What to Wear
The beginner mountain biker can get a little overwhelmed when they first walk into a bike store to buy their first mountain bike and all of the mountain bike accessories they will need to start riding.
There is no shortage of mountain bike accessories and related product that you can buy. The sales staff will certainly sell you anything they can but the real question for beginners and bikers on a budget is not what mountain bike accessories are cool, but what you need to have to make your rides safe and enjoyable. Start with these accessories and you won’t come up short on the trail.
The Bike Helmet – The Most Important Mountain Bike Accessory
This is a shameless plea, but please wear a bike helmet. Nobody should be on a bike without a helmet. There have been too many people with serious head injuries that could have been prevented if they were wearing a helmet. Modern mountain bike helmets are both comfortable and stylish and everyone on the trail wears one.
Mountain Bike Gloves – A Mountain Bike Accessory for Comfort and Safety
When you ride, your hands can take a beating. Beginners who tend to keep a death grip on the handlebars can be especially brutal on their hands. Your hands are also one of the first things to come down to the ground when you crash and everyone crashes at some point. Mountain bike gloves are a great mountain bike accessory because they take the beating for you. I recommend full-fingered gloves over the cutoff finger type. Don’t get caught red handed.
Mountain Bike Shorts – Ride longer and Stay Comfortable
The first few mountain bike rides you take can be a bit uncomfortable on the rear end. Your body does adjust to this after a few rides, but bike shorts are a great accessory that can help keep it to a minimum. Fortunately, the days of the tight fitting Lycra mountain bike shorts are over. You can still buy them and some racers still use them but the more comfortable padded mountain bike shorts of today look and feel much more casual.
Mountain Bike Shoes – Pedal More Efficiently and Keep Comfortable
You need to pick the type of shoes you wear depending on the type of pedals you have and the type of riding you want to do. If you have clipless type pedals, as I recommend for most types of riding, you will need to get some mountain bike specific shoes to accept the special cleat for your pedals. A good mountain bike shoe will be durable, comfortable and should have a stiff sole for better pedaling efficiency. You should also pick the right shoe for the terrain you will be riding in.
Eye Protection – Protect Your Vision from Wind, Bugs, and Dirt
Something in your eye can run you right off the trail and into trouble. Eye protection such as sunglasses or clear-lensed glasses help keep your eyes free from debris as well as protect them from the wind that can cause your eyes to tear and blur your vision. Make sure you use non-breakable lenses for safety.
Hydration System – Keep Yourself Hydrated for Better Energy and Health
Bring either a water bottle with you or as I recommend take a hydration backpack such as a Camelback or similar product. It is easy to let yourself get dehydrated so bring water with you and drink it on the trail to keep your body running properly as you ride.
Trail Repair Kit – Make It Home When it Counts
Its not too hard to get stuck in the woods if you don’t bring the most basic mountain bike accessories for the most common repairs on the trail. To be prepared bring a multi-tool designed to repair bikes, tire levers and a patch kit for fixing flats, an extra tube in case your tube us un-repairable, and a mini-pump.