Isn’t it quite overwhelming when, upon setting foot inside a bike shop to buy the best mountain bike, you realize there are so many options to choose from and you don’t even know where to begin?
Many people have made that same mistake, and most of them bought a mountain bike which they would belatedly realize to be not right for them.
Before heading to the nearest bike shop, you should arm yourself with some information first. These will serve as your guide when buying that much-coveted mountain bike.
The Many Types of Mountain Bikes
You see, a mountain bike is not limited to one type alone. There are several categories of mountain bikes which are basically classified according to their specific uses or functions. Here are the most common ones:
If you are one of those hardcore mountain bikers who prefer tackling more technical trails, get yourself an all-mountain bike. They are mostly full-suspension and are designed to handle more challenging obstacles and jumps as well as steeper descents more easily than other types of mountain bikes. Basically, these are your all-around mountain bikes, since they can do pretty much most of everything.
This category is pretty much composed of general-purpose mountain bikes that can be taken from single-track trails to dirt roads. They are akin to all-mountain bikes, although the latter are built with stronger frames.
Competitive cross-country bikers need bicycles that are light and very quick to respond to the slightest steering. Speed is the objective here, not endurance to jumps and impacts, or flexibility in maneuvering through obstacles. They have to be light in order to make pedaling easier, faster and more efficient.
Known for their heavyweight and toughness, freeride bikes are the ones used by bikers who like to challenge themselves and perform stunts and jumps in their bikes. Aside from easily conquering ten-foot drops and jumps, they are also excellent for fast and rough trails. They might be tricky to maneuver in uphill climbs, though.
Downhill bikes are designed for fast descent or, as the term states, downhill rides. This is a similarity it shares with freeride bikes. Efficiency is impaired, however, when it comes to riding up hills and steep trails.
Dirt Jump Bikes
Have you ever watched extreme sports? Those aerial stunts performed on bikes make use of these types of bikes.
Making Your Choice For The Best Mountain Bike
If you are going to choose one mountain bike for your use in future adventures, you should make it a point to make a wise and informed decision.
Take note of the following considerations:
Naturally, you must first consider your budget. How much do you have and how much are you willing to spend? If you can spend a considerable sum of money, you can immediately start looking into the high-end models or brands. If you are on a tight budget, tell the attendant at the bike shop to lead you to the cheaper but quality mountain bikes. You don’t want to waste your time checking out bikes which you’d end up passing on in the end simply because you cannot afford what’s written on the price tag.
Your Chosen Activity
What type of mountain biking do you intend to do? If you are going to confine yourself to cross-country mountain biking, you can easily narrow down your options. Remember what you’ve learned earlier about the various types of mountain bikes to guide you.
You should decide whether you want a full-suspension bike or a bike with hardtail suspension.
- Full Suspension: On a full suspension bike, a suspension fork is attached to the front wheel in order to make steering easier and not give the arm and hand too much strain in the process. Meanwhile, the rear wheel is also attached to a pivoting frame and a shock absorber, giving the rider more control while keeping him comfortable. If you are a serious rider who wants to tackle challenging trails or long bike rides, this type of suspension is for you. Be warned, though; these also happen to be quite on the more expensive side.
- Hardtail Suspension: Considerably cheaper than a full suspension bike, hardtail suspension bikes only feature front suspension. This is perfect for beginners or those who want to have a mountain bike without spending a fortune.
The strength of the frame would rely mostly on its construction and the materials used. More often than not, aluminum alloy is the main material used by manufacturers in constructing the frames of mountain bikes. They are preferred because they are light and durable, not to mention the cheapest choice. Other options include carbon fiber, titanium, and steel. Titanium and steel are known for their durability even in extreme conditions. In fact, steel is deemed by many to be the ultimate choice when it comes to strength. They are, however, heavy. The material would also influence the price. Carbon fiber frames, for instance, are very expensive, as compared to steel frames.
What wheel size should you go for? Many would conclude that the bigger the wheel size is, the better it would be. But that is not a hard and fast rule. You should consider your height when you are considering which wheel size to buy. After all, you’d want a mountain bike that would fit your body.
You should also consider the other components of the bike. Make sure they are all there: the brakes; the wheels and its rims, axles, and spokes; the drive train and the gear shifters. After that, you should also consider the materials these components are made of. A durable and strong frame would be useless if its attachments are made from inferior materials which would perish easily.
Satisfied with your Choice?
At the end of the day, choose a mountain bike that will suit your purposes without causing an irreparable damage to your finances. If you are a beginner, it would be better to start small and start slow. Prudence and caution will help you a lot, and that also applies to choosing the right mountain bike for you.