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Introduction to Mountain Biking for Beginners

Start your mountain biking journey with confidence! Discover the basics, tips for beginners and how to choose the right equipment. 

Canada has no shortage of magnificent mountain biking trails. From east to west, mountain biking is a thrilling sport that’ll give you a rush of adrenaline. Whether it's enduro, downhill, freeride or cross-country, we'll help you discover (or rediscover) mountain biking!

Débuter le vélo de montagne : Guide pratique pour novices

What is mountain biking?

Mountain biking is a sport that has grown in popularity, and can be practiced in any region that offers a variation in altitude. Mountain biking is divided into three families: enduro, downhill and cross-country. All three disciplines are practiced on natural trails.

In cross-country and enduro mountain biking, the climbing is done by the cyclist, while in downhill biking, the cyclist uses mechanical lifts to reach the summit. In all disciplines, the descent is made by bike, although downhill bikes are generally more technical.

Débuter le vélo de montagne : Guide pratique pour novices

Why take up mountain biking?

Mountain biking can be done by almost anyone, no matter your level. There are many trails suitable for beginners, and many offer equipment rentals, too. What's more, this sport lets you spend time in nature, while activating your body and mind. Mountain biking improves overall fitness, cardiovascular health and muscular strength, while reducing stress. Yes, all these benefits at the same time!

Débuter le vélo de montagne : Guide pratique pour novices

Basic mountain biking techniques

While mountain biking is accessible to many, it still involves risks. Here are a few tips to help you avoid injury.

Managing speed and braking

During the descent, it's essential to know how to manage braking, and therefore your speed. During your ride, you'll need to brake from time to time to reduce your speed and stay in control of your bike. NEVER brake abruptly with your front brake, as you risk flipping over the top of your bike (and in my experience, this is no fun at all!)

The rear brake should be used as much as possible, but also in a controlled manner, to avoid skidding. The rear brake is useful for controlling your trajectory in turns, but also for reducing speed before entering bends. As a general rule, brake gently and gradually to avoid any risk of falling or injury.

Basic climbing and descent techniques

To make climbing easier, your position is important. First, slide your backside over the front of the saddle. Position your torso forward, towards the handlebars, and lower your elbows as you pull the handlebars down. Finally, look forward and pedal steadily.
As for the descent, it is important to stay relaxed and try not to hold the bike too rigid. Next, remember to look ahead and be alert for any obstacles you may encounter. To slow down, use your rear brake and remember to keep your hips on the back of the saddle.

Débuter le vélo de montagne : Guide pratique pour novices

Choosing the right equipment

The right equipment is essential for a solid start in this sport. Bikes, helmets and protection: here's everything you need!

Selecting the right mountain bike for beginners

For beginners, choose a lightweight mountain bike with 120 to 140 mm of travel, dual suspension and studded tires for better grip. With these features, you'll be able to climb trails with ease. There's no need to start with a bike that's too high-end. Above all, make sure you're comfortable! If you're just starting out, you can always rent a bike to see if you like the feel before you buy!

Essential protective gear

It's important to be well-equipped when venturing out on the trails to avoid injuries in the event of a fall – or branches in the eye! Here are the essentials to carry with you: a bike helmet, gloves, cycling glasses and knee and elbow pads for those who want them. Next, make sure you wear clothes you'll be comfortable in for the whole ride: cycling shorts and well-fitted top or a cycling singlet.

Débuter le vélo de montagne : Guide pratique pour novices

Finding trails suitable for beginners

There are plenty of trails for novice mountain bikers in Canada!

Using trail apps and maps

Finding a trail is easy! All you have to do is pick out where you want to go and search nearby trails on the Internet. You can also easily find trail apps or buy trail maps for mountain biking!

Recommended mountain bike trails for beginners in Montreal

There are a number of trails on the island of Montreal that are ideal for beginners. The nature parks are a great place to start if you're looking for flat, accessible trails for new riders.

Débuter le vélo de montagne : Guide pratique pour novices

Take an introductory mountain biking course

If it’s within your budget to do so, opt for an introductory mountain bike course. There are multiple companies that offer this kind of training. You can find group courses or personalized courses, depending on whether you’re a bit shy or looking for a social ride.

Débuter le vélo de montagne : Guide pratique pour novices

Improving your mountain biking skills

Here are some tips to help you progress and feel more confident on the trails. 

Develop your technical skills through lessons

Don't know how to handle a banked turn? How to position yourself on your bike? Or how to anticipate movements according to the terrain? Don't worry, thanks to courses with professionals or a cycling club, you'll become a mountain bike pro in no time!

Try out more technical trails

Once you're comfortable on beginner trails, you can gradually move on to more technical routes. Fortunately, many Canadian parks offer mountain bike trails for all levels.

Débuter le vélo de montagne : Guide pratique pour novices

Maintaining your mountain bike

If you want your mountain bike to last for many years to come, it's important to take good care of it.

Basic mountain bike maintenance

It's ideal to clean your bike after every ride, especially your drivetrain – pedal, cranks, chainrings, chain, cassette and derailleur. Keep it clean, and don't forget to lubricate your chain.  Your brake pads should be checked regularly, as should the condition of your tires (before each outing, if possible).

Get your road or mountain bike serviced at Decathlon

It’s simple and easy, just visit one of our in-store workshops. Adjustments, repairs or maintenance – at Decathlon, we're committed to extending the life of your products.  Ideally, you should have your bike serviced every year. What's more, if you're a Decathlon member, you can get your bike serviced for free after your purchase.

Now that you know the basics of mountain biking, you can plan your own outings and start having fun! You can even organize family outings with your kids!

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