The challenge of the climb and the thrill of the downhill are not lost on the savvy mountain-biker. But for those who want to get in on the action, starting out can seem a little daunting. Mountain biking is a great way to stay active while exploring the beauty of nature. It can also be logistically dangerous, especially for beginners who are not adequately prepared. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Mountain Biking Basic Tips

  1. Know Your Limits

Trust us, mountain biking is a valid excuse to skip that daily trip to the gym. The outdoor activity may touch muscle groups you didn’t know existed, and it will certainly make your lungs do a little heavy lifting. The lifting is heavier if you are mountain biking at altitude, like in Colorado. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits. It’s ok to take breaks! While challenging, this should also be an enjoyable summer activity.

  1. Respect the Terrain

Along with knowing your limits comes being aware when terrain throws you too far out of your comfort zone. Much like ski runs, mountain bike trails are rated for difficulty based on width, surface, grade, and technical features. (see below) Don’t go straight for a black diamond, and if you hit a section that is too steep or technical on a green circle, don’t be afraid to walk it. Just make sure to steer clear of other bikers heading down the trail.

Mountain bike difficulty rating.

  1. Rent FirstRenting for first time mountain biking.

The urge to splurge on a shiny new mountain bike can be hard to fight, especially if you aren’t aware you have options. Rent a bike first! Decide what style of riding you enjoy and what type of bicycle is best for that venture before you call one your own. Your rental expert will be able to point you in the direction of the right fit for starting out, and bike demos will allow you to try before you buy.

  1. Wear a Helmet

At the risk of sounding like your mother, this is still the most tried and true bike safety tip in the book. The need for head protection is magnified on rocky, uneven mountain trails.

Wear a helmet mountain biking for beginners.

  1. Use Your Gears

Gears are designed to create a more comfortable ride so make sure to learn how the specific gears on the bike you’re riding operate. Your rental tech can demonstrate how to shift gears on the bike you choose to accompany you on the trails. As a rule of thumb, take the downhills at a higher gear and shift to a lower gear when climbing to take some of the workload off of your legs.

  1. Position Your Body

Correct body positioning leads to optimal balance. When climbing, lean forward into the handlebars and slide your body to the front of the seat. This will place the pressure on your front wheel and help stabilize your bike. When going downhill, either slow your pedaling or stop it completely as you float above your seat and loosen your body to comfortably absorb impact.

Mountain biking downhill for beginners. Mountain biking uphill for beginners.

  1. Enjoy Yourself

Mountain biking is a blast, so don’t let the logistics keep you from exploring the trails on two wheels. Remember to enjoy the scenery and have fun! While mountain biking is a technical sport, start slow on the easier trails and you’ll be amazed how quickly you get the hang of it. (And the size of the smile on your face on those quick downhills.)


Check out Christy Sports’ mountain bike rentals in the premier mountain towns of Colorado and Utah. With a variety of bikes and gear and a knowledgeable staff, we cover riders from novice to advanced. When renting a bike, ask your Christy Sports bike expert for their tips and tricks, as well as their favorite spots to start shredding in the area.