Defy gravity and shred like a pro – 5 of the latest must-play video games for mountain bikers

Riders Republic video game screenshot
Riders Republic takes you into an insane world of mind-blowing mountain biking visuals (Image credit: Ubisoft)

We all love getting out and about on the best mountain bike adventures, but occasionally there are times when we just can't get out riding. If you still need your fix of riding thrills, then the virtual world of mountain biking video games can help scratch that itch. 

I've been a gamer for more years than I'd care to mention, and with sports gaming being my genre of choice, I've have spent many hours playing any mountain biking or cycling games I could find.

Of course video games aren't as good as hitting the trails for real, but for days when the weather is rotten, or you're recovering from a cycling related injury, or even stuck in the airport, my top five MTB themed games will certainly help pass the time...

1. Bike Unchained 3

Bike Unchained 3 is the latest edition of the highly popular mobile mountain biking series from Red Bull. The previous editions have been the mountain bike rider's games of choice with immersive gameplay, stunning graphics and tons of customization with real-world bikes and kits. The latest version (due for release on 22nd February) now promises even more as you battle it out against MTB riders around the world to become a virtual mountain bike racing legend.

There are two adrenaline-filled gameplay modes – downhill and jumps – as you aim to conquer the mountain either in high-speed downhill racing or gathering the most points by stringing together the best tricks and airs on a slopestyle run.

Bike Unchained 3 offers an extensive customization feature, allowing you to create the coolest virtual rider on the mountain. You can unlock top mountain bikes from leading brands including Canyon, YT, Transition, Commencal, and Specialized.

Having chosen your bike, there is also a host of high-quality components from SRAM, SR Suntour, Manitou, and Box Components which allows you to choose real life products for your weapon of choice.

The game utilizes the Red Bull roster as you unlock mentors with downhill superstars Loic Bruni, Vali Höll, Myriam Nicole and Finn Iles featuring alongside Red Bull Rampage legends like Carson Storch, Jaxson Riddle, Brandon Semenuk, and Szymon Godziek.

2. Shred 2

Fans of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series will be instantly at home with the gameplay of Shred 2, as you take on the role of Canyon rider Sam Pilgrim. Sam is one of the most well-known mountain bike freeriders and a YouTube superstar with over 1.8 million subscribers on his popular YouTube channel.

The gameplay features 40 “Flowy” handcrafted levels that make for an addictive and authentic MTB riding experience. The huge levels have unique features and locations from big mountains, downhill, slopestyle and city terrain, as you aim to pull out the most impressive tricks while hitting the biggest lips or drops, earning big points along the way, and nailing those classic old-school Tony Hawk Pro Skater style combos.

Canyon is also involved as Pilgrim's bike sponsor and Shred 2 has loads of bike options from the German brand including a hardtail jump bike, full-suspension mountain bikes, downhill bikes and some equally crazy options like a mini bike and our very own Guy Kesteven's favorite – an off-road tandem.

Shred 2 is available on various consoles including Nintendo Switch, Xbox and mobile devices.

3. Riders Republic

Riders Republic is a huge open-world sports multiplayer playground that not only features mind-blowing mountain biking visuals, but also has you competing with other players in a host of extreme sports including snowboarding, wingsuit and rocket wingsuit.

The scenery is themed around iconic American national parks, including Bryce Canyon, Yosemite Valley, and Mammoth Mountain. The locations are all mashed into one mega map, that you're free to roam and shred on, as you're dropped into this beautiful open world to take on mountain bike races and trick contests, while searching for collectables and unlocking gear along the way.

The mountain biking part of the game is all about downhill and you have to pick precise lines and also manage what the game calls your 'pedaling stamina meter' which becomes more challenging as the terrain and difficulty ramps up. The races are insane with up to 50 riders rampaging down the mountain at the same time and more than a nod to Megavalanche – the mass start mountain bike race held annually at the Alpe d'Huez ski resort in the French Alps.

Customization is also a big part of Riders Republic with the option to earn and purchase Riders Republic coins that can be used to upgrade your kit, outfits and overall look of your avatar.

Riders Republic is available at Amazon on PS5, PS4, Xbox One/Series X and PC.

4. Descenders

Descenders has been around for a while, but it's still a highly entertaining downhill mountain biking game with each level in the game being procedurally generated – which means each level is generated slightly differently with jumps and slopes and hills bombs changing every time you play, which offers the user infinite replayability.

In each level, the player races downhill performing tricks and attempting a set of random objectives presented during the run like performing a trick a certain number of times, or finishing a race within a certain time. Each level also contains checkpoints which serve as respawn points if you bail, too many bails mean you fail the level. However, Desenders is a risk vs reward game and the harder you push the bigger your scores.

There are plenty of options to mix things up with bikes and kit with a fully-stocked online Rep system that lets you show off your worth, and earn those goodies.

Another feature in Descenders is picking the team you ride with and players have the choice of either Enemy, Arboreal or Kinetic. You're then bonded with your team members wearing your team's colors and apparel with pride, earning points, prizes and rewards like exclusive team gear along the way.

Descenders is available at Amazon on various consoles including Nintendo Switch, Playstation and Xbox.

5. Touchgrind BMX 2

Touchgrind BMX 2 is technically not a mountain bike game, but it's still a really nice freeride themed game, and well worthy of a mention. The original Touchgrind was chosen by Apple as one of the best iPhone games back in 2011, and this updated version has improved on everything making Touchgrind BMX 2 faster, more dynamic, more appealing and more extreme than ever.

What makes Touchgrind BMX 2 unique and also very cool to play is the innovative controls – there's no rider on the BMX bike, you use the revolutionary two finger controls system seen in the original, and therefore your fingers are technically the rider. It's pretty fiddly to start off, but you soon get in the swing and quickly pull off tricks and flips with ease and rack up your points.

There are plenty riding beautifully themed maps to showcase your newly found BMX skills including rooftop drop offs surrounded by skyscrapers in Vertigo, mini ramps and downhill slopes on Montaña Alta, shredding trails on Grizzly Trail or take your chances descending Viper Valley’s narrow ledges as you fly over huge gap jumps.

You can fully customize your ride with different frames, handlebars, wheels and seats and even spray paint it for that final personal touch. Look out for the hidden crates that also unlock additional bike parts, special bikes and much more.

Touchgrind BMX 2 is available on iOS and Android.

Paul Brett
Staff writer

Based in Edinburgh, Paul Brett is a staff writer for BikePerfect.com. He has been an avid cyclist for as long as he can remember, initially catching the mountain biking bug in the 1990s, and raced mountain bikes for over a decade before injury cut short a glittering career. He’s since developed an obsession for gravel riding and recently has dabbled in the dark art of cyclocross. A fan of the idea of bikepacking he has occasionally got involved and has ridden routes like the North Coast 500, Scotland and the Via Francigena (Pilgrim Route), Italy.


Current rides: Marin Alpine Trail 2, Ribble 725, Cube Stereo 160

Height: 175cm