Mountain biking has evolved from a mechanism of transportation that was meant to take you from point A to point B, to an activity that is largely recreational.


QUICK SUMMARY: Beginners guide to mountain bikes

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Table of Contents

Mountain biking has evolved from a mechanism of transportation that was meant to take you from point A to point B, to an activity that is largely recreational. Buffalo Soldiers were some of the first mountain bikers, according to Out The Colorado. The history of mountain biking is colored with the need to cross rough terrain effectively and efficiently. Mountain biking didn’t become mainstream until the 1980s, when the first National Off Road Biking Association Nationals were held. The first mountain bikers could only ride downhill, however! It is so hard to imagine only going in one direction on a bike now.

When you hear the phrase “mountain biking,” you may think there is only one feasible place to go – the mountains. There are actually many different types of mountain biking, including cross country, slopestyle and freeriding. Cross country bikers primarily focus on rougher terrains, whereas slopestyle bikers are those you see performing impossibly crazy tricks in the air. Freeriders primarily ride downhill and focus on dirt jumping and other fine details. The one commonality between all of these types is that it isn’t the type of gear you have or even your skill level: as long as you are willing to practice, you will become just as good as your biking heroes.

If you ever dream of competing in the True Grit Epic or or the Whiskey Off Road, we have you covered on all of the basics of mountain biking. Think of this as a guide from some experienced mountain bikers who wish they had this information when they first started. Feeling that rush of adrenaline on your rides is both terrifying and exhilarating. In no time at all, you will be an expert rider. We will break down, step by step, everything you need to know to get started.

Suspension: Dual Vs Full vs Hardtail vs Rigid

The type of suspension you have on your bike is important, as it will absorb some of the shock both you and your bike will endure on tough terrain. The kind you choose will ultimately depend on who you are as a person. Are you someone who has back issues or wants to go on trails with harsh terrain? A full suspension will work out better for you because it absorbs the impact on both the front and back end of the bike. This means that they are much more comfortable and easier to ride on unforgiving terrain. This kind of suspension does sacrifice on how your pedals work, but it does give very good support to those of you with back issues.

Hardtail suspension bikes, on the other hand, only absorb shock on the front end of the bike. This means that these are lighter than your full suspension bikes, and a little bit faster too. They go up hills much easier than full suspension bikes, because your pedaling force isn’t absorbed into the suspension. While these are cheaper than full suspension bikes, keep in mind the terrain you will be facing. Hardtail bikes are perfect for those who foresee only a few twigs and branches to get in their way. In other words, these are bikes for smooth rides. The good thing about hardtail bikes is that they are easily customizable, so you can add different facets to make them more and more adaptable to rougher terrain.

Hardtail bikes are able to absorb more shock than a rigid bike, so you may find it easier to ride one. However, because there is no suspension system, there is also more room to put any extra weight or bags. This could be a good option if you are going on a long bike trip. This system (or lack of one) is great for beginners because you don’t need to spend a bunch of money and can practice taking your bike on trails and easy terrain before you advance to the next level.

Which Type of Mountain Bike is Right For You?

Trail Mountain Bikes

Trail bikes are great for those of you who want to conquer rougher terrain, as this kind of bike is designed to go through it with complete ease. There is a wide handlebar, so you have more control over the bike. There is also suspension on both sides to help absorb the inevitable shock on the trail.

Cross-Country Mountain Bikes

Cross-country bikes are designed for those of you who value speed. It has a narrow handlebar so that you have more control over the front wheel. They are better for uphill travel as they are so light. Compared to a trail bike, the brake system is not as powerful because they are not designed for downhill riding.

Fat Tire Mountain Bikes

These are ideal for just about anything. Because the tires have such a good grip, they can be taken just about anywhere. The tires are the main suspension on this kind of bike. You’ll be able to ride in different types of weather, although, they are especially known to be able to handle the snow. However, most of them only have one speed, so that means you need a lot of muscle!

Enduro Mountain Bikes

Enduro bikes are heavier, but known to ensure a stable ride. That is because they are a bit longer than the average mountain bike. There is a bit of extra suspension, so you have some cushion to make more mistakes. Your lines don’t matter nearly as much on this bike, and you can go both uphill and downhill with ease.

Downhill/Park Bikes

Downhill bikes are exactly what they sound like: they are made for going downhill. Most bikers will ride to the top of a mountain in a shuttle and ride their way down. These bikes are much heavier and usually have more suspension. This kind of bike can only usually only be ridden in the summer.

Dirt Jump Bikes

All of those BMX riders you see doing cool tricks in the air are using dirt jump bikes. If you aspire to be like them, this is the kind of bike you need. There is usually a suspension in the back, however, you can add any type of suspension you want depending on your needs. Because so much time is spent in the air, these bikes are very light and agile.

Anatomy Of A Mountain Bike Explained

Obviously, there are many working parts to a mountain bike. You should know about all of them, as it will help you decide on what kind of bike to choose.


Wheels are essential to every bike. Depending on the kind of ride you want, you can switch the tires out. The inside is filled with pressurized air, where the outside has grips so that your bike floats easily on terrain. The rims are usually carbon or steel, depending on the bike. Both are fine choices, although carbon is generally more expensive.


We advise everyone to invest the most in a good frame, because this is essential to any bike, no matter how cheap or expensive it is. There are two types: aluminum and carbon. Carbon is more expensive than aluminum because it is lightweight yet very strong. However, a carbon frame isn’t completely necessary for a good mountain biking experience.

There are six parts: three tubes, two stays, and one fork. The tubes are the triangle of the frame and attach to your seat, which connect with the stays to form the rear part of the frame. The front fork keeps the wheel in its position so that it doesn’t fall off.

Groupset: Drivetrain/Brakes/Gears

There are usually two sets of gears, one at the front cranks, and one at the back wheel. The derailleur also sits at the front and will change gears. The gears will control how much pedaling you have to do, depending on what kind of terrain you are in. The gears in the back of the bike are smaller and help with exact shifts on the bike.

You will be able to control gears on your handlebar by shifting upward or downward. The brakes, on the other hand, are slightly more complicated. There are brake pads and disk brakes. Brake pads are on both wheels, and on the front fork. All you need to do is pull the brake levers and your bike will slow down or stop. Disk brakes are newer than brake pads. It uses the technology of brake pads with, but they are on the disc, rather than the rim.

Terrains – Types of Riding

There are different types of terrain to consider when you start officially mountain biking. Singletrack terrain is very narrow, only allowing two bikes to pass through. These trails are almost always one way and perfect to maneuver through many different landscapes. Doubletrack are twice as large as singletrack trails, which means two bikes can ride together. Double track trails are usually easier on both you and your bike, as they follow power-line roads or abandoned logging roads. And finally, mountain bike terrain parks are usually in resorts and are outfitted with artificial elements such as halfpipes and elevated bridges.


The perfect type of mountain bike for a beginner is dependent on who you are. However, trail mountain bikes are great for a beginner because they are comfortable to ride and absorb so much shock. Whether you want to go out on an advanced trail or stay on a paved road, these are great for everyday. With these tips, you’ll be able to ride as well as an expert, as long as you put a little bit of time into practicing when you can.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin