Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking: Choosing the Right Bike

Biking, especially mountain biking is growing its community around NYC. More and more people are realizing the benefits that biking offers and consequently, are getting addicted to this sport. So, people frequently ask us about the right gear and some practical advice before heading to the nearest bike shop. That is why we’ve created this simple, beginner’s “how-to” manual, where you can find the answers to some general questions about the gear. Check it out, we hope it will serve you well! For more info feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help you in any way we can!

How to choose the right MTB for me?

Mountain biking is a perfect sports activity for every level, either you are a beginner or an experienced rider, you can always have fun while riding! However, before you decide to go and buy yourself an MTB, we suggest that you know where you would like to ride, on what terrain, and what do you expect to learn. So, if you are an adrenaline junkie wishing to ride around Upstate New York trails or New Jersey bike parks, you want to jump and do “downhill” or even “freeride”, you have to choose between a downhill mountain bike or an advanced enduro bike. However, most people deciding to buy a mountain bike for the first time, who are looking for trail riding around the area of NYC generally opt for a hardtail, all-mountain full-suspension, or simple enduro bike. Between those, the latter, enduro bike, represents the most versatile bike for uphill, downhill, and also bike park riding. So, we would suggest that you start by deciding what you are looking for based on your wishes and then head on to a specialized MTB provider with expert knowledge, or contact your bike savvy friend. Or even us:)

Next, it is really important that the bike fits you, meaning that it is in the right size and adapted to your weight. Also, it is important to know, that once you have an MTB, you need to do regular maintenance in order to keep it in its best condition.

Every mountain bike you get in a shop usually only includes the standard basic parts, and they’re rarely are any spare or fancy frills included in the price. So, as long if you stick to this, you will get a basic mountain bike. Also, remember that most bikes come without pedals, therefore you have to buy those separately. Buying pedals depends on whether you want flat ones with more freedom and flexibility for your feet or the clip-ins that you might be familiar with from an indoor spinning class. Both are fine as long as you are well versed in getting in and out of them.

There are some well-known international mountain bike brands that are definitely worth the price and have a wide range of choices. Those are Santa Cruz, YT, Yeti, Cannondale, Ibis, Nukeproof, Canyon, Commencial, Devinci, Intense, Salsa, Surly, Norco, Specialized, Orbea, Radon, Trek, Scott, Giant, Liv (for ladies) and so on. 

How to choose the right MTB helmet?

The helmet is one of the most important things you have to think of when buying new mountain biking gear. It is an item definitely worth spending more money on. In general, all good bike helmets are fine for mountain biking as well. It is important that they are made from good and durable materials, which is mostly seen by price, and serve its purpose – protection! Mountain bike helmets are well ventilated, and most styles offer extended rear head coverage because a mountain biker is more likely to fall backward than a road rider. The more you are willing to spend on it, the better it gets. This means additional protection, more regulators, extra functions as lights, signal transceiver etc. However, if you decide to go for a downhill bike, or you are riding around really rough terrain, we also suggest a full-face-helmet.

Some good brands of bike helmets are Troy Lee Design, POC, Bern, Specialized, Fox, Bell, Giant etc.

How to choose the right MTB shoes?

Another super important and “worth-spending-money-on” item is definitely biking shoes. Your MTB shoes must be sturdy and flat in order to provide you enough support while biking and are comfortable during the riding. There are a few well-known brands, such as Five Ten, Ion, or Specialized. Even a simple Vans version of flat sole shoes is perfect before you really decide what you like and buy the right ones for you.

How to choose the rest of the MTB gear?

Mountain biking is more than a sport, it is a lifestyle. Therefore, you will often see mountain bikers with certain brands of clothes, but also, those brands offer truly biking specific adjustments and fits, that are perfect for this sport. So, general clothing consists of a bit wider, comfortable shorts, long socks (for additional protection), a comfortable sports t-shirt, and good biking gloves (preferably closed ones) for protection and additional grip. Always look for clothes from durable materials, that can endure some extra stretches. Also, remember to look for comfortable sports clothing that will be breathable and lightweight.

Also, we suggest you also consider some more protective gear for the beginning, such as knee and elbow protection pads. Also, it is always good to have some sports sunglasses available at home, which come in really handy while on a bike. 

There are some general, well-known MTB clothing brands such as Troy Lee Design,  Fox, Ion, Poc, Dakine, Loose Riders etc.

What extra tips do you have for me?

Mountain bike rides can vary in hour length. Some may even take more days. So, it’s is important to prepare the right way, physically and mentally. It is always smart to bring a backpack with you, which you can fill with some necessary tools that might come in handy for any possible mechanical repairs while on the road. So, it is always good to bring a spare tube, a tire pump, and a small multitool kit, which you can use for temporary fixing almost anything on your bike until you get home.

We would also suggest bringing some snacks (we love CLIF bars for those), water, or any hydrating drinks and an extra layer, as you never know how the weather will change, especially if you decide for a longer tour. So, a good mountain-bike backpack, that fits you right, is a must, that way you can keep all those items stored and safe while riding.

Definitely recommended looking this brands for backpacks: Evoc, Dakine, Osprey, Deuter, Endura etc, 

PS. It is always smart to know some basics about bike repair (you can also learn this via Youtube or various forums these days, they can really help you with anything!) or if you have a really good friend, who can jump in for when your bike needs a repair or two. Which almost definitely happens a lot, if you are deciding to start with this sport. A reminder for anyone deciding to go for it, a constant repair in a bike shop can be at first, quite expensive, and finally timely.

For some extra advice check:

See you on the trail!