Mountain Board buyers guide
The idea of the guide is to help you choose the right product for yourself or if someone else is lucky enough to be having a board bought for them as a gift/surprise without them knowing! Mountain boarding, or downhill boarding as it is sometimes referred to is an extreme sport as you are about to find out, the boards can reach high speeds and it is important to know the terrain as well as use the appropriate safety gear.
- Height and Weight
If you are under 5ft then you are definatly inside a junior board for downhill riding. If you are above 5ft 6in then you are above junior boards and would be better with a longer adult board. (For downhill board suggestions please see part 2 of this guide)
If you are over 8stone and want to jump (or just over 11stone) then you should really look at composite decked boards rather than plain wood. This is because the composite decked boards are tougher and will not snap as easily as wood!
- Downhill, kite, or both?
Shorter boards are more suited to kite flying if on a smooth field. You can use a longer board for kite flying but lightweight short boards are better to get control with. If using for both kite and downhill the lighter longer boards are ideal.
- Should I use a brake/do I need a brake?
Brakes are NOT essential for downhill mountainboarding. In fact they are not recommended for beginners. Using a brake throws your weight forward and puts you out of balance and makes learning harder. After all do you see brakes on snowboards? At the higher end of riding brakes are useful when in tight spaces or runs but you shouldn't be learning in these conditions so you don't need a brake?
- Channel trucks or skate trucks?
If you want a more stable board at higher speed then channel trucks (with springs) are more stable but need more input from the rider to get the turn and agility. Skate trucks are easier to adjust and turn and are firm favourites for lighter/junior riders and also many kite flyers. The mbs vector trucks are between skate and traditional channel trucks so share features of both.
- Protection required?
For both downhill and kiteflying helmets are heavily recommended and they should be suitable for a cycle standard. Cycle helmets are ok for starting but ideally a skateboard helmet is the best as it is multiple impact and protects the back of the head better. Full Face helmets are not recommeded for beginners as it limits the vision and is not really require for beginner moves. For downhill riding we also recommend; knee, elbow pads and wrist guards to protect and suggest butt pads as also advisable as you progress. For kite boarding the elbow and knee pads are advised wrist guards are not used as you need more agility in your hands bike style gloves are good to cut down scrapes though.
- Mountain Board Terms:
Deck - A deck is the wooden or composite platform that you stand on. This can be plain wood or a mix of fibreglass/carbonfibre/wood (or more) the extra materials make the deck tougher and almost impossible to break but also can add more flexibility to the deck which is your suspension (along with your legs ;-) )
Channel Trucks - Trucks are the items at the end of the deck with the wheels on the end. Channel trucks are trucks that pivot around a fixed bolt and mostly have springs and dampers (eggshocks etc) to change the stiffness of turn or stability.
Skate Trucks - These are enlarged trucks the same design as you would find on a skateboard and as such work the same way with rubber bushes. These are generally a lot lighter than the channel trucks but can be more unstable at high speeds. These are popular with kite boarders and light riders as they are easy to turn and nimble.
Bindings - These are what your feet fit into and are essential for both downhill mountainboarding and kite landboarding. They come in three main types, velcro soft bindings, ratchet bindings and snowboard style bindings. Velcro are popular for beginners and kite flyers as it is easy to get feet in and out. Ratchet like the mbs f3 binding is great more intermediate downhill and kite flyers who want their feet in tight and secure. Snowboard style are full locked bindings as on snowboard and are more suitable for intermediate riders and should be used with supportive boots.
Heelstraps - These are back straps that fit to bindings to hold feet in while in air or going fast. Many riders feel more safe or secure having their feet solid in the board so they know they can't slip out. This is not ideal for beginners and should be used with supportive footwear to reduce chance of injury.
Leashes - A leash is a method of attaching the board to the rider. They normally fit around a binding and attach above the knee pad on that leg. Coil leashes are the only safe leash and don't get in the way. The leash is there to stop the board rolling off on it's own and hurting anyone else in a public space and so you don't have to walk to the bottom if you come off at the top. All hire centres in the UK require riders to have a leash or heelstraps so no loose boards are on site.
Bearings - These are the roller bearings that keep the wheels rolling. They are all generally sealed bearings to keep the mud out. There are several sizes depending on your hub and axle sizes. IF in doubt please consult our bearing page for a size guide. There are also stainless steel bearings if the board is being used on the beach these can extend the life the bearings but are more expensive.
Tyres - These are the inflatable/pnumatic tyres with inner tubes. There are basic tyres for beginner boards and then more advanced specific tyres for more grip or speed
Hubs - These are the plastic or aluminium centres for the wheels and there are various designs to be lighter to stronger or cheaper depending on requirements.
- Advice and Safety Information
- Always wear a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, sturdy shoes, long trousers and while riding. Gloves, long sleeves, eye protection and butt pads are also advised depending on terrain.
- Always use your boards Leash when riding; make sure it is fastened snugly above your kneepad.
- Adults must adequately supervise children who are riding.
- Always ride with extreme care, use caution at all times.
- Always scout (survey) your terrain prior to attempting to ride it. Watch for hidden obstacles or unseen dangers. Point out hidden dangers to others.
- Always be aware of and respect all cars, cyclists and pedestrians. Be mindful of others especially cars.
- Use lower tyre pressure to slow your speed of decent.
- Practice stopping techniques frequently. Make certain you know how to power-slide the board to a stop. Always practice stopping techniques.
- When riding with others, always yield to the rider in front of you; they have the right of way.
- Never stop when you are not visible from above.
- Observe and obey all posted signs. Only ride where permission is granted.
- Always respect your environment, never litter and tread lightly to preserve nature.
Safety should always be your No. 1 concern. Ride safe / Ride smart / Have fun.