Mountain Biking Explained – EP1

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Any outdoor activity can be really fulfilling, but my activity of choice is mountain biking. A mountain bike can quickly cover any terrain, and take you amazing places inaccessible by many other vehicles. Plus, mountain biking is a great way to get in shape, push yourself, and even make lifelong friends.

The vast majority of mountain bikers went on their first ride with a friend, parent, or coworker who was already experienced. When your experienced friend takes you out on the trails, they can fix your mechanical problems, warn you about obstacles ahead, and even tell you when to shift gears. The thing is, not everyone has that guidance.

Meet Lisa. She’s not an actress and she’s never been mountain biking before, but she wants to learn. Follow along with Lisa as she learns how to ride, how to find trails, and how to perform basic maintenance on her bike. She’ll go through everything you will, and probably have a lot of the same questions. She’s going to have a lot of fun, and probably make a lot of friends, but she sure as hell won’t be doing it on this bike. This is a hybrid, or comfort bike. Surprisingly, it’s sometimes mistaken for a mountain bike. The shocks, the gears, and the fat tires make it look like it’s designed for riding off road, but this sticker states otherwise. So we’ll need to max out Lisa’s credit card and get her set up for the trails.

First she’ll need a bike, a helmet, and some gloves. She’ll also need a floor pump with a gauge, as tire pressure is really important in mountain biking. She’ll also need a hydration backpack, which holds lots of water, and other stuff like her cell phone, supplies, and car keys. Speaking of car keys, Lisa will need a bike rack, unless she’s okay with putting a filthy muddy bike in her back seat. I’d also recommend a multitool. Altogether, this will cost around $1000, but that’s just a guide. You may already have some of this stuff, and often times you can find it used.

Over the course of a year, many people spend over $1000 on coffee, and definitely more than that on ordering in lunch. Do the math. Chances are you could make your own coffee, pack your lunch, or scale back on something else to make room for mountain biking.

With the right beginner gear, Lisa has the headroom she needs to grow and improve without being limited. She has a bike that can be easily maintained, repaired, and upgraded, and gear that will last her many many rides. In the upcoming videos we’ll go over all this stuff, where to get it, and how to use it.

Now that she’s all set up I’m thinking we should shock Lisa’s system with a ride on Porcupine Rim, a 3000 foot descent along the edge of a mountain, followed by a bone jarring ride across miles of Jeep road. Then, a blistering descent along a big friggin cliff…or we could start on some dirt paths and teach Lisa the basics first. That’s the safest way to start mountain biking; getting used to your bike before you try anything crazy.

Lisa is riding through a beginner trail, which is usually just a dirt path with some loose terrain. This isn’t much different from riding in the street, but it does get you used to riding in narrow spaces with tight turns. To find mountain bike trails there are apps, and websites that show listings by area. This listing on shows the difficulty level of these trails. Green dots are for beginners.

Before we start turning Lisa into a mountain biker she’ll need to know some terminology. We’ll do a little of this in every video, but first we’ll start with the most basic terms you’ll hear the most. This is a hardtail, or a mountain bike with front suspension. Some bikes also have suspension in the rear. These are called “Full suspension mountain bikes”. Full suspension, hardtail. Most beginners get hardtails because they’re less costly and easier to maintain. This is singletrack, or a narrow trail designed for one rider at a time. Most mountain bike trails are singletrack, so you’ll hear this term a lot. It usually just means a trail. This is a trailhead, or the entrance to a trail system. This is where you’ll park your car, get set up, and meet with your riding buddies.

So before Lisa goes to the trailhead to ride some singletrack on her hardtail, she’ll need to learn how to use all this gear, install a bike rack, and master a few techniques that make riding singletrack different from riding pavement. If you’re an experienced mountain biker who follows this channel, now’s the time to get your friends started by turning them on to this series. We’ll still be doing the normal stuff in between, but every couple of weeks I’ll be releasing another episode with lessons for beginners. Try to be helpful and answer questions in the comment section.

  1. Shea Duffy says:

    Hi guys I have an hardtail apollo bike with shimano gears is this alright for a starter

  2. Gabriel Rice says:

    About 3 months ago, I took my bike out to a small little field outside my house and tried to jump a small 1ft mound of dirt and screwed it up and snapped my arm in half, had to have have surgery. They had to cut me open on both sides of my arm. I'm just now finding all these mountain bike videos, and the whole thing looks like fun, but (and I know this makes me sound like a wimp) I'm kinda scared to get into it, seeing how clumsy I am.

  3. Иван Храмов says:

    Hi, Seth! Does "no off-road" sticker on a mountain bike mean that the product marketed as MTB is actually unreliable in terms of somewhat extreme usage? Thanks
    Really enjoing your videos btw

  4. hyw079 says:

    I know you moved, but how was Lisa progressed? You need to make a follow up video on her!

  5. I love the diamondback hook. But I can't afford it.
    What do you think about 2917
    diamondback lux ?

  6. Rosario Somma says:

    Hi Seth, I have subscribed to your chanel a few months ago, but for some reason I am not getting any new videos notification. Is that because you have not posted in a while or am I missing something? I don't usually hit the bell for notifications but still get the new videos into my account when posted from other subscriptions. By the way, great channel and lots of useful tips for a beginner (49 years old) like me 😊

  7. Adam Huckins says:

    since christmas is coming up im looking for a bike to begin on the trails between £400 to £600 i have been looking at TREK marlin 7 TREK marilin 7 (2018) and the voodoo bizango would this be appropriet to start or am i looking for something different please help .

  8. JiNxx sT says:

    I was givin a used 2008 trek 3700 hard tail can someone let me know if this is good enough to start mountain biking?

  9. HookAandM says:

    I don’t have much money and really want to get into mtb any suggestions on bikes?

  10. D ONLYONE says:

    Thanks Seth so much for motivating me to start mtbing. This is the first day i went

  11. Edwin Retutal says:

    Hi Seth, newbie here. Me and my 7 yr. old son really love ur videos. Hope you can give advise if DB sync 4.0 would be good for a beginner like us. It seems an old model but its selling here in UAE for a good price.

  12. Rafael Rivera says:

    How bad would it be going up hill with the diamondback hook specially if your a beginner? Thanks!

  13. Roni Doka says:

    What if your parents aren't willing to buy you good beginner things. I have a £50 full suspension mountain bike.

  14. Clive Reynolds says:

    I am 48 and following my son into mountain biking. I have a Giant Talon 2 and live in Rockhampton, Queensland , Australia and would like to thank The Singletrack Sampler and Seth's Bike hacks for making it a bit easier

  15. Scottie Manners says:

    Found my used hook for $350 on ebay, not even a year old and the previous owner put a dropper post, new saddle, upgraded wider flat pedals, better tires, and new grips! I love it as I progress my skill and continue to watch you and phil

  16. Alain Vega says:

    This series is absolutely amazing and very informational. Thank you. I just got into it.

  17. Only The Bold Project says:

    HEY SETH, Since you have moved to Asheville. Have you thought about trying this series up with someone up there or taking a Novice Rider and helping him or her expand their skill and knowledge? Could be for a great series!!! Just some thoughts. Later, remember to LIVE-LIFE-LOUD!!

  18. Bradley Negrin says:

    Hey Seth. I have just recently gained an interest in mountain biking by watching you and by talking to my friends. I just picked up a marlin 7 and know a little bit about biking but there aren’t very many beginner trails near me. What do u recommend I do to get better before trying the harder trails my friends do?

  19. heinamies gamer says:

    I live mtb but im first gonna try downhill biking because My dad used to Be a hobby downhill biker

  20. Sue-Anne Silvania says:

    Should a Trek Skye S do it as a beginners bike? I was thinking of starting mountain biking. I’m going through some rough times so I need a hobby to lower anxiety. Hope this is a good one. Plus need to work on my condition!🙂

  21. ismael calderon says:

    You should make a the lauxjack mountain bike its like 500$ full suspension is it good?

  22. damn. I'm moving to Denver, CO in a couple months and want to start mountain biking but this was already so much money hahaha

  23. Nathan Davis says:

    she looks like the biggest fucking pleb just standing there showing off her gear😂

  24. gravedigga71 says:

    I like this series a lot, sad that it is discontinued. Maybe you can start a new one at your "new" residence? Would be awesome. Greetings form germany.

  25. csalad says:

    how important is it to follow the sizing guides by the manufacturer of a bike? I'm only 5'2" and the size small frame of the Diamondback Hook is listed for riders as small as 5'4". The stand over height is real close to my inseam length, aside from that, would there be any reason why i should consider a different bike that may fit me better? I really like the Hook, specifically the value it offers.

  26. Sgt. Pepper says:

    i really like her bike but it's not available where i live. bummer.

  27. Alfresco gaming says:

    Your sister seems like a really nice and wonderful person

  28. Jon English says:

    I just had my first mountain bike ride, i hadn't ridden a bike for 20 years before today. My buddy let me use a pretty cool bike and I had a great time.

  29. 4wd some says:

    For my son his first bike was a balance bike, than a female frame Raleigh so it is not so bad and easy to mount and dismount from during crashes or falls. Then went to a second hand GT with a set of fairly nice suntours, as that got small I bought him a felt 90 6 series with disk brakes and even nicer suntours that bike is still really nice but is a bit small at a 16.5 inch frame, I then gave him my old pimped specialized rockhopper with 120mm hydraulic ronin forks, giant mph brakes and a dropper post but that bike is wearing and it’s a 26inch hardtail so again getting small I recently got him a calibre bossnut v2 with the dropper post option which will be safer and more comfortable down hill, that is around £899 and will last years to come

  30. Frida Castaneda says:

    Thanks for the sweet beginner series! I am 100% new, as in I just rode my first trail yesterday (I have the bruises to prove it!) and holy SHIT it was great! Guess I better sell my soul to buy a bike, cos right now all I have is a $75 Ozone!

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