Beginner Mountain Bike Tips (11 Practical Tips)

Are you a first-time mountain biker and just about to start your biking journey?

Mountain biking is definitely one of the most adventurous sports out there, and the thought of biking over rocks and different terrain, as well as through bumpy trails, can be thrilling but dangerous. As first-time mountain bikers, it is important to have the right information to help you through challenging obstacles in your mountain biking journey.

What are the mountain bike beginner tips? Here are the 11 practical tips for mountain bike beginners:

  1. Build A Base
  2. Add Practice Intervals
  3. Body Positioning
  4. Seat Height and Position
  5. Choosing Lines
  6. Braking
  7. Shift Your Weight
  8. Falling Off
  9. Setting Suspension
  10. Riding Etiquette
  11. Make Momentum Your Friend

We understand how nerve-wracking yet exciting it can be when you are just starting out. Since mountain biking is pretty different from road cycling, it requires some thorough learning and practice.

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By being equipped with these tips, you will be able to glide through the mountains and bumpy terrains effortlessly.

So if you want to build your confidence, acquire new skills, and start off your journey like a pro, keep reading this mountain biking for beginners guide.

Mountain Bike Beginner Tips

As someone who is new to mountain biking, building your foundation is absolutely necessary. It helps you be more comfortable on the saddle, bike effortlessly, and avoid unfortunate accidents.

Here are some of the best tips to build confidence and skills that are perfect for beginners and even moderate or advanced bikers.

1. Build A Base

This may sound like a basic tip, but it is quite important and often goes unnoticed by first-time bikers. Most people who want to begin their biking journey start cold turkey.

This means that they start biking for one to two hours on the mountains nearly every day of the week without prior practice. However, that can tire you out too fast, and you might not even get through a week with such a routine.

It’s imperative that you build endurance and stamina through frequent and low-intensity workouts before you begin biking. Moreover, you should also start biking on flat grounds for one to two hours regularly.

When you start feeling good, increase the intensity and frequency. Make sure to keep your diet clean and include a lot of high proteins. More importantly, ensure that you are hydrated at all times, especially while biking.

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2. Add Practice Intervals

After building your endurance, it’s time to include more practice biking runs. In these practice biking, you must incorporate intervals of low-intensity and high-intensity biking.

For example, you could start off with low-intensity regular biking, high intensity and rigorous biking for ten seconds, and then rest. Continue this cycle for a few more rounds for two weeks.

After this, you should change your intervals to the Tabata routine, which includes twenty seconds of high-intensity biking and only ten seconds of rest.

As a result of this, you will be able to build your endurance further. It would also help you to eventually bike in the mountains for much longer without getting tired.

This part requires patience since you will have to follow practice intervals for a month or two before you can become a pro mountain biker.

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3. Body Positioning

The most important mountain bike beginner tip concerns the position of your body on your bike. This determines your success at biking and ensures that you don’t fall off as quickly.

Since the mountain bike trail consists of rough terrain, rocks, roots, sand, and mud, it is important that you keep your body steady and loose, so you don’t get into a tricky accident or location.

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Moreover, you should know about the two prominent body positions and when and how to shift between them.

Neutral Position

You need to be in a neutral position on the bike when riding on non-tricky surfaces, which will also allow you to go into the ready position easily. Here is how you can get into the neutral position:

  • Keep a slight bend in your knees and elbows
  • Keep your index finger on the brakes at all times
  • Keep your eyes forward and don’t look down
  • Level your pedals with equal weights on each side

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Ready Position

This is the position you should be going into while traveling on any rough or uneven surfaces. Even when the trail gets steeper, you must go into the ready position.

It helps you to physically prepare to go through these rough areas. To get in the ready position, here’s what you should do:

  • Level your pedals with equal weight on each side
  • Have a 90-degree bend on your elbows and knees
  • Put your hips off the seat and shift them back
  • Keep your eyes forward and keep looking where you want to go
  • Keep your index finger on the brakes at all times

4. Seat Height and Position

Make sure that your seat is at the right height and that it is not too high or too low. Otherwise, you might end up with lower back pain or strain in your legs. The height impacts the bend of your knee.

Moreover, to get in the correct positions we mentioned, you must be appropriately positioned on the seat. This is particularly helpful when you are climbing and descending from a hill or mountain.

When climbing, position your seat high so that there is a slight bend in the knee and your bike is at maximum efficiency.

Alternatively, when you are descending from a hill, drop your seat down two to three inches. This lowers your center of gravity, which gives you more confidence and control over your handles.

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5. Choosing Lines

When it comes to choosing a line, you must focus on your targeted line and where you want to go. You should avoid focusing on where you don’t want to go, such as on rocks or logs.

Making this rookie mistake might cause you to make exactly that or trip when you are on rough paths.

By looking at where you want to go, you automatically set your body and bike in the same direction. Keep your chin up and eyes forward and look as far as possible.

Furthermore, keep a lookout for loose rocks, wet sand, water, animals, and wet roots. Look ahead for these dangers and then choose a hazard-free line; this will allow for a much safer biking journey.

6. Braking

Though braking sounds easy, all you have to do is pull the lever, and the bike slows down. While that is true, there is more to braking a beginner should learn in order to feel more secure on your mountain bike.

For example, while pulling the brakes, make sure your body is relaxed and pulled back and that there is a slight bend in your knees and elbows. This will help you stay in control of your bike and not fall over.

Moreover, keep your index finger on the brakes at all times when riding. Make sure that you don’t pull the breaks too quickly or suddenly, as that can be pretty dangerous. Instead, lightly apply pressure on the lever and both sides evenly.

When approaching a turn, you should pull the brakes so that you can use the momentum to glide through and avoid any skidding.

7. Shift Your Weight

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Since mountain biking involves several ups and downs, it’s important that you know about this mountain bike beginner tip of shifting your gears when necessary.

This prevents damage to your bike and gives you more control to power yourself easily through hills.

As a beginner, you should consistently practice shifting gears to become second nature to you and easily shift gears when necessary. Always shift your gears earlier before you go on a steep path, and remember to keep pedaling while shifting your gears.

Another important tip to remember is to prevent cross-chaining, which can pop off your chains, stretch them excessively, and shorten their lifespan.

Cross chaining occurs when your chain is stretched across from the rear to the front of either the big or the small cog.

8. Falling Off

Falling off a bike is inevitable, especially for beginners. And when you do, there are some things you can do to avoid serious injuries.

For example, when falling, you should try to keep your arms in. don’t reach out to brace your fall as that may injure your wrist.

Moreover, when you fall off, check yourself for any personal injuries before tending to your bike. Check the seat, handles, chain, brakes, and gears before continuing and charging on.

9. Setting Suspension

Every bike has a shock absorber at the rear end and a fork at the front. These need to be set in the appropriate setting to ensure a smooth journey on the bike. Unfortunately, this is also something that beginner mountain bikers tend not to do.

As unnecessary as it may seem, setting your suspension appropriately will help make big bumps much more manageable.

Take a moment to learn how to alter your suspension settings according to your terrain and bike type. You can do this either through the aid of Google or by taking your bike to the nearest bike shop.

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10. Riding Etiquette

Mountain biking is typically done on terrains and roads where there are other bikers. You have to share it with them, so always remember to be courteous and responsible when around them.

Make sure that you are in complete control of your bike when you are riding with others, so you don’t put them in danger as well.

You should also try riding with bikers who are better than you, as it will give you the motivation to do better. You will also be able to better observe and learn about their positioning and movements, which can help you in the longer run.

11. Make Momentum Your Friend

Out there, especially on rough terrains, momentum is your best friend. Make sure that when you ride through rough terrains, you speed up.

This may sound counterintuitive, but it is extremely helpful because it will help you gain momentum, which is what you need.

Most bike crashes happen when you don’t have enough momentum, that is when you slow down.

Hence, don’t be afraid of increasing your speed while maintaining your balance at the same time. If you are on steep terrain and too late for the brakes to be of any help, consider building momentum by speeding up.

Tips for mountain biking beginners
Woman riding mountain bike

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Mountain Biking for Beginners: Techniques To Master

Now that you are equipped with beginner tips that will help you start your journey into biking through mountains and rough terrains, here are some helpful techniques you can try mastering.

These will help you avoid falls and other accidents. Remember, mastering these techniques requires persistence and practice.

1. Perfect Your Cornering Skills

Turns and corners are the top places where bikers lose their speed, no matter their level. To avoid doing this, you should perfect cornering.

To do this, you should stand up slightly in a crouched position with your feet rested equally on pedals and then open your knees. Make sure that when you open your knees that you lean your bike and not your body.

When the turn comes, make sure you pull the brakes before you turn and not after. This will prevent you from falling over or the bike skidding.

Moreover, keep looking straight ahead, like we mentioned. It’s important that you look forward and not down when cornering.

2. Riding Over Rocks

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As a mountain biker, riding over rocks is inevitable. That is part of what you will have to do. Not just rocks, but there will also be many other obstacles in their trail; including, stones, sticks, roots, and tiny bumps.

Some of these are often too small to notice, which can be dangerous. But with good form and by maintaining momentum, you can easily ride over rocks without being too harmful.

To do this, you should stand equally on weighted pedals, with a nice bend on your knees and elbows, and approach the rough terrain at an average or slow speed.

While doing this, avoid leaning too much on the handlebars. Your arms and legs act as shock absorbers in this position.

3. Learn How To Trackstand

An important technique to master for mountain biking for beginners that will boost confidence and control on your bike is called trackstand. This is when you can stand still on your bike when standing up and ensuring your hips are off the seat.

They can be helpful in enhancing your balance and control over your bike. You can use this technique when you are on rough terrain and a lot of rocks. With a bit of practice, you will easily be able to learn this technique.

4. Learn To How To Crush Uphill Obstacles

Uphill obstacles can be pretty exhausting, especially if you are not using the right technique. Use the pedaling front wheel lift when you are pedaling upwards and come across an obstacle.

Start with your pedal at the top and give it a hard push to move it downwards. You should simultaneously lean back with your shoulders and straighten your arms. The power with your pedals is what is pushing you up, so make sure to apply adequate pressure.

5. Master The Front-Wheel Lift

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For logs and other such obstacles, you must be able to master the front wheel lift like a pro and overcome them. This does require a bit of practice, but by regularly doing so, you will manage it in no time.

To do the front wheel lift, you should approach the obstacle in a ready position. Then bend your elbows and pull the handlebars to compress the shocks with your upper body.

Once you feel the shocks, you must then straighten your arms. As your front wheel lifts off the ground, lift the handlebars and raise your wheels even higher.

To master this technique, you must focus on the timing and your speed. Practice this on curbs and parking lots if you can’t find a trail.

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The Bottom Line

These were all the mountain bike beginner tips and techniques you should master when starting your mountain biking journey. It might not be easy, and you will likely have to go through a lot of struggle, but with patience and persistence, you will go from a rookie to an advanced mountain biker in no time. These should give you the confidence and control you need to go out and experiment on different trails and with various movements.