Morzine is renowned for some of the best mountain biking in the world. The vast Portes du Soleil mountain biking area is the second biggest on the planet and the 12 resorts that make up the area represent the second most popular mountain biking destination after Whistler in Canada. Summer in Morzine caters for complete beginners through to experts in both downhill MTB and Enduro. If you are new to the sport you will see lots of references to ‘MTB’ in resort and also all over the internet. No need to be confused – it is just an abbreviation for Mountain Bike! Morzine MTB and the Portes du Soleil also has some of the largest and most advanced infrastructure in the world – the winter ski lifts are used throughout the summer to allow easy access to some high altitude peaks with the biggest being in Switzerland up the Mossettes lift at a whopping 2400m! We are thrilled to have some of the best mountain biking in the world right on our doorstep and we can’t wait to welcome you to Morzine. Click here for more information on our catered and self-catered chalets in summer.
Mountain Bike Trails
If you are a skier or snowboarder you will be familiar with the difficulty rating system. Green is the easiest, followed by blue, red and then black as the most difficult. The same applies to mountain bike trails during your MTB holiday:
- Green trails – very easy. These trails are suitable for complete beginners; green trails tend to have a gentle gradient that are well maintained throughout the season meaning few large bumps.
- Blue – easy. Blue trails tend to have slightly more varied terrain such as rocks and roots with bigger table tops. However the gradient is still fairly gentle.
- Red – moderate to difficult. These trails are steeper and may often be much bumpier than blue trails. A high level of technique and control is required for red trails.
- Black – very difficult and for expert riders only. These trails will be steep and often have large features to negotiate. There may be various technical elements that require a very high level of technique.
Please note that trail difficulty ratings are subjective and often vary from resort to resort. We often hear from guests who have experienced riding in the UK that a green trail in Morzine and the Portes du Soleil are closer to blue trails back home in the UK.
The Portes du Soleil lifts are open during the summer from mid June until mid September. The lifts are specifically adapted for mountain bikes by adding hooks and racks during the summer which allows you much more time to explore the amazing MTB area instead of hauling your bike up the steep bits! Lift passes can be purchased on an individual ascent basis however if you are staying for a couple of days or more it is better value for money to purchase multi-day tickets. If you are staying at one of our chalets in the centre of Morzine you can either purchase a Morzine MTB pass or the full Portes du Soleil pass. The more consecutive days you purchase the cheaper the day rate works out to be. Click here for more information on the lift pass options and prices for the mountain bike trails in Morzine.
What equipment do I need?
If you are new to mountain biking and the Morzine MTB area it can be pretty exciting to charge out there into the mountains on your first day. However we strongly advise bringing the below equipment with you. If it is your first MTB holiday then most bike shops in Morzine will be able to rent the more expensive elements to you. You should definitely try before you buy – hire your equipment during your first holiday so you know what equipment you like and if you love it then start building up your collection on your next trip:
Helmet & Goggles
We strongly recommend that you use a full face helmet. A conventional mountain bike helmet does not sufficiently protect your face from high velocity impacts when you fall. Downhill full face helmets are similar to motorbike helmets but much lighter and better aerated. Googles are also essential as they capture dirt on wet days and protect against stones thrown up from the trail.
Knee, Elbow & Back Protectors
When you are travelling at high speed on technically difficult trails you need to have the correct protectors. They will protect you against bruises, scrapes and broken bones when you inevitably fall off. When selecting MTB protectors it is best to go for something slightly tighter than may seem obvious to start with. This is to prevent them slipping when you are out on the trails.
Gloves, Shoes & Clothing
For gloves it is a good idea to have reinforced padding at the back of the hand to ensure you are protected when you fall and also prevent against scrapes from branches. Shoes should have a flat grippy sole that you don’t mind getting damaged. It is possible to spend a fortune on the latest brand name – however the most important thing to consider is durability, breathability, and items that you don’t mind getting damaged!
Inner Tubes, Pumps & Mini Tools
The MTB area of the Portes du Soleil is a big place and you don’t want to get stuck in Switzerland if you are staying in Morzine. If you are renting your equipment then these items can be included.
If you are taking your time then a backpack with water bottles will do the trick. If you are looking to keep going for a long time then it is worth investing in a hydration pack. It’s a small pack that goes on your back with a water bladder and hose. You can get packs that just contain water or slightly larger rucksacks with water + more space for equipment and food.
It can get super hot in the French and Swiss Alps during summer. Sun rays are are also very potent at altitude so we advise taking sunscreen with a minimum of factor 30 with waterproof protection.
What MTB bike do I need and how does bike rental work in Morzine?
At the most basic level the choice for MTB is between a hardtail and full suspension. A hardtail only has a suspension fork at the front whereas a full suspension bike has shock absorbers fitted to both the front and back wheel. We definitely recommend going for the full suspension. It will be considerably more comfortable with full suspension during a long day in the mountains and will give you more control over the bumps.
The good news is that there are a huge number of excellent mountain bike rental companies in Morzine. They are mostly run by bike enthusiasts who will be more than happy to talk you through all the options. They will discuss with you what you want to get out of the week, what trails you will be doing, how many kms of trails you want to get through each day so that they give you the perfect MTB option for the week. If you are interested in purchasing a mountain bike then hiring one for the week will give you the chance to try before you buy. If you don’t like your bike mid-week then that’s not a problem, the Morzine bike rental company will be more than happy to change it for you! We recommend both Torico Mountain Bike Hire and Caribou Sports who are both located in the centre of Morzine:
What if I want to bring my own MTB bike to Morzine?
All airlines will include bike carriage to Geneva at an additional cost. The safest way to transport your bike for summer in Morzine is with a hard case suitcase – these cases typically cost around £300. It is possible to use the cheaper soft bike bag option that will provide your mountain bike with some protection but are not as reliable as a hard case suitcase. Easyjet offer the most number of flights from the UK to Geneva airport. Currently it costs around £45 each way to transport a bike on this airline. We also recommend that you check your travel insurance with regard to exactly what is covered for your bike both in-transit and when you are actually in resort for your MTB holiday in Morzine.
We absolutely love the mountain biking scene in Morzine and we hope we have provided a nice little summary of what is available out here in the French Alps. Accommodation is still relatively affordable in the summer for your biking holiday compared to winter and the resort atmosphere is a little bit different – Morzine is less busy and more relaxed in summer. It is a stunning place to enjoy an MTB holiday so check out the following link to see what accommodation options we have for summer in Morzine. If you are looking for other activity holiday ideas for a trip to Morzine this summer then check out our guide to activities in Morzine.