Most mountain bike tour companies provide a suggested kit list for their cycling holidays specific to the destination and time of year.
For a first time cycling holiday off-road, comfort and safety should be a high priority so consider these essential items rather than rushing out to buy everything on the list.
Mountain Bike Clothing
Cycling clothing can be expensive so budget for the essentials only:
- Padded cycling shorts, two pairs ideally to ensure a clean pair each day. Simple padded liners are cheaper than Lycra or baggy cycling shorts and can be worn under existing leisure shorts.
- Breathable wicking tops. Basic outdoor walking tops are good value versus cycling specific tops and work almost as well although most do not have a front zip for ventilation.
- Windshell. Excellent for keeping cool winds off or sitting on for a picnic lunch! Buy a cheap pack-away rain mac for just a few dollars instead of an outdoor specific model.
- Training shoes with a good grip so they don’t slip off the pedals. Cycling shoes are only necessary if planning to use clipless bike pedals.
- A rain jacket if visiting a destination in autumn or winter months. The cheap rain mac can double in an emergency but being cold and wet on a bike is not much fun so a water-proof or at least shower-proof jacket is recommended.
If hiring a bike, safety equipment is usually provided, though if budget allows, it is better taking certain bike accessories for cleanliness and a good fit.
- Cycling gloves. Recommended for better grip especially in hot sweaty conditions and to protect hands in case of a fall. Great value cycling accessories like gloves are now available from discount supermarkets and DIY shops so shop around.
- Cycling helmet. An expensive purchase for a first mountain bike holiday but an essential item for safety. Look for entry level helmets in the leisure category rather than MTB specific helmets which cost far more.
- Sunglasses or clear glasses to protect eyes from debris kicked up off the trail as much as blocking harmful rays from the sun.
Even if hiring a bike, it’s sometimes a good idea not to rely totally on the mountain bike tour operator so consider these items:
- Spare inner tubes (hot dusty climates can often be prone to punctures so carry enough!)
- Lock. Useful if taking own bike to secure when not in use.
- Bike lube. Remember to take dry lube if going to a hot climate.
- Bike multitool for trailside repairs.
Energy Food and Drink
- Hydration pack. Essential if planning a warm climate trip like Cyprus or Greece but also necessary for all day riding in any environment. Even if the trip has vehicle support with extra water close at hand, water may not always be immediately available if the vehicle cannot follow on narrow sections of the trail. A cheap alternative to a full hydration pack is to just buy the hydration bladder and put inside any backpack already owned.
- Energy bars. Homemade versions are additive free and cost far less.
- Energy drinks. A cheap alternative is a teaspoon each of sugar and salt dissolved in water with a touch of lemon squash added for taste if required. Take care not to put energy drinks into a hydration bladder as sugar deposits are difficult to clear from the tube. Instead carry a water bottle for energy drinks.
Other Key Items
- Insect repellant
Save money on the kit list for a first cycling holiday by only packing the key essentials. Cycling shorts, a helmet, gloves and a couple of breathable tops should suffice for most summer destinations. Ensure good hydration by taking a hydration bladder and consider a windshell top for windy days.