- Parent Category: MTB in Hong Kong
- Published on 28 May 2008
Essential Equipment, the no brainers!
You've got your bike but before you hit the trails make sure you buy these essential bits of kit. They could save your life
IT IS SIMPLE DON’T RIDE WITHOUT A HELMET! Just like bikes there are types of helmets that a specific to your style of riding, be sensible and wear the right kind.
Mountain bike helmets are made to absorb the impact of irregular shapes of rocks and branches your head might encounter – and are designed to break instead of your skull. Do not choose a BMX or Skate helmet with a hard plastic shell because they look better, these are not stronger and they do not absorb the impact they are designed to slide on a flat surface to absorb the shock. To offer enough protection you could wear a motocross helmet but a mountain bike helmet finally better because made for mountain biking. Clear?
There are basically three main options
The cross country style – this is a lightweight polycomposite that is well vented to keep the head cool and is strong enough for most impacts, it is recommended that it is replaced after a big fall
The freeride helmet – similar to the cross country but is built stronger has less vents and the bottom of the helmet is built up to protect the lower skull
The full face helmet is essentially a lightweight motorbike helmet and is best suited for downhill riding. Made from a hardened plastics or carbon fibre these helmets will protect your head from almost anything but are heavy to wear and are very hot.
Taking a dive at some point is inevitable and without a helmet you run the risk of killing yourself. A fall from even a moderate speed can be enough for serious injury. Ask any experienced biker around you and they will have tales of big crashes while doing something simple when riding a trail they have rode hundreds of times, it only takes a lapse in concentration when your tired and you could be face planting the ground. There is one simple solution DON’T RIDE WITHOUT A HELMET its not cool and fashionable, it’s stupid and irresponsible.
You don't have to ride something risky or difficult to have a big fall and smash your head on a rock. Ask experienced mountain biker around you - they all had a big one doing something easy or ridding their local trail that they rode hundreds of time.
What to wear
Having the right kind of clothing like any sport is essential and mountain biking is no different. The following list is what you should have by order of importance.
There are three main reasons to wear gloves the first is obviously protection from ripping your palms up when you fall or having your fingers whipped by low hanging branches. The other reason is grip, your hands will get very sweaty if you ride for any length of time making the grips very slippy increasing the risk of you loosing your grip.
Also riding without gloves can be very painful on the palms as there is no padding for cushioning.
Padded Lycra shorts make the ride more comfortable. It will prevent painful irritation and localized chaffing of the genitals, legs and backside. Either worn alone for that cross country style or under baggies for that freerider look, a good pair of shorts will increase the comfort of your ride by giving some limited protection to that delicate area, allow sweat to evaporate and eliminate friction between bare skin and rough materials such as outer shorts. For the whicking effect to be most effective never wear anything else under your cycling shorts. In HK you can buy baggy shorts with a built in lining, fitting men and women morphology
They come in many shapes and colours, sports glasses are specially designed to protect the eyes from wind, dust, branches, insects and the occasional bogey from a fellow rider. Unlike conventional sunglasses that can be too dark and don’t work well under varying light conditions sports glasses usually come in a range of tinted that can be changed in varying conditions. Nowadays most companies offer custom lenses with UV protection as standard.
The frame design is also important, often foam padding is placed on the top of the frame at eyebrow level to prevent sweat dripping into your eyes and blinding you. There may also be side vents in the frame to allow a tiny flow of air to keep the lenses from fogging.
Buy a pair with large lenses and quite high on the eyebrows and wrap around the entire eye, Reason being as you ride your head is naturally tilted down, dust and wind can then rush in between the gap
Breathable cycling tops
For two thirds of the year you will be riding hot humid conditions. It is important to dress appropriately. On the market today are hi- tech quick dry materials that offer comfort and ventilation. By far the best choice to cope with the extreme summer heat and humidity are the specially designed lycra cycling tops. These lightweight tops come in a kaleidoscope of colours and designs. Breathable and quick drying they stop the body from overheating by wicking the sweat always from the skin. Other options are running tops and some brands of football tops (but these are normally heavier). Avoid cotton garments as they quickly become wet and heavy with sweat. They stop your body from cooling down and increasing the chance of overheating.
When you start riding you will probably start with platform pedals they are wide and stable giving confidence to the ride. On gaining more experience most riders prefer to use clip-less pedals (SPD) The rider is literally “clipped in” to his bike giving greater power and control.
If you are riding on platform pedals a good trail shoe is the best option, they have a low profile tread pattern, a medium to soft sole, they offer rigidity, are light weight and breathable. Many brands such as Salomon, Montrails and Merrel have a good range of products, some with reinforced toecaps, always a good thing! Another option are skate shoes they have excellent grip on platform pedals but can be heavy and have poor grip on slippery slopes. Hiking shoes should be avoided as the soles are too hard and offer no cushioning similarly running shoes a not a good idea as the soles are too light and offer too little cushioning.
There are a wide range of SPDs available in HK. It's a matter of finding the one that fits you and your riding style. When checking out different styles make sure that the soles are very rigid (it must not flex while pushing on the pedals) have a knobbly tread pattern that offers good grip on all surfaces. The straps or laces should remain tight throughout the ride. The toes should be protected by a light toe-cap, and they should feel stable while walking (a bicycle shoe is rarely comfortable while walking).