Want to start mountain biking, but aren't sure what you'll need? This is a collection of some of our favorite mountain biking gear for beginners.
Are you looking for more ways to spend time outdoors? Mountain biking isn't just a great workout; it's also incredibly fun!
If you're ready to buy some gear, but aren't sure where to start, the choices can be overwhelming. Here are our top picks of mountain biking gear for beginners.
Essential Mountain Biking Gear
A Mountain Bike
This one might sound obvious.
There are lots of high-end bikes out there, but to get started, try buying a moderately priced bike that fits you well!
While mountain bikes have some adjustable features, like seat height and angle, it's important to start with a frame that actually suits you.
Here are some tips to help you understand how bikes are sized, and what you should be looking for to get the best fit.
I recommend trying out a few mountain bikes in person if possible. Mountain bike sizing charts are an estimate, and it's a good idea to see for yourself what size you're most comfortable riding.
Budget Mountain Bikes
For a budget bike, we looked for bikes under $300.
One of our favorite budget bikes was this Nishiki pueblo bike entry-level mountain bike.
It's relatively inexpensive, came in a nice range of sizes and was a great way to get started! In time, I found that the steel-framed Nishiki was a bit heavier than I preferred, and the tires were somewhat small (because I purchased a small-size bike).
You might also have success shopping for budget mountain bikes at retailers such as Walmart.
Mid-Range Priced Mountain Bikes
Mountain bikes can be prohibitively expensive, and can easily cost over a thousand dollars. For our mid-range priced bikes, we looked at bikes that were under $600, or were regularly on sale for less than $600.
We shopped around and ultimately decided to test out some bikes from DiamondBack. We've seen DiamondBack bikes in person at REI, and were really impressed with the features available for the price point.
I’ve been testing out the Hatch 3, and I love that it comes in an extra-small model with fairly large 27.5" tires. (Most extra-small bikes I’ve tried had smaller tires, which I found make it harder to keep up with friends on standard-size bikes.)
It’s also easy to maneuver and lightweight, and the chain seems to change gears much more smoothly than the budget bikes we tried. The Hatch 3 is also relatively inexpensive for a nicer mountain bike, and seems to regularly be on sale (yay!).
We've also been testing out DiamondBack's Mason 1, which comes with wider 3" tires, making it even better for off-road riding.
The Mason 1 doesn't come in an extra-small, but our taller (than me) testers have been thrilled with its responsiveness and performance. Our testers were thrilled with how well-balanced this bike was, and the wider tires made riding on bumpy roads a breeze!
A Bicycle Helmet
Although we typically ride during the day, this bicycle helmet with a built-in light for night rides is a nice option to have.
The light sits on the back to make you extra visible in the evening. The light is detachable (and also rechargeable), so for daytime rides, you can just leave it out.
For something a bit higher end with a slightly more comfortable fit and more ventilation, we like the Smith Optics Engage helmet.
A Bike Rack
If you need a way to transport your bike to the trail, consider getting a bike rack for your car. We've tried several, and are very happy with this Kuat bike rack.
The Kuat bike rack does require a tow-hitch hookup, so it might not be an option if you drive a sedan or a car without a hitch.
In the past, we used a trunk-mounted bike rack (similar to the one linked), and found it worked fairly well, but was slightly less sturdy and more difficult to secure our bikes in urban areas.
Also, we found small paint scratches on our car after using a trunk bike rack on a cross-country trip, so I'd probably only recommend this style rack for shorter trips.
Our Favorite Mountain Biking Gear Accessories
Now for some other accessories that will make mountain biking more comfortable and safe!
These half-finger biking gloves have lots of padding to absorb the bumps you'll encounter along the path.
This will minimize the fatigue you might otherwise get in your hands.
Another option is these full-finger biking gloves, which are also designed to give you a solid grip. Since they're made with reflective fabric, they're a great choice for riding at dawn or dusk!
Some opt to wear shoes that clip into their bike pedals, but as a mountain biking beginner, you don't need to purchase a special biking shoe right away.
My preferred biking shoe is a sneaker with a fairly flat, grippy base. I love riding in my Keen Elsa Lite sneakers, they grip the pedals well and are washable, a major perk. I pair them with these Smartwool ankle socks to help keep my feet dry.
You'll definitely want to bring water on your ride, especially on hot, long rides.
The daypack can hold up to 2.5 liters and is insulated to keep your water cool. Plus, it's kind of handy to use the extra pockets if you need to store something.
Do you plan on riding in an area with lots of poison ivy? Sometimes we don't quite realize it was there until it's too late!
This Tecnu poison ivy + oak scrub is fantastic to have on hand. It gets rid of the plant oil that causes itching.