South Africa has become one of the world’s most significant mountain bike regions. Not only is the country home to some of the best mountain bike races on the planet, it’s also developed a mountain bike trails network that rivals any other. With more than 150 established trails parks, the time is right to launch Top MTB Trails, a website dedicated to South African mountain bike trails and those who ride them.
Top MTB Trails offers mountain bikers a number of benefits, including a place to find South Africa’s best trails, the functionality to rate those trails and the connection to a community that’s passionate about creating great riding experiences all across South Africa – for 52 weeks a year.
Top MTB Trails is a result of collaboration between industry stalwart, Sean Badenhorst, who has been a mountain biker since 1991 and who owns and edits, TREAD Media, South Africa’s mountain bike media authority; and Michael Griffin, an entrepreneur that focuses on building engaged communities through mobile and digital technology.
“Events have always been the foundation of mountain biking in South Africa, but the government’s reaction to the Covid-19 virus crushed the events market in 2020 and for some of 2021. Mountain bikers never stopped riding though and the lockdown restrictions on events led to the flourishing of the mountain bike trails segment,” said Badenhorst.
“In fact, mountain biking became even more popular during the past 18 months, with former riders getting back into it and newcomers eager to make the most of the benefits of mountain biking. As a result, mountain bike trails parks have seen a significant increase in numbers, which has led to existing parks growing and new parks being developed at a rapid rate,” added Badenhorst.
“We aren’t sure what’s going to happen in the future with lockdowns and events, but we are certain that mountain bikers will want to continue to ride. They want safe, stimulating trails to ride and they’re hungry for information on where to ride next. Top MTB Trails is where they will go to get that information. We have over 150 established mountain bike trails parks listed currently and are still adding more,” said Griffin.
Toyota South Africa (vehicles), Specialized Bicycles South Africa (eBikes) and GoPro South Africa (media hardware) have all committed as partners to Top MTB Trails, while TREAD Media will be the media partner to help grow the initiative fast through its broad reach.
“With over 400 000 mountain bikers across the country, the best brands in the industry have shown a commitment to playing their role in Top MTB Trails as we share many of the same objectives and we’ll be announcing some additional partners in the near future,” said Griffin.
“As a brand, Specialized is very committed to mountain bike trails, both internationally and locally. It’s in our brand’s DNA and we invest directly and indirectly into a number of trails in South Africa as well as supporting top trail-builders like Hylton Turvey,” said Bobby Behan of Specialized South Africa.
“Top MTB Trails is an exciting addition to the trails segment. With so many good trails now, it’s the logical next step to help guide riders to their next great ride. It’s also super that the website will be telling stories about the trails and the people involved in them. It’s a real pleasure to be able to support Top MTB Trails,” added Behan
One of the key features of Top MTB Trails is it gives riders the opportunity to rate the trails they have ridden. There are eight categories that are rateable, including the pre-ride and post-ride experience. But the rating algorithm is designed with the most weigh given to the trails themselves, including the trail quality, trail maintenance and signage.
“We have such a wide range of trails in South Africa that we have divided them into five categories – Bike Park, Urban Greenbelt Trail, Country Trail, Wilderness Trail and Gravity Trail. Towards the end of 2022 we’ll have our first annual awards where trails will be ranked in their category and overall,” explained Badenhorst.
“This will drive rider engagement through feedback comments and post-ride rating and it will also give trails parks an idea as to where their weaknesses are. As a result, we expect Top MTB Trails to help elevate the overall standard of South African trails, which will benefit everyone,” added Badenhorst.
Top MTB Trails allows mountain bikers to register with the community using their regular email account or their Strava profile, which will play a bigger role during Phase 2 where the Strava activity of members will be measured and rewarded.
“In December 2021 we’ll announce more developments, including prizes up for grabs for those that rate trails. We’re all about consistent engagement and know that everyone appreciates incentives,” said Griffin.
Other features include the Top MTB Trails Community, which acts as the South African mountain bike trails parks noticeboard for any local news on trails, trailbuilding staff or other interesting developments. There’s also links on most of the trails profiles to that trails park’s Trailforks profile. Trailforks is a useful international trails app that can assist riders to locate and follow specific trails that have been uploaded to the Trailforks system.
“We published the TREAD Top 15 Trails of 2020 earlier this year – a purely subjective list – and have used those as a foundation for the ranking of trails on Top MTB Trails. As more riders rate trails and our experienced team rides and reviews more trails, we’ll develop a more complete ranking system. So currently only the top 15 are ranked, the remainder have a ranking number that’s been randomly allocated, which will obviously change over time,” explained Badenhorst.
Experience the Top MTB Trails website here.
For more information or enquiries, email flowhq@TopMTBtrails.co.za.