So you want to get into mountain biking, huh? Or maybe you’re looking to take your riding to the next level? You’ve likely noticed that the sport is growing all over the country, and the world for that matter, and by now some of your friends (if not all) have taken to the trails and started shredding singletrack any chance they get. You want to join in, but where do you even start? For women, mountain bike clinics are a great first step. What are women’s MTB clinics?
The world of mountain biking, or MTB for short, has long been seen as intimidating for those looking to try it out – the equipment is expensive, there’s a ton of moving parts, it’s more than a little dangerous, learning the lingo and local trails takes time, and finding patient people to take you out and show you the ropes isn’t always easy. Women’s mountain bike clinics can help with this.
No matter your gender, the sport presents a large learning curve and an even larger commitment to those looking to dive in; there’s no denying that ladies typically have an even harder time making the plunge into MTB, similar to most action sports. That is until recently….
Over the past few years, not only has the sport of mountain biking seemingly exploded nationwide, but more and more women are getting outside and adventuring on two wheels.
In this guide, we will discuss all there is to know about women’s mountain bike clinics. We will also share some of the most popular sites, as well as some specifics for bikes that can suit your needs.
What Are Women’s MTB Clinics?
With this increased female participation has come some incredible efforts and innovations for female-specific MTB resources, further encouraging more ladies to follow suit while supporting and progressing those women who have been paving the way for years.
This is an incredible time where the women’s side of the sport is gaining momentum and receiving it’s due attention, and there really is no better time than now to try it out! A women’s mountain biking clinic can help by fostering an environment specifically for female MTB riders.
To help you out with navigating this new and complex world, we have broken it all down to highlight all of the women-specific mountain biking groups, gear, brands, and efforts that we could think of. Keep in mind that while these resources are incredibly helpful to many women, a lot of the information in this post applies to all genders and just because you are a female does not mean you can’t rely on unisex and men’s resources, as well.
Our main recommendation is to go out there and try before you buy. Ask around and see if any of your friends have a bike you can borrow or possibly buy off them. There are also tons of demo days run by retailers and brands throughout the country where you can show up at the trails with a helmet and pedals, leave your license at the table, and take a bike out for few hours for free.
Your local bike shop may also rent/demo bikes out of their store, though this will incur a daily fee and it will soon add up if you want to try various models. Whatever you do, try not to buy until you have a better idea of what kind of riding you want to do and how much you’d like to invest in the sport, both in money and time.
The bike world is booming, and female-specific bikes have grabbed a large portion of the spotlight. As you start your bike hunt, know that the rise of “women’s bikes” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ride or purchase a standard, unisex mountain bike.
The bike you buy depends on a myriad of variables – riding style, type of terrain, size and weight, geometry, suspension, costs, ascending and descending ability, to name a few – and ultimately it comes down to personal preference and what you can (or want to) afford.
Bikes built specifically for women are gaining popularity, and it’s a good idea to keep them on your radar as you enter into and progress through the sport. Check out these brands for some of the best women-specific bikes on the market, and see if they’re running any bike demos near you:
- Female-specific bike manufacturers: Liv, Juliana
- Bike manufacturers who make awesome bikes specific to both men AND women: Trek, Cannondale, Specialized, Yeti, Scott, Cube, Marin
The Gear You Will Need
Being a woman in an action sport can be a pretty frustrating thing when it comes to gear: little to no female-specific choices, the “shrink it and pink it” mentality, boxy and unflattering fits, or just poor designs with little thought to the diversity in shape and size that women’s bodies present.
But as the sport continues to progress, mountain biking brands have proven that they care about the badass ladies on bikes out there by offering incredible variety in well-designed apparel and gear, sometimes even designed by women for women.
Again, there’s no reason ladies can’t or shouldn’t wear men’s (or even kid’s) apparel, but with so many great options out there today we thought you should know where to look for some of the best female-specific MTB apparel brands:
- Female-specific brands: Liv, Shredly, Shebeest, Leoka Clothing, Wild Rye
- Bike brands who make awesome gear for both men and women: Zoic, Troy Lee Designs, Kitsbow, Club Ride Apparel, Gore Apparel, Giro, Dakine , RaceFace, Sombrio, Specialized, Flare Clothing, 7Mesh Inc., Trek, Scott Sports, POC Sports, DHaRCO, Pearl Izumi, Endura Sport, Maloja, Sweet Protection, EVOC, Five Ten, 100%, IXS, Ion
A great place to start your gear research and shopping is at Dirty Jane, the women’s online bike boutique “carrying a wide range of brands specifically for women who want to look & feel bad-ass while riding their bike.”
These ladies know their stuff and have created an awesome resource for and community surrounding women on bikes, whether it be mountain biking, urban commuting, or cycling.
What To Expect With Riding at a Women’s Bike Clinic
Your best bet on learning about the local trails, group rides, women’s initiatives, and all things mountain biking in your area is to visit your local bike shop (also known as your LBS).
Women’s group rides can be found in most cities and mountain towns, and they allow for ladies of all abilities, ages, and experience levels to come together and share the trails in a low-pressure and encouraging atmosphere – often with a cold beer waiting for you at the end, which never hurts.
You can always check out some of the nationwide groups working to get more ladies outside, as some offer mountain biking classes, rides, and clinics throughout the country; some examples of these are SheJumps, And She’s Dope Too, and Outdoor Women’s Alliance.
A great way to get into the mountain biking or take your riding to the next level is by attending a skills clinic, class, or camp. Not only do you get to spend quality time working on your riding skills with professional female instructors, but you also enter the world of women’s mountain biking at it’s purest and leave with whole new community of ladies to ride with!
There are so many different options out there today, both for co-ed groups or women only, but a few specific companies stand out to us; whether you’re brand new to MTB, a veteran rider with some racing under her belt, a converted cyclist looking to shred, or just hoping to work on your technique on two wheels, these nationwide programs should be on your radar:
- Female-specific camps, clinics, and programs: Ladies AllRide, Little Bellas, ROAM Events, Grit Clinics, Bell Helmets’ Joy Ride Program, Trek’s Dirt Series, KEEN’s Rippin Chix, Yeti’s Vida MTB Series, among many others!
- Camps, clinics, and programs with both women’s-only and co-ed options: Sundance MTB Skills Clinic, Sacred Rides, REI, Better Ride, Chasing Epic, Specialized, ZEP Techniques, and many more…
While you’re at it, check out these professional female bikers who have started their own coaching and clinics around the country: Alison Dunlap’s Adventure Camps, Lorraine Blancher’s Coaching & Guiding, Leigh Donovan’s I Choose Bikes, and Rebecca Rusch’s #JointheRusch.
Another awesome way to get going on your bike is to attend and participate in one or more of the female-specific outdoor events held by some of our favorite big-name brands. These range from MTB-specific outings, races, and festivals to larger outdoor events calling for outdoor women of all kinds, including mountain biking! More and more of these events continue to pop up across the states, but here are some of our favorites for you to check out:
- The Sturdy Dirty Enduro Series: The world’s first women’s enduro race series, with race locations in Washington, Oregon, and California!
- Yeti’s Beti Bike Bash: The largest women’s-only mountain bike event in the world, complete with racing, clinics, and fun!
- REI’s Outessa: Super fun three-day outdoor weekends designed for women, perfect for those looking to try mountain biking (and other activities) for the first time!
- And She’s Dope Too Rendezvous: “Safe, judgement-free camps for women who are ready for more adventures, regardless of their skill level,” where ladies are able to choose many different types of activities – including mountain biking!
- SheJumps’ Bike Events: SheJumps is a national non-profit working to get more women and girls participating in outdoor activities – and mountain biking events are one of their specialties! With local chapters throughout the country, both in small mountain towns and big cities, SheJumps provides plenty of bike-related education and opportunities for women to shred, and there’s bound to be something near you: SheShreds at Stevens Pass, WA; Downhill Day at Thunder Mountain, MA; Bike Maintenance Clinic, MT; MTB Skills Clinic in Durango, CO; and so many more!
Bike Brands To Be Aware Of
Long gone are the days when mountain bikes were pink’ed & shrink’ed to cater to the women’s market. As the industry has evolved in racing, participation and improved opportunities, women-specific bikes and apparel are no longer an afterthought, but instead, a tool for change in an otherwise largely man-based sport.
For many brands, there has been a shift away from women-specific bikes. Instead, they have opted for a greater range of sizes and suspension tune to fit all different riders. That said, there are still a few brands that remain committed to offering options designed with women in mind.
Liv is the only brand to offer truly women-specific bikes, and everything from frame geometry to componentry and colourways are tailored to women using fit data.
Other bike brands may share frames with unisex equivalent brands, such as Santa Cruz and Juliana, or Canyon’s women’s builds, which tweak the size range and component choices such as bars and saddles to cater for the differences between male and female anatomy.
While fit is absolutely crucial to finding the best mountain bike for you, your budget, desired MTB discipline and riding style will also be major factors in what you’re after.