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Mastering Mountain Biking: From Wheelies to Perfect Landings

Mountain Bike Tutorials

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Mountain biking is an exciting hobby that allows you to explore nature while getting an adrenaline rush. As an amateur mountain biker myself, I’ve learned a lot over the years about the gear, trails, and skills involved in mountain biking safely and responsibly.

Choosing the Right Mountain Bike

When starting mountain biking, choosing the right bike for your needs and budget is key. Hardtail mountain bikes only have suspension in the front, which makes them lighter and more efficient for climbing. A hardtail is a great choice if you’ll mostly ride cross country trails. Full suspension bikes have front and rear suspension. This gives better control over rough terrain but makes the bike heavier. Consider a full suspension if you want to bomb down hills or try downhill mountain biking.

You’ll also need to choose a frame size that fits you properly so you can control the bike safely. Visit local bike shops and test ride different mountain bike styles to see what works well for the local trails you want to ride. Also plan your budget not just for the bike but also for safety gear like a helmet, cycling shoes for flat pedals, and eyewear.

Learning Essential Mountain Biking Techniques

Before hitting the trails, take time to learn key mountain biking skills so you can ride safely in all conditions. Mastering how to shift your gears properly using the left-hand shifter creates an efficient pedaling cadence. Learn how to use your brakes effectively, using more rear brake than front, so you don’t go over the handlebars.

Practicing essential body position skills like attack position and neutral position will give you stability and better control on both climbs and descents. Start easy, riding with a balanced, centered stance low over the bike. As you build skills, shift forward into attack position for descents by moving your body weight back and down low over the rear tire.

Finding your limit and gradually pushing past your comfort zone is part of learning. Enroll in mountain biking skill camps and clinics in your area to accelerate skills like cornering, drops, jumps, and rock gardens from qualified instructors. Master the basics before progressing to advanced techniques.

Seeking Out Ideal Mountain Biking Trails

One of the joys of mountain biking is discovering incredible trail networks. Do your research to find the best local mountain bike trails for your skill level and interests. Chat with riders you meet about their favorite area trails. Check trail maps online and use Trailforks to view trail difficulty ratings and route details. Work up gradually from green circle to blue square and finally black diamond trail difficulty as your expertise grows.

Travel to renowned mountain biking meccas like Moab, Utah to test world-class trails when you want a memorable riding getaway. From grueling uphills to gentle cross country to gnarly, technical downhill runs, iconic areas like Moab offer miles of glorious single track to explore on two wheels. Plan a mountain biking trip that provides new challenges as well as triumphant vistas and thrilling downhills you’ll cherish.

Local trails are best for regular practice as you continue progressing as a mountain biker. Check regulations to stay on authorized trails and respect trail closures for erosion or maintenance. Support your local mountain biking association through donations or volunteer trail work days. We all have a duty to protect access and keep our beloved trails in good shape.

Outfitting Yourself with Protective Gear

Using protective gear specially designed for mountain biking can mean the difference between a fun day of riding vs. a painful crash. Start by choosing a comfortable, well-ventilated helmet with MIPS technology to protect your head from impacts at speed. Make sure it fits correctly using the adjustable wheel dial for a snug fit.

Mountain biking gloves safeguard your hands from abrasions in a fall and give you a better grip to control your bike. Hard shell pads on knee and elbow pads shield joints from trail debris and cushion bad spills. Pack a hydration pack to carry essentials like water, snacks, tools, and first aid.

In addition to safety gear, equip yourself with cycling clothing that wicks sweat, flexible shoes with grippy soles, and sunglasses or goggles. Removing distractions like discomfort or eyestrain allows you to focus fully on the joy of the ride and the magnificent landscape around you. Gear up appropriately and you’re ready to ride.

Taking Care of Your Mountain Bike

Maintaining your mountain bike well means more years of reliable riding and avoids breakdowns miles from home. Clean your bike regularly by wiping away excess dirt around moving parts and avoiding spraying water directly into bearings or linkage. Check bolt torque on pivot hardware and components periodically as vibrations can loosen them over time. Monitor brake pads and rotors for wear, replacing them once worn too thin for safe stopping power.

Learn to do basic trailside repairs like fixing a flat tire, adjusting shifting or brakes, or tightening parts so you can get home safely. Subscribe to key mountain biking channels on YouTube to pick up maintenance tips. Invest in quality tools like hex wrenches, a chain breaker, and spoke wrench so you can fine tune your riding machine when needed.

Protect your bike investment with a custom mountain bike fit to match your body dimensions and riding preferences. A professional bike fit makes cycling more comfortable and efficient. Schedule regular suspension service and drivetrain deep cleaning with your local bike shop to keep your favorite two-wheeled machine rolling pleasantly for years of adventure together.

Being a Responsible Mountain Biker

As fun as mountain biking can be, we all have an obligation to ride responsibly and sustainably so everyone can enjoy the trails. Familiarize yourself with right-of-way etiquette, yielding to uphill hikers and horseback riders. Slow way down around other trail users. Offer a friendly greeting and thanks when passing politely.

Stay on the designated trail corridor and do not create new lines or cut switchbacks which leads to erosion. No one likes to see “brake bumps” forming from excessive skidding. Be self-sufficient by packing out all trash and wasted energy gel wrappers. Use existing facilities when nature calls instead of polluting trails.

Do your part by modeling responsible mountain bike culture. Consider getting involved with a local cycling advocacy group that partners with land managers and stewards trails. This protects continued access for you and future generations seeking adventure on area singletrack.

Respect wildlife regulations and seasonal closures intended to protect habitats during sensitive nesting or breeding seasons. Finding a bear or moose around the next blind corner can surprise both human and beast, so make noise and ride at sensible speeds.

By embracing etiquette guidelines and riding lightly, mountain biking can thrive for years while preserving nature’s splendor.

Sharing Your Passion with Others

Once you are hooked on mountain biking for the adrenaline rushes, pristine landscapes accessible only on two wheels, and camaraderie with fellow trail riders, invite friends to join you. Start new riders off easily on green circle trails to build skills without overwhelming them. Share tips you’ve learned along the way on technique, bike handling, where to buy affordable gear, and which local trails have the most satisfying payoff views.

Forming a regular mountain biking crew ensures you stick with this exhilarating hobby and motivates each other to progress. Join a mountain biking club through your local bike shop and get connected with group rides catering to all ability levels. Veteran club riders will happily share treasured routes and must-try destinations.

Bonding with your kids or grandkids over mountain biking outings creates lasting memories while disconnecting from devices and stresses of everyday life. Keep the pace relaxed and focus on fun. Turn natural stopping points along the ride into impromptu picnics and enjoy lengthy breaks for playing in creeks or exploring trails on foot. Soon they will catch the mountain biking bug too.

Mountain biking becomes even more rewarding when you ride with comrades who relish the sport as much as you do. Spread that enthusiasm to get more people outdoors enjoying beautiful rides on scenic backcountry singletrack. More devotees dedicated to stewarding trails means improved access and trails for all to savor for generations.

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