What To Buy?
- Helmet – an absolute must for mountain bike beginners – probably not a single mountain bike rider hasn’t been reminded of how this piece of gear SAVES LIVES. Ensure a good fit – when you bouncing down a trail you don’t want it hung over your eyes!
- Gloves – for beginner mountain biking, gloves are an important in terms of comfort, sweat control, warmth, protection from passing thorn bushes AND comfort and control on the bars – these are essential. I like half finger versions, many prefer full-fingered. Ensure they fit well, allow you the movement for accurate braking and gear selection and are nicely padded at the palm.
- Wind and Weather Proofing – unlike many sports the pace and effort levels can vary greatly on a ride. One minute you can be slogging a real seat at a slow pace up a steep incline (read nice and warm), the next you can be flying flat out down a nice wide forest track without turning a pedal (read massive wind chill). So your tops need to be of a good quality – good sweat wicking and fast drying material. A small, packable windproof is also recommended for late evening or out of summer rides (even in summer often).
- The Bike – how to advise on this one? How long is a piece of string? I’d recommend a good ‘all-rounder’ unless you’ve decided on a certain kind of riding / racing (see above). If you have big bucks go for a mid-range full-suspension. Otherwise, whilst learning, I’d suggest going for a good quality $600+ front suspension on a hard-tail. I would HIGHLY recommend buying through your local bike store – they’ll be a friend and a source for help for your mountain biking life – advising on bike set-up ( a science in itself), routes to take, equipment and clothing choices.
- Hydration – mountain biking for beginners has many challenges and up there is good hydration and for me there is no alternative to the hydration back pack (e.g. CamelBak) all you need to decide is the size of hydration bladder (I would recommend 2 litres minimum) and how much backpack space you’ll need based on your ride duration and ‘weather’ contingency you need to plan.
Here’s a beginner mountain biking tip…..
At this point you should just get out and PLAY your fitness and skills will develop quickly, but until you get out and ride and EXPERIENCE the feel of the rise, bike and trail, most of the advice on skills will never make sense.