Depending on the type of terrain, slope, obstacles, type of turns and technical skills required, the various routes are classified using the Singletrack Scale.
This scale varies from S0 to S5, such that S0 is used to classify easy routes and S5 signifies more technical routes. Below you will find a description of the various levels of difficulty. The routes are rated in dry weather conditions and according to the difficulty of the majority of the route, so a route rated S3 may have parts rated S1 and also S4. The exposure of a route to hazards not inherent to the type of terrain are not taken into account in this scale.
S0 – These are singletrail routes that do not present any particular difficulty. The trail conditions are mostly compact with good grip. The curves are wide, the possibility of finding obstacles is minimal and the gradient is slight to moderate. The S0 routes can be ridden without any particular technical skills.
- Course conditions: compact ground with good grip
- Obstacles: none
- Slope: from slight to moderate
- Curves: wide
- Driving technique: no particular skills
S1 – These are singletrail routes of moderate difficulty. On the route it is possible to find loose soil, small roots, stones, gullies or damage caused by erosion. The gradient can be up to 40% and the bends can also be sharp. From difficulty level S1 upwards, basic riding technique is required in order to have good coordination for negotiating tighter bends, descents and obstacles.
- Trail conditions: possible loose soil with small roots and stones
- Obstacles: small obstacles (drainage ditches, erosion damage)
- Slope: <40%.
- Curves: tight
- Driving technique: basic driving technique skills
S2 – These are singletrails that may have larger obstacles, such as roots, steps, stones or stairs in a non-demanding sequence. Most of the time the track is not compact and has the obstacles mentioned above. The maximum gradient can reach 70% and some bends can be sharp. Riding technique must be good for S2 courses. The dosage of braking and balance on your bike are the two main points for tackling them.
- Course conditions: terrain most of the time not compact, protruding roots and stones
- Obstacles: various types of obstacles and steps
- Slope: <70%.
- Curves: tight almost elbow
- Driving technique: advanced
S3 – S3 classifies routes that have many technical passages with steps, protruding roots, blocks of rock with slippery and loose ground. The curves may be sharp and the gradient may exceed 70%. Riding technique must be very good for S3 courses. Very good balance, optimal braking and a high level of concentration for constant control of the bike are absolutely necessary.
- Course conditions: technical, frequent protruding roots and large rocks, slippery and not very compact ground
- Obstacles: steps
- Slope: > 70%.
- Curves: narrow and sharp bends
- Driving technique: more than advanced
S4 – SSingletracks of grade S4 are often difficult to negotiate on foot. The route have major obstacles such as blocks of rock, steps or overhanging roots. Some points can be very narrow and the possibility of contact between the crankset elements and an obstacle is very likely. The curves are sharp and it is necessary to have a Trialist technique in order to move the front or rear wheel with agility. To tackle S4 singletrails your technique must be excellent. Having a very good command of the bike in any situation is absolutely essential.
- Course conditions: technical, frequent protruding roots and large rocks, slippery and not compact ground
- Obstacles: steep ramps, very high steps (often at crown height or more)
- Slope: >70%.
- Curves: very narrow hairpin bends
- Riding technique: perfect mastery of the bike and trialistic technical skills such as shifting the rear wheel in sharp turns.
S5 – Just to read the characteristics of S5 trails most mountain bikers will shudder: loose and slippery terrain, counter-slopes, large steps in sequence, sharp bends, very steep ramps, very difficult obstacles to overcome, limited braking distance, jumps, very narrow spaces, passages to be tackled by carrying the bike over the shoulder with few footholds. Grade S5 trails are off limits to 99% of mountain bikers; technique, physical preparation and concentration must be excellent.
- Route conditions: very technical with counter-slopes, slippery and not very compact terrain, the route S5 can include short sections similar to high mountain vie ferrate.
- Obstacles: steep ramps, steps difficult to overcome and in close sequence
- Slope: >> 70%
- Curves: very tight hairpin bends with obstacles
- Driving technique: excellent command of trialist techniques; the movement of the front and rear wheel is only possible in some cases