Necessary equipment for the casual bike rider consists of a helmet, and a headlight if there’s a chance of biking at night, and that’s about it. Anything else is gravy.
The same can not be said for the mountain biker. To have a safe and enjoyable ride, the mountain biker needs quite a bit of gear.
Even more so than for the casual biker, a helmet is a must. And take care about choosing a helmet. A poor-fitting helmet is of no use, so make sure it fits your head securely.
A good pair of gloves serve two purposes. You’ll get a better grip on the handlebars with your gloves, and of course should you take a spill your hands won’t get torn up.
What to wear? Most people go mountain biking in the summer, so they wear shorts, t-shirts, and tennis shoes. If they’re the hardy sort, they’ll put on sweatshirts and pants for the colder months.
But it’s also a good idea to wear padding on knees and elbows. The thing about mountain biking is that it’s not a question of if you’ll fall, but when. So it’s only common sense to wear padding and prevent a serious injury. If you’re a dedicated rider you don’t want to have to spend any time off the bike recuperating from a broken arm when with a little common sense you could avoid the problem.
Don’t forget the shoes! These days shoes are designed especially for every sport under the sun, and mountain biking is no different. As a mountain biker you want to make sure your feet stay on the pedals, and you want shoes that are comfortable to well as well.
A new trend in mountain biking is riding at night. Well, if you’re going to ride at night you’ve got to have a light! If you’re going for long distances you’ll want to have a hydropack of some kind, so that you can drink liquids on the go.
It’s possible to scour the web for your clothes and accessories, but to be sure of a good fit, it’s always best to give as much business as possible to your local bike store.
You’ve got the gear, now you need the bike.
And these are not your granddaddy’s bikes. Technology has improved the design of bicycles in every way, and quality bikes are offered at affordable prices – but you’ve still got to pick the right one for you.
The best thing to do when choosing a bike is talk to owners of various types of bikes – maybe even borrow a ride on them, so you can compare the differences in saddle feel, shock absorbers, handling, and most importantly, weight. Don’t just talk to one person, get a good cross-section of opinions.
If you’re going to be a competitive mountain biker – taking parts in races – you’ll need a more expensive kind of bike, of course, one with a titanium frame and all the bells and whistles. If you’re just going to be going out to the trails on the weekends in your version of kicking back and relaxing, you won’t need that much bang for your buck
There are two main types of mountain bikes: the Hardtail, which has a frame with no rear suspension and the Softtail, which has a frame with a small amount of rear suspension. The most comfortable bike is perhaps one with full or “dual” suspension – a front suspension fork and a rear shock.
The type of bike you get also depends on the kind of riding you’ll want to do: cross-country, enduro, free ride, downhill, etc. Again, you’ll want to talk to fellow riders to see which is the best kind of bike for the particular kind of riding you want to do.