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Mountain Biking Safety: Ride Safe, Ride Long

Mountain Bike Safety

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Mountain biking can be an incredible adventure, but you’ve got to know how to ride safely first. Learning good skills and wearing the right protective gear keeps you smiling through the whole ride. Getting hurt from not taking proper safety steps is no fun.

Choose the Right Bike

Your mountain bike takes a beating on bumpy trails. Making sure it can handle the jumps and drops avoids nasty crashes from breakages.

Modern mountain bikes work much better than older ones. Better suspensions smooth out big impacts from jumps and drops. Disc brakes stop you reliably in all weather too. Upgrading from an older bike prevents accidents from poor braking and handling.

Sizing your mountain bike right matters more than color or looks. Standing over the top tube with a little clearance prevents painful tumbles. Adjusting the seat height lets your legs extend properly while pedaling too. Take time to get the right fit before your first trail ride.

Safety Gear is Not Optional

Wearing a helmet seems obvious for dangerous mountain biking, but many rookies forget kneepads and gloves too. Trail debris cuts through skin fast when crashing without protection. No one looks stylish hobbling back after shredding an elbow or knee!

Look for safety gear that fits comfortably without restricting movement too much. Well-vented helmets prevent overheating yet still protect your head. Flexible gloves and kneepads stay in place when jumping and landing as well. Upgrade as your skills improve for lighter and less bulky protection.

Eye protection like goggles saves your eyesight from sticks and rocks thrown up by your tires. Clear lenses make seeing trail obstacles easier too. Bring spares for when they get mud-spattered and scratched up. Keep your eyes safe to enjoy those gorgeous trail views!

Learn Excellent Technique

Good mountain biking technique prevents most ugly crashes completely. Taking skills classes teaches essentials like effective braking, weight balance, and crash avoidance. Even experienced riders benefit from brushing up on the fundamentals regularly.

Learn to shift your bike weight correctly before tackling advanced trails. Putting too much weight over the front wheel while descending leads to painful endos. Leaning too far back preloads the suspension and lifts the front wheel. Find the sweet spot in the middle for control.

Understand quick stopping by shifting your weight back and using both brakes evenly. Grabbing just the front brake could send you flying if the rear wheel lifts. Dragging the rear brake slightly helps stabilize the bike too. Practice braking technique regularly to make it second nature.

Pumping terrain features instead of jumping straight off adds stability and control. Crouch down to load the suspension as you ride into dips and hills. Then stand up tall to launch off the backside without pulling messy mid-air tricks. Smooth pumping makes mountain biking much more fun!

Start Easy and Work Up Slowly

Your skills need time to develop experience and instinct on the trail. Pushing too far too soon leads to trouble. Build confidence gently on easier green and blue trails before hitting double black diamonds.

Trying to keep up with advanced riders right away never ends well for beginners. Let fast friends session the hard lines while you work up to that level slowly. Mountain biking stays enjoyable by matching challenge to current ability.

Focus on one new skill at a time instead of rushing into advanced trails. For example, climb a short technical section cleanly 5 times before moving on. Small successes build the foundation for solid skills. Before you know it, the whole trail feels easy and fun!

Know when you are tired or distracted and could make poor decisions. Fatigue leads to clumsy crashes that better rest avoids. Stressing about work or life can divert focus from the trail too. Stay self aware and be ready to dial it back a notch when needed.

Prepare Properly for the Trails

Mountain biking involves inherant risks that smart preparation reduces. Carrying the right gear and letting someone know your route makes good sense for outdoor adventures. Planning ahead takes little effort while preventing or responding to emergencies.

Dehydration and nutrition impact riding performance more than you might expect. Pack enough water and snacks to avoid energy low points far from the trail head. Chug regularly even when not thirsty and grab a snack before bonking out halfway through your ride.

Bring basic repair tools and first aid supplies in case of flats, breakages, or minor medical issues out on the trail. A tube, tire levers, chain tool, first aid kit, and phone come in handy for handling basic problems yourself. You can still walk out or call for pickup after making temporary fixes.

Study trail maps before heading out to understand what challenges you will face. Knowing the route length, difficulty, and key features makes managing ride decisions easier. Identify bail out points in case you need to turn around early. Discuss the game plan with any riding partners too.

Share your approximate route timing with someone who can send help if you do not return on schedule. Make sure they know where rescuers should start looking if you fail to check in at the expected time. Having contingency support provides more margin for error if issues arise far from the trailhead.

Build Maintenance Habits

Taking good care of your bike prevents nasty surprises on the trail from poor maintenance. Inspect everything before and after each ride to spot wear and tear issues early. Conduct basic tune-ups routinely to avoid unexpected breakages too.

Get to know what well tightened bolts look and feel like when gripping them hard. Things loosen slowly over time until components start to fail. Periodically checking key mounting hardware spots this before parts break or fall off unexpectedly.

Clean your bike after every dusty or muddy ride to prevent accelerated wear from dirt grinding away at components. Pay special attention to sensitive parts like suspension pivots, gearing mechanisms, brake rotors and calipers. A few minutes with a rag, brush and hose saves money on early repairs or replacements down the road.

Monitor brake pads, tires, chains, cassettes, and suspension seals closely for signs they need replacing soon. Swapping out worn parts before they fail badly improves safety. Carrying common spares lets you handle certain trailside repairs to ride again too.

Keeping your mountain bike well maintained takes some work but repays that effort with better safety, reliability, and performance on every ride. Developing consistent maintenance habits early makes your bike last longer while keeping accident risk lower.

Stay safe out there on the trails! Start with good protective gear and the essential skills, then build up slowly from easier routes. Advance your abilities carefully as your experience grows over time. Taking personal responsibility reduces risk so you can smile all the way back to the trailhead after an awesome adventure on every ride!

About the Author

Tony K

Senior Technical Writer,

Tony K is a technical editor at He has a focus on downhill bike riding but still loves xc bikes too.

With more than ten years of mountain biking experience and more than 5 years testing mountain bikes, Tony has ridden and tested hundreds of different bikes and products, everything from XC to enduro bikes. Tony regularly competes in mountain bike races while seeing how long those compontents can hold up which gives me a lot of insight.

When he isn't shredding down a mountain or camping out, he is writing reviews for Mountain Bike Experience.

Rides: Surly Lowside, Canyon Exceed