The last few years has seen a phenomenal increase in the popularity of road bikes as Tour fever gripped the region. However, this trend may now be starting to plateau and, interestingly, we’re seeing a real resurgence in off road cycling.
Riding over rough terrain obviously demands specially designed bikes incorporating features to enhance durability and performance over rough terrain.
The sport emerged in the US in the 1980s with a new generation of bikes specially adapted for the rigours of off road riding.
Despite being dismissed as a short term fad by the traditional cycling industry, the sport continued to gain traction and, by the first decade of the 21st century, mountain biking had become a mainstream pursuit.
Requiring endurance, strength and balance, as well as technically-challenging bike handling skills together with real courage, the appeal of the sport is evident.
While advanced riders pursue both steep technical descents and high incline climbs, even the less fearless among us can enjoy the fun of riding over forest trails and rocky mountainsides.
As well as opening up new and more varied terrain, mountain biking has also extended the cycling season with enthusiasts able to enjoy the sport year round, regardless of heavy rain or even snow.
There are basically three types of mountain bike from which to choose. A rigid bike has no suspension, saving weight and reducing maintenance, but is less comfortable and less controllable on really bumpy tracks.
Alternatively, the hardtail bike has an un-suspended rear end and a suspension fork at the front helping you to tackle tougher terrain, but it is, of course, heavier.
The third option is a full-suspension bike, giving a more comfortable ride, and making it easier to handle more technical terrain.
The choice you make will depend on your level of experience, the type of riding you’re planning to do and, of course, your budget. Just ask for advice in a reputable bike shop.
Over the last five years, there has been a huge advancement in technology with lighter tyres, rims and frames as well as better suspension, brakes, drivetrain and frame geometry.
The improvements in all these components have greatly enhanced the sport, reducing problems with handling and suspension and issues like the risk of chains jumping off.
One of the latest crazes is the ‘fat bike’. Similar to a traditional mountain bike and using all of the latest technology, but with tyres twice the size, they offer a big, stable platform and are instantly fun.
They are able to make easy work of hairpin, muddy trails as well as coping with sand and rocks, not to mention the fact that they’re also great on ice and snow. They now account for one of the fastest growing segments in the cycle industry.
Even if slightly tamer excursions are more to your taste, if you are going to head off road do bear in mind that you will need to be self reliant in case you run into technical problems and aren’t within easy reach of help.
So, as well as basic cycling kit such as helmet, gloves, cycling shorts or tights and sunglasses, you need to pack a few more essentials.
Every mountain bikers’ back pack should include tyre levers, an inner tube and a mini pump so you can quickly repair a puncture while on the trail as well as multi tools with a range of allen keys to carry out repairs and make adjustments.
It’s also worth investing in a hydration pack which makes it easy to drink while on the move, plus nutrition products such as bars and gels to help you power up that mountain track. A lightweight first aid kit is also a must in case anyone takes a tumble.
With spring finally in the air, it’s a great time to start planning new ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
Yorkshire offers an amazing choice of fantastic tracks through glorious countryside and is an ideal way to spend time with family or friends.
So rather why don’t you rediscover the joy of off road cycling this summer?
Have you found an off road trail in the area that is your favourite?
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