Mountain Biking Guide For Beginners To Get Started

Mountain bikes are a great way to explore the outside world and also a great form of exercise. So, if you have decided to pick up mountain biking as a new hobby or if simply want to commute to work instead of the car. This mountain biking guide for beginners will help to get you started.

We are going to give an overview of the different types of mountain bikes available, different bike designs, styles of mountain biking, and the basics for getting geared up for a fun time on the trails. Always remember it is better to be safe than sorry.

In this post, we will go through a mountain biking guide for beginners and you can get started into mountain biking with confidence. Let’s get started!

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They Are Different Styles Of Mountain Biking

Generally, mountain biking has four different styles. Those are as follows.

Even though the different styles are similar in some ways, they still require different skills. And each style requires a different type of bike.

So the style that you choose will determine the type of bike you need.

Mountain Bike Designs

The different designs of bikes for mountain biking will offer you what you need for your unique style of riding. You’ll want a different bike for different terrains, such as cross country or downhill.

As the terrain changes, you will want to make sure you have the right bike for the job. The designs for mountain bikes can be classified into these categories based.

  • Hardtail – Frame with no rear suspension, often containing a front suspension fork.
  • Fully Rigid – This is a subtype of a hardtail, with a rigid fork.
  • Dual or Full Suspension – These bikes offer a front suspension fork and a rear suspension that are integrated into the frame.
  • Soft Tail – Offers a frame with a small amount of rear suspension, normally less than a full-suspension frame.

Mountain biking is different than any other sport, offering you plenty of excitement and thrills. If you are new to mountain biking, you’ll find the different designs to be very enticing yet very challenging at the same time.

Each design serves a purpose with mountain biking, even some that excel on the trails. There are also several other designs that reflect on the many challenging disciplines in the sport of mountain biking. No matter what type of mountain biking you like to do, there are bikes or that specific discipline.

If you are new to mountain biking, you’ll want to check out the many designs and types of biking before you purchase a bike. And hit the trails, make sure you have the right design of mountain bike for the riding you are planning on doing.

Different Types Of Mountain Bikes

As mountain biking grows in popularity so does the choice of bikes. And there are many bikes to choose from. The bike you decide on is more of a personal choice but the style that you choose will determine the type of bike you need.

Bikes come in all styles, shapes, and prices, which will make selecting one for yourself very difficult indeed. Below, you’ll find tips on the different types of bikes available.

Cross Country Mountain Bike

Cross Country Bike

Almost all mountain bikes will fit into this category. Cross country mountain bikes are lightweight, making them easy to ride over most terrains, even up and downhills.

This is the most common mountain bike and it can be used with ease for riding on the path or even commuting to work.

Downhill Mountain Bike

Downhill Mountain Bike

These types of bikes are for serious bikers who crave the ultimate adventure. Downhill bikes have front and rear suspension, strong parts, and disc brakes. Rarely available off the shelf, most riders like to custom build their own.

The amount of travel in the suspension systems makes it difficult to pedal uphill, for this reason, these bikes are used almost exclusively for the downhill races where the shock systems allow smooth possible ride over harsh terrain at high speeds also.

Trials Mountain Bike

Trail mountain biking involves a great degree of skill and is classified as the precision riding of the sport. Similar to downhill bikes, trial riders will often build their own bikes rather than purchase one off a shelf.

Generally very light and very strong, these bikes require a lot of practice and discipline.

Street and Urban Mountain Bike

As the name suggests this type of riding involves riding in urban areas, ledges, and other types of man-made obstacles. Riders of the street and urban biking will do tricks as well.

Dirt Mountain Bike

The Dirt jump bikes are one more verity in mountain bikes, which have only a front suspension system and are used for flying over jumps.

Dirt Mountain Bike

Dirt jump bikes are one more verity in mountain bikes, which have only a front suspension system and are used for flying over jumps.

They have 16 gears in these bikes which allows the rider to build up the speed they need while making jumps.

Freeride Mountain Bike

Freeriding involves finding a perfect line down the mountain using the terrain to express yourself. These competitions are very popular, as riders can express themselves any way they see fit.

Freeride Mountain Bike

Even if you are new to mountain biking, the sport can be a lot of fun. There are several bikes to choose from, all of which depend on your style.

If you are still looking for the best style for you, all you have to do is try out several bikes and see which one suits you the best.

Framing Materials

Normally I would not cover this topic in mountain biking for beginners but it can be an important factor in purchasing a mountain bike. The cost of a mountain bike frame is proportionate to its material, as well as the treatment that the material has received.

Currently, there are five types of material used in mountain bikes which are high tensile steel, Chromoly steel, aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber.

High Tensile Steel

This is a very durable alloy that’s found in lower-priced mountain bikes. It offers a high carbon content which makes it less stiff than Chromoly steel, so more materials are needed to make it stiff enough for bicycle frames, which will, in turn, make it that much heavier.

Relatively inexpensive to produce, you will find this material in trail bikes, city bikes, and even entry-level mountain bikes. There are some bikes that come with a Chromoly seat tube, while the rest is high tensile steel.

Chromoly Steel

Short for steel alloy, Chromoly is best described by its major additives being chromium and molybdenum. This is probably the most refined framing material, giving over 100 years of dependable service.

Depending on the type of heat treating and butting, you can find this material in bikes as low as 400 dollars all the way up to 1,500 dollars and beyond. The Chromoly steel material offers very good durability and a compliant ride characteristic.


For the past 15 years, aluminum has been refined in pretty much the same way as Chromoly. There have been various alloys developed, as well as heat treatment, oversizing, and butting. With dual suspension bikes, aluminum is the preferred material as it’s the stiffest and most cost-effective.

Aluminum is stiffer than Chromoly, and therefore it will crack before Chromoly. Of course, this depends on how you ride and how much abuse you give the frame.

The advantage of aluminum is that the frame is very light and very stiff through oversizing or butting.


Even though it’s somewhat exotic, the prices for this material have come down over the last few years. Frames made of titanium remain expensive because it takes longer to weld the tubes to the frame.

Titanium is considered an alloy, normally mixed with small amounts of vanadium and aluminum to give it better weldability and ride characteristics. More compliant than Chromoly, it offers better fatigue and corrosion properties.

The material you choose for your bike, all depends on where you ride and what style you use. Almost all materials will last you for years, as long as you take care of your bike and treat the frame with some respect.

Gear For Mountain Biking

Bike-specific clothing makes for a more comfortable ride, no matter what style of biking you’re doing. That said, different styles of mountain biking will dictate what type of clothing you’ll choose.


Mountain bike helmets offer more coverage and protection than road bike helmets. Look for one with plenty of venting and protection at the lower back of the head. For downhill riding, consider a full-face helmet; most bike parks rent those models.

Mountain Biking Helmet with Glasses


Options for mountain biking shorts range from form-fitting styles (often worn by cross-country racers) to baggy styles with a more casual look and more coverage and durability for snags along the trail.

These generally have an inner lining with a padded chamois that helps reduce saddle fatigue and reduces some of the trail impacts.


Similar to shorts, jerseys range from form-fitting to loose and more casual-looking. Regardless of fit, you still want to choose something that wicks sweat and dries quickly.

You’ll also want something you can wash and dry with little fuss. If you plan to carry a backpack, you won’t need a lot of pockets, although some mountain-bike jerseys offer that option.


You’ll be surprised how much a good pair of gloves reduces hand and wrist fatigue. You should get a pair with padding at the palm. Full-fingered gloves keep your hands warmer and provide some texture between your fingers and the grip on the breaks and gear shifters.

Both fingerless and full-fingered gloves add protection in the event of a crash.

Beginner Mountain Bike Skills

Mountain biking is an exciting sport that can be enjoyed by anyone who knows how to ride a bike. Compared to the average bike ride, it does present some danger. Therefore, you should master these basic skills before you hit the trails or the dirt.

You can practice these beginning skills at a local park, school, bike path, or simply around your house. If you can, try to find a location with a steep hill.

Get A Feel For Your Pedals

Practice moving your foot away from the pedal, first while sitting on your bike with one foot on the ground. Next, move on to releasing and replacing your foot while pedaling around for a bit.

Those with the toe clip and clipless type foot pedals will want to spend a bit more time practicing.

Sit And Spin For Position

Simply sit on your bike and pedal around. You should keep your arms slightly bent. You should also adjust your seat height so your leg is 70 to 90 percent extended at the bottom of every stroke on the pedal.

Keep your body relaxed, as there will never be a position where you should have either your knees or your elbows locked.

Mountain Bike Suspension

Shifting Gears

Get a feel for shifting gears with your bike. The higher gears are harder to pedal and will go faster while the lower gears are easier to pedal and will help you ascend hills.

As you get to steeper hills, it’s best to shift before you get to the hill rather than while you are on it.


You should spend a bit of time coasting while standing on your pedals, without actually sitting on the seat. Keep your arms bent but don’t lock your knees.

Now, try experimenting with shifting your body towards the rear end of the bike.

Pedal While Standing

You should get as comfortable as you can with pedaling while standing on your bike. Try lifting yourself off the seat while standing on the pedals, then crank them around.

You should try this in higher gears on flat ground then again in lower gears while on a hill.

Dropping Down A Curb

Try finding a curb where you can easily get to the upper portion of it. Practice at a moderate speed, standing and coasting right off the curb from the upper level to the lower level.

Try this at different speeds until it becomes second nature. Once you practice these techniques and get the hang of them, you’ll be able to hit the trails feeling comfortable on your mountain bike. Even though it may take some getting used to, it’ll become second nature before you know it.

downhill mountain biking

Wrapping Up

Finally, that is a lot of information to gather and learn about mountain bikes, this only covers the basics, but this should give you a good start to understanding what’s available and what to look for when you are deciding on a bike.

When it comes to picking out a bike, there’s always a little bit of an unexplainable but just do your research and go to your local bike shops and ask questions.

And that’s it for now! I’d love it if this post on mountain biking guide for beginners to get started was helpful to you. Let me know if you have any questions and let me know if there is more to add.

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Mountain Biking For Beginners