If you have just starting out in mountain biking its likely you’ve gone out and bought yourself a hardtail from your LBS (local bike shop) along with some basics such as a helmet, multitool, tyre levers and a pump.
I know I thought I had everything I needed at home as I had bikes of sorts, so must have all that I needed. I didn’t really but I had enough to get me started. Before long you will find excuses to buy new tools, fancy mini pumps, specific clothing and backpacks with more pockets than you think you will ever need.
What I didn’t think of and what I see most of is people riding in non-specific clothing. We wont get deep into this as it is a personal choice but jeans and “jogging bottoms” aren’t the best things to wear while cycling.
Its OK depending on the weather, where you are going, what you intend riding etc but again before too long you will realise you need a few particular items. At this time of the year (January in the UK if you are stumbling on this at some point in the future) you will mainly need to keep warm and dry. Hopefully you have a jacket of some sort (not the type you might wear skiing!), some walking trousers perhaps and a pair of gloves. The sort of gloves you can wear out to build a snowman but allow you to move your fingers as you are going to need to apply brakes and change gears. Not mittens!
But shoes – what do I wear on my feet I hear you say?
Cycling specific shoes need to ideally have sturdier soles and some sort of protection against rocks and sticks. And lets not forget the puddles of mud you are likely to come across. But cycling specific shoes can cost you between £70-100 (you may find some in a sale) and if you have just spent £400 on a bike this might seem a little unbalanced. So what can you do?
Your trainers likely wont be right for the job. They will be light, let water in, and certainly wont offer a great deal of protection against rocks and such should you fall or scuff them.
Also its possible that the pedals on your bike will not be very kind to the soles of these trainers and start to chew them up. They will work but they will be far from ideal.
You can wear walking books or shoes. This might look cumbersome, but in the sort of conditions I have seen recently, these might be the better choice. The chunky grips and much stiffer soles might make you feel a little disconnected from the bike but these would be my choice over a pair of trainers for this time of the year. If you have some with sturdy soles and grips that don’t resemble a rugby boot this might be your best option.
A good compromise might be a “skateshoe” these typically have a flat grippy sole and many mountain bike shoes by the likes of Five Ten have a very similar look and feel. However you favourite Adidas Superstar or Gazelle might get a little trashed in the mud!
But my final advice would be to go and buy a pair of bike specific shoes ASAP. After all you are going to get hooked on this mountain biking sooner or later so you might as well try some now. So go back to the store you got our bike from and see what they have in stock. Its January and you might find something in the sale.
Here’s a post that provides a little more info if you want to do any further reading: https://www.bikejames.com/strength/why-you-dont-need-stiff-soled-riding-shoe-for-flat-pedals/
Adidas Terrex (my personal choice): http://www.bikeradar.com/mtb/gear/category/clothing/shoes/product/review-adidas-terrex-trail-cross-50122/
Five Ten MTB shoes: http://www.fiveten.com/uk/bike