Equipment in mountain biking makes a difference
Equipment, equipment, equipment.
It is mentioned over and over again when people get ready to buy a bike a ride.
While the bicycle is the first step, and certainly an important one, other equipment and knowing how to use it is important too.
The bike. Usually, an appropriately sized mountain bike will have at least 2 to 4 inches of room between the top of the frame and the crotch of the rider when they stand above the bike. The rider should be able to reach the handlebars such that you can bend over at a 45 degree angle without feeling cramped. The height of the stem should be adjusted to put the handlebars slightly below the saddle, allowing some of the riders weight to shift to the front of the bike for a more balanced position. The saddle should be set at a height so that the persons legs can reach almost full extension when their heel is placed on a pedal in its lowest position.
Bikes with front or front and rear suspension are becoming more popular and more affordable. Suspension smooths the bumps in the trail, increasing comfort and decreasing fatigue. When unsure about the way a bike fits a rider, talk to the experts at a local bike shop. They should be able to help with properly adjusting the bike.
Helmet. Buy one that fits right and wear it. Not only is a helmet required in many local parks, but it will save the riders life. Advice on helmet fitting can be had at the local bike shop.
Water. Carry two water bottles and cages, or one of the alternative water systems (such as a CamelBak). Riders lose a lot of water as they ride. Drink water to prevent dehydration.
Appropriate clothing. Dress for the weather and riding conditions. The weather on the trail is often much different than where a person lives. Be prepared.
It is also recommended that bikers carry the following equipment. The clothing listed will significantly improve the comfort and enjoyment of the ride. The tools (along with the knowledge of how to use them) will let a rider keep riding should something go wrong.
Pump. Get one to fit the bikes valve type. Compact pumps are light, popular, and fairly efficient. Many adapt to either style of valve. Do not go cheap on a pump; they will fail when needed the most.
Gloves. Gloves are a necessity, especially when riding through brush, cedar and juniper. They will keep the rider from compressing nerves in their hands, getting blisters, and in the event of a fall, save skin on the hands as well.
Padded bicycling shorts. These are not only more practical on a bike than loose fitting shorts, the chamois prevents (ouch!) chaffing.
Windbreaker or light jacket. For spring, fall or winter riding.
Mountain bike shoes. Riders can ride in tennis shoes, but the soles are not stiff enough to provide enough comfort (pedals dig into soles) or power transfer. Try cycling shoes. They will make for a happy ride.
Spare tube. It's easier to replace the tube, and then patch the flat one at home where it's cool and there aren't any bugs swirling around. But still carry a patch kit as well. Often more than one tube goes down, especially on lengthy rough rides.
Tire irons. Used to help take off tires in order to change your tube.
Small screwdriver. This is for adjusting derailleurs or to use as a pry bar when in a panic doing something.
Small adjustable wrench. This can be used for removing wheels without quick-release.
Small metric wrenches, Check the bike and see the most common sizes that would be needed for a repair, then carry them along.
Allen wrenches. Get a good selection, and check them against the bolts on the bike.
Chain tool. This is for fixing a broken chain. Chains break on the trail and the only way to fix them is with this tool. Walking is the other alternative.
Spoke wrench. This is for tightening loose spokes, or removing broken ones.
First aid kit. This is to fix riders, not the bike, but the adhesive tape still might come in handy at times for the machine too.
Sunglasses/eye protection to protect your eyes from both the sun and dust.