"TDWFL" <[email protected]
> wrote in message news:[email protected]
> I usually ride on the road but I took my first mountain bike ride last Saturday. My first question
> is this (and it's probably a dumb question). Is it normal
> fall a lot while riding? I've had two bonehead falls on my roadbike and hopefully that will be it
> for a while. In the process of riding last Sat. I fell 8 or 9 times. I rode a local trail. The
> first go round I probably fell
> times, the second time only twice. I wasn't having much fun at first but
> I gained a little confidence it was better.
The skills needed for off-road riding are pretty different than for road riding. That said, off-road
riding skills can come in handy on the road, MTB riding really sharpens your bike handling skills.
As to falls, I think that has a lot to do with how aggressively you ride during your learning
period. I rode very agressively, often only to try to stay with much better riders. I took many
falls, breaking my ribs twice on rocky terrain. My wife, on the other hand, rode conservatively,
took longer to develop the same skills, but never banged herself up badly.
I'd make a couple of recommendations: Practice things like bunny hops on soft, grassy surfaces,
don't try to hop logs on the trail until you've gained some mastery. Don't take chances when riding
with better MTB'ers just to keep up. Invest in some pads while you're learning, particularly if the
trails are rocky. Knee, elbow and shin pads prevent a lot of injuries. You don't need
cycling-specific pads (most of those are for downhill racing use and are overkill), get general
purpose (volleyball, basketball, soccer) pads from a sporting goods store.
> The bike had SPD pedals but in hindsight I might have been a little happier if I'd had regular
> pedals of
> with toe straps.
I'd stay with SPDs. Set the release to minimum if necessary. Straps can trap a foot in a fall
(that's how I broke a rib the first time). Free foot may seem safer, but that's an illusion, if
you're going to dab, you can learn to unclip and still pedal, but once you start learning slow speed
bike handling you'll find that having both feet clipped in allows much easier hopping and flicking
in uneven terrain.
> Second question: What do people prefer as far as suspension types and why (hardtail vs. full
I think of suspension as being more of a fatigue helper that an absolute requirement. The arms and
legs can act as an active suspension, while even the best forks & frames are just passive (damped
springs). Of course soaking up all those hits while still pedaling takes up a lot of energy, and the
"biological suspension" doesn't handle high frequency bumps too well. Still, a skillful rider, even
on a sophisticated bike, will use arms and legs, and not just ride like a sack of potatoes. The
argument I've frequently heard is that it's best to learn on a bike w/o suspension to gain the
physical skills, then get whatever you want in suspension. In recent years there's been a kind of
"back to basics" movement, where many long time riders are riding minimalistic bikes, putting skills
ahead of technology.
I think the most important component of an off-road bike is tires. Tread pattern & profile can make
a huge difference, but it's all specific to where you ride. For a beginner, I think it's important
to go with fat tires and pressure just high enough to prevent pinch flats. Tires are the cheapest
and most effective form of suspension.