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Mountainbike - getting started

Mountain biking is one of the easiest 'Dangerous Sports' to become involved in because its so accessible (i.e. most of us are never too far from the country side, where there are loads off-road routes, forestry trails...) and from a financial perspective a good quality bike can be purchased for a few hundred pounds.

Mountainbiking's popularity...

Over the last 20 years or so mountain biking has increased in popularity and sales have gone from bugger-all to now out numbering all other bike sales combined (serious considering the bike market in the UK alone is worth about £400m a year - cripes). With their basic purpose to offer off-road transport these bikes are designed to withstand demanding terrain and are both rugged and versatile.

Technology continues to play a major part in the design and development of mountain bikes and now it is not uncommon to see carbon fiber frames, programmable front and rear suspension, disk brakes and banana shaped rear swing arms on bikes available down at your local bike shop. It may come as no surprise that along with these trick lightweight parts comes a very heavy price tag. In fact, I know guys who have spent more on a new mountainbike than I have spent on a used motorcycle, but having said that you can still purchased a good quality mountain bike for a few hundred pounds, and running costs are minimal.

If the above information isn't enough to convince you to go out an purchase a mountain bike, consider this, we live in a world where manufacturers go out of their way to complicate things. It seems everything now a days is totally reliant on a flippin' onboard computer whether it be a car, motorcycle or kitchen toaster. Sure these machines are great when they are working, but if the slightest thing goes wrong you're completely screwed. In contrast, a mountainbike is pretty straightforward in its design and lets a fella experience the joys of going to his garage and getting his hands dirty carrying out routine maintenance and basic repairs to his bike.

What you'll need...
The cost of a new mountainbike can range from about £100 to several thousand. Price differences are mainly due to differing levels of quality and sophistication in features such as suspension, braking systems, materials used (alloys, carbon fiber...), quality of build etc. If you are just staring out, you can get a good bike from a good manufacturer for about £350. We wouldn't recommend buying cheaper bikes because they are usually 'built to a price' and are often of insufficient quality to withstand the demands of off-road use. If your are on a tighter budget, consider buying a good used bike.
Basic Equipment Listing
Mountain bike £300-£2,000+
Helmet from £30
Cycling shorts from £30
Shoes from £40
Gloves from £20
Water bottle £5
Air pump £15
Repair kit & tools £50
Chain lube £4
Gear and equipment:  
Compared to other sports mountain biking can offer loads of cheap thrills and spills. Although we at DoctorDanger.com like mountainbiking a lot, we do struggle a bit with the 'fashion/spandex' side of the sport and the high percentage of 'gear wankers' (i.e. people who are more interested in buying the latest equipment rather than improving their skill or fitness levels). That said, who gives a damn really - so long as tou are out there enjoying yourself.
Wiggle: recommended by us!

Online Bike Shop

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Buying a Mountainbike  

Basic gear and equipment is can be found at a reasonable price, however if you fancy an ultra lightweight bike in carbon fiber bike, with a sophisticated programmable suspension you'll need a health bank balance as these bikes can cost thousands.

We would recommend you avoid the cheaper priced bikes because they are 'built to a price' and may not be strong enough to withstand any proper off-road riding. In fact a friend of mine bought a 'bargain bike' and in the first month he broke 2 chains when powering up hill. In each instance he banged his wedding tackle on the frame (hmmm... he and his girlfriend were not too happy about it).

If you are just staring out, you can get a good bike from a good manufacturer for about £300ish.

A good basic mountainbike
...or more advanced!
Gear and other stuff you need to wear...  
  • Helmet: See our special feature on buying a helmet click here... You may not like wearing one, but it could save your life. Remember: 'always protect your brain and your wedding tackle'. It's very easy to fall onto rocks, tree stumps, and other solid things, be prepared.
  • Cycling shorts or trousers: they are not restrictive so they allow movement and circulation. The padding helps prevent soreness and lets you spend more time on the saddle. They can be worn under a floppy pair of shorts or trousers if you wish. A worthwhile investment!
  • Gloves: reduce a bit of vibrations and offer some protection from wipping branches or in a fall
  • Shoes: There is a wide range of Mountainbike shoes on offer. Some clip into the pedal (sort of like a ski binding which attaches the rider to the bike) and others look like traditional shoes with firm sole.
  • Glasses: offer some protection from branches, dirt, mud... Go for quality and fit not branding and fashion.
  • Wet gear: for poor conditions - includes waterproof jacket, trousers, long sleeve shirt (breathable material). Mud is good!
Other Mountainbike accessories

  • Bum bag or Rucksack - contents could include - maps, puncture repair kit (with pump, spare tube, tyre levers), basic tools (screwdriver, allen keys, spanner/wrenches, chain tool & spare pins, knife), food, water, compass, whistle...
  • Lights: front and rear
  • Water bottle or pack
  • Fenders: optional depending on conditions
  • Speedometer/odometer: log top speeds and miles travelled
  • Lock: protect your bike