Skills to get you started | Mountain Bike Set Up

So you have a new mountain bike, your Girlfriend/ boyfriend has a new mountain bike. You're ready to hit the trails right?? Unfortunately, it's just not that easy.. 

There are a few things that most people don't realize when they buy a new mountain bike. If you are new to mountain biking it's hard to know what to expect from your mountain bike. How should it feel? Where should the seat be? Are the levers on your handle bars in the best spot? Is the sag on your suspension set correctly? What the hell is 'sag'?

These are all questions that I had no idea about when I got my first mountain bike. How are you supposed to know if no body tells you? Here is a very basic blow by blow on bike set up. Have your bike working for you to its full potential! BEWARE: there is some unavoidable jargon to navigate...

Seat height adjustment

Ok first things first -


Seat height.

There is a very simple way to get an approximate height of your seat so that when you are pedaling up hill, you are being as efficient as can be. From here you can move the seat UP or DOWN a touch to what feels perfect.  All you need to do is loosen off the seat post, lean over your bike so that your saddle is in your armpit, and your middle finger is on the bolt that goes through your bottom bracket. This is about your perfect climbing position! DONE

Brake lever position

Next thing is, you want to be strong -


Leaver positioning

To get the most out of your flash new mountain bike, sometimes you must throw away old habits. Most new mountain bikes now come with hydraulic disc brakes. They are the brakes that motor bikes have. They use hydraulic fluid instead of a stretchy cable to drive the brake pads onto the Rotor or Disc. With this great technological advancement it means that you need less pressure on the brake lever to get maximum braking. Remember as a kid you almost had to squeeze the lever with your whole hand? OLD HABIT! Now with your flash new mountain bike, you really only need ONE FINGER! I know, it doesn't sound right.. this can be your NEW HABIT. Just using one finger to brake means that you can use the other three to hold on to your handlebars. Pretty important in order to still be able to control your mountain bike. To really adopt this new habit, your going to need to slide your leavers into the correct position on the handlebars. Loosen off your leaver. Hold onto your grips where feels comfortable. Stick out your index finger and slide the lever along the bar until it is just in the groove behind your first knuckle. Depending on if you're more of an XC or DH rider will depend on the angle you have your fore arms on, therefore the angle you have your lever on. Once it feels good, tighten it up. NOW you are up with the times and you will feel all that new control of A) your brakes working well, and B) being able to comfortable hold on to your handlebars C) you are ready to start working on your new skills!

Ready Position

How to Set the Sag in your Suspension!

Alrighty... now it's getting a little more technical for you

First off, what is sag? The sag is how depressed your suspension is when you just sit still on your mountain bike. This is adjusted by the amount of air that you put into your suspension. Most new bikes come with a funny little pump called a shock pump. It's like the one for your tyres only way skinnier and with a pressure gauge on it that usually goes up to about 300psi. Adjusting the sag is about as personal to riding a mountain bike as your toothbrush is for the hygiene of your mouth. It's weight dependent and needs to be adjusted on front(fork) and rear(shock) suspension in order to have your suspension working at its best for you. Ok, it's all to do with your weight and how you distribute it when your are in a "READY" position just standing still. So to do this adjustment you might need to find a friend or a wall to help you keep your balance. You want about 20-25% of your fork and 25% of your shock to be depressed when you weight the bike in this stationary ready position. If there is more or less that these percentages you are going to want to add or release some air. As a guide, on lots of suspension/mountain bike manuals they will give you a rough guide as to the amount of pressure that you want to have in your suspension.  So try it, see how it feels, and it should improve your bikes performance and your level of comfort and control. *Most mountain bikes also come with some kind of "REBOUND" adjustment to. If your have any questions on this then feel free to leave a comment.

Sag adjustment

You want about 20-25% of your fork and 25% of your shock to be depressed when you weight the bike in this stationary ready position. If there is more or less that these percentages you are going to want to add or release some air with your shock pump.

So there you have it! New bike, new set up, now you will also be feeling like a shredder! Of course this is just the very basics on setting up your new bike and yes, it does get a lot more technical. But hey, we are just riding bikes for fun in the end right?

All of this is covered in our basic skills clinics before we even get on the trails, we need to set up our bikes. It should only take about 10 minutes and it makes a world of difference when your are out riding your mountain bike in the forest!

Now you're ready to roll.  See you out there!