Thinking of purchasing a mountain bike?
Selecting a new mountain bike is a delicate process, and the last thing you want is to end up with a bike that doesn't satisfy your needs. By recognizing what style of riding you'll be doing as well as the types of terrain you'll encounter, you'll be able to nail down what type of bike is right for you. From there, the only obstacle is your budget!
Important aspects to consider as you narrow down your choice of mountain bike:
- Material: What the bicycle is constructed of
- Suspension: Fully rigid, front suspension, or full-suspension
- Travel: The amount the suspension will move until fully compressed
- Wheel size: 26" and 29" wheels
- Components: Shifters, derailleurs, stem length and angle, and other componentry that will affect the ride quality and comfort
When considering the material your bicycle is constructed of, there are a variety of perks and drawbacks to each type:
- Less expensive
- Bulky and heavy on the trails.
- Susceptible to rusting if left exposed to moderate moisture
- Lighter design than steel
- Tubes that can be formed into aero shapes for less wind resistance.
- Fairly inexpensive when compared to its counterparts.
- While more expensive, allows for a much lighter frame design than metal construction.
- Incredibly strong and stiff where it is designed to be, though it can be prone to cracking or breakage, especially in crashes.
- Typically the material of choice among experienced and serious cyclists.
Depending on the terrain you'll be riding, it's important to consider what types of suspension you may want on your bicycle.
- Typically lighter and less expensive than their full-suspension counterparts.
- Typically faster than full-suspension bikes, which lose speed and power through travel of the rear shock.
- On very difficult and rocky terrain, hardtails can be less comfortable and create more riding pains and discomfort than a full-suspension bike would.
- Maximum comfort: The shocks in both the front and rear are continuously absorbing impact while you ride; this means less pain in your back and butt.
- Greater traction: The rear is constantly in contact with the ground. This means less bouncing on rough terrain, and less spinning-out on technical uphill climbs.
- Depending on your riding style, this may be the best value since front and rear shocks contribute to additional costs of the bicycle, thus allowing for higher levels of componentry and materials.
- Incredibly quick and energy efficient: The majority of your pedal stroke is delivered directly into the rear wheel.
- Usually more responsive and lighter than suspension bikes, though the rigidness can take its tole on the beginner cyclist if the terrain is rough and rocky.
If you're planning on purchasing a bike with a suspension, estimate how much travel you'll need. Essentially, there are four categories of travel:
This is the most common form of riding as it consists of easy to moderate trails with technical aspects designed for the beginner to intermediate rider. Bicycles in this category typically have 4-6 inches of travel and consist of lightweight material and components as they are designed for simple trails and roads.
These are very similar to cross-country bikes, but tend to have slightly more travel (5-7 inches). They are also designed with lightweight material for climbing and descending, though with slightly stronger components to endure more aggressive riding.
Designed for serious drops and jumps, so they typically have around 7-10 inches of travel in both front and rear shocks. These bikes are built for serious obstacles and repeated harsh impact, so they tend to be heavier and bulkier than cross-country or all-mountain bicycles. Though not specifically designed for uphill riding, these bikes can be built to maintain their ascending ability.
Designed for mobbing down serious trails and terrain have suspension travel around 10 inches. These bicycles are not made for pedaling uphill, so they tend to be heavy and bulky with large disc brake rotors to handle slowing down the serious speed.
26" vs. 29"
If you've been considering a mountain bike, there's no doubt you've heard about the 29er's taking over the scene. Most of your friends and family will likely attempt to persuade you toward purchasing either a 26in. or 29in. bicycle, but you should know for yourself the benefits and downfalls to each size.
With the 26" wheel, your center of gravity is lower to the ground, which in turn allows greater stability on trails with low technical difficulty. This also permits tighter handling through sharp turns and corners. On the flip side, a 29er tends to allow for a feeling of greater stability on more technical trails as your clearance over small obstacles is higher and the angle of attack is lower. You feel less impact and less resistance over smaller obstacles giving you greater confidence on your more difficult lines.
When it comes to weight, the rotating mass of the 29" wheel is heavier than it's 26" counterpart. While this implies a more difficult time pedaling up hill or over flat technical trails, it also means you can achieve greater speeds downhill while maintaining those higher speeds better on flatland or smoother trails.
Depending on your riding style and the terrain you plan on tackling most often, it's likely that one of the two wheel sizes will better suite you. If you're still unsure about what the advantages and disadvantages mean for you, come down to the shop and test ride a few different models in each wheel size. You'll immediately feel the difference between the two and probably favor one or the other. Regardless of which way you're leaning, or if you still have no idea which bicycle would benefit your riding style, we'll be more than happy to help provide you with further knowledge and ideas to help guide you in your new purchase.
Every bicycle comes with various components based on the model and level. Depending on your budget, there are different features that each bicycle will have. While all bikes have room for upgrades down the road, purchasing a "package" deal will save you money in the long run, as buying individual components tends to cost significantly more than buying parts in a group with the bicycle.
When considering components, you'll want to think about the following:
- How many speeds your bike has
- What type of braking system it utilizes
- What types of tires you'll want based on what terrain you plan on riding
- Other features...
The best way for you to get a feel for the differences in components between each bike is to visit the shop and test ride a few models. Once you dial in the model you're interested in, we'll discuss other features and components that could benefit you with your new bicycle. You may find that you're not a fan of the seat or that you'd like a different set of pedals for your bicycle. At this point, we'll work with you to swap out anything you want to change or any accessories you want to add.
The final step of purchasing your new bike will be to get fully measured and fitted if you prefer. This will allow us to find the proper handlebar rotation, saddle position, stem length and angle, and other minor adjustments that will allow you to experience the utmost quality ride. Visit our fit page for more information on scheduling a fitting appointment.