How to Choose a Mountain Bike
If you’re taking your bike onto the trails this summer, you’ll need a mountain bike. Look for the features that matter the most to you depending on your riding style and check out our tips below from the experts on choosing the perfect mountain bike for you.
Hardtail: Bikes with front suspension only have a suspension fork in front of the bike. This minimizes impact on the front wheels and is ideal for trails and cross-country riding. These bikes also give you more direct pedal power for a more efficient ride. Hardtail bikes are typically less expensive than full-suspension models and require less yearly maintenance.
Dual-Suspension: Bikes with Dual Suspension absorb impact in both the rear and front wheels, creating a more comfortable ride on rough trails and increased traction overall for your bike. They typically do not maintain momentum well when climbing hills and are less efficient than hardtail bikes.
Aluminum: Premium mountain bikes are typically created with an aluminum frame. They are rust-resistant, durable, and light. As a rule of thumb, the lighter the frame, the more expensive the bike.
Steel: Steel frames are very common and offer great value for a very durable and tough bike. They give you a smoother ride but are heavier than aluminum frames.
Typical mountain bikes range from 18-speed to 24-speed. The more speeds available on a bike, the wider your riding options over different terrains will be (especially climbing hills). Depending on how you will be riding, more speeds are not always better. More speeds add weight and maintenance, so if you’ll be riding mostly flat terrain, opt for fewer gears.
Disc Brakes: Disc brakes grip onto a rotor mounted to the wheel hub. They offer superior performance in all conditions, including snow, water, and mud.
Rim Brakes: Rim brakes feature pads that grip onto the wheel rim. They are economical and convenient – the brake pads can be removed and replaced when they wear down.
26-inch wheels: Traditionally, 26-inch wheels have been the most common size for mountain biking. The smaller size means a stronger, lighter wheel and better maneuvering.
27.5-inch wheels: The latest trend in mountain bike tires are 27.5 inch wheels, also commonly referred to as 650b. They combine the best of both the 26-inch and 29-inch wheels, which better comfort over rough terrain and sharp handling.
29-inch wheels: The largest circumference of 29-inch wheels handles bumps and trails better with improved grip and performance. While it does take longer to speed up with a 29-inch wheel, you will cover more ground in less time.
Tire width is also am important consideration for your mountain bike. Traditionally, the most common size for a mountain bike has been 1.95 inches wide, however the industry has been moving to a wider tire style. Look got 2.8 or more inches on tires, although anything larger than 2.3 inches will give you a similar performance. Fat tires (over 4 inches) are typically used for snow and sand.