back out on the bike, try it again and figure out what I did wrong. I've broken ribs, punctured lungs etc. Ya know mtb injuries. Hasn't stopped me from hitting the gnar as much as I can. I absolutely start seething inside when I ride a trail that's been dumbed down by the local do good trail builders. Learn to ride and take your lumps or stay off the trails.
  • + 1
 I think they're both really good. But raising the bar on danger is always going to cost us as mountain bikers, especially when what raises that bar is a trail feature deliberately put in to make it more difficult. Municipalities and land managers have a really hard time getting behind having something they're responsible for that essentially becomes a booby trap for most users. We can make it a point of pride to only have the most risky stuff under our wheels, but that's going to make us very unpopular. And we'll lose.
I grew up riding on motorcycle and atv trails that turned into flow trails in snowmobile season. And while none of those trails were designed to have scary parts (they weren't designed at all), because they formed naturally with no consideration for erosion or sustainability, both uphill and downhill sections rapidly became more challenging as they washed out, bombed out, rutted out, etc., and those parts got really fun really quick! And actually that's what I miss most about those really 'old school' trails.
Now we can't start advocating for making our trails more erosion prone again, but there's a lesson there: let the techy parts develop on their own and use your imagination. You may end up having to find your own tricky ways to ride a regular human being's trail. And there's some reward in that, even if it doesn't look like a terrifying amusement park in the woods.
  • + 1
 cant jump so I ride tech stuff. thing is when I was a younger mountainbiker jumping was for show offs and tech trails were what it was all about so jumping was only good for trashing bikes and parts which I did do a lot off but we never got crazy with tricks it was just us messing about to see who could go the highest or furthest. My real passion was in riding rough trails fast and nowadays really skillfull people make it look more like flying than riding. as I never invested enough time into it I subsequently missed the boat for the modern stunt show that cycling has become. I simply don't have the intent to learn the skill as its not something that I enjoy anymore. That said I have respect for these guys that have the balls to attempt all that they do. I think if the poll was done with age groups in mind most older guys would say they prefer the tech trails and younger guys would prefer the smoother flowy trails but so they can do huge jumps on.
  • + 1
 actually all I tend to see is flowy tracks ridden really hard with huge jumps so much so that when im riding technical terrain with lots of rocks and tricky bits I feel lame because im shit at jumping. I feel that social media is pushing the insane jumping skills on people so much that I honestly feel I have to tell everyone that although im a keen mountainbiker who loves technical trails im not that good as I cant do backflips and such yet 20 years ago I would have been much prouder of my riding ability. I can get good times on strava compared to others heck im 28th on a local bermy section of my local trail out of several thousand but yet kinda feel like if you don't jump well then your shit......I would much rather ride the trail on the left cos I cant really do anything that special with the one on the right apart from ride a berm. a lot of pinkbike videos also show people with huge talent jumping all over the show on super smooth trails.
  • + 1
 We are in flow overkill today. Feels like all these trails are the same thing. I see people at some of our local trails more worried about strava times and social media than finding a real challenge. Its like taking the mountain out of mountian biking. Also they cant be ridden unless its been dry for several days. Just sucks. Thus is not mountian biking.
  • + 1
 to me the transition from beginner to the more experienced rider is based on how many times I have to get off and walk a section. I now dont have to get off my bike that often but everytime I cleaned something for the first time it feels fucking good! that sense of being challenged is an important part of our sport.
  • + 1
 Tired of seeing edit after edit of boring machine-made trails. I don't even care to watch them anymore because they've become so redundant. Jeff Lenosky rides a lot of tech stuff so I love watching his trail boss edits on youtube. Same with Ludo May. Watching riders clear super technical climbs gets me f'ing stoked to ride. The flow stuff was cool but is played out now IMO.
  • + 1
 also worthy of note, this trail "jabberwocky" is part of the ashland mountain challenge, a stop on the california enduro series. We have a great group of core and local pro riders that shred this mountain regularly, but corey sullivan rules this mountain!!!!
  • + 1
 we have a really fun two mile pedally, high-speed flow trail, with tricky tech features, jumps, and berms that make my butt pucker at higher speed lol. One problem ive experienced is being held up trying to shred by newer riders as this favorite newer trail is on a side hill bench cut with no room for passing on much of it. i get the goal is to make a trail everyone can enjoy, but its tough for the faster riders to get a solid run when these guys are tootling along for 30 minutes down a 7 minute track. wish we could push for an expert only flow trail sometimes lol
  • + 1
 I think it really depends on the terrain where you live. I'm on Oklahoma and we have some techy stuff, but there is a lot of flow/flat. It's about 70/30. We just don't have a ton of technical terrain here. Great for xc and trail bikes, but you won't be having much fun on your AM/Enduro/DH bike here. When I lived in PA it was a completely different story. Lots of rocks and steeper for sure. Less flow as well, and in all honesty I'm not 100% sure if it's just the trails being more flowy. I think the bikes being insanely capable lends itself to the trails being more tame.
  • + 1
 Every new trail that has been developed in my local area is a flow trail. Firstly yes....I hate flow trails, grew up when trails were all hand bulit, gnarly filled with rocks, roots, ruts, steep chutes. I understand the need for a variety of trails from greens to double blacks, however of all the trails I grew up riding, not 1 still exists as it did and has been dumbed down so much that even a novice could ride them. I can probably count all the truely technical trails within a 4 hour drive on one hand. This whole idea of biking is for everyone and the fact that biking has become mainstream is killing it for alot of the more experienced riders, as we are seeing less and less technical trails. So many dentists on the trails these days. My local super basic XC trails are now filled with superduro bikes with full face helmets...These trails require a rigid 29er and open face. Its great that the sport is expanding, but unfortunately it seems at a detriment to the trails and the technical nature of what they once were.
  • + 1
 I couldn't (be arsed) to read all the comments, but a quick scan of the top comments did not touch on this point: it's not a zero-sum game; an either-or proposition. It's good to have some progression built into the trail network so beginners have a place to learn, but also something to aspire to. Where I live there is a lot of tech trails, and that's what I love. But there's very little I can start my kids on. so yeah, while I would have voted #3, I recognize there is a need, and a place, for smooth flow trails too.
  • + 1
 As with anything in life it is all about balance. I don't know any true riders who don't appreciate both flow and tech trails, just look at what makes Whistler so fun. They both help with sharpening individual skills in their own way. My perfect day consists of rough and challenging tech in the morning followed up with flowy jump trails in the afternoon. Maybe things would be different if I lived in an area with only one trail.
  • + 1
 I don't like flow. Not trying to be contrary, but to me flow is the same as driving an interstate as opposed to twisty 2 lane, which is tge equivalent to rocky rooty trails.
  • + 1
 What I think is hilarious is irony of the two trails, pardon the pun. One is for slacker bikes with bigger wheels what can flow over anything technical and the other is for smooth trails that even a BMX could ride down . One does not need the other. Unless of course we are just turning mountain biking into a sport where skill and techniques is a thing of the past ...and maybe the next thing we will see on the trails are great grandparents and toddlers in their new, in vogue, bubble wrap mountain biking suits.
  • + 3
 Recent "improvements" dumbing down existing trails that I ride on the regular are not welcome by me (I'm looking at you Rosy Boa and 3 Pigs climb). Stop the IMBAfication!
  • + 1
 It seems from the comments that most people are associating flow trails with being easy and geared towards less skilled riders and technical trails as harder and geared towards more advanced riders. While this does hold some weight, I don't think it is necessarily true or an accurate depiction of the riders using each type of trail.
  • + 1
 Flow trails aren't always what you think. Take Billy T in Rotorua for example. I'd call that a flow trail because there's little pedalling required it's easy to maintain your speed after features and has a few little berms to keep the speed flowing, But it hasn't got any rollers in sight and is predominantly small to medium rooty drops. Flow trails have their place but not every trail needs to be a flow trail.
  • + 1
 bike riding has different disciplines... Leave MOUNTAIN bike riding, MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDING! Leave pump-track, pump-track, leave BMx, BMx... If there's one or two obstacles on a trail that are intertwined with other aspects of bike riding, cool. But it's like a fad that seems to be like the trending "one-upsmanship"... "This trail had it so we're gonna do it better". Eventually everything g becomes the same and not unique taking away from the trail. Like all aspects of bike riding just don't be a douche bout it
  • + 1
 Save the gnar! I have no problem with new flowy trails, but for dogssake, don't alter existing trails! I used to love the feeling in my stomach dropping into Dales trail on Seymour, but then it got flow treatment (dumbed down).
7th, Pipeline and Boogieman are some of the trails that remain technically challenging as they were when built, heck i even love technical uptrack, but so many trails have been dumbed down. Flow is good for new trails to attract new riders, but i want the Shore to remain as challenging as when i moved here 20 odd years ago.
  • + 1
 I just got back from riding my bike in the sun and I am totally biased towards just riding my bike but on reflection that tricky bit where I navigated the off camber roots has a much merit as all the lovely little jumps, even the road ride back to work was fun.
  • + 1
 I think the balance is right. Most of the technical trails around my area are prone to erosion and wear. The machine built flow trails hold up to the beating the masses put on them. More flow trails means less traffic on the more technical trails. So the way I see it even if you only ride technical trails you should be all for more flow trails.
  • + 1
 @Mike Levy
This is may be the case in Canada / USA, but in Switzerland and Japan where I've done the vast majority of my riding, most trails have been natural hiking or multiple use even horses.
So have not seen a flow trail in the flesh!
= a bit North American centric question?
Cheers
  • + 1
 Loads of machine built flow in the Alpes, chatel, morzine, les gets, deux alpes etc
  • + 1
 If you think smooth isn’t technical, go ride me a 4X or BMX track and come back to me. As Polish ex DH and 4X Champion Qcbor said once: any idiot can get down a DH track on a DH bike, show him the first jump on 4X track and he’ll go home. Too many brothers using technical as self-serving euphemism for bumpy
  • + 4
 I can roll that double just like a BMX specific guy can roll the rock garden or skid all the way down the steep chute.
Being great at everything is rare but people being good at lots of things is becoming more common.
The first double in a 4x track is often about power off the line to hit it fast enough and not the size of the double. Therefore power wins over ability. Smile

Just ride and have fun, whatever it is that you enjoy. (Dh vets Scottish champion just off the skate park where I am a beginner at 43).
  • - 2
 @betsie: I agree, different skills, but then it’s the same urge to go excell and very similar sacrifices.

Skatepark? Me too, i just got comfy on spines, can’t get my balls together for a bigger air out of the quarter (at least 1,5m above the coping so that it is evident) But I’m getting there Wink
  • + 5
 I have to say i mostly disagree. For example there is no way a newby 'idiot' even if on a dh bike is riding a bike down something like goats gully or any of the other double black diamonds in whistler or any other similar track anywhere. They do however ride down A line as little skill is required to ride down. Most flow tracks (not 4x) can be ridden by any ability where as proper gnarly tracks cannot. This is where the annoyance comes from as people like me want to ride the gnarliest steepest rocky trails they can and don't care for flow.
  • + 0
 @StraightLineJoe: we must have different 4X tracks in UK and Poland then... two Polish ones that I’ve seen had big doubles and they were made to either over jump or pedal and pump. So death either way if you don’t have the skills and power.
  • + 0
 Schralp the gnar!@StraightLineJoe:
  • + 1
 @StraightLineJoe: a relative beginner could ride goats gully as it is now (well a few years back when I rode it last). Go back 8 years, maybe more and it was a different story before all the roots were chopped out and the trail made significanlty easier. Trespasser if it's still the same, now there is a different story.
  • + 1
 I enjoy both technical trails and flow trails. I was never a good jumper and so when I go to the bike park, I'd spend more time in the flow, jump trails than I do the technical trails. But then there are days when I'm not as psyched to hit the jump lines and so I would hit the technical trails. On my local trails, I'd say we don't have any flow, jump trails. There are illegally built ones here and there, but nothing actually sanctioned by the park. The natural, legal trails flow really well, though. Thanks to volunteers who put hours upon hours to maintain old trails and open new ones. I think that depending on where you ride, you have more of one type of trail and riders crave to have more of the other. That is just the nature of people. We are just never content, tend to complain about everything, want what we don't have and generally unhappy with our lives. However, mountain biking is more popular than ever and we are simply going through a phase when we are all trying to sort everything about this lifestyle of ours. I believe that the amount of tech and flow trails we have are balanced based on what we can and can not do in the areas we ride. I'm sure that will all change in time and we'll have another poll here about not having enough of one type of trail because some other type of trail is being built more than others. There's my rant. I'm going to go out now and ride our local, sandy, flowy, switchback-riddled, not-a-lot-of-climbing, singletrack trail and maybe sip some lobster bisque afterwards.
  • + 1
 From my observation much more accidents are happening on "flow" trails in bike park than on the gnar shredders trails.

Maybe it's the feeling of comfort that distracts the riders - telling to yourself: "ooww it's just a blue" ... snap Smile while on black or double diamond you're focused and your instincts are maxed.
  • + 2
 Or it's that there are a larger % of inexperienced riders in them and a larger number of riders
  • + 1
 I have no issue with flow trails; because if they exist it means someone or some group is out there actually buildings trails. For my area at least, the more trails the better as acreage is limited. Most bike parks seem to be aware of the concern and build both natural and flow trails, so I think it's all good. I could see the concern in more densely biked areas with massive trail crews, big organizations, etc if all they are doing is mowing down existing natural trails and building smooth burms, but that is not a concern where I am at least.
  • + 1
 I think any issues on this comes back to the same problems in the rest of society, communication and politics. Instead of people working together, the loudest, most assertive voices with the money make the rules. That being said there are awesome examples where this isn't the case.
  • + 1
 Natural ones are the best ,they change a little over the years ,they have that little thing that’s “can I make this? ,how can I make it?,I hate when someone try’s to ease out the natural ones ,a little maitenence yes but destroying the hard parts no thanks ,but yes I like to ride the flowing ones to
  • + 1
 You need both. Riding purely flow trails leaves you wanting more challenge, while riding non-stop gnarl that has you on edge the whole time is tedious as well. I love to open it up on flow stuff, but ideally between highspeed flow sections are some rough parts to keep you on your toes. It's like comparing two different styles of beer, I personally don't want to choose just one.
  • + 2
 I ride primarly tech trails and I absolutely love if sometimes I just go on nice flow trail, get some speed and some air time. I suck at jumping because i primarily ride tech stuff. So I like it all, it's all good stuff.
  • + 1
 I dunno, I define flow a little differently than most. Most of my time riding local trails is on terrain that is not smooth like the trails you would find at a bike park. Sure, there may be a few sections but for the most part the terrain is similar to a hiking trail filled with roots, a few rock gardens, a few tech features and rugged worn down, off camber sections.

As long as I feel like I'm going fast and flowing over stuff even the rougher sections then I consider this flow. I'm in the zone and as cheesy as it sounds, "I feel one with the trail"....it's kinda like floating/flying and when you see a turn or rowdy section you just charge through it like it was nothing.

If a trail is super technical or filled mostly with tight switch backs and 60% or higher rock gardens then I consider this to be a trail where I can't attain flow for very long.

Yeah, I guess if you asked me I love flow...the feeling I get. It's in my mind the best thing about riding.
  • + 1
 swings both ways. Downhillers are dragging big rocks ONTO the trails to create artificial rock gardens, to make use of the 200mm of travel they've brought with them, which they wouldn't need in a "natural" situation. Ride it as it is. (or ride park)
  • + 1
 My biggest issue with flow trails is that most of them don't actually have that much flow, if you're going to the effort of machine building an entire trail then I have high expectations whereas you can route a trail straight through some roots and rocks and have me grinning from ear to ear with little expense.
  • + 4
 Sometimes the trail building experience & knowledge are eclipsed by the trail building equipment. Scouting trail is the most important part of trail building, and is where most trail builders make the biggest mistakes. Not enough critical thinking and too much acceptance of poorly thought out, uncreative lines.
  • + 1
 @Flowcheckers:
I get the feeling that the majority of trails prioritise quantity over quality, but I guess if you have a set budget it makes it difficult.
  • + 4
 Shouldn't option 3 be "No, there's too much focus on smooth, safe, and easy. Mountain biking *should* be challenging.
  • + 4
 Flow gets boring real fast.
  • + 4
 Finding flow in the rough techy stuff is what dreams are made of
  • + 1
 I wish there was a "new trails of any kind are great, and while I understand trails that everyone can have fun on is great, but 'there's too much focus on smooth, safe, and easy. Mountain biking should be challenging.'"
  • + 4
 "I prefer tech" seems to be a recurring theme with riders who can't jump.
  • + 4
 STOP dumbing down trails !!!
  • + 4
 Trails that flow, not flow trails.
  • + 4
 I like it all, I just want to ride.
  • + 4
 I prefer raw and primitive. Just like the elk make em.
  • + 2
 I'm sure people have been saying this since the inception of mountain biking, yet the trails just get gnarlier... As you were.
  • + 2
 We have started hitting up the moto parks and the moto trails in the woods. The straight up climbs suck but the downs...hold on to your pants!!!
  • + 1
 The smile after 5min of "oh my... oh... no there it... is.. no yes okokok... ohOH OOH! No I'm good I'm good" is equal to "ooooh yeeeaaahhhhh beeerms right yeeah berm left" if you had friends.
  • + 1
 Sorry add, not had.
  • + 2
 Solid options on this poll. I feel like this was a hot topic a few years ago, so it will be interesting to see where people stand today.
  • + 2
 Bikers who complain about their suspensions, short/ long chain stays, bike reach, seat angles, head angles are flow trail divas!
  • + 3
 Flow trails suck! Why even 27.5 or 29ers on them? Made for enduro? All marketing BS in the bike industry!
  • + 1
 I have ridden too much flow. When I encounter a trail with tech I struggle now even though I used to be able to. I feel what I lost was the ability to "surge" to have the momentum to clean a lift or whatnot.
  • + 1
 There’s also a difference between a good flow trail with jumps and berms, and a stupid flat smooth IMBA sidewalk with switchbacks.... which are we talking about here? #pave the trails
  • + 2
 Balance. Whistler is one example where you can have it all in the same day. Something for everyone. I like doing both. It can all coexist.
  • + 2
 As it should in a bike park designed to attract as many people as possible.
  • + 4
 What about challenging jump lines, anyone??
  • + 2
 Unfortunately there is not much good stuff like this over here in Europe.
  • + 1
 @kaisa: EVO Bikepark, Chatel or some Bikeparks in the UK do have some nice jump lines but they are not in central Europe Frown
  • + 3
 If I'm pedalling up, I prefer tech trails because I get more riding time out of them for the same amount of climbing.
  • + 3
 People like to call XC riders dirt roadies. Flow trails aren't really any different nowadays.
  • + 1
 No-one has ever got good at riding fast by riding flow trails over and over again... tech challenges you and gives you room to get better whereas a flow trail is fun but gets old quick. my opinion :p
  • + 0
 Definitely hate where the spandex road set has gone through and pulled every little rock and root from the trail so their semi slick tires can handle it. What's next PED in mtb?
  • + 2
 Flow trails should be flowy and tech trails should be tech. Keep them both, but keep them separate.
  • + 3
 Living in a concrete jungle, any trail is good trail!
  • + 2
 you want flow, ride down the street. leave the woods raw. quit polluting MTB you fucking kooks!!!!!!!
  • + 3
 Machine built smooth stuff gets old quick
  • + 3
 If you don't like what you have, go build what you want.
  • + 2
 The fact that pinlbike suggests that flow trails are everywhere and increasing in number... That’s the pacific NW for ya.
  • + 3
 flow is nice but you need it to be mixed with some nice "tech chop"
  • + 1
 I wish I could be a mountain bike ambassador and get paid what I make in my day job. I'd be the equivalent of a yelp food critic for trails haha !!!
  • + 1
 I see it as a good excuse for another bike now. Hardtail for the flow, full suss for the rough stuff. Then occasionally swop round to mix it up even more.
  • + 3
 Flow can happen with gnarly tech it just needs to have gravity behind it!
  • + 1
 Its nice so many people have an opinion on this topic! Lucily, flow trails have always existed where they fit, and tech trail exist where it is tech. Kinda neat.
  • + 1
 Flow for everyday riding. Brake burning low-speed tech when I feel like it. I prefer to discover the flow myself, rather than have it engineered to be the clear line.
  • + 1
 If flow is boring then I guess A-line, Dirt Merchant and Coastal Cruise are also boring too right?? I sure as hell don't think so.
  • + 1
 Most flow trails arent too jumpy. Land managers too concerned w/liability.
  • + 3
 Thanks builders for building whatever. Just love riding.
  • + 1
 There are hardly any flow trails down in Ecuador.. 98% are rough, root and rock packed gnarly single track.
  • + 1
 Smooth, all the way from the top, big berms , Big jumps and never touch your brakes .
  • + 0
 Anything overproduced is lame, be it trails, music, film, or women. I want some irregularities. Essentially, trails should be like punk rock.
  • + 1
 I'll healthy mix of speed and roasting please...throw in some chunder before the berms.
  • + 1
 I'd sling whips on a flow trail any day but some gnar is part of a proper diet for sure.
  • + 1
 You guys want to ride real rougher trails? Come to Argentina! The most anti-grip, rocky and steep trails I've ever ridden!
  • + 1
 Here s the funny thing all those guys that write story's I never read them and i bet you no one esle dose either !!
  • + 2
 It's too smooth and flowy if it can be done on a cross bike.
  • + 1
 Hello... Flow-tech... this is a no brainer. Trails should be flowy yet techy.
  • + 1
 I'll take anything. But, my ideal day would be about 60-70% gnar, with some fast flow as a break now and then.
  • + 1
 Just go so fast it hard to stay on berms if there's a double they to find a pocket ten or 15 feet past it!
  • + 0
 What does “they to find a pocket” mean?
  • + 2
 This poll is so Squamish. Gonna go get me some mags
  • + 1
 Ha ha.. my name on here is DOAFT: Death Of A Flow Trail. Very important topic Mike Levy.
  • + 2
 Or bike park centric, can always find the type of trail you like!
  • + 2
 Rough or flow. As long as there are booters, I am in.
  • + 0
 Dude you go so huge. Spinecracking good fun. Until your trached and share pseudomonas wit all your compadres in your local LTAC . Definitely would be a harsh toke bro brah
  • + 1
 Well that settles that...get it together builders, operators, managers! More techy single track.
  • + 1
 Flow trails are only really fun when they're super steep and the berms look really smooth
  • + 0
 I was starting to think my local trails were the only place this was happening to. Sucks this dumbing the trails down is happening everywhere.
  • + 1
 How Mike Levy rides a flow trail: youtu.be/_DtmjT9mMeM?t=260
  • + 2
 FLOVERLOAD!
  • + 1
 I love flowy tech trails!
  • + 0
 Judging from the stats, I assume that we are all a bunch of hard hitting tech/rocky/gnar trail riders?
  • + 1
 “If it ain’t rough it ain’t me”
NWA.
  • + 1
 I want both. Rocky trails that flow well.
  • + 1
 Its like surf vs bodyboard
  • + 0
 I don't want to toot anyone's horn, but, "Red Bull Hard Line!?". Probably the best trails imaginable.
  • + 1
 Flow trails are killing the sport. peace
  • + 2
 Roots.And.Rocks.
  • + 1
 Love the tech, love the gnar. Moved to Moab ????
  • + 1
 Ha, smiley emoticon came out as four question marks, forgot I got to kick it old school here Smile
  • + 1
 Sshhhhhh! Moab sux. Don't go there!
  • + 1
 In Latin, flow means contrived
  • + 0
 WHERE HAS ALL THE CHUNDER GONE???
  • + 1
 It's at the Whiteface Mountain Bike Park.
  • + 1
 its all about variety
  • - 2
 I poled (spelling?) your mom and she likes it rough and rooty. End of debate.
  • - 1
 @DONKEY-FELTCHER: classy like your screen name? Big Grin it was Friday morning and I felt that a completely childish and unwarranted 'your mom' joke would start the day right. If I wanted prop votes I would've directed it at Waki...
  • - 1
 Mwba is the most guilty of dumbing trails down
  • - 1
 Erosion is not a trail feature.
  • - 1
 By definition a trail is caused by erosion, be it animals, walkers, bikes, water or wind.
  • - 1
 @StevieJB: Really? So when I go to a land manager asking for access, I should tell him/her we want access to your land to build all these erosion ruts on your land that will fill your lakes and streams with silt and dirt?

Obviously you have not worked to get access to build trails.
  • + 0
 @Stinky-Dee: Give me an example of a natural trail that wasn’t formed by erosion. Doesn’t exist.
  • - 2
 @StevieJB: O! so you are saying all trails are natural? I see, so that way the erosion is a feature. So are the sticks that ripped your delrailur off. How romantic, back in the days mountain bikers ventured into the woods to hack their way and tear up the forest floor and find themselves. Now built flow trails is so unmanly and too easy, yes I ride natural trail and I am a man! Better yet - I am a mountain biking natural trail man!
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