Spring mountain biking in the Northeast requires riders to prepare for all types of conditions, including everything from dry, sun-soaked trails to freezing temperatures and frozen ground with lingering patches of ice and snow. That said, most mountain bikers equate spring conditions with cold, wet rides. Because spring conditions are ever-changing, riders need a kit that easily adapts to whatever they encounter.

When getting ready to ride this spring, think about adding this must-have gear to your early-season riding kit.

Credit: Tim Peck

Mudguard/Front Fender

After a long winter, most riders are ready to get down and dirty on their bikes—until they get a face full of mud. A mudguard, or front fender, is an inexpensive and easy way to prevent your bike from providing you with a face full of dirt, rocks, and other debris, giving you a reason to smile (or at least not fear smiling) this spring.


Most mountain bikers hope to see a lot of sun in the spring, as it both helps dry out the trails and provides pleasant riding weather. A good pair of sunglasses not only offer protection from the sun on bright days, they also protect your peepers against any debris that makes it past your mudguard. A pair of shades like the Smith Wildcats deliver maximum protection, excellent optics, and resist fogging. The Wildcats also come with two interchangeable lenses, so you’re ready for everything from greybird to bluebird days.

Credit: Tim Peck

Waterproof Jacket

A waterproof jacket is a good piece of insurance against drizzly spring days. Bikers can certainly make a classic rain jacket like the EMS Thunderhead (men’s/women’s) work for mountain biking, but a bike-specific jacket like the Louis Garneau Gran Fondo 2 (men’s/women’s) is packed with features riders will love. The Fondo’s drop-tail hem (longer in the back than the front) accommodates your position on the bike and protects against spray from the rear wheel, silicone grippers prevent the jacket from riding up, and vents help you dump heat while shredding.

Weatherproof Gloves

On some spring days, regular mountain bike gloves are enough—like the Giro Rivet II and Riv’ette—but for cool mornings and unfavorable weather, you’ll want something a bit warmer and more weather resistant. Gloves like the Giro Men’s Ambient 2.0 and the Louis Garneau Women’s Rafale 2 keep your hands toasty and dry, don’t affect your grip or dexterity, and stand up to harsh conditions and trails.

Shoe Covers

Rainy days and dewy mornings present prime conditions for stoke-killing cold, wet feet. This is especially true if you’re riding in places like the grassy fields of Bear Brook’s Hayes Field or Kingdom Trails’ Heaven’s Bench and the low-lying scrub found in locations like Cape Cod’s Trail of Tears. Shoe covers, like the Giro Blaze, slide over your everyday mountain bike shoes and add insulation to keep your feet warm while also providing a barrier against moisture.

Credit: Tim Peck

Dry Bag

It’s a good idea to ride with your phone, just in case of an emergency. This is particularly true when riding on the wet rocks, slick roots, and treacherous bridges, all of which you’re likely to encounter on spring rides. Safeguard your phone by ensuring it’s in a crashproof case and carrying it in a dry bag in the event you get rained on.

Hydration Pack

It’s easy to carry a minimal amount of gear and get away with a fanny pack during the dog days of summer. However, spring typically means carrying more stuff. Hydration packs, like the Camelbak M.U.L.E and L.U.X.E., are designed for longer rides, which means they have plenty of space for carrying a raincoat, extra layer, first aid kit, and other essential spring gear with the added bonus of making it easy to stay hydrated on the go.

Wet Chain Lube

Wet chain lubes are thicker and more viscous than their dry lube counterparts and are less likely to get washed off by rain or splashing through puddles. Using a wet lube in damp and muddy spring conditions will save wear and tear on your bike’s drivetrain. However, wet lubes are known for their ability to collect dirt and grime, so clean your chain, reapply accordingly, and switch to a dry lube when trail conditions allow.

Credit: Tim Peck

Bike Wash/Degreaser

While there is no avoiding getting dirty during spring mountain biking, maintain your ride’s clean-cut appearance and relax with a clear conscience by giving your ride a proper bath using a bike-specific wash and degreaser before putting it away. A little time spent cleaning your bike can improve its performance, prolong its life, and keep it on the trail and out of the shop.

Bike Polish

A bike-specific silicone polish is handy for navigating nasty spring weather. Silicone polishes help protect your mountain bike’s frame by repelling water, preventing mud and dirt from building up, and making future cleanings easier. An added bonus, it will also make your rig look awesome.

Base Wash

Your mountain bike kit is meant to stand up to all the challenges it meets on the trail, but its kryptonite is found next to your washing machine: conventional laundry detergent. Regular laundry detergent can diminish a technical fabric’s wicking ability and trap odor and debris in the fabric. A detergent like Nikwax Base Wash is specially designed for use with technical fabrics and can help them last longer, improve their performance, and smell better.


While the urge to ride is strong after a long winter, remember to ride only on trails that are ready for bike traffic, no matter how good your kit is. If you’re stuck waiting for the trails to dry out, you can always brush up on mud season etiquette and know that you’re acting as a responsible user of these valuable resources.