Admittedly when we first posted our list of the top 100 mountain bike trails in the world it was a bit of a gimmick. Obviously we haven’t ridden every trail on the planet so we had to automate things a bit with a “super secret” trail ranking algorithm to build the list.
Of course our list isn’t perfect and frankly it never will be – computers don’t know how to mountain bike (yet). Anyway, I thought I’d open the hood and let you know what goes into the trail rankings so you can help us improve our method. I’ll let you know about the factors we use (in order of importance) but the actual weights used will remain part of the secret sauce.
#1 – Average trail rating. This rating comes from the trail reviews people post on singletracks and obviously it’s pretty important. The only problem is that for new trails or trails that have one or two fanboys (or girls) this can be a bit deceptive. It’s still the most important and the one factor that really tells us what people think about the trail.
#2 – Number of people who *want* to ride the trail. Using the mountain bike trail wishlist feature on singletracks we count how many people wish they could ride the trail. This is pretty telling since a lot of people don’t live near epic trails but they dream of riding the nationally (and internationally) known spots.
#3 – Number of times the trail description has been viewed (ever). If a trail is viewed a lot it’s probably pretty popular so we include this in our rating. Moreover, if it’s been around a while and has been on singletracks longer than other trails, chances are it’s a pretty sweet ride.
#4 – Number of ridelog entries. This tells us how *often* people ride a particular trail. If you have, for example, 5 local trails but you end up riding one of the trails way more than the others then chances are that’s a good trail.
#5 – Number of people who have ridden the trail. Admittedly this doesn’t say much but it is still a good thing to include. Some trails (like Slickrock) get visitors from around the world so it tends to be ridden more than other trails. By the same token, an “easy” trail or an in-town ride might get a lot of riders, though not because it’s great (example: Green Mountain). This is probably the biggest flaw in the current rankings.
#6 – Monthly page views. This factor takes into account the number of times a trail listing has been viewed this month and it’s meant to give new trails a chance to move up the list. Honestly this factor rarely plays into the rankings.
So there you have it – 6 factors for ranking mountain bike trails. Let us know if there’s a factor we’ve missed that can be captured using singletracks data – we’d love to hear about it!