Beginner’s Guide: How to Choose the Right Mountain Bike

choosing a mountain bike

Are you searching for a Mountain bike that can actually hold up in tough terrains and provide you the power, handling, driving feel and more during your ride?

Just like different terrains, various models of mountain bikes can be easily chosen as per the needs and the requirements of the rider. Some all-rounder models easily fit any terrain but some of them not.

Many new riders buy Mountain bikes with all-round qualities, but this may be their biggest mistake while buying their dream MTB. If you’re a beginner and have limited knowledge about mountain bikes, then you should look for a basic bicycle that can ride comfortably in parks, on canal paths, technical terrains or gravel roads.

We did a lot of research before putting this information in front of you, so that one could get a best possible bicycle for them. Just follow these easy buying guidelines prior to getting a good bike for you!

Are you ready to experience the thrilling journey?

Let’s get started…

1. How Much Do I Need To Spend?

cash in wallet

The BUDGET is a key issue when it comes to buying Mountain bikes. The amount of money you want to invest would decide which bike and model will meet your wallet size. You simply need to look at certain features that are expected from different models falling under different price range.

Mountain Bikes under $300

Yes, you read it right. It is really possible nowadays to buy a luxurious mountain bike under 300 dollars. You can get any of the full suspension bikes in this range. By Full suspension, we mean suspension at both the front and rear ends of the wheels.

These bikes are comparatively heavier than hardtail and rigid bikes, but at this price range you have to compromise a bit for sure. Uncontrolled suspension unit may harm the biker’s off-road riding performance.

  • Try to find a used hardtail at that price, preferably with a decent fork and maybe even hydraulic brakes.
  • You can buy bikes designed from Aluminum frame rather than any other heavy steel or carbon frame.
  • Prefer disc brakes than rim brakes, because rim brakes performance decreases in wet conditions.

Mountain Bikes under $500 to $600

As you keep increasing your budget, you get more chances of buying a light-frame with refined features. Under this price range, prefer hydraulic disc brakes than the rim brakes because minimum maintenance required for hydraulic brakes.

  • Hydraulic disc brakes from Shimano or SRAM
  • Soft rubber tires than the normal ones preferred under this range.
  • Avoid buying Full suspension bikes because they are quite heavier in this price range.
  • Tubeless tires reduce punctures problems and even save weight.

Mountain Bikes under $1000

This price range is dedicated to bike enthusiasts and serious racers. Mountain bikes under 1000 dollars are generally designed with butted aluminum frames. In this price range, Mechanical disc brakes along with a front and rear suspension fork are widely in demand, so if you are willing to get one then especially check out this feature.

You will find full suspension bicycles sold in this range also, even though the durability of suspension forks and weight are sometimes a concern, but those are minimal.

  • Full suspension bikes are lighter under this price range.
  • Some bikes feature thru-axle at the rear end of the wheel in order to improve the stiffness.
  • Drivetrain with 10-speed comes equipped with a clutch and a derailleur

2. Which Type Of Bike Should You Buy?

There are different kinds of Mountain bikes available in the markets that are designed to perform one or the other task to perfection. We have compiled a brief list of some of the common bikes with their salient features.

  • Cross Country Bike

Cross-country bikes or XC bikes cover the biking ground quickly. These bikes are a perfect choice for racing or enjoying your routine biking. For racers, Hardtails are preferred with the suspension at either end but full suspension is also in demand these days.

These bikes are available in 29-in wheels dia and are often called 29ers. The disadvantage of Cross-Country bikes is that the rider finds it difficult to ride steeper. Most of the cheaper models of cross-country bikes come integrated with alloy frames, and the Carbon frame is in-built as a default choice in brilliant models.

The bikes come in a variety of gears options that allow the rider to climb steep maintaining high speed at the top. The price range varies from $2500 to $7500 depending upon your choice for the entry-level, good or brilliant model.

  • All-Mountain or Enduro bike

All-Mountain Bikes are a true racing companion designed in a decent racing look. Sometimes called Enduro, All-mountain bikes are an excellent choice for rider’s stepping down the hill and on the complex trails. These bikes are light enough in weight and are skilled enough to pedal the bike back to the top.

All-Mountain bikes have more traveling capacity than the normal trail bikes. All models come equipped with full suspension.

Most of the all-Mountain bikes use 60-170mm of travel on one or the other end. The suspension units used in the bikes are heavy duty and come with a wider damping adjustment to tune the downhill performance of your bike your way.

The price range varies from $1,300 to $4,000 depending upon your choice for the entry-level, good or brilliant model.

  • Freeride Mountain Bikes

Freeride bikes are almost similar to the Downhill bikes and the only difference that we can see here is the purpose of riding. The bike holders pay less attention to the weight of the bike. Their size of the frame is compact and flexible so the rider can easily enjoy their adventurous ride on such a kind of bikes. These bikes are good for jumping and performing technical stunts.

In short, Freeride bikes are the amalgamation of downhill and Cross country bikes but are not designed for uphill.

  • Downhill Bike

The name of these bikes defines their purpose and riders looking to invest in a bike for going down steep and on technical tracks quickly. These bikes have 200mm of travel at one or other end and often use coil-sprung suspension for support.

To bear the huge forces these bikes are designed after putting the pressure, the suspension forks with legs extending above the head of the tube are braced together, to form a double-crown, or sometimes we call it a triple-clamp fork.

Aluminum frame is the perfect choice for designing cheaper bikes whereas pro-level machines come with a carbon frame.

The price range varies from $1,500 to $5,000 depending upon your choice for the entry-level, good or excellent model.

3. Mountain Bike Suspension Types

full suspension mountain bike

Rigid: This MTB has no option for suspension and so is lightweight and free from maintenance issues. You need to think less while buying and riding this bike off-road. But Rigid MTB is not advised for rocky tracks as the control and speed level may suffer in such cases.

Hardtail: This type of MTB has no suspension at the back-end and supported by a front suspension fork only and is suited more to the technical terrain. They are combatively heavier than rigid models but price-wise their range is affordable.

Full-suspension: As the name suggests this type of MTB has suspension at both the ends and ensures more comfort even on technical terrain. The only problem with such kinds of bikes is the increased cost.

4. Wheel size

mountain bike wheel size

There are MTB in 3 sizes namely 26”, 27.5” and 29”. Always, make sure you are getting the right tire size for your wheelset!

26” bikes are in more demand as per the 2011 reports. The Downhill and freeride bikers prefer 26” wheels only.

27.5” size is now becoming standard size in new MTB. This size has additional rolling benefits of 29”.

29” is the largest wheel size that has rolling features and better performance even on rough terrain. Their large size restricts them to react faster in turns.

Determine Your Mountain Bike Wheel Size

HeightInseam LengthBike Frame Size
4'10" - 5'1"25.5" - 27"46 - 48 cm
5'0" - 5'3"26.5" - 28"48 - 50 cm
5'2" - 5'5"27.5" - 29"50 - 52 cm

5. MTB Frame Materials

The frames of Mountain Bikes are built with several materials.

Aluminum Frame

Most of the Mountain bikes are made from Aluminum frame. This frame is a great choice for people looking for a bike with characteristics like

  • Lightweight,
  • Strength,
  • Durability,
  • Corrosion Resistant
  • Affordability

Although, different grades of Aluminum are available depending upon the price of the MTB.

Steel Frame

The Steel frame was traditionally used to design least expensive models of Mountain bikes. Many Manufacturers are still using steel frames to design their MTB because it helps them to design a model keeping its price down and offering world-class riding characteristics.

Carbon fiber Frame

Carbon Fiber is rather a costly material and so the bikes designed with Carbon Fiber are quite expensive. Carbon-fiber frames are Composites comprising Carbon-fiber tubing and aluminum tubing or fittings. These frames are super light and resist corrosion.

Titanium Frame

Titanium is a metal just like Aluminum and Steel. This frame is extremely light, comfortable and quite expensive. The MTB designed from Titanium frames are the costliest of all frames.

6. Gears

mountain bike gearing system

Low Gear

Low Gears are a perfect choice for climbing, riders have to switch to this gear while climbing. The Low Gear allows the rider to climb without putting much of force and efforts.

Middle Gear

Middle Gear is a perfect choice for people who love riding bicycles on Terrain on a regular basis. Considered best for all types of flat and undulating terrains.

High Gear

High Gear is a perfect choice for Descending. A high gear range comes with with 5-6 different gear shifters.

7. Brakes

Mountain bike disc brake

Traditionally only a few designs were available but now you can see a great collection of impressive brake designs that tend to act as stoppers for every ride on your new bike you buy. There are usually two different types of brakes available – Rim brakes and Disc brakes (hydraulic-disc brakes).

Rim brakes were traditionally used to design brakes. These brakes rubbed the rim of the wheels in order to stop the bike. The brakes are considered best for bikes that are lightweight. However, some of the disadvantages of these brakes includes;

  • These brakes rub on the rim and damages the rim
  • Not compatible with muddy or wet areas because of reduction in gripping power in these areas.

These disadvantages led to the development of Disc brakes and people started shifting to disc brakes. The Disc comes attached to the center of the tire and works just like the brakes on your car.

  • Advantages of Disc Brakes

Not affected by any sort of muddy or wet conditions unlike rim brakes. The rim brakes and disc brakes have brake pads that add life to the brakes and hold the wheel even on muddy and wet conditions so these pads help your brakes performance never fade away.

In the case of Hydraulic discs, no cable is connected so the rider don’t have to worry but a little maintenance can give the rider amazing brakes that last for years.

The Bottom Line

This is just a brief introductory guide to mountain bikes to help you decide which model goes well with your favorite cycling companion. Your honesty with yourself will decide your budget and your love for riding the bike. The size of the wheels really does matter and you must confirm which size suits your height, so that you can ride the bicycle on any terrain with comfort.

Try Riding on as many bikes as your body can withstand, to check which model perfectly fits your requirements. Go downhill and uphill to check the bike performance without any hassle. If the price is an issue and you want more value for less money, than buying a second hand MTB can be a good option.

Don’t take immediate decisions! Your hard earned money should be invested properly, so take wise and reliable decision while buying bikes for a good deal.