Students will need to provide their own bicycle, helmet, accessory equipment, and clothing. Mountain bike racing has a reputation for being equipment heavy.

If the student needs financial help getting equipment or a bike, there are resources available from within the Stillwater area, as well as through our team. Families may contact the local student advocacy group Youth Advantage directly. The Minnesota High School Cycling League also has sponsorships available. Contact the Team Director for more information.

​If you need a bike, or if your current bicycle is not race worthy, the coaches can help search for one. There may be used bikes available for purchase. There are also bicycle companies working with the NICA and members of our team qualify for discounts on new bikes (Trek, Cannondale, and Specialized). Contact the Team Director for more information. If you intend to purchase a bike please check with the coaches for suggestions on sizing.

Please know in this sport, accidents can happen. Bikes can be damaged or riders can become entangled in an incident. These events are rare and usually not the result of intentional acts. We ask our families not to hold other students responsible for any consequential damage. This is simply the "cost of doing business" in team riding.

Team Clothing

Team jerseys are required to compete in races. Information on how to purchase jerseys will be provided to the team before each season starts.

Basic Bicycle Care

Racing and training is hard on equipment. The Team uses Mondays as the time to work on our bikes together. Each student athlete should at a minimum be capable of knowing when your race machine needs service. The coaches do not expect each rider to be an expert mechanic, but you should know when things feel right and when there is an issue that needs attention. The Team Equipment Managers are available to assist the students as they learn how to care for their machines. Check out the Stillwater MTB Checklist to help you run through your machine. See also the Video Library for more on the technical aspects of the bike.

Recommended Supportive Equipment

Students will need a certain amount of back up and spare equipment to get through the season. This equipment should be tagged or marked with rider's name. At a minimum, consider getting the following equipment as your student begins the season:* Spare rear derailleur hangerThe hanger is the part connecting the rear derailleur to the frame. It can fail from crashing but is replaceable. The team can help determine which model fits the bike. The hanger will be marked with the rider’s name and will be kept by the Equipment Managers should it be required during the season. The hanger is returned to you after the season is done.* Two spare tires* Four spare inner tubes (we recommend Presta valve inner tubes)* Spare chain, matching speed and brand of drive chain* Rear cassette (often needed when the chain is replaced)* Brake pads matching the brake type and model* Spare grips

Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikes are available in many different types and levels of quality. The term “mountain bike” is a vague and broad term. Not every bike marketed as a "mountain bike" is suitable for racing. An unsuitable bike will not hold up to the daily use of training and racing.
At a minimum, the bike needs a serviceable suspension fork. In terms of cost, expect a new race-worthy mountain bike to run about $1000. Members of the team are eligible for discounts on bicycles through NICA of some select manufacturers. Contact the Team Director for more details. Used bikes can also work, but if the bike is very old and worn, or is the wrong size, it is not a good solution. The sizing of the bike to the student is important. A bike that is an acceptable size will allow proper leg extension for pedaling. Another important consideration is the reach from the saddle to the handlebars. The rider should be able to comfortably reach to the handlebars. The saddle can be moved up and down within certain limits, and stems can be changed for a better fitting bike.
Mountain bikes are made in different frames sizes and also different wheel sizes to fit the body of the cyclist. A tall rider would use the tall bikes (XL frames) and shorter riders would use a small frame (S). There are limits on how much a bike can be modified to fit a particular rider.
Bicycle sizing is commonly designated by a measurement from the center of the cranks along the length of the seat tube. It is best to consult a competent bicycle shop or an experienced rider for advise on the correct size bike. Again, contact your Stillwater MTB coaches if in doubt. The table to the right has some very rough guidelines for frame sizing using body height.

Approximate sizing for 26" wheeled bikes

Bike Design

There are two basic designs for mountain bikes, referred to as “hard tail” and "full suspension". All mountain bikes considered for racing should have a front suspension fork.

Hard Tail Bikes

These bikes use a main frame with no rear suspension. The front wheel can move with the front suspension fork, but the rear wheel is fixed to the main frame. For the type of racing in the NICA league in Minnesota, a hard tail bike is acceptable. These bikes are generally lighter compared to full suspension bikes.

Full Suspension Bikes

These bikes use a front suspension fork, and a moving rear frame that allows the rear wheel to articulate and move over bumps independent of the main frame. Full suspension bikes tend to be more expensive and are also somewhat heavier. For racing in very rocky or bumpy terrain, the full suspension can be useful.

Drive Train

Useable mountain bikes come in 8, 9 and 10 rear cog systems. Avoid bikes with 7 rear cogs as these do not offer good quality parts to take the wear and tear of riding. Also avoid bikes with a screw-on style freewheel. The modern cassette cogs and freehubs are a better system with more options for parts. When possible, avoid shifting system that mount shifters directly into the brake levers.


A good fitting helmet is required for all practices and races. There are many good brands and models, but the helmet fit is the most important consideration. Additionally, select only helmets using a "harness" system inside the shell that keeps the helmet correctly centered to the head. The helmet must not be loose around the skull, the item it is intended to protect. If a helmet is too tight or pinches the head, it is uncomfortable, and the rider will not want to wear it. Strap placement is also important. Generally, adjust the joint of the front and rear straps to be under the ear. There should be a small amount of slack in the chinstraps. Coaches will be checking helmet fit and making adjustments often.

Shoes and Pedals

The common pedal with no attachment to the shoe is called a “platform” pedal. These are used with sneakers. The platform pedal is an acceptable way to begin training and racing. There are also special cycling shoes for mountain biking that attach to compatible pedals. These are call "clipless pedals". It is not necessary to start with these, however, with time and experience they are a good investment. The clipless system can help keep the feet on the bike during bump terrain as an added safety feature.
Platform pedal and "street shoes
Clipless pedal and cleated cycling shoe

Cycling Shorts

We hope to spend a lot of time in the saddle. Cycling specific padded shorts are a great investment. For short rides, any regular shorts will work, but longer rides will of result in chafing. Cycling specific shorts are made with padding in the crotch and are intended to be worn without underwear. There are two basic types of cycling specific shorts. The traditional tight fitting cycling spandex styles favored by road riders. There are also the “baggy shorts” seen on touring cyclists and some mountain bikers. Baggy short simply have a liner that is the short version of the spandex padded shorts. This is covered up by the baggy shorts worn over them.


For most workouts, fingerless gloves are recommended. These protect the hands and are not too hot to wear. These are available from bike shops. For cold weather, you should get long finger gloves.

Fingerless gloves (left) and full finger gloves (right)

Water Bottles with Cage or Backpack with Drinking System

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. For workouts, we need water, and it is best to carry someone your bike. This means a water bottle cage and a water bottle. Another option is the backpack type water systems, such as the "Camelback" systems.

Hydration pack

Thin Warm Cap

Helmets help protect our brains but not from the cold. A thin cap to fit under the helmet extends our ability to train in cold weather. Too thick of material will make helmet fit difficult. The thin nordic ski caps are a good under-the-helmet choice.

Saddlebag with Tools and Tubes

During our training, the coaches will have some tools and tubes. However, it is good to be independent. Get a small saddlebag and carry a spare inner tube and some basic tools to help you get going again.

Floor Pump

A basic item to have a home is bicycle floor pump. Tires will need air on a regular basis. We will have pumps at school for Team use. Having one a home is also a good idea.