Mountain Biking For Beginners: A Simple Guide

Mountain Biking For Beginners

Mountain biking, also known as MTB, is an off-road bicycle sport set on rough terrain.

You can practice mountain biking in mountains, deserts, or any uneven surface as long as you have a specialty bicycle.  

You can either go pro or do mountain biking as a hobby. You’ll only need the right bike for you and the necessary accessories to start.  

We’ve got everything you need to know about mountain biking for beginners. We discuss the differences between road bikes and mountain bikes and how to find the best trails.  


Mountain Biking For Beginners – How Is it Different from Regular Biking?

young couple biking

Biking is the act of using a bike as a means of transportation. You can bike in the city, on the road, or the mountain.

Each terrain you choose will have different requirements and will need different types of bikes. 

The difference between mountain biking and regular biking is that one is for transportation. The other is for the thrill. Mountain biking is considered an extreme sport. Therefore, it is a practice for an entirely different purpose than regular biking. 

Can a Mountain Bike Be Used to Commute or as a Daily Driver?

Although most people use mountain bikes for harsh terrains, it is possible to use them to commute. You’ll be wasting the bicycle on it if you only use it to commute, but if you want to enjoy both, then it is possible. 

Just remember that every bike has a purpose and that using it for something else might wear it down faster.

Types of Mountain Biking Terrain

terrain for biking

You can practice mountain biking in the mountains or deserts.

Although there is no specific terrains list, there are different categories and disciplines that require other surfaces. 

Here’s a list of some of the different categories of mountain biking.

Cross Country Riding

 It is one of the most common categories for mountain biking. The goal is to ride from point-to-point or in a loop that includes climbs and descents. This category requires endurance and physical strength. It is also the only mountain biking category included in the summer Olympic games. 


This category is high-level racing as it requires speed and endurance. Enduro racing shares similarities with downhill riding, but the circuits are longer. The time given to complete a climb is shorter. 


difference between regular and mountain biking

Downhill riding is, as its name suggests, riding a bike downhill. For this category, one requires a lighter bike, so bikers do not do climbing for downhill competitions. Lightweight bikes do not resist challenging climbs. 

Other disciplines are less common but are gaining a lot more followers as time passes: 

  • Four-cross/Dual slalom
  • Freeride
  • Dirt jumping
  • Trials
  • Urban street
  • Trail riding
  • Marathon
  • Bikepacking

How Are Mountain Bikes Different from Road or Hybrids?

Bikes are designed for every possible discipline, terrain, and mountain biking category.

However, all-mountain bikes share similar features that are not present in road bikes or hybrids. 

Mountain Bikes Are Meant for Off-Road Riding

Road bikes are lightweight and responsive on smooth surfaces like pavement. They have thin tires and are faster than mountain bikes. Their design reduces rolling resistance, which gives road bikes a better speed.

Mountain bikes, on the other hand, are not meant for smooth surfaces. A mountain bike will endure harsh terrains and downhill falls. Although you can also use them to commute, their design will make it harder for you to use them on pavement surfaces. 

It would be best if you choose the right bike for the terrain you’ll use them on. 

The Difference Is in the Tires

The difference between road bikes and mountain bikes you’ll be able to spot right away is the size of the tires. Mountain bikes feature tires with raised lugs, which provide the needed traction and grip to endure rough terrains. 

Road bikes, conversely, have thinner tires without lugs. So, if you were to use a road bike on a mountain, it would simply slip. 

Types of Mountain Bikes

different type of mountain bikes

A mountain bike can endure rough terrains such as mountains or deserts. They have bigger tires; they are more durable and have wider handlebars. 

Mountain bikes vary depending on whether you are a male or a female. The ones designed for females have smaller grips and lighter suspension as they need to support smaller riders. 

Here are the different types of mountain bikes


Hardtail bikes have the suspension fork on a rigid frame. Essentially, they feature the suspension on the front but not on the rear. They are known to be the cheapest and most affordable mountain bike models. 

Still, you can find expensive ones made for professional mountain biking. 

XC Full-Suspension

The XC Full-Suspension mountain bike is the perfect choice for cross country as its design will give you the light weight necessary for the climbs. The bicycle will also give you a faster and longer ride.

It loses rolling efficiency and compromises smooth pedaling to achieve its strong features on rough terrains.  

It is worth noting that the XC Full-Suspension mountain bike is a lot more expensive than other models. 

Trail Full-Suspension

The trail full-suspension manages to combine climbing efficiency and a smooth descending, making it one of the best options for more experienced mountain bikers. 

The trail full-suspension model is also one of the most comfortable models, making it an excellent choice for long rides. 

Enduro/Gravity Full-Suspension

The enduro/gravity full-suspension model is the most powerful and durable. The bike can endure fast climbing in the roughest terrains possible.

The model has wider tires, and its suspension is focused mostly on the front. However, enduro/gravity full-suspension models are less versatile than XC full-suspension or trail bikes. 

Mountain Biking Clothes and Cycling Gear

safety gear

All you need is a mountain bike, right?

Well, no. Mountain biking is an extreme sport that can be dangerous and, in some cases, fatal. As a hazardous sport, mountain biking for beginners requires different accessories to make it safer to practice. 

Here’s all you’ll need to practice mountain biking. 


A helmet is an essential accessory. Helmets are a must if you want to start in the world of mountain biking. The downhills can be dangerous, especially when you are new to the sport, so a helmet can help you survive a significant fall. 

Protective Eyewear

You practice mountain biking on the roughest terrains possible. Sometimes it is raining, or sometimes there is a lot of dirt or sand. If a particle enters your eyes at some point, you’ll lose concentration, and you need your focus to avoid falling. 


As with the helmets, the gloves can protect you if you fall over rough terrain. The speed, combined with the ground, can cause severe damage to your skin, and the gloves can prevent the most damage possible. 


Mudguard will help you protect the bike’s tires in the event of rain or other harsh conditions. Although not essential as helmets or gloves, a mudguard can be of great help. 

Repair Kit

man repairing tool for mountain bike

Another accessory that will help you a lot if you want to start mountain biking. There are many types, and each one can help you with a specific problem. You can solve everything from a loose tire to a flat tire with just a couple of items. 

Imagine you are going downhill, and you hit something with your tires, then you start feeling the bike going slower. You stop, your tires need repairing, but luckily you have your repair kit

Optional: Point of View Camera

This accessory is not essential for mountain biking, but most bikers enjoy it nonetheless. It helps them capture their journeys and trips through the mountains and terrains to watch it later or post them on different platforms. 

We recommend the GoPro latest models for better quality and durability. 

Checking Your Area for Great Mountain Biking Terrain

If you want to start practicing mountain biking, then you’ll need to find a trail

There are ways one can do it, but the most recommended one is to join mountain biking groups. You’ll learn a lot from experienced bikers, and they will tell you the best places to practice. 

It is also good to not do it alone if you are starting as you might need some help along the way. 

You can also use the following to find great trails in your area: 

  • Use apps with maps to check on terrains around your area to start practicing. 
  • Join Strava (an app for bikers and runners) and ask for the best trails to start MTB. 
  • Use YouTube to find MTB bikers near you and check on which routes they use to practice. 


Mountain biking is an extreme sport that requires many safety measurements and accessories, but that allows you to ride freely and quickly. 

You only need the right bike for you, a helmet, a pair of gloves, some protection for your eyes, and a repair kit to start your mountain biking journey. 

Start by joining an MTB group to find the best trails and tips. Practice your resistance and balance before taking on the most advanced disciplines. Remember to put your safety first, and carry water with you on any trail.

Last Updated on May 29, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic

About The Author

Leave a Comment