7 biggest mountain biking myths


Mountain biking does not have to be a painful experience.

1. Self-taught is best – just learn by riding

Mountain biking is a skill sport much like tennis, golf, and skiing. Specifically, there is a wrong way and a right way of performing many moves on the bike. Most folks are self-taught and seem to think technique is mostly doing what feels good and is chosen by personal preference. They scoff at any form of instruction and reserve that for beginners. The problem is many experienced riders are doing it wrong as they are self-taught wrong.

New riders can make huge improvements in their skills by getting instruction, now that the sport has been around long enough for skills to be defined and mountain bike coaching has become a viable profession. Can you imagine teaching yourself tennis or golf? You may be a phenom or may get lucky but chances are, you’ll do most of it wrong initially or take three times longer to learn, if ever. Thus, getting instruction either through group lessons, one-on-one coaching, through a friend or even instructional videos and books can make a big difference.

Learning, safety and fun is optimized when a mountain biker gets proper coaching and skills training early on.

A great upside is riders can bypass a series of inevitable tumbles, lost skin, and broken bones as they figure out how to ride. Unlike the other sports that require coaching to reach a high level, mountain biking involves cliffs, rocks, ruts, trees, and the greatest nemesis of all… corners. Any one of these elements can slap a rider to the ground when performed with the wrong technique or caught with inattentiveness.

Mountain biking shouldn’t be dangerous. But riding with the wrong technique and going beyond one’s skill level is. Don’t just “do it.” Do it right with proper progression and technique.

2. It’s not about the bike – it’s all rider

Retro bikes tell a story of our young sport but a modern mountain bike makes a huge difference in the ride quality and safety.

Folks who are very, very skilled say this. Or folks who hate technology and avoid spending money convince themselves of this as they ride their severely outdated bike.

But for most mountain bikers, the bike plays a very key part in the enjoyment, performance and safety of the rider. Put the same rider on a $300 bike and a $1200 bike and the ride experience will be very different. On the $1200 bike, the rider will be faster, safer and will have a bigger smile on their face.

Of course, there is a point of diminishing returns where one hits the sweet spot of price and performance. Great gains are made for every dollar spent up to that point. But after that, large amounts of money are spent pursuing the last 10% of performance.

On the same vein, get at 15-year old $3000 full suspension bike and a new full suspension bike at the same price and the same rider will have a much better experience on the new bike. Mountain biking is a young, evolving discipline and huge strides have been made in the last decade in bike design. Also, many different mountain bike types now have evolved for different types of riding and matching the two makes a big difference.

Does the rider matter then as well? Of course. We believe the rider is still the majority of the performance equation. But we should never dismiss the role of the bike in this sport and its ability to keep the rider comfortable, safe, and constantly progressing.

3. Only downhillers need to wear knee pads and protection

Pads help when knee meets rock or in this case, hammer.

Most folks don’t wear knee pads because they are cumbersome and they “don’t plan to crash”. The problem is no one really maps out their extreme adventures and schedules their crash rides. Crashes happen as terrain and traction constantly change and debris and obstacles interfere with the ride. Crashes or ‘unplanned get-offs’ occur and they can either be just dusty affairs with knee pads or trips to the hospital with many stitches required.

Related: The Best Kneepads for Mountain Biking

The other x-factor is most crashes happen on easy, familiar trails and the usual cause is inattentiveness. Often, one is so familiar with a trail that one loses focus. Any rut or corner can cause a crash and those can sometimes be serious crashes since the rider is completely unprepared and is slapped to the ground.

Good, light knee pads these days don’t call attention to themselves

The good news is technology has caught up with the sport and there are many types of knee pads and protection now. Trail and cross-country riders can go with more lightweight padding and this is the most exciting category of protection. Knee pads are best when they don’t call attention to themselves during the ride, especially climbing. And when one crashes, you might think the knee pad didn’t do its job since there’s no pain or wounds but that’s usually a sign it saved the day.

All-mountain/enduro riders and downhill riders can opt for thicker, more protective pads that take bigger impacts but hinder pedaling a bit more.

4. Dropper posts are riders who don’t have descending skills

For the uninitiated, dropper posts are seatposts that allow the saddle to be lowered and raised with the push of handlebar button

Again, this is often preached by old-school riders who think they perfected riding twenty years ago. Often they say, “I never drop my seat during a ride. Why would I need a dropper post?”

This is a case of old techniques and habits and a refusal to learn anything new. Dropping the saddle during steep descents is just one small part of the dropper post advantage. It is effective in preventing endos or going over the handlebars.

But dropper posts do a lot more than that as they play a big role in cornering now. Dropping the saddle allows the rider to move their mass around and that is a very potent tool during technical, aggressive descending and cornering. The body is like a ball of energy and it can be used in key moments to center the bike. Shift back when there’s a steep drop, move forward on a steep pitch. Stand upright when there’s little traction while cornering on gravel.

Related: The Best Dropper Seatposts

Sure these are possible with the saddle propped all the way up. But it’s way easier, safer, and more effective when the saddle is out of the way. And if performance or aggressive riding is not what you’re after, consider the safety that a dropper post delivers. It’s so much safer and that allows one to learn and progress better and take on more challenging terrain.

5. After the beginner stage, you need to move up to clipless pedals

Clipless pedals are good for racing since they are faster for sprinting and pedaling out of corners.

Clipless pedals are not too bad for experts who have skills and confidence to clip out in a millisecond, but they’re a huge liability for beginners and intermediate riders. New riders should learn on flat pedals and when they’ve gained enough experience and confidence, they can stay on flat pedals. There should be no set schedule when they should switch to clipless, if ever.

Related: Best Flat Pedals for Mountain Biking

Instead, they can look into clipless pedals if they want to compete in high-level cross country or Enduro races. Clipless is a hair faster in cross-country races and long endurance events since the shoes and pedals are lighter and stiffer. The foot is always in the optimal position too so there is no time lost searching for that spot. Sprinting too is an advantage as one can lift up on the pedal and use more leg muscles in a sprint and be secure with pedal engagement.

But the problems with clipless are plentiful including:
– a steep learning curve that includes injury
– unlearning how to use physics to stay glued to the bike
– lose the ability to separate from the bike in a millisecond of peril
– forced to use a shoe not ideal for hiking up a cliff or walking into a restaurant

The good news is the rider has a choice now, not only when they’re learning or reach their highest level. A couple of decades ago, everyone was compelled to switch to clipless and no high-end flat pedals or shoes were available. They can stay with flats forever or they can switch to clips. Or use the right tool at the appropriate time.

Folks can learn on a hardtail without spending too much money. But a full suspension trail bike is a very good first bike as well.

6. You should learn how to ride properly on a hardtail

Hardtails are good for beginners because there are numerous affordable models, but also because they have a good price/weight ratio, and they do teach you what NOT to do on trails because they will punish you with pain or with a crash.

However, preaching that all beginners should learn on hardtails to learn proper technique is hogwash. It is equivalent to saying one should learn to drive on a racetrack using a truck to learn the proper driving techniques. There is an ounce of truth to that where the driver will be forced to carry momentum and find the right racing line. But there is so much wrong in it as well. Same goes for learning how to ride a mountain bike with a rigid fork, or rim brakes or singlespeed. It’s just bad advice.

Using equipment not suitable for the task slows down learning and increases the risk factor. One can’t do the challenging terrain as quickly and mistakes can lead to crashes and injuries. The ideal bike to learn on is a trail bike with about 120mm of front and rear travel. And having a dropper post on that will enhance its teaching abilities even more.

Of course, full-suspension bikes are not cheap so not everyone can afford to learn on them. Hardtails are fine too as they fit many budgets and in that category, a hardtail with Plus tires (2.8 or larger) and a dropper post fits the bill quite well.

Is it all a hoax or is there method to the madness?

7. It’s all just marketing hype and BS

This one, we believe is false since many of the greatest mountain bike innovations like suspension, disc brakes, dropper posts, 1x gearing and tubeless were considered by many as marketing hype at one point. But we understand the disdain for changing hub and bottom bracket standards and incompatibility.

What do you think?

About the author: Mtbr

Mtbr.com is a site by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. We are the best online resource for information for mountain bikers of all abilities, ages and interests.


  • Kirk says:

    1 x gearing is not an innovation, it’s regression. I have one very modern full suspension MTB and I hate the 1x setup and I hate being forced to comply with the delusion that 1x is superior. I can’t even mount a front derailleur on it for a twin ring setup. I see everyone riding these bikes with stupid pie plate sized cassettes and in our area they hardly ever use more than three or four speeds. No gear for pedaling on fast down hill sections. It’s ridiculous. By the way, I use a 36 chainring and 12-34 cassette on my 11 speed 1x to more closely match the range of the triple on my 29r hard tail. I gave up one speed on the top end and one on the low end and it works for my area. The worst thing about a 1x is you have the worst possible chain line in your biggest and smallest gear. With a triple you have a much better chain line in the biggest and smallest gears. In the middle ring, of course, you match that of a 1x. I will never buy another bike that I cannot mount a front derailleur on.

    • Simon says:

      Factually incorrect.
      It is innovation, by definition. (500% difference, etc) Obviously one you don’t like. Fair enough.
      Highest and lowest on a 1x is not the “worst possible chain line”. That would be: Biggest front on a triple to biggest on the rear. Something I doubt you (or I) would do, but lots of people do. (Or smallest to smallest)

      1x works well for me, and many others. Where do you have your dropper control? (Or something else you don’t like?)

    • RippinRobbyBrown says:

      10/10 You had me for a moment.

    • TK says:

      To each his own and I wish you well, Kirk. But personally, I’ll never go back to 2X or 3X (unless the technology gets better). To me, 1X is right there with suspension, disc brakes, and dropper posts for key innovations. Ride well!

      • Francis Cebedo says:

        >> To each his own and I wish you well, Kirk. But personally,

        1x is that rare combination of strong, light, cheap. And works so much better. Helped improved bike design too with better tire clearance and shorter chainstays.

    • Chuck Church says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I got a fairly recent Giant Anthem used recently. My first 29er and first 1x. I ride mostly cross country and really have been thinking about a smaller cassette as well. Between being a fairly strong rider/climber and not riding anywhere super steep or moderately steep and long, I find myself never using the lowest 3 cogs. Any issues going from the huge cassette to the 12-34, derailleur or shifting wise?

    • Ronny Ronnison says:

      That is just your opinion; personally I strongly disagree and really enjoy my 1x set up. I can tell you are a joy of a person because in your own post you admit to judging other riders for their set ups. Hope I never run into you on the trails!


    • bikebudha1 says:

      1x is simply the worst. You NEVER have the right gear. You are always forced to spin to hard, or to mash to hard. Thank god my Niner still allows me to run a triple…

      • Francis Cebedo says:

        >> 1x is simply the worst. You NEVER have the right gear.

        Could not disagree with you more. Gotta try that new Shimano 1×12 to find the definition of shift nirvana.

      • Duncan sinclair says:

        Is this an old post or do you find an up to 520% ratio over 12 gears and you are still NEVER in the right gear? I live in steep hilly, rooty, sometimes wet, sometimes hard over soft single track, and the gears I use least are the two smallest. The pizza bailout cog was a welcome relief to all of us locally, there are inclines we can now handle climbing a few hundred metres which used to floor the best of us. Downhill is typically way too twisty to need a small cog.

    • Sean Birnbaum says:

      The 1x concept for drivetrain may not be innovative, but it’s PAIRING with a greatly expanded range in the cassette to 500%+ in 11 and 12spd variations IS innovative over the 8, 9, and even 10spd drivetrains of yore that provided similar range with multiple chainrings with greater mechanical complexity and more frustrating adjustments. Innovation does not always mean greater complexity.

  • Alan Schmautz says:

    I strongly disagree with your comments concerning clipless pedals. Having your feet locked into the pedals allows you to position the bike using leg strength rather than just steering. And it is valuable for un-wieghting the bike when necessary. At high speed there is no bouncing off the pedals, which can be very dangerous. I learned on clipped pedals in road riding and clipless in the mountains. Now I use clipless in both and don’t like to ride either place without being firmly attached to the bike. The difference between power and control is very evident. Can the clipless pedals cause you to crash? Maybe at first, but soon when you do something aggressive and go over the bars you will realize that you unclipped without thinking about it in process.

    • Fred H says:

      They are just propagating the flat pedal myth.

    • Shawn Malloy says:

      I think your response really depends on the type of riding you do. I ride very technical Northeast trails where the need to get off the bike quickly can mean the difference between a severe injury or a simple dismount. I have never been so injured when I used clipless on the terrain I ride and I was plenty good at clipless. That said, I agree with your general assessment regarding power and staying on the pedals. I actually use toe-cap style clips. Ultimate in between option for where I ride. I’ve never come off the pedals and never been stuck on the bike. It is not the optimal power of clipless, but more than flats. You also have the ability to modulate your weight around on the pedal – something lost in clipless.

    • Simon says:

      I’m a long term “clip in” guy.
      I’ve had the front start to slide, and my foot was unclipped and on the ground in the blink of an eye, with no thought.
      Last year, I went “over the bars” (unexpectedly!!). According to my surgeon “One foot stayed attached, and that’s why your Hamstring isn’t”.

      I’ve had a very revealing journey learning flats. Most enjoyable was my coach teaching me the subtleties of foot angles (Front heel down rear up for stability. Both up for “raking” On a “bunny hop”. Pretty comfortable on flats now.

      With the surgery healed, and the techniques learned, I’m back on my favourite “Egg Beaters”

      I’ve learned to use the dropper more, and keep my weight lower, and further back – hopefully I can avoid anymore OTB action!

    • Yerts says:

      > Having your feet locked into the pedals allows you to position the bike using leg strength rather than just steering.

      Do you mean like a nose pivot? On flats, just shift weight forward, twist the shoulders, lift the rear wheel with your feet and whip it around.

      > And it is valuable for un-wieghting the bike when necessary

      I can bunny hop my full sus Foxy to 15″ on flats. There’s no need for clipless to unweight the bike.

      Power? Yes, absolutely. Control? Nonsense. I admit flats do tend to cheese grater the shins. Mine look like the surface of the moon.

      I’m not sure you understand how riding flats actually works.

    • Mike C says:

      Alan, you are so right on this. I have never understood the flat pedal revolution. The other benefit to clipless is more efficient pedal stroke. I was following a friend who was on flats one day and his feet came off the pedals on a little jump (I am talking about 1 footer) and he augured in. I hit the brakes, stopped and un-clipped.

      • Francis Cebedo says:

        >> I was following a friend who was on flats one day and his feet came off the pedals on a little jump (I am talking about 1 footer) and he augured in.

        I was following a rider this year and he couldn’t unclip fast enough after his rear tire slipped on a trail with exposure. He couldn’t put his foot down so he fell 50 feet down the side of the hill. Lucky to be alive.

        Lots of stories here and there for sure. The person on flats you were following was probably a clipless rider trying flats. Had no idea how to stay glued to the bike since was used to being locked on and lifting up with the feet. The idea with flats is one uses physics and timing to preload the bike and let the bike come up to you. It really teaches amazing technique that most riders on clipless forget.

        Anyway, the key of the article is folks have choice now and are not ‘forced’ into clipless like a decade or two ago.

      • Duncan sinclair says:

        Wow, almost exactly the opposite happened to some guy I heard about somewhere once. I guess just one tale tells you nothing….🥴

    • Craig Cole says:

      I have to agree with Alan. I have been riding clipless for 18 years (I started mountain biking at 42) and yes I had one fall at a stop sign, but that is it. I ride twice a week with a group of about 15 consistent riders and many started switching to flats a few years back, and now some are switching back to clipless because of the stability and feet coming off. They find that they tend to take their feet off the pedals because they can (in a tight situation or not) instead of “riding through it”. Also they notice it on jumps and they are surprised by the amount of maintenance flats take. Just my $0.02.

      • Duncan sinclair says:

        Tell us when ALL of your friends decide to go back to clipless for all types of riding! Or every world champion in every discipline. I‘m neutral, I have clipless and flats and 2 full sus bikes (one an old beast) and a lightweight xc hardtail (3 bikes I share with my son). Any rider can decide either way, no rule.

  • jiw71 says:

    1. Self-taught is best – just learn by riding…….not a myth at all! Having been at the sport now for many years I have yet to know someone who has “taken lessons”. We learn from riding with someone more skilfull and ………most important: REPITITION! Get out there and ride.

    • Simon says:

      Repeating the same mistake is sometimes not learning at all.
      I’ve been riding pushbikes in the dirt for more than 40 years.
      Racing Motocross still/ and for a long time.

      The lessons I took after my last big crash have been the best thing I have ever bought.

    • dsut4393 says:

      If that’s what you believe, please step up to the chalk board and write it out 100 times:

    • Debby says:

      I believe your idea is incorrect. Even seasoned riders can benefit from taking a lesson. Other riders are not necessarily skilled in the proper basics. Especially if they have been riding since the beginning. New technology has changed the way we ride and it is good to learn the proper skills. I have been riding since 1985 and know a lot of people who have taken lessons or hired a coach. Repetition doesn’t help if you are doing it wrong.

      • Francis Cebedo says:

        >> Repetition doesn’t help if you are doing it wrong.

        Agree so much with you. But one can never teach someone who is unwilling to learn cause they know it all already. Even though what they know is half wrong.

  • Fred H says:

    Retro grouch. Haters gonna hate.

  • BikefitterErik says:

    A full suspension “Trail bike” is the absolute worst bike to start out on. The best bike for a beginner is a hard tail with “plus tires”, a dropper seat post, and a 1x drivetrain. It will be lighter than an older full suspension, and cost less new than the trail bike will cost used.

    The plus sized tires will give the beginner extra traction and more confidence when trying to learn how to pick lines.

    The hardtail will be less expensive to fix and maintain which will increase their enjoyment on the sport and put the focus on having fun. The hardtail will show the rider how to naturally choose lines on the trail and show them that standing up when going over rough terrain is the best policy. Where as a full suspension bike will wrongly encourage a beginner to sit the whole way and cause incorrect weight distribution when encountering the same terrain.

    The dropper seatpost will help the beginner in tackling new a intimidating features and trail conditions. Plus it’ll help them with cornering and steep descents that’s they’ll try with their more experienced friends.

    The 1x drivetrain is easier to use, learn, and maintain. They only have 1x shifter to figure out gear changes and only 10/11/12 gears to learn. When they do have to replace chains and cassettes the lower level components cost FAR less. This all keeps the focus on trying new things, learning, and having fun! That’s the whole point of riding, isn’t it?

  • Will says:

    Amendment to the hardtail section: many trails do not necessitate a full sus and you are better off saving money on upfront cost as well as long term maintenance buying a hardtail, especially as a beginner who may not want to do much more than flowy singletrack. Upgrade when necessary, but save your money until you really need it.


    Self-taught is best – just learn by riding:
    This is a total myth. I have done so much more by watching MTB videos and reading articles that helped me build my skills. I learned how to climb switchbacks from Mountain Bike Action Magazine while reading at the supermarket. That helped me tremendously among other things. You cannot learn to position yourself properly going down sketchy terrain or off drops by just riding your bike. Uh, the guy who said “REPETITION!” is full of it. If you send a guy who has never watched a drop tutorial and you send him off a 2″ drop, he’s most likely going OTB and will never learn by doing it again…..because they will never try again and be successful unless they learn from a tutorial or watch someone else. These skills cannot be self taught.

  • Steve W says:

    Ok, I must say I have more fun riding my 10 year old Pugsley than the new Trek that i bought in 2016 (Stashe). I have learned by watching other riders and talking to people on the trail. I have clips on all of my road bikes and flats on all of my mountain bikes. I think dropper posts are AMAZING – and my man bits agree.
    I have in IGH hub on the pugs and so far – about 100 miles in – is really cool – and is a 1X5 drive train. (22 in the front 18 back – 5 internal gears 4.8 Lou on front and Nate on the back) – not going to win a triathlon any time soon..

    I think the vibe we need to push is – enjoy your life – ride a bike with a smile no matter how much it sucks – don’t judge other people – listen to them.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >> Succinctly put. You are dialed.

      And watching others ride and learning from them is a form of skills training/coaching.

      I’ve asked many experts how they do certain things and they often take me under their wing and coach me once they know I’m willing to learn and listen.

      Some pros though, I ask and they don’t have a clue what they’re doing and how to explain it. Just natural athletes, not natural coaches.

  • syborg says:

    Myth #8: Carbon bikes are best

  • CtotheJ says:

    #8: E-bikes are not motorcycles.


    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >> #8: E-bikes are not motorcycles.

      agree 1000%

      Aren’t ebikes just for the disabled and senior citizens? 🙂

  • ProfessorAA says:

    Wonder what the author would think of my 1995 full suspension San Andreas mountain bike with fixed seat post. Been riding clipped in for 25 years now. Guess that makes me an expert.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >> Wonder what the author would think of my 1995 full suspension San Andreas mountain bike with fixed seat post.

      That’s what you’re still riding? Lusted over that bike and time has proven that your bike was way ahead of its time.

  • Shannon Hoyle says:

    Flat or clipless ???
    They both fix an issue and create a problem at the same time, so it really comes down to which set of positives and negatives you can adjust to and live with. For me, flats are my goto as soon as it gets rough. Oh and whats this feet flying off the pedals you speak of?? I ride rock gardens full on on flats and some of the most technical trail BC has to offer all on flats. My feet stay put because of proper technique and mindset not because of a mechanical attachment. I spent many years on clippless but really only enjoy their benefits on gravel and road rides. Someone in the comments said you can use more body English on clippless pedals then flats, I’d beg to differ that because of the free float it is actually harder to apply that weight where needed on the pedals because of the extra play to accommodate pedaling without damaging the knees. With a proper pair of riding shoes and a well made flat with large pins you are apart of those pedals and even the slightest of English is pushed through those pedals and to the tires. I’m not hacking your preference just your reasoning. Ride what makes comfortable and let others do the same.

  • sirios says:

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to mountain bike ? Bull.,
    Ride ANY bike in the mountains / trails / hills etc and you are mountain biking .
    When i rode down the hills in southern and northern california in the fifties , on my schwinn steel frame , was i Mountain Biking or was i riding my bike in the mountains .
    Doesn’t matter HOW you define it ,if you enjoy riding any style bike on trails etc then that’s ALL that matters . Everything else is hype .

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >> here’s a right way and a wrong way to mountain bike

      Yes, there’s a proper way to hit a jump, a drop, rock garden or corner.

      But they are not required of course. Nothing is and that is one of the appeals of biking. Just don’t go too far though with the wrong technique or equipment or hospital bills will get out of hand.

  • jim says:

    My kid learned to use clipless/spds when he was 7 and curious about it, -it’s really not that hard, just set the release tension really loose and practice a little bit, the myth is that they’re hard to learn to use.
    Re knee pads: show me a pic of a cat2 or better xc racer anywhere near the front with knee pads, – not sure what the ‘myth’ part is about knee pads, I don’t know anyone who uses them other than for enduro or heavier, and nobody seems to have any knee damage.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >> My kid learned to use clipless/spds when he was 7 and curious about it…

      Very sorry to hear that. Kids get so locked in with the bikes when using flats. Now they have to change to special shoes and lose the ability to just hop on the bike, go the pump track, do some jumps. But if hedoes some high-level XC race, then yes, that would come in handy.

    • Skooks says:

      Agree that clipless pedals are not hard to learn. Either are flat pedals (although I would argue they are more difficult to use well). Lots of people prefer flats and ride better on them than they would on clipless.

      Regarding knee pads, obviously location dependant. I don’t know any serious riders around here who doesn’t use them, and I have seen some pretty serious knee damage on people who didn’t.

      • Francis Cebedo says:

        >>Agree that clipless pedals are not hard to learn. Either are flat pedals (although I would argue they are more difficult to use well). Lots of people prefer flats and ride better on them than they would on clipless.

        Regarding knee pads, obviously location dependant. I don’t know any serious riders around here who doesn’t use them, and I have seen some pretty serious knee damage on people who didn’t.

        Much, much insight here. Thank you.

  • Berry Williams says:

    Ask ten people what the best word processor software is, and you will get the same answer from each of them; The first one they learned. No surprise to see the same attitudes in biking. I *was* one of the people who applied #7 to dropper posts, until I kept fiddling with mine until it clicked, now I wouldn’t live without it. But the bottom line is this – don’t give anyone grief for what they are riding, they are already far ahead of everyone still home on the couch. Enjoy the ride!

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >> Ask ten people what the best word processor software is, and you will get the same answer from each of them; The first one they learned….

      You nailed it right there. “it’s how i learned so everyone should do the same.” Human nature perhaps but flawed. Good to show new folks a better path. They are very lucky. 🙂

  • John Eckert says:

    Hi I have been MT biking most of my life and I agree with the commenters. I too need a triple for all 5ish gears I use and do not trust grade school math regarding gear range; it is fake math.
    I have been riding clipless my whole life so I do not have much opinion on platforms but I am sure BMX and free riders could do way more awesomer trix if they duck taped their feet to their pedals.
    I am also very proud of the fact that I made it to UCI level racing without ever taking a lesson or watching someone else’s line choice. In fact I grew up on the moon where no one better or worse than me ever gave me advice. Golly I could not even watch YouTube videos under my moon rock Apartment.

  • Gordon says:

    sorry I disagree, Kirk, 1x’s are awesome. Sorry if you don’t live in a place where you need all of your gears but I assure you I need all of mine. Not having the unnecessary weight and added complexity of a front derailleur is huge, and its one less thing for me to break. And, Alan, clipless pedals have their place but they can be a crutch. I’ll agree with you that you have slightly more power but I’d argue that with enough practice one could do the same on flats. Learning how to ride properly on flats is pretty liberating and is quick to point out bad technique.

  • jonnieoh says:

    1.) IMHO, 1x is better—no more dropped chains on really tough ascents, or massive chain-slap on the chainstay when bombing downhill at high speed. Plus, a cleaner handlebar and less cables. And let’s not forget about a weight savings.
    2.) I started out with flat pedals and toe clips/straps decades ago. I then upgraded to clipless pedals, because “THEY” say anyone without clipless pedals is forever a newb and just pretending. For years, I suffered with them, on our wet, rooty northeast trails and had grown to hate them. Unclipping fiascos in really rooty sections meant falling onto roots, rocks or trees, getting all bruised and scratched up or worse. Finally, I said “eff this sh*t” and gave up caring about what “THEY” think. I got some Race Face Chester flats, some FiveTen shoes, and riding is enjoyable again! I can put my foot down when I need to, (what a novel idea). You “pros” out there, enjoy your clipless death trap pedals, and keep judging us guys who just want to go riding trails without fear of the unclipping-crash anymore. We’ll see you at the trailhead, with a lot less bruises, cuts, scrapes and concussions because we have common sense. For me, clipless pedals are for roadies (of which I also am). But in the meantime, stop caring about flat pedal appreciators out on the MTB trails.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >>1.) IMHO, 1x is better—no …

      So very true. 1×12 especially is now a mature solution. The riding experience is better and the bikes have improved with shorter stays and more tire clearance.

      Yes, I too went clipless 20 years ago along with 100% of my peers since that was the path back then. Very unfortunate and led to many accidents. Worse is everyone lost the ability to ride with the bike. It’s good riders now can choose either path of clipless or flats for their situation.

  • Walter Peters says:

    Johnieoh, I would say that the massive chain slap is prevented by a clutch derailleur and not by a 1X setup. A 2X setup with a clutch derailleur would yield same result.

  • Taylor Hall says:

    I think most points are pretty spot on. I ride both clipless and flats. It depends on the discipline but I like both for different things. Flats are dang efficient, and usually my climbs are very close between the two. I do like the thought of not thinking about my foot position on climbing with clipless.

  • Anna B. says:

    Depends on the riding style but clipless is a must if you like to climb with your bike. Plenty of “extreme” riders clip in as well, as it hugely increases control and efficiency. Therefore I strongly disagree with Nr. 5.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >>Depends on the riding style but clipless is a must if you like to climb with your bike.

      They key is folks should have choice now and not be forced into clipless.

      Clipless is a couple percent more efficient for climbing. For high level xc racing, that means everything. For most everyone else, not much really.

  • C says:

    this comment thread made me dumber.

  • Janet says:

    Re: Flats vs Clipless

    I did a skills camp and everyone had to ride flats. At the time, I was riding my fatty in all four seasons and always used flats. The day-long session was fascinating.

    I have never heard so much whining and complaining. Or seen so many struggles. The instructor explained how easy it was to cheat and develop bad habits when clipped in. And it was true.

    Some people were pulling up on their pedal strokes instead of pushing over the top and through the bottom. And they were using their clips to hop or roll over things instead of using proper technique. A couple people had been cheating for so long that they couldn’t actually ride flats! I was floored.

    I am not pointing this out in judgement; it’s merely an observation. Full disclosure I still ride flats. I shattered my kneecap and had it rebuilt with screws and wires. I’m still in physio 21 months after surgery. The ability to adjust my foot positions and ride with a mid-foot stance on my bad side means I’m back on a bike (with confidence).

    And being on a bike is better than on the sidelines.

  • statusk says:

    I think these kinds of articles are silly. To each their own and if you have fun, that is all that matters.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >>I think these kinds of articles are silly. To each their own and if you have fun, that is all that matters.

      Personal choice is great if one knows what the choices are and what the trade-offs of each are. But for beginners and intermediates that are just crawling around in the dark, riding what fell upon their lap, understanding how choices affect their experience is good.

  • Jam says:

    Why is 1x considered inovation? Why is it different to just having a single up front like dh bikes from the mid 2000`s? All my bikes had a single up front and between 7 and 11 on the rear depending. I actively removed front rings because I disliked the clutter, wanted more clearance\a bashplate and rarely used them(correctly) anyway.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      What’s different is the narrow/wide chainring. It grabs the chain like no other before it and prevents it from making noise and falling. Also there is the clutch derailleur which allows movement during shifting but not during descending. Finally, there are now lightweight, massive rear chainrings with 50+ teeth in the rear. 9-tooth small cog too delivers insane range.

  • dang says:

    I agree. I ride all over New England and except for when I raced at Ski resorts my gearing is 29/27 for 26″ and 26/27 and 27/28 on 29er. I could not afford to have a 11-48 cassette on my bikes because I’m going through 4 chains and 2 cassettes or more a year

  • Dave Hutson says:

    Agreed with some comments re 1x. I ve “upgraded” from my 3×12 and regret the move to simple minded driving every day. Reminds me of the 80s when I wished I had more than 1x
    I ride XC, trail (red) and Roads.

  • Tim D says:

    Ride whatever you want to, however you want to. 90%+ of people are never going to race in any sort of discipline. I started riding trails on a fully rigid 29er SS and loved it. I mainly ride a hardtail now, but would love to get a full suspension rig in my stable as I’ve began to ride more gravity trails from time to time. Even so…a full rigid SS on XC trails is still a hell of a lot of fun. Arguing about this or that is completely pointless.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >>Ride whatever you want to, however you want to. 90%+ of people are never going to race

      Agree but it’s ok to discuss these things or give advice. Most people who are just starting out don’t know what to ride or how to ride. They don’t even know what questions to ask or how to phrase them. Often they are steered wrong since they follow racers but they themselves are never going to race.

      There are many diverging paths and it’s good to know when you are taking a big decision path and what are the trade-offs of each choice.

  • Cory H says:

    Myth #8 Hardtail=Beginner/Budget Full Suspension=A Real Bike
    While full suspension is faster, and more comfortable, hardtails can be more fun. Many riders forget why they are out on the trails. Fun. Trail obstacles are what make mountain biking, mountain biking. Embrace them, otherwise we might as well be riding a paved road. Read any magazine/website review on a hardtail/rigid bike, and they will always say how much fun they are to ride. These same magazines/websites, on the other hand, will never recommend them unless for a budget option. Why? Faster isn’t always more fun. Embrace the trails as they are, full of ruts, rocks and roots.

  • Older'nslower says:

    “Dropper posts are only for riders who don’t have descending skills.” Does anyone actually say that in 2020?
    I have one bike set up with a 3x and clipless and the other set up with a 1x and flats. The 3x I use on gravel and less challenging trails. The 1x is a pure trailbike. Guess what? They’re both fun!
    Speaking of marketing B.S. – remember all the gaudy anodized parts back in the ’90s? Yeah, that stuff really made a difference in performance. What about internal cable routing? Sure, it looks pretty, but it adds a good bit of time to cable replacement. I have never had an externally routed cable snag on anything (knocks on wood). But yeah, overall, bikes are far better than they used to be.

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      >> “Dropper posts are only for riders who don’t have descending skills.” Does anyone actually say that in 2020?

      Yes, unfortunately. We heard it many times this week in our ‘Top Dropper Post’ articles. Mostly it’s XC guys who believe they are legendary descenders for the last 20 years and have nothing else to learn.

  • Loll says:

    During one of the early days of racing back in the 90s, Bob Roll (Proflex Team) smoke the field on a steep hill climb time trial during stage 1 of a mountain bike stage race. His secrete was to ride on the big chainring up front and gain enough momentum to rock this setup up the steep hill.

    Since that time, I have always rode in big ring until 1x became the only setup that works on most fames. For those in Norcal, pedaling up the fireroad back to the car at demo is one of those hills perfect for a big ring and running about 28 or so tooth in the back. The small ring and small 14 or so cog in the back simply can’t duplicate this momentum. Another example is the short but steep fireroad climb by the lake at waterdog. For those short but full-out efforts, the big ring and the momentum really let one fly uphill like a mad man. A 32 chainring up front these days simply can’t take advantage of those momentum.

    May be it doesn’t need to be a full 42 ring, but is the reason why Nino and a few others run 36 or 38 teeth chainring up front. Even going back to my own amateur level racing from long ago, my chain was almost always on the large chainring except for the steep hill climbs. May be no more 3x, but a 2x with a 36 up front is still my preference.

    To be honest I missed this setup dearly. Other than Kennedy, my chain was on the large chainring most of the times.

  • GettingUpThere says:

    Can we all agree to change the name from “clipless” pedals to either “cageless” pedals or “clip-in” pedals? “Flat” pedals is fine for flat pedals. Thanks.

  • Olmanandhisbike says:

    Ride what you want where you want with whomever you want. The trail you don’t ride today is a trail you may never ride.
    Evolution is good
    1991 Raleigh Technium Peak first 4 years of Mt biking
    23 year Break to raise a family 🙂 and work to much:(
    2018 Norcro Range 160/160 with upgrades – Fox elite 36
    Scam GX 1×12
    Maxxis DH
    boost sun tours
    Takes this old man places I could only dream of at 30
    3 years back in the saddle – 45 different trails in 8 states – some multiple times plus home trails.
    Travel in sales and bike goes with me.
    Best shape since I was in my 40 and probably saved my life!
    Just ride.

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