Without a doubt, the most important piece of equipment you can own for mountain biking, besides the bike itself, is a helmet. Nothing will ruin your ride – or life as you know it – faster than a head injury, so you know to take proper precautions. All commercial helmets will technically do the job, but if you spend enough time in the saddle, you’ll want something that fits well, is light and comfortable, and offers maximum protection for your riding style.
If you have been around mountain bikes for the last few years, you’ve probably heard riders making seemingly hyperbolic statements like “my dropper seatpost changed the way I ride,” or, “I can’t ride without my dropper.” You might think these riders are exaggerating, but they are onto something.
In the short history of mountain biking, a few inventions have revolutionized mountain biking to the point that most riders would not dream of riding without these features on their bikes. While there are exceptions most riders depend on suspension over rigid bikes, disc brakes over rim brakes, and tubeless tires over tubes, the dropper seatpost is the next revolution in this line.
The wheels on your mountain bike can radically transform your ride in ways that no single component upgrade can. Stock wheels on many mountain bikes are relatively heavy, have hubs with mediocre drivetrain engagement, can be difficult to set up tubeless, and might not be as strong as their more sophisticated counterparts. In addition, wheels that have seen a lot of miles have fatigued rims and spokes that might not be worth the trouble to maintain.
Our buying guide breaks down everything you need to consider first, along with our favorite hoops for every disciple.
It’s a saturday morning and you’re stoked to ride. You’re at the trailhead early in the morning hoping to beat the crowds. But apparently you aren’t the only one with that idea. After the first mile you’ve passed 17 hikers, 5 dogs, and 3 other groups of riders.
These scenarios are not uncommon during summer weekends. But get to the trailhead at 9pm? Absolutely empty, you will have the trail to yourself.
Night riding is its own beast. But it doesn’t have to be if you bring your 2500 lumen Light & Motion light you’ll have a beam of light that isn’t even street legal in some places. At night the trails you’ve seen 100 times take a whole new form: when you’re ripping down the trail it’s only the small ribbon of light and nothing else to distract you, and best of all you’re doing this alone or with your buddies.
Just remember to grab your light before you go. Choosing the best light will make or break your PM trail time.
Maxxis has long been a standard-bearer for mountain bike tires, and every few years, they come up with the “it tire” that everyone wants.
At a time when momentum was growing behind pushing the definition of “cross country” riding to the fringes, they produced the Ardent, a tire of massive volume, thick casing, and chunky center tread that seemed out of place for only a short time. The Ardent set the bar for aggressive, fast-rolling tires (lower rolling resistance).
These can be a bit difficult to find in store, but I've had great success finding the Ardent 2.4 (and variations) over at CompetitiveCyclist. Typically the best prices and frequent seasonal discounts!
Its reputation as a good all-around tire has made it Maxxis’ number one top-selling tire, with multiple wheel sizes, a skinwall version for the NAHBS crowd, a lighter “race” version (Ardent Race) and even an e-bike specific version.
An aggressive tread in high-volume casing, designed with great traction in mind. The Ardent doesn't forget the racer with large block-style side knobs offering numerous edges for high-speed cornering. The center tread, while ideal for braking and acceleration.
With its medium-height tread, the ardent race bridges the gap between the xc-oriented Ikon and the trail-oriented ardent. The center knobs are ramped to reduce rolling resistance, and the side knobs are angled and stepped to provide great biting traction.
Choosing mountain bike tires isn’t as easy as it sounds. Like most things in the bicycling universe, there are more choices than ever to fit the type of rider you are and the kind of riding you do.
There are several factors you should consider when looking for the best mountain bike tires. Tire weight and width are only the tip of the iceburg.
For a good all-around tire that sheds mud well and rolls fast, we love the WTB Velociraptor.