Mountain biking is seriously good fun. It gets you out in the open air, is a great workout and gives you a suitable kick of adrenaline while you are doing it. Once you are bitten by the mountain bike bug, it can get to be an obsession. Over time, you will start to geek out on the bikes, clothing, associated equipment and riding techniques. But more about all that later, you have just made the first step by finding this page. Here is my guide on how to get in to mountain biking, or at least what equipment you need as a novice.
My Guide on How to Get in to Mountain Biking
I’m not going to tell you how much to spend, because you can spend a really silly amount of money on this sport. If you are lucky enough to be able to buy the best of everything, go for it! But for the rest of us, it takes time to build up all your equipment. Also, just because it is expensive, it doesn’t mean that it is the best or even the right thing for you.
This guide is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you need, but it will give you enough info to get you going. I am going to give you lots of information, so you are as prepared as you can be.
Buying a Bike
I am going to assume that you have been mountain biking a few times before, either on a friend’s bike or one you have hired. Now it is time to buy your first mountain bike, and choosing one is going to be a very difficult. Here are some guidelines that will hopefully help you.
Decide on a price
Proper mountain bikes are not especially cheap, but you need a starting point to make your decision. You will need to look at options and decide whether to buy new or second hand. Be careful of second hand bikes though, as they may have been well-used and/or not looked after. When viewing a second hand bike, try to take someone in the know with you. They will know how to check for wear and tear, such as wheel and frame bearings, worn bushings and suspension components.
Buying new is a safer bet, however the specification may not be as high as the second hand equivalent. The advantage of a new bike is that it will have never been ridden and it will have a warranty. This means that if there is a problem, it will be fixed or replaced by the seller.
What type of riding are you going to do?
If you are smashing the downhill trails in the alps, you are going to need a suitable bike that will take the punishment. But if you are riding local trail centers, you will need something that isn’t too heavy and has enough suspension travel to soak up the bumps. You may opt for a full suspension bike or a hard-tail (a bike with only front suspension) may suit your needs more.
You may find yourself asking “should I buy a full suspension bike that is the same price as the hard tail?”. This is all down to the price and the type of riding you are going to do. For trail center riding, unless you are going to do big jumps, I would go for the hard-tail option for your first bike. A good hard tail is better than a bad full suspension bike for the same money.
How much money to spend?
You know when I said “I’m not going to tell you how much money to spend”, well in this case I’m going to…sort of. If you are buying a brand new bike, you really need to spend above £500 to get anything worth having. Anything below £500 is going to have poor components and won’t last. If you can spend closer to £1000, you are going to have a much better experience. The components and build quality will be much better and you won’t need to spend as much money on upgrades as you get improve. This will increase the time you will want to use it for, and ultimately it will save you money (At least that is what you will be able to tell your partner).
Other things to consider
You will need to budget for bike accessories, such as a different choice of tyre, better pedals or handle bar grips. Buying a bike that is a bit above your technical ability is always a good idea too if you can afford it. This is because you will improve quite quickly and you don’t want to ‘outgrow’ your bike too soon.
Don’t be put off buying a bike online that you have to build yourself. Bikes are partly assembled, you just have to attach a few parts. This is actually really good fun to do and teaches you a bit on how to maintain your bike yourself. But the Cube Analog is very easy to put together.
What to wear
I have written a couple of guides on how to choose mountain bike clothing. Feel free to have a look, but I think at this stage of you mountain bike career, you probably want something cheap or good value for money.
It is really tempting to chuck on an old cotton T-shirt or some old shorts that you used to wear on holiday. That is all fine, but clothing that has been specifically made for mountain biking, really makes a difference to your day. It fits in all the right places allowing proper movement on the bike. The materials’ wick moisture away from your skin, meaning you will be comfortable.
There are always good deals to be had when it comes to mountain bike clothing, especially online.
You need to wear a helmet! If you don’t you are opening yourself up to life changing injuries. Many trail centres won’t let you ride without one either. As a beginner mountain biker, you will probably want an open face trail or enduro helmet. But, the choice is up to you. Don’t just buy a helmet because it is cheap, this is your head we are talking about. Therefore, go for the helmet that is at the top end of your budget.
Elbow pads are a great way of giving you some confidence when you ride technical trails. Not everyone wears them, but I like the extra protection they give.
Knee pads have save my knees from serious damage in the past. I think they are a must for any rider, especially beginners. You can buy different types that give you different levels of coverage.
This is a lot of stuff and it isn’t cheap. There are always online sales you can take advantage of, but I suggest you buy it all in stages, unless you are minted!
If you have any questions, please put them in the comments section below. Or if you think I have missed something vitally important out, let me know!