Minnesota High School Mountain Bike Checklist


We are so excited that you are joining a Minnesota State High School Cycling NICA team! Whether you are interested in racing or riding, mountain biking is a great way to enjoy being outside and explore the great state of Minnesota.

There are a lot of options when it comes to equipment. Always ask your coach! Coaches will usually have recommendations based on what they feel will help the rider have the best experience on the team. We are happy to provide you with our personal favorites – however it will be best for your athlete to have a similar set-up to their teammates.



  • Road/Cross Country
  • Trail/Mountain

Safety Tech

· “MIPS” – In the event of a crash, it most common to fall at an angle. The MIPS BPS System can reduce the rotational motion and reduce the risk of brain damage in the event of a crash.
learn more

· Wavecell – The newest technology (launched spring, 2019) from Bontrager. Up to 48x more effective at protecting your head from injuries caused by certain cycling accidents.
learn more



· This one is simple. Gloves will provide the rider with better grip on their handlebars. In the event that they put a hand down in a crash gloves protect their hands from abrasions.



· Just like in life, a rose colored lens will give you ideal vision on the trail. These will brighten up surroundings for the rider in the woods. We have options from Oakley, Bliz & Tifosi. Big lenses are in right now if you’re trying to earn style points!



· Flat Shoes/Pedals – Flat bottom shoes, and standard bike pedals.

· Clipless Shoes/Pedals – These shoes have a cleat that “clips” into the pedal just under the ball of the foot. This allows the rider to pull up and push down on the pedal for increased power. Make sure the cleats are compatible with the pedals on your bike!

· Common Brands - “SPD”/ Shimano, Crank Brothers, Time


· Hydration Packs – Sometimes referred to as “Camelbak’s”. These are great options for long rides because they allow the rider to carry more gear. They also allow you to stay hydrated and keep your hands on the handlebars! We carry options from the brands Osprey, and Nathan.

· Water bottles – On race day, some riders prefer to carry bottles on their bike vs. a pack



Flat tires are a bummer. What can make them even more of a bummer is lacking the tools to fix a flat while far away from the trailhead! Even if you don’t know how to change your own yet, it’s important to have the following items with you while riding:

· Saddle bag, Patch Kit, Spare Tube, CO2 cartridge and nozzle/Pump, Tire levers, “Mutli-tool” (Alan wrench set)



There are two primary “styles” when it comes to mountain bike apparel. Again, ask your coach what they feel is most necessary to own. Bike uniforms are referred to as “kits”.

Free ride 

  • Baggies” shorts with a separate chamois (pronounced “shammy” – this is the padded part of a bike short). Baggies fit like basketball shorts
  • Free ride “jersey” – fits like a loose-fitting t-shirt, usually made from a dri-fit fabric

XC – Race uniforms

  • Form-fitting, lycra “jersey”, full zip front with pockets in the back
  • Form-fitting “Bib” Shorts (shorts with suspender straps). Bibs are a great option when it comes to shorts because they take pressure off of the rider’s waist when riding


Ask your coach! We have options available from Trek, Norco, and Felt.

Types of Bikes

Hard tail – These bikes have a suspension fork in the front, and a fixed rear triangle – hence the name “hard tail”. The more simple design allows them to be lighter weight, and less expensive at the entry level.

Full Suspension – Full suspension bikes have a suspension fork in the front, and in the rear. More moving parts = higher price. Full-suspension bikes start at around $1999.99 (photos)

As the price goes up, this is what you’re paying for

  • Frame material – Most bike frames are either aluminum, or carbon fiber. Carbon frames are lighter weight & more expensive.
  • Suspension – The front (and rear if you have a full-suspension bike) shocks. Entry level bikes will utilize springs, as you move up the rage the shocks will be set with air.
  • Components – These are the moving parts on the bike. Brakes, shifting, and wheels. As you move up the range, riders will notice crisper shifting, responsive braking, and lighter weight wheels.


Tire Size – Again, ask your coach. This is one of the touchiest preferences for mountain bikers. We have options for all!

  • 29
  • 27.5
  • 26



There are some of strange words your young rider will come home using once entering this sport. Below you will find a brief dictionary for your convenience:

  • Stoked - Substitute word for excited
  • Rad – Substitute word for cool
  • Sick - Substitute word for cool
  • Berm – Raised ridge or embankment
  • Huck – Launching off of a trail feature without considering the consequences
  • Flow – Smooth trail that does not require much pedaling or technical skill
  • Gnarly – Substitute word for challenging. “That uphill rock garden was super gnarly!”
  • Shred – Riding fast and aggressively. “Have you ridden with her? She shreds.”
  • Gap – Distance or hole between jumps. “Have you seen the new jump line at Theo? I cleared the gap!”
  • Bonk – This describes the feeling a rider experiences when they run out of energy during practice or a race. “Dude, I bonked super hard on the 2nd lap.”

Any other questions? Refer to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPVRU7jSYkQ



Check out some of our favorites both local, and regional!

Local: https://www.morcmtb.org/

Greater Minnesota: https://www.coggs.com/

Regional: https://www.cambatrails.org/ https://copperharbortrails.org/event/experience-the-keweenaw


As a Gear West Customer, here are some of the benefits you will receive when purchasing a bike from us:

Complementary “Anniversary” Tune-Up with in the 1st year


NICA Discount Card

· 15% off of clothing, shoes, and select accessories

· 10% off of hard goods