How to Start Mountain Biking

How to Start Mountain Biking

Like any sport, the first step in beginning mountain biking is finding an interest that propels you to want to learn more. Knowing where to find support and how to easily feel comfortable getting acclimated to taking your first steps may seem challenging. But also like any sport, we’ve all been there and are dedicated to helping others discover more and dive as deep as they would like into this journey.  

Choosing Your First Mountain Bike

You do not need a top of the line bike to get started mountain biking, but you should purchase a bike you can grow with. Don’t be cheap and regret what you purchased. We can provide some perspectives to consider in determining what is best for you. It can be pretty overwhelming at first, but if you break it down it’s really not as daunting as it seems. We break it down into four main things that you need to consider when purchasing a mountain bike, and these are as follows:

  • Budget
  • The bike size
  • What your hopes and dreams will be with this bike
  • Type of bike and how it looks to you

While there are endless articles and videos online, the best place to start is your local bike shop - especially if you are a beginner. There you can start a relationship and talk directly with experts that can guide you based on your size, budget and personal tastes. And best of all, you can actually test the bike out to see how you feel on it. Seriously, of all of the potential purchases to consider when getting started out, this is the one you should absolutely not try to make without testing in person. 

To take things a step further, some shops offer rentals which can be the perfect way to fully try out a mountain bike in a real world experience before making a commitment. At All Mountain Cyclery, renters can even apply their first rental fee towards the purchase of a bike*. 

(*Only the first rental is applied to the purchase of a bike. We currently do not offer a rent to own program. See an associate for details)

Choosing your first mountain bike is supposed to be a fun and exciting experience, so try not to stress yourself out too much about it and don’t get fixated on the ‘ol dollar signs, get what’s best for you. 

What Kind Of Gear Do You Need?

It can be tempting to invest in a bunch of new gear right out of the gate when starting mountain biking. It’s not necessary, and as long as you have the basics then you are going to be absolutely fine. Don’t get overwhelmed but do get the right stuff. It will be tempting to find the lowest price piece but you have to focus on what fits you best and what overall best for you. In mountain biking, if you buy junk, you’ll have a junk experience. Having said that, there are a few pieces that you are definitely going to need in order to stay safe, the most important being a helmet of course.As a quick idea of the gear that you will absolutely need, or should at least strongly consider, as a beginner, here’s a short list:

  • Helmet
  • Bike shoes/ flat pedals (no clips)
  • Gloves
  • Padded shorts
  • Knee guards

As we’ve said, buying an entirely new wardrobe isn’t going to be necessary, but these things are. Not only will they keep you safe, but they will also keep you comfortable.

Safety Tips When Mountain Biking

Wear Your Helmet

We have just talked about making sure that you are purchasing a helmet to keep you safe when you are mountain biking. Like wearing your seat belt, wearing a helmet will become second nature. Plus, you’ll look the part with a sweet color matching helmet!  You never know if you’re going to need it. 

Choose A Beginner Trail

There are different levels of trails that you can ride depending on your level of experience. Green,blue, and black. Just like your ski runs. When you are starting out, you must choose a beginner, green, trail to avoid taking on anything that is too tough. You need to learn how to handle your bike and the surfaces on easier trails before you can take it up a notch. Get with the local shop about what trails would be best for you and your experience level. Feel free to ask about what are some basic techniques and rules to exercise out on the trail. 

Ride With Someone You Know

It’s okay to be nervous about your first time mountain biking, as long as you are also excited. In order to remain safe, it’s always a good idea to head out with a buddy as opposed to on your own. And while it is a bonus if they are an experienced rider, they don’t have to be. It’s just a good idea to have someone else around when you’re learning the ropes. 

Gain Some Confidence 

If you want to stay safe, you need to be committed in your actions. You need to believe in yourself, and trust your instincts which is why gaining some confidence is going to be a great idea before you head out. This might mean getting used to your bike a little before you head to the trail, or just mentally preparing yourself by researching what to expect while you are on the trail. 

Or…you could rip the bandaid off and just get out there!  Ride within your limits and try not to do something silly.  Remember, you gotta go to work tomorrow. 

Speak To Someone For Advice

Plan a visit and speak to someone who works at the local bike shop, as they likely have some insights that will help you starting out. Some will even have maps and helpful little guides for beginners to give you the necessary advice when choosing and tackling a trial. Don’t be embarrassed to ask, everyone has to start somewhere. 

There’s An App For That!

If you would rather just find the trails on your own without asking people for assistance, then there are quite a few apps that can guide and inform you. One of the best apps is TrailForks which is amazing for finding beginner friendly trails. There is a 7 day free trial that you can use as you are just starting out. 

Getting Ready For Your First Ride

Now that you have all of the equipment that you need, and you have found the trial that you want to start with, you need to get ready for your first ride. Preparation is key to success, so you don’t want to skip out anything important. Remember, there is no such thing as being over prepared, so if you want to check, double check and triple check, you do that.

Before you head out, make sure that you know what your riding plan is. Make sure you know where you are going, what to expect out there, and let someone know where you are going if you’re heading out on your own. There are probably going to be a lot of people around, but it’s better to be safe.

Next, you want to ensure that you are checking the tire pressure. The ideal pressure is going to depend on a mixture of things such as rider weight, preference, tire size and so much more, but this will come with experience. It’s a good idea to start every ride by pumping up your tires to your desired pressure, ensuring the smoothest possible ride.

Check that you have got all of your essentials such as a water bottle to ensure that you remain hydrated, a tire plug kit, pump, a multi-tool and anything else that you can think of. 

Well, there you have it! Hopefully now after that massive information dump up there, you have a little more confidence in yourself, and know what you should be looking for when it comes to all things mountain biking. It’s nothing else, maybe it inspired you to look into mountain biking a little more. We want people to experience the joy we experience every time the bike gets dirty.  If you do decide to get out on the trail, ensure that you’re staying safe and having fun!