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Overview of Mountain Biking Qualifications

Opinions are  divided in the community over which route is the best but essentially there are 2 main providers of qualifications: British Cycling and Mountain Bike Instructor Scheme (MIAS)

Before we review them, note there are other providers & organisations to be aware of:

Mountain Bike Instructor Scheme (MIAS)

MIAS has been around doing mountain bike qualification since 1989 (longer than anyone else) and boasts over 17,000 members on their (rather dated!) website.

They run Level 1, 2 & 3 instructor awards and also run other awards for the military but we’ll focus on the instructor awards

Consider when choosing:

  • Clear pathway into European Qualifications – need to confirm?
  • Takes other outdoor qualifications such as ML & BEL into consideration
  • Recognised by AALA’s

More information on MIAS pathway

British Cycling (BC)

British Cycling Mountain BikingBritish Cycling is a much larger organization (its sponsored by a bank!) and is the National Governing Body for cycling in the UK (as stated by Sport England). They have historically been more focused on racing and participation across cycling than mountain biking until recent years. They now have an increasing drive for mountain biking which seems to be the root cause of any differing opinions.

To consider when choosing:

  • As it stands, they don’t really recognise any other qualifications. This is only really an issue if you already have LOTS of experience and want to go straight to Level 3
  • The membership fees are quite a lot more but bear in mind that it includes an online child protection course and the course manual. Also, significantly it includes public liability insurance for you as an individual. This means that as soon as you get the award you are insured to take people out riding – a very tidy solution.
  • If you pay a higher membership fee you can also feature on the Find A Leader directory which may send some clients your way.


The British Cycling route is a more comprehensive and ‘robust’. By robust we mean the administration is more efficient, the award requires more experience, the average standard of tuition is probably higher and as a result, the award is probably regarded to be of a higher standard. That said if you’re already a MTBer with lots of group experience, have an ML then the MIAS route might be all you need and will save you some cash.

Comparing Cost

MIAS Level 1 & 2

2-day option costs about £210

3-day option is about £290

Admin fees: a £40 admin fee is included in both estimations.

British Cycling Level 2

2-day course and a 1-day assessment (taken at a later date) costs about £300

Admin fees: Registration costs £106 for non-members which includes a ‘Ride’ membership to BC. Its £67 if you are already a member

Categories: Mountain Biking