Mountain Bike Books for Beginners

Starting out with your new mountain bike or know someone that is? We've compiled a list of our recommended reads for newbies to the sport.  

All these books have been chosen for their usefulness for the newbies, riders of all levels of ability will find these great choices to add to to your bookcase or to purchase as gifts for others.

Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance

If you're going to be a dedicated rider or even a casual MTB rider, you are guaranteed to have times where something on your bike needs a minor tweak or something more complicated. Repair costs at a bike shop can be high, and with the popularity of biking at an all-time high, you'll likely find that your wait time for repairs will be longer than you hoped. To overcome this, you need to become a bit of a homemade bike mechanic.

For every new mountain bike rider who wants to be serious about riding, we recommend starting with Leonard Zinn's book on bike maintenance. From fixing a flat to complicated overhauls of various MTB components, Zinn's book has it all.

Zinn is called the "world's leading expert on bike maintenance" for good reasons, one of which is his ability to teach maintenance to you in a clear and coherent manner. He explains what you need to get each job done and how to make sure that you're doing it correctly. This book has over 750 illustrations to help you with each procedure and hundreds of repair and maintenance items that you can accomplish yourself.

This book has it all, from emergency repairs when something goes wrong during your ride to simple maintenance like lubing the chain to complete overhauls such as changing a cassette or replacing pedals. For all items, there are step-by-step instructions with full detailed diagrams showing you exactly what you're looking at and how each part fits together properly. Zinn also shows you what tools and kits you should have in your arsenal.  

We can't recommend a book any higher than this one. Do yourself a massive favor by stopping right now and ordering this book. You will not be disappointed!

The Birth of Dirt: The Origins of Mountain Biking

This is not a book that will help you ride better or maintain your bike, but it is a great read on the history of mountain biking that all riders will get enjoyment from. Looking back to the early days of mountain bikes, it is a glimpse into the history of the key people involved in bringing us to where we are today with MTBs.

Less of an academic attempt and more of a fun read, it fits perfectly with the subject at hand. Mountain biking has always been about the thrill of adventure, and this has it all, including stories about grown kids taking old bikes out of the garage to race them down a hill just to see if they'd survive.  

Get this book for a light read on where it all began.

Mastering Mountain Bike Skills

I'm sure no matter where you live, you can find some mountain bikers that are self-proclaimed experts in the sport. Getting instructions from them on the skills you need to start mountain biking (or, as you progress, learning expert skills) might seem tempting, but we suggest that you learn from an expert.

Brian Lopes is that expert, with a resume that is incredibly impressive:

  • Over twenty years as a professional rider
  • Nominated an Espy in 2001
  • Won more than 19 titles
  • Featured in a video game
  • Member of both the Mountain Bike Hall

And these are only a few of his accolades.

One problem that some experts have is the inability to take what they know and translate it into written teaching that makes sense to all levels of readers. Well organized with helpful charts, diagrams, and pictures, you'll find yourself reading a section, applying what you've read, and finding you're a bit better than you were before. Rinse and repeat for steady improvement.

For all levels of riders, newbies to MTBs will find this to be the most helpful!

Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die

Let's get real: You're likely not going to find yourself getting to all fifty places in this book before you take your last ride, but if you're looking for some ideas of where to tour, this is your book.

A quick caveat: this is directed at people looking for bike tours from companies that can arrange them for them. In each location that the book shows, you will find a company listed that will help you make it happen. If you're prepared for the sales aspect of the book, you will not be disappointed in it.

I appreciate that this book does not focus solely on North American rides. You will find places such as Croatia, Vietnam, or even the wild and foreign world of New York City.  

A great book for the coffee table as well! You'll find yourself and visitors picking it up and enjoying the photos therein. 

Let's Mountain Bike!: The Complete Guide to Mountain Biking

A perfect book for those who are getting into mountain biking, Let's Mountain Bike! covers a wide variety of topics that include what to look for when picking a bike, learning how to brake safely, avoiding accidents, and much more.  

This book is very readable and cuts out the fat when discussing its subject, being straight to the point and yet still in-depth on everything. As you progress in your mountain biking skills, this book will be there as you do. I needed the chapter on "Crashing" as everyone who knows me knows that I tend to crash more often, except now I do it more successfully.  

This is one that you will want to keep in your bookcase for years to come, frequently picking it up off the shelf to delve deeper as the years pass.

The Ultimate Bicycle Owner's Manual

Rookies and veteran riders will find the book helpful for everything from maintaining and operating your bike to riding safely on roads where cars are also traveling, to subjects such as what the future of biking looks like.  

Written by the self-proclaimed Bike Snob, you'll get a big picture look at cycling in the modern world in a down-to-earth conversational style. Full of humor and great insights, you'll avoid the technical jargon of other books on mountain bikes and learn to just enjoy riding for the first time or all over again.

Stretching: 40th Anniversary Edition

This is a book I wish I had read before I started riding. I (stupidly) thought that stretching was voodoo that did nothing until the day I tore a muscle in my leg and paid for it dearly.

As this version is the "40th Anniversary Edition," you can trust that this is the one stretching book you'll need because it has stood the test of time. It has sold close to 4 million(!) copies and gets high ratings from almost everyone that uses it. 

Complete with illustrations, Stretching will be the go-to for you in your mountain biking, plus it'll be there for you for any other exercise activities you are involved in. You'll find yourself recommending it to your friends, and you'll also find that many medical professionals recommend it as well!

This one is important to keep you safe. If there is only one book on this list that you will purchase today, get this one


All of these books are worthy of your time, but if we had to narrow it down to two books (because it was too hard to pick just one), we'd suggest you get Stretching and Mastering Mountain Bike Skills to get you going.  Make sure your Christmas list is filled with the remaining books!

About the author

Hugh Courtois

Growing up, Hugh spent just as much time learning how to fix bikes as riding them. He loves building his own ride and messing with whatever he can to get the best setup for a great run.

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