For most of us, purchasing a bicycle is about as complicated as buying a car. You go down to the lot, pick out one that’s in your budget and isn’t an awful shade of fuchsia and then buy it.
For the rest of us, things aren’t so simple. For anyone who uses their bicycle for anything other than transportation and leisure, you need a bicycle that is suited for what you are doing with it.
For the same reason that you wouldn’t purchase a Cadillac when you want to go hill climbing with your auto, you wouldn’t want to purchase an ordinary bicycle for mountain biking.
Your mountain bike should be chosen for what you want it to do and for how long you want it to last. While your budget is important, you should probably understand that the more expensive your bike, the less likely it is that you will have to replace it in a few years.
Your mountain bike is a long-term investment, and you should plan accordingly.
Styles of Mountain Bikes
Mountain bikes are the tough, heavy framed vehicles that carry their riders up mountains, down slopes and cross country. Choosing the right mountain bike means deciding what you will be doing with the bike, and what you want to learn to do on it.
Consider what you will be doing with the bike, how many different things you need it to do and then if you will be happy with that style in a year or two.
There are roughly four styles of mountain bikes, and each one is suited for a slightly different style of riding. If you aren’t familiar with riding mountain bikes, that would be Cross Country, Trail, Freeride and Downhill. Depending on your favorite style of riding, one or more of these bikes might be best suited for you.
You should also consider the frame size when buying, however; frame size depends on your height and weight.Cross Country mountain bikes
are the lightest of this type of bicycle. They usually have thinner frames and about 100mm of travel. These bikes come with either full suspension or front suspension.
These bikes are very light and easy to pedal, which makes them great for traveling long distances.
Trail Bikes are the most appropriate if you like to do everything. They are a medium weight with a medium travel (about 120-140mm) and can handle a wide variety of situations.
Freeride bikes have a longer travel and are suited for going down fast trails and doing various stunts such as jumps and drops. These bikes can also be used for downhill, which makes them perfect if you like to race and go downhill.
Downhill bikes are made specifically for going down, and are generally very heavy. These bikes are very difficult to ride uphill, so you don’t want this one if you want to do anything besides go downhill very fast.
Full Suspension vs. Hardtail
You should also choose whether you want full-suspension or hardtail (front suspension). Each of these mountain bikes has its advantages, but most riders have different preferences.
Usually, it’s a good idea to test the two styles out. Full-suspension bikes are usually a bit more comfortable and easier to control while hardtails pedal more smoothly and are a little bit lighter.
However; you might find yourself having to maintain the hardtail a little bit more than you would the suspension. Once again, this is a personal choice, and you really should test it out for yourself.
However; most people believe that the full-suspension is safer, so if you are a beginner, safety is a great option.
You can find a wide variety of specialized bikes online, especially various mountain bikes in different styles and sizes. Just remember to choose the style of bike that suits your riding, and the frame size that suits your height.