Are you looking to start mountain biking but you’re worried about your budget? That’s legitimate as mountain biking can be an expensive sport. However, you don’t have to overspend to enjoy life out on the trails. Here’s how to save big so you can ride big!
Figure Out What You Really Need
Everyone needs a good bike, a good helmet, and something to wear while riding. As far as essentials go, that’s about it. A bike can be a major investment, but you can rebuild an older one if you have the time, patience, and someone who will give you one.
This can actually be a significant learning experience because you will end up knowing more about bike maintenance than the average rider. You’ll also know your bike really well because you will have selected and installed all the parts yourself.
Learn Bike Maintenance
Learn to take care of your bike yourself. The more you learn, the more you’ll save on maintenance fees. Sure, you’ll probably want a professional to look it over at least once a season and you’ll want to know someone who can take on tough jobs when you can’t, but knowing how to change brake lines and install new parts will cost you less in the long run.
If possible, develop relationships at your local bike shop. Some mechanics will even let you watch them work for a while if you ask them nicely. Many shops have classes on basic and advanced bike maintenance, and it’s worth investing in hands-on instruction because you’ll feel more confident doing it on your own later.
Don’t Pay to Ride
When you ask about the best trails, a lot of people will direct you to the local bike park. While these are great, they also cost money. Dig a little bit deeper and see if you can find out where the locals ride. Chances are, the trails are just as good or better and you won’t have to pay a thing. Just be sure to show up on clean-up day or donate a bit for trail maintenance.
If you do want to ride in a state or national park, consider buying a yearly pass. These are a lot cheaper per visit if you plan to go there often, and then you don’t have to worry about paying fees again for a year.
Use What You Have
Don’t have the money to buy bike shorts? Exercise shorts will do, especially when you’re starting out. Not sure you can invest in $250 sunglasses? A lot of riders can’t and they find that regular sunnies work just fine.
If you want to save money, use what you already have until you’ve saved up to buy what you really want. Then, when you buy, research your purchase to make sure you’re getting exactly what you need and what will work well for you for a long time.
Save Old Parts
You’ll never know when they’ll come in handy. Seriously. Most riders keep trays or buckets of bolts, cables, and other salvaged parts around. Sure, your next ride may not be an exact match, but maybe your parts will come in handy for someone else you know.
Anything you don’t have to buy new saves you money. A few bolts don’t cost much but add that up over multiple repairs and they are definitely worth hanging on to.
Choose Gifts Wisely
Is a holiday coming up where you’re supposed to get presents? Ask for all of the bike gear you don’t want to have to buy yourself. Ok, don’t ask for ALL of it…that might overwhelm even the most robust gift-giver in your circle.
Make sure you have options at various price points or ask givers for money to put towards something specific. When people know they are giving toward a specific purchase, they will be happier to give you cash or gift cards. Be sure to take a photo to send to the gift-givers after you finally make your purchase.
Ride in the Off-Season
Want to visit Moab but the cost of getting there and staying there is too much? Try going during a shoulder season (read: not the high season, but not the mud-and-snow season, either). Prices will be lower and the trails will be less crowded, too.
Do some research before you take any biking trips to find out when riding is best and when you’ll be less likely to just be one of the crowd. You’ll save money and have a better riding experience, too.
Buy Drip Lube
Aerosol spray lube seems cheap, but you can’t aim it very well. Drip lube is more concentrated and can cost more for a single bottle, but one or two drops can give you all the lubrication you need. Because you can precisely place each drop, you’ll be able to get them where you need them, rather than having to spray half a can of lube all over the place to make sure you hit your targets.
Mountain biking can be an expensive sport, but it doesn’t have to be. Focus on the essentials and learn to take care of your bike on your own, and you’ll spend less throughout your entire biking experience.
How do you keep the cost of your hobby down? Leave a comment below!