So you’ve got yourself a shiny new mountain bike. It’s time to hit the trails, right?
Hold your horses there, partner! Here are 8 must have mountain bike accessories for beginners. You’ll want to review this list if you’re keen on to getting into the sport properly, look, feel and ride like a real mountain biker, and enjoy yourself more. They’re ranked in order from most important to least (get the ones at the top of the list first).
Total expenditure (for entry-level equipment): $200. If you buy them all at once, see if the shop will cut you a bit of a deal. When you’re ready to practice your skills, check out these great reources:
So without further ado, we present to you:
MOUNTAIN BIKING GEAR FOR BEGINNERS
1. A helmet: Seems pretty obvious, but it’s astounding how many people actually ride trails without a helmet on, which is like begging for a brain injury. Don’t ride without a helmet.
You can get a pretty decent helmet for as little as $50 (or up to $300 if you want to splurge). If you’re in North America, try Mountain Equipment Co-op (Canada) or REI (USA), or if you’re in Europe, Decathlon – they have great prices and selection. When researching helmets, you may come across the abbreviation MIPS which stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection, it’s the newest design for mountain biking helmets that offer greater protection for rotational impact injuries which are common with biking.
The key is to get something that fits snugly and won’t wobble around while you’re riding (or crashing). If you can’t make your helmet snug then it won’t protect your head. Also try and get something that is well-ventilated so you don’t have rivers of sweat pouring into your eyes.
COST: $50 – $200
2. Hydration system: water bottles that affix to a water bottle cage on your frame are the cheapest option, but they generally don’t carry enough water for a long-distance ride. If you’re planning on doing any rides that are more than 2 hours long you should invest in a hydration pack (i.e. a small pack that goes on your back and has a water bladder and hose). We love Osprey Packs – they’re some of the best built and feature-rich packs on the market.
COST (water bottle and cage): $20
3. Handheld Pump and Tube: Get a pump that can switch between Presta and Schrader valves, and is small enough to fit in a hydration pack but big enough to not require 1500 pumps to fill up a tube. Carry at least one spare tube with you on every ride (make sure you get the right size tube!). A pump and tire can save you a long walk back to the trailhead.
COST: $25 – $50
4. Protective Glasses: Get some glasses with clear lenses (as opposed to sunglasses, which are not recommended if you’re riding in the forest). They’ll potentially save you from being blinded by a stick in the eye. A basic model will set you back $20, or if you want to splurge, get some with removable lenses in various colours for different lighting conditions.
COST: $20 – $200
5. Multi-Tool: get a basic multi-tool with a few different sizes of Allen wrenches along with flathead and Philips screwdrivers. If you don’t have the budget for a separate multi-tool and chain breaker, get a multi-tool with a built-in chain breaker – it could save you a long walk back to the trailhead.
6. Riding Gloves: If you’ve ever wiped without gloves and landed on your hands, you’ll probably never ride again without gloves. Get the full-fingered kind – you’re not a bike courier. And get some with a bit of palm padding to cut down on hand fatigue.
7. Riding Shorts: a decent pair of riding shorts, with padding inside, will keep you from getting saddle sore and/or getting rashes in places where you don’t want rashes.
8. Riding Buddy: Ok, technically not an accessory, but a good riding buddy or two makes every ride that much better.
COST: a few beers every now and then
TOTAL COST: roughly $200
You probably noticed that prices range for all mountain bike gear and it’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars on the best, top-quality, brand name mountain bike gear. If you’re just starting out, don’t feel you need to buy top of the line gear, especially if you’re unsure if you even like mountain biking! Try to borrow gear and a bike before going all in (I don’t recommend borrowing a helmet though). Most importantly, make sure you have the protective equipment that fits you well (helmet, durable clothing) and the basic tools for trailside maintenance (multi-tool, hand pump and spare tube).