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Mountain bikes come in various shapes and sizes to suit different disciplines. Finding it hard to decide? Here are some tips to help you figure it all out. Mountain bikes (MTB) vary in their types, but their common characteristics are width of tires & wheels, strength & size of frame, gear speed combinations, and height & length of handlebars.
Most entry-level mountain bikes feature a front suspension fork which absorbs the bumps while you are riding on uneven terrain. These style of bikes are called hardtail MTB. Whereas, Full Suspension Mountain Bikes has suspension on the front as well as the rear frame.
Here’s What You Should Consider Before Buying an MTB
Finding the right mountain bike requires a lot of research and a thorough understanding of what exactly you’re looking for, on what terrain you want to ride your bike, and what is the specific discipline where you are going to use your MTB. It can be challenging to choose a perfect MTB for you especially if it’s going to be your first mountain bike.
It’s no surprise that there are many factors to consider before choosing a mountain bike, and to make it easy for you, here are the important factors which you should consider before buying yourself a mountain bike.
1. Why Frame Size Matters
The most obvious factor for why bike frame size matters are the riding position and comfort. You need to choose the frame size depending upon your discipline where you will be riding your MTB. As, based on this, you will make your riding position.
For more cross-country riding, a larger frame is more preferable as it allows you to stretch out and put the power down easily. Whereas if you would be riding on more technical terrain, then a smaller size frame is more suitable as it will provide you more maneuverability and control.
To put it simply, a smaller frame size will provide more control and maneuverability over speed and so it is compatible for harder terrains. On the other end, large frame size is more preferable for speed but are to be used on easy terrains. You can always Look for best bikes such as Mongoose XR200 which is one of the most popular Full Suspension MTB.
The saddle height also varies with the frame size. If the saddle is too low, it would be hard to put all the power from your legs to the paddle; and if the saddle is too high, then it would be extremely uncomfortable to ride and you may also rock your hips.
A right frame size also means that it has right reach to the handlebar. It should be conveniently reachable so that you are neither hunched up or too stretched out while riding.
2. Wheel Size
Until recently, the mountain bikes used to have 26” wheel as a standard size. This smaller size provided good maneuverability and fair acceleration. A 26er is the most suitable size for beginners unless you are very tall.
With the advancements in the mountain biking sport, the market has moved on to larger sizes which are 27.5” and 29”. The 29” larger size allowed the riders to ride more speedily on open and flowy tracks.
The 27.5” wheels size (aka 650B) is termed as “inbetweener” and it provides quick acceleration like a 29er and control and maneuverable like the standard 26er. It is also more preferable for riders in sub 5ft 9in for whom the 29er is like big brother’s bike.
3. Fat or Plus Bike Tire?
Fat tire bikes have wide tires that are fitted on big rims. The wider area of the tires makes it easy ride in soft or unstable terrain like snow, sand, and gloopy mud. Although you get the capability of riding on a vast variety of terrains, the speed is compromised.
The Plus Bike Tires are best suited for all worlds by providing a good speed, climbing ability, and good control. The width of the plus bike tires is optimum to be stable and grippy without loss in handling feel.
4. Gearing & Speed Combination
Usually, mountain bikes have anywhere from 7 to 27 speeds with 1 to 3 chainrings on the crankset(front side) and 4 to 12 sprockets in the cogset(rear side). The popularity of 10-speed and 11-speed mountain bikes with single chainring has increased due to its easy shifting, lighter weight, and simple desing.
If you are a beginner and planning to buy your first mountain bike, then choose an MTB with a single chainring on the front side. Due to this derailleur is only required on the rear side, and not on the front chainring. Besides making shifting gears simple, single derailleur also makes maintenance easy.
5. V-brake vs Disc brakes
It isn’t very hard to decide whether which type of brakes you want in the MTB as there are only two; V-brakes and Disc Brakes. If you are a beginner then V-brakes will be fine. But as your riding level improves then you need to move on to upgraded features as well. MTB V-brakes have good stopping power and reliability and at the same time, mountain bikes with this type of brakes are not very expensive.
Choosing an MTB with disc brakes can be a little expensive, but it is worth spending your money on them as you will get an amazing stopping power even on wet or muddy terrain. Besides having more stopping power than V-brakes, it also requires less maintenance.
If you are going to buy a new mountain bike then you will inevitably face a big choice; Full Suspension or Front Suspension. A Full Suspension(aka dual-suspension) MTB features both; a suspension fork in the front and a rear shock. Whereas Front Suspension (aka Hardtail) MTB has only a suspension fork. The suspension helps in absorbing the force of bumps and makes riding smoother as it minimizes jerks caused due to uneven terrain.
If you are a beginner and also not willing to spend more money then you can opt for Headtail mountain bikes or electric mountain bikes, as these are entry-level MTBs which are not very expensive. On the other hand, mid-level and high-end mountain bikes have full suspension, which are expensive as compared to hardtail MTBs.
The Final Note
Before choosing your adventure companion, carefully check the frame size appropriate to your height for convenient and safe riding. Also, plan your budget before purchasing your MTB to make a perfect choice.
It may come as a huge challenge to find the best mountain bike from the hundreds of choices to pick from. But at the end, what’s important is that you find the bike which is safe and fun to ride on.