Mountain biking is one of the great activities in all outdoor sports like fishing, hunting, surfing, skiing and kayaking. Actually Riding a bike on challenging outdoor trails is a lot of fun, but choosing the best bicycle for this task can be just as challenging. Our brief guide will help you decide on the right model for hard terrain.
Mountain bikes come in various sizes and with a broad spectrum of technical capacities. Clearly, different models are specialized for particular types of use and it is impossible to select a single bike that’s ideal for every rider and occasion. If you primarily intent to practice cycling on rough roads and hillside trails, you should select a bike that will behave well in that environment.
You won’t have trouble finding bikes advertised as all-terrain, though their actual performance might vary. Instead of looking into dozens of models individually, let’s consider some factors that contribute to a well-informed decision:
Hard –tail or full suspension?
The most important distinction between two main categories of mountain bikes is the type of suspension. Some models have a fixed rear fork, while others allow direct control of both wheels independently of each other. Each type has its advantages, but on rough surfaces full suspension is highly preferable. These mountain bikes are far easier to steer when the conditions are difficult, reducing the chances of a fall and draining less energy. It is true that bikes with two suspension forks are more expensive on average than hard-tail models, but they earn their keep on steep, slippery tracks.
Which manufacturers are the best?
Brand isn’t the only factor you should consider when buying a mountain bike, although it definitely plays a role. Merida, Kona and Yeti are high-end brands that are preferred by the professional mountain bike racers, so getting your hands on one of these should be considered a priority. Mass market bicycle manufacturers such as Diamondback, Mongoose and GT also deserve attention, though you’d be well-advised to check the performances of each model before making a purchase. Checking the manufacturer of the transmission system is also a wise idea – the biggest name in this department is Shimano.
How many speeds is enough?
The first thing you notice when comparing mountain bike models is the number of speeds that could range from 3 to 27. More advanced models typically come with more speeds, although usefulness of additional gears is highly questionable when riding on a muddy trail. Too complicated transmission system can jam when the conditions are bad, so most experts advise a single-box with 10 to 12 speeds. If you are looking specifically for an off-road bike, you will likely be recommended something in this range, as most of the latest models are adhering to the philosophy that more is not always better. Of course, if you are shopping on a budget, you should be OK with 7 speeds or less.
How much to pay for a good bike?
The answer to this question clearly depends on your situation, as mountain bikes come as cheap as $100 and as expensive as $10.000 or more. It would probably be a good idea to avoid the budget class if you intend to put your new bike to heavy-duty use on very demanding terrain, but you don’t have to reach for professional equipment to stay safe on the trail. Middle class of mountain bikes typically costs between $300 and $600 and in most countries this should be enough to get you a decent product that will serve you well for several seasons. If you can afford to get a top-tier model, you should most certainly go for it, as additional power and control will be really useful on bad terrain.