February 9th 2024

Explore the world of mountain biking for kids with this comprehensive guide, covering gear essentials, safety techniques, trail etiquette, and tips for getting started. NHS Staff Benefits members can receive a 15% discount when shopping with Frog Bikes!

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Starting out with mountain biking can be thrilling and overwhelming, but it can offer your child a world of possibilities.

The following is an introductory guide for young first-time mountain bikers:

Gear essentials

Here are some gear recommendations for children participating in mountain biking:

  • Bike selection: Choose a mountain bike suitable for beginners, considering factors like size, frame material, and suspension
  • Helmet: A properly fitted and certified biking helmet is an absolute must. It should fit snugly on the head without being too tight or loose
  • Moisture-wicking clothing: Opt for breathable, moisture-wicking shirts and shorts or trousers, avoid cotton as it retains moisture
  • Padded shorts or trousers: Consider padded shorts or trousers designed for mountain biking to provide extra comfort and protection
  • Footwear: Opt for sturdy closed-toe shoes with good traction that fit well. Cycling-specific shoes or trainers with grip are ideal for pedal efficiency and stability for children on trails
  • Gloves: Cycling gloves help protect hands from blisters, provide a better grip on the handlebars, and offer some cushioning in case of falls
  • Eye protection: Clear-lense sunglasses or sports goggles can shield children's eyes from debris, dust, insects, and harmful UV rays
  • Knee and elbow pads: For added safety, consider knee and elbow pads
  • Hydration and nutrition: Stress the importance of staying hydrated and fueled during rides. Teach kids to carry water and snacks & take regular hydration breaks
  • Backpack: A small backpack is great for carrying essentials like water, snacks, a first-aid kit, and extra layers

Techniques for safe riding

Below are some mountain biking techniques we recommend children learn:

Mastering bike control

  • Braking: Understanding proper braking techniques is crucial. Teach children to apply brakes gradually and evenly to maintain control
  • Shifting gears: Learning to shift gears is essential for managing different terrains. Explain that lower gears are for uphill climbs and higher gears are for downhill or flat surfaces
  • Balance: Balancing is fundamental in mountain biking. Beginners should practice riding in a straight line, manoeuvring around obstacles, and making controlled turns

Body positioning

  • Relaxed posture: Encourage children to keep a relaxed grip on the handlebars, maintain a slightly bent elbow, and avoid locking their arms
  • Centred position: Teach kids to position their body's centre of gravity over the bike's centre, distributing weight evenly between the front and rear wheels
  • Shock absorbers: Demonstrate how bending elbows and knees allows the body to act as a shock absorber, reducing jolts and maintaining stability when riding over rough terrain

Trail etiquette

  • Yielding and respect: Teach children the importance of yielding (giving space or right of way) to other trail users. Instruct them to slow down, announce their presence, and yield when encountering others on the trail
  • Staying on designated paths: Instil the significance of staying on designated trails to preserve the environment and prevent trail erosion

Trail grading and difficulty levels

In mountain biking, trail colours indicate difficulty levels. Ratings vary by region. Riders should assess their skills before attempting harder trails.

Typical trail rating systems in mountain biking areas are as follows:

  • Green trails (Easy): Green trails are beginner-friendly and designed for riders with little to no experience.
  • Blue trails (Intermediate): Blue trails are for riders with some experience and basic mountain biking skills.
  • Black Trails (Advanced): Black trails are more challenging and suited for experienced riders with advanced mountain biking skills.
  • Double Black or Red Trails (Expert/Extreme): Double black or red trails are the most challenging and cater to expert riders seeking highly technical and demanding terrain.

Getting started

  • Start small: Begin with easy, beginner-friendly trails designed for novice riders, either coded blue or green, to build confidence and skill gradually
  • Ride with support: Consider joining group rides or guided tours led by experienced riders or instructors
  • Have fun: Embrace the adventure! Mountain biking is about enjoying the thrill of nature, so relish the experience

Looking for a kids’ mountain bike?

If your child hasn’t decided on a mountain bike yet, take a look at the ‘Push the Limits’ mountain bike range from Frog Bikes, suitable for 8-13+ year-olds, with 15% off through NHS Staff Benefits.

Get ready to experience the exhilarating world of mountain biking!

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