How To

How not to behave on your mountain bike – etiquette on the trails

How not to behave on your mountain bike - etiquette on the trails

There are no rules to mountain biking, but there are a few dos and don’ts of trail etiquette that will ensure you make friends and don’t piss of fellow riders, trail builders and the general public.

You don’t expect to be treated like a d*ck so don’t treat others like a d*ck:

  • Be polite
  • Be friendly
  • Take rubbish home
  • Ride safely around others
  • Help others out

Mountain biking is a great sport full of amazing people but there are a few rules of etiquette that most should follow to ensure everybody enjoys their time in the woods and trails.

Be polite and courteous to all other trail users. Mountain biking is an amazing sport and can get you out into the wilderness like no other sport, enjoying the views and the exhilaration from creating big climbs. Unless you’re riding in a very deserted area though, you’re likely to meet other trail users, from fellow mountain bikers to walkers, runners, horse riders and hikers.

Trail Manners

A few manners go a long way to be happy and smile and say hello to all other trail users. Don’t blast past dog walkers and horse riders at full speed screaming at them to get out of the way. They’re also out enjoying the countryside as well. So slow down, let them know you’re approaching with a cheery hello, and ride past safely. Only when you’re safely past them can you get back up to speed. It doesn’t take much to slow down but it goes a long way to ensuring good relations with other trail user groups.

Maintain good trail manners like these two riders

There are a few trail manners worth following to ensure you and other mountain bikes have a good ride. Not stopping in the middle of the trail and blocking the route is one, so if you really want to stop and get a photo of the view or trail feature, or you’re mending a mechanical, move over to the side of the trail. Be mindful of other people also riding the same route as you.

When riding trail centres it’s annoying when mountain bikers stop and congregate right at the beginning and end of a trail. This blocks access to the trail for other mountain bikers not in your group and stopping too close to the end of a trail, especially if it’s a fast descent, can be downright dangerous.

Let Others Pass

Be mindful of other riders because skill and fitness levels can vary. If you catch other riders on the trail don’t try and barge past them shouting as you go. It’s not a race. Instead, calmly alert them of your presence and ask to overtake when it’s safe and convenient to do so.

Remember we all start somewhere and there’s nothing like an angry and pushy mountain biker barging past to put newbies off the sport for good. Do be polite for goodness sake. Likewise, if faster mountain bikers are trying to pass look for a safe wide section of trail that you can easily slow down and let them past. You don’t want a faster rider breathing down your neck and it takes a small amount of time to let them past.

Team Chain Reaction Cycles take on Red Bull Hardline [pic by Moonhead Media]

Cutting Corners

Many trails you’ll ride will have been built by an invisible army of trail pixies, whether official or unofficial. And there’s nothing worse than destroying someone’s hard work by cutting corners especially if it’s because you’re trying to chase a Strava segment.

Corners are the heart and soul of mountain biking, and while requiring skill and experience to master, are what the sport is all about. Without corners, mountain biking would be pretty dull. Like road riding…

Speaking of trail building, there’s nothing to stop you getting involved. Many trail building groups will openly invite willing volunteers to help out with building new trails or maintaining existing trails. It’s a good way to meet new people and also to put something back into the trail you ride regularly and take for granted.

Be Prepared

A few pre-ride checks and the right spares will save the day

It’s really important to ensure you are prepared for every mechanical situation so you are able to fix your bike in the middle of the wilderness and don’t have to flag down other riders to borrow their tools. A basic tool kit stashed on your bike or bag doesn’t have to weigh or cost much but will ensure you are able to remedy any mechanical and get yourself back riding with little effort.

Always take a spare inner tube and pump even if you are tubeless, tyre levers for getting tyres off and a tubeless repair kit as well. A well-equipped multitool with a chain breaker and spare links or pins because nothing ruins a ride quite like a broken chain.

A first aid kit is also worth considering. It might seem overkill perhaps but it’s better to be prepared for any eventually. Better to carry it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

Don’t Bonk

Mountain biking can burn through the calories so make sure you’re carrying enough food and water to get you through your ride. There’s nothing more miserable than bonking (completely running out of energy) when you are miles from home or the nearest tea shop. So carry a few energy bars or other snacks and some water, and maybe some money in case you pass a snack shop.

A tasty energy bar


Don’t discard your used energy bar wrappers on the trail, take any rubbish home and dispose of it properly. Few things ruin the beauty of the countryside like rubbish littering the trail and most plastic bottles and energy bar wrappers aren’t going to decompose. If you can carry it out into the countryside you can surely carry it home again.

It’s not just food wrappers either but also punctured inner tubes as well.

Any more to add? Let us know below 👇

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