In 1896, both road and track cycling became an Olympic sport, and after a century, mountain biking, a cross-country race over rough terrain, made its Olympic debut in the 1996 Games in Atlanta. There were four events: cross country (XCO), downhill (DHI), trials, and combined. For men, Bart Brentjens of The Netherlands placed first; for women, Paola Pezzo of Italy placed first. In regards to the 1996 race, Brentjens reports that “the bikes have changed totally compared to what we have now.” Today’s mountain bikes include larger wheel diameters, wider tires, and commonplace suspension on both ends of the bike. The safety and performance requirements for the design, testing, and assembly of these bicycles are detailed in ISO 4210-2:2023—Cycles – Safety Requirements For Bicycles – Part 2: Requirements For City And Trekking, Young Adult, Mountain And Racing Bicycles.
The ISO 4210-2:2023 Standard for Mountain And Racing Bicycles
ISO 4210-2:2023 specifies safety and performance requirements for the design, assembly, and testing of bicycles and sub-assemblies. It lays down guidelines for manufacturer’s instructions on the use and care of such bicycles. The standard covers performance requirements for brakes, handlebars, steering ability, frames, forks, wheel and tyres, pedals, chain and drive belt, saddles and seat posts, lighting systems, markings and more. It provides testing specifications for the overall assembly and materials used in young adult, city and trekking, mountain, and racing bicycles. ISO 4210-2:2023 specifically applies to these bicycles:
- Young adult bicycles with maximum saddle height of 635 mm or more and less than 750 mm
- City and trekking bicycles, mountain bicycles, and racing bicycles that have a maximum saddle height of 635 mm or more including folding bicycles.
This standard does not apply to specialized types of bicycle, such as delivery bicycles, recumbent bicycles, tandems, BMX bicycles, and bicycles designed and equipped for use in severe applications such as sanctioned competition events, stunting, or aerobatic manoeuvres.
What Is the Difference Between a Racing Bike VS a Mountain Bike?
Riders use road (racing) bikes for fast paved-surface riding (i.e., city streets, country lanes, cycle paths, and mountain passes). Racing bikes are designed to be lightweight and aerodynamic as their frame geometry, components, and handlebar shape lend them to being fast. On the other hand, mountain bikes are designed for off-road riding, and their thick tires and treads make them extremely slow on tarmac, helping the rider stay upright on rocky, muddy single track trails. The objective of a mountain bike is to improve balance over bumpy sections, along with powerful disc brakes and massive gearing ranges for all sorts of off-road terrain.
Besides varying in their functionality and use, both bikes vary visually in terms of tire size, tread pattern, and lack of suspension forks. The most striking visual distinction between a road and mountain bike is the handlebar. Road bikes have narrow drop handlebars that are meant to make the rider more aerodynamic and offer three hand positions for riding (i.e., the hoods, the drop, and tops). Mountain bikes have wide flat bars that are meant to increase handling (especially in tight corners) and improve comfort off-road.
Braking Requirements in ISO 4210-2:2023
ISO 4210-2:2023 maintains that a bicycle shall be equipped with at least two independently actuated braking systems—one for the front wheel and the other for the rear wheel. The braking systems operate without binding and must be capable of meeting the standard’s braking performance requirements by performing one of the two test methods:
- Track Test in which braking distance is measured directly with the progressive characteristics of the brakes being self-evident. The progressive characteristics of the brake are determined by linearity measurements.
- Machine/Rig Base Test in which braking force is measured and, from which, braking performance values are calculated.
For both tests, the bicycle must show for smooth, safe, stopping characteristics. This ensures the bicycle is stopping within the required distances without occurrence of excessive juddering, front wheel locking, bicycle overturning (rear wheel lifting uncontrollably), rider’s loss of control, and excessive side-skid causing the rider to put his foot to the ground to retain control.
The ISO 4210 Standard, Safety Requirements of Bicycles
ISO 4210, Cycles- Safety Requirements for Bicycles, has nine parts that specify the safety and performance requirements for the design, assembly, and testing of bicycles and sub-assemblies having maximum saddle height 635 mm or more. Here are the parts of ISO 4210:
- ISO 4210-1:2023 —Part 1: Vocabulary
- ISO 4210-2: 2023—Part 2: Requirements For City And Trekking, Young Adult, Mountain And Racing Bicycles
- ISO 4210-3:2023—Part 3: Common Test Methods
- ISO 4210-4:2023—Part 4: Braking test methods
- ISO 4210-5:2023—Part 5: Steering Test Methods
- ISO 4210-6:2023—Part 6: Frame and Fork Test Methods
- ISO 4210-7:2023—Part 7: Wheels and Rims Test Methods
- ISO 4210-8:2023—Part 8: Pedal and Drive System Test Methods
- ISO 4210-9:2023—Part 9: Saddles and Seat-Post Test Methods