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Mountain Bike Blog



MTB Cheaparsery Part II - Clothing, protection & kit


I've been sitting on Part II of this blog post for a long long time, but yesterday I was asked about cheap ways to get into mountain biking so I shot him a link to MTB Cheaparsery Part I and decided to get cracking on Part II.

I covered the bike in MTB Cheaparsery Part I - Read it first so you have the background, however just to recap, these articles are a reality check for newbies who want to get out on the trails and see what mountain biking is all about. It's not intended for seasoned MTBers.

In Part II I want to address riding gear and other kit. Borrowing gear is a good option and definitely re-purpose as much of your gear as you can. You should try to get on the trail without spending a cent.

Here is how I started out, what I'm wearing now and how I recommend doing it on the cheap.


IMPORTANT - you will rip, tear, stain and destroy gear so I highly recommend re-purposing your old clothes while you learn.


Originally - I re-purposed sports shirts I already had
Now - I have a heap more sports shirts I bought from the likes of Aldi, Rivers, Rebel etc. None cost more than $25. I have one expensive sports shirt that doesn't seem to do any better job of keeping me cool.
Cheaparsery - Wear an old t-shirt, maybe even a long sleeve one for more protection. You are going to get sweaty and dirty and torn.


Originally - Old boardies with an elastic waist until I ripped them on the seat. That's typically the problem with normal shorts the crotch hangs low and gets hooked on the seat. Shorts were the first mountain bike specific piece of clothing over $40 that I bought and worth the spend, however I rode for a number of years with a trusty pair of boardies. I also wore some very cheap Lycra shorts under my boardies that added padding and stopped chafing.
Now - Mountain Bike Shorts - Endura Humvee with the built in padded liners.
Cheaparsery - Boardies or similar are fine. If you need to buy something then hit up places like Lowes or Target etc for a cheap pair of shorts (you'll probably rip), but if upgrading Aldi sometimes have cheap MTB shorts or look for shorts like the Endura Humvee's (RRP $149, $100 from Anaconda, or $50 from overseas .. just saying!)


Originally - old sports socks
Now - A selection of various cheep MTB specific socks (because my old sports socks died), my favourites are Fluid from Anaconda and Endura Cool Max
Cheaparsery - Wear whatever the hell you have in your draw.


I have the reaction time of a sloth so there is no way in hell anyone is getting me into clippless (dumb name for shoes that clip in!). I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to ride clipped in when they are learning, that's MADNESS!

Originally - sneakers from Target and Spendless shoes
Now - more sneakers from Target and Spendless shoes
Cheaparsery - sneakers from Target and Spendless shoes :) I've never paid more than $30 for a pair of shoes I go mountain biking in. They get wet, dirty, smelly, worn out, torn etc. Cheap shoes can be thrown in the washing machine, dried in the microwave and left outside to de-stink. At the moment I have no plans to change this approach unless Teva wants to throw some samples my way ??

PS: I like the Converse style shoes because I can really feel when I'm well seated on the pedals. I've always felt most comfortable in these shoes but they come with some obvious downsides. My DMR V12 Mags eat through the soles very quickly but at only $15 a pair I can live with that. The biggest issue is that they provide very little protection from flying or fixed sticks, rocks and roots. So its a trade off for sure - OH Steel capped Converse ripoffs!?

Protective gear

I have a very simple rule about protective gear - wearing protective gear means you don't have to try and stop yourself being hurt. I think most injuries happen when you are trying to stop yourself getting hurt, and in my experience when you relax and just let the fall happen you tend to roll through it. If you are well protected you can afford to relax - like a skater goes down on his knees in a half pipe.


Originally - KMart helmet
Now - Multiple Aldi Helmets that cost less than $20 each
Cheaparsery - ALWAYS ride with a helmet, make sure it fits properly, buy an Australian Standards approved one from somewhere cheap. Don't assume that $$$ means better protection, the cost of an expensive helmet is often due to the expensive but low weight materials, Formula 1 inspired airflow technology and International mark-ups.

PS I've tried other cheap helmets but they don't fit my head, Aldi helmets just happen to work well for me. If the helmet doesn't sit well on your head then DON'T BUY IT!


If you don't wear prescription glasses I would highly recommend riding with a pair of sunnies or clear lens specs. Sand, rocks, insects and branches can cause real issues if they hit you in the eyes at speed.


In my opinion gloves are important, especially when learning. I hear people complain that it makes their hands sweaty? Really sweaty? Your hands will get sweaty regardless of whether you wear gloves or not, gloves will actually provide better grip when you are sweaty and most importantly when you go over the bars (and you will) some leather or pho-leather between your hands and the skin shredding ground is desirable.
Originally - I borrowed a pair off a mate, then used my dads old sailing gloves.
Now - I have about 5 pairs of MTB gloves purchased from various locations. Some full finger, some open, some very light weight for hot days on fire trails, some with high protection for rough riding. I've never spent more than $35 and all but one of my pairs cost less than $20.
Cheaparsery - maybe you have gloves from something else that will get you over the line - work-out, sailing, some outdoor/gardening/tradie gloves may be tight fitting enough to provide good grip and some descent protection. Otherwise you may need to do some leg work to find cheap ones - bike shops often have cheapies, Anaconda, Rebel, Aldi sale (but they sell out in minutes).

Shin pads

If your pedals have any form of teeth or spikes on them then I HIGHLY recommend wearing shin pads - that is unless you enjoy having holes in your shins. I wear some re-purposed soccer shin pads as they allow for good movement and also have excellent ankle protection. I find them far more comfortable than the specific Downhill knee & shin combos - you can't pedal in those things.

Knee Pads

Personally, I think knee pads are very important when starting out. They are VERY uncomfortable and extremely sweaty but its still way better than shattering your knee cap on a rock. I still wear them whenever I ride a new single track or I know there is going to be some technical stuff I want to hit at speed.
Originally - my son's skating pads
Now - Polygon MTB knee pads (at the time $40 - they are a bit more expensive now)
Cheaparsery - Beg, borrow or steal knee pads. Helmet, gloves and knee pads are the three most important protective items in my opinion.

Elbow Pads

You can spot mountain bikers a mile away by the scabs or scars on their forearms. I've only ever worn elbow pads when riding downhill, however I have taped kids shin pads to my forearms or covered them in elastoplast in an attempt to avoid ripping off scabs (shaving first really helps the tape stick). I don't think they are necessary but if you can borrow some go for it!

Other Kit

Hydration Pack

You really need water when you are riding. A water bottle is a minimum requirement, but in my experience a hydration pack is better for mountain biking as water bottles have a habit of jumping out of their cradles.  That being said you can squeeze water out of a water bottle at pressure which can work really well for cleaning a wound or mud from a dérailleur.
Originally and Now - I picked up a 2 litre pack from a parks office in Tassie for about $35.
Cheaparsery - Anaconda is gold when it comes to cheap hydration packs you should be able to pick something up for less than $40 or otherwise just use any backpack and throw a bottle of water in it.

Repair Gear

Inner Tube - While you are learning hopefully you are out with someone experienced and they will have most of the gear needed to handle a trail side repair, but check to see that someone has a spare inner tube for the size wheel you have!! There are 3 common wheel sizes and its VERY likely that your all-the-gear mate will have a different size to yours - and will probably running tubeless tyres anyway! Pick up a spare tube from your local bike shop for around $10-15.

Pump - You need a pump if you own a bike, but if yours doesn't fit in your pack make sure someone in your group does. A mini pump is something to consider buying early on if you are going to take things more seriously.

Multi-tool - Someone in your riding group is probably carrying a multi tool but its worth checking. Allen keys, chain breaker, knife, pliers are equipment that can save you a long walk out. However .. worse case scenario .. walk out!

Cable ties - I need to restock because a few weeks ago I had to rig my rear dérailleur after the cable snapped. 3 cable ties later I rode out 4km successfully. My MacGyver moment. Cable ties have so many uses on the trail.

First Aid - I highly recommend stocking bandaids, something to clean a wound (rag or small towel) and some form of tape (like Elastoplast). Its pretty common to lose skin early on and having that stuff on the trail can protect your wound.

If you are riding alone then what you carry in your pack can be quite important. Check out this article / video from MTB Tips on what you should carry in your pack. Its pretty comprehensive.

What I have in my pack

Sustenance: water, Spacefood Sticks (remember them .. they are brilliant for mountain biking - they don't melt in fact they are easier to eat when warm, plenty of energy, they last for ever, don't take up much room and taste like chocolate. Buy some!)
Tools: multi-tool (allen keys, screwdrivers, chain breaker, tyre leavers), Leatherman rip-off (pliers, more screwdrivers, knives - important for cutting off limbs if you get trapped between rocks), good set of tyre levers (under $10).
Spares: inner tube, repair kit, cable ties, CO2 inflation device.
Emergency gear: fluoro spray jacket, glow sticks, Blu-tack (god knows why?), an old drivers license with emergency contact numbers written on it (for ID), $10.

What else I should have in there for big adventures. High strength pain relief (eg Panadine Forte in case of broken limbs etc), space blanket, electrical tape (any number of reasons including patching a ripped tyre wall - see video), fire and superglue (amongst other things superglue is used to stop the bleeding of deep cuts - don't believe me!)

So that's about it. Sure having MTB specific gear and a helmet that's spent more time in a wind tunnel than a Ferrari is nice (really nice) but you can get out there in your runners, boardies,  t-shirt and helmet - plenty of people do .. and there is nothing wrong with going a little over the top with borrowed protective gear to make learning safer.

I hope these articles have helped convince you to get out on the trail and just give it a go - there's plenty of time to get geared up once you are hooked.



This website is brought to you by MTB weekend warrior Aaron Markie.
There are plenty of great websites out there with a wealth of information about Mountain Bike Trails,
however in my experience its hard to get a good mix of info, maps, photos and videos of trails I've never ridden.
The idea of this website is to tie those 4 elements together and give you a more detailed look at the MTB Trails I ride.
If you have anything to add then let me know.