The biggest mistakes of mountain bikers

Everyone remembers a disaster ride. Even if it was something of a disaster it was no doubt a memorable one. Here are some classic MTB mistakes.

>>> 12 classic mountain bike crashes we’ve all had

Classic first time moments

Wearing inappropriate clothing: either chafing yourself to death in jeans on an all day epic in the Brecon Beacons, or wearing far too much proper cycling gear and boiling to death round a lap of Glentress.

Not taking enough stuff: drinking all your water and eating all your food before you’ve reached the top of the first climb is a classic move. So is not taking anything to repair your bike and having to cadge stuff of passers-by or your riding mates.

Incorrect seatpost height: too low on the climbs, too high on the descents. Sore back, tired thighs, bruised body.

Pushing down pretty much everything: it takes a while to realise that mountain bikes will actually ride down pretty much anything if you just let them. Your first ride is mostly spent being terrified of going over the bars.

“Are we there yet?”: you initially don’t moan too much to your ride guide but after a while… you snap. You then do the following…

Asking about everything: you then want someone to describe the sections as you approach them in minute detail complete with detailed instructions on how to ride/survive them(even though you won’t listen and will need to ask again mid-way through). You will then turn focus to your bike and query every single way each component is set up.

Never being in the correct gear: related to the last point, even if you do ask about what gear to be in at any – and every – given point, you won’t really know what the gears do or how they work.

Flicking Vs at your riding buddies behind their back: as you flounder and sweat your way around trails that your experienced and annoyingly casual riding mate simply glides along, you will at some point make a rude gesture behind their back. Most probably after they’ve said something like, “that wasn’t actually too bad was it?”

Groin on top tube: you then realise it’s not going over the bars that you need to be wary of (OTB crashes are usually fine), it’s landing groin-first on  to your top tube and/or stem that is the real killer. Wince.

But you still stuck with it didn’t you? That’s because even bad bike rides are good. And what’s better than losing your virginity? Helping somebody else lose their mountain biking virginity. As you can see if you watch the aforementioned video.

Five other big mistakes of new riders

We all start somewhere and none of us lot knew much when we started. Follow these five simple steps and you’ll be well on the way to being a proper mountain biker.


1. Pants

Don’t wear pants under your chamois. The padded liner that comes with your mtb-specific shorts works best next to your skin, so there are no seams or creases to cause pain. Check out our shorts guide.

2. Set-up

Bike set-up is vital, don’t neglect it. Setting your fork (and shock, if you have a full-suspension bike) sag is simple but vital, so buy a shock pump and set it — 25 per cent is a good start. Watch the video above for more.


3. Pedals

Don’t ride SPDs. Clipless shoes and pedals are great for power and connection to the bike, but they’re not the best way to learn how to control your bike — invest in good flat pedals and shoes, see our favourites.


4. Controls

Avoid a daft bar and stem combination. Narrow bars reduce leverage, and therefore control, while long stems produce floppy steering and pull your weight over the front wheel, making descents dicey. Check out our favourite handlebars.


5. Tyres

Before you go any further, read our guide to the best mountain bike tyres.

Don’t ride slick tyres. Yes, they will reduce rolling resistance, but you want to have fun on the descents, right? Good tyres will improve your grip, speed and control more than any fancy upgrade.