Biking on road and off road are completely different animals, and you will need to keep some important tips in mind when you get off the beaten path and go off road.
1. Choose the Right Bike
Off-road biking has completely different requirements than on road biking. Of great importance is to select the right bike. You will want to have wide, knobby, hard to puncture tires, 36-spoke wheels, a front suspension that is both strong and reliable, gearing for mountain biking, and a handle bar position that is upright.
2. Keep It As Simple As Possible
When you are off road, your bike is going to get punished quite a lot more than on smooth, paved roads. So when you are thinking about which components to buy, get the best in your price range. However, you do not want to buy really fancy, proprietary and complex systems that are difficult to repair.
You are going to want to have basics that are easier to fix and replace: cup and cone bearings, schrader valves, standard bolts, steel frame. You don’t want to have an air sprung fork, an overly complex drivetrain, internal hub gearing, and other complexities. We like the Shimano ET shifting system because it is both affordable and durable in the bush. If you are looking for a good suspension, consider both Magura and Fox.
3. Get Comfortable With Fixing Your Bike
Your high performance mountain bike is going to break eventually, and it probably is going to happen when you are about as far from a bike shop as can be. This means that you should have all the basic tools and supplies with you so that you can fix simple problems with your bike. You will want to have all of the tools – and the acquired skills – to take the bike apart and put it back together again. You will need to be good enough with repairs so that you can at least get the bike functional enough to get you back to your stating point.
4. Slow Down
Going off road is not about how far you go. You should expect to have your daily mileage cut in half if you are on roads that are not paved. How far you can get in a day can vary a great deal based upon the conditions and the type of track you are dealing with. You could easily go only a few miles in a day in really rough terrain, or 50 miles on a good gravel road.
5. Try to Stay Flexible
If you are going on a multiday off road trip, you will not be able to plan a precise itinerary. And you should not worry about doing that. Some of the adventure of an off road trip is to learn as you go and for things to change as you travel.
6. Self-Sufficiency Is the Key
When you are going to be in the bush on your bike for a few days, you are going to need to have some survival skills. A good book is the SAS Survival Guide, which will help you to learn about basic health and hygiene. You want to make sure that you have a water filter, and iodine or chlorine tablets to purify any water you come across. It also is very important to eat as well as you can every day. Eat food that is high in protein, fat and carbs to keep your energy up.