Mountain biking, without any questions, is action-packed and can be one of the best activities you could get yourself into over the weekend. It is nice sporting activity and can be an amazing way to unwind after those days and days working in that tiny office. If you are thinking of getting into mountain biking just for fun or following doctor’s orders, there are a couple of things you need to know. Mountain biking is incredibly technical and unlike traditional biking, you need to be thoroughly equipped for those fun-packed mountain biking activities. For starters, it is how to start mountain biking.
What skills you should have
Like any other sporting activity, mountain biking is not for everyone. You need to start somewhere. Obviously, you know how to ride a bike, but there are a number of skills you should have before you could get in the game. In this, you should be able to climb steep slopes, shift gears and also be able to avoid obstacles. Mountain biking is a whole new game and if you get into it with that traditional biking mentality, there is no way you are going to be a successful mountain biker.
Mountain biking is also all about great health. This type of biking is demanding and you must be in the right cardiovascular health. In short, you must be ready to be pushed to great limits by those vigorous biking adventures.
Essential equipments you will need
As with any other sporting activity, mountain biking comes with its own share of essentials. You need to invest some of your money on this essential equipment if you are getting started.
This is one of the most obvious pieces of equipment you would need for mountain biking. If you are a beginner picking the right mountain bike is going to be really difficult. It is a complicated piece of machinery and if you don’t know what you are looking for; singling out the best is going to be a real hassle. Thankfully, armed with few tips you could actually make a great choice. There are plenty of mountain bikes in the market, and you need to choose one that meets your basic requirements. In this case, we are talking about your height and also the kind of mountain biking you want to get yourself into.
As a newbie, what is the best bike for you? We have three main types of mountain bikes in the market today.
- Rigid Bikes:
These bikes come with no suspension. And that alone makes them the most lightweight bikes you could put your money on today. They also need less maintenance, meaning you will not have to worry about so many things when you are learning to ride off road. However, these bikes come with one major issue; if you will be riding on rough and rocky tracks you will suffer. They offer less control and comfort.
- Hardtail bikes:
Just like the name, these bikes are incredibly hard. They often come equipped with a suspension fork at the front. These bikes will allow you tackle a lot of technical terrains. They are heavier than rigid bikes.
These come equipped with the suspension at both the rear and front. They offer the much needed comfort, especially when you are handling more technical terrain. They are quite expensive and you will be forced to dig dipper into your pocket for it.
Mountain biking can get extremely dangerous and if you are not well protected, you could end up in the hospital. For this very reason, it is crucial you invest in a great helmet. The choice you make here would also determine how well you would be protected from those nasty crashes. We have quite a number of helmets in the market and it will be beneficial if you can get one that fit. Take your time and try a couple of them in store before you have it packed.
The choice you make must level on your head. It should not also obscure your vision. There should not be excessive movement, especially when you pull the helmet back and forth. The straps are also useful features in your helmet and you might need to ensure the chin straps are secure and those that lead to the chinstrap must not cover your ears but pass through the side.
Just like the helmet, this is a must-have. Although most mountain riders don’t usauly put on gloves, it will make a lot of sense if you are getting started. This piece of gear comes with great benefits. For example, it can help your hands from going through that serious soreness caused by vibrations from the bike. There are two types of gloves in the market.
- Fingerless gloves: Your hands are not fully covered, making them the best for summer
- Full gloves: The best choice for winter riding
The two types of mountain biking gloves we have mentioned come with different levels of insulation and padding. So you may want to try a couple of them before you make a final decision. In this case, your fingers should not in any way feel like they are cramped.
Get proper clothing
Mountain biking is not like that traditional cycling you are used to. This kind of biking comes with clothes specifically meant for them. One of the biggest mistakes most mountain bike riders do is buying those skin-tight shorts: That is completely wrong. Contrary to what many riders have always believed, mountain bikers have their different types of clothing compared to standard cycling. They are modest and most mountain biking shorts are baggy, plenty of pockets and come equipped with a couple of features.
For mountain biking, you also need to get a proper cycling top. With this, you need something that can dry real fast in case you are rained on. It should also be able to wick off sweat, leaving you feeling dry in the inside. For this very reason, you need a specific riding top.
There is a pretty good number of clothes for mountain biking in the market today and you can easily get spoilt for choice. However, the trick here is to find one that fits your body shape. It must also be very comfortable when you sit on your bike. You should be able to stretch upwards and the kind of sleeves the top comes with must not round your armpits.
In other cases, pretty much like any other biking clothes, what you should wear for your mountain biking will be influenced by a number of things; weather and also specialization.
Puncture repair kit, multitools, and pump
As a mountain biker, you should be ready for any eventuality. Things can get really crazy and chances of you being hit by a couple of punctures are pretty high. So before you get into mountain biking, make sure you also put some money on the best puncture repair kit, multi-tool and most importantly a pump.
Always be prepared to take any kind of beating
For your first ride, you should be ready for any kind of beating. Not only will the bike suffer a few cases of abuse, but you also will have to deal with a number of things. When you are getting started, you are likely to fall at some point and you might suffer a few bruises and scratches. It is for this reason that you might want to go with a number of essentials. At no point should you miss to go with the following
- A bottle of water– Mountain biking is one dehydrating activity and a bottle of water will ensure you remain well hydrated during the ride.
- Blister kits– chances of you being hit with series of blisters are relatively high. You need to treat them and this kit will truly come in handy
- Extra socks– Just like the gloves, a pair of socks will ensure you are well protected from soreness. It also provides much-needed comfort during those long ride
- Rain gear– This will truly in handy if it rains while you are out there
- Warm cloth– Weather can get really crazy cold and obviously, you will need some warmth.
Start with simple trails
Last but not least; when getting started, also start this type of biking small. Going for those technical trails can be extremely risky if you are a beginner for such trails required a lot of knowledge and most importantly experience. You can easily get injured. So as a newbie it will make a lot of sense if you could start with easy and simple trails. You should have great knowledge about the trail you are about to take, and in this case, we are talking about local routes. If you don’t have those trails for beginners in around your area, going for trail centers will make a lot of sense for sure.
Great Mountain Biking Tips For Beginners
When you are getting started, there are a couple of things you could do to make you a better mountain bike rider. Here are the top tips you might want to keep in mind at all times.
Get familiar with your bike
Mountain bikes are totally different from those traditional bikes we are all used to. And once you get that nice machine, before you can take it on a ride in the wild, you need to familiarize yourself with it. In this case, you need to know how to handle it properly and also how to shift gears. In short, you need to be comfortable with the bike before you could actually go out and enjoy those thrilling rides.
Platform pedals are the best
When it comes to mountain biking, if you are a beginner, obviously, you will be less confident with a mountain bike and it will make sense if you can start with flat platform pedals. This will allow you get on and off the bike easily in case you realize you can’t control the back. It is also a great way to develop great techniques before you can actually upgrade to clipless pedals.
Always look ahead
When you are riding on any trail, always look ahead. It is important you keep your eyes focused on the road to scan the 10m ahead of you. This will allow you to notice obstacles well ahead of time.
How you handle your brakes as a beginner is paramount. This must be handled properly if you don’t want any problem. When it comes to mountain biking the terrain can influence how you should brake. For example, if you are descending a very steep slope, you need to move backward from the saddle and apply the brakes evenly. This will prevent you from flipping over. If you want to control the speed, that is also pretty much simple. Put slight pressure on your brakes at the same time.
Find a riding group
As with any other new thing you learn today if you can learn mountain biking with a group of like-minded people that would actually come with plenty of benefits. You will not only help encourage one another, but it can also be fun to learn some of the best techniques with people you are comfortable with.
Getting into mountain biking is not actually difficult. If you are passionate about it and have the right equipment, it shouldn’t take you long before you start enjoying those great rides in the mountain, or in the backcountry. Although, there are plenty of things you could use or do in order to improve in the sport, what we have mentioned above will help you get started in a great way.
Updated on January 22, 2021 by Ben