For many brave souls around the world, there's no better way to spend an afternoon (or morning or night for that matter) than attacking rock-strewn trails, climbing forbidding mountainsides and sending themselves screaming down steep debris-covered hills on nothing more than a mountain bike and a prayer.
Mountain biking is a great form of exercise that increases both strength and endurance, and it can be incredibly fun on top of that. Riders are able to commune with nature (sometimes chin-to-rock, at high speed), escape the hassles of everyday life and explore hard-to-reach areas that are well off the beaten path. In fact, mountain bikers don't even need a path; they just need an idea of where they'd like to make one.
But to enjoy the challenging sport of mountain biking, you'll need a few extra things other than a bike, balance and a touch of bravery. Mountain biking is an extreme sport, but that doesn't mean you have to suffer every single bump and jostle of it. Science, necessity and straight-up tinkering have yielded several advancements and additions to the sport, many of which no mountain biker should ride without. Of course, you could go without the extras, but you probably wouldn't choose to do so twice. After trying them out, accessories that increase comfort, performance and safety may become necessities for you.
There is some risk involved when careening around the woods on two human-powered wheels. You can hurt parts of yourself that you didn't even know came along for the ride. You can get lost, caught in the dark or run out of water. You can spend the day trying to repair or replace a series of busted tire tubes, or become despondent upon realizing you started your ride without the necessary equipment to do so.
Let's face it: If you were the sort who thought things all the way through, you probably wouldn't be putting yourself at risk of going airborne over your handlebars by knowingly speeding down a secluded path littered with rocks, roots and low-hanging tree limbs. But worry not, we're going to learn about some accessories that can protect you, boost your fun and take your mountain biking experience to the next level.
First, we'll discuss accessories relating to something there is no risk of having too much of while hurtling down a mountain on a bicycle: comfort.