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Mountain biking has come a long way since the time when deer trails and walking paths were the only trails that bikers followed and clunkers were the only choice that they had to enjoy the mountain and the adventures that it quietly nestles.
Today there is no dearth of bike trails with varying terrains across the country. One can even choose trails with differing degrees of difficulty. Interestingly, some cities are designed keeping mountain bikers in mind, providing them their space and opportunities to explore various illecebrous trails.
Like trails, mountain bikes too have evolved rapidly over decades. Initially, mountain bikers freewheeled down mountain trails on their heavy cruiser bicycles. Since the development of mountain biking as a sport, during the 1970s, various modifications were made to the bikes by bikers who started grasping the pulse of their trails.
In the late 1970s, bicycle manufacturers began to make exclusive mountain bikes using materials such as M4 aluminum, the then available hi-tech lightweight material. In 1979, Lawwill Pro-cruiser, the first-ever mountain bike was produced.
Since then, mountain bikes have evolved drastically, with several manufacturers experimenting with various developments in geometry, suspension, wheels, tires, and so on.
10 Mountain Biking Tips For Beginners (Video)
Beginner Mountain Bike Trails
Mountain biking for beginners must start with a voyage which is both fun and exciting. While there may be numerous bike trails near you, you might still be wondering “how do I know which is the easy bike trails near me?” We are here to help. Read on to explore some mountain trails in twenty states in the US to make your trip frustration-free.
- State: Alabama
- Location: Talledega National Forest – toward the far southwestern edge
- Features: 15 miles of flowy singletrack with gradual climbs
- Bonus: Picturesque lakeside scenery
- State: Alaska
- Location: Along Kepler Bradley Lakes
- Features: Double track trails- XC style
- Bonus: Manly single track options too
- State: Arizona
- Location: Tucson
- Features: 8 miles of beginner-friendly trails
- Bonus: Opportunity to get close to Saguaro cacti
- State: Arkansas
- Location: Fort Smith
- Features: Smooth & fast single tracks
- Bonus: A great find in the state for beginners, as the state is full of adventurous trails.
5. Ford Ord
- State: California
- Location: Fort Ord National Monument
- Features: Total 229 kilometers of trail, of which 39 are easy trails
- Bonus: Set out to several intermediate and difficult trails in the area, if you get enough of the easy trails too soon.
- State: Colorado
- Location: Castle Rock (about halfway between Colorado Springs and Denver)
- Features: Famous for single track Front Range beginner trails
- Bonus: About 200 other easy trails too in Colorado, to choose from.
- State: Connecticut
- Location: Hebron
- Features: Start at the inner White Trail
- Tip: Avoid solo rides, as trails are not always marked well
- State: Florida
- Location: Spruce Creek
- Features: 7-10 miles of beginner-friendly trails
- Bonus: A place to have fun on the bike
9. Paynes Creek
- State: Georgia
- Location: inside the Georgia border with South Carolina
- Features: Singletrack trail along the shore of Lake Hartwell
- Bonus: Smooth, fast, and flowy, with minimal climbing
- State: Idaho
- Location: Kestrel area
- Features: Multiple trails; trails get difficult as you move higher and farther
- Tip: Popular with hikers on the weekends; keep this in mind when you plan
- State: Illinois
- Location: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
- Features: Almost 10 miles of single track; 8 trails
- Bonus: Great for practice
- State: Indiana
- Location: Potato Creek State Park
- Features: 8 miles of trail; great for kids too
- Bonus: Consists of few technical sections
13. George Wyth
- State: Iowa
- Location: George Wyth
- Features: Mild, flowy singletrack trails
- Bonus: Minimal traffic
- State: Kansas
- Location: Lawrence
- Features: 10 miles of easy, non-technical trail
- Bonus: Great for family recreation
15. Capitol View
- State: Kentucky
- Location: Capitol View
- Features: Not beginner-friendly; easily accessible from Frankfurt
16. Comite Trails
- State: Louisiana
- Location: Near Pride
- Features: 8.2 kilometers of loop trail; heavily trafficked; mostly smooth; has little elevation change
17. The Sandpit
- State: Maine
- Location: Sandpit
- Features: Trails with roots on top of rocks
- Bonus: Bits of smooth single tracks
- State: Maryland
- Location: Near Crownsville
- Features: 8.9 kilometers of the loop trail, great for all skill levels
- Bonus: Enjoy the river as you ride along
19. Cutler Park
- State: Massachusetts
- Location: Cutler Park
- Features: Network of trails around an extensive marshland, with bare minimum elevation change.
- Bonus: Close to Boston
- State: Michigan
- Location: DTE Energy Foundation
- Features: 20 miles of single track, first 5 miles quite easy for beginners
What Is A Single Track?
Trails that are approximately the width of the bike are referred to as the single track, contrary to double track, which can easily accommodate four-wheeler vehicles. Typically smooth and flowing, you can also find rocky portions, large tree roots, hills drops, switch-backs, berms, jumps, banked turns, and the likes on single tracks.
It is common for riders to choose single tracks over double tracks since they are mostly designed specifically for mountain biking, and hence encompass features of the sport. Some single tracks even include technical trail features, popular by its acronym TTF’s, like log rides, skinnies, log piles, wall rides, and so on.
However, bike riders are responsible to follow some rules to promote courteous conduct on shared-use trails.
How To Ride Technical Mountain Bike Trails
Technical riding requires skills and confidence, and it is advised to get help from a coach or experienced bike rider before you hit the technical trails. However, here are some tips that would be handy:
Riding on rocky trails can be scary. But experts say that it can be fun and easy if you know how to ride along with those evil-looking solid masses. Bike Radar suggests that with proper position, vision, speed, and braking, you can ace your rocky ride.
Bike Radar suggests hitting rocky sections in a standing position since it will help in shifting your weight while reacting to bumps. Do not hit rocks and roots at a fast pace, as it could get you kicked forward; keeping your weight behind your saddle is the way to go. The pedals must be kept at level, to ensure that you do not clip delinquent lumps.
You must spot your line through the section and have your path set firmly in your mind. Once you hit the line, your focus must be more towards the exit, as it will help you stay firm to it, even though you may take some hits on the way.
You must stay smooth and loose while you maintain the speed, on the cleanest line. Even though bouncing off the rocks might pump your adrenaline, the cleanest lines will help you ride quickly over technical trails. However, clean would not mean clean as you would more likely ride over few lumps even on the ‘cleanest’ routes.
It is important to be completely in control before reaching the section, to tame the trail. When you are riding over wet rocks or roots, it is suggested to stay off the brakes. In case you have to brake, avoid slipping and locking up by modulating the power.
Mountain Biking Beginners Gear
Knowing how to dress form top-to-toe will go a long way in ensuring that you have a smooth and comfortable ride on the bike. The location, weather, and temperature must be taken into account while you decide your gear and accessories on the mountain bike.
Read on this mountain biking for beginners guide to find some gear and accessories tips that would give you a worry-free riding experience.
Pants And Jersey:
Your pants and jersey must be loose but not baggy. They must allow movement and wick the sweat. Opt for shorts with linings, as it will help significantly in preventing saddle fatigue.
Related: Cheap Mountain Bike Pants
You may not need any explanation why this is extremely important. Helmets come in three types: full face, cross-country, and skateboarder. Most riders opt for the lightweight cross-country ones.
Related: Best Helmet For Mountain Biking
Gloves are used for both safety and comfort. Mountain biking gloves are more padded than the road touring counterparts.
Glasses will protect you from the sun and flying debris. You can go for filtered or colored glasses for extra protection against eyestrain on extremely sunny days.
Related: Best Budget MTB Glasses
Shoes must match the pedal design. The pedals can be a platform, or clipless. In most situations and especially for beginners, the platform is most ideal. Though there are riding shoes made specifically for mountain biking, any flat-soled shoes or boots can be sufficient too.
Most beginners don’t go for clipless pedals because they may fasten your shoes and block the movement in situations where you may have to put your foot down in a jiffy.
Whichever shoe you choose, you must ensure that they protect your toes well and are comfortable while walking, as you may often have to take small hikes with your bike.
A hydration backpack is a mountain bike rider’s best friend. Load your extra clothes, water, energy drink, power snacks, and your repair essentials in the backpack and feel more confident and energetic on the go.
Mountain Biking vs Road Biking
Mountain biking and road biking have many things in common. However, mountain biking is considered to be more demanding in terms of control, and expertise, due to the higher levels of difficulty.
This mountain biking for beginners guide will cover the main differences between the two:
Mountain bike trails mostly have more obstacles, in the form of roots, rocks, and other man-made obstacles designed for an adventurous riding experience. On the other hand, roads are mostly paved and hence smooth and sans any trying obstacles.
The difficulty of riding over trails full of rocks and roots require mountain bike rider to put more physical effort when compared to riding on smooth roads.
The trail surfaces, being different for both, have an impact on speed. In mountain bike riding, it would be difficult to ride at a higher speed, as the trail surface may consist of dirt and vegetation along with roots and rocks, prompting the rider to slow down the speed.
Tire Resistance And Aerodynamics:
The resistance is more with mountain bikes, as the tires are fat and squishy while road bikes mostly have thin, high-pressure tires. The riders are mostly in an aero position on road bikes.
Best Mountain Bikes For The Money
Now that you have decided to go mountain biking, you must be wondering which bike is worth investing in? With numerous choices out there, it can be a daunting task to choose the right one for entry-level.
This mountain biking for beginners guide will list three great options that you could consider for your maiden bike:
If durability is your primary concern, this mountain bike with an aluminum steel frame is where you can place your trust on. With outstanding features such as anti-skid tires, Shimano twist-shift gearing, and full suspension design, you can rely on this bike to take you along the terrains safely.
The alloy wheels come with a 75mm suspension fork, which makes the ride smooth along pavements and bumpy trails. The Wellgo Nylon pedals are comfortable enough to save your legs from fatigue even during a long ride.
With 7-speed gears, you can adjust the speed at any time. The accessories that come along are the racks, fender, and mount.
- Wheel Size: 26 Inch
- Frame Size: 19.5 Inch
- Weight: 33.68 lbs
- Color: Black / Red
This mountain bike is more appropriate for general trails. This bike comes with more hi-end components and hence is priced a bit higher. It has a durable aluminum frame and has RockShox Revelation RC front shocks, which allows more adjustment and gives the rider a smoother feel.
The tires are wide making rides over uneven trails more forgiving. With Shimano Hydraulic disk brakes, you can count on its brake power during almost all weathers.
- Wheel Size: 27.5 Inch
- Frame Size: 18 Inch
- Weight: 37.5 lbs
- Color: Grey
With top-notch geometry and a sleek look the Schwinn Traxion Mountain Bike comes in a durable Alpha Platinum Aluminum frame. When you ride the bike, you will thank its mechanism, due to the smooth gear changes that it offers.
With SRAM DUB bottom bracket, you will also experience smooth pedaling even during off-road adventures or technical trail rides. The extra stiff and responsive handling that it provides makes it a worthy investment for beginners.
- Wheel Size: 27.5 Inch
- Frame Size: 18 Inch
- Weight: 49 lbs
- Color: Blue/Grey
Tips To Choose Your First Mountain Bike:
- Choose the one that is right for you.
- Compare specifications of different models of mountain bikes.
- Identify the size that would give you a comfortable biking experience.
- Go for the best mountain bike that fits your budget.
- Before you buy, borrow and ride from your friends, or try demo models.
- Take your riding style into consideration when you buy a mountain bike.
Mountain biking is growing exponentially as a sport, and many people include mountain biking in their workout regimen too. Whether for recreational purposes or to improve your health, mountain biking is a great option to go for. We hope our mountain biking for beginners guide helps you get started with this amazing sport. Comment below with your questions and suggestions.