5 Mountain Biking Tips for Beginners

Image - 5 Mountain Biking Tips for Beginners

This is a guest blog post by professional freeride mountain biker Thomas Vanderham.

Thomas Vanderham is a professional mountain biker and Toyota BC ambassador from North Vancouver, BC. He spends his summers travelling around BC in his Toyota Tacoma, exploring and mountain biking. We asked Thomas for some advice for mountain bikers who are just starting out in this quickly growing sport; here are his top 5 tips.


Mountain biking can be an intimidating sport to pick up. It can be very hard to navigate all the gear, know where to ride, and find people to ride with you. Luckily for beginner mountain bikers out there, the sport is continually becoming more approachable. Bikes are becoming easier to ride every year, local trail groups are building more green level and climbing trails, and bikes are actually becoming a bit more affordable. Here are a few tips for anyone just starting out or thinking about trying mountain biking:

Start slow- It’s easy to get in over your head on a bike. I always suggest to beginner riders that they should master the easiest trails before moving up to the intermediate ones. Stick to green trails to start – there are more and more options being built for beginners to get introduced to the sport. Also, consider a visit to a bike park, they are not just for expert riders anymore. BC has a ton of amazing parks and all of them will have some beginner trails that will provide a perfect place to learn. Visit www.mountainbikingbc.ca for the full list.


Image - 5 Mountain Biking Tips for Beginners


Take a lesson- Taking a lesson or two can benefit you in many ways.  Lessons will help to improve your riding under the supervision of a trained instructor, but in the process, you will also find new trails to ride and maybe even make some new riding friends at a similar ability level. Endless Biking in North Vancouver offers a wide range of lessons, or if you’re feeling up for more of a challenge, the Summer Gravity Camps in Whistler BC are a great way to spend a week riding the best bike park in the world. 

Get the right gear- The right gear goes well beyond having a good helmet and pads. Remember that when you take off into the woods, you should be as self-sufficient as possible. Try to always pack food, water, the right clothing, and essential tools in case you have a mechanical issue. For local rides, I try to avoid taking a full-sized backpack when possible, and these days there are a lot of options when it comes to carrying these items. A couple of my favorites are the Hot Laps packs and Gripper from Dakine, as well as the EDC tools and pump from OneUp Components.


Image - 5 Mountain Biking Tips for Beginners


Try before you buy- You would usually try something before making a big investment right? I know I took my Tacoma for a test drive before buying it and the same should go for mountain bikes. With the growing number of options available, it is recommended to try out a bike before you buy it. Some shops carry demo fleets, bike parks around the world have a lot of rental options, and companies themselves are doing massive demo tours. Since buying a bike is a big investment, I would encourage anyone who’s shopping for one to try to throw a leg over it first.

Work on your bike- The last thing I would strongly recommend is to slowly learn the basics of working on your own bike. Having a little bit of knowledge about bike repair knowledge can go a long way if you run into problems with your bike on the trail. It will also help you in learning what works best for you when it comes to your own personal bike setup. Knowing what tire pressure you prefer, how high you like your handlebars, or how to set up suspension will go a really long way in making your riding experience more enjoyable. You can learn through trial and error, picking up tips from your friends or taking a course. In Vancouver, the Bike Room is a good option.

Image - 5 Mountain Biking Tips for Beginners

I hope these tips help you start to feel more comfortable on the trails. The sport of mountain biking is becoming more and more approachable all the time, and it’s great to see it growing so quickly. If you break through the initial barriers to entry you will find a sport that you can enjoy at your own pace for many years to come. I hope to run into you out in the tails!

Thomas Vanderham Photo Thomas Vanderham is Professional Freeride mountain biker based in North Vancouver, BC. He is also a father, coffee lover, sports fan, and world traveller. You can connect with Thomas on Facebook and Instagram.