Best Mountain Bike Racks For Riders

Finding a rack that works for your bike and fits your budget and vehicle can take forever. The number of options you will find on the market will surely dazzle you. There are so many variations with one end goal: to safely transport your bike to a location without having to contort it to fit inside your vehicle.

Among the popular varieties, you can attach these racks to become semi-permanent extensions of your car called hitch mount racks or rooftop racks. You can also pick more portable racks such as a trunk mount rack.

To make your job easier, we have selected five bike racks with exceptional quality and functionality for carrying and transporting mountain bikes. Some of these are high quality with an equally high budget, and some provide excellent functionality with a budget that won’t cost you a fortune. The options are many, and you can easily take your pick according to your needs.

Best All-Rounder Mountain Bike Rack

Thule T2 Pro XT/XTR Hitch Bike Rack

Material: Aluminum
Item Dimensions: 54 x 43 x 15 inches
Weight: 52.04 Pounds
Bike Capacity: 2, 4 with add-ons
Style: Hitch

Pros

  • Best in class tilt lever
  • Broad wheel/tire size compatibility
  • Reliable security system
  • Heavy-duty construction
  • User-friendly tilt mechanism at the rear of rack

Cons

  • Heavy-weight
  • Limited side-to-side rail adjustability

Thule T2 Pro XT/XTR is a versatile design suitable for almost all bike styles up to 60 lbs. In our opinion, this is the best hitch-mounted rack that will support your bike, whether it is a downhill mountain bike or a lightweight carbon fiber road bike.

The rack is designed and executed beautifully with particular attention to detail. It is the most spacious bike rack on the market. From fat tire bikes to mountain bikes, this rack can hold any 20”+ bike you want.

The ease of use is what makes this model so desirable. The model relies on a tray and shepherd’s hook system to secure the bikes. Next, an easy-to-use ratcheting wheel clamp system is employed, which smoothly cinches down to hold the bikes in place.

The HitchSwitch lever’s tilt release mechanism makes the rear of your vehicle accessible.
The wide wheel trays can accommodate wheels of all sizes and widths.

The security system is remarkable, with no need for any adapters or extra velcro straps to secure the bikes. There is significant space between the bikes, approximately 12”, ensuring the bikes don’t hit or rub against each other.

Best Budget Mountain Bike Rack

Swagman XC2

Material: Steel
Item Dimensions: 5 x 34 x 11 inches
Weight: 12.7 Kg
Bike Capacity: 2
Style: Hitch

Pros

Inexpensive
Light-weight
Folds for storage
Highly adjustable for a broad range of bike, wheel, and tire sizes

Cons

Lacks any security features
No straps to secure the wheels

If you are looking for an average mountain bike rack for light-duty use and that doesn’t cost a limb, Swagman XC2 is the pick for you. It has a relatively simple, no-frills design that falls on the non-fancy spectrum of mountain bike racks.

The rack is well-suited for everyday use if you are an occasional bike rider who does not indulge in heavy riding. The clamps make contact with the bicycle frame, and it can be a bit annoying. The wheel trays are adjustable using plastic knobs.

What makes Swagman XC2 more desirable is its storage flexibility. It comes with mounting hardware that you can easily assemble and remove as you please. Hence, it takes a lot less space than its rivals.

However, Swagman XC2 has no security features, so there is no way you can lock the bikes to the rack or the rack to the vehicle, which makes it inconvenient. If you are unlikely to leave your bikes unattended on roads, it shouldn’t be a problem for you.

Best Lightweight Mountain Bike Rack

Kuat Rack Sherpa 2.0

Material: Aluminum
Item Dimensions: 45 x 15 x 11 inches
Weight: 32 lbs
Bike Capacity: 2
Style: Hitch

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Foot pedal tilt mechanism
  • Rear tire cradle features

Cons

  • Lack of long-term durability
  • Lacks versatility

Among the lightweights, Kuat Rack Sherpa 2.0 takes the lead with a whopping 32 lbs, making this rack easy to install and easy to remove.

The tilt mechanism allows you to access the vehicle’s rear even when it is loaded with bikes. The foot lever tilt release makes it easy to use, and the simple design adds to its desirability.

An integrated security system comes in the form of a semi-integrated bike lock that aims to secure the bikes with an included cable. Kuat Sherpa 2.0 also protects wheels by using a molded strap.

The only major downside we find in Kuat Rack Sherpa 2.0 is the lack of versatility evident by its 40 lbs per bike limit, 3-inch maximum tire width, and fixed trays.

Best Adjustable Mountain Bike Rack

Yakima Dr. Tray

Material: Aluminum
Item Dimensions: 52 x 12 x 16 inches
Weight: 45 lbs
Bike Capacity: 2, 3 with EZ + 1 extension
Style: Hitch

Pros

  • Low loading height
  • Easy tray adjustment
  • Lightweight
  • Tool-free removal

Cons

  • Sticky tilt release handle and front wheel clamps
  • Cable locks are difficult to use

What stands out about Yakima Dr. Tray is its unique and innovative style that appeals to the masses. The unique design offers a great range of adjustability by allowing tool-free adjustment.

In terms of versatility, this rack is not far behind. The new design offers dual support channels with a wide spectrum of accommodation using quick-release clamps that allow trays to fit any combination of bikes.

There is no risk of the bikes coming into contact with each other, and the trays can support plus-sized tires.

It is easy to remove and store since it requires relatively less space. The tool-free locking SpeedKnob improves the installation process, and the SKS cable lock system secures the bikes to the rack.

While it is easy to be impressed by its versatility and adjustability, the tilt mechanism is not that impressive. Yakima Dr. Tray requires two hands to release the tilt mechanism, making it inconvenient and not user-friendly.

Best Roof Mountain Bike Rack

Yakima FrontLoader

Material: Steel
Item Dimensions: 56.5 x 8.5 x 10 inches
Weight: 18 lbs
Bike Capacity: 1
Style: Roof

Pros

  • Allows full access to the rear of the vehicle
  • It can hold a variety of bikes
  • It does not require front wheels for the removal
  • Easily assembled
  • No frame contact

Cons

  • It does not include locks
  • High loading height

If you are looking for a roof mount rack, the exceedingly convenient Yakima FrontLoader is the best way to go. The rack is equipped to carry different kinds of bikes, including thru-axles, full-suspension bikes, and disc brakes. It can easily fit wheels up to 20″ to 29″ and tires up to 3″.

What makes it stand out is its easy loading, evident by the fact that you can mount your bike fully assembled and remove it without using front wheels.

For carbon fiber and custom paint jobs, Yakima FrontLoader is a go-to rack due to its no frame contact feature. The rack only secures the wheels of your bike and not the entire frame. This way, it saves your vehicle from potential damage.

It is well-designed and sturdy and is a great pick for sedans and low-height vehicles. Since it doesn’t come with a lock system, you need to get one yourself if you decide to go for this model.

Key Considerations For Mountain Bike Racks

Rack Styles

Once you decide to get a mountain bike rack, you will be dazzled with the countless options you have and the first step you have to take is to pick the style of the rack you want to get. From hitch mounts to roof mounts, you have tons of varieties.

Platform racks win this round-up for most people. These designs are compatible with a wide variety of bikes and provide excellent stability. On the other hand, hanging racks are much lighter, compact, and relatively inexpensive. Roof mounts offer lower bike capacity, and trunk mounts cause paint damage.

Bike Capacity

Generally, bike capacity in racks ranges from one to four, depending on the style and extensions you get with it. If you are a single rider, you can opt for one or two bike capacity racks, but investing in extensions or hanging racks is a good option if you have a family that travels with you.

Bike Weight Capacity

The weight capacity is an important consideration if you want to mount heavy downhill mountain bikes. Platform racks usually rank higher on these listings, while other lightweights such as Kuat Sherpa 2.0 with 40 lbs weight capacity rank lower. It is crucial to invest in a rack that can handle the weight of your bike instead of risking a break.

Tilt-Release Mechanism

If you are a frequent rider, the chances are that you are unlikely to remove your rack from your vehicle every other day. Keeping your rack on for extended periods of time indicates that you will eventually need access to the rear of your vehicle; hence a built-in tilt-release feature is necessary.

Platform mounts take the lead in this feature as they don’t need you to unload your bikes before you tilt, while hanging models require you to unload your bikes first. Thule T2 Pro XT/XTR is a great example of an ideal lever system in terms of functionality.

Bike Frame Compatibility

Depending on your bike’s style, the frame contact of your bike with the rack is an important concern. If you have platform racks like Thule T2 or Yakima Dr. Tray, there will be no frame contact, and only the tires or wheels of the bike will be secured to the rack. However, other bike styles carry the risk of paint damage to your vehicle if their frame comes in contact with the rack for long periods of time.

If you face this issue, it is best to get a top tube adapter as an accessory to protect your vehicle from paint damage.

Rack Material

Durability is another factor that you should consider if you like to ride a lot and are in for a long-term investment. You get what you pay for, literally. While you can get low-quality products with excellent functionality at low prices, such as the Swagman XC2 rack, it is unlikely they will last for long. Material plays a crucial role in the longevity of the product. All-metal constructions with strategic use of plastic-like Thule T2 can outlive all-plastic constructions.

Rack Weight

Mountain bike racks range widely in their weights. A sturdier construction with heavyweight is bound to have some added excellent features but makes installing and removing a challenge. On the other hand, lightweight racks are easier to assemble and remove and easier to store. Lightweights like Yakima Dr. Tray or Kuat Rack Sherpa 2.0 often miss out in terms of carrying-ability and longevity.

Cost

While prices of the racks may vary according to the specifications and bonus features of the rack, it is imperative to invest in a rack that meets your budget while maintaining quality.

Price ranges of mountain bike ranks depend on the kind of material used, the rack style, added accessories like integrated locks or lever system, and other considerations.

If you have an expanded budget, feel free to invest in a high-quality rack like Thule T2 that will last longer. If you are only an occasional rider, go for lightweights and cheap racks like Swagman XC2.

Takeaway

Mountain bike racks come in all shapes and sizes, and there is one out there for you. The only thing you need to decide is what suits you best according to the kind of bike you own. This article has only featured five of our favorite picks, but our guide will help you decide which feature is most attractive to you and hence, which rack is the right pick.

Best Full Face Mountain Bike Helmets

Whether you are a seasoned mountain biker or an occasional rider, choosing a bike helmet that looks good and does its job well can be an exhausting process.

Everyone you talk to will have different opinions about different helmets, and the sheer number of options will have you running to the hills without a helmet – quite literally.

While there is no substitute for quality, protection can come at a high price. If you are new to riding a bike and don’t know what to look for in a bike helmet or want to upgrade your older one, we have the perfect buying guide for you!

We have assembled a list of helmets that vary in prices, features, and distinctive qualities. By the end of this article, you will know exactly which helmet is best suited for your needs.

Best All-Rounder Full Face Helmet

Demon United Podium

Item Weight: 2 lbs, 2 oz
Inner Lining: EPS foam liner. Removable/washable
Outer Shell: Injection-molded resin polycarbonate shell
Ventilation: 13 airflow vents
Visor: Present, with aluminum side visor screws
Certifications: U.S. CPSC Safety Standards, Australian AS/NZS 2063 Standards

Pros

  • High-end EPS foam lining
  • Great durability
  • Budget-friendly
  • Fulfills safety standards
  • Removable/washable inner lining

Cons

  • Heavyweight
  • Confusing sizing chart

Demon United Podium comes with the U.S. CPSC certification that vouches for its superior safety standards. The tough outer shell of the helmet makes it ideal for protection.

Unlike most helmets, protection does not come at the expense of comfort. Demon United Podium has a flexible design owing to the inner lining of EPS foam. Over time, the liner conforms to fit the rider. The contouring feature makes it more comfortable and personalized.

Since the helmet is full-faced, it prevents concussions and severe damage to the skull and face.

The best thing about this helmet? It doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg to get it. Demon Podium has a reasonable price without compromise on quality.

However, there are some downsides that you should be aware of. Demon United Podium isn’t the best in terms of weight. For people with shorter heads or those running uphill, managing weight can be a problem.

Another thing to consider is the sizing chart. While the product has a broad spectrum of customizable choices, the sizing chart can be misleading. Make sure you pay attention when selecting the helmet. The selected size has been known to fall short of the requirement. Hence, it is always better to pick a size bigger than yours.

Best Lightweight Full Face Helmet

Fox Racing Rampage Pro

Item Weight: 43.5 oz
Inner Lining: EPS, mesh
Outer Shell: Carbon fiber, FPS resin
Ventilation: 19
Visor: Present, Magnetic Visor Release System 2.0
Certifications: ASTM safety standards

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Well-ventilated
  • Good visibility
  • High-end technology
  • Better visor release system
  • Good breathability

Cons

  • Confusing size charts

Fox Racing Rampage Pro is a well-designed full-face helmet for hardcore riders. What makes this helmet stand out among the rest? The use of high-end technology gives the ultimate protection and comfort.

If you are a fan of fancy technology, this one’s for you. Fox Racing Rampage Pro uses Fluid Inside technology which acts as a shock absorber underneath the lining of your helmet. What does this do? Basically, these fluid/oil-filled pods act as a floating device similar to the MIPS technology and reduce the impact of rotational forces on the head. Additionally, they also act as compressible protection in case of a fall.

This helmet features a multi-composite technology outer shell with dual-density EPS lining underneath. This combination works to spread out the impact of forces over a larger surface area.

The Magnetic Visor Release System is another technological wonder that makes the visor easy to detach in case of a crash. There are 19 ventilation ports to improve breathability and airflow. The company uses a CAGE chin bar and eye-port in the shell.

Due to the impressive features, this helmet is one of the most expensive ones on the list but worth it all the same.

Best Ventilated Full Face Helmet

Bell Super 3R MIPS

Item Weight: 433 g, 783 g with the chin bar
Inner Lining: NO-TWIST TRI-GLIDES & X-STATIC AND XT2 PADDING
Outer Shell: Fusion in-mold polycarbonate shell
Ventilation: 23 helmet vents, four brow ports, six chin-bar ports
Visor: Present, adjustable
Certifications: U.S. CPSC Safety Standards

Pros

  • Better ventilation as compared to competitors
  • Space for goggles/camera
  • Lightweight
  • Removable chin bar
  • Easily adjustable visor
  • Trail riding adaptability

Cons

  • It does not fulfill the ASTM DH safety standards
  • Lack of MIPS spherical features
  • Stiff chin guard clips

Bell Super 3R MIPS has the most versatile features among all the helmets on this list. Made to be used for riders who are seasoned in sudden terrain chains, this helmet gives you the best of both worlds.

The helmet is lightweight with a removable chin-bar. It is one of the best convertible helmets offering you options to pick between a full-face helmet for hardcore rides and a half-lid helmet for a recreational ride. It provides trail riding adaptability.

What makes it stand out among its competitors? The excellent ventilation system it offers. Bell Super 3R MIPS has 23 ports in the helmet for maximum airflow and overbrows ventilation to ensure full-head cooling and to keep your goggles fog-free.

The visor is the best among convertible helmets. It is easily adjustable and has enough room to wear goggles and glasses. Despite its great features, this helmet is still not qualified for DH riding.

Best Aesthetically Designed Full Face Helmet

Troy Lee Designs Stage

Item Weight: 691 g, 24.3 oz
Inner Lining: EPS
Outer Shell: Polyline Shell construction with fiber reinforcement
Ventilation: 11 high-flow air intakes, 14 open-core exhaust ports
Visor: Present
Certifications: DH certification

Pros

  • Ultra-lightweight design
  • Well-ventilated
  • Great look
  • Good for downhill riding
  • Comfortable lining
  • Moisture-free padding

Cons

  • Straps and cheek pads may irritate ears
  • No space for goggles

Troy Lee Designs Stage is the best helmet for downhill riding there is. The helmet is built for downhill roughness and constructed for a safe transition from uphill to downhill.

One of the best features of this helmet is the ventilation it offers. The most important thing to manage in a downhill ride is breathability which is affected due to the drop in pressure. The deep maximum airflow internal channeling ensures a versatile range of airflow. With its cooling capacity, there are seldom chances you will overheat.

The X-static pure silver comfort lining adds to the protection it offers and keeps the helmet moisture-free.

However, it is one of the most expensive helmets on the market. The other downside is the occasional irritability riders experience due to the straps.

Otherwise, Troy Lee Designs Stage is a great choice.

Best Budget Full Face Helmet

POC Coron Air Spin

Item Weight: 43.0 oz, 1220 g
Inner Lining: EPP
Outer Shell: Fiberglass
Ventilation: 20
Visor: Present
Certifications: EN 1078, CPSC 12.03, ASTM F1952, DH certification

Pros

  • Excellent protection
  • Comfortable
  • Affordable
  • Rock-solid outer shell
  • EPP lining with multiple impact protection
  • POC spin technology for better protection
  • Sufficient space for ear chambers

Cons

  • Heavyweight
  • Poor ventilation

POC Coron Air Spin is a rock-solid helmet that is designed for enduro and downhill riding. The Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) underneath the fiberglass shell works as a shock absorber that can take multiple hits.

Moreover, this helmet provides ultimate protection by its integrated POC SPIN technology, which is designed to reduce the impacts of angled forces. The shearing pads inside ensure that the head is protected from oblique forces by reducing the transmission of forces. The incorporated slip-plane in the padding absorbs direct forces.

The helmet has multiple certifications along with authorization for DH riding. The helmet boasts a superior level of comfort due to its heavy padding. Despite the padding, ear chambers are free and retain balance and hearing abilities.

Despite a number of excellent features, POC Coron Air Spin won’t take the crown for its breathability features or its weight.

Key Considerations For Full Face Mountain Bike Helmets

Safety Standards

The safety standards of a helmet dictate the kind of protection it provides and how suitable it is for your niche of use.

In the United States, the law makes it mandatory for every mountain biking helmet to meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) minimum safety standards. The helmet you pick must pass the necessary tests for g-force impact, helmet straps, stability, and amount of coverage.

So, make sure you check the certifications of the helmet before you make a purchase.

Construction

Helmet construction is another essential feature to assess its quality. The outer shell should be strong enough to not only bear the impact but spread it over the foam.

In mountain bike helmets, an advanced protection system in the form of a Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) has been introduced. MIPS ensures the reduction of rotational forces that incur in the event of an impact.

The helmet’s outer shell is mainly made up of a polycarbonate shell responsible for providing puncture resistance. It also protects the head and neck from significant damage by sliding over the head in case of an impact.

Ventilation

Most of the helmets that are good at protection usually have lower ventilation due to thick inner linings. Denser foam enforcement can result in better ventilation but more inadequate protection. Hence, it is vital to get a helmet that has strategically placed vents.

Since you lose a significant amount of heat through your head while biking, it is essential to have a ventilation system that keeps your head cool.

Get a helmet that has ventilation ports at the front and back to remove heat efficiently. Remember, more is not always better.

Fitness

How a helmet adjusts to your face structure is vital for its ability to protect your head. The full-face coverage of your helmet makes it harder to adjust to your particular bone formations.

A fit helmet is not only comfortable but also helpful in keeping your head in place in the event of a fall or impact. Your helmet must be equipped to cradle your head comfortably by adjusting to the height and outline of the inner helmet cage.

Check the helmet straps of the product to see if it is adjustable to clasp under the chin. They should move around the ears and meet as a Y in front of them. Helmet straps should be durable and robust to not break under pressure.

Inner Lining

The helmet’s inner lining is usually made up of an expanded polystyrene foam that provides an additional layer of protection to your head.

Expanded Polystyrene or EPS insulation is the ideal material used for the inner lining of helmets. It helps dissipate the impact forces and slows down the motion of the head in case it is hit by load or back-fill forces. The material has high mechanical compressive strengths that add to the closed-cell insulation. Its high dimensional stability keeps the head and neck intact.

Pick a helmet with a rigid inner lining with compressive strengths and durability.

Weight

In order for a helmet to provide the best protection to the rider, it is important to keep the weight in check. A heavyweight helmet would put excessive pressure on the neck, straining the muscles, and resulting in disbalance of the rider.

The weight of the helmets also reduces comfort and increases the chances of you getting tired easily. Most of the fiberglass helmets are on the heavier side, and plastic helmets are lighter.

Ideally, pick a helmet that is both lighter and offers excellent protection.

Visor

A helmet’s visor plays an important role in protecting the rider from different kinds of disturbances such as direct sunlight, debris, and other obstructions on the road.

While the benefits of visors are countless, it is also crucial to pick one that dislodges easily in the event of a crash. The first step of helmet extrication is disarming the visor. If the visor does not unhook easily, there could be a delay in medical attention or risk of further damage in an attempt to remove the helmet.

If you have a good budget, get a helmet with Magnetic Visor Release System for fast visor removal.

Cost

While prices of the helmets may vary according to the specifications and bonus features of the helmet, it is imperative to invest in a helmet that meets your budget while maintaining quality.

Full-face mountain bike helmets are usually insanely expensive, which discourages bikers from getting one. A good helmet that falls within your budget and has good longevity is always an ideal purchase.

Get a helmet whose advantages outweighs its cost. Remember to not compromise on your safety for the sake of a cheap product.

Takeaway

Whether you want to go for enduro biking, uphill or downhill riding, or want to take your bike out for a spin simply; there is a helmet for every use. This article only covered the five best helmets for different purposes, but your options are limitless. Whichever helmet you choose, you need to keep the key considerations in mind and pick a helmet that is best suited for your needs.

Remember to not pick a helmet based on a single feature or buy it because a friend who rides once in a while told you so. Explore all the options, scrutinize all the features, take your time, and then pick a helmet that will not only protect you but also look good on you.

Best Mountain Bike Parks in the USA

Each of the last four years a Jackson WY event has grabbed the attention of riders throughout North America without any of them putting foot to pedal. What could be so important? The Annual Rider’s Choice Awards including BEST BIKE PARKS. What makes this award so special? The recipients are selected not by industry insiders or writers but by the riders themselves, the one who actually ride the trails.

Mid Atlantic/Southeast

Snowshoe Bike Park, West Virginia


West Virginia is famous for it’s mountainous terrain, deep gorges and rural setting. Just what a serious biker is looking for. Snowshoe offers it all. There are more than 40 downhill trails and a vertical drop of 1500 foot covering everything from roots to boulders. Although many of the regulars are die hard top-notch riders Snowshoe also offers excellent options for novices as well.

Northeast

Thunder Mountain, Massachusetts


The Northeastern US is full of people, which means plenty of riders and those riders want quality places to ride. After a tight, hard fought race this year’s winner of Best Bike Park is Thunder Mountain. Although only in operation for a little over 2 years this park has already drawn a large and loyal following, as is obvious from its selection for this award. Both natural and man-made obstacles spread over 1000 ft in vertical elevation means visitor will experience one serious day on the trail which they will not soon forget.

Midwest

Little Switzerland, Wisconsin


Despite being miles from anywhere, devoid of fancy amenities and only open on select weekends Little Switzerland has climbed to the top spot in a little over 2 years of operation. Statistically this little park does not seem like the thing of champions. There is only 10 trails covering 3 miles, the vertical elevation change is a mere 200 feet and there are little in the way of extras that the riders do not bring with them. So why is it so popular? The management has made up for what nature could not provide. Gaps, jumps and a variety of other manmade features not only add extra challenges, it also allows for changes at the park progresses.

Northwest

Silver Mountain, South Dakota


Other than a few battle fields, National Parks and related historical sites South Dakota does not have a great deal to offer the average traveler. But mountain riders are not the average traveler and Silver Mountain is not your average park. After leaving the town of Kellogg in a gondola (which happens to be America’s longest) you find yourself 3400 ft above town where you can stay in lodges wtih commercial kitchen faucets installed. What you find in front of you, or beneath you as it may be, is a long downhill run over ever changing terrain. While you may be tempted to turn around and take the ride all the way back to the top for another run you should not overlook the blue trails. These shorter, easier trails may be designed for beginners, but they offer everyone the ability to experience short bursts of adrenaline multiple times per day.

Rocky Mountains

Trestle Bike Park, Colorado


It should come as no surprise that the Region’s top pick is high atop the Rocky Mountains. What will surprise you is just how impressive the entire operation is. From manicured runs, jump lines, new trails and expanded lifts this is definitely worth a visit, even if you’ve been there before. Of course, being in the Rocky Mountains means extreme vertical elevations – 1700 ft to be exact.

A visit to any of these parks is well worth the trip and likely to be only the first of many to come.

Maintaining your Mountain Bike and Avoiding Costly Repairs


Your mountain bike is more than a toy, it is an expensive piece of sports gear. It is also an investment. Properly maintained it will be more dependable and last for years to come. Without basic care it will likely leave you stranded trail side. Do not worry, maintaining your bike will not cost you another high investment just a little time.

Preventative Maintenance, or PM, are the things you do to prevent a break down rather than waiting until a repair is necessary. Many of these simple, inexpensive actions require only a few minutes and simple tools. The easiest way to ensure that each item is checked as needed is to develop a schedule and make doing so a regular routine. Before you know it, you will do it without even thinking about it.

Every time you ride

The first thing you want to check are the tires. Ensure they are at the proper pressure, that there are no signs of damage or irregular wear. If you do see any damage or unusual wear consider replacing the tires prior to riding. Repeated issues of irregular wear should be addressed by you mechanic as it is likely a sign of a large, more complicated problem. While you are inspecting the tires make sure the axles and skewers are tight as well.

Next, test your brakes. Pump each break lever a couple times, they should solid and grab evenly. If you notice the brakes feel soft check the pads for wear. On the other hand, if they feel loose it is likely there is an air bubble in the reservoir or line. Many times, pumping the brakes a few times or turning the entire bike upside down will allow the bubble to self-bleed. Pads or brakes which will not self-bleed will need the attention of you mechanic.

Now it is time to check the shifts and gears. If you notice anything other than smooth transition from gear to gear it is time to investigate further. Start with the easiest to address. Look to see if the wheels are properly seated in the skewers or thru-axles. Next, check for a frozen chain link – if found lube chain. Finally, tune the barrel adjuster. Beware, tuning the barrel adjuster does require some experience and done incorrectly can make matters worse.

The pedals are next. Look for damage from hitting obstacles, accumulated dirt & debris or pedals that are frozen. Damaged pedals should be replaced, dirt & debris removed, and frozen pedals lubricated.

After the ride

A clean bike is a happy bike. It also makes it much easier to notice any damage that may have occurred because of that last spill. Therefore, it is important to clean your bike after every ride. Do not forget to wipe down the suspension & handlebars as well. If any damage is noted address it as soon as possible, preferably prior to storage. After everything is clean and shiny do not forget to lubricate the drivetrain.

Annually

There are several items that should be addressed at least once per season, depending on how hard you ride and what specific features you bike includes. This would include bleeding brakes, inspecting & replacing brackets, upgrading accessories, servicing shocks & repacking hubs. Your annual tune up should also include a deep clean and lube too. If you bike was stored during the off season do not forget to check for tire dry rot.

A few minutes and a couple bucks can save a lot in terms of both down time and repair costs.

Mountain Bike Groups: Keeping your group fun, safe and organized


Mountain biking a great way to exercise and experience the outdoors. Ride with your friends is even better. Of course, there are some tricks to keeping your group ride on the straight and narrow, other wise it will crash and burn.

When riding as a group it is important to remember etiquette, safety and communication needs are different than if you hit the trail alone. Let use help you navigate the in and outs of group riding so you can navigate the trail.

1. Design the ride for everyone

It sounds like common sense, but your group ride must be suitable for everyone. There are times when you want to challenge the weak link and force it to rise to the occasion – this is not one of those times. Your ride needs to be designed to allow the least experienced, weakest rider to complete successfully. This may mean dropping the pace, bypassing a few obstacles or have the stronger riders wait to hit the harder trails alone.

2. Have a plan

Prior to hitting the trail there should be a ride plan and everyone should know what that plan includes. This will be where you decide which trail the group will utilize, rest stops along the way and what to do in an emergency.

3. Stay together

Again, a no brainer, right? Well, you would be surprised how many “groups” leave the lot together and straggle in throughout the afternoon. What is the point of going as a group is the stronger riders, or those who are not interested in specific sights, leave the others behind and go their own way? If pace is a problem, see Rule #1.

4. Have a communications plan

Regardless of who is setting the pace or what members of the group do to stay together there are times when someone may become separated. Maybe they took a wrong turn, had difficulty with an obstacle or suffered a flat. Or maybe they were hurt along the trail. Either way have a means to communicate is essentials. Some riders will use smartphones, which can be equipped with Apps that follow individual progress, while others will rely in spotters along the way. But one of the easiest way to communicate is a long range two way radio or personal band radios.

5. Carry extra supplies

Riding alone sometimes means deciding what to take along and what to stow securely in the combination safe in your car. Do you take an extra innertube or patch kit? Is there room for a snake and water or only the water? One of the advantages of a group ride is you can share the load. Each person should be designated to carry, in addition to personal needs, a “for the good of the group” item. This could include parts, first aid kits even tents for overnight trips.

When you think about it the etiquette of the group ride is not that different than that of any group activity. Following a few of the simple tips will make sure everyone is included, no one is made to feel inferior and all members of the team finish the ride successfully.

Selecting a Trail

Tips for beginners looking for place to ride their new Mountain Bike

Mountain biking is a great way to exercise and enjoy the outdoors. You know that and have the gear and desire to get out there and ride, there is only one problem – you do not know where to ride. No worries, there are thousands of public trails crisscrossing the country and chances are there is one near you. But selecting the right trail is something many new riders have a problem with, so here are some tips to help you get started.

When selecting a trail there are three key features you need to consider- difficulty, elevation gain and length. Each is a critical issue, especially when deciding whether a new trail if a good fit for you.

Difficulty

In truth difficulty is a relative term, especially when you are a novice. What you buddy considers a warm up could be the equivalent of a marathon if you are not accustomed to riding. But what we are discussing here is the technical difficult. Skiers will be familiar with this term as it is the same term used to describe slopes.

The difficulty level is determined by the number of obstacles and how much experience is needed to navigate these obstacles successfully – otherwise know as without crashing. Every trail will have some obstacles otherwise what is the point of leaving the pavement. But, as a beginner, you want to limit the type of obstacles to short stretches. You also want to avoid jumps, long or narrow bridges and steep downhill sections. It is best if you limit your first few rides to smooth as possible. Some trails are marked depending on difficulty. Similar to ski slopes the easiest will be marked by a green circle and the hardest with two black diamonds.

Elevation Gain & Exposure

When biking elevation refers to the upward grade you will encounter or steepness of hills. Exposure refers to bridges, or other elevated platforms, you need to cross. Yes, more advanced trails will have very extensive bridge systems some of which will wind for long distances several feet or more on the ground.

Anyone who has ridden a bike of any sort knows that elevation is a major factor in determining difficulty. Yes, the trail may be technically easy but if it is one long hill after another you will quickly find out what kind of shape you are really in.

Have you ever crossed a narrow, wooden plank bridge on a bike before? Most riders have not, at least until they encounter one on the mountain bike trail. If you are not accustomed to performing this task, or have a fear of heights, I suggest you keep this to a minimum as well until your skills are up to the task.

Length of the ride

This sounds like a no brainer, but you would be surprised how many riders set out on an otherwise simple trail only to find themselves miserable half way through because they have discovered it is twice the distance they are capable of completing. Nothing will discourage you quicker than having to push your bike back to the parking lot or calling your buddy for a ride.

Most trails will be labeled with estimated time, as well as total distance. Remember that this is calculated for an average rider, riding at the level the trail is rated at. A novice on a green circle trail should be able to complete close to the estimated time, a novice on a double diamond will take much longer than listed. Start on short beginner trails, you can always complete multiple circuits or do more than one trail in an afternoon.

Remember, every sport has a learning curve and mountain biking is no different. Start with what you are comfortable with and you will find riding easier, more enjoyable and safer.

Tips for Beginning Mountain Biker

Selecting the Correct Gear

Have you seen all the riders hitting the local trail and thought “wow that looks like fun?”. Are you hoping you could get in on the excitement but do not know where to get started? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Check out these tips for everything you need to get off the couch and onto the trail.

Selecting a Bike

When it comes to trail riding there are three basic designs to choose from, each has its advantages.

1. Hybrid

These bikes are designed for the paved or hard dirt trail but will not perform well on gravel or loose dirt, sand or snow. If you are just getting started and want to leave the sidewalk without going off the beaten path this is a good place to start.

2. Mountain

These are the bikes you want if adventure is higher on your list than getting from point A to B. They are designed for rough terrain, twists & turns and gravity defying downhill rides. The frame, knobby tires and suspension are what you need to conquer the trail.

3. Fat Bikes

These are essentially mountain bikes on steroids, at least when it comes to the tires. The extra wide, deep chunk rubber is specifically designed for the user who want to go through snow, loose dirt and sand. Although a plus for riders who encounter these terrain features on a regular basis this can be counter productive on the average trail, where the extra weight can be a hinderance.

Protecting Yourself

Mountain biking can be dangerous, or at least more so than peddling down the sidewalk. It is not uncommon for riders to end the day with a few more bumps and bruises than they started with, and the occasional spill is not unheard of. This means that it is important add the right personal protective equipment to your arsenal.

1. Helmet

You helmet is more than a fashion statement, it is what stands between a “you should have seen it” story and serious head injury when you do wipe out. Your helmet will also provide protection from the sun, rain and the unseen branch as well. Most users find a simple dome style with visor is sufficient, but those interested in downhill trails may want to consider a full-face model.

2. Clothing

You will want to select clothing that is comfortable while being able to stand up to the rigors of the trail and still provide the extra support you need. Compression shorts & shirts are popular, and with good reason as they are designed to keep you cool and reduce chaffing. Some mountain biking shorts resemble cargo shorts but have built in compression zones, making the duel purpose capable of being worn on the trail or when heading to and from the trail as well.

3. Gloves

Even when riding in warm weather a pair of gloves are a clever idea. Gloves do more than keep your hands warm; they also protect you from branches, spills and discomfort when riding for extended periods.

4. Shoes

When it comes to shoes you have several options, but the first factor is whether you are using clipless pedals. When using clipless peddles you will need to select cleat style shoes. If using regular peddles you can choose from cleat less bike shoes, heavy lug or flat styles. Heavy lug and flat styles are good chooses when you do not want to change shoes when driving home. They are also more comfortable when you will be walking part of the trail.