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Aron Bosworth | 04.15.2019

The memo is in. Mountain biking, apparently, is a downright blast. We couldn't agree more. Whether you’re out for a scenic cross-country ride or ripping downhill-style singletrack, the draw is similar: Get out farther in nature, go fast, and travel over ground in ways typically reserved for snow sports.

Thanks to the improvement in recent years in mountain bike geometry and the tech behind bike components, getting out and having fun on a ride these days has never been easier. New models of full-suspension mountain bikes seemingly float over dubious terrain, and pedaling uphill has continued to get more efficient in the aggressive trail and enduro bike categories.

Still, there’s no denying the cost for entry can come in higher than other outdoor pastimes, with new quality bikes starting around $2,000 and jumping up nearly as high as your imagination can go. However, there are good values out there, and if you accept that mountain biking requires a higher investment at the beginning, the fun you rack up will outweigh that initial monetary gut punch over time. 

In the spirit of having some two-wheeled fun outside, we’ve pulled together our 2019 mountain biking gear guide with some of our favorite products, from quality and good-value bikes themselves to the essentials you need. If you’re thinking about mountain biking gear, the mountain biking season is just ramping up, the rails are drying out, and the riding should be great through fall. Have fun, be safe and enjoy the ride!


Santa Cruz Bronson 27.5 Inch

The 27.5-inch Bronson from Santa Cruz Bicycles has been a tried-and-true, versatile standout ever since it was released in 2013. If you desire to grow in trail and all-mountain riding, the Bronson should be a bike you consider. Falling somewhere between a trail bike and enduro bike, the Bronson’s been made to handle pretty much every type of terrain, dirt, or rock one can throw at it. New for 2019 is a 15-millimeter increase in reach, a slacker head tube angle, and a steeper, shorter seat tube. Currently in its sixth year of production, this 27.5 dirt slayer, is one of the most dialed, stable, and agile bikes on the market.

Starting at $3,499 • Santa Cruz Bicycles


Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Carbon 29

New for 2019, the Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Carbon 29 Inch is grabbing attention for being one of the best all-around user-friendly 29-inch bikes in the field. Bikes with 29-inch wheels eat up terrain and provide added stability over their 27.5-inch counterparts (27.5-inch bikes win in agility and playfulness), and you won’t be disappointed with what you get in this bike. Solid components for the pricing, well-rounded performance, and slick-looking design makes this one of the top-rated trail bikes of 2019. This bike is also available in an ST (short travel) version, offering more nimble and responsive climbing and descending.

$4,520 • Specialized


Bell Super 3R Mips Helmet (With Removable Chin Bar)

This may look like a full-face helmet, but in actuality you are getting two helmets for the price of one in the Bell Super 3R Mips. The ingenious designers over at Bell nailed this one with the interlocking technology that makes it incredibly easy to add or remove the chin bar. Leave the chin bar at home or put it in the pack for the uphill. Mips is the new helmet safety standard for protecting your noggin. Note: you don’t need to be a downhill rider to justify a chin bar. If you ride fast though forests or are hitting jumps, a chin bar is a wise investment.

$230 • BellAmazon | Backcountry


Giro DND Glove

A simple, light, and moisture-wicking synthetic leather glove that will meet the needs of most riders, Giro’s DND glove is a solid value and key piece of protection when out on the trail.

$25 • GiroAmazon | Backcountry


Dakine Vectra Bike Shorts (Men's) + Cadence Bike Shorts (Women's)

Comfort, stretch and fit, breathability, and quick-drying materials are key to quality bike shorts. Dakine knows how to bring these all together and accommodate small details, like waist adjusters and integrated ventilation panels. The four-way stretch will keep riders comfortable while grinding up climbs and flying downhill in both Vectra and Cadence shorts. Note that the women’s Cadence is available with a built-in liner option.

Vectra: $85 • Dakine | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Cadence: $45 • Dakine | Amazon | Backcountry | REI


Flylow Hawkins Shirt (Women's)

Flylow’s been making quality, durable, and lightweight ski outerwear and apparel for years. A couple years ago, they applied their design know-how and stylistic eye to mountain biking. They’re doing something right. Case in point: Flylow’s Hawkins and Nash trail shirts are made with 94% polyester and 6% spandex 50+ UPF material with an anti-odor treatment called Polygiene. These shirts feel good and look good.

$65 • Flylow | Amazon | Backcountry | REI


Flylow Nash Shirt (Men's)

See description above for Flylow Hawkins shirt.

$55 • Flylow | Amazon | REI


Patagonia Houdini Jacket

A lightweight and stowable windbreaker jacket is a must-have for riding during chilly mornings out under a misty fog layer or when the wind picks up in the afternoon. The Houdini by Patagonia fits the bill nicely and is made from 100% recycled nylon.

$99 • Patagonia | Amazon | REI


Dakine Hotlaps 5L Bike Waist Bag

What we love about this bag is how free you will feel going to the waist pack after years of wearing a backpack while riding. A 2-liter water reservoir keeps you hydrated with room leftover to stow a windbreaker, bar, and bike maintenance essentials. Once you go fanny pack, you won’t go back.

$70 • Dakine | Amazon | Backcountry | REI


Blackburn Tradesmen Multi-tool

There are a lot of good multi-tools for mountain biking out there. We like this one for the addition of a chain quick-link remover and disc pad spreaders.

$29.99 • Blackburn Design | Amazon


Five Ten Freerider Contact Shoe

Some riders prefer a clip-less pedal system (i.e. shoes that clip into the pedals) while others prefer the freedom you get from riding platform pedals. For those riding platforms, we recommend Five Ten shoes with their patented sticky stealth rubber to help keep you from slipping when the trails get rowdy. Plus, this shoe just looks good for a bike shoe.

$150 • Five Ten | Amazon | Moosejaw | Backcountry | REI


Smith Optics Attack MTB Eye Protection/Sunglasses

These may seem like a luxury, but you can never be too careful with your eyes, particularly when you are riding through densely wooded forest. Smith has brought retro styling to a key piece of safety equipment, affording full coverage to keep the eye watering at bay and easy interchangeable lenses that allow you to go from low light in the woods to dark in the sun in seconds.

$249 • Smith Optics | Amazon


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