I want a MTB. Where do I start?
That question brings us back to the beginning: Not all MTBs’ are created equally.
That truth is reflected in the huge choice of types and brands available out there in the market. It can be an overwhelming decision. That’s why a little time researching on the Inter-Bike can save you a lot of time and hassle.
At the end of the day you most likely want a mountain bike that’s fun to use. But getting the right bike for the right purpose is a bit of a minefield. What makes a bike perfect for barreling down a downhill course at speed is a lot different from one designed for traveling the length and breadth of China, for instance.
For instance, a full suspension MTB looks the business, but just how much suspension do you need? What’s the difference between a hardtail, an XC and an All MTB anyway? What do you really need or want? Do you know?
This is where at least being able to countenance the type of bike your after can rule out a lot of the chaff and you have home in what you need.
Learning the hard way…
This advice comes from needlessly expensive naivety from the time I bought my first MTB. I wanted a bike, so I walked into a shop and I bought one for $300 and I rode it out after 10 minutes of in-shop research.
It lasted about 3 months before I wrecked it trying to downhill a virgin path off the side of a mountain in Scotland.
The front brake broke first, then the chain snapped and finally the right pedal came off. But then, in hindsight, I had bought a cheap bike that really had been designed for not going any further than class, and occasionally to take me to a party…
Needless to say, the next time, I put a bit more time into what I really needed.
So don’t buy cheap, and buy what you need.
Before we get into the different types of MTB, first here’s a word from our sponsors: Just kidding.
But here are some things that really should be mentioned:
30 second guide to: Hardtail or Full Suspension
Mountain bike suspension comes in 3 distinct flavors
- Hardtail: Shocks at the front
- Full Suspension: Shocks at the front and back
- Rigid: No shocks at all
Shocks on bikes generally also come in 2 flavors, being either a wound steel spring, or using air sprung forks. Air sprung forks will end to be lighter and easier to adjust.
- Hardtail mountain bikes have shocks only in the front fork. Front suspension reduces upper limb fatigue, helps keep your hands on the handlebars, and makes steering easier on rougher trails.If you’re looking for a reasonably priced first bike, or you have a limited budget, or after a one bike that can do most anything, then a hardtail is a solid good choice.
- Full suspension bikes tend to not be very good below a certain price point, and will be heavier.A good full suspension bike will cost more than a good hardtail, but will reduce fatigue and make riding more comfortable. It also offers a higher level of control on rough ground at speed.If you want a bike that is dedicated to riding dirt trails at speed but is easy as it can be on joints and muscles, then this may be the one for you.
- Rigid bikes are mountain bikes that don’t contain any suspension at all. They were almost seen as antiquated until quite recently, but these old school Cross Country bikes are making something of a comeback. The newer ones are incredibly light, and easy to pedal.