WHAT IS A MOUNTAIN BIKE?
We have answer for you by our mountain bike buying guide.
Mountain bikes are difficult and flexible devices designed to handle challenging off-road terrain.
There are a big variety of MTBs available, from beginner-friendly spending plan constructs that can equally act as city commuters to more specialised models that stand out at particular off-road disciplines.
The type of MTB you select may depend upon the type of riding you prefer to do, the surface you will usually ride on, and the budget you have offered.
Complete suspension or ‘full-sus’ MTBs include shock absorbers at both the front and back, which provide varying amounts of suspension ‘travel’ in order to deal with trail bumps and barriers.
‘Hardtail’ MTBs bypass rear suspension in favour of a rigid frame. They normally make use of suspension forks at the front end for some bump-swallowing convenience, but others might be fully rigid.
Both hardtail and full-suss MTBs are offered in ‘women-specific’ iterations to reflect the different ergonomic requirements of female cyclists, such as greater standover, shorter leading tubes and narrower handlebars.
Exactly what’s the very best mtb for you? The key points:
Know your riding style
Your riding style assists you quickly narrow the bike choice to appropriate designs. Unsure? Go for a basic “path bike.”.
Know your budget.
Standard models start around $500 however lighter, faster models with complete suspension and higher-end elements can easily exceed $3,000.
Test trip numerous bikes, if possible, in the category you desire. It’s extremely likely that one will stand apart as being a better ride for you.
Complete Suspension mountain bikes
Full-suspension mountain bicycle feature shock-absorbing suspension travel front and back to take on anything the surface can toss at you, providing puttinged convenience for those impressive dawn-to-dusk days in the saddle along with the capability to go quicker and harder when the trail gets rough and points downhill.
A full-suss MTB is typically considereded an ‘off-road just’ alternative, in part since of the additional weight of the rear suspension. If you are searching for a bike that will double up as a city commuter or weekend roadway tourer, a hardtail is most likely the better option.
WHICH FULL-SUSPENSION MTB IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Some ‘full-sussers’ are designed as trail-ready all-rounder machines that will fit most of new and seasoned recreational mountain bikers; others are more particularly tailored to competitive disciplines such as cross-country (XC), Enduro and downhill (DH) racing; while still more are constructed to take the monster hits of freeride (FR) or bike park riding.
Advances in suspension innovation indicate the latest full-bounce rigs are lighter, more efficient, more trusted and better value for cash than before– but with unlimited variations in travel length, planned use, element strength and suspension design, here’s a brief guide to help you work out the full-suss labyrinth.
FULL-SUSPENSION MTBS: IN-DEPTH
The full-suspension bike has some evident advantages over the hardtail, with the best of modern suspension designs likewise practically eliminating any downsides with regard to weight or pedalling performance.
Since the additional suspension takes in more of path barriers encountered when riding over typical off-road terrain, the bike can typically go quicker, with the back end efficiently gobbling the hits instead of being kicked around.
The extra cushioning of rear suspension can also offer increased comfort on long-cross nation trips, particularly helping to minimize lower back and knee discomfort.
Complete suspension bikes in the direction of the budget plan end of the stove can be much heavier than similarly-equipped hardtails, due to the shock, pivots and linkages that the frame have to sell. This may be damaging if much of your riding is done on smooth tracks and even on tarmac, where the benefits of having rear bounce are surpassed by the smooth and energy-efficient power shipment of the hardtail.
While hardtails may typically be the lighter option, the advantages of an active rear end make it often worth a weight penalty on more tough tracks. Rear suspension can made available more speed through the rougher downhill sections and more self-confidence when tackling ‘larger’ surface consisting of the drops, jumps and rock gardens found on a lot of path centre black runs, however will also work hard to provide additional traction on technical climbs where lots of a hardtail would ‘spin out’, losing important rear-wheel grip.
Nevertheless in addition to being much heavier, complete suspension frames are likewise more complex to construct and for that reason more costly. This suggests that a full-suspension bike is likely to have poorer-quality components than a hardtail at a comparable price point.
This is a crucial point to bear in mind if you are purchasing a very first bike at the spending plan end of the marketplace, when the concerns are good-quality, light-weight and reputable suspension forks, brakes, wheels and equipments.
Today there are almost as various suspension systems as there are manufacturers, with brand-new and improved designs appearing to great fanfare every year as engineers chase the holy grail of the ideal suspension system.
The main issues connected with earlier generations of suspension design– an over-active suspension absorbing rider energy when power is used throughout the pedal stroke (‘pedal bob’) and a suspension system that stiffens under braking (‘brake jack’)– have been mainly overcome by a new generation of suspension innovations.
Various producers have discovered new ways to separate pedaling forces from the suspension and to make sure that the rear shock continues to be active under braking, while classic suspension designs have actually been given a brand-new lease of life by advances in the development of platform-damped shocks which successfully ignore pedal feedback to counteract pedal bob.
Just How Much TRAVEL?
While the amount of suspension travel is not the be-all-and-end-all when it pertains to figuring out how a bike will ride and what kind of riding it is matched for– with frame geometry equally as essential, if not more so– it supplies an useful way to group together full-suss bikes into numerous classifications. Right here are some of the most extensively used:
Bikes with 100mm or less rear travel are generally fast and lightweight mile-munchers designed for climbing and long-distance performance over the ability to take on challenging technical terrain. Focuseded on competitive cross-country racers and marathon riders whose priority is cross-country speed instead of downhill delights, these bikes feature steeper cross-country geometry for maximum pedaling performance, 27.5″ or 29″ wheels with narrow, fast-rolling tyres and a selection of strong however light elements. Frame materials are generally light-weight aluminium or carbon fibre when it come to top-of-the-range models focuseded on severe racers. Race and marathon bikes will normally include a light-weight air shock and weigh from 9-12kg (20-26lbs).
Developed to take the sting out of continual effort on normal off-road surface, they are also popular as all-rounders with strong riders who have the abilities to handle the technical things.
Lots of modern riders have discovered 120-140mm travel to be the ‘sweet spot’ when it comes to taking on a big range of off-road terrain while maintaining the ability to pedal uphill.
Normally a little bit beefier than shorter-travel race bikes, these trail bikes are constructed with fun in mind, rather than an one-upmanship. They are commonly developed with slightly slacker frame angles for downhill self-confidence, broader wheels and tyres for extra strength in addition to functions such as through-axle front forks and large brake discs for precision steering and stopping. While older design/budget path bikes are frequently discovered with 26″ or 29″wheels, the 27.5″ level has actually ended up being normal on brand-new designs. They will certainly also feature a stiff and light-weight aluminium or carbon frame, and will certainly weigh from 11-13kg (25-30lbs).
These mid-travel trail hounds are the bike of option for a generation of modern riders who are prepared to give up a few of the climbing and pedaling effectiveness of more race-bred devices in order to drink the fun aspect of being able to let rip on quick and challenging singletrack tracks.
Bikes with suspension travel of more than 140mm are developed with the focus on downhill penalty, featuring slack frame angles and tough-as-nails components to match.
They may be significantly much heavier than more XC- and trail-oriented offerings, with components created mostly for their ability to take success– 26″ or 27.5″ wheeilswheels with strong, large rims and tyres, through-axle front forks, effective disc brakes with extra-large rotors front and rear, brief stems and wide handlebars, and additional functions such as bashguards in location of the biggest chainring, and chainguides to prevent the chain from falling off in the rough. Bikes like this will typically weigh in extra of 13.5 kg (30lb).
These bikes are meant for riders who press the limitations on really demanding terrain, however as they can still be pedalled uphill are popular with the current generation of Enduro riders, a newing competitive discipline which integrates elements of cross-country and DH. Newbies to the sport might nevertheless discover them too big for all-round use.
160mm and more.
Full-suspension bikes with more than 160mm of travel are constructed for the specific demands of downhill (DH) racing and freeride (FR).
Super-slack DH bikes are pure gravity sleds with the singular function of getting a rider from the top of a tough DH course to the bottom quicker than the rest of the field. Equipped with ultra-tough parts consisting of 26″ wheels, large-volume tyres, long-travel triple-clamp forks, coil shocks and powerful large disc brakes, these bikes are not developed to be pedaled uphill at all but rather to speed through the berms, jumps, drops, roots and rock gardens that make up a common DH track, then be pushed or driven back approximately the top for another race run. They may generally weigh in excess of 18kg (40lb).
FR bikes meanwhile are constructed to take the big hits of the most ‘severe’ branch of the sport, where riders with skill, experience and nerve take on the type of aerial jumps, spaces and drops that would ruin typical bikes. These bikes also include long-travel suspension and overbuilt parts, and are developed to absorb single large impacts instead of the sustained high-speed penalty of DH racing. Not for newbies, for obvious reasons.
Hardtail Mountain Bike
Hardtail mtb are developed to take on tough off-road surface without the cushioning of rear suspension. Don’t be fooled, nevertheless, into thinking that the modest hardtail is a beginners-only alternative. Plenty of situations call for the benefits that a hardtail provides, while many an experienced rider values the extra skills edge that a lack of rear bounce demands, and the plugged-in path connection that just a hardtail can offer.
WHICH MTB HARDTAIL CORRECTS FOR YOU?
There are various kinds of hardtail bikes, some created as all-rounders and others to cater for certain disciplines. Geometry, strength, suspension travel and elements will differ according to exactly what kind of riding the bike is intended for, while various frame products match rider choices or the particular needs of a branch of the sport. The majority of spending plan and mid-range hardtail MTBs will certainly include a lightweight aluminium frame. Top-end bikes usually utilize lightweight carbon fibre, while many bike makers likewise provide steel or titanium frames that interest a large range of riders.
From superlight short-travel cross-country (XC) race rigs to rough, challenging dirt and street devices, from beginner-friendly budget bikes to the most recent generation of long-travel trail devices: there’s a hardtail to match every riding style and every spending plan.
COMMON HARDTAIL TYPES
Below are some of the most common categories that bikes can fall under:.
Due to the fact that hardtail frames cost less than their full-suspension cozs, the quality of elements utilized to make a total bike are likely to be higher than on a full-suss with the very same price. When starting, having a bike with front suspension that works effectively, strong and trusted brakes that stop when you desire them to and challenging wheels that can take the punishment of rocky surface is far more important than rear suspension.
Important bike skills such as weight positioning, climbing up, cornering as well as jumping can all be discovered on a hardtail, providing riders the perfect tool to sharpen their fitness and skillset before they may eventually decide to choose a full-suss.
Hardtails can likewise be chameleons– such bikes can be flexible city and road training devices, while the addition of a travel luggage rack, mudguards and slick road tyres can open up an universe of touring and travelling options, while still having the ability to reverse into an all-terrain monster in a matter of minutes. Something to think about if storage area or financial resources will limit you to one bike, and one bike just.
Normal hardtail mtb aimed at newbie bicycle riders will feature a lightweight aluminium frame and suspension forks with around 100mm travel. Wheels will typically be 26″ or 27.5″ depending on manufacturer. These bikes will normally have 24 or 27 (3×8 or 3×9) gears with a triple front chainset to make sure a broad adequate variety of gears for tackling steep hillsides, both up and down.
Brakes are a vital consideration– lightweight and easy-to-maintain v-brakes still appear on budget bikes and will certainly be fine for commuting and periodic off-road journeys, however if you mean to obtain significant about the sport, the all-weather reliability of disc brakes is a must, preferably hydraulic discs. If your spending plan doesn’t stretch to a disc-equipped bike right now, try to find a design that is at least geared up with a disc-ready frame and hubs, so you can update later on.
Hardtail bikes focuseded on cross-country (XC) racers; long-distance marathon-style occasions; less technically challenging path centre runs and just normally covering a lot of off-road miles will certainly likewise typically showcase 80-100mm suspension up front.
Nevertheless the amount of suspension travel is not the only consideration – possibly much more crucial is geometry: the angles and tube lengths of a hardtail frame are critical elements in how it will certainly ride and what type of riding it will be best fit to.
Race- and marathon-style cross-country bikes typically showcase reasonably high head and seat angles (a seat angle of around 73 degrees and a head angle of around 71 degrees being considered ‘traditional’ XC geometry), positioning the rider in the optimal position for seated pedalling, particularly uphill. Leading tubes will certainly meanwhile be on the long side, enabling the ‘stretched’ riding position that allows riders and racers get lots of air into their lungs.
Wheels found on race bikes vary from 26″ in older generation models to the newing standard 27.5″, however it is also in this classification that the effectiveness maded available by the 29″ wheel entered play, and many race riders prefer the fast-rolling advantages of bigger wheels.
On the other hand when it comes to parts, the gears, brakes and finishing kit focus on a balance in between lightweight and strength, with 20-speed (2×10) transmission ending up being increasingly conventional and disc brakes the standard.
Numerous riders find that gravity-assisted enjoyable and a bike’s capability to tackle technical surface are as essential, if not more so, than pedalling efficiency.
Bikes have altered to keep up with this trend, with more and more hardtail bikes and frames departing from the ‘timeless’ design (steep angles, 80-100mm travel) in favor of harder-hitting long-travel devices frequently classed under the categories of “trail” or “All-Mountain” (AM). While such bikes will happily pedal to the top of the hill, they come into their own when ripping down the other side and are guaranteed to prompt the grins in twisty singletrack.
They may include long-travel forks (approximately 140mm or more), beefier building and elements selected for their ability to take penalty instead of for their gram-shaving weights.
For the majority of riders, the middle ground is someplace between, with modern-day trail hardtails of 120-140mm travel mading available the best balance between light-weight pedalling effectiveness and rough-and-tumble high-speed enjoyable.
For hardtails created to take a bit more penalty, seat and head angles are a little slacker (head angles of 69 degrees or less being unique of the modern trail hardtail) so that riders can get their bodyweight well back on the bike on steep, technical downhill trails. Top tubes are usually much shorter, providing a more upright riding position which is not optimal for all-day pedalling but gives much higher rider control on hard surface, consisting of downhill runs, the most difficult path centre paths, and when the bike is airborne. Such bikes are also generally paired with short, stubby stems for pinpoint steering accuracy.
Frame products are usually aluminium or steel, the lively and supple ride feel of the latter having actually made it increasingly popular among modern path hardtail riders not extremely concerned with the slight weight charge involved.
Parts once more will be similar in function and appearance to those on a 100mm cross-country hardtail, but typically chosen with strength instead of light weight as the most important consideration– effective disc brakes with larger rotors for more stopping power; wide handlebars and short stems for overall guiding control; 26″ or 27.5″ wheels with harder rims and larger-volume, grippier tyres.
Street, Dirt and 4X
Hardtails built for the demanding disciplines of dirt jumping (DJ), street riding and four-cross racing (4X) are developed less with pedalling effectiveness in mind than with the capability to take severe and sustained penalty, and live to inform the tale.
DJ and street bikes normally feature overbuilt aluminium or steel frames which are tougher and much heavier than those discovered on their cross-country and trail counterparts, with smaller sizes offering increased agility in the air and ‘chuckability’.
The frames are married to 26″ wheels and a tough but heavy option of elements, bash guards and/or chain guides in place of the most significant chainring, and around 100mm of suspension travel courtesy of stiffly-sprung front forks, typically with bolt-through axles for additional strength.
Prior to choosing your Mountain Bike you have to understand your riding style.
To be a wise bike shopper, first determine your riding intentions and experience.
Mental check in: Exactly what is motivating you to get a mtb? Are you an experienced road cyclist looking for a little range? Will you be doing household trips on bike paths and maybe lugging a bike trailer with a kid? Or are you out to develop your fitness level and skills on local tracks?
Suggestion: For errands, family getaways or periodic use, a standard design will certainly serve you well. If you want to go farther, faster, higher or more difficult, then higher-quality parts will be well worth the additional spend.
Physical check in: Are you fit, versatile and looking to discover brand-new abilities? Or are you periodically active and merely looking to check out a variety of tracks? Or are you some mix of the above?
Recommendation: If you are active and in excellent condition, you’ll drink either a hardtail or a full-suspension bike. If you suffer any joint or back conditions or simply want a smoother ride, a full-suspension bike will probably be more to your taste.
Types of trails: How wide or narrow, flat or steep, smooth or bumpy are the trails you prepare to ride? The kind of trail can have an impact on the most appropriate bike for you. Ask seasoned riders what sort of mountain bike is ideal for the tracks in your area.
Suggestion: For fairly smooth trails or a mix of dirt and pavement, a hardtail will certainly serve you well. For trails that are rough, rocky, rooty or have little drops, think about a full-suspension bike or a hardtail 29er.