When it comes to buying a mountain bike, it can get overwhelming pretty fast. This is especially true if you are new to the sport and not sure what to look for in the first place. We’ve broken down into 3 easy steps to check off during the shopping or research process.
Full Suspension or Hard Tail
The most common first question is whether to buy a full-suspension or hardtail. If you are new to mountain biking, a hardtail can be a great option for a few reasons. Hardtails are less expensive making the entry point into mountain biking more accessible. It’s a good way to get your feet wet without dropping too much money on a sport you’ve never done! Hardtails are usually less expensive because they are less complicated to build, design, and assemble than full-suspension bikes. Bikes like the Giant Fathom or the Specialized Rockhopper are great entry-level hardtail bikes.
If you are a more advanced rider you might be considering a full suspension bike. Short of being a total masochist or minimalist, the vast majority of mountain bikers eventually switch over to full suspension bikes. They are more comfortable, make it easier to get through rough terrain, and help absorb the shocks and impacts that are inevitable with mountain biking. Full suspension bikes can start at around $1500 and go up from there. They are a bit more complicated than hardtails due to the addition of rear suspension and creative frame designs that make it all possible.
If you’re new to the sport or on a limited budget, maybe try a hardtail. If you are looking to upgrade or know that you’ll eventually want a full suspension bike, dive in!
27.5 or 29
Look at any mountain bike forum whether it’s pinkbike.com, Reddit, or a Facebook group, and you will find a debate about which wheel size is better, 27.5 or 29. At the end of the day, it’s all personal preference. Well, that doesn’t help you much if you’ve never mountain biked before! Here are the common pros and cons associated with each wheel size.
Work down the list and see what matters most to you and choose from there. Overall 27.5 inch wheels are going to be more nimble, lighter, and easy to maneuver. 29-inch wheels are going to be slower and heavier, but give better grip, traction, and help smooth out rough terrain. What sounds more like you?
Dropper Posts and 1X
If you ask us, this is more of a requirement than a decision. A dropper post makes riding a mountain bike 1000x more enjoyable. You get the benefit of having an adjustable seat on the fly. This allows you to maximize your climbing by having the seat up high and then quickly getting it out of the way before descending. Even entry-level bikes are coming with them nowadays, but if they don’t, you can usually get one that will work with your bike for a couple hundred bucks. Trust us, you’ll want one.
1X refers to having one chainring in the front and 10, 11, or 12 speeds in the back. Here is to guessing that every year after the time of this article being written, there’s a higher chance of that number being in bigger. 1X drive trains simplify shifting, reduce the chance of your chain flying off, and free up space on your handlebars since you’ll only have one shifter. It works really well for mountain biking and is even starting to creep over into the road bike world. Look for a bike with a 1X drivetrain.
The Final Checklist
- Full-Suspension or Hardtail?
- 27.5 or 29-inch Wheels?
- Does it have a dropper post and 1x?
Hopefully, our quick and dirty checklist will help you navigate your next bike purchase! If you are interested in learning what bikes we have available at the moment, come visit us at Peak Cycles or give us a ring.