Choosing the best mountain bikes for an individual is not easy. There are many parts needed to be considered, and many steps that needed to go through. If you miss out a small step, or fail to take bike parts into careful consideration, you will not get a satisfactory mountain bike. Therefore, after deciding to buy a mountain bike, please follow these steps below:
Step 1: Know yourself
This is the most important step. As we all know, there are many different types of bikes and a variety of terrains to ride on. When choosing a mountain bike, keep asking yourself: “What do I want to do with a mountain bike?”. If you want to travel long distance with small obstacles, choose the Cross-country mountain bike. If you want to climb mountain with rough terrains, choose the all-mountain bike or the trail mountain bike. This step helps guarantee that the bike you buy exactly fits your using purpose and your character.
Step 2: Understand your bike
After choosing your bike type, the next thing you have to do is to choose appropriate features of the bike to optimize your mountain bike. These features usually are: frame, suspension, wheel, brake and gears. We will now go through each feature one by one:
After choosing the appropriate frame materials and frame size, the next thing you need to pay attention to is the suspension. In fact, for a mountain bike, suspension is really important, because it helps soften the ride and improve control. There are two types of suspension these days: hardtail and full suspension.
Hardtail mountain bike is the type of bike that has the suspension only in the front wheel. This front suspension helps reduce the force affecting your hand and your arm while also improves control when you go on rough terrains. Hardtail mountain bike is preferred when you want a cheaper and lighter mountain bike and ride it on a less rough terrain.
Unlike hardtail mountain bike, full suspension mountain bike has both wheels suspended. Though it comes at higher cost and weight, it will improve control, reduce fatigue and provide much more comfy for the riders.
In fact, choosing what kinds of suspension depends on personal interest. However, it is highly recommended that a beginner in the biking world should choose the full suspension for easier control while the experienced one can choose whatever suits them most.
Let’s move to the next part: Frame – the backbone of the bike. When talking about frame, we need to discuss the frame materials and the frame size. Nowadays, frames are usually made of aluminum, steel, titanium or carbon fiber. Among those, aluminum seems to be the most popular choice, thanks to its light, strong and inexpensive characteristics. Steel is strong and durable, but it is a little bit heavy for a mountain bike. Titanium and carbon fiber, despite being light and strong, is relatively expensive for a mountain bike under 1000$.
About the frame size, one must choose the size of the frame that is appropriate to the body proportion. When you’re at the bike shop, there are a few things you can check:
- The reach from seat to handlebars: not too stretched out (the bike is not too long) and not too scrunched up (the bike is not too short).
- Seat height: when you sit on the bike with one foot at the bottom of the pedal stroke, you should have a slight bend in your knee.
When you’re at home and try to buy a new mountain bike online, the infographic below might be useful:
The Wheel Size
After choosing frame and suspension, now we focus on the wheel size. The table below clearly distinguishes the four most popular wheel size nowadays:
|24 inches||· Appropriate for Kids’ mountain bike for accommodating the shorter legs of children.
· Appear in less expensive bikes for adults with simpler components.
|26 inches||· The most popular in the past.
· Light and easy to accelerate.
|27.5 inches||· Falling between 26 inches and 29 inches, this size combines all the best attributes in those two sizes.
· It is lighter than 29-inch wheel while rolling over obstacle easier than the 26-inch wheel.
· Easier to accelerate and appropriate for both short and tall riders.
|29 inches||· Heavier (more rim, more rubber).
· Slower to accelerate.
· Better momentum once rolling.
· Larger contact area.
· Rolling over obstacles easier.
· Appropriate for tall riders.
The next thing we need to consider is the brake. This one is the most important in the field of safety. The faster you want to ride, the more careful you need to check your brake. Nowadays, there are two types of brake:
The tradition type. This type of brake has pads that grip onto the wheel rim to slow down the bike. Though it is cheap when you only have to change the pads if they wear out, it has a low stopping power and especially less effective in the wet or muddy conditions.
The pads now do not grip onto the rim, but grip onto the disc attached to wheel hub. This type of brake is better than rim brake in the stopping power and effective in all conditions. However, it is a little bit complicated when repairing. In the author’s opinion, the disc brake is highly recommended over rim brake for your safety.
The final part you need to concern is the gears. Obviously, gears are what makes mountain bike different from normal bike. Gears offer a wide range of speed for bikers to adjust to suit different terrain in different situations. Normally, the number of speed offered by gears is the result of the number of front chainrings multiplied by the number of sprocket on the rear hub. For the entry-level biker, the gear usually offers 24 speeds, with 3 front chainrings and 8 rear sprockets. For most common mountain bike, the gear offers 27 speeds with 3 front chainrings and 9 rear sprockets is used.
Step 3: Looking back at your wallet
After choosing the bike which is appropriate for your purpose, the only thing left is to consider the price. Remember that in this guide, the maximum money allowed to spend on the bike is $1000, so choose wisely. If the price is higher than $1000, then you can change to cheaper features of the bike. Good features must come with good price to make a good bike. Please remember that.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q)
What is a Mountain Bike?
When we talk about a mountain bike, we definitely do not refer to the normal bicycle that your mother uses every day to go shopping or whatever places. A mountain bike is a bicycle created for off-road cycling, with a light sturdy frame, broad deep – treaded tires and multiple gears. Mountain bikes are used on mountain trails, fire roads, logging roads and other unpaved environments, which include rocks, ruts, loose sand, loose gravel… With a mountain bike, blazing through rough tracks with different terrains has never been so easy.
How many types of Mountain Bike are there in the market?
Generally, there are 5 types of mountain bike according to biker’s different purposes and styles:
Trail Mountain Bike
The most popular type of mountain bike, which is used for general purposes ranging from dirt roads to singletrack trails.
Cross-country Mountain Bike
Similar to how it’s called, this type of mountain bike is best suitable for people who want to ride a bicycle across country. Cross-country mountain bike is usually used to cover a long-distance with lesser and moderate obstacles. In order to do so, this type of bike is built as light as possible while still being strong enough to handle a little bit rough terrain. More than that, since it is usually used in competitive events, the elements of speed, ascending and cornering are also emphasized.
Unlike cross-country bike, this type of bike is usually used for climbing mountain. It fits people who want to pedal uphill easily and then hit the downhill hard. All-mountain bikes are like trail bike, but heavier. The extra weight comes from stronger frames with bigger suspension. With these designs, getting uphill through rough terrain is just a piece of cake!
Free ride and downhill mountain bike
Especially suitable for people who like the thrills and spills. Bikers who own this bike usually get to the top of the mountain by other vehicles and use this bike to go downhill at a fast speed. With this purpose, these bikes are designed with broader tires and stronger suspension to enhance the stability, keep balance and get through rough terrains easily.
Dirt jump mountain bike
This bike is also known as “street bike” for it is mainly used to perform tricks, aerial stunts, jumps… in the designated bike parks. In order to do so, this type of bike is often equipped with large handlebar, 4-6 inches of suspension, quick rolling tires and extended rear cable for easy movement. Dirt jump mountain bike is most suitable for stylish youngster (or people who are young at heart).
This is the end of the guide for buying the Best Mountain Bikes. Thank you for being with us to this part of the guide. Hopefully, with all the steps, advices, you guys will be able to choose your own mountain bike.
We prepare for you a comparison of the Best mountain bikes under 1000$. It will save your time and money when choosing a mountain bike.