Before buying a mountain bike, think about what type of riding you are planning to do. Are you into mostly smooth hardpack with little obstacles or bumpy technical singletrack with lots of rocks and logs? Do you want to do drops and jumps with your bicycle? Are you planning to race or use the bike for recreational riding? Once you figure out what type of riding you will be doing, you can narrow your focus to what type of bike you want.
1. Hardtail vs. Full Suspension
Hardtail Mountain Bikes: Hardtails have suspension in the front fork, but not in the rear of the bike. They are good for racing and climbing because they are lighter and more efficient than full suspension mountain bikes. Hardtails perform well on smooth hardpack, but on more bumpy and technical terrain, they do not perform as well or are as comfortable as a full suspension. In general, hardtails are less expensive than full suspension bikes.
Full Suspension Mountain Bikes: Full suspension bikes have suspension in the front fork and in the frame of the bike. They perform better and are more comfortable on technical terrain because they absorb bumps better than hardtail bikes. Full suspension bikes come in a variety of options that range in price, weight, amount of suspension, and components.
2. How much suspension do you need?:
Full suspension bikes come in several different categories:
Cross Country Race: Lightest in weight. Usually around 100 mm of suspension. Best for racing and climbing.
Cross Country Trail/Marathon: A little heavier than cross country race bikes, usually having 120-140 mm of suspension. Better for more epic rides because more comfortable. Increasingly more lightweight options in this category available for more cost, which make them a good bike for longer races.
All Mountain/Enduro: Burlier and heavier than cross country bikes, often having around 140-160 mm of suspension. Harder to climb with them, but great for more gnarly downhill riding.
Freeride Bikes: Burlier and heavier than all mountain, usually equipped with 160-180 mm of suspension. Great for technical stunts, jumps, and drops. Not good for climbing.
Downhill Bikes: The burliest and heaviest type of mountain bike, often having 180-220 mm of suspension. Made for taking up a lift or shuttle and riding downhill fast and furious. Can handle drops of several feet. Not made for climbing.
3. 26 Inch vs 29 Inch Wheels:
Traditionally, mountain bikes have had wheels that are 26 inches in diameter. More recently, 29er mountain bikes have entered the market. 29ers have wheels that are 29 inches in diameter. There are many advantages of this larger wheel size, but it may not be the right choice for everyone.
Types of Mountain Bikes: Tips for Choosing the Best
For more information on different types of mountain bikes and how to choose a bike, please visit our page on http://www.mountain-bike-buzz.com/types-of-mountain-bikes.html
Mary Blomquist is a mountain biking enthusiast who lives in Colorado and is the founder of http://www.mountain-bike-buzz.com/, a site that is full of information and tips for mountain bikers and includes a free eBook on riding techniques.