Whether you are completely new to cycling or wanting to switch from another discipline and try out some off-road fun, here’s a basic guide to help you on your way with mountain biking.

It can be overwhelming when looking for a new bike or new kit. The more you learn, the more you realise you don’t know! There’s more lingo than anyone can reasonably grasp, more elements than you ever thought necessary, and more money to spend than you ever imagined. But fear not, here are some top tips for navigating some basic purchases that will be more than worth it once you get out on the trails.

What type of bike do I need?

First things first, you’re going to need a bike! But what kind of bike? Mountain biking is split into different disciplines, the main groups being downhill, enduro/all-mountain and cross-country. Downhill is the super-gnarly, dare-devil discipline where riders hurtle down crazy tracks on specialist bikes. As a beginner, we suggest this is probably not the place to start! Enduro and all-mountain riding tends to involve big days in rugged terrain, some pedalling but still an emphasis on descending advanced, technical trails. Cross-country is a more tame version of mountain-biking, at least at entry level. It is the Olympic discipline but you don’t need a Greek God bod to enjoy it! Cross-country riding involves ups and downs, a mix of fitness and skill, and can be enjoyed without scaring yourself silly. It’s a great way to start your adventure into off-road riding.

Have you sussed out suspension?

At the most simplistic level, modern cross-country bikes come in two options: full-suspension (a suspension fork and a rear shock), or hardtail (a suspension fork and no rear shock). Full-suspension mountain bikes are made to handle particularly rough and technical terrain, so as a beginner a hardtail is likely to be just fine, giving you enough comfort and control to enjoy a whole host of suitable tracks. It will also be kinder on your bank balance! Talking of which, the range in bike prices is huge and has many contributing factors. While they may all look quite similar, not all bikes are made equal. Expense is normally an indicator of frame and component material - the less weight, the more money. You can always upgrade the equipment on your bike to mirror your own improvement and growing passion.

SHIMANO-equipped and ready to roll

SHIMANO equips a fantastic range of entry-level hard-tail mountain bikes with great value-for-money groupsets (that’s the drivetrain and the brakes).

SHIMANO's top mountain bike groupset is XTR; this is the lightest and most technically-advanced groupset, at the cutting edge of industry development. It is aimed at serious racers and is used by our professional sponsored teams and athletes. The tech engineered for XTR trickles down through the ranges, made to hit certain price points and bring value-for-money to a wide range of cyclists and their needs.

From XTR at the top end, SHIMANO's MTB range includes XT, SLX, DEORE, ALIVIO, ACERA and ALTUS. Much of what makes the XTR end of the spectrum more performance-orientated is the weight, and the lightweight materials used incur expense. As a beginner, you can appreciate the great shifting and braking performance of the mid or lower-range groupsets without needing to worry those extra grams. If you're starting out but wanting something fairly sporty, Deore or SLX is perfect.

XTR through to DEORE are 12-speed groupsets, meaning they come with 12 cogs on the cassette which gives you a fantastic range of gears.

With your newfound knowledge, it's time to check out some options and pick the bike that's right for you!

The SHIMANO Bike Checker is the perfect tool to search a wide range of trusted bike brands whose bikes come ready to roll with SHIMANO groupsets. Hit the link below and get browsing.

Hopefully that has helped guide you into the world of mountain bikes and has left you more excited than overwhelmed to try out this brilliant discipline. There’s so much to explore and a lot to learn, but always remember the most important thing: have fun!!

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