How to choose the right mountain bike
Whether you’re looking to take on the trails or just want something more exciting to cycle to work on, choosing a mountain bike can be a confusing process. One thing’s for sure, you should take time to find the right bike for you because an ill-suited bike can be bad for your body and dangerous if it affects your ability to ride properly. Plus, you don’t want to waste your money.
This quick guide offers some basic tips so that you make the right choice when buying a new bike.
Know your budget
You get what you pay for but as with any larger purchase it’s important to set a budget. Once you know what you want to spend you can more efficiently browse for bikes in that price range. This also prevents you becoming railroaded by an overzealous salesman.
If your budget is less than £1,000 it’s best to stick with a recognisable branded hard-tail mountain bike. This simply means it has no suspension or only a front suspension, while the tail (rear) remains hard.
If you have more than £1,000 to spend then you should definitely consider a full suspension.
Of course, if you’re really serious about mountain biking and want to get a high-end model, you could take out a quick £500 loan online.
As well as the budget for the bike itself, remember that to ride safely you’ll also need to purchase a range of accessories and extras, such as a helmet, lights, gloves and clothing.
Ultimately as with any bike, the more you are willing to spend the better the quality is likely to be and that includes durability, the spec of components, bike weight and ease of riding it.
Your preferred style
Should you choose a hard-tail or suspension bike? We all have our preferences in terms of both visual aesthetics and practicality. Before you purchase a mountain bike you need to decide what style you like the look of but also what you will be using it for, and whether this will impact your decision.
For example, if you’re just riding to work then you could theoretically choose anything, though a hard-tail would make the most sense. This would also be suitable if your journeys and routes mostly contain roads, flat bridleways and basic trails.
However, for rough terrain with lots of hills, a full suspension bike i the best choice for ease of riding and comfort. Remeber, though, that full suss bikes are often heavier then hard-tail.
Just like buying a car, many bike stores allow you to test ride bikes and they will be more than happy to give you advice
The right size
There is no one size fits all with bikes. If you’re going to ride comfortably and safely you need to buy one measured to your body size and then properly adjust the seat and maybe even the crank arm, handlebars and stem, to fine tune everything. This should be no problem if you go to a specialist bike shop as they will measure you up and make any adjustments at no extra cost.
Buying online can be a bit more tricky, but most dedicated online bike shops will have adequate size guides and pages to help you make the right decision and making extra adjustments at home shouldn’t be much trouble if you have a basic toolset.
If you do have trouble you can always take your bike to be serviced at a local specialist’s. If you order a bike online that arrives unassembled, you can pay a reasonable fee to have a professional put it together for you.
The right tyres
Mountain biking requires certain types of tyres depending on the terrain, so if you plan on mostly doing true off-road mountain biking, be sure to get adequate tyres fitted. This will help with grip, comfort and the right tyres will last longer before needing to be replaced.
Slick tyres or semi-slicks are better for roads and fairly smooth paths.
Or how about choosing a fat bike fitted with over-sized “fat” tyres for great comfort on rough terrain and in mud, sand and snow?
Today, there is an endless list of accessories and gadgets that can be fitted to your bike, from drink holders and storage to heart-rate monitors and add-ons for cameras and mobile devices. Set aside some of your budget to allow for some nice accessories.