Mountain bikes open up a whole new dimension to cycling. If you’ve only been cycling on a road bike, its worth giving mountain biking a go.
Riding off road opens up a whole new world to you.Trails can lead to parts of the country you would never normally visit. The name mountain bike suggests they are bicycles for mountain riding but they can be used anywhere its possible to ride a bike.
History of Mountain Biking.
Thought to have originated in USA during the 1970’s it wasn’t for another ten years that bike manufacturers started producing specialized mountain bikes.
Types of Mountain Bike.
Cross country. These bikes are for cross country racing, designed for speed, endurance and climbing ability.They are not intended for the roughest of terrain and designed more for up hill rather than downhill racing.
Trail.Tougher construction than cross country bikes, these are used by recreational riders for a wider range of conditions and give better stability downhill.
Enduro. These are designed for a larger range of conditions than cross country or Trail bikes.
Downhill. These bikes are designed just for downhill racing or trails. Lightweight and strong construction with large gears are features of these bikes.
Freeride. Similar to downhill bikes but designed for tougher more technical downhill courses.
There are other more specialized types of mountain bikes, for a description of these look here.
Gearing and frame design.
Gears have evolved from three set front gears and 7,8 or 9 set rear cassette twenty years ago to a two set front and ten set rear. More recently bikes have evolved with just one front gear and eleven at the rear.
Brakes and Suspension.
Disk brakes are preferred these days as they give better braking under adverse conditions with less effort from the rider. The discs are fitted on the central part of the wheel hub. This keeps makes them less likely to be affected by mud and dirt on the tires. Heat build up from down hill braking isn’t transferred to the tires as it is with caliper brakes.
Dual suspension is a common feature of modern mountain bikes. This gives a more comfortable ride on rough terrain. Increased performance on downhill and technical rides. Increased weight is a disadvantage as is performance on roads.
Wheels and Tires.
26 inch wheels are the most popular size although 28 and 29 inch have become more common recently.
Tires come in all sorts of size and tread patterns to suit different conditions.Tubeless tires are popular as you can ride them at lower pressure giving better grip and rolling resistance
Visit your local bike shop, they will most likely be able to put you in contact with a club or people who can help you get into the sport of mountain biking. Most bike shops will have information on trails in your area .
If you are used to road bike cycling you will find it requires different muscles for mountain biking. Arms and upper body muscles are engaged more.
Don’t start riding on the tough trails to start. Find some easy rides so you can become familiar with this form of riding.
A helmet is a must. You will be riding on all sorts of terrain and most likely to fall at some stage. Eye goggles, knee and elbow pads are items high on the list of many mountain bikers. Bike maintenance is essential to keep your bike safe and in good working order.Get your bike serviced regularly or you could learn to do it yourself. Check out this course in Bike DIY.
Mountain biking often leads you to remote areas. It is essential you have a phone or means of communication with you. If there is no reception in the area you are biking make sure you inform someone of the route you are taking and when you intend to return.