Why is mountain biking so addictive?

Ask anyone around me what I am obsessed with and they won’t hesitate to tell you that it is most definitely mountain biking!

And I’m certainly not alone in this, as the sport continues to explode in popularity around the world, mountain bikers everywhere are sharing their stoke with their friends, family, and anyone else who will listen!

So why is mountain biking so addictive?

There are several reasons that are widely agreed upon, and actually backed up by science in many cases:

  • Exercise is scientifically proven to make you feel better.
  • Exposure to a dangerous situation stimulates adrenaline, which in turn activates the bodies reward system, flooding the brain with the euphoria of dopamine when you overcome the danger.
  • Adrenaline is one of the fastest ways to “feel alive”.
  • Immediate experience of and connection with nature.
  • Satisfaction of achieving goals and overcoming fears, which are both connected to the release of dopamine.
  • Building meaningful friendships, around shared challenges and enjoyment.
  • Quieting of the mind, being 100% in the moment, also known as “flow state”.
  • Immediate and measurable stress reduction.

More to mountain biking than adrenaline?

You may notice that beyond the adrenaline inducing side of the sport, many of the things that mountain biking brings as it’s strongest assets are the same things which modern “always on” city life has diminished for many people – whether that is a connection with nature, or the mental space for a quieting of the mind.

Over the years I’ve been into all sorts of hobbies and interests, and you might argue that some of these are going after some of the same things – take for example video games. These routinely are designed around overcoming challenges, and rewarding increasing skill. Some are designed very much to be played with friends.

However in my years of experience of gaming, very few if any have resulted in a calming of the noisy chatter of the mind, and while flow state can be achieved, it is noticeably less tangible than when combined with physical movement and an element of adrenaline and the survival of real challenges!

Likewise the social interaction and building of friendships I would argue is more meaningful when all are progressing through real-life challenge (and danger) together.

Can I mountain bike too much?

Of course not. Well… maybe.

I’d like to say that I haven’t found that limit yet myself. But perhaps I’m just telling myself that, blocking out the times I’ve fallen asleep on the floor after getting home from a huge day on the bike, body completely spent and mind looping POV footage in my dreams of swooping through berms and charging down trails.

As with any intense physical exercise, and particularly those which include an element of danger, it is indeed possible to completely exhaust your body and mind through endless laps at a bikepark or climbing giant mountains.

While this might not be the end of the world in most situations and can usually be solved by a cold beverage, a hearty meal, and some solid couch time after the fact, there is no doubt that getting too thrashed can increase the risk of injury – something we each need to weigh up for ourselves.

Anyone who has spent any amount of time mountain biking can tell you about times they’ve started making dumb mistakes on the trail when they’ve been exhausted. And as we all know with mistakes come injuries sooner or later.

Why do mountain bikers keep trying to get everyone out riding anyway?

I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve urged to get out mountain biking – friends, family, acquaintances… They’re all fair game! So why is it that it’s quite common for riders to try and drag unsuspecting “non bikers” into their world of shin flaying pedals and muddy teeth?

It all comes back to the addiction of mountain biking.

I know for a fact how much of a positive difference riding trails has made in my life, and the instant destressing effect it has, how energizing getting better and faster and more confident as a mountain biker feels.

Wanting other people around you to share in all the awesomeness and discover a new exhilaration and level of fitness seems entirely natural to me, and it’s super rewarding to see others getting into it in a big way after their introduction to the sport.

So is an addiction to mountain biking a good thing?

Out of everything that it is possible to be addicted to, most people would agree that a sport is one of the better things to get hooked on!

But there are always two sides to every story, so let’s weigh up the pros and cons:


  • Mountain bikers get a fantastic full body physical workout.
  • Very regular exercise – after all it’s just fun to get out on the bike, and as fitness increases, so does the enjoyment.
  • Mountain biking gets you out in nature, experiencing the world.
  • Helps create an active outdoor way of living for the family, and encourages the kids to naturally get into a fit active lifestyle.
  • Rewards pushing past your fears and self-imposed limitations, something you can take into other areas of your life.
  • Can talk about nothing but mountain biking non-stop for hours on end.


  • An intense restlessness when too many hours have passed without riding a bike.
  • Mountain biking can be an expensive sport, from carbon full suspension bikes to all the upgrades and replacing of broken parts.
  • Need to be careful about getting sunburnt too much from all the hours spent out in the blazing sun.
  • Temporary abandonment of wife and newborn baby is a possibility.
  • Can talk about nothing but mountain biking non-stop for hours on end.

So what does an addiction to mountain biking lead to?

As they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

It turns out that problem is that you don’t have enough mountain bikes.

Thankfully this can easily be portrayed with a mathematical equation. The correct number of bikes to own is N+1, where N equals the number of bikes you currently own.

You may want to print out the following handy checklist and tick off the bikes as you add them to your rapidly overflowing garage.

Mountain bikes owned:

  • Enduro bike
  • Downhill bike
  • XC bike
  • Trail bike
  • Single speed bike
  • Bikepacking bike
  • Dirtjumper
  • Fatbike
  • Tandem mountain bike
  • Hardtail

Obviously you may find that you are required to get multiple types of each mountain bike – long and short travel, alloy and carbon, and so on.

Your significant other may not understand the need for what they incorrectly perceive as “too many bikes” – so naturally you’ll have to clarify how vital each bicycle is for its specific purpose, at length.

Feel free to discuss in minute detail every strength and aspect of each bike, and accompany this with wild gesturing and excited whooping. Your significant other should see the error of their ways within a few hours, freeing you up to begin researching your next bike.