~ Mountain Biking

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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 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.

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, its best to shift before you get
to the hill rather than while your on it.

Coasting
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.



Buying A Mountain Bike

It can be a bit frustrating as well as time consuming
when you buy a mountain bike.  Below, you'll find
some tips and things to be aware of before you lay
down the cash and buy a mountain bike.

Determining your price
There is really no limit as to how much money you can
spend on a new mountain bike.  To help you keep your
spending under control, you should figure out what
your price range is and how much your willing to pay
for a new bike.  When you buy, you shouldn't buy from
mass merchant stores such as Wal-Mart.  You should
instead support your local bike shop and get a much
better bike and much better service.

Finding your style
All mountain bikes are designed with several different
riding styles and terrain types in mind.  You'll need
to figure out what type of riding you will be doing
the most.  Smooth riding, cross country racing,
mountain cruising, or lift accessed downhill is
something you need to figure out.  Make sure that
the bike you select fits your personal style and not
that of the sale's staff.

Full suspension or hard tail
If you can afford it, a full suspension mountain
bike is always worth the purchase.  A hard tail,
without rear suspension, is much lighter weight
and pedal more efficiently, although full suspensions
offer more comfort and overall better control.  You'll
want to make that decision based on your price range,
riding style, and the type of terrain you'll be
riding on the most.

Finding your favorites
Comparing mountain bikes component to component is
nearly impossible, as there are far too many combinations
available.  The best way to go about doing this is
finding a few components that are the most important
to you and making sure the rest or the minimums fall
within your price range.  You can start with the fork
then look at the wheels and rear derailleur.

Sales and seasons
During the year, the prices of mountain bikes can
fluctuate quite a bit.  Spring through summer is the
main buying season.  If you can wait until the right
price pops up, normally in the fall and winter, you can
save a couple hundred dollars.  Many bike shops will
also offer discounts or other accessories if you buy
from them. 

Finding a good dealer
Finding a good bike dealer is more important than finding
the best price.  You should always find a dealer that
cares more about selling you a great bike than selling you
a high priced one. A great dealer will have a clean repair
shop and give you the impression that you can really
trust them.

Test ride
You should test ride as many bikes as you can within
your price range and riding style.  You'll find that
some bikes will feel right, while others won't.  The more
bikes you can test drive, you better you'll understand
what works and what doesn't.

Doing the research
Product reviews and bike reviews are some of the best
ways to find out about a mountain bikes reliability and
overall performance.  You should always look at what
other owners and reviews think about a bike before you
make that final purchase.


Clothes For Winter Riding

Mountain biking in cold weather has always been a
challenge.  The problem is that you'll start out
cold then warm up and break a sweat, making yourself
wet.  Then, when you travel downhill, the combination
of wet skin and windchill will be quite chilling. 

Below, you'll find a list of the cold weather clothing
that will make winter riding less of a bone chilling
experience.

Booties

In cold temperatures, your feet are the most vulnerable
part of your anatomy.  Pressure from pedaling will
tend to cut off the circulation to your toes, which
can put you at a risk of frostbite.  In cold conditions,
neoprene booties are a must have.  They will zip over
your shoes and even have a pattern in the sole where
you can cut out a piece for cleats.

Gloves
There are several manufacturers that make "lobster
gloves", a hybrid glove that separates your index
finger and thumb from the rest of your hand.  These
gloves are warmer than regular gloves, and the distinct
index finger will allow you to operate your shifting
and brake levers.

In case your hands get cold, you should carry a pair
of lightweight glove liners will you as well.  If you
have to stop to take care of a problem, the liners will
protect your hands from the cold.

Glasses
Glasses that wraparound and provide maximum protection
from the wind are best to wear in the winter.  You can
protect yourself from debris, as well as the cold.

Socks
You should wear heavy socks although not to heavy.  A
sock that is overly heavy will make your shoes tight,
cut off circulation, even make your feet cold.  You
should try lightweight socks, as they will keep your
feet warm without bulk.  If you need an extra layer,
try silk ski socks as they are very warm and also
extra lightweight.

Underwear
Polypropylene is the best material here, as it is
lightweight and best for colder temperatures.

Wind protection
Moving air is the biggest cause for losing body
heat.  By having good wind protection you'll be able
to vent perspiration while also protecting yourself
from windchill.  You should choose pants and a jacket
based on durability, breathing, and price as these
types of clothing can get very experience.

Helmet and liners
Your head is very important, as you lose 50% of your
body heat through your head.  A helmet is designed to
keep you cool in the summer, not warm in the winter.  A
fleece liner inside your helmet will keep your head
and ears warm during winter riding.


Cross Country Mountain Biking

Cross country mountain biking is cross country at
its finest.  Where free riders and downhill bikers
use four wheel bikes and ski lifts to get them to
their destination, cross country bikers get to
the top of the mountain by the ride.  Though free
riding is very popular, the life vein of the sport
has always been cross country biking.

Just as cross country riders are a different breed,
the bikes they ride are as well.  The cross country
bike is completely different in many ways from other
types of mountain riding bikes.  The premise for
cross country riders is speed.  Everything about
their bikes revolve with the idea of making the
bikes faster and faster.

Bikes used in cross country mountain biking can
be fully rigid frame, hardtails, or even full
suspension frames.  Through the years, the cross
over to full suspension has become very popular.

The weight difference between free ride bikes and
cross country bikes are considerable.  You'll be
extremely hard pressed to find a bike that weighs
more than 24 pounds, and even that weight can be
heavy.  Free ride bkes weigh close to 40 pounds,
which makes the difference in weight pretty close.

If you've never tried cross country mountain biking,
you'll probably find it to be a break from the
ordinary.  Even though this type of biking involves
trails, it's normally the type of terrain that
beginners wouldn't want to ride.  Involving hills
and rough terrain, cross country biking offers
quite the rush.

For mountain bikers everywhere, cross country is
the way to go.  It offers you a new assortment of
bikes, new areas to bike, and a new twist to
mountain biking as you know it.  If you've been
looking for a mountain biking rush, cross country
mountain biking is what you need to be experiencing.


Different Types of Mountain Bikes

With mountain biking being a very popular sport,
there are many bikes to choose from.  Depending
on what type of riding you like, the style of
bikes you can choose from will vary.  Below, you'll
find tips on the different types of bikes available.

1.  Cross country
Almost all mountain bikes will fit into this category.
Cross country mountain bikes are light weight, making
them easy to ride over most terrains, even up and
down hills.  This is the most common mountain bike
and it can be used with ease for riding on the path
or even commuting.

2.  Downhill
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.

3.  Trials
Trail mountain biking involves a great degree of
skill and is classified as the precision riding of
the sport.  Similiar 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 discipline.

4.  Jump and slalom

Slalom and jump bikes are very strong and designed
for jumping, street racing, and slalom.  They offer
a front suspension and use very strong components
dedicated to what they do.  These bikes are very
popular with the sport of mountain biking.

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
suites you the best.


Disc Brakes Or Rim Brakes

This can be a very important decision when you
are buying a mountain bike.  There are actually
two answers to the question of disc brakes or
rim brakes.

If you want better, more consistent brake performance
in all conditions, disc brakes are what you should
be choosing.  On the other hand, if you want the
lightest set up you can have and you are willing to
accept small variances in brake performance, or you
want the lowest price possible, rim brakes are
what you should be choosing.

Over the years, mountain bikes have gone through
many design changes.  They started out with the
original cantilever brakes, then went through the U
Brake years, and are now with V Brakes.  In most
conditions, the V Brakes seem to work well.

In wet or muddy conditions, rim brakes will perform
poorly.  Over time, they can wear right through the
side of your rim, causing the side of the rim to
blow right off. 

Disc brakes on the other hand have been around for
a long time in cars but weren't used on bikes much
until the late 1990's.  There were some issues in
the earlier models, although the cable actuated or
hydraulic brakes of today seem to work quite well.

In terms of performance, disc brakes seem to work
better than rim brakes, especially in wet or muddy
areas.  Disc brakes normally require less force
to apply and aren't effected by the rim or wheel
condition.

Cost is an issue, as disk brake systems tend to be
more expensive than rim brakes.  Mechanical or cable
actuated brakes are a closer match, although they
will still cost more.  Hydraulic brakes on the other
hand cost a lot more.

When you make that final choice, weight out the above
options then make your decision.  Some riders prefer
disc brakes, while others prefer rim brakes - making it
a matter of opinion.


Framing Materials

The cost of a mountain bike frame is proportionate to
its material, as well as the treatment that material
has received.  Currently, there are five types of
material used in mountain bikes - high tensile steel,
chromoly steel, aluminum, titanium, and carbon
fiber.  Oversized diameters, heat treating, and butting are
tubing material treatments that will increase the
cost of a frame as well.

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'll 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 - 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 and beyond.  The
chromoly steel material offers very good durability
and a compliant ride characteristic.

Aluminum
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 advantages of aluminum is that the frame is very
light and very stiff through oversizing or butting.

Titanium
Even thought 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.


How Mountain Bike Gears Work

The gears in mountain bikes just keep getting more
and more intricate.  The bikes of today have as many
as 27 gear ratios.  A mountain bike will use a
combination of three different sized sprockets in
front and nine in the back to produce gear ratios.

The idea behind all these gears is to allow the
rider to crank the pedals at a constant pace no
matter what kind of slope the bike is on.  You can
understand this better by picturing a bike with
just a single gear.  Each time you rotate the pedals
one turn, the rear wheel would rotate one turn
as well (1:1 gear ratio).

If the rear wheel is 26 inches in diameter, then
with 1:1 gearing, one full twist on the pedals
would result in the wheel covering 81.6 inches of
ground.  If you are pedaling at a speed of 50 RPM,
this means that the bike can cover over 340 feet of
ground per minute.  This is only 3.8 MPH, which
is the equivalence of walking speed.  This is ideal
for climbing a steep hill, although bad for ground
or going downhill.

To go faster you'll need a different ratio.  To
ride downhill at 25 MPH with a 50 RPM cadence at the
pedals, you'll need a 5.6:1 gear ratio.  A bike
with a lot of gears will give you a large number
of increments between a 1:1 gear ratio and a 6.5:1
gear ratio so that you can always pedal at 50 RPM,
no matter how fast you are actually going.

On a normal 27 speed mountain bike, six of the gear
ratios are so close to each other that you can't
notice any difference between them. 

With actual use, bike riders tend to choose a front
sprocket suitable for the slope they are riding on
and stick with it, although the front sprocket can
be difficult to shift under heavy load.  It's much
easier to shit between the gears on the rear.

If you are cranking up a hill, it's best to choose
the smallest sprocket on the front then shift
between the nine gears available on the rear.  The
more speeds you have on the back sprocket, the
bigger advantage you'll have.

All in all, gears are very important to mountain
bikes as they dictate your overall speed.  Without
gears you wouldn't be able to build speed nor would
you be able to pound pedals.  The gears will move
the pedals and help you build up speed. 

There are all types of gears available in mountain
bikes, all of which will help you build up a lot
of momentum if you use them the right way.



How To Lube Your Mountain Bike

A mountain bike is a lot of fun although it does
require some maintenance.  You should always lube
your bike 15 hours or so before riding, as quick
jobs right before you take off normally doesn't
get everything lubed.  Some lube jobs will last
for more rides, although if things get loud or
shifting gets sticky, it's time to lube.

Here is how to lube your bike:

1.  The chain
Apply a generous amount of mountain bike lube to
your chain as you move the pedals around backwards.
It also helps to find a spot to steady your hand
such as the frame while you move the pedals around
and around.  Make sure you watch out for the cranks
and chain rings as they move around.

2.  Front Deraileur
On the front defaileur, lube the pivots.  Use a
spot of lube everywhere you can see movement when
you move the shift lever.

3.  Rear deraileur
Just like the front deraileur, lube the pivots. 

4.  Pedals
There are some types of clipless pedals that will
need to have the release mechanism lubed.  You
should only lube this mechanism if you have this
type of pedal.

5.  Everything into motion
Pedal around, shift your gears, and bounce your
bike around.  If you hear anything squeak, there's
a moving part there are it should be lubed
immediately.

6.  Wipe it all clean
Once you've lubed everything and wiped it all
around, simply wipe it all back off.  Use a rag
to wipe away all the lube you used, including all
the lube off the chain.  Wiping it away will leave
the lube in between the parts but clean it away
from everywhere it isn't needed.  This will keep
your bike from collecting dirt while you ride.



How To Use A Chain Tool

Once your mountain bike chain becomes damaged, you
should immediately replace it with a new one.  It
is possible however, to repair a broken chain using
a chain tool.  For this very reason, most mountain
bikers travel with a chain tool.

Your chain has three basic components - the metal
side plates, the rollers between the side plates,
and the rivets, or pins which go through the rollers
and help to hold the plates together.  These pins
allow the rollers to freely turn as the chain
moves around the cogs.

If your chain happens to break, you'll need to remove
the broken link and replace it with a spare link.
To do this, simply reattach the two ends of the
broken chain and ride on a shorter chain until you
can get it replaced. 

To remove a broken link of chain, place it in the
chain tool.  Now, turn the tool counter clockwise
until the rivet pin of the chain tool touches
the chain rivet.  Continue to turn the tool until
the pin pushes out of the roller.  Be very careful,
as you want to stop turning when the pin is right
at the edge of the roller, before it moves through
the outer side plate.

Now, turn the tool in the other direction, and back
it out of the roller.  Set the tool to the side,
then work the chain very gently from side to side
and extract the inner side plates and roller.

Now is the time to re-route the chain through the
bike.  You may want to have a chain retaining tool
or some to help you hold the chain in the right
spot as you route and repair it. 

Now that the broken link has been removed and
you've re-routed the chain, you're ready to insert
a new link or simply connect the links that were
beside the broken one.  The process here is the
same - align the two ends so that the link with
the inner side plates will fit inside the link
with the pin and outer side plates.  Now, use the
chain tool to push the pin inward until it's
positioned evenly between the side plates.

The easiest way to learn how to do this or feel
comfortable doing it is to have someone show you,
then actually practice with a chain and a chain
tool.  You'll have no trouble at all making a
temporary repair in a mountain bike chain once
you've seen it done by a professional and practiced
it yourself a few times.



Introduction To Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is a great way to explore the outdoors,
stay in shape, or just have fun. Racing down the side
of a mountain is a lot of fun indeed, although it can
also be quite dangerous.  Even though it's dangerous,
if you ride with caution, it can be enjoyed by the
entire family.

Styles of mountain biking
Mountain biking can best be characterized into three
different styles - downhill, free riding, and cross
country.  Even though the different styles are similar
in some ways, they still require different skills.  The
style that you pick will determine the type of bike you
get.

Locations for mountain biking
The sport can best be thought of as biking on an unpaved
surface.  Many areas throughout North America have
specific locations designed for mountain biking.  Before
you decide to go down a trail, you should always check
with your local park to get the routes, regulations, and
any rules that they may have.

You can also find groups that have mountain bike rides
and competitions.  You can look on the internet or even
in a local paper and see exactly what's available in your
area.  You may be able to find groups for the more
advanced riders as well as beginners.

Becoming a great biker
Endurance and stamina are a must for a great mountain
biker.  It will also take ambition and practice to succeed
as well as conquer the course.  Like all other sports,
it takes time and practice.  Those just beginning will
have to get past the bumps and bruises from falling
off the bike.

Selecting your mountain bike
The bike you select is more of a personal choice, and
a big determining factor on the type of riding you will
be doing.  Bikes come in all styles, shapes, and prices,
which will make selecting one for yourself very difficult
indeed. 

You should use the internet to help you shop for a bike,
even do some price comparisons online as well before you
make a purchase.  Before you buy a bike, always ask to
try it out first.  A great mountain biker will become
one with his or her own bike.  When buying, make sure
you check for comfort, how it fits, even how it is geared.

Staying safe when riding
Mountain bike riding on unpaved roads can be very
dangerous, as mentioned earlier.  Anytime you are riding,
you should wear a helmet, along with knee and elbow
pads.  If you are following a group or riding in the
woods you should strongly consider a pair of goggles as
well.  Safety should be your top priority and never
taken lightly anytime you are mountain biking.



Mountain Bike Anatomy

A mountain bike is the one thing you need before you
go mountain biking.  A mountain bike contains many
parts, which will be covered below:

1.  Bottom bracket - This attaches the crankset to
the body of a bike.

2.  Brake cable - This is the cable that connects the
brake lever to the brake mechanism.

3.  Brake lever - The lever on the handlebar to
activate the brakes.  The left side is the front brake
and the right side is the rear brake.

4.  Chain - The circular set of links that transfer
power from the chain ring to the cogs.

5.  Chain ring - The toothed rings that attach to
the crank to hold the chain.

6.  Crank - The lever that extends from the bottom
bracket to the pedal, transferring the power to the
chain rings.

7.  Derailleur - The mechanism for moving the chain
from one cog to another.

8.  Down tube - The section of frame that extends
downward from the stem to the bottom bracket.

9.  Front shock - The shock absorber on the front
fork.

10.  Handlebar - The horizontal bar attached to the
stem with handgrips on the end.

11.  Headset - The mechanism in front of the frame
that connects the front fork to the stem and
handlebars.

12.  Hub - The center part of the wheel that the
spokes are attached to.

13.  Idler pulley - The bottom pulley of the rear
derailleur that provides spring tension to keep
the chain tight.

14.  Nipple - A threaded receptacle that holds
the end of the spoke to the rim.

15.  Pedal - The platform to pedal on; attaches to
the crank.

16.  Rear shock - The shock absorber for the rear
tire on dual suspension type bikes.

17.  Rim - The metal ring that holds the spokes
on the inside and the tire to the outside.

18.  Saddle - The seat.

19.  Seat post - Offers support for the seat.

20.  Skewer - The metal rod that goes through the
hub, attaching the wheel to the dropouts of the
frame.

21.  Spindle - The free rotating axle that the
crank arms attach to; also a part of the bottom
bracket.

22.  Spokes - The thick wires that join the hub to
the rim.

23.  Stem - A piece that attaches the handlebar
to the steering tube.

24.  Wheel hub - The center of the wheel that the
spokes are attached to.



Mountain Bike Designs

The designs for mountain bikes can be classified in
three categories based on suspension:

1.  Hardtail - A frame with no rear suspension,
often containing a front suspension fork.
2.  Fully rigid - This is a sub type of hardtail,
with a rigid fork.
3.  Dual or full suspension - These bikes offer a
front suspension fork and a rear suspension that
are integrated into the frame.
4.  Soft tail - Offers a frame with a small amount
of rear suspension, normally less than a full
suspension frame.

The different designs of bikes in mountain biking
will offer you what you need for your unique style
of riding.  You'll want a different bike for
different terrain, such as cross country or
downhill.  As the terrain changes, you'll want to
make sure you have the right bike for the job.

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 which reflect
on the manny challenging disciplines in the sport
of mountain biking.  No matter what type of
mountain biking you like to do, there are bikes
for 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.  Mountain biking can
be a lot of fun and excitement, although it can
also be very dangerous if you don't have the
right bike for the terrain.  Before you decide to
buy a bike and hit the trails, make sure you
have the right design of mountain bike for the
riding you are planning on doing.



Mountain Biking Accessories

When you first start out with mountain biking, it
can be a bit overwhelming when you walk into a bike
store to buy your first mountain bike and see all
of the available accessories you'll need when you
first start riding.

There are several mountain biking accessories and
related products that you can purchase.  Although
the sales staff will try to sell you anything they
can, the real question for those on a budget isn't
what's cool, but what accessories you need to make
your rides more safe and enjoyable.  By starting
with these accessories, you'll be just fine when you
hit the trails.

Bike helmet
The bike helmet is the most important mountain biking
accessory that you can buy.  No one should ever be
on a bike without a helmet.  There have been many
people who have experienced serious head injury, when
it could have prevented by wearing a helmet. All
mountain bike helmets are comfortable and stylish and
everyone who rides on the trails wears one.

Mountain bike gloves
No matter what season you ride in, your hands can
take a beating.  Beginners will normally keep a death
grip on the handle bars, which can be very brutal for
their hands.  When you crash, your hands will be the
first thing to hit the ground - and everyone crashes
at some point.  Mountain bike gloves are a must have
accessory, as they will take the beating for you. 

Mountain bike shorts
After the first few mountain bike rides you take, you'll
notice that your rear end will be quite uncomfortable.
Even though your body will adjust, bike shorts are
great to have as they will help keep it at a bare
minimum.  You can get shorts that are very comfortable,
making them a great addition to your mountain bike
ride.

Mountain bike shoes
Depending on the type of pedals you have and the type
of riding you do, you'll want to pick your mountain bike
shoes accordingly.  If your bike has clipless type
pedals, you'll want to get shoes to accept the special
cleat for your pedals.  Good mountain bike shoes are
durable, comfortable, and also a stiff sole for better
efficiency when pedaling.  Also, you should make sure
to get the right shoe for the terrain you'll be riding
in as well.

Eye protection
If you get something in your eye, you can run off the
trail in a matter of seconds.  Sunglasses or clear lensed
glasses can help keep your eyes safe from debris, as well
as protect them from the wind.  When you buy your glasses,
make sure they are non-breakable.

Hydration system
Bringing a water bottle or hydration backpack with you is
always a great idea.  It's very easy to get dehydrated so
you should always bring water with you and drink it on
the trail to ensure that your body stays properly hydrated
at all times.

Trail repair kit
It's easy to get stuck in the woods or on the trail if you
don't bring the proper repair kit for your bike.  To be
on the safe side, bring a multi-tool designed for bike
repair, tire levers, and a patch kit for fixing flat
tires.  


Mountain Biking Safety Tips

There are numerous ways that you can improve your
mountain bike safety.  Many riders will tell you
that wearing a helmet is the most important step to
staying safe.  The second most important step is
that you should always ride in control of your
mountain bike.

By riding in control you'll not only prevent crashes,
but keep others on the trail safe as well.  When
riding out of control you loose the ability to
adjust to the terrain as you ride over it.  This can
and usually does result in serious injury to yourself
and others.

Follow these helpful guidelines and you'll remain
safe when riding your mountain bike.

Gear
Always make sure that you wear a helmet and other
necessary safety gear for the conditions that you
plan to ride in.

Never ride beyond your control
There is never any shame in walking the areas of
the trail that you don't feel comfortable in riding
and you should never let anyone else tell you that
there is.

Keep your speed under control
Always make sure you keep your speed at a level
where you can quickly adjust to any obstacles or
change in the trail.

Knowing your trail
You should never push the limits on trails that you
aren't familiar with.  You should take trails you
aren't familiar with at slow speeds until you learn
them better.

Slow down around blind corners
If you can't see past a corner you should always
slow down, as you never know who or what is around it.

Start small then go big
Work your way up to stunts or obstacles.  Practice in
less difficult or dangerous situations before you
move up to something more dangerous.

Playing it smart

If you start to question what your doing, you probably
shouldn't be doing.  Always think about what you are
doing and go with your instincts.



Mountain Biking Vacation

Taking a mountain biking vacation is an excellent
way to unwind and explore America.  There are several
companies that offer mountain biking tours that go
through scenic routes, and they often arrange any
accomodations for travelers as well.  For athletic
couples, these types of vacations offer the perfect
way to relax and enjoy some exercise together.

Each and every region in the United States has some
truly awesome mountain biking trails.  It's not just
the major mountain ranges that offer these trails, as
any hilly, scenic, rough trail can provide riders with
the adventure they seek.  Some of the best areas to
mountain bike ride in the United States are the Pacific
Northwest, Southwest, and Southeast states such as
North Carolina.

Even though the entire American West area is great for a
mountain biking vacation, the Southwest area is rapidly
becoming a popular area for the sport as well.  In the
Southwest, some of the best trails include Pinery
Canyon Road in Arizona, South Boundary Trail in New
Mexico, and Flume Trail in Nevada.

Each and every trail deserves it's reputation as a
tough ride.  Each one of these trails is over 20 miles
in length, with Pinery Canyon being the longest, at
over 50 miles!  Keep in mind though, just because you
go to a trail it doesn't mean you have to ride the entire
length.

The Pacific Northwest is also a great place for a
mountain biking vacation.  The three best trails in
the entire region are Surveyor's Ridge in Oregon, Mount
Tamalpais in California, and the Methow Trial System in
Washington.

A mountain biking vacation is perfect for athletic people
who have the desire to explore regions at their own
pace.  These trips are much less expensive than other
trips, yet they can easily be the adventure of a
lifetime.


Setting Your Tire Pressure

Riding your mountain bike with the appropriate
amount of tire pressure can make a huge difference
in how much control you have over your bike.

Setting your tire pressure too high will make for
poor contact with the ground and also make your
bike less controllable.  Setting your tire pressure
too low will make your tires unpredictable and also
make them susceptible to pinch flats.

The appropriate amount of tire pressure in a
mountain bike will vary between rider to rider and
tire setup to tire setup.  The conditions of your
trail and the type of terrain your riding will also
greatly impact what tire pressure you should be using
in your tires.

The trick here is to find out exactly what mountain
bike tire pressure works for you and your setup during
normal conditions.  After doing this, you can learn
to adjust your pressure for different trails and types
of terrain as needed.

You should start by finding a reliable pressure gauge
or a pump with a pressure gauge.  Then, use this same
gauge or pump anytime you are making adjustments.  A
gauge can be very inaccurate, so if you switch around
it you can make things much more difficult.

You should start with a higher pressure of around 40 -
50 psi.  If you have a tubeless system, you should
start lower, 30 - 40 psi.  The more you weigh, the
higher pressure you should start with.  Try this
pressure for a while and get a feel for how the tires
take corners and loose dirt.

Drop the pressure by 5 psi in each tire and get a feel
for how this new setup rides and how it compares to your
previous setting.  You should notice some improvement
in stability, and if you don't, drop the pressure by
another 5 psi.

You want to find the lowest pressure you can ride with
without sacrificing pinch flat resistance.  A pinch flat
occurs when your tire rolls over an object then compresses
to the point where the tire and the tube get pinched
between the object and the rim on the wheel.

With tubeless tire systems, you can run much lower air
pressure, as you don't have to worry about getting pinch
flats.  If you start to dent your rims, burp air out
along the bead, or feel the tire roll under the rim
during hard cornering, you've taken the pressure much
too low.

Once you've found a comfortable setting for your tire
pressure, learn what your tire feels like when you
squeeze it with your hands.  Once you know what your
tires feel like you can always get the right air
pressure - with any pump.



Sizing Mountain bikes

Along with giving you a better selection and expert
advice, bike shop personnel can you help you get
fitted to the right size bike.  You can get the bike
either too big or too small, which will cause your
enjoyment to suffer.  Follow the tips below, and
you'll have the perfect fit for your mountain bike.

Standover height
When you check the fitting yourself, the first thing
you want to check is the inseam clearance, or the
standover height.  You want to have plenty of room
between yourself and the top tube when you come to
a stop.  There should be around four to six inches
of clearance from the top of your inseam to the top
of the top tube.

Leg and feet position
There's a nifty formula for determining the leg
position for riding a mountain bike.  When riding
a mountain bike, the terrain constantly changes,
raising you off the seat constantly, sometimes just
slightly, other times completely off.

Therefore, you'll need to sit your saddle slightly
lower than you would on any other type of bike. 
Be sure you take this slightly lower seat height
position into effect when you factor the size of
the frame.

Riding compartment
The next thing you'll want to check is the rider
compartment layout (the distance between the saddle
and the handlebars).  Once the proper leg extension
has been determined, be sure the handlebar is one
to two inches below the height of the saddle.  You
should never have the handlebars higher than the
seat, unless there is some type of upper body
problem.

Dual suspension bikes
With suspension being at both ends, you'll want
your weight more in the middle of the bike so that
your weight is distributed evenly between the front
and rear suspension units, thus allowing the front
and rear suspension to work as a unit. 

This can be done quite easily by using either a
higher or shorter stem to raise the hand height,
which will in turn move the upper body up and the
weight towards the rear.  The increase in rise
shouldn't be no more than two inches, then the
decrease in reach shouldn't be any more than two
inches.

Test ride
Once you have taken all of these steps into account,
go out and test drive the bike.  Make sure you
wear a helmet, even if you are going to be testing
for a brief period of time.  Be sure that the tires
are set to the right pressure, and the shop has
adjusted the bike for you properly.

You should have a shop employee observe your body
position and ride height while riding, to determine
is any further adjustments need to be made.  Ride
the bike around for a bit to get used to its
handling and new equipment.  Start off slowly, then
give the bike a bit of time to present its personality.

After a few minutes, you might notice that something
isn't working correctly or just doesn't feel right
in general.  If this happens, go back to the shop
and have the problem corrected before you rule out
the bike. 

The more you ride bikes, the easier it will be to
tell the difference in the ride types.  Keep in mind,
it may take months and even years to appreciate the
way a bike handles.  Talk to those who ride, and
ask them if they ride the bikes they sell.  This
way, you'll learn more about the mountain bikes you
love so much!


Spring Tune Up Tips

If you don't ride in the winter, you've probably
spent the winter months on the couch eating chips
and watching television.  Before you know it, spring
will be here and a new season of mountain biking
will begin.  Even though your body may not be in
shape, these tips will ensure that your bike is.

Before you take your bike out, check the wear and
tear on your components and adjust them if its
necessary.  Start off with your chain.  If you
haven't replaced it in a year or more, it's time
to do so.  Over time, the individual parts in the
chain will get worn out, increasing its effective
length.

As this happens, the chain is no longer able to
conform to the cog and the teeth of the chain ring,
so it wears those teeth out to fit the profile of
the chain.  If you can replace the chain before it
stretches too much you'll save yourself from having
to replace high priced cogs and chain rings.

Now, check the bearing surfaces.  These include your
bottom bracket, hubs, and the headset.  Each of these
should turn without a problem with no play in the
system.  Before checking the bottom bracket, make
sure each cranking arm is snugged tight.  Next, hold
on to the crank arm (not the pedal) and wobble it
back and forth.  If you hear any clicking or if the
crank arm binds, the bottom bracket needs to be
adjusted.

Do the exact same thing with your hubs.  Take the
wheels off the bike, spin the hub axles, then feel
for any free play or binding.  If you feel play or
binding, you need to make an adjustment.  To check
the headset, start off by putting the newly adjusted
wheels back on the bike. 

Now, grab the front brake and pull and push the
handle bars back and forth.  There shouldn't be any
play.  If you lift the front end off the ground,
the fork should turn very smoothly.  If it feels rough,
it needs to be either adjusted or replaced.

While your looking, check the condition of your cables
and housing.  The cables should be rust free and the
housing shouldn't be cracked or kinked.  If you see any
of this you should replace the offending device, as if
you don't your shifting and braking will be sluggish.

Last, you should inspect your brake pads.  Most pads
will have ridges or indicator marks that will let you
know when they need to be replaced.  Brake pads that
are worn out will comprimise both safety and braking
efficiency. 

Once you've got the tune ups out of the way, it's time
to go for a ride.  With your mountain bike running
better than ever, all you have to do now is have fun!



Technical Down Hill Mountain Biking

The key to down hilling is relaxing your upper body.
The steeper and rockier the hill is, the more tightly
the rider tends to put a death grip on the handle
bars.  Most riders tend to slow down as they approach
obstacles such as rocks, then apply both brakes. 

If you don't apply your brakes, the rock will stop
your wheel.  This isn't good, as the rock can throw
you off balance and completely kill any type of
momentum you have.

Relaxed riders won't slow down as much.  The
combination of extra momentum, no front braking at
crucial moments will allow the wheel to bump over
the rock and continue onward with little effort.

If you are going slow, it's essential to release
your brakes as much as possible when you approach
an obstacle.  This may entail going a bit faster,
although the result is much less painful.  On
steep hills, going really slow will always make
things much more difficult.

One exception to this is a very tight turn.  If a
hop is out of the question, you'll need to slow
down to allow the smallest radius of turning circle.
This kind of thing takes practice, although track
standing isa great way to improve on your balance.

Although down hilling is one of the most extreme
methods of mountain biking, it can also be one of
the most dangerous.  If you're new to mountain biking
you shouldn't start out with down hilling, as it
takes a lot of practice.

With a bit of practice and knowing the right
techniques, technical down hilling is something you'll
find fun.  It can provide quite a rush and a lot
of excitement for those who seek adventure.



The Bunny Hop

In mountain biking and even BMX riding, the bunny hop
is a bike trick that involved the rider lifting the
bike up and over an obstacle while remaining in
motion on the bike.  Experienced bikers can lift
their bikes in excess of a meter or one and a half
feet.  The world record for the bunny hop stands at
4 feet.

The bunny hop is executed by approaching an obstacle
with speed, lifting the front of the bike then
leveling the pedals.  If the bike has full or front
suspension, pre-load the shocks by pressing down
on the bike just before you reach the obstacle.

Once the shocks have been pre-loaded, the rider
will spring upwards, pulling up with the hands and
feet at the same time.  Toe straps or clipless
pedals help with this, although if plain platform
pedals are used, it's still possible.  As the biker
lifts, the hands will roll through twisting the
throttle.  After the object is cleared, push down
on the bike then absorb the impact with the arms
and the legs.

It's often times a misconception that a bunny hop
without toe clips is achieved by rotating forward
on the handlebars.  Lifting up on a mountain bike
while standing next to it is quite difficult to
hold on to the handle bars. 

The bunny hop is very popular with mountain biking,
as experienced riders can make it look a lot easier
than it actually is.  New mountain bikers should
practice a lot before they actually attempt the
hop, as doing it on a bigger obstacle can easily
be quite dangerous.

With proper practice, the bunny hop can be achieved,
even for beginners.  All you have to do is give it
some time and effort, and you'll be pulling off the
bunny hop just like the pro's do it.



The History Of Mountain Biking

There is a lot of history and information out there
in regards to the history and origins of mountain
biking, with some being recognized and some that
depends on who has the best firm of public relations.

Some say that mountain biking began with the Buffalo
Soldiers, which was a turn of the century infantry
who customized bikes to carry gear over the rough and
tough terrain.  They began in August of 1896, over
the course of 800 miles.  Their mission was simple -
to test bikes for military use in the toughest of
terrain.

Others say it was the Velo Cross Club of France
that started mountain biking.  The club was comprised
of 20 young bikers from Paris, who between 1951 and
1956 developed a sport that resembles present day
mountain biking. 

It could have also been John Finley Scott, who was
the first mountain biker in the U.S.  In 1953 he
constructed what he called a "Woodsie Bike", using
a diamond frame, balloon tires, flat handle bars,
and cantilever brakes.  He was more than 20 years
ahead of his time.  Even though he remained an off
road enthusiast, there were many at that time who
didn't share that same passion.

Today, we believe that the history of the mountain
bike is most apparent in Northern California.  There
are a few areas that claim to be the first community
for mountain biking, although each and every history
book will tell you Marin County.

The sport of mountain biking has taken many twists
and turns over the last several hundred years.  Even
though there are many that say different things about
the history and the beginning, we know one thing
for sure - one thing has led to another and the
sport of mountain biking was born.


Things To Take With You

When you decide to go mountain biking on a long days
ride, there are several things that you should take
with you.  Below, you'll find the essentials that
you should have with you.

1.  Back pack - a camelback or mule is a good idea here.
2.  Waterproof - the type that packs down very small is
the best to have.
3.  Water - you need at least 2 liters for a long ride.
4.  Food - sandwiches and energy bars are the best to
have with you to eat.
5.  Pump - take a good one with you, as the small mini
pumps are a waste of time and money.
6.  Tire levers if you need them.
7.  Two small inner tubes.
8.  A piece of medium emery paper about 3 inches long
and an inch wide.
9.  A cut up tube of Crest for pinch punctures or to use
as a tire boot.
10.  A carpet needle.
11.  A card of linen thread to repair torn tires.
12.  A good chain splitter
13.  At least two black pins.  You should tape these
to the inside lid of your puncture repair kit.
14.  A set of allen wrenches.  The penknife style is
the best to get.
15.  A small screwdriver.
16.  A first aid kit that includes an elastic bandage.
17.  A Spokey spoke key.
18.  A felt tip pen that will show on inner tubes.
19.  Some lunch and phone money.

If you take the above with you, you should have no
problems with long mountain bike rides.  Everything on
the above list will serve a purpose, all you have to do
is give them a chance.  If you've ever been mountain
biking and ran into problems in the past, you should
know first hand just how important the proper supplies
can actually be.



Types Of Mountain Biking

As a sport or a hobby, mountain biking can be split
into 9 different categories.  These categories are
very versed in what they offer.  They are:

1.  BMX
BMX is a style where the bikes offer 20 inch wheels.
These bikes are commonly used at skate parks or
with dirt jumps.  Because of their smaller wheels
and shorter wheel bases, BMX bikes are much easier
to perform tricks and stunts with.

2.  Cross country
This type of mountain biking involves riding your
bike up and down hills.  Although it's the least
extreme form of mountain biking, most cross country
riders are very fit and go on long rides. 

3.  Cyclo cross
This is a cross between road and mountain biking.
These riders have to go over obstacles, cross through
rivers, and race on and off the course.

4.  Dirt jumping
Dirt jumping involves jumping the bike over large
man made dirt jumps then doing tricks while they
are in the air.  These jumps are normally close
together so riders can go over six or more jumps
in one run, gaining a flow to give them more
speed for bigger jumps.

5.  Downhill
Downhill mountain biking involves racing downhill
as fast as possible.  This type of riding is very
intense and extreme, offering riders the chance
for ultimate thrills and excitement.

6.  Freeride
Free riding involves finding the perfect line down
the mountain using all of the terrain to express
yourself.  These competitions are very popular,
as riders can express themselves any way they see
fit.

7.  Single speed
No to be confused with fixed gears, this is a form
of cross country biking that's done using a bike
with only one gear and fewer components.  The idea
with single speed is simplicity.  The straight
chain line will provide efficient pedaling, and
the lack of components mean less mechanical
problems and a lighter bike.

8.  Street and urban
This type of riding involves riding in urban areas,
ledges, and other types of man made obstacles. 
Riders of street and urban biking will do tricks
as well, such as stalls and grinds.

9.  Trails
Trials are considered an aspect of mountain biking,
although the bikes used look nothing like mountain
bikes.  They use 20 or 26 inch wheels and sport
small, low frames.  Trail riders will hop and
jump their bikes over obstacles, which requires
an extreme amount of balance and concentration.



Wheel Truing


Wheel truing is actually something that is very easy
to do.  Even if you have no experience with mountain
biking or truing a wheel, it doesn't take a rocket
scientist to accomplish it.

The first thing to do is make sure that none of your
spokes are loose.  To check, grab each spoke in turn
and try to shake it back and forth.  If the spoke
wobbles, or makes pinging and grating noises, it's
loose.  If it's loose, add tension to the spoke by
turning the spokey anti-clockwise with your finger
and thumb pressure.

Keep turning and shaking until the noise is gone
and the spoke doesn't wobble or move.  Move on to
the next spoke until you've gone all the way around
the wheel and checked them all.

Now, it's time to see just how true the wheel actually
is.  Turn your bike upside down then spin the wheel
to see where it comes closest to rubbing on the
brake. 

You may need to rotate the wheel backwards then
forwards to locate the middle of the bulge on the
wheel.  Tighten the spokes which run on to the
other side of the rim.  If those spokes are already
tight, you'll need to loosen a few of the spokes
which run to the bulge side of the hub. 

Truing a wheel is easier than you may think, although
it can be a little tough with some wheels.  If
you need to loosen spokes, be very careful that
you don't break them.  They can be very tough
to loosen on older mountain bikes.

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