They say getting started is the hardest part. Well, mountain biking is no exception to this oft-repeated mantra. As someone interested in the sport, it’s easy to get discouraged when you see experienced riders. It’s easy to assume they were simply born on a mountain bike. Well, good news -- they weren’t (probably). With that being said...Where does a person even start? Today, we’ve put together a handy list of pieces and parts you need to tackle your first trail.
At the risk of sounding facetious, we’ve decided to include an actual bike on our list. While there can be no debate that you need a bike for mountain biking, the question remains -- how do you pick a bike? Well, you want to make sure you’re going to adequately meet your needs. By that, we mean you don’t want to get too little bike, and you certainly don’t want to get too much bike, either.
Now, we could spend pages upon pages helping you decide on your first bike. And justifiably so -- it’s a big decision, and it usually comes with a hefty financial investment. But, today, we’re going to point towards one bike in particular. That bike is the Diamondback Release 1. A well-balanced and versatile option, the Release 1 is a favorite amongst novices and intermediate riders alike. While it’s not the cheapest mountain bike you can find, it’s going to last you well past your beginner stages.
Although a seemingly small part of your mountain biking setup, mountain biking gloves are of vital importance. Think about it: your hands are the most sensitive point of control between you and your bike. Keeping a firm, comfortable grip on those handlebars could be the difference between thrashing a trail, and a trail thrashing you. The solution? Dirt gloves, of course.
We’ve engineered our mountain biking gloves with a four-way stretch material, so that they conform to the natural contours of your hand. This gives an improved grip on the mountain bike, no matter how rough the terrain is. As riders ourselves, we understand the importance of having a 1:1 relationship between your hands and your bike. In addition to improving safety, this strong grip is crucial for optimizing trail times. With this type of firm, natural grip on your bike, you can safely achieve a more instinctive and aggressive ride. And as we all know, safely getting the ‘flow’ of a trail is an ever-important aspect of our sport. Dirt gloves help you achieve just that.
Don’t cheap out on a helmet. We mean it, guys. When you inevitably fall off your bike, you’ll be wishing you spent that extra $50. There are plenty of great options on the market, but we’d suggest you look for one specific feature: MIPS.
Multi-directional Impact Protection System (or MIPS) is a protective technology that is designed to mimic and fortify the human skull’s natural protection of the brain. Essentially, MIPS is based on the concept of a slip-plane within the helmet. During a crash, the outer layer of the helmet absorbs linear impact. Meanwhile, the MIPS layer rotates up to 5mm to absorb directional force. This tiny rotation hugely reduces potential damage to the brain, which keeps you riding safely.
You might think we just mean ‘a water bottle’ here. While a standard water bottle might be a good idea to have on the trail (it is), it’s not going to quite get the job done. You can’t exactly take a sip of a water bottle while you’re tearing down a trail, doing your best just to keep your bike vertical. For that, you’ll need something a little more sophisticated.
What you’ll really want is a backpack-style hydration pack. Think something like a CamelBak. Not only are these infinitely more convenient than a water bottle on the trail, but they hold significantly more water. There’s no shortage of great options on the market, and in honesty, they all (basically) do the same thing.
You’ll need quality glasses to keep dust and debris out of your eyes. Glasses are another piece of equipment that can be as cheap or as expensive as you want them to be. You can find $300 glasses, and you can find $30 glasses. In truth, the best option for a beginner is somewhere in the middle. We won’t go through every glasses option out there, but we will provide a few things to look out for.
The first thing to consider is lens contrast. High-contrast lenses will allow you to see the trail more easily, and that’s going to keep you safe.
After that, you’ll need to pay close attention to fit, comfort, and coverage. For these reasons, buying mountain biking glasses online might not be the way to go. You’ll want glasses that stay on your face, through hours of rocky riding. Along those lines, we’d also suggest high-coverage mountain biking glasses that feature large lenses or a wraparound style.