Tips on how to Select a Mountain Bike

by jpc_touring-bicycle

Making an attempt to determine which mountain bike is best for you? Right here’s how you can strategy the query:

Bike type: Totally different driving kinds require completely different bike kinds, so your first consideration is the place and the way you propose to experience.
Key options: The biggies are suspension, wheel dimension, body supplies, gearing and brakes.
Match: Final, however not least, be certain your bike suits you nicely. That is greatest executed in individual at a motorbike store like REI.

Word: This text covers the fundamentals of mountain bikes. (See under for a quick glossary of phrases used on this article.) For a extra detailed dialogue, discuss with the bike execs at your native REI retailer.

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Varieties of Mountain Bikes
Path Bikes

That is arguably the commonest mountain biking type as a result of the class isn’t grounded in any particular sort of racing. When you’re concerned about assembly up with pals on the native trailhead and driving a combination of climbs and descents, then that is the type for you. Bikes on this class place equal emphasis on enjoyable, effectivity and wise total weight.

Typical specs: 120–140mm of suspension journey; 67–69° head-tube angle

(Suspension journey is the quantity of motion provided by the bike’s entrance and rear suspension. Head-tube angle is the angle that the pinnacle tube varieties with the bottom. A steeper head-tube angle usually signifies {that a} bike will flip quicker and climb higher. A slacker (decrease) angle usually signifies {that a} bike will present higher stability at excessive speeds however gained’t climb as nicely.)

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Cross-Nation Bikes

Cross-country mountain bikeThis type of driving usually implies driving quick, with an emphasis on climbing prowess. Distances range from only a few miles to 25-plus, and bikes are inclined to deal with effectivity and low weight. These bikes may be nice when you’re contemplating getting aggressive or would love a racier experience in your native trails.

Typical specs: 80–100mm of suspension journey; 70–71° head-tube angle

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Fats-Tire Bikes

Fat bikeOversize tires, from 3.7 in. to five+ in. extensive, give these bikes glorious traction, particularly in sand or snow. Fats-tire bikes are nice for inexperienced persons as a result of the extensive tires are reassuringly forgiving as a rider picks a line by way of tough terrain.

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All-Mountain Bikes

All-mountain mountain bikeConsider all-mountain driving as path driving on steroids, with larger leg-burning climbs, longer, scarier descents and extra technical options—each man-made and pure. Bikes for all-mountain driving are designed to carry out nicely on steep descents whereas additionally being gentle and nimble sufficient to pedal uphill.

Typical specs:140–170mm of suspension journey; 65–68° head-tube angle

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Downhill/Park Bikes

Principally ridden at lift-serviced bike parks, these bikes aren’t bought by REI. Downhill bikes are large and difficult, and riders put on full-face helmets and physique armor as they encounter jumps, berms, rock gardens and picket ladders.

Typical specs: 170–200+mm of suspension journey; 63–65° head-tube angle


Mountain Bike Options

Suspension sort and wheel diameter are two key attributes that decide the kind of terrain a motorbike is able to dealing with. You’ll additionally need to think about issues like body materials, variety of gears and kind of brakes as you slim down your bike alternative.


Mountain Bike Suspension Sorts

Rigid mountain bikeInflexible: Not the commonest sort of mountain bike, “inflexible” mountain bikes don’t characteristic any suspension. They’re simple to take care of and normally cheaper, however most riders favor bikes with suspension for larger consolation. Most fat-tire bikes are inflexible as a result of riders discover that the extensive tires and low tire stress present all of the squish wanted to soak up bumps on the path.

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Hardtail Mountain Bike


Hardtail: These bikes have a suspension fork within the entrance to assist soak up affect on the entrance wheel, however the rear of the bike has no suspension—ergo a hardtail. Hardtails are usually cheaper than full-suspension bikes and have fewer transferring components (which frequently interprets into much less upkeep). Most hardtails have the flexibility to lock out the entrance fork for instances when a totally inflexible bike is desired.

Cross-country riders usually gravitate towards hardtails as these bikes enable extra direct switch of energy between the pedal stroke and the rear tire. Hardtails will also be at house on all-mountain trails, and the decrease price and simpler upkeep make them a stable choice for all the things besides severe lift-serviced downhill trails.

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Full suspension mountain bike


Full suspension: There are numerous variations of full-suspension bikes, however the normal thought is for the entrance fork and rear shock to soak up the impacts of the path. This drastically reduces the affect on the rider, will increase traction, and makes for a extra forgiving and pleasing experience.

A full-suspension bike can take in lots of a path bumps and chatter, however the bike can even “bob” a bit and also you lose a few of the power switch when climbing uphill. Because of this, most full-suspension rigs have the flexibility to lock-out the rear suspension to supply higher energy switch and extra environment friendly climbing.

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Mountain Bike Wheel Dimension

Mountain bike wheel size26 in.: Within the not too-distant previous, all grownup mountain bikes had been geared up with 26 in. wheels. It nonetheless is an accessible wheel dimension, however now whenever you stroll into a motorbike store and inquire about mountain bikes, you’re prone to be requested, “26 in., 27.5 in. or 29 in.?”

27.5 in. (650b): Providing a center floor between normal 26 in. wheels and 29ers, these bikes apply a “better of each worlds” answer, extra simply rolling over terrain than the 26s, however extra maneuverable than 29ers. 27.5 in. wheels may be discovered on each full-suspension and hardtail rigs.

29ers: These bikes characteristic 29 in. wheels which can be a bit slower to speed up, however when you begin transferring you possibly can conquer significantly extra terrain far simpler than on a motorbike with 26 in. wheels. They’re extra environment friendly for longer rides as they hold their momentum up and so they have a better “assault angle,” that means the wheel rolls over path obstacles simpler. These bikes have turn into extraordinarily fashionable for the cross-country crowd. 29ers may be present in inflexible, hardtail and full-suspension rigs.

For assist selecting between 27.5 in. and 29 in. wheels, see 27.5” vs. 29er: Which Mountain Bike is Proper for Me?

27.5+ in.: The plus image merely signifies extra-wide wheels and tires, usually 2.8 in. or extra in width. Wider tires provide a extra comfy and extra forgiving experience. Additionally they encounter much less rolling resistance, so the development is for bikes to have wider wheels and tires as of late.

24 in.: Youngsters’ mountain bikes usually have 24 in. wheels to accommodate the shorter legs of kids. Most are less-expensive variations of grownup bikes with easier parts. Usually talking, these go well with children ages 10 to 13, however this relies extra on the dimensions of the kid than the age. Youthful/smaller youngsters can get began on mountain bikes with 20 in. wheels.


Mountain Bike Body Supplies

The body influences a motorbike’s weight, power, longevity, experience high quality and value.

Aluminum alloy is essentially the most generally used materials for mountain bike frames. Some more-expensive fashions have lighter aluminum frames because of the producer expending extra {dollars} and energy within the number of supplies, tubing design and the manufacturing course of.

Different body supplies embrace metal, titanium and carbon fiber. Metal is hard, cheap and provides a easy experience, however is comparatively heavy for a mountain bike. Titanium is gentle and robust however too costly for all however high-end mountain bikes. Carbon fiber is pretty widespread on cross-country bikes, fat-tire bikes, and high-end path and all-mountain bikes due to its power and low weight, however it’s comparatively costly as a result of it requires labor-intensive manufacturing.

For extra data, see the REI Skilled Recommendation article, Understanding Bike Body Supplies.


Mountain Bike Gears

The variety of gears a motorbike has is a results of the variety of entrance chainrings multiplied by the variety of sprockets on the cassette. Mountain bikes can be found with all the things from a single velocity to 30 or extra gears. If you issue within the many mixtures of chainrings and cogs and the numbers of tooth on them, issues can get complicated.

To maintain it easy, a very powerful issues to think about are your health stage and the terrain you may be driving. When you’ll be driving numerous steep hills and you discover climbing difficult, then you definitely’ll need to go for extra gears. When you’re a powerful mountain biker otherwise you solely experience flat terrain, you will not want as many low gears to energy up a hill so you may get away with fewer gears, which will even assist hold your bike gentle.

Mountain bikes have historically include two or three chainrings to supply quite a lot of simple gears for climbing. Nevertheless, mountain bikes with single chainrings and a wide-range cassette with 9, 10 or 11 cogs at the moment are very fashionable. Bikes with one chainring are lighter and easier since you want just one shifter to maneuver by way of the gears on the cassette, and so they provide a lot of the gears you’ll want.

Understand that bike gearing is pretty simple to switch after you purchase a motorbike, so it doesn’t should be your main concern when selecting a motorbike.

Be taught extra about bike gears in our article, Bike Gears and Shifting Fundamentals.


Mountain Bike Brakes

Disc brakes have changed rim brakes on all however entry-level mountain bikes.

Disc BrakeDisc brakes: These characteristic brake pads that grip onto a brake rotor mounted to the wheel hub. Disc brakes are available in two variations: Hydraulic disc brakes provide extra progressive and stronger braking with much less finger effort, and so they self-adjust for brake pad put on. Cable-activated (mechanical) brakes want guide adjusting because the pads put on.

Benefits in comparison with rim brakes: Extra constant braking in all circumstances; less expensive to exchange a worn rotor than an entire wheel; superior efficiency in steep and moist terrains; much less finger pressure.
Disadvantages in comparison with rim brakes: Tougher to examine pad put on and change pads. Hydraulic brakes are dearer to service.

Rim BrakeRim brakes: Some entry-level mountain bikes include rim brakes. Rim brakes characteristic pads that grip onto the wheel rims.

Benefits in comparison with disc brakes: Economical; simple to look at brake pad put on and change worn pads.
Disadvantages in comparison with disc brakes: Step by step wears out the wheel rim, requiring the wheel to get replaced; much less stopping energy; much less efficient in moist or muddy circumstances; requires extra finger effort on the levers to brake aggressively.


Mountain Bike Match

Mountain bike fitA motorcycle that matches nicely and is correct in your top, flexibility and driving type is a motorbike you’ll love driving. A correctly becoming bike can enhance your dealing with and confidence on the path that can assist you sort out extra technical and difficult rides.

How mountain bikes are sized: Mountain bikes are available in normal sizes (S, M, L) and are usually related throughout manufacturers. Sizes usually correspond to your top. Many bike producers embrace dimension charts that listing a top vary for every bike dimension. When you’re in-between sizes, it’s greatest to err on the smaller aspect as extra sizing lodging may be made with a smaller body than with one which’s too giant. To be taught extra about becoming a mountain bike, see our Mountain Bike Becoming Fundamentals article.

Get the perfect match by going to a motorbike retailer: Armed with a normal sense for what sort of bike you’re in search of, now is an effective time to go to REI or one other specialty bike retailer to determine some appropriate fashions and check out a number of bikes. That’s one of the simplest ways to get the perfect match.

Go for a check experience. Ask to experience a number of bikes. With the assistance of a gross sales specialist, you must be capable to slim down your choice to 2 or three bikes. Although they could have related costs and parts, every will really feel completely different to experience. Take every on a five- to 10-minute experience over some diverse surfaces, together with up a brief hill. Typically, one bike is simply going to really feel higher for you than the others. You need a bike to really feel like a pure extension of your physique.


Mountain Bike Upkeep

Any REI bike store will give your bike a closing mechanical security inspection earlier than you wheel it out the door. Additionally, ask for the suspension settings to be adjusted in your physique weight.

Be sure to have at the least the naked necessities for repairs and upkeep: spare tube, patch equipment, tire levers, pump, multi-tool, chain lube and one thing to hold all of it in. And, don’t overlook a helmet. 

Many outlets like REI present a free first tune-up. Make sure you deliver again your new bike to reap the benefits of that provide.


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