How To Choose The Best Mountain Bikes [Ultimate Guide]
Mountain biking is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable sports out there. With a mountain bike there is no limit to the trails that you can explore, and the miles that you can tour. In fact, a mountain bike gives you the ticket that you need to discover the world around you.
It is for this reason that you cannot afford to buy a poor quality mountain bike. The bike that you select should be highly versatile, durable, and high performing.
But where do you start?
There are so many options available on the market. That is where I come in, giving you all the information that you need so that you can find the perfect mountain bike for all of your needs.
So sit back, relax, and let me give you an extensive mountain bike guide.
Factors to Consider when Choosing the Best Mountain Bike
As I have just mentioned, you need to choose a high performing mountain bike that can meet all of your demands. That is why below I will list all of the factors that you need to consider before making your final choice.
Types of Mountain Bike
There are several types of mountain bikes that are available to you, including trail bikes, all mountain bikes, cross country bikes, freeride and downhill bikes, and dirt jump bikes. Each bike is designed for a different style of riding, and it is therefore important to know where you are planning to ride before you make your decision.
Trail bikes for starters are all-round bikes, with the ability to conquer dirt roads and trails alike. All mountain bikes on the other hand have stronger frames and a longer suspension travel than the trail bikes. This makes them good for technical trails where you will be faced with steep declines, jumps, and obstacles.
If you love competitive riding, then a light and fast cross country bike will help you make the tight corners and steep inclines. As you can deduce from the name, freeride and downhill bikes are best suited to travelling down uneven terrain, such as mountains. Lastly we have dirt jump bikes, which are great for all riders who love biking stunts.
Suspension or Hardtail
Suspension is another important aspect that you need to look at. While a few decades ago mountain bikes were fully rigid, the mountain bikes of today have suspension which helps absorbs shock and enhance control. There are two main types of suspension; hardtail, and full suspension.
Hardtail bikes are composed of a front suspension fork, which boosts steering and control, while reducing fatigue in the hands and arms. These bikes are more affordable, and will be best suited to occasional trail rides.
However, if you are a hard core rider who wants to navigate dirt trails with speed and ease, then I would recommend a full suspension bike. This type of bike has suspension in both wheels, so that shock can be absorbed more efficiently. Full suspension bikes are also heavier and more expensive than their hardtail counterparts.
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If you are looking to invest in a high quality bike, you should go with popular brands such as Diamondback, Cannondale, Marin, Raleigh, GT, and Scott.
Wheel size is another big decision you need to make, and you have the option of choosing between 3 adult sizes; 26-inch, 27.5-inch, and 29-inch wheels. 26ers are small, making them perfect for maneuvering through tight spaces.
29ers on the other hand are the biggest size, which make them heavier and slower to accelerate than their counterparts. However, this wheel size has great momentum and great grip, and will go over obstacles much easier.
Then there is the matter of the 27.5-inch wheel, which offers you the best of both worlds. These wheels are lightweight, maneuverable, and stable, and will go over obstacles with ease.
The frame material of a mountain bike will affect the weight, strength, ride quality, durability, and price of the bike. Firstly, we have the common aluminum alloy frame, which is lightweight and reasonably strong. However, if you have the cash to spend, you can opt for a carbon fiber frame which is lighter and stronger than aluminum.
We also have steel which is strong, durable, and cheap, however, it is also heavy. Lastly, we have titanium, which offers strength and weight savings at a staggering price- only go with titanium if you are looking for a high end mountain bike model.
If you are buying a mountain bike, then chances are you will be using it on uneven paths and declines which are somewhat dangerous. It is therefore important for you to ensure that you have the best brake system, which promises quick and easy stopping. There are 2 types of brakes, mainly rim and disc.
Rim brakes are found on entry-level bikes, and they are cheap and easy to replace. However, they are inefficient in wet and muddy conditions, and they will eventually wear out your wheel rim. Disc brakes are therefore the better and more reliable choice, even though they are more expensive.
I don’t know about you, but I love to go fast on my mountain bike. That is why I have chosen a mountain bike with a wide range of gears. You should therefore ensure that your mountain bike has a range of gears, so that you can ride without being limited on speed.
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The lowest number of total gears you should go with is 24, the most common gearing arrangement for mountain bikes is 27, and the total gears on high-end models is 30.
Your budget will determine what type of mountain bike you get. For between $500 and $900 you can find a basic hardtail bike, which is best suited to occasional use on light to moderate terrain. For $900 to $1500 you can find a lightweight hardtail bike for regular use on a range of terrain. For $1500 to $2500 you will be able to buy an entry-level competition hardtail or entry-level full suspension bike for a wide variety of riding. Lastly, for $2500+ you can find a high-end full-suspension bike and a racing hardtail.
Quality tires are crucial when it comes to mountain bike riding, as they determine the grip you will have and the smoothness of your ride. Go with fat tires which provide good cushioning on uneven terrain. Off-road tires will also give you needed traction on rough trails, so that you can maintain control at all times. Off-road tires also have a tough construction, which means reduced incidences of punctures.
There you have it, the 9 main factors that you need to consider before buying a mountain bike. These important factors will guide you during the shopping process, ensuring that you have the perfect mountain bike for your needs. Good luck with your purchase!