Choose your bike
A proper bike is very important, that’s self-evident. But how do you choose one? If you have a reputable local store with knowledgeable people working there – you’re in luck. Create a list of goals you hope to achieve, explain to them your prior preparation and how you envision you cycling routines and together with them you will be able to get something that suits your needs perfectly. However, the sad truth is that people who work in specialized stores like that don’t always have the most up-to-date knowledge. Or, if they earn their salary based on commission, they might try and convince you to get a very expensive option you might not need at all. In light of this, it becomes evident that having a good prior understanding of some of the basic requirements for a good backcountry bike is essential.
Backcountry cycling is usually synonymous with mountain biking, so chances are this is what you’ll be looking for as well. A couple of aspects to consider here are durability and weight – the former because you’ll be cycling a lot on hard and uneven surfaces, and the latter because there might be times when you need to carry your bike for quite some time. Durability gets more emphasis though; my advice is to get your first bike with aluminum frame, because it has a good strength-to-weight ratio and is considerably cheap. However, if you are looking at the long-term perspectives, carbon fiber might be your go to. It is the most popular material for mountain bike frames – low density means more absorbed vibrations; its chemical composition makes it extremely durable yet extremely light. All that comes with a price though.
Choose wheel size wisely. The general rule is that you go for bigger hoops for long distances and smaller for hitting uneven trails. They are usually measured in inches, with 27.5in corresponding to the smaller and sturdier options, and 29in as the more advisable ones for long and less rocky trails. Also, consider how flexible and sturdy steering feels – with all the vibration from the road, you’ll need to put more effort than necessary into keeping your bike straight if you don’t get one that feels stable.
Choose your gear
Bike might the most important piece of equipment to own for backcountry cycling, but it’s not the only one, that’s for sure. Right after you get your bike, start looking into helmets – it is impossible to put enough emphasis on how important a good helmet is in any kind of sport, and even more so in backcountry cycling, since you are quite far away from civilization. Choose one that absorbs impact well, because the chance of falling is a lot higher here than many other forms of cycling. You will also need a solid pare of shades, because sun in your eyes can be dangerous for driving as well as hurt your eyes long term. The importance of pants or shorts cannot be overlooked as well. Since you’ll spend most of you time sitting, get pants that are stretchy enough and you don’t even feel like you’re wearing them. If you decide to go for shorts, make sure they cover your legs past the spots that will be touching the seat, otherwise irritation of skin is guaranteed, and it can even result in blisters. Finally, get gloves that provide you with a good grip to make sure you’re always in control of the bike. Once you feel prepare, start your journey towards the most fun and the craziest backcountry biking experiences!