There’s so much you can do to get out and about at this time of year. So, if you’re up for an adventurous new hobby, why not try mountain biking?
We spoke to mountain bike specialist Jason Boness of Diamondback, one of the original mountain bike companies (with an amazing heritage in mountain biking stretching back as far as the ‘80s) for some top tips on getting into mountain biking. “Whilst leisure cycling is an amazing experience in itself, it’s so exhilarating too move up to mountain biking – as long as you’re up for the challenge. Admittedly you need to be reasonably fit to get the most out of mountain biking, but you really don’t have to be super athletic, just a decent cyclist who is on a mission to get moving - on a mountain bike!”
1. Take a skills course
A really good starting point, if you’ve never ridden off- road, is to take a confidence boosting cycling skills course. There are lots on offer, so just put MTB tuition into your search engine and you’ll find courses near you or organisations you can contact to obtain this information. Attending an MTB skills course will help identify your level of ability from the start and from that you should be aware of your limits regarding your choice of cycling terrain – flat, rocky or hilly.
2. Choosing the right bike
Choosing the right bike is very important as without the right MTB you won’t be able to master mountain biking. Whilst fine for country lanes an ordinary leisure bike just isn’t going to hack it on the mountain bike trails.
3. Age isn't a barrier
Age isn’t such a barrier to mountain biking as you may think. Whilst mountain biking definitely has appeal for the adventure-hungry alpha males, it can also become an activity for the whole fitness-loving family. There are an increasing number of junior ‘starter’ mini mountain bikes available with just the right amount of grip for off road terrain. Some starter mountain bikes, such as the pink model below, are designed for children from as young as around 4 or 5 years upwards. For the less fit members of the family or for those more experienced mountain bikers looking for a little extra power to their pedals, to go to new levels on their mountain bike adventures, the new generation electric mountain bikes such as the Diamondback Ranger are just the job.
4. Mountain biking is for everyone
Don’t labour under the misapprehension that mountain biking is primarily a men’s interest leisure activity as there’s a definite upsurge in the number of women in their 20's & 30's who are getting into mountain biking right now!
5. Get the right frame
Choosing a bike - Mountain bike frames come in many sizes and styles, so it’s best to visit a local specialist bike shop to find the best mountain bike for you. I’d recommend that you really need to invest in a good bike that’s fit for purpose. Some bike shops now offer the facilities to ‘demo’ a mountain bike so remember to ask your local dealer if this is possible. See here to find your nearest DiamondBack dealer.
6. Check out the Diamondback range
If you get a chance, take a look at the Diamondback MTB range. I know these bikes well. One of the great things about Diamondback is that they offer mountain bikes that are suited to beginners but as you become a more seasoned rider then there are more advanced and aggressive models available in the portfolio best suited to the skilful mountain biker.
7. The perfect bike for any beginner
I’d say DiamondBack’s SYNC 1.0 model takes some beating for starters and offers excellent specification for the money. It’s available in both men’s & women’s designs and 5 frame sizes.
8. Cycle together
If you’re a total newcomer to mountain biking. It’s a good idea to cycle with another person for safety. We‘d suggest you choose the more established trails rather than straying off the beaten track. There are some amazing trail centres across the UK which are suited to differing levels of capability. Trails are often colour coded according to their degree of difficulty. Again, have a word at your local bike shop, as this can be a great place to find out more about local mountain biking trails.
9. Do you research
We’d suggest you take a look at websites such as www.sustrans.org.uk or www.forestry.gov.uk/england-mountainbiking for more information. Joining British Cycling has many benefits too www.britishcycling.org.uk. There are also several women only cycling clubs where mastery of mountain biking is a great group activity & just the thing for the sociable summertime months.
10. Get kitted out
It’s important to get kitted out for mountain biking too – for safety and comfort. It almost goes without saying that a well-fitting helmet is an absolute must-have plus gloves, cycling shorts, a breathable jersey & a hydration backpack will also help make the ride more enjoyable. Once we’re approaching autumn you’ll need high vis accessories and great bike lights too!