To coincide with Cycling UK’s Bike Week, our instructor James Bruton shares his top tips for anyone looking to start mountain biking.

Buying a bike

Work out what you like about mountain biking e.g. cross country, downhill, adventure riding/bike packing and select the right bike for you. Visit your local shop to seek advice on the right bike for you, many shops will have demo days, which will enable you to try lots of different bikes out.

Get some coaching

People often ask me, what they should upgrade on their bike first, my answer is, the biggest upgrade you can make is you. Get some coaching to form a solid foundation, it will allow you to enjoy your riding more, you will progress a lot faster and it will open up more riding opportunities.

Who to ride with

There are many different groups and forums as well as Facebook groups. There are lots of cycling clubs around the UK, find one that includes mountain biking. This could be a good way to meet likeminded people. Be honest about your ability and don’t get talked into riding things you are not ready for.

Where to ride

There is a vast network of MTB trails throughout the UK. Some are accessible at any time to the public, some are open at specific times. Some trail centres have an uplift service, so you get driven to the top!

Information on where to ride and routes can be found through a web search of the area and numerous apps including: FatMap, OS Maps, Trail Forks, Strava, Garmin Connect and Komoot. These routes have been shared by individuals, so be aware that you may not have legal right of access to some of these routes.


It takes time to build confidence and just seconds to lose it.
Build up slowly, choose trails that are within your ability, hone your skills and build confidence before moving on to more technical terrain.

Look after your bike

It’s worth learning the basics about looking after your bike. Checking your bike over to make sure it is safe to ride and learning how to fix a puncture will get you out of a walk home and save you money! Consider attending a course or take a look online for some videos to help you learn this.


  • Focus on the journey – decide what you enjoy about it. Buy accordingly, buy the best you can.
  • Try different bikes before you buy.
  • Find out where to go biking.
  • Start on simple terrain and build-up.
  • Don’t push yourself too soon, remember it takes a long time to gain confidence and just seconds to lose it.
  • Find friends to ride with.
  • Enjoy it!

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