Trails, gravel roads, and fells
The trails in Saariselkä are mostly rather fast forest and fell trails. There are also some sections on gravel roads and forest roads. The trails are technically not extremely difficult but some sections on the fell tops are a bit rocky. On Finnish standard the uphills and downhills are relatively long. (On Central-European standard they are very small. 🙂 )
Because of the hills along the trails we recommend a lightweight bike with 29″ wheels. The trails can easily be ridden with a hardtail bike but the experience can be more enjoyable with a full suspension bike. If you are not used to riding stage races, the rocky and bumpy (Skaidi Xtreme-like) terrain on the fell tops might make your lower back hurt latest on the third day.
What about the tires?
During the four previous years of Saariselkä MTB we have seen a lot of broken tires. The reason for this is the sharp stones on the fell tops. It is good to have tires with durable sides, and it is better to have tubeless tires than ones with inner tubes. If you don´t want to spend extra breaks by changing tires, you should choose your tires wisely.
The best tires for Saariselkä MTB according to our experiences are tubeless ready Maxxis Ikons or Ardent races. With these tubeless tires it is possible to ride with 1,5bar air pressure. They will guarantee you good grip along the trails and you don´t have to worry about breaking the tires.