Feeling inspired and looking to buy a mountain bike for your outdoor fun? Damn right, that’s the sweetest passion. You have no idea what you have been missing and how happy it feels to be on a mountain bike.
It’s also exciting to see our MTB community growing, and we want to make sure that you get the right mountain bike for yourself. This guide will help you decide which bike is perfect for your style and give you some points to consider when purchasing one. Also, we will mention all the crucial accessories. Let’s get started.
What to Consider When Buying a Mountain Bike
If you are a road rider looking to take the thrill off the road or new to MTB, I must warn you that this is an exciting and addictive activity you are about to pursue, and there will be no going back.
However, without all the vital information, your first buy may end up as a disappointment. You cannot tell what to look for in a mountain bike if you are not an experienced MTB rider or without the buying tips. Here are some of the factors to consider before having that goodie box sent to you.
If there’s one thing you can never down-look, it is the size of the frame. What would you do with an XS frame with your towering height? Nothing enjoyable! Many companies are switching to extra small, small, medium, large, extra-large, and extra-extra-large, instead of the numbers like 16” to 23.” The seat tubes are also becoming shorter, so you are left wondering, what’s going on?
One brand’s medium frame with a 450mm seat tube could be taller than another’s large frame with a 350mm seat tube. You may think it makes no absolute sense, but these brands know that you can buy a seat tube if the current one is short for you. They are also aware that you may decide to upgrade to a dropper post, so why should they stress about selling a 450mm seat tube?
The most important thing is to ensure that the bike is the right fit for the rider. The most common frame size is medium, but you should check the charts online to know the correct frame size for you. What matters is the height, from the seat to the crank, and the reach distance from the saddle to the bars.
A Hardtail or a Full-Suss?
Hardtails are light and fast downhill. They are also more affordable than full-sus. A full-sus is more comfortable on bumpy tracks while riding over roots, uneven ground, and rocks. We also have rigid mountain bikes on the market, which means if you dare ride on quite an unforgiving terrain, you’ll be taking all the shock.
A hardtail comes with a single suspension system which is the forks. That makes the hardtail a bit heavier than a rigid one, but it’s ignorable. A full suspension is heavier than a hardtail with just a few pounds. It comes with two suspensions, the fork, and the rear shock. A full-sus will give you a comfortable ride, but when it comes to repair and maintenance, your wallet gets no mercy. Did I mention that they are difficult to ride uphill?
However, bike manufacturers are aware of how expensive full-sus bikes are, and they are now upgrading the bikes to become more and more affordable to maintain. Regardless, before jumping on a full suspension, it would be best if you started learning how to ride with a hardtail.
26-inch wheels dominated the 20th century, but we are now in the 21st, and as there has been technological advancement in other sectors, so it has been in the MTB world. For aggressive trail and downhill bikes, the diameter has been 27.5-inch wheels. For XC and trail, the 29ers have been taking it.
29ers are becoming the most common bikes, and most riders want to get a bike with a 29-inch wheel. The good thing is that the wheel size doesn’t limit anyone to ride the bike. Anybody can have a 29er of any frame size.
We’d suggest that you don’t get a 26er for yourself unless you are buying it for your kid. The industry has already moved on from that, and you will look odd riding on such a bike. The big difference between a 27.5 and a 29” wheel is that it will take more energy to speed the latter or push it up a hill.
If possible, try both and see which one works for you, but I’d suggest you take a 29er right away and don’t look back. You’ll get used to it.
The Weight Factor
Weight is something to get concerned about if you are a roadie. But when it comes to an MTB, that’s one of the factors we throw away. No need to get a carbon frame bike because you want a lighter one. Do it because you fancy it. Some riders still ride steel frames, and they would still give you a run for your money if you raced them.
A light-weight bike is not essential when you have to slow down and run over rocks and roots. In fact, a heavier mountain bike is easier to control on the trails. You can corner with confidence. Instead of stressing over the weight of a bike, you should worry about your comfort. Besides, all MTBs weigh a few pounds apart.
Most of the mountain bikes hitting the market right now are coming with a 1x drivetrain. The 3x is much old school now, and the 2x is also on its way out. You might want to make sure your bike comes with a 1x drivetrain.
Bikes with a 1x drivetrain are not only lighter, but they are simpler to shift since you’ll need only one shifter to shift the gears up and down your cassette.
The other concern is the brakes. Gone are the days when mountain bikes run on V-brakes. The disc braking system is one of the most iconic inventions in the MTB industry. Then they advanced from mechanical to hydraulic systems, which give you more control and confidence while braking.
The forks of your bike are also important. Most high-end bikes come with high-quality FOX and RockShox forks, while these two manufacturers also have middle-level brands for bikes in that level. For budget bikes, expect them to come with SR-Suntour forks. These are some of the things to look out for in a bike when buying one.
Different Disciplines of Mountain Bikes
While choosing a bike, your style of riding should be the focal point. Why so? Because mountain bikes are built for different disciplines. If you want just a bike to ride, there are many hardtails and full-sus bikes you can try. However, if you decide to specify, maybe because you race or you like a particular sports activity, it’s worth knowing what type of bike you should buy. We are going to break them down for you.
Cross-Country (XC) Bike
What you felt after hearing those two words is undoubtedly what the Cross County bikes are all about. Cross country means you don’t have to follow a railway, road, or route, but you ride across fields or the countryside. It would be much pressure riding through places you’ve never seen, deep in the woods, along the shores of a lake or sea, across rivers, climb mountains, and hear the birds chirping, and that’s the joy of riding an XC bike.
These bikes usually have unique suspension systems, but most beginners start with hardtails. They also have better-pedaling efficiency, are light in weight, come with larger 29er wheels. There are a few of them with 27.5 wheels but can also run a 29er tire. If riding on a smother terrain, a rear suspension will not be useful, and you are better off riding a hardtail. If you like pushing your bike uphill at rocket speed, then a cross-country bike is the perfect toy for you.
Trail Mountain Bike
This is probably the bike that you were going to have in the first place. It’s the most popular style of bike because it can be used for any riding. Trail bikes look very similar to XC that you may think they are one of the same, yet they can perform the same tasks, but due to the nature of XC bikes, they come with high-end components.
Some of the noticeable differences between a trail bike and an XC bike is that a trail bike has a shorter stem yet wider handlebars to improve control, and the tires also have an aggressive tread. Most trail bikes have either 29” or 27.5” size wheels, and of course, the 1x drivetrain is the norm now.
Are you the kind of rider who wants to push your bike or drive to the top of a hill, sit on your bike, and drop downhill so fast that the only thing you hear is wind in your ears? Enduro is your type of thing. The geometry in these bikes allows them to fly fast on rough descends no matter how rough they are. They are also gifted with handling corners because that’s all Enduro is all about.
Surprisingly, even though these bikes are designed for descending, they have an unmatched climbing efficiency. They are considered the most aggressive bikes, and they are also some of the most expensive bikes in the market. Most riders, especially those who love riding in bike parks, prefer Enduro over any other type of bike.
Downhill Mountain Bike
Downhill riding is considered the most extreme form of riding in the mountain biking world. Why so? You have to ride fast while ducking off obstacles and running over others like trees, rocks, and rougher terrain just to beat the clock. What are the qualities of a downhill Mountain bike?
Some riders describe the downhill bike as the most complete MTB with a full suspension and light. They have an aerodynamic shape for high speeds and also feature a dropper post. They take all forms of punishment on the trails, including jumps and turns.
A downhill mountain bike is difficult to ride uphill due to the fewer gear choices it has. But when it comes to downhill, no one will catch you. If you love descending at high speeds, then this is your type of bike.
Also known as e-Mtb, these kinds of bikes are becoming popular every year. An e-bike could have the same features as another mountain bike, but for the electric feature alone, you may spend over $300 extra. The good thing about e-bikes is that you can find one for every discipline mentioned above.
They usually have a motor and battery to provide you with a high level of assistance on steepest climbs or when you are too tired to ride. They are heavier than their non-motorized counterparts, but a heavier bike performs well on descends. If you don’t like steep climbs but come from a place where you have no alternative topography, this is your kind of bike.
Dirt Jump Bikes
Perhaps one of the simplest mountain bikes. There’s no much fuss on this bike, except being lightweight. Dirt jumping is all about spending as much time as possible in the air, and there’s no fancy groupset involved here.
The bike being lightweight, the rider can perform a couple of tricks mid-air. One gear for simplicity, short-travel forks, and tough frame are some of the characteristics of dirt jump bikes.
Singlespeed Mountain Bike
Bikes have come a long way since their invention, but there’s one thing that some riders still fancy – a single-speed drivetrain. Even though the derailleur system has been the norm for so many years now, we all can’t help turning our heads when a single-speed bike passes by.
They are cheap to maintain due to their fewer moving parts, and people prefer riding them during winter. You expect these bikes to be cheap, but there are also some exotic options that you may need to break a bank to buy. They are either hardtails or fully rigid.
Do you love riding on sandy beaches or the desert? Are you looking for a bike to ride on snowy days? Your best bet would be a fat bike. Thanks to their wide wheels, the bike will roll over sand, snow, dirt, or ice without straining a bit.
The 3.6 to 5 inches wide tires will offer you more traction, making these bikes the actual sand and snow beasts. These bikes either come rigid or as hardtails and also have lots of racks to carry gear. Most campers prefer this type of bike.
A Must-Have Accessories for Your Mountain Bike
The helmet is an essential accessory. It’s for your safety, and you should always have it on when riding. Before testing riding your bike, the first thing to do is wear your helmet. We recommend you should always have it on. If you crush in your helmet and it remains intact, you’ll still have to replace it.
A multi-tool is a must-have in your saddle bag or backpack. Most of the nuts and bolts on a bike can be opened with a set of Allen keys. Other parts don’t use the Allen key but hex keys. A multi-tool will save the day if you face an issue on the trails.
Mountain bike clothing is meant to make your rides more comfortable. The clothes are also tough and breathable. In fact, MTB shorts have pockets with zippers where you can carry some of your stuff.
And yes, your bike should have water bottle cages to hold the water bottles for you. You’ll need to hydrate after a few miles. Alternatively, you can carry a camel backpack, what others call a hydration pack.
Whether you are running on a tube, you should never leave a pump behind. If you are running tubeless, always carry a tube and a pump. You don’t want to get a flat in the middle of nowhere and start kicking the sand out of disappointment.
A bike computer will show you the distance covered, and the GPS function will let you know the map and elevation gain. These computers also have supporting apps that you can download and use on your phone.
Suppose you cover 60 miles plus and sit on the saddle for over 90 minutes or so, your body will start running out of energy. Your cycling engine will demand more fuel, and that’s where food comes in. some energy chews and bites will keep your energy level up and going.
Eye Protection and Shoes
Riding sunglasses protect you from harmful sun rays and debris. They are designed to curve around your head. For the shoes, you need a proper pair before getting on that saddle.
Q: Between a hardtail and a full suspension, which one is better for me?
A: Either of the bikes can be good for you. The most important thing to remember is their difference. The hardtail has a front suspension only, while a full sus has both front and rear suspension.
Q: Should I buy aluminum and carbon mountain bike?
A: The type of frame you want can only be determined by your budget. Carbon bikes are more expensive. Also, consider which material is better suited for your riding style.
Purchasing a bike is not hard, but getting exactly what you are looking for can be challenging. If you have no idea of the kind of bike you want, you will get just any bike, and it will likely be a normal pushbike. This guide will help you make a more informed decision. For any questions, please contact us.