Mountain Biking 101 | Beginner-Friendly Tips and Tricks
If you’re just getting started as a mountain biker, riding over rocks and other trail obstacles will seem terrifying. Even a spin around the local trail might seem daunting.
Mountain biking is certainly one of those sports where you get to choose your adventures. Sometimes, these adventures might be more than what you asked for. Practice, persistence, and some mountain biking tips from experts will help you tackle the obstacles with ease.
If you’re looking to develop new skills, get confident while riding your mountain bike, or just wondering “how to start mountain biking?” you’ve come to the right place. Below are the top 10 mountain biking tips for beginners that will help you conquer those peaks, trails, and ridges with certainty.
Mountain Biking Tips and Techniques for BeginnersEnter your text here...
1. Set your Bike Correctly
When you buy a mountain bike, you must set things according to your height and weight. As a new mountain biker, this could bring a huge difference to your comfort and confidence when you go out on the trail. Here are the two things you must adjust before your ride.
The front fork and rear shock of most mountain bikes run via air pressure (exceptions in the case of a coil shock). So the precise amount of air pressure is determined by your weight which is called a sag. To set the sag correctly, you need to have a shock pump to supplement air into the shocks. You also need to do some analysis to find the right amount of PSI (Pound Per Square Inch) according to your weight. Most of the shocks will have a chart so you can determine the amount. If it doesn’t have one, you need to figure things out through trial and error. Here is a video that explains the level of PSI your bike needs,
If your seat height is not proper, your lower back will get strained or your knees will start to hurt. As a rule of thumb, your knees should be somewhat bent when you’re close to the ground. This may not allow both your feet to reach the ground when you’re on the seat, which is normal.
2. Body Position
Keep your body loose, to handle your mountain bike easily - Especially your arms, shoulders, and knees. This way, your riding will be smooth when you’re going downhill or over trail hindrances. To get started, keep these points in mind.
- Push your bum back to ensure your weight is distributed perfectly over the bike.
- Keep your knees wide to allow greater balance and lateral weight distribution.
- Have a wide grip to increases your leverage over the handlebars and to manage the bike’s direction easily.
- Keep your elbows bent to an almost ninety-degree angle, so your back will automatically straighten and your bum will stick out.
- Lower your center of gravity by pivoting your hips, back, and sticking out your bum.
- Keep your shoulders and elbows loose by lowering your chest to the handlebars.
3. Momentum is Your Mate
Many new mountain bike riders will depend on brakes to a huge extent. But, momentum should be your advocate in mountain biking.
Speed will get you through rock sections and drift around corners with ease. Likewise, you can cruise into drops and jumps once you build the skill of momentum.
Most crashes happen when you don’t speed enough. You might have seen videos of riders moving towards the sidebars or toppling over. This usually happens when the momentum is missed and if you find it hard to maintain balance.
Plus, try to break before the obstacle. Slow down, and use both the brakes to get to that tricky section beforehand. This way you can go on riding without any worries and experience the epic adrenaline rush.
Here’s a video that explains how you can keep your momentum when going on hard paths.
4. Shift Often
Shifting early and often is the best mountain biking tip for beginners. When a climb is nearing, you should not change. This can head to a chomped drivetrain, dripped chain, or even a busted derailleur. Sifting right before a climb will give you a pleasant pedaling experience to the top.
The same tactic is applicable to descents. Make sure to shift to a harder gear so your legs don’t spin while you go to the bottom of the hill or climb.
5. Focus On Where You Want to Go
This will seem like an obvious tip but, it deserves a discussion. Look ahead on where you want to go. If you’re in a large berm, look for the exit. Suppose you hit a small drop, check for a landing.
By identifying where you’d like to go, you’re training your body to position and steer the mountain bike in the right direction.
Also, you must follow our 2nd mountain biking tip. Always keep your body loose so you don’t fight with yourself. Stiff body positions will not allow your bike to turn in the direction you’re trying for.Enter your text here...
6. Go On a Ride With Experienced Mountain Bikers
This will sound scary and daunting but, if you ride with the people who are better than you, it’ll make you better in turn.
Go on a bike ride with people who are more skilled than you. It will give you the chance to observe the way their body moves and how they ride on trials. You’ll learn a lot by observing. You needn’t be embarrassed about going slow, no one would care!
7. Figure Out How to Track Stand
Another best mountain bike tip/technique you can master is your ability to track stand. It is nothing but the ability to track stand at a standstill which is important for control and balance. Techniques such as roll downs, switchbacks, and climbs need control and balance. If you don’t learn the art of balancing, you’ll put your foot down often, or worse, you might tumble over.
Track stands can be learned, but it needs a little practice. Before you begin each of your rides, try to balance for 5 mins, it can be sort of a warm-up before you begin things. Watch this video to learn how to track stand.
8. Take Control of your Bike
There are two ways to ride a mountain bike - Active and passive. A passive rider will let the bike do the hard work and experience the ride like a tourist. On the other hand, active riders will take full control of the bike by steering and maneuvering. Professional mountain bikers will take full control and there will be no signs of passiveness.
As a new mountain biker, there is one way to control the bike - Actively use your suspension. When you’re going below the trail, the suspension will receive the trail chatter and make the ride smooth. By efficiently using the suspension, the front and rear shocks will outline the shapes of the path. You don’t have to do anything.
You can also actively apply your suspension by compressing or pumping. This will help you keep momentum, ride efficiently, tackle the wheel over barriers, and more. It’ll definitely take a bit of training before you get the hang of things. The more you practice, the more steady your ride will become. You chose a nice pump track to practice this.
Watch this video to get some amazing pump tracking tips.
9. Select Different Lines
An excellent method to enhance your skills as a mountain biker is to take distinctive lines, especially if you have ridden on the trail many times. The evident line will be the easiest line. But, if you want to gain more confidence as a rider, you have to select different lines. All you have to do is to take some time to figure out a line and then try it.
For example, you can practice riding on top of rocks and obstacles rather than going around them. The further you switch, the more capable you’ll become.
10. Start Watching Mountain Bike Videos
Start watching mountain biking videos of professional riders. Seeing how they do things will make it easier to replicate it and of course with a lot of practice! Here is a collection of the best mountain bike video categories,
Bonus Mountain Biking Tip - Always Breath!
Breath! Whenever you’re uncertain, afraid, or worried, just take a deep breath and breath. It’ll calm your nerves and help you overcome anxiety. Plus, through the simple act of breathing, you can build up the courage to try something different or intimidating. Don’t forget to invest in a good mountain bike shoe for extra comfort and a mountain bike GPS to track the road.
We hope that our article will help you avoid the sad “things I wish I knew when I started mountain biking” situation. Just keep practicing, keep the above tips in the back of your mind, and have fun!