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MTB - Guide for beginners

The past few years, mountain biking has grown in popularity. Indeed, the UK is full of a wide variety of trails, both in forests, hills and plains. Bikeparks and trail centres pop up all over the place, and in the Alps and Pyrénées it allows ski resorts to diversify by offering a 4 season activity. In the meantime, numerous disciplines have emerged. However a novice may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information to take into account to start this sport. As a consequence, it can be difficult to know exactly what type of MTB to choose to fully enjoy the trails.

This is the goal of today’s article. We offer here a complete guide to start mountain biking. Riding styles, equipment, rules to abide by during your rides, we will go through everything. Let's go! 
how to start mountain biking

1/ The various disciplines of mountain biking

Cross-Country (XC)

Probably the discipline gathering the most enthusiasts in the MTB universe. Indeed, Cross-Country consists in riding on moderately technical trails, on plains, in the country side or in mountains, on varying distances. This do-it-all bike offers the required versatility to tackle any type of terrain and enjoy your rides in nature.

In competition, the Cross-Country Marathon MTB is lighter and nimbler, to go faster, further. It will be the ideal ally for riders who thrive on long distances and who are looking for a bike combining endurance, ruggedness and responsiveness.


As the name suggests, the All-Mountain MTB is a very versatile mountain-oriented bike. It will get you anywhere on the trails of your favourite mountain ranges, both on the climbs and on reasonably technical descents.

Downhill (DH)

Pure downhill riders only! DH is the ideal discipline for daredevils, extreme sensation enthusiasts looking for a good dose of adrenaline. In most cases, you get to the top thanks to ski lifts (we are not here to suffer, alright?). The descent takes place on dedicated runs. Bike Parks can feature impressive jumps in the forest. But do not panic, there are several difficulty levels similarly to skiing, to take it step by step.


Finally, you could say that Enduro is a mix of downhill and Cross-Country MTB. In races, you are timed on downhill runs called Stages and have to respect a certain time in the liaisons to avoid being disqualified.

The bike you need should be lighter and more playful than a DH MTB. It should also be more efficient to tackle the climbing sections! Therefore, the Enduro bike will be a versatile MTB, allowing you to mix leisure and competitive uses. Inspired by Motorcycle Enduro, numerous races take place each year, including the Enduro World Series (EWS).
beginner's guide to mtb

2/ The MTB etiquette

If you are reading this article, it is probably because you are new to the world of mountain biking. Before going full attack mode on the most beautiful trails this sport will have you discover, a few rules of good behaviour have to be reminded:

Share the path

Unless you are on a dedicated trail exclusively open to mountain bikers, as it is the case with downhill runs, you are not alone on trails. In All-Mountain or Cross-Country, the paths are open to anyone. Hikers, trail runners, horse riders, everyone is here to enjoy nature, just as you are. Keep in mind that hikers have the right of way, remain in control of your speed when approaching them. This way, you will actively contribute to the good image of your sport!

Take you trash with you

While this point seems pretty obvious, a quick reminder cannot hurt. Nature offers an amazing playground for mountain biking. Be sure to always keep your cereal bars or energy gels wrappings, to be able to enjoy your favourite trails for a long time!

Respect the local fauna and flora

While nature is your playground for the weekend, it is the living habitat of the many wild animals inhabiting it. If you come across some during your MTB ride, keep your distance and do not scare them. By behaving this way, you may have the chance to see them again in the future. In the same manner, do not leave marked trails and do not cut corners, you could seriously damage the flora which develops there.
the various mountain biking disciplines

3 / The essential pieces of MTB equipment according to your discipline

Open or full face helmet?

If there is one element that goes hand in hand with mountain biking, it has to be wearing a MTB helmet. However, helmets differ according to the riding style. While there are countless variations, there are 2 main categories: open face or full face.

If you enjoy trail, Cross-Country or All-Mountain riding, you need a lightweight and ventilated helmet, which does not weigh too much on your neck. The open face helmet is the perfect option.

On the other hand, when it comes to downhill riding, you can reach very high speeds. Wearing a full face helmet to protect your entire face becomes essential.

Glasses or goggles ?

When mountain biking, you progress in nature. Dirt, gravel and branches in the middle of the trail represent a real threat to your eyes. It is essential to protect them, to prevent accidents. The same principle as for helmets can be applied. For trail and XC riding, with long efforts, lightness should be the name of the game. This is why cycling sunglasses will perfectly fit the bill.

However, for Enduro and DH, MTB googles should be paired to a full face helmet. Indeed, in addition to projectiles, they will prevent potential air drafts from impairing your vision.

Full finger or half finger gloves?

Here, the same logic applies. You will prefer full finger gloves for downhill mountain biking for maximum protection in case of a fall. Half finger gloves offer a good balance between comfort and performance, to avoid blisters during your long MTB rides, without sweating too much.

The specific equipment for DH and Enduro riding

Finally, for downhill mountain biking, the kit list gets substantially longer. Indeed, you will unfortunately have to break the bank to get geared up from head to toe. But safety first! And your mom will not say otherwise! Here are some of the protective items that can be added to your equipment:

  • Knee guards

  • Shin guards or protective socks

  • Protective shorts

  • Back protector or body armour

Now that you are more familiar with mountain biking, you can discover all our MTB range on our website. Equipment, accessories, luggage, everything is here to start riding in the discipline of your choice, with the best gear available! And do not hesitate to contact our MTB experts by phone or drop by the shop, they will be happy to help!

Thank you for reading these few lines, see you outside!
mountain biking equipment