8 Tips for New Mountain Bikers

with Liv Athletes and Ambassadors

Are you just getting into mountain biking? Whether you’re a little nervous about hitting the trails, overwhelmed by all the gear, or just curious how to get started, we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled some of the best tips for beginner mountain bikers from our Liv community of athletes and ambassadors. Check it out!

Get Your Bike Dialed

  • “Invest in a bike you will grow into. Investing in a bike is a big deal, and you should be SO excited to hop on and ride! When making a bike purchase, it’s nice to invest in a bike ‘a little nicer’ than you think you need. You will be glad you did!” - Serena Bishop Gordon, Liv Racing Collective XC mountain bike athlete and coach
  • “Make sure your bike fit and setup is setting you up for success. It’s important to be able to safely straddle the top tube of the bike and reach the ground with your feet. The seat height should allow you to have proper leg extension while pedaling (a seat that’s too low or too high could hurt your knees). It’s wise to have a professional from a bike shop or a mountain bike friend help set you up on your bike.” - Lindsey Richter, Liv ambassador and Director of Inspiration for Ladies AllRide mountain bike skills camps
  • “Having your bike well setup and adjusted to your body can make a significant impact on your comfort level while riding. Ergonomics can make the difference between an unpleasant experience and a great time. So, small details such as ensuring your brake placement on the handlebars is appropriate for your reach and that your saddle isn’t too far forward or back go a long way towards navigating the trail successfully.” - Anita Naidu, Liv ambassador and professional mountain bike skills coach

Get (some of) the Gear

  • “Make sure you have a helmet that fits, comfortable and safe shoes, gloves to protect your hands and shorts to keep your bits happy. It’s also a good idea to carry a multi-tool and the necessary equipment to fix a flat tire (and learn how to use the tool and fix a flat).” - Lindsey
  • “You don’t need top-of-the-line gear to have fun. Sure, it’s nice to have fancy, high-end equipment, but if you’re on a budget, and you're not even sure you love the sport yet, it doesn’t make sense to buy the most expensive gear.” - Sandra Walter, Liv Racing Collective World Cup XC mountain bike athlete
  • “A good chamois (padded riding shorts) is a game changer! Do your research and see what the best option might be. Hint: there are chamois made specifically for women.” - Bella Naughton, Liv Factory Racing enduro athlete

Start Simple

  • “Mountain biking isn’t just what you see on YouTube, RedBull or in magazines. It’s not all extreme. It’s important to understand ‘mountain biking’ can pretty much mean whatever you want it to, and everyone needs to start with the basics. So, if that means cruising on a gravel path on your very first ride, that’s okay. That’s mountain biking too!” - Sandra
  • “When you’re starting out, ride attainable trails. Start your journey riding trails that don’t have a lot of technical features (rocks, roots, drops, jumps, exposure). Stick to smoother trails and spend time getting comfortable on the bike. Mountain biking should be fun, so it’s important to set yourself up for success by riding trails that feel good.” - Lindsey
  • “Start with green (easier) trails. Have fun, find success, then move up to the more difficult or technical trails. Use each ride as a stepping stone to improve upon the last, and focus on one element of riding at a time.” - Serena

Find a Group to Ride With

  • “Having positive people that are going to encourage you is the best thing you can do when starting out. Mountain biking is fun and finding the right group will not only enhance the enjoyment and social life, but it’s a faster way to progress your skills and fitness together.” - Rae Morrison, Liv Racing Collective enduro athlete
  • “I highly recommend finding friends or groups to go ride with. But don’t compare yourself to others. If something is too intimidating, feel free to walk your bike. It’s all about having fun and enjoying a new sport!” - Kaysee Armstrong Liv Factory Racing XC mountain bike athlete
  • “Find a group of trail buddies that will encourage you to develop as a rider, but not ‘push you over the edge.’ Riding bikes with friends should be fun and motivating, not frustrating.” - Serena
  • “Don’t let others dictate the rate at which you progress. It’s okay to scare yourself a little, but it’s not okay to be afraid for your life the whole ride. Speak up, let your riding buddies know if a trail is over your head or if their pace on climbs is too fast. They want to help you stay in the sport.” - Sandra
  • Never apologize if you are slower than the people you are riding with. We all have to start somewhere and I can almost guarantee the people you are riding with just love to see you out there. In fact, riding with people better than you can help you become better.” - Bella

Ask for Help

  • “It’s okay to ask questions! There’s a lot to learn about bikes, riding, gear, etc. Nobody expects you to know it all. I still ask questions after six years of riding, so don’t be afraid to ask!” - Bella
  • “The majority of the biking community is happy to help, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice from someone you respect. It’ll speed up the learning process and save you time figuring everything out by trial and error – which means more time spent on fun rides! Whether it’s advice on bike set up, bike handling skills, line choice, places to ride, etc, there are so many people willing to help to get you pointed in the right direction. You could ask an experienced friend, a rider you admire, a random person on the trails you saw do something skillful, online forums, or you could always search the articles on Liv-Cycling.com.” - Rae

Put it in Perspective

  • “For the wise, being courageous and adventurous coexist with a certain amount of fear and caution. So never chastise yourself from walking away from a feature. If you find yourself doing this, remember that there is pure delight in simply playing in the great outdoors. This way you avoid robbing the joy of an amazing experience. And don’t apologize for being slow – you don’t need to ride like a pro to identify as a mountain biker and feel passionate about it. In fact, the word amateur is derived from ‘One who Loves.’ Biking is best embraced as another avenue to explore and express who you are.” - Anita
  • “Mountain biking can be challenging, so it’s important to have patience and stay positive through the process. It takes time and practice to become a strong mountain biker, so entering the sport with a growth mindset will go a long way.” - Lindsey

Work on your Skills

  • “The number one most important thing a new mountain biker can do to ensure a safe and fun mountain bike journey is TAKE A LESSON! There is no substitute for learning skills the right way and practicing in front of a skilled instructor who can help you in a safe environment.” - Lindsey
  • “Take a mountain bike lesson that not only teaches you better bike handling skills, but also includes psychological techniques and strategies such that you gain fortitude to overcome mental blocks. The right lesson will help you understand when your fear is serving you and when it’s holding you back. This can help your learning curve immensely and help you reach a level of comfort on your bike in many situations – from climbs, to getting over rocks and roots, to catching some air time. Feeling more secure on your bike opens up all kinds of possibilities and if you haven’t already, will get you falling in love with the sport. Taking a lesson is a wonderful way to develop good habits right from the start. I spent years unlearning bad technique from being self-taught. Taking a lesson is a great way to invest in your future self!” - Anita
  • “Look down the trail, not at your front wheel. It’s hard when you first start riding to look where you want to go. You can easily get distracted and fixate on what’s scary. The problem is, when you are staring directly at the obstacle you’re trying to get over, you actually end up stopping!” - Kaysee

Always Bring Snacks

  • “When your blood sugar drops too low, everything becomes harder and seems impossible. I call it bonking. New riders tend to underestimate how much energy they’re using, and don’t realize refueling during rides is important.” - Kaysee
  • “Always bring water and snacks on your ride. No matter what length or how short the ride is, just bring it. Nothing good comes from being hungry or dehydrated.” - Rae