We recently received a question from a reader asking: I want to purchase a mountain bike. Can you please tell me what necessary features I should consider in it, and is it possible to get a good mountain bike online?
So we decided to do research in order to guide bicycling enthusiasts on how to buy a perfect mountain bike!
Because of the massive increase in popularity, the number of mountain bike models has increased massively over the past years, and picking the right mountain bike is quite challenging.
A great mountain bike has to have a lot of qualities and the differences with today’s rides are very hard to spot but can be vital depending on what kind of rider you consider yourself as being.
How To Buy A Mountain Bike?
There are so many things to consider before buying a mountain bike because the chances of making a mistake are very big. To avoid spending a lot of money on a bike that is not perfect for you, I recommend to follow a few necessary steps that some professional bike riders and manufacturers have come up within time.
Start With What Is Most Important
Define yourself as a rider and make a mental image or even write down what do you expect from your bike. Start from the core of it and look at bikes from a generic point of view. You are currently entitled to choose out of three major options for the way manufacturers sell their bicycling products. You can:
1. Buy the Frame
Buy the frame without any other add-ons and start from there – this option is for those with experience and some skill when it comes to putting a bike together. Customizing your bike will be a complicated process, not for those who have not even taken a bike apart yet.
2. Buy Frame and Pre-Assembled Kits
The second option you have is to buy the frame and some pre-assembled kits built or commercialized by the manufacturer. This is the middle way and it provides enough space to customize your bike without meddling too much with its mechanisms. This is also the second most popular option people take advantage of.
3. Buy Completely Pre-Assembled Bike
The third and most popular option is to buy a completely assembled bike that will need some minor tweaks here and there and can also accommodate some simple add-ons such as lights and mud flaps.
Mountain Bike Suspension
There are two main suspension categories for you to choose from, again depending on your needs. The difference that needs to be made between the two refers to comfort.
1. Hard-tail Suspension
It is a rigid rear suspension mechanism combined with a suspension fork. The Dual Suspension is the better choice if you are in for enduro type experiences.
It offers better traction for your bike and overall, it is the more appealing approach in mountain biking. The downside with this double mechanism is that it is a little bit heavier and harder to maintain because of its complexity.
2. Dual Suspension
The dual suspension comes with both suspension fork and rear-wheel suspension. The hard-tails are more of a challenge and are mostly destined for those who have excellent bike skills. This type of bike is also more durable and requires less maintenance than the Dual Suspension Mountain Bike.
Choosing between the two should be influenced by your budget as well. A good dual-suspension bike costs over $1500, so if you are under budget, it is better to get a top-quality hard-tail mountain bike or choose one from our Best Mountain Bikes Under $500 list.
Mountain Bike Frame Material
Nowadays, bikes are made out of all kinds of materials that can be lightweight, durable or even both. The most popular materials used for mountain bikes are:
- Carbon Fiber
The first two are more common with hard-tails but have become even less popular with dual-suspension bikes over the past years because they don’t provide the same ride quality levels as a Dual Suspension mountain bike should.
Carbon fiber is an excellent choice, but it is also more expensive than others. If you can afford a carbon fiber frame then you should definitely go with this choice. It is more robust, more comfortable, and a whole lot lighter than all the others.
If you are just starting to ride a mountain bike, don’t put too much thought into the material. Go with an aluminum or steel frame and leave the $1500+ to those with more experience.
Mountain Bike Frame Sizing
Another common question which we received is that “What size mountain bike should I get?”
Because bike frame size which fits your height is another most important factor to consider, to avoid severe back pain and other critical issues. For your assistance, I have attached the most commonly used MTB bike size chart to find the mountain bike that fits your height.
Mountain Bike Components
Here is where massive differences are made as far as price and quality go. A bike can have the same frame and cost twice or three times as much because of its components that also influence weight, performance and durability.
The higher the price goes, the better the components are. A more expensive, packed mountain bike is more adjustable and offers you the chance of customizing it just as you think fit.
Pricier components are also more durable and can take more abuse than others, so your investment will be worth your while. Experts recommend bikes with “Giant” or “KHS” parts that provide great value for money for those who just started riding.
Mountain Bike Wheels
Mountain bikes come commonly with three different wheel sizes:
- 26 inches
- 5 inches
- 29 inches
The experts’ opinion is that the smaller wheels are perfect for dual-suspension settings and that the 29-inch wheels are perfect for hard-tails. The middle size is kind of a compromise and a good one at that.
Wheels are manufactured by several new companies that do a fantastic job, so no manufacturer really stands out but personally, I recommend Schwalbe and Continental Tires.
The differences made by this characteristic refer to comfort and weight. Price-wise, you should go with the 26-inch wheels if you are on a budget because they can be the cheapest of them all.
Mountain Bike Drivetrains
There is no perfect combination, according to expert riders. There are many options that can help you adapt in many situations, but you never know what happens next, so you cannot say that a 27-speed bike is better than an 18-speed bike. The most you can do is play it safe and get a 3×9 or a 3×10. You will not regret it.
Mountain Bike Buying Tips
There are several manufacturers that develop and sell incredible products, but some really stand out. Most people who want to buy a mountain bike have to consider the budget and not just the elements listed before. There are three main categories of bikes for you to look into and chose.
Entry-Level Mountain Bike
An entry-level mountain bike with some decent features is usually just under $500 – $600. This much money will get you a nice well-built bike with controlled suspension forks, rough tires, and hydraulic brakes.
You will get an excellent kick out of any bike trail and you will not have to further invest in improving your bike. It comes with all the necessary options for you to stay safe and happy.
One of the most excellent bikes you can get for this much money is Schwinn’s Mesa 1 that is available for around $550. The Schwinn Mesa 1 Men’s is a very good investment to make if you are just starting to get a taste of the fantastic world of Mountain Biking.
It is built by one of the most well-known manufacturers, and it provides all the durability and comfort a beginner needs to get acquainted with aggressive cycling. It comes with excellent parts and will last you for a long time, given a little maintenance is done once in a while.
Intermediate Mountain Bike
If you have been riding for some time and already know how things work, it is time for an upgrade. A nice bike that is worthy of your investment usually costs over $850 and it is definitely a step up from its cheaper versions. The cost difference will bring you lighter parts and a definite increase in ride quality.
This is basically the step you take before going for a pro-bike. If you decide to invest more than $1000 you will get access to those hardcore trails or you will be able to handle long bike travels. A mid-level mountain bike is probably the best all-rounder you could get in terms of bike quality.
If you are settled to spend some extra cash on your bike, then it is time to direct your attention towards Diamondback. They are currently rated as one of the top three bike brands on an international level. One of their best bikes currently on the market is the Diamondback 2013 Recoil Comp 29’Er.
The Recoil is an adaptable well-built mountain bike with amazing features. It will initiate you into the world of hardcore downhill mountain racing. It is tough as any professional bike out there, and it has a new frame design that will help you avoid accidents and unwanted situations.
Top of the line Mountain Bike
If you are well anchored into mountain biking and if you have a lot of experience with rough terrain and apparently impossible scenery, then you are surely looking for a top-end bike.
There is no better bike for you than the Yeti Cycles SB66 Pro XTR Bike OR you can also go through our Best Mountain Bikes 2021 list to find the perfect bike according to your needs.
For the safety of your bike and truck, you must have tailgate pad for them. For complete guide, check out our Mountain Bike Tailgate Pads Guide
There are many ways to sort through bikes and find the right one for you. When you ask someone “how to buy a good mountain bike”, the most important advice that any expert will give you is that you must first try the bike out.
It is very important to feel comfortable with it and to feel in control. That is why all pro riders recommend a test ride and even some professional help when purchasing a mountain bike.
They do not come cheap and it would be a pity to spend money on something that doesn’t work properly. Hope Bike Reviews Hub mountain bike buying guide helps you find the best mountain bike which suits your needs.
Related Buyer Guides
- List of Best Mountain Bikes
- Top 10 Best Mountain Bikes Under $200
- List of 10 Best Full Face Mountain Bikes Helmets
As much as I remember, I started cycling when I was 5 years old. So I got to know that the passion for riding it runs through my blood but buying the right bicycling equipment and trustworthy information is another story. Always betrayed by sellers and even by friends so I decided to revolutionize it. When choosing bicycling products, I evaluate user’s experiences, different forum discussions, and other social media debates. I do in-depth research on every topic I publish to share with you the most valuable and trustworthy information. Read more about the way I choose the best cycling products and my transformation journey from riding it as a hobby to becoming my passion.