Shopping for a Mountain Bike for the First Time
When buying a mountain bike, decide first the riding style that you really want to do most. Buying a mountain bike after only looking at the first few ones you inspected is very tempting. This often happens because mountain bikes, at a glance look basically the same. It is usually loaded with features and stuff, ruggedly built that can stand punishment than most bikes. Too many times, a mountain bike is bought designed to climb steep inclines and loaded with impressive upgrades that never gets off the pavement. This is like buying an impressive four by four SUV that was never used off road. There goes the fun.
But if you really enjoy riding off road, zip through the woods, sand or rocky trails, you deserve a good mountain bike.
Before buying a mountain bike determine your riding style and the terrain that you will be using it for.
Wheels – mountain bikes are mounted on knobby tires. The wider threads are designed to give the rider better grip on the road when traveling over rocks, dirt, sand or gravel. The tire pressure is also less so that more rubber is in contact with the road thereby getting more traction. The spokes and rims are designed to be sturdy to handle the riding that mountain biking requires.
Whatever the tire you use, mountain bikes do not go as fast as road bikes. They are designed to be sturdy with a higher riding position, wider threads, stouter frames, higher ground clearance (so the rider can better negotiate a rugged terrain); features straight handlebars and can generally take the punishment. Speed with a mountain bike takes a back seat.
Frame – if you have money to spend on a mountain bike, spend it well on frames. Beware of mountain bike set ups with very appealing add-ons like front and rear shocks, multiple gears etc. If the mountain bike is built from heavy frames, it probably will not last long in rugged off road conditions. You will also be encumbered with the added weight that should be the last thing a mountain biker needs.
Choose your frames well. If you have to buy a good mountain bike, choose a good dealer. Your mountain bike is often just as good as the dealer that sold it to you. Mass retailed mountain bikes that are sold in department stores serves a purpose but if you want something really good, find a good seller.
Handlebars – choose handlebars that offer the best position for vision and control. All mountain bike handle bars are flat and straight but this should also allow the rider to sit comfortably straight.
Riding position – Mountain bikes are designed so that the rider is in an upright position. This position may not be as comfortable as the riders’ position in a street bike but this position allows the biker to get a better grip and very effective control on the mountain bike.
Suspension – the choice is between full suspension and a hard tail. Whenever you can, go for full suspension. It does not only allow you to control your down slopes well it is also easy on the back.
If the budget allows it, resist the temptation of buying cheap. The old adage that tells us that we only get what we pay for will always be true. Mountain bikes are meant to be fun and safe. Much of these are lost when buying cheap. If more expensive choices are not an option for the moment, choose bikes that you can continually upgrade later.
If you must skimp, skimp last on the frame.