There are a lot of different “must-haves” for mountain biking. Some people must have carbon wheels, others must have their favorite athlete’s riding kit, and others just need the mountain bike setup they currently have. My personal must–haves for mountain biking in 2014 are a solid bike, necessary safety equipment, and a rowdy bunch of friends to ride with. Must haves are different for everyone, but I’ve tried to pick out the five most essential must-have pieces of new bike gear for 2014 to help keep you rubber-side down and having fun all season long.
Your Mountain Bike
Whether it’s the latest and greatest carbon fiber race bike or your trusty steed that you’ve been nursing along for a several years, a bike you can ride is the first, and most obvious, must-have piece of equipment. My suggestion would be to evaluate your current bike and see if it’s truly right for you and your riding style. Take it to the shop to get it tuned up and have it re-fit by a professional. Having your ride dialed in for your body and riding style will only make your riding more fun.
A bike helmet is an absolute must. Lately I’ve seen a lot of people without helmets, and I’m not sure why people think this makes sense. There are a ton of helmets out there these days that will fit any head shape and come in any color – even the cheapest ones provide suitable protection. A few favorites of mine are the Giro Xar or the Smith Forefront. Both of these helmets provide extra protection for the sides and back of your head with a comfortable fit and feel.
Bike Shoes, Pedals, Grips, and a Comfortable Saddle
I rolled these essential items into one group as they are all touch points with your bike. All the points of contact between your body and bike should be comfortable. If you’re nursing that old horse along, look at your contact points and assess where an upgrade could be made. Perhaps your saddle is sun–faded and cracked, or your grips are worn nearly to the bars. An upgrade to one of these is relatively inexpensive but will make a big difference. And if you have a new bike, have it properly fit. Also be sure that your shoes, pedals, grips, and saddle are the model you want and that they’re being used in a comfortable position.
Sunglasses for Mountain Biking
A pair of sunglasses is a must-have for biking your favorite trails. Dust, trail debris, inclement weather, and the elements can really mess with your vision. The Smith Pivlock sunglasses – a personal favorite of mine–feature technology that lets you quickly and easily swap lenses for different light conditions. And each lens features Smith’s Tapered Lens Technology (TLT) to reduce distortion and enhance eye protection. However, whatever glasses you choose, they are a must for keeping your eyes protected – not only from the sun, but also from dust particles from the rider in front of you, and most importantly from errant tree branches.
A hose might seem a bit odd to mention here, but it’s really just a super clever lead-in to my next must-have: a cleaning kit. A cleaning kit to keep your bike dirt-free is absolutely necessary. Dust and dirty water always manage to find their way into every nook and cranny of your bike, and can cause creaks and other annoying noises. So every time you’re done riding, you should at the very least give your bike a rubdown with a rag and some suds. I recommend taking a bottle of Simple Green and pouring half of it into another bottle. Then top off both bottles with water. Cleaners like Simple Green are so concentrated that you can dilute them with water and still get the same effect. Be sure to clean off the dust seals on your suspension system, and wipe dirt and grime away from pivot points and other bearing systems like your headset and bottom bracket.
While the categories I’ve outlined above are all must-have pieces of new bike gear, the products I’ve recommended are just my personal preference. That being said, our Jans Experts use bike products every day, and everyone has their own favorites. Read our Expert Reviews to help find the products that are right for you. Check out our bike shop and select products that you need to make sure you have all the bases covered. You’ll be surprised by how just a couple of new pieces can make your riding better and that much more fun.
Paul Boyle, Marketing and E-commerce