The 12 greatest mountain bike films of all time


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The greatest riders, the most epic of tricks, or just some classic old-skool mountain bike action. Capturing the spirit of mountain biking on film may have become easier over the years thanks to new technology and equipment, but certain films have just managed to get it right, whether thats catching the mood of a moment, or telling the story of a legend of the sport.

Related: Quiz – how well do you know mountain bikes?

The early days: high budget, US focus

Back in the days when cameras recorded onto actual tape, they were pricey items to get hold of, editing was a time-consuming process, and therefore access was limited. These early films had big budgets, a cinematic look and a US focus, and aimed to cover all aspects of the sport  – these are the original mountain bike movies, where it all began. 

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Tread (1994)

The first feature-length mountain bike movie to move away from race highlights, Tread showed the skills and banter of the now-legendary Hans ‘No Way’ Wray and Greg Herbold on a road trip through Utah. The second film in the series, ReTread (1996), featured the downhill world champion Missy Giove, DH and XC mountain biker John Tomac and trials rider Libor Karas, AKA ‘the Bouncing Czech’.

Chain Smoke (1996)

Featuring riders like Alison Sydor, Joe Parkin, Randy Lawrence and more, Chain Smoke brought together an eye-catching mixture of downhill, trials and trail mountain biking with a rock soundtrack. Check out the intro sequence. 

The UK perspective

The Brits then got involved with films that showed the burgeoning sport on the UK side of the pond from a different perspective. This was driven in large part by our sister magazine, Mountain Biking UK, which gave away VHS films as covermount gifts. Good times.

Dirt (1995)

Chainspotting (1997)

Race movies

Transcontinental (1999)

3 Minute Gaps (2011)

Modern films: capturing the lifestyle, bringing the creativity

The Collective (2004)

Life Cycles (2010)

Arrival (2013)

UnReal (2015)

Biographical: the stories, the legends, the inside info

Won’t Back Down (2014)

Reach for the Sky (2015)

You can read more at BikeRadar.com

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