Mounting a Mountain Bike for the First Time? Should You Rent or Buy Your Gear?

If you've recently purchased your first mountain bike in anticipation of hitting some trails, you may be overwhelmed at the variety of safety and performance gear available, ranging from protective helmets and eye wear to reflective blinkers and emergency tire inflators. Sorting through all these accessories to find your "must haves" can be a difficult process, and you may be concerned you'll leave some crucial piece of safety equipment behind on your first trail ride. On the other hand, you're likely reluctant to invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars into bicycling accessories before you've even broken in your new mountain bike. Read on to learn more about the gear that you'll need to have in place before ever venturing out, as well as a few accessories you may want to "try before you buy" through a bike rental or bike-share organization.

What equipment and gear will you need before you start biking?

Even experienced road riders who already have helmets and pads will need some additional gear to be safe on the trails.

Body armor

While the idea of armored clothing may sound like overkill, especially when you're riding on gently sloped trails, these protective vests and pants can prevent a minor spill from turning into a major medical incident. Mountain-bike body armor is designed to be lightweight while still providing full-body protection from rocks, tree limbs, and even wild animals, and it is composed of a moisture-wicking fabric coupled with strategically-placed plastic plates. If you do take a spill on your new bike while wearing body armor, you may have the wind knocked out of you, but you'll be much less likely to suffer any harm beyond that.  

Shock-proof helmet

If your current bike helmet is more than four years old, you'll want to replace it before hitting the trails, even if it seems to be in good shape. Exposure to the oils, salts, and acids in your skin and sweat can weaken plastic and rubber, making your helmet more fragile as time goes on. Because your first indication that something might be wrong with your helmet can often come just after you've struck your head on a fallen log or sharp rock, being proactive and replacing your helmet with a shock-proof or impact-proof helmet out of the gate will ensure your safety without requiring you to shell out much money. 

What equipment and gear may you want to rent first before buying?

Although protective gear like helmets and body armor are crucial when it comes to biking safety, there are a few other accessories that you may want to rent or borrow from a company that provides mountain-bike gear rentals before buying to prevent yourself from spending money on what will eventually become an expensive paperweight or piece of furniture. 


For those who do much trail riding at night, a high-powered headlamp is key for safety and visibility. However, you may want to "try before you buy" lest you discover that biking at night isn't something in which you have any interest. 

Vehicle bike rack

With the wide variety of bike racks available, renting or testing one before purchase can ensure you don't choose a model that doesn't work well with your vehicle or lifestyle. You may also decide that you'd rather stick to trails closer to home and avoid the need to transport your bike from place to place on your car.