Riding a bike is a great healthy, cheap, and environmentally friendly option of getting around. If you still need convincing that it should be your new mode of transportation, it also helps you cut through traffic in big cities with ease.
But bicycles aren't just for getting around urban areas. Mountain bikes (AKA mountain bicycles or MTB) are all-terrain bikes made for use on trails, and rough and rocky terrain. Thanks to their versatility and usefulness, they are among the best selling recreational products on the market today.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our selection: The best mountain bikes
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about mountain bikes
- 4.1 What is a mountain bike and what is it for?
- 4.2 What are the different types of suspension?
- 4.3 What wheels to choose when buying a mountain bike?
- 4.4 What should I be aware of before starting mountain biking?
- 4.5 What types of mountain bikes are there?
- 4.6 What material are mountain bikes made of?
- 4.7 What is the most important part of a mountain bike?
- 4.8 What MTB suits each different style of mountain biking?
- 4.9 What is the best mountain bike to start with?
- 5 Shopping Criteria
- 6 Summary
- Within the MTB market, there are many different models. The most important decision to make is the model you would like. The most popular mountain bikes are all-terrain models.
- The most commonly made mistake when choosing a mountain bike is getting one that is the wrong size. This error will make your first mountain bike experience very unsatisfactory. If the bike is too big or too small you will not be comfortable nor will you be able to handle the bike well.
- If you are buying your first mountain bike, you should stick to simpler products that are not super advanced (or expensive). You need to make sure you are getting good quality components, but that you are not paying for anything you are not going to get any use out of.
Our selection: The best mountain bikes
Below you have compiled a list of five of the best mountain bikes currently on the market. We have included all of the pertinent buying information so you can get the product that is best suited for your needs, experience, and budget.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about mountain bikes
Mountain bikes are becoming more and more popular for those who live in cities as well as those in the country. If you are looking for something to take to work, or want something to enjoy your weekends in the country with, Fit For Beach will help you find the best mountain bike for your needs, experience and budget. The below sections lay out all of the information you need to make an informed purchase, and we answer some of the most commonly asked consumer questions.
What is a mountain bike and what is it for?
What are the different types of suspension?
|Type of suspension||Characteristics||Price||Weight|
|Rigid or semi-rigid||No suspension. They are not advisable for rocky sections or long rides||Cheaper because they are simple to manufacture||Light|
|Double suspension||Provides a more comfortable riding experience. More effort is required when riding uphill due to the extra weight||More expensive||Heavier|
What wheels to choose when buying a mountain bike?
What should I be aware of before starting mountain biking?
- Don't be seduced by bargains: Anything too cheap is unlikely to be something you are going to want to ride. You should get something stronger (and better made) that will keep you safe and give you control, over something ludicrously cheap.
- Physical fitness: It is important to be consistent when practising this sport so that you build up your physical fitness. The best tip for uphill riding is to start off slow and steady and pick up the pace around halfway up.
- Pace yourself: When you first get a new bike you will likely want to ride it every day without rest. When you first start out, however, it is better to pace yourself and gradually build up to that level.
- Listen to your friends: Mountain biking is a sport that is more fun when accompanied by friends. It's great to learn from the people who have been doing it longer than you.
- Hydration: It is key to stay fully hydrated when biking and to take water wherever you go.
- Take care of your gears: When you change gears, you should take the pressure off your pedals so you get more life out of your crankshaft.
- Relax: Many new riders, especially downhill riders, are super tense and grip their handlebars tightly. Make sure to control your breathing and let the energy flow through you without being taken over by fear.
What types of mountain bikes are there?
|Trail (or All Mountain)||Used to ride on unpaved stretches (forest tracks, dirt roads and mountain trails) and are aimed at recreational users. They are ideal for beginners looking to ride at slow speeds|
|Downhill||Used to descend at full speed on trails or downstairs. They can be made with double or single suspension, are strong bikes and are designed to withstand falls and blows|
|Cross Country (also known as XC)||Suitable for crossing mountain sections at high speed. These mountain bikes are used to compete in the Olympic Games, the X-Games and professional races|
|Enduro||Mountain bicycles that are designed to go up and down hills. They are for routes that pass along mountain roads or wider tracks with some jumps|
What material are mountain bikes made of?
|Steel||The lowest price material and the pioneer in mountain bike design|
|Aluminum||Lighter than steel, but less resistant. Aluminium absorbs impacts very well|
|Titanium|| One of the lightest materials, although more expensive.
Its main characteristic is its elasticity/adaptability.
Due to its high price, few brands use titanium for the frames of their mountain bikes
|Carbon fibre|| Absorbs the vibrations of the ground very well.
More flexible than all other materials however the weakest material
What is the most important part of a mountain bike?
|Steel||Very affordable and simple material for manufacturing||Steel is less resistant than other materials|
|Carbon fibre||It is a high-quality material that is extremely light and absorbs vibrations well||Very fragile in case of falls or large impacts. Expensive material|
|Titanium||It is the lightest and strongest material of the four. Used in professional mountain bikes||The most expensive|
|Aluminium||It is as strong as steel yet lighter||On bumpy roads, the rigidity of the material can be uncomfortable|
What MTB suits each different style of mountain biking?
|Riding style||Type of bike|
|Free riding||Bike should be lightweight, easy to manage, and durable. Doesn't necessarily need to be ridden long distances.|
|Urban fixed speed riding||Their gears are fixed and the speed you ride at is based on how hard you push down on the pedals. It takes great physical fitness to ride these bikes.|
|Downhill riding||Specialised mountain bikes for safe descents. These are robust, reinforced bikes because they are made for the harshest terrains.|
What is the best mountain bike to start with?
- They're often cheaper: If you are just testing the waters then you are going to be price-conscious. It is better to spend an average amount of money and not like your bike or the sport than to go top shelf right off the bat.
- They are simpler to use: While you need to pedal all bikes, those with front suspension are usually more lightweight and easier to propel forward that those with dual suspension.
- They're more resistant and durable: No unnecessary shock absorbers that need care or maintenance.
- They're more versatile: They are good for downhill mountain biking and for distance riding. You can use these kinds of mountain bikes for a wider range of riding than dual suspension bikes.
The modern mountain bike market offers a wide range of different models. Since there is so much choice knowing what to get can be tricky, and certainly requires some knowledge. The below section lays out the essential buying criteria you will need to apply so you get something that will last you, and something you are going to use.
Mountain bike frames usually offer standard styles for inexperienced riders. The difference is in how the components are assembled, as well as the type of components. Each brand of mountain bike has its frame differences. There are generally two key considerations to keep in mind when evaluating a mountain bike frame:
- The standover height: This is the distance from the ground to the top of the top tube of the frame. Bigger is usually better here, but you should always be able to touch the flats of your feet to the ground.
- Design: Your bike you should have more relaxed geometry (with a more open steering angle).
The best wheel size for medium, large, and extra-large mountain bikes is around 29 inches, while for small and extra-small bikes, 27.5 inches is best. Smaller wheels are less heavy, so they're better for smaller riders. If you want to start downhill biking or hitting jumps, smaller wheels are also better.
Your fork is what provides you with your impact resistance and cushion so it is incredibly important. The below table lays out the different kinds of forks on the market:
|Suntour XCM||They are the most basic kind of fork and tend to wear out quickly.|
|RockShox XC 30||High quality with great reliability and shock absorption|
|Air fork||Both high quality and lightweight|
|RockShox Recon Gold||Made with aluminium(lighter than those of steel).
These are the most professional forks available
If you are new to mountain biking you should get something from the second category (or higher). if you aren't finding anything in these categories, try to see if there are any equivalents available that will perform the same.
When mountain biking, you should only ever consider models that use hydraulic or disc brakes as these are the only kinds that allow for fast stopping without locking up and sliding. These kinds of brakes also require you to apply less pressure, so they aren't as hard on your hands. Tektro and Shimano are the most commonly encountered brakes on mountain bikes.
A mountain bike's pedals and crank are what we transfer the force from our legs to move us in the direction we want to go. With mountain bikes, they use gears depending on the terrain that changes the resistance of the crank. Gears are typically referred to as speeds, and the best system for a novice is a 2 x 10 or 1 x 11 system.
It is common for people to replace the stock tires that come with their first bike with better ones, or ones better suited for the type of riding they want to do. If you are going to replace the stock tires, it is a good idea to get all-terrain ones that have a thick tread. You can always get tires from the previous year as the design doesn't change enough in that time to be significant to performance.
The suspension is made to absorb the impact of rocks, bumps, roots etc. in the ground when we ride over them so we don't feel everything in our arms, wrists, and hands. You should pay close attention to the suspension of your bike, because a good suspension makes riding comfortable and, depending on the terrain, possible.
The wide variety of choices on the market when it comes to mountain bikes means that you need to know how to evaluate the different important factors. To start with, you have to know what you'll use the bike for because all of the other decisions (forks, shocks, frame, tires) are based on that.
You need to be honest about how and where you will ride your mountain bike, because tougher terrain requires more robust, and generally more expensive components. wherever you ride, always be aware that mountain bikes are made and should be purchased to stand up to rough terrain and the added strain that places on the machine, so you are going to want quality parts that perform well and keep you safe.
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(Source of featured image: Bogdancadar: 666656/ unsplash.com)