Mountain Bike Orienteering

What is Mountain Bike Orienteering?

Mountain Bike Orienteering – more commonly referred to as MTBO – is a discipline of orienteering. Instead of running around on foot, competitors riding mountain bikes use a map to navigate from point-to-point. Routes must be navigated along trails and tracks as riders are not permitted to leave the track network.

MTBO is a relatively new sport; the first World Champs took place in 2002. Since then, the sport has grown tremendously, especially in central and western Europe. World Championships in Mountain Bike Orienteering is organised every year, attracting about 25 national teams.

MTBO – maps and navigation

Maps used for MTBO events are usually at a scale of 1:15,000 or 1:20,000. Trails and tracks are marked on mountain bike orienteering maps based on their riding difficulty, with four classifications: easy, slow, difficult and impossible to ride. Also, obstacles that require a dismount are usually marked on the map. 

So what do you need?

  1. Mountain bike, shoes and usual spares
  2. Helmet – as with all mountain bike races, helmets are compulsory! No helmet, no ride.
  3. Map holder or map board (recommended) – attached to the bike handlebars makes it possible to view the map at high speed without stopping
  4. Map – provided by the event organiser, at the start line.
  5. Compass (recommended) – helps you to move fast… in the right direction!
  6. Hydration – hydration packs / water bottles definitely recommended, especially for longer events. Remember that it takes longer to do a MTB O event than the same distance marked route – because navigating and thinking takes time (according to your experience and ability).

There are many different types of map boards or map holders out there! Check out for an example of an MTBO map board. For more details on Mapdec, or to order, contact the local importer, contact Alec Avierinos –

South African Mountain Bike Orienteering Event Guidelines 

A document containing all the information that you need to put on a MTBO event is available to assist clubs with putting on successful MTBO events:

Permanent courses

We’ve put up a few permanent courses that you can ride at any time. Download the map, print it on an A4 page and take it along with you. We’d love to hear about your experience on the route. Please drop Brian an email at

Groenkloof, Pretoria

Northern Farm, Jo’burg

MTBO Contact: Brian Gardner,

The future of MTBO in South Africa

With a very progressive mountain biking community and boasting some of the World’s best trails and MTB stages races, we hope to grow MTBO in South Africa. While there are no MTBO events currently on the event calendar we hope to get a series up and running in the near future.