Riding your mountain bike along bush trails or through bike parks is awesome fun. However, when you're out among the elements things can go wrong. Here are our tips to ensure you control what you can, and maximise your enjoyment!
Before even getting the bike out of the garage there are a couple of things to do. Are your tyre pressures correct? Is the chain lubed and are the gears changing smoothly? For off road riding the Rock and Roll Extreme lube is a solid option to keep the chain in good nick.
1) Tyre pressures
The general rule is between 30 and 50 psi. In sloppy mud the pressure will need to be lower than in the dry – not so low as to cause pinch flats, where the tube can be caught between the rim and the ground causing flats. You will be best to experiment, but it is always easier to drop pressure than add pressure when you're out there.
2) Set up Your Brake Levers
Don’t be afraid to move the levers to suit you. The fix only takes a few minutes, and it really helps your sense of control. Position your brake levers so:
- You only use your index fingers for braking. Use the other fingers for holding onto the grip.
- The first knuckle on your index finger is at the end of the lever.
- The lever is angled about 45 degrees down from level, or what is most comfortable for you.
You may have to move your levers inward away from the grips. If you can’t reach your shifters, pop into a Reid cycles store and ask the guys in the workshop to switch them around so they’re between your brake levers and grips.
3) Riding with the right pedals
Clip-in pedals are not mandatory. They are good if you spend a lot of time climbing hills, but they can be daunting. Riding with flat pedals is a great way to build confidence and makes it easy to bail if you have to. But make sure they have lots of grip (and your shoes grip to them) - slippery pedals can be dangerous, particularly in wet/muddy conditions.
4) Where are you riding?
Spending a little time planning where you're going, how to get there and where to park is the first part of enjoying your day or days out. There is nothing worse than spending an hour driving round in circles just to find the entry point.
Having an eye on the type of trails you want to ride is a good part of the planning. Do your research and if you can, print off a trail map and take it with you as it may save you a bunch of hassle when you are out on the trail.
5) Ride with a mate who has similar experience
It may sound silly, but stressing about trying to keep up often puts a downer on your day. Ride with people you like and people with similar riding goals who support you and vice versa. The exception to this, is if you really want to ride hard and improve your skills.
6) Things to take with you
When riding off road we recommend you take a number of things with you, some you'll need, some you hopefully won't need. Further to this, there are items you should take with you on a ride, and others you can leave in the car/at base camp.
Items to take riding (small backpack):
- Pump (Mini-pump and/or small CO2 inflator)
- Spare tube
- Multi tool
- Food (energy loaded)
- Light rain coat (if rain's forecast)
- Printed map where possible
Items to keep in the car:
- First aid kit (worth taking in your bag if you have space)
- More food. Lot's of it.
- Extra water / electrolyte drink / thermos of coffee
- Towel & plastic bags for cleaning up if needed
7) Getting there
No worries if you own a ute or station wagon and can throw your bike in the back, but if you're taking friends or have a smaller vehicle then try using a tow bar or strap rack to take more bikes safely and in comfort. We have a few bike rack options if you need one.
Well, these are our recommended pre-ride planning tips. If you have any other items you like to take with you when riding off-road drop us a line with your suggestions (email@example.com).