Discussion on MTB costs and how to save $
So you’ve saved money to buy a new bike or you might be a parent that has just forked out for a Christmas or birthday present. The good news is now that expense is out of the way we can just go ride bikes right? Erm…kinda?
The truth is that even if the bike you have suits you very well there are a few considerations for safety and setting up a riding platform for steady skills progression. Not all purchases require a 2nd mortgage though – this article covers some common issues that have come up with our coaching students and ways to minimise the costs.
First and foremost safety gear – it is obviously a minimum requirement to have a good helmet with Australian standards( kite mark) We have seen a lot of kids with “skate style” helmets overheat on hot days since the more mountain bike specific helmets have a lot more ventilation. While great deals can be had online this is one where going to your local bike shop and explaining the expected use and getting a good fit is key.
When it comes to other safety gear e.g. pads there is a trade off for comfort versus safety – if you are prone to a lot of crashes or want to push your riding, knee and elbow protection is very handy. We find the soft padded type as opposed to hard body armour are good for most situations you will encounter for a good while into your mountain biking adventure (often seen branded as “enduro” pads). Gloves are also very good to wear – personal pet peeve are the fingerless gloves that you see a lot of people wear it does seem to defeat the purpose a little!
I still wear gloves on hot days just carry them in my pocket up the climbs and wear them on the downs.
As for mountain bike specific clothing this is a lot more cosmetic – shirts and shorts are just, well, shirts and shorts you’ve probably got a cupboard full of them.
If you must have branded mountain bike gear the good news is that there are often good online sales and your local shop will have clearcuts. This could also go for shoes and pads so long as there are sizing charts (some sites even have chat facility with customer support to ask questions.)
On shoes I personally think that these are probably the most important item of clothing to consider – some runners get slippery when wet and have very ribbed uneven soles with a big arch – it is better to have a flat contact point. Look at mountain bike specific “flat pedal” shoes they are just that, flat, with some rippled/patterned rubber soles. Vans or other skate shoes are a good non MTB specific option can be found cheap and might be sitting in the wardrobe already.
Another pet peeve is that new bikes often come with no pedals or the stock ones are often terrible. A good pedal has spikes for gripping to shoes and a nice large platform. For beginner riders the same basic design can be found by a lot of brands in nylon material – much cheaper and less cuts on the calf/shin.
Handle bars and grips are the next important contact point on the bike, usually if you have fitted your new bike well the stock ones supplied are good for the job and will last a long time. The only thing to look out for is if you are getting on a 2nd hand bike or as a regular check is that the plastic/rubber bar ends are still in place – these rule out nasty cuts from the exposed edges of the bar.
Other cost considerations when it comes to gear is that regular servicing, maintenance and repair costs will definitely come up – good cleaning and lubrication helps the running gear of a bike to last longer, as well as checking all bolts are fixed well. Invest in a good chain lube. Clean your bike well. Also there are a lot of great youtube how to’s for basic repairs and fitting parts. This can save you visits to the bike shop – I personally like to have regular suspension and brakes servicing done by a good mechanic and try to fiddle with other bits myself to save money. Things that you can definitely learn to do yourself easily are gear indexing/set up, tubeless tyre conversions, swapping/replacing most parts, dropper post install, basic wheel repairs, cleaning/greasing bearings etc.
Mountain bikers are tragic habitual upgraders so do beware if you are just buying fancy parts you don’t need – wait for things to wear out or break and replace with better parts and also focus on the real important upgrades that will have a direct benefit – good tyres, pedals, grips and of course skills coaching :) If you do get the upgrade bug look around your local MTB facebook groups for 2nd hand buys, just be sure to check any gear is the right sizing standard for your ride (there are many "standards"!!).
So I hope you found these tips useful, please contact us for more information. All of our beginner courses have a maintenance element to help keep the bike running well and we are happy to give product recommendations or advice to all our customers before making a purchase. Cheers, Andy