The alt.mountain-bike FAQ


Compiled + Maintained: bomba


Copyright(c) 2002 bomba


The purpose of the alt.mountain-bike Frequently Asked Questions file is to provide a resource for everyone who wants their questions about mountain biking, answered cohesively and reliably. Nothing here is guaranteed correct.


This FAQ has been written with the intention of getting rid of as many simple questions from the newsgroup as possible. There are many questions that are repeatedly asked and often have very simple answers. It also acts as a central source of mostly technical information. If you think a section needs to be added/revised/redone etc, send me an e-mail and I'll do whatever...


[1] About the mountain bike newsgroup


[1-1] Introduction to alt.mountain-bike


Welcome to the alt.mountain-bike newsgroup. We ask that you please read the FAQ before asking any questions you may have. Otherwise, look, listen, learn, contribute, but above all, enjoy yourself and the interests you share with the other netizens of the newsgroup.


[1-2] What is alt.mountain-bike for?


The list is for general discussion on mountain bike related topics past and present. We would rather see less on the product front and more on the lifestyle, stories, scenes, experiences and news side of things.


[1-3] What is it not for?


Here is a list of the things that you should not do on alt.mountain-bike:


1. First, don't write your posts in all capitals. This means you are yelling, and it will only annoy people. If you take note of this rule it will save people sending messages to tell you to turn off the caps lock.


2. Don’t top post and quote relevant parts of the post you are responding to so we know what you are talking about. If you are only responding to something mentioned in the last paragraph don't quote the other 6 paragraphs in the post.


3. Take time to see how the thread progresses. Don't respond to everything your first time on. Pay attention to the etiquete used.


4. Don't respond unless you have something constructive to add. "Those shoes rule" is not a valid response. You are trying to provide information to other people. The key is WHY do they rule. Strong soles, lasts forever. Explain yourself. If you agree with something someone submits don't post something like "Aye". This says nothing. If you agree say WHY you agree, relate a similar experience, "I agree because...." etc.


5. Just because you are on the internet doesn't give you an excuse to use poor english. The internet is about the free (or $19.95 a month) exchange of ideas and information. Spelling doesn't count but try your best to make sense. The idea is to get people to undersand what you are talking about. If they don't it makes YOU look like a dick. Paragraphs and sentences are always nice. It makes things way easier to read. 'Txt msg typ' speak is definitely NOT encouraged.


6. Try to read at your Re: posts and think : "If someone hadn't seen the original post would they know what was talking about?" After a couple days "Re: hub design" can turn into a conversation about who won at Big Bear. No one wants to go back through all the posts to find out what the comment/post "Yo dude, what's the addie" means.


7. Do not post binaries. A lot of people will not appreciate having to spend extra time downloading their e-mail for the sake of a picture you think is cool.


8. Flames are accepted, just be careful how and who you flame, otherwise you could come in for some special treatment :)


9. Messages which are cross-posted to or from any advocacy group are not welcome. Spamming, ECP and EMP of any sort is absolutely not tolerated.


[1-4] Who is responsible for the FAQ?


Bomba is the creator and maintainer of this FAQ, but it's a large effort, and informed contributions are welcome, particularly suggestions for topics or questions that you feel have been overlooked. This is a living document and one that is intended to reflect the issues discussed on alt.mountain-bike. All participants of alt.mountain-bike are urged to contribute in whatever form possible.


[1-5] Feedback

Feedback may be sent to



[2] Terminology:


What is the difference between a ‘newbie’ and a ‘barney’?

Newbies and barneys are both clueless, but newbies should not be mistaken for barney's.  The more help a Newbie has the less likely he/she will become a barney.  This FAQ should hopefully prevent newbies becoming barneys.


What's a LBS?

Local Bike Shop...Lots of good knowledge in them thar LBS's



[3] Equipment:


What bike should I get?

One that you'll ride. Make sure its comfortable for you.


Should I go clipless?

If you’re considering it, give it a try.  Most people love them, although it’s not for everyone.


Do I need a shiny new expensive bike to ride trails?

No, but you think you’re having more fun :~)


Should I wear a helmet?

Yes.  Silly question.


I saw a new, full suspension Murray at Walmart for $105. Is that a good deal?

No. Get thee to your LBS. Do not buy a bicycle shaped toy.


Should I take some tools out with me when I’m riding?

Yes, taking some tools with you on a ride is important.


Should I buy online or at my LBS?

Always support your LBS.  Sometimes if you tell the LBS that you saw it cheaper on Nashbar, they will cut you a deal to keep your business(works for me at least).  However, don't expect to get it for the same price--just discounted.


What should I buy next?

Upgrade as needed, other than clipless pedals and fitting parts (stem, handlebar, seat, grips etc.) don't change to much before it leaves the shop.  Ride the heck out of your stuff and when your parts start giving you trouble then toss them and get the newer better stuff.


What bike computer should I buy?

If you get a bike computer, get a good one.  Walmart ones are not

rugged enough.  Get at the minimum a Cateye Enduro 2, it's cheap.


Carry a cell phone.  You never know when you'll want to test Domino's "30 minutes or it's free" promise.



[4] Technique:


I keep falling what can I do?

Keep practicing and stop falling.


I can't get over an obstacle so I road around it.  Was this okay?

NO, get your Newbie ass off the bike and carry it over the obstacle.  Don't start cutting new trails.


After riding for about 2 hours, I lose all my energy.  Why?

Eat enough food and drink enough water/energy drink to keep energy levels up.


There’s a hiker in my way.  Do I just run over him?

Probably best not to.  Always be as nice as you can to hikers – a little effort goes a long way towards cordiality.


Do I help others?

Always offer to lend a hand.  You're going to need one yourself




[5] Technical:


If my wheel gets bent what should I do?

LBS and educate yourself at


What's chain suck?

Do some research and find out. Think of it as your first Newbie assignment.


What’s the best way to clean my bike?

Wash the bike with a sponge, brushes, water and simple green.  Wipe the

bike dry.  Lubricate the chain.  Wipe excess lubricant away.



[6] Miscellaneous:

How come JD hates me?

He's JD.  He hate you because he loves mountain biking.


What's a "Slacker"?

Same thing as a "Rat Bastard".


Who is this guy Mike somethingorother? What's his problem?

When he was a child, someone knocked him off his tricycle. He has had it in for cyclists ever since.


I have the solution to Mike whatshisname.

No, you don’t.


What the best way to learn about MTBing?

Just ride.  Buy some bicycle books, stay away from the Marketing BS found in MTB

mags!  Hang out in a.m-b.

Book suggestions:

Mountain Biking Like A Champion- Ned Overend

Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance- Leonard Zinn


What's the "Brotherhood"?

Nothing worth talking about.


How can I give something back to mountain biking?

Don't forget: Get involved with trail advocacy and maintainence. It's a Great way to find out about trails in your area and ensure continued access to them.



[7] Contributors

Penny S, Pete