This hardback tome by Steve Worland covers everything from the history of mountain biking to how to choose and maintain a bike, and how to improve your riding.
Published by Haynes, the car manual company, and now in its second edition, The Mountain Bike Book (ISBN: 978 1 84425 673 0) is an excellent introduction for beginners and also has plenty to offer the more experienced rider.
Steve, technical editor for our sister publications What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, explains in detail the origins of the sport and the way it has diverged into various different disciplines (downhill, cross-country, freeride, etc).
There are chapters on racing, fitness, technique and clothing, and an in-depth look at bike components, from frame materials to the most popular suspension designs.
A workshop section at the back covers basic maintenance, from fixing a puncture to truing a wheel and basic fork care.
The book is pretty comprehensive. Our only real complaint is that a lot of the text and pictures have not been updated for this second edition.
Although most of the photos towards the front are fairly new, as you progress through the volume the images begin to look decidedly dated, with plenty of riders in team strips which haven't been seen since the '90s.
Similarly, repeated suggestions that suspension forks have only been in use for 10 years – despite the fact that by the mid-90s even cross-country racers were routinely using them – show that much of the text has not been updated since the first edition was published in 2003.
Comments like "most downhill racers take part in BSX events" are also telling – firstly, the discipline is now known as 4X, and secondly, only a handful of racers still do both, notably Dan Atherton and Cedric Gracia. And as for the claim that downhillers use bikes with 120mm of fork travel for some courses, well, we don't even remember that happening in 2003.
This doesn't make the guide any less useful, but does give it a 'recycled' feel, although this is only likely to be an issue for experienced, knowledgeable riders rather than the beginners who are most likely to buy this book.