There are significant differences between on-road riders and off-road riders; the latter breed is fast, dusty and adventurous, preferring to mix it up over a variety of terrains, challenging their skills over the next jump or sharp decline. The former is sedate, friendly, but no less speedy, zipping around streetwalk mazes and tarmac race tracks, blurring the lines between leisure and sport. Whether you’re dipping into 99 Bikes on the weekend (or right now), or researching the next must have gift for your resident cycling enthusiast, this list of must haves will inspire a light bulb moment and perhaps the flurry of feet and credit cards.
Wearing the right clothing is an important part of off-road riding. Riders must wear gloves made of a heavier construction that cover the thumbs and fingers, and have padding on the knuckles. Freeride and downhill mountain bike riders should use goggles as well as full-face helmets, and have strong gripped soles in their shoes similar to hiking boots. This will make it easier to manoeuvre around the off-road terrain.
Off-road riders need more than a helmet and good pair of shoes. Hydration systems are essential, ranging from simple water bottles to water bags equipped with drinking tubes, such as a Camelbak that can be worn as a lightweight backpack. GPS navigation devices are essential for those unfamiliar with the area. They display the trail and monitor progress, keeping track of the distance and time. Bike tools, such as a pump and extra bike tubes, are very important, as bikers usually find themselves off the map with flat tires or other mechanical problems, and can’t always access help straight away.
Protective gear varies greatly by style, and is chosen based on factors such as the terrain of the trail, the environment, weather, experience, technical skill, perceived risk, potential obstacles, skill, and desired style. Cross-country helmets and long fingered gloves are warn are the simplest forms of protection, though for more competent riders, there are many other types available.
Body protection is just as important as a helmet or gloves, and armoured suits or jackets can potentially save your life. Certain types of clothing are more suited to ‘gravity’ oriented sports, such as those that include jumps and drops, where a rider’s weight can potentially cause a crash if the bike lands the wrong way.
Body armour includes spine protectors made of plastic or metal with foam padding that can be worn in such an articulate way it moves with the rider. Helmets are a universal must with riders, yet off-road requires a different type of helmet, such as a cross-country, domed skateboard style, or a full faced helmet. These are well-ventilated and designed to be light and comfortable to wear in hot weather.
First aid kits are one of the first things a rider needs to acquire before going off-road. Riders can experience cuts and abrasions, including broken limbs and even spinal injuries. In case of such incidents, riders need to know exactly how to care for themselves before medical assistance arrives.
Have we missed your cycling essential? Let us know in the comments below and educate your fellow riders!