Whether you’re new to mountain biking or just getting back into it, shopping for a mountain bike can be intimidating. Knowing what type of bike you need for the type of riding you’ll be doing is essential. For more details on all the types of mountain bikes, read How to Choose a Mountain Bike. However, if your main destination is Jonathan Dickinson State Park (JDSP) in Hobe Sound, Florida, you’re in the right place! We’ll discuss the best mountain bikes for riding at Jonathan Dickinson State Park’s trails and conditions.
You’ll see a wide array of different bikes at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, or any park for that matter. We’re not saying there is a right and wrong type of bike for riding these trails. We’re simply providing guidance on what bikes are the most fun and efficient for this specific terrain and the conditions. We break it down based on the features and styles of different types of bikes.
Download our Camp Murphy MTB Trail Map, so you can navigate your way through the park and understand the trail rating system (greens, blues, black diamonds, etc.). Follow Club Scrub on Facebook, or check in with the Ranger Station when you visit the park for up-to-date trail closures and detours.
Cross Country Mountain Bikes
Thanks to the beginner and budget friendly options available in this category, cross country bikes are the most popular bikes at JDSP. Cross country bikes feature shorter travel with 120mm or less suspension in the fork.
These types of bikes are designed to be quick, efficient, and all-out fun on flowy trails. Because the trails at JDSP are naturally flowy and designed to capitalize on hilly sand dunes, cross country bikes climb and descend with efficient speed and agility. Cross country bikes tend to be lightweight, a feature that truly lends itself to the switchbacks you’ll find here. Novice riders enjoy a lighter bike when learning how to get air on the drops and jumps featured on these trails.
If you want to ride fast, pick the most efficient lines, and challenge your buddies to a race, then a cross country bike is for you.
Best Cross Country Mountain Bikes for Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Pros: Fast, lightweight, nimble, fun.
Cons: Requires more skill and precision getting through technical sections. Hardtails can be uncomfortable when riding over obstacles.
Trail Mountain Bikes
The trails at Jonathan Dickinson State Park offer riders challenging sections including rock gardens, log-overs, table tops, and step-downs. Trail bikes with 120mm or more of suspension travel offer more versatility, stability, and comfort than most cross country bikes. They also tend to have wider and knobbier tires, robust frames, wider bars, lower bottom brackets, and a wider wheel base, which all add up to a more stable-feeling riding experience.
A trail bike can handle obstacles and rough terrain without much discern, whereas a cross country bike often requires more rider input, precision, and efficiency. It’s also just plain fun to mash through a rock garden without expending a ton of speed and energy. A trail bike can offer new riders a huge boost of confidence which helps build skill in getting over trail obstacles. JDSP can get very sandy during dry spells. Wider tires will help riders navigate the deep sugar sand, relying a little less on perfect technique.
If you’re a rider who likes to or aspires to ride through the technical stuff (instead of bypassing it), including jumps, drops, rock gardens, log-overs, and more, you should really consider the stability and comfort a trail bike will deliver on your adventure.
Best Trail Mountain Bikes for Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Pros: Stable, durable, confidence-booster, wider tire clearance to glide through sugar sand.
Cons: Tend to be a bit heavier than cross country and hardtail bikes (unless you’re riding a higher-end trail model).
Dirt Jumper Mountain Bikes
Jonathan Dickinson State Park has an expert/black diamond section called Bunker Hill. This part of the trail system challenges riders with advanced features including big jumps, gap jumps, steep drops, skinnies (raised thin wooden bridges), uphill and downhill rock gardens, and massive berms (embankments built to increase speed through tight corners). Many Freeriders or BMX riders particularly enjoy this part of the trail on dirt jumpers.
Dirt Jumper bikes are a cross breed. They are a fusion between Freeride and BMX bikes. Dirt Jumpers also are sometimes known as urban, or street mountain bikes. And tend to only have suspension in the front or can be fully rigid with no suspension. Many of these bikes will have single speed gears, only one brake, oversized handlebars, small frames, and low seat posts for stunt riding.
Put simply, Dirt Jumpers are the bike best suited for the riders who like to spend their time in the air doing aerial stunts. This is the bike for riders who skip the trails and ride right to the jumps.
Best Dirt Jumper Mountain Bikes for Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Pros: With the right techniques mixed with a tremendous amount of fearlessness, you’ll get air. Bring your GoPro!
Cons: This type of bike is not designed for rough terrain like rock gardens and switchbacks due to its smaller frame, smaller wheel size, and limited gearing. And it’s simply not comfortable or efficient for pedaling long distances.
Recreational Mountain Bikes or Hybrid Bikes
Are you planning to skip the singletrack all together? No worries, Jonathan Dickinson State Park has miles of multi-surface access roads and paved bike paths. If your idea of biking is a little different than a mountain biker’s version of biking, you’ll find it here.
Best Recreational Mountain Bikes, Gravel Bikes, & Hybrid Bikes for Jonathan Dickinson State Park
The type of mountain bike you choose to ride at Jonathan Dickinson State Park depends on the style of riding you prefer to ride. If your goal is to get to finish a lap faster than your buddies, go with the cross country bike and practice your precision. However, if you enjoy the challenge of “cleaning” obstacles and are looking for a boost in confidence to improve your techniques, a trail bike might be the way to go. Finally, if you’re the type of rider who makes a beeline for Bunker Hill, skipping all the rocks, roots, and 10 miles of singletrack, then a dirt jumper is probably your best bet.
Whichever you choose, have fun and be safe out there at Jonathan Dickinson State Park!