Mountain biking is an excellent sport for building power, endurance and agility. Whether mountain biking is your only sport or part of a cross training fitness routine, using the appropriate mountain bike gear, clothing and equipment will help make your next mountain bike ride faster, safer and more comfortable.
Here is a short list of essential mountain bike gear that will help make every ride a great ride.
If you are just getting started, visit a local bike shop that specializes in mountain biking to learn more and get a bike fitting. If you have a bike already, be sure to properly maintain the bike and perform a Pre-ride Safety Inspection before hitting the trail.
A bike helmet is the most important piece of mountain biking safety gear and no one should ride without a helmet. A bike helmet significantly reduces the severity of head injuries such as concussions, especially during low-speed crashes. Mountain bike helmets generally have a visor to help block the sun as you ride in and out of trees so you can focus on the trail and not be distracted by glare or flashing light.
Also see: How to Fit a Helmet
Eye protection for mountain biking helps you keep trail dirt, dust and debris out of your eyes as well as helping you see more clearly in both dark shadows and bright sunlight. A variety of sunglasses are available for sports, but mountain bikers should choose a frame with an interchangeable lens system that comes with a variety of lenses for varying light conditions.
It's not easy to take your hands off the handlebars and grab your water bottle when you are negotiating tight single track or climbing loose rocky trails. Wearing a hydration pack when you ride gives you easy access to hands-free hydration. This is especially important for anyone exercising for more than two hours and with limited access to refills on the trail.
Clipless pedals are best for most cross country trail riding. Cycling shoes and clipless pedal systems let you lock your shoes into the pedals for secure and efficient pedaling, and then unclip easily with a twist of the foot. Mountain bikers generally use the SPD type of pedal/cleat system, but there are a variety of combinations. Be sure to buy shoes and pedals that work together.
Padded and protective bike shorts offer major benefits if you ride any distance over rough terrain. Mountain bike shorts provide an inner padded liner worn like underwear that increases comfort and reduces chafing on the bike. The outer layer looks like a baggy pair of shorts that are made of tough, abrasion-resistant fabric to hold up to the wear and tear of the trail.
10. First Aid Kit
Not everyone rides with a first aid kit, but I keep a few first aid essentials in my hydration pack. It's surprising how many times I've used its contents for myself, someone I'm riding with or some random rider who lost traction in loose rock or did an endo on the trail. Abrasions are the most common injury mountain bikers deal with, so be prepared by keeping various sized bandages, tape, pain relievers, and antiseptic wipes handy. I also include eye drop solution, a small pocketknife, moleskin, energy gels and a whistle in my kit.