New to mountain biking? Then you might like to know about these five pieces of kit that we think are essential for new riders. These items will help your riding, keep you safe, help you enjoy your new hobby even more and they don't have to cost mega bucks either.
A bike is a given, seeing at this article is for new mountain biker we'll assume you already have one of those, or are borrowing or hiring one! Dig into the rest of the list below and remember to let us know in the comments if you think we should add anything else which you find indispensable.
The bits of kit every new mountain biker should own
It goes without saying that if you ride off-road, it’s an extremely good idea to wear a helmet. The odd crash is pretty much par for the course, and without a lid to protect your bonce and its precious contents, your trail riding career could be shorter lived than you expected. We suggest you buy a 'half shell' helmet, aimed at mountain biking with a peak and adjustable chin straps.
Helmets tend to offer better safety, comfort and durability the more you spend, but you can get a well-appointed lid from around £50. As a minimum, ensure the helmet you choose conforms to a European safety standard - denoted by BSEN, followed by a number (usually found on a sticker inside the helmet). Also keep an eye out for helmets passed with a Snell Foundation B90 rating, as this is a superior standard again. We have guides here for the best helmets under £100 and the best trail and enduro helmets here.
Your shoes are one of your main contact points with your bike. A good pair will help grip the pedals, support your feet and be more robust than regular trainers too. You'll probably be using flat pedals with some aggressive pins so any shoes built for running or walking will soon get shredded!
Mountain bike shoes will have stiffer soles to provide you with a more efficient pedalling platform and the rubber of the sole will be stickier, gripping the pedals and stopping your feet from sliding around. We've got a guide to both flat and clipess shoes below, plus one about the best flat pedals too so you can find your perfect set up.
This is the first essential tool, without a good pump you'll not be able to keep air in the tyres. Toppping up your tyres with air will be something you do regularly, not just something you do after a puncture. Find a decent track pump (floor pump) to keep at home and make life easier and the process quicker.
Something to look out for is high volume versus high pressure. A high-pressure pump delivers smaller bursts of high-pressure air, suitable for pumping narrower rubber up to higher pressures. A high volume pump does the opposite, delivering a lot of air into a tyre quickly which will make inflating and seating fatter mountain bike tyres easier.
A tool kit to take with you on your bike needn't be massive or costly. As a starter we'd recommend a decent multitool, a mini pump, an innertube and a pair of tyre levers. That little lot should get you out of trouble and get you home too. If your tyres are tubless make sure you carry tubeless plugs for on the go repairs without putting a tube in the bike.
Make sure the Allen key has all the right bits for your bike, including a T25 and a larger bit too, for example your pedals might use an 8mm Allen key. Buy a decent mini pump too, they end up working pretty hard if you use them a lot so get the best one you can afford.
Other cheap additions to a small tool kit are zip ties, duct tape, chain lube and spare brake pads.
Water bottle or hydration pack
Whether you choose to stay hydrated via a water bottle or a hydration pack is really down to your ride length. For shorter rides (less than an hour) you'll get by with a water bottle attached to the bike via bottle cage but for anything longer you'll probably want a hydration pack. These are bags with a bladder inside that can carry up to three litres of water, they are easy to drink from on the go and have the added benefit of being able to carry your tools, you coat and plenty of snacks too. Whichever you choose, staying hydrated is key to both health and performance, there are plenty of options and, of course, a water bottle is the cheaper one. Hydrations packs are usually well made and long-lasting though and as long as you look after and keep the bladder clean then it'll last you for years to come - the best ones we've tested are here.
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