British mountain bike category system explained

British mountain bike category system explained

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Information about how the British mountain bike category system works.

Age categories

All categories in mountain racing are age-based until you get to the age of 19.

U12 downhill

Riders taking part in short course or mini downhill events can compete in their 12th year and below. 


To qualify for the juvenile category, a rider must be in the year of their 13th or 14th birthday.

Licensed MTB downhill riders in their 12th year may request dispensation from the federation to compete in the Juvenile caterory for downhill events. Applications for 2024 can be completed via online form which will be available below from 09 January 2024 - the application window will be open until 12 noon on Friday 1st March 2024.

U12 Dispensation Form


Riders in the year of their 15th or 16th birthdays.


Riders in the year of their 17th and 18th birthdays.

Senior (sport / expert / elite)

When a rider reaches the year of their 19th birthday then they will race in an ability based category See below for how riders can attain expert or elite status.


For riders aged 30 to 39. In downhill, senior riders will default to master on reaching the year of their 30th birthday.  There is no masters licence category in cross country, however riders of masters age with sport or expert licences may ride in masters races where they are held.


For riders aged 40 to 49.

Grand veteran

For riders aged 50 to 59.

Super veteran

For riders aged over 60.

How do I qualify to a higher ability category?

Qualification from senior/sport/junior to expert; or from expert to elite, is gained through your end of year ranking points.

Female cross-country and downhill

These riders should apply directly to British Cycling if a category change is required.

Male downhill

Danny Hart in mountain bike downhill action


The top 40 ranked riders remain elite.

The top 10 ranked expert riders promoted to elite.

The first ranked junior rider will be promoted to elite (British Cycling reserve the right to move more than once rider on merit - based on national, world cup and world championship performances).

Elite riders ranked outside of the top 40 will retain their status and any other eligible rider can gain elite status if in the past two seasons they have raced & qualified at two or more world cups, or been selected for the Elite World Championships. Previous World Cup Winners or World Champions in the Elite category can retain Elite status.

Dispensation will only be considered for riders who have been injured for a minimum eight-week period during the months from April to September. A letter from a GP or specialist must be provided. British Cycling reserve the right to apply discretion where appropriate.


Any elite riders outside of the top 40.

Expert riders ranked 11-80.

Top 25 ranked senior riders.

Top 25 ranked (second year) junior riders.

First placed veteran and top three masters (optional, but veterans and masters riding out of category will be offered expert).

Dispensation will only be considered for riders who have been injured for a minimum eight week period during the months from April to September. A letter from a GP or Specialist must be provided.


Juniors moving up an age group, but outside the top 25, entry level riders of senior category age, riders ranked outside the top 80 Experts, non licensed riders of senior category age

Male cross-country

Grant Ferguson


Top 50 ranked elite riders stay elite.
Top five ranked experts promoted to elite.
Top two ranked second year juniors promoted to elite, or top five dependent upon ability.


Elite riders ranked below 50.
Expert riders ranked outside the top five remain expert.
Junior category riders (second year) ranked third to fifth are promoted, dependent upon ability
Sport category riders ranked in the top 15.

British Cycling will consider applications for upgrade from riders who fall just outside these thresholds.

Four Cross

Mountain bike four-cross


Riders must remain within the top 20 national series standings.
First place junior rider. Optional and dependant upon age.
Top three senior national series standings.
The winner of a senior national series event from the previous series.


Elite riders ranked outside the top 20.
Junior riders moving up to senior.
Master age riders wishing to progress to elite.