There is a myriad of mountain bike models, sizes and prices in the market. It is easy for you to choose one depending on your riding needs and budget. That said, below are a few tips on how to choose a mountain bike that suits your needs.
There are 3 wide categories of mountain bikes- rigid, hard tail and full suspension. The rigid mountain bike has no suspension; the hard tail has a suspension on the front fork while the full suspension mountain bike has shock absorbers on both the front and rear wheels.
The tougher the terrain the more suspensions the bike should have. While full suspension bikes offer sufficient cushioning against the trail bumps, it can serve as a limiting factor when climbing hills as it takes up too much energy. If going for a full suspension bike opt for one with the ability to lock out rear suspension.
2. Determine the Purpose for Buying the Bike
Some people buy mountain bikes to ride to work, others to explore the wild while others for competitions in the wild. How you intend to use the bike is essential to determining the model of the bike.
3. Set Aside a Budget
Once you have understood the different types of the bikes and established the purpose for which you will be using your bike, carry out a market research to establish the cost range mountain bikes that could suit your needs.
Incorporate costs of maintenance and buying riding gears such as helmet, gloves and apparel in your budget. The cost of mountain bikes can range from as low as $500 to $ 3500+. Therefore it is good to have clarity of your budget. Look out on discount deals to save a few dollars on your purchase.
4. Choose a Dealer Wisely
With the advancements in ecommerce, one can as easily purchase their bike online as they would from an independent bicycle dealer. Purchasing from an actual store comes with a warranty and after sale service such as free first service.
On the other hand, buying online can be cheaper and convenient especially when the bike is delivered to a location of your choice. However, be vigilant to look out for online stores with bad reputation. Find customer reviews on similar purchases to establish the reputation of an online store before purchasing.
5. Choice of Frame Material
Frame materials come in different materials including aluminum, steel, alloy and carbon. Mountain bikes made carbon are more expensive than those made from alloy and carbon. Carbon is expensive but strong and low weight. Consequently, bikes with carbon frames are common on high end mountain bikes. Steel is tough and inexpensive but it can make the bike relatively heavy. Aluminum is the most commonly used because it is light, inexpensive and relatively durable.
6. Specific Needs
Advancements in technology have seen the design of numerous features and designs in mountain bikes. Therefore, if you are looking for specific features in bikes, talk to bike dealers to find out whether there are ready-made bikes with such specifications or whether you can have one custom made.
7. Check the Bike Sizing Before Purchasing
Bike sizes tend to vary from one manufacturer to another. To get the appropriate size always test. To test, stand over the bike with both feet on the ground with legs as close together as possible. Ideally, you should be able to lift the back and front wheels evenly by about 7-8cm off the ground.
8. Rim Brakes vs Disc Brakes
Over time, disc brakes have replaced rim brakes except for entry level mountain bikes. This is because disc brakes offer consistent braking in all terrain conditions, they offer less finger strain and are cheap to replace.
9. Get a Test Ride
Test riding is only available when purchasing your mountain bike in a physical store. Test ride various models and sizes of bikes. You should be able to narrow down to 1-3 bikes. Test riding is important because though different models may have the same features and specifications, they may feel different. You will find a perfect fit and feel at home with at least one of the bikes.
10. Used vs New Mountain Bikes
The main determinant of whether to buy a new or used bike is usually ones budget. If you decide to buy a used one, inspect the bike thoroughly for any defects. Check for worn-out bearings, frayed cables, cracked wheels or inappropriate sounds. If possible, have a local shop evaluate the used bike for you to prevent spending extra money on repairs.
If purchasing a new one, ensure that the bike comes with a warranty and after sale services such as follow up tune-ups.
The above tips on how to choose a mountain bike will help you find one that meets your needs and is within your budget. Whether you choose to purchase from an independent local dealer or an online shop do your due diligence. Remember, the only way to determine whether a bike is the best fit for you is to test drive it.