buying a mountain bike
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Buying A Mountain Bike

Buying a mountain bike can be an exciting process.

However, there are numerous factors to consider before making your purchase.

Here are some steps to help you pick the right mountain bike for your needs:

  1. Define Your Budget: The price of mountain bikes can vary significantly depending on the model, brand, and features. Defining your budget upfront can help you narrow down your options.
  2. Determine Your Riding Style: Different types of mountain bikes are designed for different styles of riding. For instance, cross-country bikes are built for speed and climbing, while downhill bikes are built for steep and technical terrain.
  3. Choose the Right Size: It’s crucial to choose a bike that fits your body to ensure comfort and control. Most manufacturers provide size charts that you can use as a guide.
  4. Select the Right Suspension: Mountain bikes come with different suspension options: rigid, , and full suspension. Your choice should depend on where you plan to ride your bike.
  5. Pick the Appropriate Wheel Size: Mountain bikes commonly come in three wheel sizes: 26″, 27.5″ (or 650b), and 29″. Each size offers different performance characteristics.
  6. Choose the Right Frame Material: Aluminum and carbon fiber are the most common frame materials. Aluminum is more affordable, while carbon fiber is lighter but more expensive.
  7. Consider Other Features: Other features like the gearing system, brakes, and saddle can also impact your biking experience. Make sure to consider these aspects according to your specific needs.
  8. Test Ride: If possible, always test ride a bike before buying it. This will give you a sense of its performance and whether it feels comfortable.

Remember, the most expensive bike isn’t necessarily the best one for you. It’s about finding a bike that suits your riding style, fits you well, and falls within your budget.

Components of a mountain bike

A mountain bike is composed of several components, each contributing to the bike’s performance, comfort, and durability.

Here are the main components of a mountain bike:

  1. Frame: The bike’s backbone. It’s usually made from materials like aluminum, steel, or carbon fiber. Its geometry affects the bike’s handling and ride.
  2. Wheels: Made up of the rim, spokes, and hubs. The size and type of wheel significantly impact the bike’s performance.
  3. Tires: These provide traction and absorb trail shock. Mountain bikes typically have wider and knobbier tires compared to road bikes.
  4. Suspension: This system (forks at the front and shocks at the back) is designed to absorb impacts and keep the wheels on the ground for traction.
  5. Drivetrain: This includes the pedals, crankset, chain, derailleurs, and shifters. It’s responsible for driving the bike forward.
  6. Brakes: Mountain bikes typically have disc brakes, which offer better-stopping power than traditional rim brakes, especially in wet conditions.
  7. Handlebars: These are used to steer the bike. The width and shape of handlebars can influence how a bike handles.
  8. Saddle: Also known as the seat, its role is to provide comfort when you’re seated.
  9. Seatpost: This connects the saddle to the bike frame. Some mountain bikes feature dropper seatposts, which can be adjusted on the fly.
  10. Stem: This connects the handlebars to the steering tube of the fork.
  11. Pedals: There are two main types: flat pedals, which provide a large platform for your foot, and clipless pedals, which connect your shoes directly to the pedal for greater efficiency.

Remember, each component can often be upgraded or customized to match your specific needs and riding style.

Schwinn S29 Mens and Womens Mountain Bike, 29-Inch Wheels, 21-Speed, 20-Inch Aluminum Frame, Dual-Suspension, Mechanical Disc Brakes, Matte Black
  • 20-inch frame with 29-inch wheels is suitable for riders with heights ranging from 5’7″ to 6’2″
  • Aluminum dual-suspension frame, front suspension fork, and rear shocks combine to provide a trail riding experience that is both durable and provides ultimate bump absorption
  • 21-speed shifters with derailleurs are perfect for a wide gear range and smooth shifts
  • Combination of alloy triple cranks and a 7-speed freewheel ensures that you always have the appropriate gearing for any situation
  • Front and rear mechanical disc brakes deliver precise stopping power and steady speed control on descents, paired with extra wide double-wall alloy rims embracing 2.1-inch wide knobby mountain tires

Wheel size

When it comes to mountain bikes, wheel size can significantly impact your riding experience. Here are the most common wheel sizes you’ll find:

  1. 26 inches: This was the standard mountain bike wheel size for many years. Bikes with this wheel size are usually more maneuverable and provide a lively ride. However, they are becoming less common as larger wheels have gained popularity.
  2. 27.5 inches (or 650b): These wheels are an intermediate size between 26″ and 29″. They aim to provide the quick handling of 26″ wheels with the improved rolling capabilities of 29″ wheels. This size is popular in all types of mountain biking.
  3. 29 inches (or 29ers): These are the largest common wheel size. The larger diameter means they roll over obstacles more easily and provide better momentum once moving. They’re often favored for cross-country and trail riding, but the handling can be less nimble than smaller wheels.
  4. 24 inches: This size is typically found on kids’ mountain bikes or smaller frames designed for adult riders who need a smaller fit.
  5. Fat Bike Wheels: These wheels have a diameter similar to 26″, but they are much wider to accommodate fat tires, providing excellent traction and float over soft, unstable terrain like snow and sand.

When choosing a wheel size, consider your riding style, the terrain you’ll be riding on most often, and your personal preferences.

It’s always a good idea to test-ride different sizes to see what feels best to you.

Buying A Mountain Bike


When buying a mountain bike, one of the main factors to consider is the suspension. There are several pros and cons to choosing suspension over rigid forks.

Choose the right suspension system for your riding style and body weight. If you prefer a more aggressive ride, consider a bike with a full suspension system.

Full suspension allows the rider to adjust the ride, which helps the bike react appropriately to different riding conditions.

It also allows the rider to tune the bike’s suspension to fit the individual’s weight and riding style.

Suspension on a mountain bike is crucial for handling rough terrain. It increases rider comfort and improves traction on the trail.

There are three main types of mountain bike suspension setups:

  1. Rigid: These bikes have no suspension. They are less common these days and are typically found on fat bikes or lower-cost mountain bikes. Rigid bikes are great for simpler trails or paths where advanced suspension isn’t necessary.
  2. : These bikes have suspension forks in the front but none in the rear. Hardtails are more versatile than rigid bikes, capable of handling more challenging trails. They’re often favored for cross-country riding because they’re typically lighter and more efficient than bikes with full suspension.
  3. Full Suspension: These bikes have both front and rear suspension. The dual suspension setup absorbs more shock from rough terrain, making these bikes excellent for , technical trails, and jumps. They can also be comfortable on long-distance rides or over rough terrain, as they absorb much of the trail vibrations.

Each suspension type has its advantages and serves different purposes.

Your choice will depend on the type of riding you plan to do, the terrain you’ll be riding on, and personal preference.

When choosing a mountain bike suspension system, look for its sag.

Sag is a measurement of the suspension’s compression when you sit on the bike. The higher the sag, the firmer the suspension. If the sag is too high, it won’t absorb the bumps.

A low sag will snap back after a bump. Ideally, the fork should be set for your weight and riding style.


There are many options for pedals, and choosing the right ones is vital.

Pedals are crucial to ensure that your foot remains in the correct position while riding, and the right kind of pedals will make your experience on the trail more comfortable.

A good pair of pedals will prevent your foot from feeling cramped and give you excellent grip.

The design and construction of the pedals is another consideration. It is best to choose metal ones, as they are stronger and will last a long time.

Plastic pedal parts are usually flimsy, so choosing metal ones is best.

Make sure the pedals are easy to adjust and have a low profile to prevent blisters.

If your foot is particularly large or has flat feet, choose pedals with a pin, since this will give your foot extra grip.

Choosing the right pedals for your mountain bike can greatly enhance your riding experience.

There are two main types of mountain bike pedals:

  1. Flat Pedals (Platform Pedals): These pedals have a wide base for your foot to rest on. They’re typically studded with pins to increase grip and keep your foot from slipping. You can use any type of shoe with flat pedals, which makes them a good choice for casual riding, , and for those who value the ability to put a foot down or bail off the bike quickly.
  2. Clipless Pedals: Despite the name, clipless pedals actually involve clipping into the pedal with special biking shoes. A cleat on the bottom of the shoe attaches to the pedal, offering improved efficiency as you’re directly connected to the bike, allowing you to both push down and pull up on the pedal. Cross-country riders and racers favor them, but they require some practice to get used to clipping in and out.

Choosing between flat and clipless pedals will depend on your riding style, comfort, and preference.

Some riders may also choose “clipless platform” pedals that combine both styles, providing the efficiency benefits of clipless with the security and flexibility of flats.

Price Considerations

The price of a mountain bike depends on many factors, including the quality of the suspension.

The complexity and quality of the suspension are directly proportional to the cost of a bike.

Basically, the more complex and advanced the suspension system, the higher its price.

Suspension prices vary by two-thirds of the mountain bike’s price, with a large quality gap between the two popular shocks.

Determining the price you’re willing to pay for a mountain bike is a crucial step in the buying process. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Your Riding Frequency: If you plan to ride frequently or compete, it might be worth investing in a higher-end bike. A more budget-friendly option might suffice if you’re only planning on occasional rides.
  2. Type of Terrain: If you’re tackling rough, technical terrain or plan to do downhill or cross-country racing, you may need a bike with specific, often more expensive features. On the other hand, simpler trails or urban riding won’t require as many specialized components.
  3. Upgrade Plans: If you plan to upgrade components in the future, you might not need to start with the most expensive bike. However, if you want a bike that’s ‘complete’ from the start, you might need to increase your budget.
  4. New vs. Used: A used bike can be a good way to stretch your budget further, but it may come with potential maintenance issues. New bikes will be more expensive but come with warranties and the peace of mind of a fresh, untouched bike.

Remember, while price is an important factor, it shouldn’t be the only one.

The right bike for you depends on fit, riding style, and personal preference.

It’s often said in biking communities that it’s better to have an inexpensive bike you ride all the time than an expensive one gathering dust in your garage

Finding your bike style
All-mountain bikes are designed with several different
riding styles and terrain types in mind.

You’ll need to figure out what type of riding you will be doing the most.

Finding the right mountain bike style that matches your riding preferences is key to getting the most out of your biking experience.

Here are some common styles of mountain bikes:

  1. Cross-Country (XC): These bikes are designed for speed and efficiency, ideal for riders who enjoy long rides and racing on varied terrain. They typically have lightweight frames and more aggressive geometry to position the rider for optimal pedaling and climbing.
  2. Trail: Trail bikes are the most common type of mountain bike as they’re designed for general use. They balance climbing ability and descending capabilities well, making them suited for a variety of terrain.
  3. Enduro/All-Mountain (AM): These bikes are designed with longer travel suspension to handle more aggressive downhill rides, while still being capable of climbing. They’re great for riders who like tackling tough descents and technical trails.
  4. Downhill (DH): Downhill bikes are specifically designed for steep, fast, and technical descents. They have large amounts of suspension travel, strong frames, and slack geometry to provide stability at high speeds.
  5. Fat Bikes: These bikes have oversized tires for excellent traction and float, which makes them great for snow, sand, or other soft terrains.
  6. Electric Mountain Bikes (eMTB): These bikes have an integrated electric motor that can be used for assistance when pedaling. They’re great for riders who want some help on climbs or longer rides.

Each style has its unique characteristics and strengths, and the best choice depends on where you plan to ride, your skill level, and your personal preferences.

Always try to test ride a few different styles before deciding.

The choice between a full suspension and a mountain bike depends on the type of riding you plan to do, your budget, and personal preference.

Here’s a brief overview of each:

  1. Hardtail: As the name suggests, hardtail bikes have a suspension fork in the front to absorb impact on the front wheel, but the rear of the bike has no suspension. Hardtails are typically less expensive than full-suspension bikes because they have fewer moving parts. They’re also generally lighter and easier to maintain. Hardtails are great for cross-country riding and less technical trails, as they’re efficient climbers and provide plenty of pedal efficiency.
  2. Full Suspension: Full suspension bikes have both front and rear suspension. This helps absorb impact from both wheels, providing a smoother ride on rough and rocky trails. It can also help reduce rider fatigue on longer rides. They’re often favored for more technical trails, , and Enduro racing. However, they can be more expensive and require more maintenance.

If you mainly ride smooth trails or you’re into cross-country racing, a hardtail can be a great choice due to its lighter weight and efficiency.

On the other hand, if you frequently ride on rough, rocky trails and value comfort over absolute efficiency, a full-suspension bike might be a better fit.

It’s always a good idea to test-ride both types of bikes before making a decision.

Schwinn Bonafide Men and Women Mountain Bike, Front Suspension, 24-Speed, 29-Inch Wheels, 17-Inch Aluminum Frame, Matte Black/Red
  • 17-inch aluminum mountain frame with high-performance suspension fork effectively absorb bumps and thumps, while the 29-inch wheels fit to riders 5’4 to 6’2 inches tall
  • Effortless gear change with 24-speed trigger shifters and front and rear derailleurs
  • Front and rear mechanical disc brakes deliver precise stopping power in any condition, while the durable alloy cranks ensure reliable gearing and reduced maintenance hassle
  • For enhanced durability, the high-profile double-wall alloy rims offer a combination of lightness and strength, while the 2.25-inch wide knobby mountain tires are prepared to tackle rough and uneven biking
  • Arrives partially assembled, will require tools, Philips head screwdriver, Allen wrench 2.5mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, & 8mm, an adjustable wrench, and pair of pliers with cable cutting ability

Doing Your Research

Research is crucial before buying a mountain bike to ensure you get a bike that best suits your needs and preferences.

Here are some steps to guide your research:

  1. Identify Your Needs: Determine what kind of riding you’ll be doing most. Is it cross-country, trail riding, downhill, or a mix of everything? Your riding style significantly influences the type of bike you should get.
  2. Set a Budget: Knowing how much you’re willing to spend can help narrow down your options. Remember to factor in the cost of any potential upgrades or accessories you might need.
  3. Read Reviews: Look for reviews online for the bikes you’re interested in. Reviews can provide insights into a bike’s performance and reliability that you won’t find in product descriptions.
  4. Visit Local Bike Shops: Talk to experts and experienced riders. They can provide valuable advice and may let you test ride some bikes.
  5. Compare Bikes: Don’t just settle on the first bike that catches your eye. Compare different models, brands, and types of bikes to see what offers the best value for your needs.
  6. Consider the Fit: Ensure the bike you choose fits you well. Most manufacturers provide size charts that can guide you.
  7. Check the Warranty: A good warranty can provide peace of mind. Look for brands that stand behind their products.

Remember, buying a bike is a personal choice. What works for one person might not work for another.

The most important thing is to find a bike that feels comfortable, suits your riding style, and falls within your budget.

Test Ride

Going for a test ride is one of the best ways to determine if a mountain bike is right for you.

Here’s how you can make the most out of your test ride:

  1. Find a Dealer: Look for bike shops or dealers that allow test rides. Some shops may have demo days where you can try out various models.
  2. Bring Your Gear: Bring your helmet, shoes, and other gear you typically use when riding. This will help you get a more accurate feel for the bike.
  3. Set the Bike Up: Ask the shop staff to help you set up the bike for your body. This includes adjusting the seat height, handlebar height, and possibly suspension settings.
  4. Plan a Route: Try to test the bike on a route that is similar to where you typically ride. If you ride trails, don’t just test the bike in a parking lot.
  5. Try Different Models: Don’t limit yourself to one model or brand. Trying different bikes can help you understand what features and characteristics you prefer.
  6. Pay Attention to How it Feels: Notice how comfortable you are on the bike and how it handles. Do you feel well-balanced? Can you maneuver the bike easily?
  7. Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask the shop staff questions about the bike’s features, maintenance requirements, warranty, etc.

A test ride can give you valuable firsthand experience with how a bike performs and fits, helping you decide whether it’s the right bike for you.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, buying a mountain bike requires careful consideration and research.

You can find a bike that suits your needs and preferences by defining your budget, determining your riding style, and considering factors like frame size, wheel size, suspension type, and components.

Remember to test ride different bikes to get a feel for their performance and comfort.

Pay attention to how the bike handles, its fit, and how it suits the terrain you’ll be riding on.

Additionally, don’t underestimate the importance of doing thorough research, reading reviews, and seeking advice from knowledgeable sources like bike shop staff or experienced riders.

Ultimately, finding the right mountain bike is a personal journey.

Take your time, weigh your options, and choose a bike that brings you joy and enhances your riding experience.

Happy biking!

Last update on 2024-04-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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