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MTB Biking Gear: The Essential Kit List for Advanced Riders

Mountain biking has always been a way for me to blend physical challenge with the beauty of the outdoors. Whether I’m navigating trails, climbing hills, or racing down dirt paths, I’ve found that having the right gear is essential for both safety and performance. The right equipment doesn’t just make the ride smoother; it ensures I’m prepared for the varied demands of mountain biking.

Here, we’ll explore the essential gear every mountain biker needs, from the bike itself to safety equipment and beyond. We’ll provide useful details about popular brands, price ranges, and top tips for both beginners and advanced riders.

Choosing the Right Mountain Bike

The foundation of your mountain biking experience is your bike. Choosing the right mountain bike depends on the type of terrain you plan to tackle and your personal riding style. Here’s a breakdown of the main types of mountain bikes and tips for choosing the right one:

Types of Mountain Bikes:

  • Cross-Country (XC) Bikes: Designed for speed and efficiency on varied terrain. Ideal for long distances and climbing hills. Popular brands include Trek (Marlin series), Specialized (Epic series), and Giant (Anthem series). Price range: £500 to £3,000.
  • Trail Bikes: Versatile bikes that perform well on a variety of trails. They balance climbing ability with descending prowess. Notable models include the Santa Cruz Hightower, Canyon Spectral, and Yeti SB130. Price range: £1,000 to £5,000.
  • Enduro Bikes: Built for aggressive downhill riding with some uphill capability. Perfect for rough, technical trails. Top brands include Specialized (Enduro series), Trek (Slash series), and Commencal (Meta series). Price range: £2,000 to £6,000.
  • Downhill (DH) Bikes: Designed exclusively for steep, rugged descents. They are heavy and robust with high suspension travel. Popular models are the Santa Cruz V10, Trek Session, and Specialized Demo. Price range: £2,500 to £8,000.
  • Factors to Consider:
    • Terrain: Assess the types of trails you will ride most frequently. Cross-country bikes are great for smooth trails, while downhill bikes are best for rough, steep descents.
    • Riding Style: Beginners may prefer trail bikes for their versatility, while advanced riders might opt for enduro or downhill bikes for more aggressive riding.
    • Budget: Set a budget and try to stick to it. Remember, investing in a quality bike can significantly enhance your riding experience and safety.
    • Frame Material: Aluminium frames are durable and affordable, while carbon fibre frames are lighter and more expensive but offer better performance.

Top Tips:

  • Always test ride a bike before purchasing. This helps you get a feel for its fit and performance.
  • Get your bike professionally fitted to ensure optimal comfort and efficiency.
  • Look for bikes that allow for component upgrades as you progress in the sport.
  • Tips for Beginners:
    • Start with a versatile trail bike to explore different types of terrain.
    • Focus on comfort and control over high-end components initially.
    • Consider buying a used bike from a reputable shop to save money while getting a feel for the sport.
  • Tips for Advanced Riders:
    • Invest in a bike that matches your specific riding style and terrain preference.
    • Pay attention to high-quality suspension systems and advanced drivetrain components.
    • Regularly upgrade components to keep up with your advancing skills and the demands of tougher trails.

By carefully considering these factors and tips, you’ll be better equipped to choose a mountain bike that suits your needs and enhances your mountain biking adventures.

Safety Gear

Ensuring your safety on the trails is paramount. The right safety gear not only protects you in the event of a fall but also enhances your confidence and overall riding experience.

  1. Helmets:
    • Importance: Helmets are crucial for protecting your head from serious injuries. A well-fitted helmet can be the difference between a minor fall and a major accident.
    • Types:
      • Full-Face Helmets: Offer maximum protection for downhill and enduro riding. They cover the entire face and have a chin guard. Popular models include the Fox Rampage and Bell Super DH. Price range: £150 to £400.
      • Half-Shell Helmets: Suitable for cross-country and trail riding. They provide good ventilation and protection for the top and sides of the head. Notable brands are Giro (Fixture), POC (Tectal), and Specialized (Ambush). Price range: £50 to £200.
    • Choosing the Right One:
      • Ensure a snug fit without being too tight.
      • When choosing a mountain biking helmet, it’s important to look for safety certifications such as EN 1078 or CPSC, which indicate that the helmet meets stringent safety standards.
      • Additionally, consider helmets with features like MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System), which provides extra protection by reducing rotational forces during an impact.
  2. Protective Gear:
    • Knee and Elbow Pads: Essential for protecting joints during falls. Brands like Fox, G-Form, and Leatt offer durable and comfortable options. Price range: £30 to £100 per pair.
    • Body Armour: Provides extensive protection for the chest, back, and shoulders, especially useful for downhill and enduro riding. Popular models include the Leatt 3DF AirFit Body Protector and Alpinestars Bionic Jacket. Price range: £100 to £300.
    • Gloves: Enhance grip and protect your hands. Look for gloves with good padding and ventilation. Brands to consider are Fox, Giro, and Endura. Price range: £20 to £50.
  3. Lights and Reflectors:
    • Importance: Visibility is crucial, especially during early morning or late evening rides.
    • Types:
      • Front Lights: Bright LED lights to illuminate the trail ahead. Brands like NiteRider, Bontrager, and Lezyne offer powerful options. Price range: £50 to £150.
      • Rear Lights: Red LED lights to make you visible to others. Consider models from CatEye and Knog. Price range: £20 to £50.
      • Reflective Clothing: Adds extra visibility, particularly in low-light conditions. Brands like Proviz and Altura offer a range of reflective gear. Price range: £30 to £100.

Comfort and Performance Gear

Comfort and performance gear enhance your riding experience by ensuring you remain comfortable and can perform at your best, regardless of the trail conditions.

  1. Cycling Clothing:
    • Moisture-Wicking Jerseys: Keep you dry and comfortable by wicking sweat away from your body. Brands like Endura, Fox, and Patagonia offer high-quality options. Price range: £30 to £70.
    • Padded Shorts: Provide cushioning for long rides, reducing saddle soreness. Look for shorts from Pearl Izumi, Castelli, and Specialized. Price range: £40 to £100.
    • Weather-Appropriate Gear: Layering is key. Consider breathable base layers, insulating mid-layers, and waterproof outer layers. Brands to look for include Gore Wear, Rapha, and The North Face. Price range: £50 to £200.
  2. Shoes and Pedals:
    • Clipless vs. Flat Pedals:
      • Clipless Pedals: Provide better power transfer and control. Shimano and Crankbrothers offer reliable models. Price range: £60 to £150.
      • Flat Pedals: Easier for beginners and more versatile for technical riding. Look for pedals from Race Face and DMR. Price range: £30 to £100.
    • Mountain Biking Shoes:
      • Clipless Shoes: Designed to work with clipless pedals, offering a secure fit. Brands like Shimano, Five Ten, and Giro offer excellent options. Price range: £80 to £200.
      • Flat Pedal Shoes: Provide grip and protection while allowing easy foot removal. Five Ten and Ride Concepts are popular choices. Price range: £60 to £150.
  3. Saddles and Dropper Seatposts:
    • Saddles: Finding the right saddle can greatly enhance comfort. Look for models from WTB, Selle Italia, and Fizik that suit your riding style and anatomy. Price range: £40 to £150.
    • Dropper Seatposts: Allow you to adjust your saddle height on the fly, essential for varying terrain. Brands like RockShox, Fox, and KS offer reliable dropper posts. Price range: £150 to £400.

Maintenance Tools

Keeping your mountain bike in top condition is essential for safety and performance. Over the years, I’ve learned that being prepared for any situation on the trail can make the difference between a great ride and a long walk back home.

Basic Toolkit:

  • Multi-Tool: A compact multi-tool should include Allen wrenches, screwdrivers, and a chain tool. Brands like Crankbrothers and Park Tool offer excellent options. Price range: £20 to £40.
  • Tire Levers: Essential for changing tubes or tyres. Look for durable levers from brands like Pedro’s or Lezyne. Price range: £5 to £10.
  • Portable Chain Tool: Useful for fixing broken chains on the go. Consider models from Park Tool or Topeak. Price range: £10 to £20.
  • Top Tips:
    • Beginners: Start with a basic multi-tool and tire levers. As you gain experience, you’ll know which additional tools you need.
    • Advanced Riders: Carry a more comprehensive toolkit, including a spare derailleur hanger and master link for quick chain repairs.

Pump and Tyre Repair Kits:

  • Mini Pump: A reliable mini pump is crucial for maintaining tyre pressure. Brands like Topeak and Lezyne offer durable, high-efficiency pumps. Price range: £20 to £50.
  • CO2 Inflators: Provide quick and easy inflation. Ideal for race scenarios or when you’re short on time. Brands to consider include Genuine Innovations and Pro Bike Tool. Price range: £15 to £30.
  • Patch Kits and Spare Tubes: Always carry a patch kit and at least one spare tube. Park Tool and Rema Tip Top offer reliable kits. Price range: £5 to £15.
  • Top Tips:
    • Beginners: Familiarise yourself with using a mini pump and patch kit before hitting the trails.
    • Advanced Riders: Consider carrying a tubeless repair kit if you ride tubeless tyres.

Lubricants and Cleaners:

  • Chain Lubricant: Keeping your chain well-lubricated is essential for smooth shifting and preventing rust. Wet lube is best for muddy conditions, while dry lube works well in dry, dusty environments. Brands like Muc-Off and Finish Line are popular choices. Price range: £5 to £15.
  • Bike Cleaner: Regular cleaning prevents dirt and grime build-up. Look for biodegradable options from brands like Muc-Off or Finish Line. Price range: £10 to £20.
  • Top Tips:
    • Beginners: Clean and lubricate your bike regularly to extend its lifespan and maintain performance.
    • Advanced Riders: Invest in a comprehensive cleaning kit that includes brushes and degreasers for a thorough clean.

Navigation and Communication

While I love getting lost more than most, being able to find your way back to a road when you’re in a pinch is a basic safety precaution. Here’s a rundown of essential navigation and communication gear based on my personal experiences.

Bike Computers and GPS Devices:

  • Bike Computers: Track your speed, distance, and time. Advanced models include GPS and mapping capabilities. Are your friends going to believe you hit 75 kph on that run without a computer, almost certainly not? Popular brands include Garmin (Edge series) and Wahoo (ELEMNT series). Price range: £100 to £500.
  • GPS Devices: Dedicated GPS units offer detailed maps and reliable navigation. Garmin and Lezyne are trusted names in this category. Price range: £200 to £500.
  • Top Tips:
    • Beginners: Start with a basic bike computer to track essential metrics. Upgrade to a GPS-enabled model as you start exploring more complex trails.
    • Advanced Riders: Use GPS devices with detailed mapping and trail navigation features to explore new routes confidently.

Mobile Phone Mounts:

  • Mounts: Securely hold your phone, allowing you to use navigation apps without risking damage. Look for robust mounts from Quad Lock or RAM Mounts. Price range: £20 to £50.
  • Top Tips:
    • Beginners: Choose a mount that’s easy to install and remove, ensuring it’s compatible with your phone model.
    • Advanced Riders: Opt for mounts that offer additional protection and stability for rougher trails.

Communication Devices:

  1. Two-Way Radios: Ideal for staying in touch with riding partners in areas with no mobile signal. Motorola and Midland offer reliable options. Price range: £50 to £150.
  2. Bike Intercom Systems: Allow hands-free communication with fellow riders. Sena and Cardo offer high-quality intercom systems designed for cyclists. Price range: £100 to £300.
  3. Top Tips:
    • Beginners: Carry a basic two-way radio for safety when riding in remote areas.
    • Advanced Riders: Invest in a bike intercom system for seamless communication during group rides and events.

Investing in the right maintenance tools and navigation equipment ensures that you’re prepared for any situation on the trail. Whether you’re just starting or are an experienced rider, having the right gear can significantly enhance your mountain biking experience.

Hydration and Nutrition

Ensuring you stay hydrated and fueled is essential for peak performance on the trails. Over the years, I’ve discovered that the right hydration and nutrition strategy can significantly enhance your endurance and enjoyment on any ride.

Water Bottles and Cages:

  • Why It Matters: Dehydration can lead to fatigue, decreased performance, and even health risks. Having a reliable water source is non-negotiable.
  • Innovative Options:
    • CamelBak Podium: This bottle features a self-sealing cap that eliminates splatters and spills, making it a favourite among many cyclists. Price: £10 to £15.
    • Specialized Purist: Offers a glass-like liner to prevent taste transfer from plastic. Price: £12 to £18.
  • Expert Tip: Choose a cage that securely holds your bottle on rough terrain. The Elite Custom Race Plus cage is a top pick for its sturdy grip. Price: £15 to £20.

Hydration Packs:

  • Beyond Basics: Hydration packs aren’t just about carrying water—they provide a hands-free drinking experience and extra storage for gear.
  • Top Picks:
    • CamelBak M.U.L.E.: With a 3-litre capacity and ample storage for tools and snacks, it’s perfect for long rides. Price: £80 to £120.
    • Osprey Raptor: Known for its comfortable fit and integrated tool roll, this pack is great for serious riders. Price: £90 to £140.
  • Pro Tip: Look for packs with a well-ventilated back panel to keep you cool during intense rides.

Energy Bars and Gels:

  • Strategic Fueling: Proper nutrition helps maintain energy levels, preventing the dreaded “bonk” during strenuous rides.
  • Effective Choices:
    • Voom Nutrition: Packed with organic ingredients and various flavours, they provide sustained energy. Price: £1.50 to £2.50 each.
    • GU Energy Gels: Quick energy boost with electrolytes, ideal for mid-ride consumption. Price: £1.20 to £2 each.
  • Advice: Experiment with different brands and flavours during training rides to find what works best for your body without upsetting your stomach, especially before setting out on multiday rides.

Storage Solutions

Efficient storage solutions are crucial for carrying essential gear and supplies while maintaining balance and comfort on the trail. Here’s a look at some innovative and practical options based on my extensive trail experience.

Bike Bags and Frame Packs:

  • Maximising Space: Frame packs utilise the unused space within your bike’s frame, allowing you to carry more without affecting your balance.
  • Standout Models:
    • Apidura Backcountry Frame Pack: Waterproof and durable, perfect for all-weather conditions. Price: £80 to £120.
    • Revelate Designs Tangle: Adjustable to fit various frame sizes, providing versatile storage. Price: £70 to £100.
  • Expert Insight: Ensure the pack doesn’t interfere with your water bottle placement or riding posture.

Backpacks and Waist Packs:

  • Balanced Carrying: Backpacks and waist packs distribute weight evenly, reducing strain on your back and shoulders.
  • Top Choices:
    • Osprey Raptor: Includes a 2.5-litre hydration reservoir and ample organisational pockets. Price: £90 to £140.
    • CamelBak Repack: A waist pack that keeps your essentials within easy reach, ideal for shorter rides. Price: £60 to £90.
  • Pro Tip: Look for packs with adjustable straps and padded back panels for maximum comfort.

Saddle and Handlebar Bags:

  • Extended Capacity: These bags are ideal for bikepacking or long-distance rides where additional storage is necessary.
  • Noteworthy Options:
    • Ortlieb Seat-Pack: Waterproof with a roll-top closure, perfect for keeping your gear dry. Price: £100 to £150.
    • Apidura Handlebar Pack: Lightweight and durable, suitable for carrying bulky items like sleeping gear. Price: £80 to £130.
  • Insider Tip: Ensure the bags are securely fastened to prevent any movement or shifting that could affect your handling.

Additional Accessories

Here are some must-have accessories based on my personal experiences and industry standards:

Mudguards and Fenders:

  • Why They Matter: Keeping mud and debris off your bike and body not only makes your ride cleaner but also helps protect your bike components from excessive wear and tear.
  • Top Picks:
    • SKS Mudguards: Durable and effective in preventing mud splatter. Price: £20 to £40.
    • Mucky Nutz Fender: Lightweight and easy to install, perfect for quick protection. Price: £10 to £20.
  • Pro Tip: Choose fenders that are easy to attach and remove, allowing flexibility based on weather conditions.

Bike Stands and Covers:

  • Importance: Proper storage extends the life of your bike by preventing rust and damage. Stands also make maintenance tasks easier.
  • Recommended Products:
    • Feedback Sports Bike Stand: Stable and adjustable, ideal for home use. Price: £50 to £100.
    • Pro Bike Tool Cover: Waterproof and UV resistant, protecting your bike from the elements. Price: £20 to £40.
  • Expert Advice: Invest in a quality cover if you store your bike outdoors, and a sturdy stand for regular maintenance and adjustments.

Mirrors and Action Cameras:

  • Mirrors improve visibility on the trail, while action cameras capture your adventures and help review your riding techniques.
  • Best Choices:
    • Hafny Bar End Mirror: Adjustable and durable, providing a wide field of view. Price: £15 to £25.
    • GoPro Hero9: High-quality footage and rugged build, perfect for capturing every ride. GoPro have come a long way from the old days. Its no longer the case that you take footage and it sits there, unedited, never to be viewed. Its so much easier to transfer and get an auto created edit in a few mins at the end of a day! Price: £250 to £400.

Conclusion

Equipping yourself with the right mountain biking gear can transform your riding experience, making it safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable. Here’s a quick recap of the essential gear and their approximate costs:

  • Mountain Bike: £1,000 to £5,000 (e.g., Trail Bike – Canyon Spectral)
  • Helmet: £50 to £200 (e.g., Giro Fixture with MIPS)
  • Protective Gear: £50 to £200 (Knee and elbow pads, gloves)
  • Lights and Reflectors: £40 to £100 (Front and rear lights)
  • Cycling Clothing: £100 to £200 (Jerseys, shorts, weather-appropriate gear)
  • Shoes and Pedals: £90 to £250 (Clipless shoes and pedals)
  • Saddles and Seatposts: £100 to £250 (Comfortable saddle and dropper post)
  • Maintenance Tools: £50 to £150 (Basic toolkit, pump, lubricant)
  • Navigation and Communication: £100 to £400 (GPS device, phone mount)
  • Hydration and Nutrition: £40 to £200 (Hydration pack, energy bars)
  • Storage Solutions: £60 to £200 (Frame packs, backpacks)
  • Additional Accessories: £70 to £160 (Mudguards, bike stand, mirror, action camera)

Top Tips for Keeping Costs Manageable in the UK:

  1. Buy Second-Hand: Look for quality used gear on platforms like eBay, Gumtree, and local cycling forums. Often, you can find nearly new items at a fraction of the cost.
  2. Seasonal Sales: Take advantage of end-of-season sales and discount periods like Black Friday. Many online and brick-and-mortar stores offer significant discounts.
  3. Local Clubs and Groups: Join local mountain biking clubs or groups. They often have swap meets or can offer advice on where to find the best deals.
  4. Bundle Purchases: Some retailers offer discounts when you buy multiple items together. Look for bundles or negotiate a package deal.
  5. DIY Maintenance: Learn basic bike maintenance skills to save on repair costs. There are plenty of online tutorials and local workshops available.

Estimated Total Cost:

Based on the gear discussed, here’s an approximate total if you are starting with nothing and are going to take your biking seriously (I would certainly advise buying some of this stuff in stages!):

  • Mountain Bike: £2,500
  • Helmet: £100
  • Protective Gear: £100
  • Lights and Reflectors: £70
  • Cycling Clothing: £150
  • Shoes and Pedals: £150
  • Saddles and Seatposts: £150
  • Maintenance Tools: £100
  • Navigation and Communication: £250
  • Hydration and Nutrition: £100
  • Storage Solutions: £150
  • Additional Accessories: £100

Estimated Total: £3,970

Getting the right gear for mountain biking is a game-changer. Sure, the initial costs can seem high, but each piece of equipment really enhances your riding experience. From a solid bike that suits your style to hydration packs that keep you going, each item plays its part. Look out for good deals, check out second-hand options, and tap into local biking groups for tips and tricks. Investing in quality gear means more fun and fewer hassles on the trail. Dive in, enjoy every ride, and let the adventures begin—you’re going to love it!

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Max
Co-founder and Chief Adventurer

I am Max, the co-founder and CEO of adventuro. We are on a mission to help you get into the sports you have always wanted to try, or develop in the sports you love, exploring new skills and locations. We do this by partnering with the best instructors, guides, and activity centres to get a great spread from beginner all the way to instructor training.

For too long, it has been way to confusing to find your next steps, or even to know where to start when getting into adventure sports. I am an experienced and/or qualified paraglider, skydiver, scuba diver, freediver, power boat driver, snowboarder, kitesurfer, kayaker, mountain biker, surfer, dirt biker, wakeboarder, and sailor.

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