Even as beginner mountain bikers, there’s no need to go out there and show yourself up like one. Maybe you’ve decided that mountain biking is your new passion. Maybe you’re just interested in doing some riding that isn’t boring as road biking. Whatever your reason or motivation may be, you don’t have to embarrass yourself by doing things that more experienced riders think are daft. Because we have got your back!
Let’s admit it, we’ve all been there. Even I had to start somewhere, and at one time even I didn’t know how to ride a bike let alone look like a pro while riding it. So, most of the advice in this article is given lightly and is borne as much out of my own meandering experience over the years.
Some people such as myself are slow learners. That’s why I wish someone could have pointed out some of the tips below before I made a fool out of myself on multiple occasions.
And even if you’re an experienced rider now, perhaps some of this will remind you what it was like to be when you were starting out. Either way, take it easy on the beginners. They want to know how to ride just as well as you. Ready to get to know the beginner mountain biking tips that are stopping you from looking like a pro? Get reading!
Beginner Mountain Bike Tips
1 – Not Using The Front Brakes
You definitely should. It’s actually the more important of the 2 brakes you have on your bike. Now, yes, you can in the wrong situation flip yourself over the handlebars if you full on use it at the wrong time or go full strength. But it also helps you keep control of your bike and drastically shorten braking distance.
Learn to use it before you need it. Did you know, for example, that your front brake accounts for up to 90% of your downhill stopping power? The trick is to put your bottom to the rear of the bike when you do it. This shifts your weight to the rear wheel.
2 – Using The Wrong Bike
It happens. You walk into the bike shop with a back pocket full of cash, and you want the best bike you can afford. Of course, you do. We all do. But you need to buy the right bike for what it is you’re doing, which is of course mountain bikes!
Unless you intend to do only Downhill Mountain biking, then don’t buy a full-suspension downhill bike. They’re heavy and not designed to be pedaled up hills. You will also look like a moron doing a cross-country trail that goes mostly along, as opposed to down. A fully rigid bike might be a better option. They are much better on technical terrain.
3 – You Become A Gear Junkie
I mean, yeah, sure go get yourself some decent gear if you can, but don’t go buying full body armor and all the jazz if you’re just starting out. Have the right mountain bike gear but don’t go overboard.
Firstly there’s no point, and secondly, there’s nothing more disheartening than suddenly realizing you didn’t actually need those $400 knee guards. Guess who learned the lesson the hard way?
4 – You Are Too Tensed
If you find yourself suffering from stiff and neck shoulders and your hands feel sore and tight, just relax. Ease up on that old handlebar death grip you got going on there. You are holding way too much tension there.
Holding onto your bike is important when riding for obvious reasons, but suffering from these complaints is a really common occurrence from both beginner and experienced riders.
Stability and control of your bike should be coming from your core, while your arms, hands, neck, and shoulders should all be nice and relaxed and chilling. Try it and see if it makes a difference for you. Just go ahead and ease up there.
5 – You’re Bouncing A Lot!
Clint Eastwood looked good riding a horse. So did John Wayne. All that bouncing up and down over the great plains of America was pretty cool. It doesn’t look so good on a mountain bike though.
If your lower body feels like it just doesn’t want to quit when you’re riding, then the chances are your Cadence level is too high. Switch up a gear or so there. This also happens when you don’t have the right body position while riding. Get your bike to fit you properly to help avoid this inconvenience.
Your legs shouldn’t be spinning around like you’re in a comedy sitcom. You’re looking for your feet to go around anywhere between 75-100 times a minute, generally speaking.
6 – You Are Lying Too?
So, yeah, no bike is indestructible, and accidents will happen. Just don’t lie about it. That’s something beginners do. Besides, experienced bike mechanics have seen it all a hundred times before in any case.
Tell them the truth. Your bike mechanic will know if the damage you did to your bike is different from the story you just told them. Telling the truth might help them asses the damage better!
7 – You Don’t Know The Basic Terminologies
Did you google when I mentioned Cadence above? Get to know some basics about what people talk about when they talk about mountain biking. In many ways, it’s a bit like being able to talk about sports. If you can throw in a few key phrases about the off-side rule, or terms like ‘offensive linebacker,’ you can bluff your way through any boring sports-related question.
The same can be done with mountain biking. Throw around buzz words like ‘Strava,’ ‘Clipless shoes,’ ‘Gator skins,’ and ‘I actually preferred 26” but 29” isn’t so bad.’ If you do this you will pass muster in most mountain bike circles.
This advice stems from the fact that I firmly believe no one else really knows what they’re talking about either. It’s like a conspiracy, I swear!
8 – Pairing Underwear With Cycling Shorts
Do not pair your cycling shorts with your underwear. You don’t need to wear underwear. You might think that’s disgusting and unhygienic, but your undercarriage will thank you.
Not only will you feel more comfortable, but your boxers won’t curl up and chafe, and that all-important panty line will be nonexistent, and you also won’t look like you’ve wrapped a towel up in your crotch area.
9 – You Wear Cotton Shirts
Look, cotton is great for when you’re not seriously working out on a trail, but it can really hold you back when you are. Cotton clothing will leave you soaked from sweat, and if it suddenly gets cold because the sun disappeared behind a cloud, you could catch a chill, cause an injury or get hypothermia. I shit you not.
That’s why you should wear mtb-appropriate clothing. Proper sports clothing will wick moisture away from your body, and you’ll also not smell so bad, and you’ll be warmer and dry off quicker as well… Some of them even come with zipped pockets. Hurrah.
10 – Over-Accessorising
Lose any mirrors, and any more than 2 water bottles is not a good look. Oh and remove the child carrier you normally have strapped to the back of your bike. Baskets and panniers should also be considered verboten. Other riders will look at you like you have a death wish.
11 – Riding In The High Gears
Don’t panic, it’s not you. Actually, it is. You’re in too high a gear, and you’re going to burn out real fast or just give up. Either option works.
Shift down a gear or two. Cycling is all about efficiency. Cadence is again key, even on the uphill. Each pedal stroke is supposed to be part of a greater rhythmical constant movement. RPM is key. Pedaling too fast and pedaling too slow have been proven to cause injury. FACT.
12 – Sore Knees.
I spent $300 dollars on medical examinations, therapy, and advice about the sore knees I was developing while riding. But nothing helped. Then the local bike shop guy asked me where exactly the pain in my knee was. I showed him. He raised my saddle about an inch and my sore knees disappeared almost instantly. This cost me a coffee.
So here’s the general rule for the saddle position:
- Knees sore at the front: Your saddle is too low.
- Knees sore at the back: Your saddle is too high.
(See a medical pro if this doesn’t work. This is just the advice from my personal experience.)
Related: Bike Saddle Height Calculator
13 – You Ignore Mechanical Issues.
Even the most expensive full-suspension mountain bike solution is still a relatively simple beast in real terms. But when the bad stuff hits the fan you can still get into trouble really quick. At some point in your mountain bike life, something somewhere will probably go really wrong.
That’s why you shouldn’t let any mechanical niggles develop into something major. If you notice something wrong with your brakes you should get them checked out. Failure to do so could see your day ending because your brakes suddenly stop working or jam on so hard you get thrown like a cannonball over the handlebars.
14 – You Get A Numb Sensation
You’ve either just fallen in love, or your bike still isn’t fitted right. It’s time to go see a pro. Tingling and numbness in one part of your body is a really strong marker that something isn’t right. If you really feel it in your genital area then go speak to a pro sooner, rather than later.
In extreme cases, it can lead to erectile dysfunction. That probably sucks! But if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Cycling is all about repetition. Your body will make the same exact movement thousands of times on almost every ride.
If you don’t have all your body parts aligned and comfortable, injury is almost inevitable. And injury sucks because then you can’t ride your bike.
15 – Fun
You’re not having any. But you should be. If you find yourself in constant pain or are uncomfortable nothing will set you back than the feeling like going out riding is a chore and something you’d rather not do. This sucks. I know, I’ve been there.
When I got back into riding after a five-year hiatus I found the going tough. I didn’t take the time to sort out my bike and comfort levels properly before I hit the trail. As a result instead of enjoying the day out, my back hurt, my knees ached and I quit and went home before I should have.
After a few fixes, both me and my bike like each other again, it’s a lot more fun.
16 – You Overdress
Maybe at the car park will think, OMG this dude really knows their stuff. Will they still think it when they go buzzing by you on the way down, and see you riding like you just started out? No, but you will have their utter contempt.
One thing you do want to invest in is the right mountain bike shoes. They do help you in riding comfortably and a comfortable ride is the best ride!
17 – You Don’t Carry Some Spares
You know like a spare inner tube, a bike pump, maybe a multi tool or something. You know something that will help you if get a flat. Or, if you don’t like riding all that much, then don’t carry any of these and enjoy your inevitable walk home.
18 – Struggling With Your Clipless Pedals
Or fall over a lot when trying to get off your bike. Don’t let the first time you use clipless pedals on an actual trail. Gain some experience in the local park or use the sidewalk.
The last thing you want is some random teenager having to drag you off the side of a berm because you’re doing your best-beached whale impression. Your ego and self-esteem will struggle to survive.
Here is a video that explains everything that you need to know about clipless pedals as well as how to use them.
19 – You Over-Exaggerate!
You preface every sentence with “When I was younger, I would have totally nailed that last section.” Would you? Would you really? Is that the truth you’re speaking there or is it wishful thinking?
We could all have done stuff better when we were younger, and let’s just say you were really good back in the day, no one else cares. You’re only as good as your last ride.
20 – STRAVA
Yeah, mountain bikers use it all the time. But it’s really annoying. Yes, it can be useful for working out how far you’ve ridden, and how you’ve improved, but nothing says beginner like showing up at the bottom of every ranking on every trail you ride. Also, whatever happened to just having fun? Here’s the thing you should remember about STRAVA. It doesn’t matter.
There’s no prize for being KOM of the trail beside your house. Don’t bore other riders stupid with tales of how many meters you climbed so far this year. Nobody cares. No one, except you.
So keep it to yourself but this will be hard. Because when you first start using it will seem like you’ve just entered the Olympics or something. Give it 6 months and watch how you just don’t even bother anymore.
21 – You Are A Know-It-All
You pretend to know everything! Who am I kidding, we all do it. I still do…sometimes. And here’s the truth. You’ll get a lot more respect from your buddies and fellow riders if you just admit to not knowing how to do something, or you don’t want to take a descent you’re just not comfortable with. And whatever you do don’t say you can Ollie or bunny hop your bike when you just can’t. It’s a recipe for embarrassment.
22- Are You Shooting?
If you are in for shooting your exciting ride, be smart about it. For instance, don’t use the heading ‘Mountain Bike Fails, LOLZ,’ if your video is essentially a ten-minute amble along a flat country trail where nothing interesting happens at all except you get overtaken by people walking their dogs.
Even better, if at some point someone does fall off their bike and that’s what you want to highlight, here’s a great tip, just post the 10-second shot where the person falls off their bike…Save yourself from all the ‘Wtf is this sh*t,’ comments you will otherwise receive. I’m only thinking of you.
Here’s a great example of how to shoot, edit and then title a mountain bike video.
The first step in your journey to becoming a mountain biking expert is looking like one. Just by following a few do’s and don’ts, you’ll be ridding that rugged terrain in no time. Practicing your bike handling skills will get you to maneuver those trail obstacles easily.
How many things on the list are you guilty of? Let us know in the comment section.
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