You’ve decided to take the step towards making mountain biking a more regular hobby, and you’ve got a bike that’s ready to hit new trails and take you on adventures. As a beginner, you can feel a bit in the dark when it comes to knowing the best tips and tricks to make your ride a better experience, especially if you don’t know any other experienced mountain bikers.
We’ve rounded up some of the best tips for beginners in mountain biking. D3O® is the impact protection of choice for world-class mountain biking champions, including downhill rider Tahnée Seagrave and enduro rider Rémy Absalon.
You’ll be clearing those once difficult sections of single track and looking for bigger challenges in no time.
No one wants to look like they’re ‘all the gear and no idea’, but it’s important to get the correct mountain bike protective gear before you get started. Don’t let your new-found hobby be put on hold with a broken bone or damaged ligament that could have been avoided with some basic protection.
Make sure you’re equipped with a helmet, knee guards and gloves as a minimum. You can always upgrade your gear later down the line to add elbow guards, shoulder protection, chest and back protection, and a full face helmet.
You can find trusted D3O® impact protection in some of the world’s leading mountain biking brands. D3O materials provide unrivaled impact protection, which is soft and pliable while worn, and stiffening on impact to disperse its force. It’s a great choice for mountain bikers who want to be protected without feeling restricted or weighed down. With options including flexible and breathable protection inserts, you can find something to suit your riding preferences.
D3O® mountain bike limb protection includes LP1 and Ghost™ limb protectors. These are both available in compact sizes too. You can find Ghost™ armor in the Endura MT500 Knee Pad, or look for LP1 protection in the Pearl Izumi Elevate Knee Guard. For elbow protection, try Ghost™ Armor in the SixSixOne Recon Elbow and LP1 in the matching Pearl Izumi Elevate Elbow Guard.
The way you use and position your body weight is critical while out mountain biking. Simply knowing when to stand and when to sit can make your ride much easier and more enjoyable. Being efficient with your movements and weight also means you’re less likely to get tired, so you can spend as long as you want hitting the trails.
It can take a bit of time to get used to knowing how and when to shift your weight on the bike. Remember to keep your body loose - don’t tighten up on the handlebars or lock your knees and elbows. Being ‘springy’ will help you move with the bike and allows your weight to follow the bike’s movement. Having a looser body also means you’re less likely to tense up and fall off, so it really is a win-win.
Try to ride in the correct position from the get-go. A great tip for remembering your riding position is to have ‘push up arms’ (elbows wide and bent, but not locked) and ‘cowboy legs’ (knees wide). You can check yourself as you’re riding and correct as needed. Eventually it’ll become second nature to ride correctly.
Be sure to wear your mountain bike knee pads and mountain bike elbow pads even on light spin rides. Not only will this keep you protected, you’ll also be able to get used to the feel of the bike while wearing the protection.
For beginners, being told to pick up and maintain speed on the trails can seem a bit daunting - after all, no one wants to be in a crash! However, your bike is designed to roll forwards, and having speed in your wheels helps continue the movement, making it easier to ride and meaning you’re actually less likely to lose your balance and fall.In short, speed can be your friend!
You don’t need to be tearing downhill at World Cup speeds, but a steady speed means you can navigate the trails and get around or over obstacles much more easily. It’ll help build your riding skills and confidence quicker too so you can take on more challenging trails and test yourself.
Being prepared with the correct D3O® impact protection and safety gear is one part of being ready to hit the trails. It’s also recommended to take some basic supplies with you, especially if you’re riding on more remote trails. Bring food, water, basic first aid, and some bike tools including a repair kit. You can also pack sunscreen, insulating or waterproof layers depending on the weather. Have your phone fully charged and securely stored in a bag if possible - you don’t want it to fly out of your pocket on a muddy trail. Unless of course, you’re using a D3O® protected phone case and screen protector.
You might be familiar with raising your seat or handlebars to better fit your body while riding, but when it comes to mountain biking this set up becomes more important. You’re likely to be riding for several hours, over difficult terrain, and up and down hills. Being comfortable on your bike quickly becomes a necessity!
If you’re unsure of how to get the right set up, a local bike shop should be able to help. They can advise on your suspension sag and rebound to reduce trail chatter, how to get the correct arm and foot positioning, and help make any adjustments.
Learn what the correct tire pressure is too, and how to fix a flat tire and replace an inner tube. You may consider switching to tubeless tires to help avoid flats and have the ability to run lower tire pressures. Tire pressure will adjust based on ground terrain, rider weight and weather conditions, so experiment to find what suits you.
Be sure to bring your mountain bike shoes, especially if you’re using clipless shoes. This will be better for fitting the pedals correctly. Why not opt for a pair of D3O® reinforced shoes from Ride Concepts for the safest protection for your feet, or Adidas Five Ten Trail Cross?
The best way for beginners to find their feet in the world of mountain biking is to find other riders. There are often local clubs or even trail specific groups who meet up to ride together. You’ll benefit from seeing experienced riders navigating obstacles and pick up plenty of advice straight from the source.
Don’t worry too much about being a beginner - everyone starts somewhere and riding with other experienced riders can help you learn faster.
Track standing is a great skill to have and well worth mastering early on. Track standing is the ability to hold a bike stationary without having to put a foot down to steady yourself. This is great for mountain biking as it allows you to pause for a second before tackling a drop or downhill, or assess how to work around some tricky obstacles.
You need steady balance and patience to master the track stand but it’s very useful to learn and easy enough to practice. Be sure to wear your mountain bike gloves and shoes when practicing so you get a feel for balance. Gloves can also help with your grip, keeping you steady and in place. The Fox Racing Defend D3O gloves are a great all-season choice for riders.
When you’re out on the trail for hours, it’s important to fuel your body with enough food and water to stay properly energized and hydrated. This is especially important when you’re starting off as your body won’t be as adjusted to the rigors of mountain biking and you’ll be building your stamina.
Pack energy-rich foods like protein bars or energy gels that you can easily eat out on the trail. Consume plenty of water too - at least one bottle per hour is recommended. You can also pack a sports drink for extra electrolytes and calories. The last thing you want is to be hungry and dehydrated and still have to ride back to civilization, so go prepared.