Whether you’ve been mountain biking a few times or you’re setting out on your very first ride, you’re definitely not alone. Since the 2020 bike craze, more and more women have been branching out into the mountain biking world and trying this fast-paced outdoor sport.
“Now, everybody wants to try [mountain biking] and I think it’s super rad,” says long time mountain biker and founder of Cosmic Dirt, Ashley Duffus-Jambor. “Within the last year, the general population of the outdoors person completely changed.”
However, like many outdoor sports, the price of entry can be hefty when you count the bike, helmet, tools, and other essentials. It can also be challenging to decipher what’s absolutely necessary for a ride and what you may be able to do without as you get to know the sport.
To help you get started, we chatted with several women mountain bikers who’ve spent countless hours on the trails. We got their tips on where to start when it comes to the trail and your mountain bike gear.
On the trail:
Because of the recent rise in women’s mountain biking, all our sources mentioned trying a women’s riding group, lesson, or otherwise finding good people to ride with. More and more women’s riding groups are cropping up everywhere, so if you don’t see one near you off the bat, ask your local bike shop if they know of any in your area.
While everyone has their own preference, these riding groups can help you meet a community, share knowledge, and provide inspiration for what you can do as a rider.
“Riding with people who are fun and supportive is key!” says pro rider, artist, and advocate, Brooklyn Bell. “Riding with good people helps keep things safe and gives new riders space to learn and progress.”
On the gear side, co-owner of You Bet! Bicycle Sales and Services and mountain biker of five years, Carrie Levine says, “‘run what ya brung.’” In other words, you don’t need the most current trail bike or a lot of new fancy gear to ride.
“As you’re getting into the sport, you can use what you have, figure out what works and what doesn’t, and get what you need as you go,” Levine says.
That being said, there are a few pieces of gear that are essential and some that will greatly improve your riding experience. Most important? A helmet and a bike. If you’re looking to invest a little more in your ride, we suggest starting with: knee pads, a chamois (butt padding or “shammy”), saddle, shoes, pedals, sunglasses, and pack.
All of our sources emphasized that a new, well-fitting, helmet is the single most important piece of gear you’ll use.
“You can wear whatever you want, but you should not ride a bike without a helmet on,” Duffus-Jambor says. “I’ve just seen too many bad injuries.”
If you want to splurge for anything when it comes to your mountain bike gear, your helmet is the piece to shell out for. Many riders recommend investing in a mountain bike-specific helmet with MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) because these helmets add a bit more protection for your head.
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