“Mountain Biking on a Budget” is often the first thing people search when they want to start Mountain Biking, especially in my case.
It was those crazy Mountain Bike videos on YouTube that first piqued my interest in Mountain Biking.
Having dropped biking as a kid in exchange for Skateboarding and eventually work, seeing the latest Mountain Bikes blew my mind. With things like Dropper seats, disc brakes and even electronic gearing, Mountain Biking appeared to be more popular than ever.
However…my excitement was short lived.
After a quick search on sites like Trek and REI, I realized just how expensive Mountain Biking can be.
“Entry-Level” Mountain Bikes going for thousands of dollars and gear that would quickly add up to a couple hundred as well, I knew it would be a while before I had anything that cool for myself.
Ready to get out on the trail as soon as possible without breaking the bank, I set out on a quest to find the best way to start Mountain Biking on a Budget.
With my dedication to Mountain Biking and success in sticking to that budget, here are a few steps and tips I offer, to help you on your journey.
Buying a Mountain Bike on a Budget
The first and most expensive part of the process is getting a Mountain Bike.
Saving money on a Mountain Bike is going to have the biggest impact on your total cost.
And if you’ve ever been to a Mountain Bike Trail or even if you’ve seen some of your buddy’s bikes, you may be preparing to drop a few thousand dollars on one.
While this can certainly apply to those of us who can afford it, this does not always have to be the case.
In fact, there are a few sure-fire ways you can save money on your first Mountain Bike.
Buy During Sales
One of the best ways to save money on a Mountain Bike is to catch them during a sale.
While sales vary manufacturer to manufacturer, Mountain Bikes are like cars in the fact that sales will take place on the previous year’s models, just as they are starting to roll out the newer models.
Though this Is not a guarantee, you can expect most Mountain Bikes and Local Bike Shops to start posting sales from Late Summer all the way until the end of the year.
In fact, during this fall season, I have seen Mountain Bikes 30-65% off.
And don’t worry about getting an outdated model, Mountain Bikes don’t change too much year from year, so a late model will still be up to standards.
As an added bonus, these bikes are in tip top condition, and if you buy from a bike shop, they usually provide maintenance for a certain period after sale.
Another really great and popular option for saving money on a Mountain Bike, is to buy a used one.
With websites like Craigslist and VarageSale, you can really take advantage of the whole “one mans trash” saying. Even better, the previous owner has already accepted most of the bikes depreciation and you can even negotiate for better pricing.
This is actually the route that I took when I first started Mountain Biking.
After a few weeks looking at the options in my local area, I ended up settling on a $5 Barracuda 26er from the 80’s, which is surprisingly still riding around today.
But just like me, prepare for some up-front costs when it comes to buying used.
Unlike new bikes, used Mountain Bikes will almost always require a tune-up and a safety check to be ride-ready. Not to mention any upgrades or changes you plan to make.
Borrow or Rent a Bike
The third and final way you can save money when buying a Mountain Bike, is to not buy one at all.
The ultimate way you can get started Mountain Biking on a budget, is to find a way to borrow a Mountain Bike when you ride.
Whether you can borrow a friend’s or share with another rider, this can save you thousands.
Local Bike Shops and vendors have even started programs that allow you to rent Mountain Bikes for certain periods of time.
While this sounds like a pretty good deal, there are a few drawbacks to borrowing or renting a Mountain Bike.
First – if you’re borrowing from a friend, the bike won’t be a perfect fit and you can forget making any changes or upgrades. Not to mention the dreaded situation of something breaking.
And renting is not a viable solution for the long-term, as rates can be really high throughout the year.
Regardless of which route you go when buying your first Mountain Bike, make sure you stay patient and wait for the deal and bike you’re looking for.
With plenty of ways to upgrade and bikes that can easily last decades, you don’t want to end up with something you can’t stand riding.
Budget Mountain Bike Gear
Depending on the type of riding you plan on doing, there is quite a bit of gear you will need to add to your collection to safely hit the trails.
While you may be used to seeing the Downhill racers with Full-face Helmets and chest guards, beginners can actually get away with a lot less.
And just like our previous section, you can save money on gear by borrowing or buying used.
Starting with the essentials and featuring some of the extras you may eventually need, here is a list of Mountain Bike gear that you should buy, regardless of budget. I’ll even add some Amazon links to some affordable items:
- Helmet – A helmet is non-negotiable when it comes to Mountain Biking. Safety is top priority.
- Gloves – You don’t really need cycling gloves, most protective gloves work.
- MTB Shoes – You’re looking for grip and comfort, make sure you get a solid show with a thick sole.
- Multi-Tool/Tools – A multi-tool comes with most of the tools you will need to repair. For Mountain Biking on a budget, you can even use the individual tools you have around the house.
Spare Tubes – Innertubes are too cheap not to have a backup, you will thank yourself later.
For those riders on a super strict budget, feel free to get creative when it comes to buying or finding riding gear. You would be surprised how many items you have laying around the house that work well. Similar to buying your bike, feel free to search local sales pages for used gear and make sure you negotiate.
Cheap Places to Ride
Although Mountain Biking can be an expensive sport to get into, we are fortunate enough to have plenty of Mountain Bike trails to ride for free.
In fact, there are only a few Mountain Bike Trails that charge any fees, these are often referred to as Mountain Bike Parks.
Once you’re all set with the bike and gear, head on over to SingleTracks.com and find your nearest trail.
There is a good chance you have one I your city or not too far away.
If all else fails, you can forge your own Mountain Bike Trails. That’s the beauty of Mountain Biking, just about any surface is ridable.
Budget Bike Rack
Something I initially overlooked when I first started Mountain Biking, was a Bike Rack.
Getting so wrapped up in the bike, I completely forgot how I would be moving it from one place to the next.
- Luckily, there are two really great methods for carrying your bike around for cheap.
Carry it in your car – If you have a car with the space, you can remove the wheels from your bike and store it inside. This is not the best idea if you’re riding on dirty trails though and could really tie up all the extra space in your car.
- A Trunk Rack – There are 3 main types of bike rack, trunk racks will always be the cheapest rack you can buy. They’re versatile, inexpensive, and pretty straight forward to use.
I started out with a used bike rack, but eventually upgraded to this cheap Thule rack from Amazon.
Budget Mountain Bike Maintenance
Like I mentioned earlier in this article, Mountain Bikes will require tune-ups and maintenance to make sure they’re riding smoothly and safely.
If you take a look at my article on the cost of bike tune-ups, you will see how maintenance can quickly add up to a couple hundred dollars.
For the budget Mountain Biker, you can probably get away with doing most of the maintenance and repairs yourself.
With a book like Park Tools Bike Repair Book, you can quickly learn the skills to take care of your bike by yourself.
Although the tools can be expensive, you will save money on labor costs and can even get by with the tools you have around the house.
Just make sure you take good care of your bike. The ultimate budget tip for Mountain Bike Maintenance is to perform preventative repairs, saving you costly repairs in the future.
In conclusion, it is completely possible and actually pretty easy to get started Mountain Biking on a Budget.
By being patient during the buying process and getting a little creative with the items you have on hand, you can save a lot of money when getting started.
As well, there is a good chance you have a friend itching to let you borrow their bike so you can ride.