Andy Lenartz

Mountain biking is one of the most popular activities at South Mountain Park and Preserve and offers another excellent way to connect with nature.  

This one may seem intimidating at first,but does not require bombing down an actual mountain. Just that you are off the road with your tires touching the dirt. 

Getting started

Access to a mountain bike. This one has a bit of a price barrier to getting started, so make sure it is something you will enjoy before investing in your own bike. Try renting a bike first or better yet, find a friend with an extra you can borrow.

A helmet is a must. It will come with the rental bike.

Water/snacks.  Bring extra water, the trails here are open, dusty, and hot. 

Sunglasses will protect your eyes from the sun, bugs, rocks.

Proper footwear.  Sturdy, closed-toe athletic shoes, not flip-flops.  

If you enjoy the activity and want to engage on a regular basis you could spend up to $10,000 on a bike. If money doesn’t matter, by all means, purchase one of those – and consider throwing in a second one for me! 

 But that is definitely not required for an enjoyable experience.  

Do your research on where you will likely ride on a regular basis and the type of equipment needed and share examples of the trails you are looking to ride with the bike store staff.  

You can get a decent new bike for $500 to $1,000, less for a used one. This will be a hard-tailed bike (will have shocks in the front, not the rear).  

Starting at about $1,000 you can get a full-suspension bike with rear shocks and some upgraded components, which are nice to have but not a necessity for riding the Desert Classic Trail at South Mountain and other trails of similar ability level in the Phoenix area.

Avoid spending much less than $500 on a new

 mountain bike and make your purchase from a local bike shop or outdoor retailer.

 Several people that I know have purchased cheaper mountain bikes in an attempt to save money, and I’ve seen them literally fall apart the first time the bike hit a small hill and kicked a vibration through the cheap frame.  

The bikes sold at mass retailers are not high enough quality to withstand trail riding, so avoid wasting your money on these. 

You also will need to buy:

A helmet. You want to be spending at least $30-50, considering what it’s protecting.

Floor bike tire pump.  $50 will get you a solid one, could certainly spend more if you wish.

Additional tire tubes.  $5-10 each, get a couple.

Hand-held tire pump, repair kit, tire lever, and bike tool.  You can get for around $25 total.

Water.  Consider a backpack with a water reservoir, it can also hold snacks and repair items.

Andy Lenartz Is an Ahwtaukee resident and avid hiker and mountain bike rider. Reach him at

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