People from all backgrounds and all ages enjoy the thrilling sport of mountain biking. Just like any other sport though, your level of enjoyment will go up when you learn how to mountain bike the right way. Getting the hang of the basics will give you a solid foundation on which you’ll be able to fine-tune your skills. This knowledge will come in handy whether you plan on biking nearly every day, or only once or twice per year.
Before we get into some of the skills required for mountain biking, let’s talk about safety.
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How to Mountain Bike – Safety
- Wear a Helmet – obvious, but worth mentioning (first!). Wear a proper fitting helmet as a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by close to 70%.
- Stay in Control – stay at a controllable speed. We understand the need for speed, but that’s how accidents happen. Ride within your skill level and stay aware to trail conditions.
- Wear Appropriate Riding Gear – this means a helmet, shorts or pants, mountain biking shoes, gloves, pads, etc.
- Know Your Skill Level – if the terrain becomes too difficult for you to pedal, navigate, or stay in control… walk it. The more you walk, the more familiar you’ll become with the trail, and next time you’ll be riding it instead of walking.
- Know the Trail – study the trail beforehand and ask more experienced riders for tips.
- You Will Crash – like the motorcycle adage goes, “There are those who have dropped their bikes and those who haven’t dropped them… yet”, you can expect to biff it at least once in your mountain biking experience. Don’t sweat it. Learn how to crash and then get back on the bike and hit the trails again!
How To Mountain Bike – Shifting
Shifting is the first skill you need to learn. Mountain bikes are designed to allow you to shift gears without having to take your hands off of the handlebars, which is much safer when riding over rough terrain. The proper shifting technique is to take pressure off the pedals and gently moving the shifter. You should never force the shifter, as that may damage the bike.
How To Mountain Bike – Spinning
The next thing you need to know for how to mountain bike is what’s known as spinning. This will take some practice, but it’s basically a pedaling technique that gives you the most power. The idea is that you use both legs on every stroke; one pushing down, and the other pulling up. The sweet spot for this technique is in the range of 60 to 90 revolutions per minute.
How To Mountain Bike – Climbing
They don’t call it “mountain biking” for nothing, and that means you need to learn how to climb with your bike. There are two main methods to learn for climbing: seated and standing. Each requires different maneuvers, and figuring out when to use either technique is part of the challenge of mountain biking. If you are on loose ground, or terrain that isn’t too steep, then a seated climb is usually preferable. You will get more power on steeper ground if you’re in a standing position.
Getting up is one thing, but making your descent is a vital part of how to mountain bike. The first few times going down will probably be quite thrilling, but just remember to use your brakes judiciously. Also, be sure to look far enough ahead on a regular basis, and not just a few inches in front of the bike.
Because you will be going through wild terrain, you will encounter various obstacles. Learning how to deal with those obstacles is important. The basic technique is to lift up on your front wheel and push a little harder on the pedal. When done right, this technique will lift your front tire off the ground and over the obstacle. Lean forward as soon as the front wheel clears so there will be less weight over the rear tire; thereby allowing it to clear the obstacle more readily.
Mountain biking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors; however, you won’t be an expert the first time you ride. That being said, just learning how to mountain bike is a lot of fun. And once you get the hang of it, you’ll be hooked.
In this article, we have covered tips for how to mountain bike. Do you have any other recommendations beginners and how to mountain bike? Share them in the comments below so that other readers can benefit from your wisdom!