There is nothing quite like taking to the hills and pedaling your way through nature. Riding a bike during sunrise, sunset, or after a long day’s work is soothing to the soul—even though it will get your blood pumping and kick your metabolism into gear. If you’ve never experienced the joy of riding the trails, you need some tips and info on mountain biking for beginners.
And that’s exactly what we have for you. Let’s get started!
Mountain Biking for Beginners: What’s the Big Deal?
Most people understand the importance of exercise, but the truth is, not that many people enjoy it. Some go for a run, work out in the gym, or exercise at home, but far too often, those workout sessions are a chore. And that’s why you should learn about these mountain biking tips for beginners.
Mountain biking offers numerous benefits that other exercises don’t. For instance, when learning about biking for beginner’s tips, one of the first things you will realize is that mountain biking tones your entire body. Yes, the physical act of mountain biking is strenuous, but the benefits in muscle toning are definitely worth it.
When you take to the trails with your mountain bike, you will also connect with nature. The act of communing with nature benefits you in several ways. It will allow you to appreciate the natural world around you. That’s important when you’re stuck in an office or at home all day! Taking in the natural beauty around you as you cycle through the trails helps get rid of all that built-up stress.
When you learn the basic mountain biking skills for beginners and make it a practice in your life, it will give you numerous health benefits. For instance, mountain biking isn’t hard on your joints the way running or jogging is. And mountain biking is also great for your heart as it gets it pumping as you plow through the hills and valleys on your bike.
When you learn the correct way to mountain bike, you won’t make all the beginner’s mistakes like these:
Basic Mountain Biking Skills for Beginners
Now that you understand the benefits of mountain biking, let’s talk about some of the basics so you will understand this beneficial exercise. For starters, there are three types of mountain biking terrain that you will traverse with your bike.
1. Mountain Biking for Beginners: Singletrack
This is the most common type of mountain bike terrain, but each type of track differs just a little. For instance, one singletrack may be just as wide as your shoulders and allow for only one bike at a time to traverse the trail. This type of trail is great when you want to bike on your own, or when your biking partner won’t mind riding in front of or behind you.
But some singletracks are wider and accommodate two bikes riding alongside each other. Most singletrack trails are one-way and travel along the most eye-popping terrain the site has to offer.
2. Mountain Biking for Beginners: Doubletrack
If you’re in the mood to bike with your partner along calmer, gentler terrain, a doubletrack might be the right terrain for you. These tracks are wide enough for two bikes to ride side-by-side, and they are typically made by the tire tracks of trucks that traveled along logging roads that have been abandoned, power-line roads, or fire roads. These tracks are less technical and have a gentler grade than singletracks.
3. Mountain Biking for Beginners: Mountain Bike Terrain Parks
If you’re looking for a wild ride, a mountain bike terrain park might be your ticket to happiness. These unique parks are all different and offer features such as jump-and-pump tracks and trails that are located underneath overpasses in urban areas, and trails accessible by lifts at ski resorts. You’ll find jumps of all sizes, banked corners, elevated bridges, downhill switchbacks, and halfpipes on these trails.
What’s Your Style?
Every mountain biker has a certain style, and bike manufacturers take this into account when they design new bikes. Before we talk about the right mountain biking gear for you, you first need to identify which style you prefer.
There are five styles that most mountain bikers fall into.
1. Trail Biking
If you want to pursue mountain biking for the social and fun aspect, trail biking might be the right style for you. People who do trail biking typically meet up with friends at a trailhead and ride the climbs and descents while talking and having fun. Heck, they may even listen to music along the path.
2. Cross Country Biking
Cross-country bikers love to climb hills. And if you decide this is the style for you, expect to traverse trails that range from just a couple of miles to those that run 25 miles or more. Many cross-country bikers compete and are masters at their local trails.
3. All-Mountain or Enduro Biking
For those who love a race, all-mountain biking is the thrill you may be looking for. The term endure refers to a type of race where competitors are timed on their downhill descents but not the uphill climbs. The winner has the fastest time on downhills. Even though this style is named after a competitive race, not all the people who love this style compete.
When riding all-mountain, you will climb high hills and hang onto the handlebars during the steep, heart-pounding descents. You’ll also have to navigate many technical features—both those that occur in nature and those installed by man.
4. Downhill or Park Biking
If you want to experience downhill mountain biking for beginners, this is the right choice for you. It is typically done at ski resorts that have closed during the warmer months. The ski lifts will take you to the top of the mountain, and then leave you there to navigate your way down. While you won’t pedal much because you’ll be traveling downhill, you will use every muscle in your body to jump, go over wooden ladders, travel across rock gardens, and swing around berms. The terrain is fast-acting and will keep you on your toes. Your adrenaline will be pumping the entire ride!
5. Fat Biking
If you’ve ever been to a beach and seen the bikes with the huge tires, you’ve seen fat biking. These bikes have tires that are as wide as 3.7 inches or more. Because of the size of the tires, these bikes can roll through sand and even snow. While these bikes used to be used for those terrains, today’s mountain bikers use them on every kind of trail. Fat biking is a great way to experience mountain biking for beginners if you want to get your feet wet in this exciting sport.
Mountain Biking Gear for Beginners
You understand the benefits of mountain biking and may have even decided on the style of riding you want to pursue. Now it’s time to talk about mountain biking gear for beginners. We’ll start with the bikes because let’s face it, you can’t mountain bike without one!
When choosing a mountain bike, you need to look at two things: suspension and wheels. Here’s what you need to know.
3 Types of Mountain Bike Suspension
The suspension on a mountain bike is what helps to absorb all of those jolts and shocks you’ll feel when careening down a hill, jumping, or crashing through a berm. Here are the three suspension choices you’ll have.
1. Rigid Suspension
A mountain bike with rigid suspension isn’t going to have that give-and-take you need to roll over a wooden bridge or land after a jump. But these bikes do have their place when it comes to mountain biking for beginners. For instance, if you decide you want to pursue fat biking, your bike’s suspension will be rigid. The good news is that many fat bikers say the bigger tires absorb some of the shocks that the rigid suspension can’t.
2. Hardtail Suspension
People who want a versatile bike with low maintenance and a lower price tag often choose hardtail suspension bikes. These bikes have suspension on the front end of the bike which helps absorb the shock there, but no suspension on the back end. In addition, most hardtail suspension bikes can lock out the front end suspension when riders want a rigid suspension bike.
Because hardtails transfer power between the rear tire and the pedal, cross-country bikers like them. And all-mountain bikers enjoy them because of the easier maintenance and smaller price tag. But downhill riders can’t use them because their strenuous trails demand front end and back-end suspension.
For those downhill riders, a full suspension bike is typically the first choice because it offers suspension on the front end and back end, which helps absorb all the shocks of the rough rides. Full suspension bikes also allow for more traction—something every downhill rider needs. But these types of bikes aren’t only for downhillers.
Most full suspension bikes allow the user to lock-out the rear suspension. That’s because when it’s set in full-suspension mode, the bikes tend to lose some energy transfer when riding up hills due to the tendency to “bob.”
Keep in mind that full suspension bikes typically have a lot of travel, which is the amount of movement that occurs in the suspension—and it can be up to 8 inches in the front and rear. That’s why these types of bikes aren’t the best choice for all-mountain or cross-country riding.
Choose the Right Wheel Size
The size of your wheels can have a huge impact on the quality of your ride. You’ll have four wheel sizes to choose from.
- 24-inch: If you’re looking for a kid’s mountain bike, it will come equipped with a 24-inch wheel.
- 26-inch: For many years, this was the standard in mountain bike wheel sizes. It is responsive and allows for easy maneuverability.
- 27.5-Inch: You will have this option when you buy a hardtail or full-suspension bike. It makes it easier to roll over terrain than the 26-inch wheel and is easier to maneuver than the 29-inch wheel.
- 29-inch: These wheels are also made for hardtail and full-suspension bikes and offer a superior grip. They also make sit easier to handle touch terrain than the 26-inch wheel, and if you bike over obstacles, this wheel makes the job easier. Cross-country bikers tend to gravitate toward this size wheel.
Match Your Pedals to Your Shoes
When learning mountain biking for beginners, it’s important to pay attention to your pedals and shoes. You’ll have two options.
Flat platform pedals and shoes
These types of pedal and shoes are best for beginner mountain bikers. That’s because you can get on and off the bike without having to unclip your shoe from the pedal—which can be a lifesaver if you find yourself in a dicey situation. It’s a great idea to buy a platform petal shoe that has a tacky sole. This allows them to sit deeper on the petal, but won’t stick if you need to dismount quickly.
Clipless pedals and shoes
Don’t let the name fool you: clipless pedals clip onto your shoes to allow for control and power transfer on those tricky rides. But it’s important to master the art of unclipping your shoes from the pedals before you begin a hair-raising descent. Practice on a flat surface, and don’t venture onto a steep trail until you’re expert at unclipping your shoes.
Mountain Biking for Beginners: Are You Ready to Roll?
If you’re looking for adventure and an exciting way to keep in shape, you can’t go wrong with mountain biking. And mountain biking for beginners isn’t a hard skill to learn—but it does take practice and a commitment to learning the skill and improving on it as you continue to ride the trails.
What about you? Do you mountain bike? Please leave any tips and tricks in the comments below so others can benefit from your expertise!