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.
Best Mountain Bikes for 2021
#1: Specialized Stumpjumper Evo Comp
If you are a mountain bike rider that loves to be in the saddle all day long and looks forwards to descents, the Stumpjumper Evo Comp is tailor-made for you. Here’s why.
- Forks: 140 mm/160 mm travel
- Shock: 130 mm/150 mm travel
- Wheel Size: 29”
- Frame Size: S, M, L, XL
- Frame Material: Carbon/Alloy
- MTB Type: Full Suspension XC and Trail bike
It’s not only the most popular model they have, but it’s also Specialized’s quiver killer. Every brand must have a quiver killer, which is a bike that rides at rocket speed.
The 2021 model came with a lot of changes, including the suspension design. Instead of the Horst-link design used before, the 2021 model came with a single-pivot system.
Other noticeable changes about the Stumpjumper are the progressive geometry with a slacker head angle and seat angle. The bike is no longer available in 27.5. Sorry to the affected.
The bike’s geometry can be switched with the flip chip’s help and carries a multi-tool in the headset known as SWAT.
The Stumpjumper is for the type of person who wants a bike that lives up to its name by jumping stumps and can climb and descend hustle-freely.
This is going to be a bike you’ll appreciate on how fast it rolls, and you can try different terrains with it.
#2. Trek Marlin
- Fork: 80 mm/ 100 mm travel
- Wheel Size: 27.5”/29”
- Frame Size: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
- Frame Material: Aluminum
- MTB Type: Hardtail
Another budget Trek MTB is the Trek Marlin. It consists of different series, the most expensive one being the Marlin 8, going for about $1200.
There are other more affordable bikes in the series, including women’s going for less. Marlin 4 is the most affordable bike in the series. These hardtail bikes are suitable for hobby cyclists and first-timers alike.
Another great budget bike is the Trek Marlin 6 which is best suited for beginner cross-country riders.
The Marlin comes with knobby tires and disk brakes for effective braking. If you are on a tighter budget and looking for a bike that will offer you the thrills or looking for a commuter bike that will take you around the suburb, Marlin is the right bike.
#3. Cannondale Cujo
- Fork: 100-120mm travel
- Wheel Size: 27.5”+
- Frame Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
- Frame Material: Alloy
- MTB Type: Hardtail
The Cannondale Cujo and Scarlet are budget hardtails but with plus-sized tires for a smoother ride. They are best suited for off-roading. They offer better traction than Trail. Most of them are long-travel bikes due to the conditions they ride in.
While Trail is fast and the trails and rides better than Cujo on-road, Cujo is stable and confidence-inspiring offroad.
Besides, its long-travel features favor many bikers looking for comfort on the trails even though they are on a budget.
Cujo is a unisex bike, while Scarlet, as you guessed it, is women-specific. Both are excellent bikes that are equipped with 27.5+ wheels with tires of up to 2.8” width, although you can downscale.
Did you know that you can also ride this bike downhill without any stress?
Yes, with the 120mm fork, you can run over rocks and drop downhill like a DH racer. Cujo is just one of the best and most affordable hardtails out there.
The bike is also equipped with a set of hydraulic brakes and a 1x drivetrain. Though lightweight, Cujo, and Scarlet have the firmest aluminum frames capable of taking any technical rides as they come.
Just like the Trail, this bike is not suited for very rocky or ste4ep conditions. There’s only one Scarlet available in the series, and Cujo 1, 2, and 3. Cujo 3 is the most affordable in the lot. You can upgrade the parts for a smoother and better ride.
#4. Scott Sparks 2022
- Forks: 130 mm or 140mm travel
- Shock: 120 mm travel
- Wheel Size: 27.5”/29er
- Frame Size: M, L, XL
- Frame Material: Alloy/Carbon
- MTB Type: Full suspension
There goes another Nino Schulter’s favorite toy. The Scott Spark RC is one of the bikes that have won the World Cup titles, and looking at it, you will understand why.
It’s a masterpiece and a quality build. If you are an avid follower of Scott Spark, you have probably heard about the 2022 model.
Some of the latest features are the integrated cables going into the frame through the stem and the head tube.
There’s “TripletLoc,” if that’s going to be the new name of what used to be the TwinLoc technology.
The dropper post-trigger was moved from the top of the bars to the bottom. The Spark is also the first full-suspension bike to come with room for two bottle cages inside the triangle. Wondering how?
The selling point of the Scott Spark 2022 is the rear suspension going inside the frame. The internally situated shock will prevent dirt from damaging the links and also reduce the cost of maintenance.
The Spark remains the favorite of all Scotts because of its vast choice. It’s suitable for trail riding, XC, and any other kind of riding you want to do, making it a very versatile bike.
The Spark starts at Trail 900 and RC and scales down to the 970, which is the most affordable of all the bikes in the Spark category.
The Contessa models and the 27.5” bikes have 130mm and 120mm fork and shock travel combinations. Spark models also take extra-sized tires.
#5. Giant Talon (Budget Pick)
- Fork: 100 mm travel
- Wheel Size: 29”/27.5”
- Bike Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
- Frame Material: Aluminum
- MTB Type: Hardtail
Giant Talon 3 is an entry-level Giant MTB, and for some reason, most of us started here when we knew almost nothing about bikes. At the time, we thought, “why so much money for a bike?”
Talon comes in five different models, so you have a few options within the category. This is the type of bike to buy if you want to hit lighter trails, ride on the road, or run some errands.
Talon 0 is the most expensive bike in the category, and it has a higher-quality component combo than the other Talon bikes. It features a 1x drivetrain and an air fork. It runs on either 29 or 27.5 wheels, based on what you may choose.
The most affordable bike in the lot is the Talon 4, which is less than $500. These bikes are not suitable for bumpy terrain or rocky patch. Only ride them on soft terrain.
#6. Yeti SB130
- Fork: 150 mm travel
- Shock: 130 mm travel
- Wheel Size: 29”
- Frame Size: S, M, L, XL
- Frame Material: Carbon
- MTB Type: Full Suspension Trail Bike
Every bike company has its own quiver killer, and Yeti’s version of it is the SB130. This model is versatile and features shock extenders, something you’ve never seen in other bikes.
The feature allows the rider to tweak the leverage ratio of their bike to create more shock allowance and make it easy to replace a shock.
The SB130 is the do-it-all trail bike that will fill your heart with love and leave you with a lot of excitement. With the slack geometry and the large 29er wheels, this bike will crown you the king of the bike park.
Some sellers say this is the most loved Yeti, as the SB130 has a lot of customers. Most riders prefer this bike to any other Yeti because of its insane capabilities.
The SB130 is the bike you need to hit the trails. You can force it on an XC race, and when an enduro event is held in your state, don’t be shy to show up with the SB130.
It will make you proud. It also has uphill capabilities than any enduro bike, and that gives you the courage to show up.
The whole intention behind creating the SB130 by Yeti was to create one bike that would excel across various disciplines, and they must have called out the best bike engineers and testers in the US.
The results were a trail destroyer with courtesy to hold on its own regardless of where you are on the mountain.
It’s a bike of gravity and a bike against gravity, always ready to face an adventure-packed day. It’s impossible to find a bike that does it all, and the SB130 will never disappoint you.
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 suspension 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.