What Mountain Bike should you buy?
Mtb Buyers Guide
With so many different types of mountain bike on the market, which one should you buy? This all depends on what trails you plan to ride and your budget. If you’re looking to grab a new bike but completely lost in all the different styles and sizes out there, then the mtb buyers guide is for you!
Where will you be riding?
Are you planning big days in the saddle climbing hills, bike park laps or both? This is huge while trying to find out what kind of bike you should buy.
What’s your budget?
Buying second hand or going for a brand spanker?
What Bike Frame size are you?
Check you’re looking for bikes which are the right size for you. Find this out by looking on the manufacturers’ website.
*Tip* Demo days are well worth a look if you are planning to spend a lot of cash. You can usually get a free test ride and a good feel for the bike. Head to moredirt.com , select your region, find events and search demo days.
Where Do you ride?
This is important because it will determine how much travel you might need. If you plan to ride across places like the South Downs and at a few trail centres, then a small travel (120/130mm) or hardtail will be just the ticket. If you plan on riding some single track with a few uplift weekends, then you will want a larger travel bike, around the 150/160mm travel.
It’s well worth giving this some thought and buy for what you will actually be riding and not what you wish you could ride. Dragging a 170mm enduro bike around your local xc trails is possible, but is a lot more gruelling than a 120mm hardtail, as you’d expect, due to the extra weight and drag from the tyres.
What’s your Budget?
Option 1 – Generally anything under £1000 will be an entry level bike with basic components all round. If you’re out for gentle mellow rides then this is fine but, as soon as you start to push the capabilities, parts usually start to fail.
Option 2 – Spending between £2000-£3000 will see a huge jump in the quality of components, with bikes that are generally built to last and capable of taking on drops, jumps and tech.
Option 3 –Taking your purchase above £3000 will usually offer carbon frames and the best components. These bikes are just as capable as your second option, but lighter and shinier!
Buying New – 0% finance is kicking around all over the place these days. Is it worth it? Yes and No. It’s awesome getting a new bike tomorrow for almost nothing upfront, but not so great a year onwards whilst struggling to repay for a full carbon Santa Cruz that is now a lot less shiny and worth half of what you payed for it. Please be wise, nothing is free.
If you are a rider that is hard on gear and riding big trails often, then your bike will eventually crack. If you have the receipt, most manufacturers will replace the frame as part of the warranty.
Buying Used – The 2nd hand bike market is incredible and you can get alot of bike for your hard earned cash. But just because its shiny, doesn’t mean its in good condition. Check frames for cracks, scratches to stanchions and wheels for alignment. Put a few quid aside for any repairs and you could end up with an absolute bargain. Check pinkbike.com for massive selection of bikes.
*Tip* If it suits your needs, get a higher spec bike for the same money by choosing a hardtail. Not having a rear shock allows manufacturers to up spec the bike or offer a lower price on the second hand market.
Check out our Youtube channel below to discover new trails and plan your trip!
What bike frame size is best for you?
Frame sizes are measured in inches and each manufacturer will have a size chart on their website. This varies from brand to brand so its worth looking. Another point to check is the ‘reach’; this is the horizontal distance between the bottom bracket and the center of the head tube on a mountain bike.
Often riders fall between two frame sizes. It’s now down to you to choose. A smaller frame will be more agile, quicker at turning, but less stable at high speeds. A larger frame will be more stable and planted, but but harder to turn.
You can customise your bike to fit you better by adjusting the contact points. Components such as crank length, dropper post height, handlebar rise/sweep and stem length can all be changed to help you get more comfortable.
What type of bike is right for you?
What mountain bike should you get? With so many options out there it’s confusing to know what bike does what? Here is a look at each style to help you find what you’re after.
Hardtail – This bike only has front suspension which makes it great for smoother trails or climbing big hills. Having no rear suspension gets rid of ‘pedal bob’ and makes climbing more efficient.
Short Travel – A Short travel bike is usually around 120-130mm travel which is ideal for big climbs, mellow descents and trail centres. A good all rounder which could quickly be out of its depth when tackling big mountain descents or bike park features.
Enduro – The ultimate ‘do it all’ bike which will be offering between 150-170mm travel, usually comes in with a burly build and wide gear ratio. This style of bike makes big climbs and huge descents possible. They can take you almost anywhere but can be more difficult to climb with.
Downhill – Bottomless travel ready for full descent mode! These bike are made to go downhill and offer more stability and forgiveness than the enduro bikes. These are used for uplift only, don’t even try and pedal!
We couldn’t make the mtb buyers guide and not mention Ebiking. There’s a wave of battery bikes sweeping the nations but are they for you? One things for sure…..It’s worth trying one before you write it off.
These machines can take you to new heights with less effort. Pedal assisted climbing allows your rides to go further and are less cardio dependant. These bikes offer more of a muscle burn rather than a lung burning exercise.
Ebikes are allowing less abled riders a chance to get back on the trails and also a great leveller for mixed ability groups.
Having the battery power behind you means more downhill laps or further distances. These bikes don’t come cheap and buying a second hand battery could be risky.
For loads of ebike info and reviews check out EMTB Forums
26 inch wheels were the one and only mountain bike wheel size for a long time. This all changed a few years back when bike brands started introducing 27.5 (650b) and 29 inch wheels. Since then, all 26ers halved in value and everyone moved onto the bigger wheels.
Pros – The bigger the wheel, the faster the rolling speed and ability to plough through rough sections.
Cons – Can be harder to make tight turns and less manoeuvrable.
This age old debate has been going for years as every rider has a favourite, but at the end of the day, does it really matter?
Check out the podcast for a more in depth chat