First mountain bike happy faces

If you’re new to cycling and don’t know how to choose your first mountain bike, this post was written for you.

Once you’ve decided on your first mountain bike, all you have to do is pack your backpack with everything you need and set off on new adventures.

Reasons why we love mountain biking: our experience

There are many reasons why you might love mountain biking.

Often some women come to off-road and decide to buy their first mountain bike after years of road cycling to try riding in a different environment Sometimes the same thing happens to runners. After years of asphalt, some decide to switch to tracks to try out new things in unique places and landscapes.

women bike camp in the border triangle (Dreiländer Tour)

A woman bike camp will help you master the technique of riding your bike and enjoy yourself

Others decide to take up mountain biking as a newcomer to two wheels, driven by the desire for an experience in contact with nature, on paths and dirt tracks, far from traffic. It’s a way of doing sport that provides a huge sense of freedom, and for many it quickly becomes a real lifestyle.

In any case, it’s useful to know how to go about choosing the first mountain bike that suits your needs as a cyclist. In complete safety.

1. Which off-road bike to choose to start: questions to ask when buying

When choosing your first MTB, having a clear idea of which model is right for you is important.

You might start by considering the following:

  • What will I use it for?
  • Which routes will I be riding on?
  • Am I going to take part in any competitions?

There are many things to know and choices to be made when riding a mountain bike for the first time. . Unlike a road bike, you’ll be up against roots, stones and uneven terrain, sometimes even wet. The technical component should therefore not be underestimated even when choosing a bike.

2. Choosing the right size of your first mountain bike

When first getting into mountain biking, our advice is to choose a bike that is the right size and, if used, in good condition.

Before buying, it’s always better to ask for advice from more experienced friends to get an opinion on the condition and the quality of the bike you’re going to purchase.

When choosing your ultimate MTB, you might even consider renting one for a few rides. This will give you time to better understand what type of mountain bike is right for you.

A good alternative would also be to take advantage of the numerous promotional events organised by manufacturers to test different models of bicycles for free.

At the moment, because of the global COVID 19 pandemic, many of these events have unfortunately been call off. However, we are confident that we will be able to again share our passion for two-wheelers as soon as possible.

3. Front and full mountain bikes: the differences

For those who work in the field, it is normal to classify a MTB with the terms front or full. However, if you are a novice, the difference in terms of both features and functionality may not be so obvious.

When we talk about a MTB with front suspension, we are referring to a bike that is only shock-absorbed at the front (fork). By full suspension, we mean a MTB that is also equipped with a shock absorber at the rear (double suspension).

Choosing a full suspension MTB can help you to overcome the most difficult uphill and downhill sections right from the start. All this with the advantage of reduced back vibrations.

A full suspension MTB is perfect for you if you love the mountains and long backpacking trips in pursuit of new routes. However, they are usually heavier, more expensive and require more component maintenance.

first full suspension mountain bike

A full suspension MTB is perfect for you if you love the mountains and long backpacking trips

On a full suspension bike equipped with a telescopic seat post you may feel more confident, especially when riding on the most difficult trails. Full suspension bikes with 130 mm or more of travel are designed to improve performance, especially on the descent. They are therefore ideal for all mountainor enduro trails.

On the other hand, afront suspension bike might be more suitable for you if you intend to ride purely along riverbanks, simple dirt roads or easy trails. In these situations the terrain does not pose particular dangers and a more rigid bike will allow you to cover more ground more easily and in less time.

However, having a front suspension MTB is almost a must if you intend to participate in some cross-country or Gran Fondo races where time is of the essence In fact, a single shock absorber at the front means that energy is not wasted when pedalling and the weight of the bike is limited.

Choosing front suspension mountain bike

MTB with front suspension is a bike with only shock-absorber at the front (fork).

4. Your first mountain bike: are 27.5” or 29” wheels better?

Another huge doubt to clear up when choosing your mountain bike is wheel size.

In the past, there used to be only 26” wheels and you didn’t have to give it much though. Now, many companies offer a choice of 27.5” or larger 29” wheels even for the same bike model. In fact, you might even find mountain bikes with a 29” wheel on the front and 27,5” on the rear.

Difference between 27,5'' and 29'' wheels

29″ wheels allow you to tackle obstacles with greater ease

Choosing a MTB with 29” wheels is definitely the current trend. Both for front suspension and full suspension bikes.

We recommend a 29” for those looking for greater stability, because it allows you to tackle uneven stretches with greater ease, both uphill and downhill. It is also particularly suitable for tall riders. On the other hand, it requires more decisive and aggressive riding on the downhill, especially on bikes with generous suspension.

5. Is it better to start with a regular or electric bike?

If you don’t have much time for exercise, but don’t want to miss out on spending time in the fresh air, you can choose an e-MTB, or pedal-assisted MTB.

The rules for choosing the right one for you are the same as for a regular one. All you have to do is work out how and what you intend to use it for.

Those who opt for an e-bike usually discover a new way of cycling and having fun..

Choosing first eMTB mountain bike

E-bikes allow you to cover more distance more easily and in less time.

You will no longer have to push yourself to the limit to keep up with your more trained friends. In addition, on an e-MTB you can discover new routes without the fear of taking a wrong turn: turning back, perhaps climbing a hill, will no longer be so tiring.

The costs are generally higher than those of a regular MTB and the bikes are heavier to handle. A good MTB riding course, as we always suggest, will help you master the technique of riding your bike as and enjoy yourself, tackling any type of terrain safely and fearlessly.

As you can see, there are many aspects to consider when buying your first mountain bike.

However, if you are already an off-road expert, choosing a MTB for you will be easier and you can have more fun getting into the details:

  • • Which mountain biking discipline do I prefer?
  • • Aluminium or carbon frame?
  • • Quick release or flat pedals?
  • • Type of suspension?
  • • What tyres should you choose based on the terrain?

Whether you are a beginner or an expert, there is one rule that applies to everyone: always wear a helmet and fasten it securely. Safety always comes first!

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Woman's mountain bike clothing by Chicken Line

What to take on a mountain bike ride? Here’s a short list of things you should take with you in your backpack when going mountain biking.

Very few things are needed when mountain biking. Your legs and a smile are the two things that will really help you along your way. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert biker, it’s good to know what to take with you on a mountain bike outing to avoid any nasty surprises.

Experienced bikers will know that you may run into unexpected trouble during trips close to home, too. Let’s look at how we should prepare ourselves to prevent them and overcome them. If you know what to take with you in your backpack or hip-pack, you’ll be able to deal more confidently with anything that happens by yourself with greater ease of mind.

Girl rider that wearing a windproof jacket

We recommend choosing something sleeveless, packable and lightweight to take always with you

What’s most likely to happen on a bike ride: our experiences

In our opinion, there are three types of unexpected situations you could face.

A sudden change in the weather is the most common. How many of you have gone out for a bike ride on a sunny day and returned home soaking wet? Anyone who lives in the mountains definitely has some tales to tell.

Mechanical problems are equally frequent. Many women are put off from going out bike riding alone as they are worried about having to deal with unexpected mechanical problems. In our experience, a puncture is the easiest one to solve. The easiest and the most common. It is worth getting hold of the right tools and practising changing the inner tube, perhaps at home, so that you will always be ready to deal with it by yourself.

The other is the hunger pangs or low sugar but we will explain later how to deal with it.

Woman repairing tire puncture

With a little practice, changing the inner tube will become very easy!

What to take on a mountain bike ride: our advice

Below is a basic list of things to take with you for your mountain bike rides.

This list could change based on the type of cycling you are doing. For example, enduro cyclists will take elbow-pads and knee-pads with them, while for those who are planning a long bike ride in the mountains we recommend taking spare underwear in the backpack. The temperature at high altitudes may drop quite a bit: better to always be warm and dry.

Useful clothing

WIND-PROOF: with sleeves or sleeveless. If you’re only venturing out in hilly areas, when it’s mild and also in summer, we recommend choosing something sleeveless, packable and lightweight to put in your backpack or hip pack. In winter and on mountain excursions, a classic long-sleeved wind-proof jacket, preferably waterproof, is preferred.

NECK WARMER:this is very useful both for protecting your neck from air and to be worn under your helm to gather your hair and absorb sweat. A small, convenient accessory which you should never be without.

Windproof jacket and vest, neck warmer

The neck warmer and a windproof jacket will keep you sheltered from the air and dry in case of rain.

What to take as a kit to change a mountain bike inner tube

Here are some useful tools to repair your bicycle in case of a puncture and in case of small mechanical problems. Here are some useful tools to repair your bicycle in case of a puncture and in case of small mechanical problems.

PUMP: this is used to inflate the inner tube if you get a puncture. There are various types you can buy: choose the most suitable one for your type of bike.

The smaller, more lightweight ones are ideal for those who do cross-country. Those that are more structured inflate inner tubes and tubeless tyres more quickly.

CO2 cartridges or a PitStop with repairing foam may also be useful. We suggest experimenting a bit beforehand to understand what your best strategy is.

SPARE INNER TUBE: remember to check that it’s the right size for your wheels. Mistakes sometimes do happen and you could end up trying to fit an inner tube for a 26 inch tyre rather than a 29 inch one. Doing so is definitely not recommended. 🙂 🙂

TYRE LEVER for mountain bike: these are the plastic levers that help you get the tyre off the wheel rim. There’s also a technique we suggest you learn so you can do it without using a tyre lever. However, you may happen to find some tyres harder to remove than others. Without using a tyre lever, it could prove an impossible task! 😀

Having this survival kit with you at all times is a must, but knowing how to use this equipment is crucial, especially when you’re by yourself. Try and have a go in your garage in your spare time and you’ll soon see it doesn’t take much to become an excellent mechanic.

Our basic list of things to take with you for your mountain bike rides.

Few tools, practical and lightweight, will help you to face every situation in the best possible way.

MULTI TOOL: this is an excellent multi-function tool to help you solve the most common mechanical problems you may face during your bike rides. Modern multi tools are often beautiful design objects. You just need to know how to use them correctly.

Food and hydration: what to take when out on your bike

Evaluating in advance the tour you will go on helps you to understand what to bring in case of sudden hunger. Feed yourself properly before and during your outings. Hunger pangs could turn your “Sunday bike ride” into torture!

Take your favourite snack with you to prevent a drop in energy levels. We prefer energy bars or dried fruit, but a peanut butter or jam sandwich can be a good idea, too. There are lots of recipes for homemade bars online. Try the one you like most!

HYDRATION BAG or WATER BOTTLE: to be filled with water or mineral drinks. Also depends on the temperature outside. Keeping yourself hydrating is essential during physical activity

Last but not least…

MONEY: we suggest putting 10 euros in your smartphone case. Prevention is better than cure: What if you fancied a beer at the end of your trip, you wouldn’t want to be caught unprepared, would you? 😉 Also useful in other unexpected situations.

All you need to do now is put all our advice into practice: have a go at changing the inner tube, get everything ready and climb onto your saddle for your next biking adventure!

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