The sport of mountain biking, like most sports, is greatly enhanced by having the right equipment. Safety is paramount and the investment in products that help preserve life and limb are dollars well spent. Also, having the right clothing and a well chosen set of accessories will make for comfortable, safe and enjoyable excursions off road.
A good helmet is inarguably the most important safety accessory for the mountain biker. Choose a helmet that fits comfortably and has plenty of slots for air circulation and ventilation. Choose one with a visor to block bright sunlight and glare, and don't skimp.
Eye protection in the form of shatter-proof sunglasses or clear goggles helps keep the rider safe by diverting bugs, dust or other flying debris that can temporarily impair vision. They also offer protection from the wind that can cause tear formation and blurred vision.
Crashes are inevitable on tough trails, so having suitable padding to protect knees, elbows and legs can prevent bruising and even more severe injuries. Most equipment is designed so it does not interfere with aggressive riding and may even be comfortable in use.
For the Bike
A repair kit might make the difference between riding to the end of the trail or walking the bike to it. The kit should contain tools and accessories to perform the most common repairs on the trail. Tire levers and a spare tube or patch kit and a pump for fixing flats, a good multi-tool with various allen wrenches and screwdrivers and an adjustable wrench should be the minimum repair equipment in the kit. A small saddle bag mounted under the seat is a good addition to store these items, and a small first-aid kit as well.
Fenders, too, are a good idea. Some manufactures install fenders as standard equipment, but most do not. Rear fenders that attach via strap to the seat post have great adjustability and do well at keeping spray and mud off the back of the jersey. On the front, grunge guards that strap onto the down tube keep spray and mud from the rider's legs. Each of these are inexpensive and take only a few minutes to install.
Bar ends fasten onto the ends of the handlebars and provide extra leverage for hill climbs. They also permit riding in more upright position on tame sections of the trail to relieve some of the stress from the back muscles.
For the Rider
Jerseys designed for mountain bike riding are comfortable and breathable with full length zippers for ventilation. They wick sweat away from the skin to eliminate that clammy feeling. Most are polypro or other synthetic, but don't overlook merino wool that works well on both warm and cold days. Many have pockets in the back at waist level to hold water bottles. An even better solution to keeping hydrated is the backpack style bladders that allow hands-free drinking while riding. Shorts for mountain biking come with chamois for protection from chafing and many pockets for carrying gear.
Mountain biking gloves offer protection to the hands by cushioning the jolts. They also offer protection to the hands in the event of a crash. Full-fingered gloves are warmer, but the three-quarter length gloves offer better dexterity.
Pedals are a personal choice, but consider going clipless. The few minutes it takes to acclimate to clipless are worth the added security of being firmly attached to the pedal.
Article Written By Garrison Pence
Garrison Pence has been a midwest-based (ghost)writer for three decades, taught university-level literature, and has written articles and white papers in trade publications of the Material Handling Institute, Engineering Today, Pharmaceutical, Food and Beverage Science, and Semiconductor. Pence holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in Literature.