Tips For Choosing your First Mountain Bike

Tips For Choosing your First Mountain Bike

Buying your first mountain bike can be a minefield. There will be a lot of language used that you might not have come across before; there will be lots of marketing used to sway your opinion. The good news is there are a few simple tips that will help make choosing your first mountain bike easy.

Get the right size
Buying a bike in the wrong size because it was in a sale is not and never will be a bargain. Buying a bike in the wrong size can be dangerous or can simply just ruin your riding experience. Manufacturers will put out size guides for their bikes, try and buy the bike that you fit in the middle of the sizing range, don't lie to yourself about your height either.

Simply put, if you ignore this step, then none of the other tips will be able to help you.

Buy a hardtail
Everyone will tell you to buy a full suspension mountain bike as they will make your life easier. They will, but you'll miss out on developing good mountain bike skills. These skills can save your life one day, or at least make a crash a lot more manageable.

The reason you learn great skills is that a hardtail won't correct the beginner mistakes that you'll make. A full suspension bike will let you get away with landing a drop badly or picking the wrong line. A hardtail will focus your attention on riding a trail correctly.

Hardtail mountain bike

You'll also find a lot of good hardtail mountain bikes available for less than $1000, and you won't get a good full suspension mountain bike for that price. You'll then have less to spend on upkeep as the rear suspension, especially if you live somewhere muddy, will need a lot of maintenance.

Try and get an air suspension fork
An air sprung fork should be lighter than a coil sprung one, but that is not the reason we're telling you to get one. An air sprung fork will be easy for you to tune at home. You'll be able to start learning the basics of suspension and how to set up a bike to suit you.

MTB fork

While looking at suspension a good 100mm travel fork will be better than a not so good 140mm travel fork. Don't get suckered into buying lots of suspension that you might not even need on your first bike. Get quality and not quantity.

Don't worry about weight
Carrying on from our air sprung fork, you don't want to obsess over weight. Most bikes of a similar price will be of similar weight, despite what catalogs say. Weight was an easy way for magazines to tell you one bike was better than another because it weighed less.

Yes, you don't want to be riding a tank uphill, but you also don't really need to care about 100 grams. You want to pay more attention to geometry and making sure a bike fits you. Those two pieces of the puzzle will help you ride a bike uphill far more easily than if you save half a kilo in weight.

On a side note, if you want to worry about weight, a hardtail will be a lot lighter than a full suspension bike. You'd need to spend a lot more money on a full suspension bike to get a similar weight to a hardtail.

Don't be sold on gimmicks
Many brands will try and hook you into a sale with fancy gimmicks, and these may be parts you don't need or just a fancy acronym for a generic part. It will be hard to tell what is just marketing when you begin to ride mountain bikes, but the simple way is just to check the spec sheet. Most $1000 bikes will have a similar spec if one doesn't but has fancy names it is probably just marketing.

Don't blow your budget all on the bike
You don't have to spend all your budget just on the bike. You'll also need money aside for parts, helmet, clothes, and some basic tools. Getting tools and learning how to use them will save you a lot of money over time and will help you when you have a trailside mechanical.

It also shouldn't need to be spelled out to you why you need a helmet. You just need one and also look at gloves and kneepads, your body will thank you for it later. Get some good mountain bike clothing, and you'll also enjoy being out, as they'll be tailored to suit your riding position.

Author: Neil Morrison
Bikes have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, which isn't as long as it should be due to not wearing a helmet one day. I've spent over a decade working in retail and in that time I've been asked pretty much any question you can think of about bikes, and some you haven't. Now I'm just trying to pass all that knowledge on over to you. You can find many of my articles published at biketestreivews.com

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