Brigitte Stoppel has been mountain biking for over thirty years and is passionate about helping others to get out on the trails, especially women. It would be fair to call her an expert, so we asked her to write down her top tips for starting out.
In this third and final blog, Brigitte explains the different types of mountain bikes and the apparel a rider might choose, based on their style of riding.
There are many different mountain bikes on the market, so you need to discover what style of riding you prefer before buying a bike. You may enjoy a number of riding styles, so the best way is to go to demo-days and try different bikes out. Many bike shops offer demo bikes too, and you can join online mountain biking chat groups to ask questions before spending a lot of money.
Key types of mountain bikes:
- Enduro bikes have front and rear suspension for pedalling up and down technical terrain. The tyres are often very grippy and the type of grip depends on whether the trails are hard packed, muddy, rocky or have roots etc.
- E-bikes are great for a number of reasons:
- For riding long distances
- For improving on sections where there are no upflift possibilities
- For riding with mates who are fitter than you
- For riding when dealing with an injury or health problem
- For getting stronger, as they are heavier than enduro bikes
- Gravel bikes are commonly used as a commuter bike or used for bike packing or bike touring. Often there is no suspension as the bike is lighter and one is weighed down by all the paniers and various gear that needs to be strapped on the bike to carry the gear for day or multi-day trips. The tyres are not as skinny as road bike tyres but not as fat nor have as much tread as enduro tyres.
- Hardtail mountain bikes only have front suspension and are good for cross country riding with the focus on endurance, fitness and speed.
- Downhill mountain bikes are full suspension bikes (front and rear) and are only ridden downhill as they are too heavy to pedal uphill and the front suspension has a lot of travel.
- Dirt jumper bikes, as the name implies, are designed to hit jumps and are mostly used in bike parks. These bikes only have front suspension and one brake (rear), and are single speed.
There are many good brands and so the decision is made on your budget, as there are huge price differences when it comes to buying bikes.
If buying a second-hand, make sure you check the bike thoroughly and if you are unfamiliar with what to look out for, ask a friend who is.
Buying a bike that is too small or too big just because the price is right is a common mistake a lot of people make. Find a bike with the right frame size.
What Do I Wear?
Bike apparel is also broken into various styles of riding:
- With a focus on speed, cross country riders prefer apparel that is aerodynamic; light, tight fitting and made of sweat absorbent material. The pants have a chamois and riders use chamois cream for many hours on the saddle. The top usually has pockets in the back to carry essential tools and food. Cross country riders prefer to wear clipped in shoes and short finger gloves as they do not get as hot as full finger gloves.
- Gravel bike riders prefer comfortable clothes and shoes, as they are often stopping to look at sights or take breaks. They carry essential wet weather gear when on multi-day adventures. When using gravel bikes for commuting, anything goes.
- For enduro, e-bike and free riders, much comes down to personal preference. They usually wear shorts with or without a chamois, a loose t-shirt, clipped in or flat pedal shoes, full finger gloves or no gloves, full face helmet or open face helmet with goggles or sunglasses, and optional knee and elbow guards.
- Dirt jumpers usually wear a loose top and tight jeans with flat pedal shoes and a dirt jumper helmet.
- Downhill riders wear long pants and a long-sleeve top with inbuilt protection. They often wear neck, back and chest protection with sturdy shoes and gloves, as they go at speed down very technical terrain. Full face helmets and goggles are compulsory.
See you on the trails!