Map specifications for Mountain Bike Orienteering are based on the specifications for Foot Orienteering maps. However, in order to meet the specific requirements of MTB Orienteering, a complete and separate set of specifications is described in this set of rules

Thus, the ISMTBOM (Specification for MTB Orientation Maps) was created and has received successive updates.

Map reading while cycling is particularly demanding. The emphasis is usually on path and track navigation and speeds can be high. Indeed at most MTBO events cutting through the terrain is forbidden. This means that we can and should restrict the amount of detail which is included on the map to improve legibility. Only the features that are strictly necessary for route choice and navigation should be included.

Cycling speeds on the slowest paths can differ considerably when compared to speeds on the fastest paths. The map must clearly show this by classifying the paths and tracks according to relative cycling speed. Gradient also greatly affects speed so the contours must provide a clear overall picture of the topography rather than showing small details in the terrain.

Any barriers and other hindrances to cycling must also be clearly shown on the map to ensure fair
route choice and the safety of the competitors.

To ensure a fair race the map shall:

  • Follow the specifications in ISMTBOM
  • Give a clear picture of the path, track and road network, classified according to relative cycling speeds
  • Give a clear picture of the topography of the area
  • Only include features that are necessary for navigation and route choice
  • Be generalized to optimise legibility
  • Indicate clearly where it is allowed to cycle, and where passage is forbidden

Path classification

MTB Orienteering requires two classifications for paths and trails:

  • Width categories
  • Speed categories

There are four classes for speed and two classes for width, for a total of eight combinations.

Width categories

There are two width categories for unpaved roads, tracks and paths:

  • Track or wide path, greater than 1.5 m in width, where it is generally possible for cyclists to
    pass or meet each other.
  • Narrow path, less than 1.5 m in width, where it is generally difficult for cyclists to pass or
    meet each other.

The width of the symbol on the map is used to indicate the width of the path.

Speed categories

Tracks and paths must be classified into four speed bands: fast, medium, slow and very slow. As a
guide the following ratios may be used:

  • Fast, 75–100 % (relative to possible riding speed on a hard smooth surface)
  • Medium, 50–75 %
  • Slow, 25–50 %
  • Very slow, 0–25 %

Note that these ratios are only a rough guide as the actual speed achievable is dependent on the skill
and fitness of the individual cyclist as well as the prevailing conditions.

It is however important to be consistent in the speed classification over the whole mapped area