PetalPower Ride Gradings

How will you know if the you will enjoy the ride.  Check out our handy ride grade guide.

Technical Grades

Grade 1 / green grade – novice cyclists

  • Bike required: basic mountain bike
  • Skills needed: If you ride a bike you can ride this
  • Trail types: these will be relatively flat and wide. Trails will be surfaced, but mostly not tarmac, so may be superficially loose, uneven or muddy at times eg. Aviemore- Glenmore cycle path

Grade 2 / Blue grade – intermediate cyclists

  • Bike required: mountain bike but definitely more comfortable with at least front suspension
  • Skills needed: basic off-road riding skills to cope with uneven surfaces and small obstacles
  • Trail types: may have sections narrower than vehicle width  and unsurfaced so may be muddy or a little loose
  • Technical features: Includes small technical trail features such as roots and rock eg. Round Loch an Eilean

 Grade 3 / Red grade – advanced intermediate

  • Bike required: quality off-road mountain bikes definitely with front suspension
  • Skills needed: good off-roading skills and techniques to cope with technical trail features
  • Trail types: mostly singletrack with technical sections – expect loose, muddy, track ruts
  • Technical features: expect boardwalks, berms, large rocks, medium steps, drop-offs (but all should be roll-able with the right skills), cambers and water crossings eg. Laggan / Nevis Range Reds

Grade 4 / Black grade – expert

  • Bike required: a good quality mountain bike, probably full suspension
  • Skills needed: “downhill” style at least in sections long enough to mean pushing wouldn’t be a desirable option
  • Trail types: as for 3/ ‘red’, but with greater challenge and continuous difficulty
  • Technical features: expect committing and unavoidable technical trail features such as step down and step ups, requiring compulsory “air” eg. Laggan Black / Nevis downhills

Fitness grading

Grade A

  • Suggested fitness level: suitable for most people in good health and usually offers shortcuts. You will be encouraged, but pace will be dictated by the comfort of the most leisurely rider.
  • Gradients: mostly shallow
  • Distance: may be up to 10 km in total eg. Round Loch Morlich

Grade B

  • Suggested fitness level: a good standard of fitness can help and an ability to “keep going” when tired for up to 2 hours with stops
  • Gradients: most gradients are moderate but might include short steep sections
  • Distance: up to 20km eg. Aviemore to Glenmore return

Grade C

  • Suggested fitness level: suitable for very active people used to prolonged effort over 2 or 3 hours so you are likely to understand exercise nutrition to some extent
  • Gradients: challenging repeated climbs
  • Distance: up to 35 km eg. Sluggan pass/ Ryvoan circuit

Grade D

  • Suggested fitness level: suitable for very active people used to prolonged effort and likely to be fairly pace-y or just long at over 3 or 4 hours, and you are likely to know what “the bonk” / “the wall” are and know how to avoid them
  • Gradients: long or numerous climbs needing granny gear unless you have legs of steel
  • Distance: maybe 50km or so eg. Burma Road Circuit (in about 4 hours) or multi-day day-long rides eg. Cairngorms circuit