MOUNTAIN BIKING QUESTIONS BEGINNERS ARE ITCHING TO ASK
Nobody wants to look like a novice, whatever you are turning your hand to. But at the same time, everyone has to start from somewhere. The mountain biking community are a friendly and helpful group. No doubt any experienced mountain biker will be more than happy to answer any questions for you, but for those beginners with nowhere to go, I have answered some of the most common questions beginners are dying to ask.
CAN I FIND A GOOD MOUNTAIN BIKE UNDER $500?
Yes, but you need to hunt around. Look at the previous year’s models and try and find a second-hand one that has only been ridden a handful of times. If it looks worn or heavily used when you see it, don’t bother buying it. It will cost you a fortune in spare parts and repairs. Don’t compromise on suspension. If you are hitting rocky trails, you need a full suspension bike.
DO I NEED CLIP-IN PEDALS?
No. In road cycling, clip-ins are essential but for mountain biking, they are totally optional. If you are going to be doing endure or cyclocross mountain biking, you might want to use them, but downhill racers don’t need them. If in doubt, don’t bother. Standard pedals offer more versatility and flexibility.
DO I NEED DISC BRAKES?
They are not essential, but if you are going to be riding in the wet a lot, they will be a big help. Where you live and how much rainfall you typically get will affect your decision. They are generally not essential.
HOW SHOULD I SET UP MY BIKE?
Start with the saddle. Stand next to the bike and adjust the saddle so it is more or less in line with your hip. Try it at this height. If you are experiencing any discomfort on your ride, adjust it accordingly, but this is a good place to start.
Set your brakes to a comfortable riding position. Most riders have them around a 45-degree angle, so start them off there and adjust them accordingly. If you leave your brake levers a tiny bit loose, you should be able to make minor amendments without having to pull out your multitool and mess around with them too much.
Then set your tyre pressure, for the average rider, 45 psi is a good place to start.
The last thing to do is set your suspension. You can get your local bike shop to do this. If you want to do it yourself, your sag (the amount of suspension travel that is absorbed by your bodyweight) should be between 15 and 30%.
WHAT DO I NEED TO PACK FOR A BIKE RIDE?
Depending on where you are riding and for how long. For a quick evening ride after work, a water bottle, puncture repair kit, multitool, spare tube and a handpump should cover you for any potential situation. If you are off out on an all-day ride into the backcountry, I always bring an extra master link for my chain, a derailleur hanger, a waterproof jacket, plenty of food and water, a first aid kit, two spare tubes, and some zip ties (you never know when these will come in handy).
Don’t worry about being a newbie on the trails. We all start somewhere. I actually envy you, you have the whole world of mountain biking to dive into and discover. My only wish is that I could discover it all again with the excitement of the first time. See you on the trails!
Do you have any common beginner questions to add? Share your comments below.