In the saddle of a well-built mountain bike, the world can feel like it is yours to conquer. As you dominate trails, dodge roots, andravines, and push your body to its limits riding off the beaten path, the right bike ensures you not only always feel like you're in control, but that you also sense that your equipment is working with you, and not against you. From the right kind of tyresto the proper amount of "give" and flex in the frame, there are a lot of things to consider when purchasing a mountain bike. For those shopping on a budget, or especially if you're coming to look at what's on the market after some time away, that can be an intimidating task.
Armed with the right knowledge and some sense of which brands out there are worth your trust, though, you can approach the task with a much better chance of coming away with the best bike for you. From matching models to your budget range to understanding some of the jargonyou'll hear tossed around both online and in bike stores, a quick primer is all you need to get started on the purchasing process. Here's what you should know when your goal is to go on off-road adventures.
Know what type of mountain bike you want
As you plan to buy a bike, keep in mind one simple fact: you'll need to consider every single component during your purchasing process.That means consideringthe quality of the brakes, the tyres, the gears, and even the fork in the frame itself. In some cases, you'll need to swap tyresout to enjoy your bike fully, or you may need to upgrade the wheels themselves. Beyond choosing components, what type of mountain bike do you want?
There are bikes meant for trails, fat bikes for environments that give poor traction, downhill bikes, and more. If you aren't sure which would be best for you, consider asking at your local bike shop for advice.They can walk you through determining what type of bike is best for you. At the same time, you can ask questions such as "what type of suspension should I try?" From hardtails (front suspension only) to rigids(no suspension) and fully suspended bikes, this will determine how you experience the ride. Even the size of your wheels matters, with numerous sizes available. Ask about what difference this makes, andyou'll learn how to tailor a bike to your style even further.
If you intend to shop by brand names, watch for producers of known quality products, such as Canyon, Trek, and Yeti. However, these are far from the "be all, end all" of mountain bikes. In fact, as you look at some of the currently popular models, you'll find many are from up and coming businesses.
The budget range: bikes for £1000 or lower
You may not believe it, but for most mountain bikers, purchasing a less expensive bike may be the best way to go unless you're already a seriousoff-road cyclist. Why? Many models in this price range offergood bones — in other words, they'll be finefor riding today and tomorrow, but sometime in the future, you may start thinking about upgrades. Instead of purchasing a bike that is already fully kitted out, you can start with a more budget-friendly model. If weight isn't a big issue to you, you'll find plenty to love in this range. Some models you should consider include:
- The Grand Canyon by Canyon: Produced by a well-liked manufacturer, this bike is best suited for typicaloff-road riding, not tackling hills. However, at £499, its price is perfect for the beginner looking for a steal.
- The Diamondback Heist: Priced with options under £750, this bike features a high-end fork that makes it a worthy buy if you plan to do upgrades later. Good braking action ensures you maintain control, while the drivetrain gets you up to speed faster.
- The Whyte Compact: Another £500 bike, this cycle features a size ideal for younger mountain bikers or shorter adults. When you're just starting, get your feel for finding your line through the woods on a bike such as this.
Moving up to a moderate budget: going beyond £1000
If you're not quite a beginner but your current bike is no longer a good fit or isn't a prime candidate for upgrades, moving up to this budget tier can net you all that you want. In this range, cycle manufacturers have more room to provide upgraded components, lighter frames, and a wider variety of riding styles. While you won't be getting the highest grade top shelf components, you will pay for quality that will last for years with the proper care. Expect a better ride, more control, and some bells and whistles. If you're shopping this bracket, a few of the models you could consider are:
- The Bird Zero: Its price tag of £1,230 puts it not too far away from some other budget bikes, but this one comes with better construction and more features. The added benefit of a lifetime warranty on the frame means you can ride it hard with peace of mind. An excellent bike for overgrown trails.
- The Boardman Pro: Though you may need to upgrade its tires, at £1500 this otherwise high-end bike is priced exceptionally well. With better components such as its suspension and drivetrain than you'd find on other similarly priced cycles, this is a goodall-around choice.
- The Orange Crush: Do you justwant to have fun, slam through a few trails, and call it a day? Pay £1,450 and take home this well-loved mountain bike whose heavy frame and thick tyressuit it for muddy days and forest trails alike.
The dedicated mountain biker: rigs that approach £3000
When you absolutelywon't settle for anything but the best and money is no object to your pursuit, this is the category you should consider. For the cyclists who are always on the lookout for extra weight reductions, the highest quality materials you can get factory standard, and more options for upgrades, this is the path to choose. With that said, it's also worth considering whether you wouldn't get more value for your purchase in buying a slightly less expensive cycle and simplyoverhauling it with upgrades. Nonetheless, if this is what you're ready to shop for, you'll want to look at some bikes such as:
- The Focus Jam Light: Coming in just under this bracket's ceiling at £2,999, the Focus Jam is a full suspension mountain bike that looks attractive and performs with excellence. The 12-speed setup gives you plenty of gears to work with on challenging trails, while the suspension will let you tackle even the roughest and toughest trails.
- The Canyon Strive 5.0: Though you won't find this direct-sale bike in the store, you will be able to browse the German manufacturer's site tomake a purchase tothe tune of almost £2700. Designed for endurance riding, you'll find a long-haul gear setup designed to remain robust even under heavy punishment. A uniquefeature, the Shapeshifter, allows you to alter the bike's geometry mid-ride to tackle hills.
- The Orbea Occam: Priced at £2800, this is another online-only bike, but available in an assembly line style. Pick and choose the high-end components you want to create a custom bike perfectly attuned to your preferred trail type. Designed to keep you in the saddle even after bottoming out on a steep incline, it's a trulysmooth ride for pros.
What saddle will suit you best?
At firstglance, looking at everything you need to keep in mind while shopping for mountain bikes can feel overwhelming. Once you start taking models for quick test rides, though, and lobbing your questions at whoeverwill listen, you'll develop more confidence in your preferences. Whether you want a rigid frame with some high-grade wheels or something which relies more heavily on excellent shock absorbers, there is a mountain bike with your name on it out there somewhere. Don't be shy when it comes to visiting bike shops, either. Remember that the people working in these shops are often just as passionate as you are about cycling — if not more so! That dedication makes them your best resource, so use it. With a potentially big budget in play and the desire to buy a bike that lasts for years, it never hurts to do more research.
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