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Starting Out in MTB

Hello and welcome to the RIDE IT blog by ADAM COPLEY: PERSONAL TRAINING. In this blog we will dive into all things MTB, talking fitness, fashion and riding events.

This week we are looking at the things I wish I knew when I began riding, covering some areas of the sport that can be costly, unnecessary and intimidating when they really don’t need to be So, let’s get into it!

1: Spending more money doesn’t necessarily mean better:

Now. I am a firm believer in “you get what you pay for” and unfortunately in life some things cost more money for a reason. However. Sometimes this isn’t the case and you can get some cracking technology without blowing your budget.

SHIMANO’S SLX range proves this. Offering everything that its more expensive XT and XTR range does at a fraction of the cost that usually only includes one penalty, weight. And when you think about it. Is weight really that important? Sure if you are fitting up an XC weapon to be an absolute dart. Yes, weight does matter but if your bike is your everyday trail slayer, does adding SLX components really make much difference? I very much doubt it.

I’m also not really a fan of big expensive carbon fibre bike brands either. Sure, they look nice and they are the “in thing”, but is carbon necessary? Not really. My full alloy TREK remedy is lighter than my mates’ carbon SPECIALIZED enduro, and they are more or less the same bike (aside from wheel size).

Essentially what I am saying here is: If you are just getting into it, there is no need to break the bank on stupidly pricey bikes, components, or clothing. Shop around, ask around and there are bargains to be found. Sheffield’s own CALIBRE BOSSNUT has proved that alone. More money doesn’t always mean more quality.

2: Don’t follow trends:

With so many trends popping up in the MTB world you would be forgiven for thinking that your bike is useless when the new one comes out. But let’s be honest making a bike 00000.0000003% slacker doesn’t really do anything, nor does adding a flip chip. In fact, my bike runs in the less low, and slack position because if I don’t I catch the chain ring on everything.

MTB is like everything there is a trend for every occasion. Riding style, bike brands being cool and un-cool, clothing being cool. Don’t listen to any of it. Some of it is viable, sometimes newer things are better but let’s be honest here. If you want a new bike, buy one because you want a new bike. Don’t buy one because it fits in with current trends. Because not before long, it wont.

It wasn’t long ago everyone was specking their bikes with 26 inch tyres and running plus bikes. They lasted about 5 seconds. Why? Because they are crap. Ride the bike you want to ride, ride the clothing you want to wear. If it makes you happy, that’s all that matters.

3: What to upgrade:

While this may seem slightly hypocritical when I’ve said you don’t need to blow the budget or follow trends upgrading your bike is a genuinely fun experience and can be beneficial to your riding experience. So in the interest of balance let’s cover a few popular upgrades, why and when you should add them to your bike:

Tyres: Tyres are the contact point between you and the floor. Various brands of tyres offer different levels of grip and rolling resistance than others and as such, ride better in certain places. Experienced riders will often spec a new bike out with their favourite tyres from the off. But if you’re new to it, or if you just want to save money and not throw away a perfect set, what should you do?

My advice with tyres would be to have a couple of rides on the bike, see what the current tyres offer. Do they roll well? Or is it a nightmare to pedal. Are they grippy or do you have confidence in them? What are they like on the terrain you ride more than anything?

My go too tyre is the MICHELIN WILD ENDURO. But when I pick my XC bike up next year they will not suit that bike, they roll like crap, but they are fantastic for the terrain I ride down. Which is more important on the enduro bike. So I will spend a few rides on the new bikes existing tyres and see what they are like. I may keep them, I may swap them.

So when should you upgrade tyres? As soon as you have sussed your bike, and your tyres out.

Tubeless: I recently discovered something amazing. Inner tubes. These weird rubber things that go in mountain bike tyres and allow them to stay up. I discovered these used to be the norm. And realised this is why: They work. Inner tubes come on most bikes, and make pumping tyres up easy. When you tear a tyre, or puncture on tubeless an inner tube can be a life saver.

Even if you damage a wheel. It won’t stay up tubeless. Throw a tube in and you are sorted. Something else I realised when I did this. And had a three week wait for a new wheel. Three weeks I wouldn’t have been riding if I hadn’t got any tubes.

Having said that: It is very rare tubeless does fail and riding a bike on tubeless wheels gives you more control, grip and ultimately improves your riding experience. Personally, I would get a bike set up tubeless as soon as it is purchased. But keep a few tubes around and don’t pass them off as obsolete just yet!

Dropper post: I can’t live without a dropper post, they are fantastic. But. I have been riding for years and the style of riding I do means I will ride up, straight down, up, straight down and rarely mess about in between. For me a dropper post allows me to carry on my fitness and never stop. Whereas some people like to sit and chat. Have a bit of a mess about in between.

If I was just riding up, down, up, down or at an uplift centre I wouldn’t bother with one if my bike didn’t come with one (it is worth mentioning here that most do). As always it is all about do you need it. Are you fit enough to use them as much as I have mentioned above, do you spend a lot of time in between descent’s

One example here: When I pick up my XC bike I’m going nowhere near a dropper post, for two reasons: 1: Fixed seat posts don’t break, dropper posts are unreliable. 2: Dropper posts will make me more confident in riding a fragile bike down terrain it isn’t really suited for. Meaning more broken parts, and more money spent on repair. I want this bike to be a lightweight, fast moving weapon and a dropper post doesn’t come into that recipe for me.

My advice: If your bike doesn’t have one and you feel that you would benefit from it, with regards to your bike and your riding style, then get one, they are great. If not, I wouldn’t worry too much.

And there we go, three things I wish I knew about before I started riding. I hope this clears a few things up for you guys in a sport that can be intimidating when getting started. For more advice and health and fitness content. Visit @acopleypt on Instagram.

Ride safe.


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