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The trend of people paying far too much attention to trends. Just because others do something doesn’t mean you have to and just because they don’t doesn’t mean you can’t. Just get on your bike and ride your ride and pick up after yourself.
For initial gear advice, I’d talk with your local bike shops, see what they have to offer and take a few bikes for some test rides. I’d also echo what Phonebem said about starting off on a hardtail…not a bad idea at all, but then that’s how I started and I may be biased.
For good trails to ride and people to ride with, I’d suggest checking if your area has a MTB advocacy organization. I don’t know where you are, but in New England, the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) maintains a webpage of all the trail networks they build or help maintain with listings for each of the 6 states that include descriptions of general terrain and what percentage of the trails are geared toward each skill level, directions, and trail maps. Each regional chapters holds multiple group rides geared toward every level from beginner (never ridden a MTB) to groups of semi-pro riders. Groups rides will help you build relationships with other MTBers who will help you with advice and tips along the way and help you immerse yourself in the sport.
Considering I spent thousands of dollars on my bike, I don’t mind taking 20-30 minutes every few rides to give it a cleaning. If you want to protect your frame, I’d suggest getting a clear frame protector sticker kit. But nothing takes care of a bike like good old-fashioned cleaning and maintenance. Taking shortcuts will only lead to shorter lifespan for your bike and its components.
Finally, I don’t think applying candle wax to a bike is a good idea…I think it would look bad, melt in the hot sun and crack and flake in the cold…I also wouldn’t be surprised if it was damaging to the finish of the bike.
This time I’m going to hit all the features, jumps and drops.
I already wear kneepads and I’m not looking for something that would cover the rest of my lower leg. Just something to protect the inside ball (medial malleolus) of my ankles.
If I cycle a lot, I’ll look as good as I did 10 years ago.
For some of us, this actually is not a lie at all. I took up riding singletrack only a little over 2 years ago in summer of 2017 and at 46 I’m in way better shape than I was at 36. MTB’ing can keep you young – mentally and physically – and that is no lie at all. 😉
Then again, the recovery from MTB crashes can remind me how old I really am. 😛
You can check if your chain is worn/stretched with one of these…
I would hazard to guess your derailleur hanger is slightly bent but not enough to be easily seen, the cassette is generally worn (though your bike mechanic certainly would’ve caught this I’d think), or maybe you have a tooth or two in one of your cassette gear wheels that is slightly bent. This happened to me and every time I’d shift into that gear, the chain would hit the bent tooth and sometimes immediately be pushed to the next gear or back to the gear I was shifting from if I was pedaling hard. It caused me so many problems on quick and short ups and downs until I just replaced the cassette. But it took a while to find because the tooth was just slightly off and there are a lot of teeth in there.
My priority would be: back and neck protection that is as easy to wear as a helmet. All other injuries worry me less.
I went backwards on my bike this past weekend and did a full backwards somersault. Until this, it never occurred to me how protective a hydration pack can be. I would have been all done, but thanks to the pack, I got right back up on my bike and completed my whole ride. Unfortunately, the phone that was in the pack didn’t survive the crash, but better the phone than my spine!
One thing I’d like to see is an unobtrusive pad designed for the ball of the ankle that isn’t awkward feeling or to put/keep on. The most common pain I feel on a ride is when something hits my foot and knocks my ankle into my crank. OUCH! I’ve seen some (expensive) MTB shoes with built in ankle pads, but haven’t seen just the pad.
It used to be pedal shin strikes that were the worst for me, especially on rough downhills, but going clipless took care of that.
I know some folks have complained the Raids (and other pads similar to them) get hot in the summer, and I guess they do, but I’m so focused on the ride and I’m hot anyway, so I don’t notice the knees in particular. I’d rather be hot during my ride than changing bandages multiple times a day. Been there done that before I started wearing the Raids and I still have the scars to remind me.
I second what Robert Dobbs said about the music. I know some people get irked by people playing music out loud and I used to feel the same, but I’ve evolved on this issue over the past year after a couple close calls. Not only does it alert wildlife of your presence (I’m more worried about skunks personally), but I ride a lot of multi-use and two-way trails that have blind turns and the music has prevented potential accidents even in the daylight. I try to listen to stuff that wouldn’t be offensive to the ears (no death metal…I keep that to myself lol) and keep the volume at a level where it isn’t filling the woods around me so people only hear for 20 seconds or less when I’m moving. I just really enjoy listening to music when I’m riding. I used to wear headphones, but that’s another safety issue….
I wear TLD Raid knee pads and generally have been very pleased with them. They’ve saved my knees more than once. The one drawback, I guess, is they slip on so I can’t put them on with shoes on, but that’s not a big deal to me since I put my shoes on at the TH anyway.
Edit: To address some of your other questions, I wear them on any trail ride, long or short and whether or not I’m descending. The only exceptions are a novice group ride I sometimes join for the company of the people in the group and in the winter if there’s soft new snow.
After reading through all of the responses here, which are really informative the way each rider lays out the rationale for why they choose the tires they choose, if I was lost and trying to figure out what tires to use, I think the best thing to do is talk to the guys at your LBS. They’re going to be riding the same trails in the same area and, combined with what you can tell them about how you ride and what you like to ride, they will be able to give the best relevant advice.
FWIW, I ride New England rooty/rocky trails with a Maxxis Minion DHF Plus on front and a Maxxis Rekon Plus on the rear. I love them both, but the Rekon is getting ready to be replaced and I’d like to get an Aggressor, but they don’t make them in plus sizes as far as I know. On the other hand, I’ve also been toying with the idea of going back to 29″ wheels.
Ken, have fun and welcome to the forum. I’ve no issues with e-bikes.
Look for Direct to Consumer brands instead of trendy brands with distributors.
Cost-effective and time-efficient.
I don’t use my dropper for fun, ease, or speed. To me, it’s a safety feature that helps keep me from going OTB. I feel so much more secure with my center of gravity further back and down. Until I rode with one, I didn’t see the point, but the first time I got on a steep descent with quick turns and remembered to drop my seat, it was a complete revelation.
My seat is also pretty high, and I love being able to drop the seat when I stop for a break and can sit instead of stand over the top tube.
I don’t use a cyclocomputer anymore, but I do track my rides on Strava. At the places and routes I ride repeatedly a fair amount, I’ve noticed the distances (and elevation gains) can vary quite a bit more at the places that have very twisty and hilly trails versus the flatter trails with few twists and turns. Last week, a regular loop I ride came in at about half a mile less than it usually does…and I added a small section. LOL
It’s also interesting to see the differences in logged data when you ride with someone else who also logs their ride and you both ride the exact same route with no deviation.
I imagine the most precise phone GPS is accurate to about 20 feet or so, so when you’re riding on trails that turn around on themselves in multiple 3-foot-arc hairpin turns, the GPS track is bound to have many inaccuracies.
I have a light for my bars which is extremely bright, but I haven’t yet gotten one to mount on my helmet. Since the handlebar light is so bright, I’m not as concerned about lumens and could probably get away with 750, but I do have another concern. On another light-related thread from a couple years ago, the conversation ended with someone wishing for a side-mounted light or one that is very low profile so you don’t have a “4 inch tall tree catcher” on top of your head.
Like I said, that was from a couple years ago…I didn’t want to revive a dead thread, so I’m adding the question here. Has this gotten better? Are there good low-profile helmet lights anyone can recommend? I definitely take a few taps to the head from low-hanging branches on my rides and it wouldn’t take long for either the light to get taken off my helmet or me to get taken off my bike if the light was 4 inches tall.
I’m sorry that happened to you. I’ve ridden in Mine Falls a couple times with the Tuesday night NEMBA group ride and we’ve never had any issues. Granted, those were fairly large groups, but I’ve also walked around Mine Falls solo many times and never had any issues, close calls or concerns. I’ve seen an old beat up tent or two in the woods there, which doesn’t surprise me since it’s close to the highway and the city of Nashua, but I’ve never seen them occupied.
Hopefully, while certainly not pleasant for you, the things you experienced were very isolated issues. I know a few people who bring their kids there, including one who rode there yesterday with little ones, so I’ll mention it to her. Again, I’m really sorry you had such a bad experience there. 🙁
I think of ‘staying light’ as staying loose with your grip and your body, ready to change and shift your body position to the contours, bumps, dips, and turns of the trail; always being ready to shift your weight to assist on climbing, descending or turning, or to get over obstacles; loose arms and legs to help absorb bumps and vibrations; and lifting your butt off the saddle every once in a while for a burst of speed or acceleration rather than permanently planting your ass in the saddle and constantly relying on shifting to assist acceleration. In general, staying light in my mind is being ready to adapt and change to constantly changing trail conditions.