Mountain biking is fun and a great way to exercise. However, it is not as easy to begin with as it seems. It is because there is a lot that you need to prepare for since having a mountain bike only does not prepare you for the off-road environment. From your safety to hydration with the on-the-go water bottle, you need to prepare for every aspect of mountain biking as a beginner.
This article covers everything you need to know as a beginner before starting mountain biking.
All the basics about mountain biking you need to know as a beginner
If you are a beginner at mountain biking, you will need to prepare for many things. So, to make the initial setup and packing easy for you, we have divided this guide into 3 main parts. These are about the bike, your accessories, and the information about the tracks. By the end of this guide, you will be prepared for everything you need to go off-road.
Different mountain bike types and specifications
We will start with the bike itself, and when you buy one, you will come across different manufacturers giving different specifications. So, here is everything you need to know before you select your mountain bike.
1. Suspension differences
The first difference in different mountain bikes is the suspension.
- Rigid: Most commonly, you will find rigid mountain bikes, and they don’t have any suspension. Although cheaper and easier to maintain, the comfort is not that great. As a beginner, you would especially want greater comfort so your muscles and joints do not take all the beating from the bumps.
- Hardtail: These bikes have suspension inside the fork of the bike. So, all the impacts on the front wheel are absorbed while the rear wheel has no suspension. With these bikes, you get moderate comfort and moderate maintenance requirements. These also come at mid-tier when it comes to pricing.
- Full Suspension: Full suspension bikes have both front and rear shock absorbers. Hence the impact you feel from the bumps will be minimized, but the price and maintenance requirements will drastically increase. These bikes need more power when climbing uphill since shocks waste some power.
2. Wheel size differences
The different wheel sizes that you can get for a mountain bike include the following:
- 24-inch wheels are good for kids due to their less height. You can go with these if you are short-height and cannot use bigger wheels.
- 26-inch wheels are the most common, supported by most bikes.
- 5-inch wheels offer a mid-tier experience, and they offer more maneuverability along with an easy riding experience on offroad trails.
- 29-inch wheels are the biggest, heaviest, and slowest accelerating, but riding becomes a breeze once you get them going. These also offer better grip and climbing; going downhill is easier.
3. Electric vs. Non-electric
Electric mountain bikes come with a little motor attached to a battery to assist you in the hardest parts of the trail. You can use these for longer tracks or the steepest tracks. However, the cost will also increase along with the weight of your cycle. Non-electric, on the other hand, are basic bikes with no assisting motors.
Essential dress and gear for mountain biking
Next to the bike are the dress, gear, and accessories. Here we will list every essential item under any of these categories.
While picking your dress, make sure to include the following on the list:
- Form-fitting jerseys
- Form-fitting or casual jerseys
- Gloves with padding
· Gear and Accessories
The following items are essential in terms of your biking gear.
- Mountain bike helmet
- Shoes and compatible platform pedals
- A compact backpack to carry everything along
- On-the-go water bottle with a sports cap to sip the drink while riding on the track.
- Bike repair kit essentials
- Extra batteries if you have electronics on the bike
Mountain biking tracks and styles
Before you hit the track, you must know about different tracks and riding styles. So, here is the information about different types of tracks and their riding styles.
1. Single track vs. Double track
The simplest explanation of the differences between these two track types is that you can travel one way on these tracks or two-way. The double tracks also allow 2 bikers to go side by side. Remember that single tracks are technically a little harder to ride on.
The most common style for riding your maintained bike is the trail, which combines easy parts, climbs, and descents. When riding this style, you will get some fun and learning experience, and on top of all that, you will get lots of exercise.
When going downhill mountain biking, wearing complete body protection, including a helmet, knee and elbow armor, padded gloves, etc., is better. It is because there will be lots of bumps, berms, and rocky sections, and you won't get much time to stop and rest due to the constant descent.
Cross-country mountain biking is for people who love riding fast. This riding style has an emphasis on riding fast and climbing uphill. Additionally, the distance on these tracks can vary from a few miles to over 25 and offer you a competitive experience testing your endurance on the track.
5. Fat-tire biking
This style is all about maintaining bikes that have giant tires. These tires usually go up to 5 inches wide and perform amazing control and traction. While these are best on snowy tracks and the sand, you can go on a regular track with these bikes, and you will find great control and comfort from the bike. Due to all these qualities, this style, specifically these bikes, is best for beginners.
Is there anything that you need to worry about?
Biking, in general, is a great exercise for your health since it gives you exposure to the outdoor environment and sunlight and puts your body through some work. Mountain biking takes things to the next level of intensity and makes things much more difficult. So, you may sweat a lot on a hot summer day and easily get dehydrated. That is not good for your health at all.
Hence, carrying at least one on-the-go water bottle while biking is essential. Water is crucial for muscle health, vision, joint health, and brain functions. So, when you prepare for the track, don’t forget to carry your water in excitement. When buying your bottle, ensure to get a boot for it since it helps protect your base in harsh conditions.
Going for maintenance biking without preparing for the basics is a common beginner mistake, often messing up their early experiences. Beginner mountain biking preparation not only includes having the right bike and biking gear, but you must also prepare for your safety and health. Since every bike comes with a slot for your water bottle, you must make your on-the-go water bottle one of the highest priority items for mountain biking.