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from the journal

Part 1: A Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking - How to Choose a Bike

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Hurray and welcome! You’ve decided to start mountain biking and we just have to say it - we’re thrilled! Our intention for this journal is to give you the tools and tricks to become a strong, confident mountain biker for years to come. 


How to choose a mountain bike. 


First things first, let’s get you a mountain bike that suits your needs. As you set off into the sport, you don’t have to spend thousands and you don’t have to buy the latest and greatest.  Finding a preowned mountain bike is a wonderful option, and a great place to start as you figure out your personal riding style. There are few different types of bike options as you start this journey: 


Hardtail vs Full Suspension Mountain Bikes

As you start learning to mountain bike, you’ll decide between a hardtail (a bike with only suspension upfront) or a full suspension bike (suspension fork and shock). Typically, a hardtail will be less expensive than a full suspension bike because it utilizes less fancy technology. We recommend a hardtail in regions where the terrain may be less rocky and technical. A full suspension bike can come in handy in terrain that is more rocky or is more challenging overall. 

Some experts say that the hardtail mountain bike can help with choosing better lines and build overall better skills- since you’ll have to rely on maneuvering and body position to avoid a rough ride. That said, the full suspension ride will be smoother and can set you up for more challenging terrain in the future.


XC vs All Mountain/Trail vs Downhill Bikes

Okay - breathe deep! We got you. The MAIN difference of these types of bike is geometry aka the angles of the bike and thus how you are positioned, and the amount of suspension. 


XC refers to Cross Country in mountain bike lingo. These bikes position you more forward and are best for speedy uphills and racing. This bike will have less suspension, be lighter and is better suited for mellow terrain or long-distance riding. 

All-Mountain/Trail bikes will have you seated more upright, have more suspension than an XC bike and be capable of climbing and descending well. This style of  bike is a bit of a “Jill of All Trades.” And, in general will be a great place for a beginner to start as you learn what type of riding you like best.

A Downhill bike will have you seated the most upright, and will be suited best for descending. This is a bike you would take to a chairlift served bike park and typically isn’t ridden uphill. 


Visit your local bike shop.


We recommend working with a local bike shop to discuss where you are in your mountain bike journey and the type of terrain you plan to ride to help you identify a bike that suits your needs. And, if you have the opportunity, ride as many different bikes as you can by borrowing friends’ bikes, renting, or going to a demo event before you purchase your own steed. 

Finally, here are some helpful questions you and the sales representative at your local bike shop can work through to help you find a bike just right for you. 

  1. Where are you going to ride?
  2. What is your budget? (Make sure to account for vital extras such as a helmet, gloves, shoes, apparel and so on.)
  3. What style of bike (there are varieties of suspension and wheel size to consider)?
  4. What style of riding will you do (trail / cross-country / all-mountain / downhill)?
  5. Will this be for fun, racing, fitness, or something else?

When you make the leap and purchase your first mountain bike don’t forget to show it off on #NewBikeDay. We can’t wait to see you out there!


Check out other posts in this series: 

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