Buying a mountain bike can be a bit of a hassle.You will consider and compare countless brands, models, types, and prices. You want something that can really do the job but goes easy on the wallet. This guide will walk you through important information to consider in choosing the right mountain bike for you.
Know the types of mountain bikes
Mountain bikes, unlike road bikes, are categorized according to specific trails and riding styles. The full suspension or dual-suspension mountain bikes, as the names imply, have shock-absorbing suspension system at the front and at the back of the bike. These suspensions allow the rider to have good control of the bike and have a smoother travel even on very rough trails.
More importantly, they help to lessen the rider’s stress from all those pounding along the way. Another type is the hardtail mountain bike. Unlike the full-suspension mountain bikes, hardtail mountain bikes have only a front suspension and are typically lighter. It can travel in rough trails, steep downhill routes, and other off-road trails. Contrary to full-suspension mountain bikes, hardtail is simpler mechanically and more affordable.
Know the types of riding
Now that you know the types of mountain bikes available, determine what type of riding you want to do. These are the most common forms of mountain bike riding that you can choose from: Cross-country, downhill, trail, and enduro riding.
In cross-country biking, the rider aims for speed and endurance for epic climbing rides in the back country. Even hardtail road bikes or light-weight full-suspension bikes with formidable shock-absorbing systems are used here.
Downhill riding involves a fast descent from the top of a trail where bigger drop demands are required. The rider must maintain speed as he overcomes rocks, intervals, and huge jumps. Full-suspension mountain bikes are preferred with the rider having full-body protective gear.
Trail riding, which is a combination of downhill riding and cross-country riding, is the most common mountain biking style. This type of riding is performed on naturals trails or in custom-made trail centers. Riders mostly start with hardtail bikes and upgrade to full-suspension mountain bikes.
Enduro riding is a more pumping style of riding, which is similar to trail riding except it requires more technicality in terms of diversely scattered trails and deeper jumps and drops. The bikes are more heavier than cross-country bikes and have rear-suspension system, front travel, and wider tyres for optimum biking performance.
Decide on a budget
First off, know how much you are willing to spend for the type of bike experience that you want. A variety of mountain bike types are available depending also on price ranges so choose wisely. Here are several insights on budget-wise options.
You can definitely get some good deal for a decent bike for $500 or less, but your choices would be narrowed down. In this budget, you may opt for an entry-level hardtail that can do basic trails or a second-hand mid-level hardtail. Do not go for new or even second-hand full-suspension bikes as they will likely be of low quality causing you to spend more in repairs and replacements. Choose a model with lightweight aluminum frame with disc brakes and avoid heavy steel frame and rim brakes.
$500 – $1000
As your budget goes higher, you can opt for a better quality model. Get a mountain bike with a lighter frame and more advanced equipment. In this price range, you can score a decent-quality hardtail with aluminum frame and hydraulic disc brakes.
Preferably, search for at least 8-speed cassette with two or three chain rings up front and look for tyres with optimum tread profile for improved ride experience. Test the suspension fork fitting by letting it bounce (it should not produce a weird noise). Some dual-suspension mountain bikes can appear in this price range, but it is advisable to avoid them still unless you can stretch your budget some more.
$1000 – $2000
Now you get to enjoy a wider options of better quality models. You can already get yourself a good-quality full-suspension model or a prime hardtail model. Models in this price range can have the same aluminum frames as the highly expensive ones but with cheaper parts, which you can upgrade in the future.
Look for hydraulic disc brakes from well-known manufacturers and air-sprung suspension fork, which you can adjust to suit your weight. Also, look for a ‘thru-axle’ fork and wheel for improved steering accuracy and control. You can now also opt for a 10-gear ratio back and a rear derailleur with a clutch to prevent the chain from falling off. Tubeless systems in tyres and wheels are now used to lessen the weight and puncture of the bike.
More than $2000
With this higher price range, a wide range of fully equipped full-suspension bikes are within your reach. Other refined features become available like dropper seat posts, 1x drivetrains, and frames made of carbon. A dropper seat post makes adjusting the seat height easier with a simple switch. This helps the rider descend easier and faster by lowering the center of gravity. 1X drivetrains removes the front derailleur, thus reducing the weight and some moving parts that can cause mechanical malfunctions. Hardtail models are now equipped with carbon frames giving a smoother more controlled biking experience.
It is very important to determine the bike size suitable for you so that you can enjoy optimum enjoyment and comfort while using your bike. To make it easier for you, you can list a number of model options and go to their shop. It is better to see the bike in person because different brands do not have the same sizing standards. Better yet, try to request for a test ride so you can see and feel for yourself if you are comfortable with your prospect model.
Where to buy
It is advisable to opt for a direct sale from a physical store rather than buying online. If you’re after a high-end bike, you can set a test ride so you can see for yourself if there are some adjustments or additional components that can be added. A lot of bike shops can offer some improved components of saddles, grips, or tyres if you know how to ask.
Mike Nikko is a blogger with over 15 years of experience. I will bring you the best product reviews and other useful life experiences, tips to increase height, tips to improve health… If you have any questions, feel free to ask Mike Nikko!