By Taylor A Ritz
Not only is mountain biking a fun activity that promotes exercise, but it’s off-road nature also lends itself to finding a deeper connection with nature among the wilderness areas where mountain biking trails are found.
If you’re interested in mountain biking, you’re first going to need to research and purchase gear.
Essentials For Mountain Biking
Don’t let many sites and sources trick you into thinking you need a ton of fancy gear to go mountain biking. There are really only 2 mountain biking essentials: a bike and a helmet.
Editor's note: We think our Echelon Ride Pouch in Ballistic Black should the the third item on the list! It's the perfect mini-wallet for mountain biking. It's a slim, weatherproof pocket organizer that will keep your stuff safe, handy and dry in any kind of riding conditions.
Choosing a Mountain Bike
Mountain bikes come in a variety of sizes, suspensions, and fits. The best way to get properly fitted for a bike is to visit a local bike shop or a retailer like REI. Experts at these stores will help you make sure you get the perfect bike to suit your needs.
Mountain Bike Helmets
Helmets suited to mountain biking usually offer more coverage and protection than your average bicycle helmet. Look for a comfortable helmet that provides ventilation and protection of the lower back of the head. If you plan to do a lot of downhill riding, consider a helmet that gives face coverage as well.
What To Wear Mountain Biking
Now that you’ve got a bike and helmet, what are you going to wear? This category is another one where you can where what you have or buy a bunch of fancy gear. As long as you’re wearing comfortable, breathable clothes, you can’t really go wrong. If you want to emulate the serious mountain bikers, here are a few suggestions:
Gloves aren’t just for looking cool. They can increase your grip on the handlebars as well as alleviate wrist and hand stress. Gloves can also keep your hands warm on those extended downhill rides. Thirdly, gloves provide protection for your hands when you inevitably take a tumble from your bike.
Shorts come in a wide variety of styles and fits, but the most effective shorts have a padded chamois that helps reduce saddle fatigue or sores (aka pain in your butt.) Our experience tells us that this is an area where you don't want to cheap out. If you identify as a female, we love the bibs that Machines For Freedom has designed.
Jerseys also come in a wide variety of styles and fits. The best options are quick-drying and moisture-wicking. If you don’t plan to carry a backpack, many jerseys have pockets along the small of the back. This is important because you always need space to bring snacks!
What shoes you wear mountain biking depends on your pedals. Beginners typically use platform pedals that you can use with almost any athletic shoes. For best results, choose shoes with hard toes and decent grip. A stiffer sole will also help transfer more of your downward energy into the pedals when you climb.
Opt Into Mountain Biking
Don’t let the fear of the unknown that comes with a new hobby keep you from pursuing a unique outdoor experience. Even if you stick with flat, rolling dirt paths through the woods, you’re still mountain biking. Don’t be afraid to work your way up to more technical rides at your own pace, and don’t worry if you take a few spills; even the experts fall.