Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Buyers Guide to Mountain Bikes. What Type Of Mountain Bike Should I Get?

With So Many Styles of Mountain Bike Out There,  How Do You Go About Choosing The Right One For You?

The first thing you have to do is ask yourself a few questions.

Are you going to be riding in the mountains? Are you going to just ride on some dirt roads?Do you just like the idea of a mountain bike and you're just going to ride on the street?

All of these things will determine which is the right mountain bike for you.
Let's start with the easiest of those. You like the look and style of a mountain bike, but the reality is the most you will be doing with it is going on some dirt roads. At that point anything that we carry that is basic and looks like a mountain bike is going to be a good buy. It's still going to have a more dual purpose tire that will be knobby, but it will still roll smooth on the street.

That would be the first thing. Most of the time you will have 21 speeds, an aluminum or frame, Shimano or SRAM components. Pretty basic. At this point you don't even need disc brakes. You can get a linear pull brake or a v-brake, and you'll be fine. It would be much better for you to get an upgrade in components than to opt for an upgrade to disc brakes at the entry level. 

Take the 2013 Raleigh Talus 3.0 for example.
It's a go-anywhere machine that is road-bike fast, capable, and fun everywhere. It's lightweight custom butted aluminum frame and 80mm travel suspension fork so it floats over roads and paths. 21-speed Shimano Gears and Promax Alloy V- brakes at your disposal. 

Or the 2013 KHS Zaca 29er! KHS' Alloy 6061 with custom formed TT makes for nimble handling,
easy acceleration and quick climbing. 100mm travel suspension fork is amazing at the price point, and it dispatches bumps with ease, grace, and confidence. Quick shifting 24-speed SRAM/ Shimano Combination Drivetrain that will make easy work of the hills. Kenda Small Block 8 29" tires handle the rough stuff on the trail. Excellent bike at a great price.

For the ladies, Raleigh has their 2013 Eva 3.0. It's a fun, all-around bike ready for any and all adventures. It features a Women's Geometry Atomic 13 SL Custom Butted Aluminum Frame, with a SR Suntour XCT front fork (80mm of travel). Shimano takes care of the entire drivetrain, and with 21 speeds you will have no trouble on even some of the steepest trails. Fantastic Weinmann XC260 Double Walled Rims or, as always, we can custom build you some.

Check out Our Video about Custom Rims Here

Next, for the guy or girl that wants to do a little bit of mountain biking, but not to do extreme jumps or dropoffs. Maybe you just want to hit some local trails with your friends. One of the first features you'd look for is: an adjustable front fork. You want a front shock that has enough travel and enough adjustability to hit those bumps and take up the shock and abuse of hitting rocks and potholes and rain-ruts. The next thing would be looking into disc brakes. The more serious you get about riding, the better brakes you're going to need because of the dirt, mud and grime. You will need better stopping power in those dirty conditions and on steeper descents. You will probably still get an aluminum frame but will get an upgrade in the gears. Going up and down hills requires a little more precise shifting than just on flat ground. On this type of bike you can go mountain biking often and expect it to live up to the use or abuse on the trail.

A good example of this type of bike is The 2013 KHS SixFifty 500. It's perfect for this category because it has a 650B Alloy 6061 frame with custom formed TT & DT, and is plenty tough to hold its own in the durability department. Still has 100mm-travel in its RST  suspension fork for control and it comes with a hydraulic lockout. Combination SRAM and Shimano easy pedaling 24-speed drivetrain. Stop on a dime with Upgraded brakes coming in the form of Bengal Helix 7.0 Hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors.

The next level up means you have been riding the trails a bit and now you need a new bike. You're going mountain biking every weekend, hitting all the local trails and going to harsher conditions to ride. You may get many more features on the front fork, including lockout or damping control. The better the front fork, the better the bike will handle in adverse conditions. You may want to go to hydraulic disc brakes even rather than cable disc brakes, kind of like upgrading to  power brakes on a car. The rims on the better quality bikes are double walled, and the spokes come out of a reinforced  "eyelet" rather than just a hole in the rim. This makes them much stronger and better able to handle rougher terrain. At this point you may want to get that full suspension bike, whereas for a first time rider should probably to stick to a hardtail. 

KHS SixFifty 2500   
(Rockshox Bar R rear derailleur, 120mm travel, Shimano SLX Front Derailleur, Shimano Deore Shadow Rear derailleur, Shimano Alivio Shifters, Bengal Helix 7.0 Hydraulic disc 160mm rotors)

Another consideration when purchasing a mountain bike would be whether to get 26" or 29" rims. This is completely based on preference. The larger diameter (29") wheel is gaining popularity amongst experienced and novice alike. Having 29" wheels allows for better traction due to a larger contact patch with the ground as well as the ability to roll over trail obstacles with more ease while maintaining momentum. The novice rider may find more confidence riding through technical terrain.
The trade-offs with bigger wheels are slower acceleration and increased weight due to the mass of the larger wheels and tires. 

The last consideration is weight. When you are selecting a mountain bike for racing, it's important to keep the weight of the bike down. Mountain biking at a higher level requires riding up and down hills of all sizes, over obstacles with frequent braking and acceleration. The lighter your bike, the easier it is to accomplish these feats. Never sacrifice strength and durability for weight

Remember that you can always come in and demo a bike to find out what works for you. We have a lot of options and sometimes you just need to sit on different bikes to figure it out.

Ride-A-Bike Bicycle Shop is located at 116 NE Court Square in Lincolnton, NC. If you come by the shop we can discuss your needs and plans for your mountain bike and let you test the one that catches your eye. 
Or, you can give us a call at: (704) 735-1746

Brantley SmithAbout Me
Hello, I am Brantley Smith and have been riding road and mountain bikes since the mid 90's. I previously worked here at Ride-A-Bike from mid-97 to mid-2000 doing repairs and other duties around the shop. I attended Wester Carolina University and graduated in 2004 with a computer information systems degree. Add my to your circles.