If you are looking over the hills, forests, mountains and ravines before you and wondering what the best bike is to explore all this grandeur before you, the answer is an MTB, or Mountain Bike.
As you may have noticed, there are all types of bikes. There are road bikes made to be uber-lightweight and energy efficient and cruisers for a Saturday afternoon in the park. But, the MTB is a different flavor profile all to itself.
While you will find a variety of different MTB types and styles each dedicated to a specific purpose, there are a few features that MTB’s share and are essential to providing safe and reliable transportation in the roughest terrain you can find.
Features of the Mountain Bike
A proper MTB will have one or more of the following features. A superior MTB may have all of them and then a few extras that make the whole experience more enjoyable.
– Wider Thicker Tires with designs for better traction and resilience to unpredictable terrain which may be wet/dry, slick gravely or other.
-Sturdy/Heavy design with increased resilience in joints and shock points reduces the chances of a snapped or bent chassis.
-Full-Suspension or Hardtail Suspension (suspension only on the front tire) for better control and maneuverability on the rough road.
-MTB Platform Pedals for wider contact area between shoes and pedal.
-Low Gear Range for taking on the steepest hills with minimum-energy expenditure.
-Crossbar or Upright Handlebars for maximum control on the trail.
-Improved Braking Systems, Disc brake, e.g.
You will find the rough-riding MTB is easy to identify with its study profile and ponderous weight. Nevertheless, a closer inspection will reveal that there are several different options that should be chosen for your needs and environment.
Hardtail or Full Suspension
One of the biggest questions is which of the three suspension options to choose from. MTBs can be:
–Full Suspension: Shocks at the front and back
The full suspension system reduces fatigue by cutting back on all the shocks transmitted from the road to the sit bones, shoulder and wrists. This will mean your endurance on the trail is significantly improved. Full-suspension also improves the bike’s maneuverability on tough trails considerably, while this does kick the price up as well. There is nothing worse than poor quality suspension system on the trail.
–Hardtail: Shocks at the front
While not doing much to reduce shock felt through the seat, you may find you spend a lot of your MTB time standing. Ina any case, the hardtail reduces fatigue felt in the upper body and also increases the navigability of the bike on mountain trails. One advantage to the hard tail is that there are less devices that can break far out on the trail and require more than simple repairs.
–Rigid: No shocks at all
While this concept was though forgotten, there are some fine rigid bikes meant to be taken for a spin on the mountain trails. While they will certainly have some disadvantages in comparison to a suspension bike, these are still reliable and perfect for a slower paced exploration of the wilderness.
Suspension Types – suspension can be achieved with a coiled spring or an air-suspended fork. While the coil is cheaper to purchase and replace, the air-suspension is far lighter which can be a plus in endurance training.
The next big question for an aspiring MTB enthusiast has to do with the varying wheel sizes. There are 26” and 29”and the newly arrived 27.5”.
According to proponents of the 29”, the larger wheel sizes handle road debris better and gain momentum faster, making the uphill climb easier. The smaller 26”-wheel is supposed to be a faster option for downhill MTB, but hard-evidence is still lacking. As you may imagine, the 27.5” will be somewhere in the center.
The only thing for sure, taller MTB enthusiasts will probably get a better experience from the 29”-wheel.
Specific Styles of Mountain Bike
There are also more specific types of MTB made for more a specific style of riding.
The Trail Bike
Trail bike make up the largest category and are focused more on versatility and balanced performance than anything else. You will find a great many types of materials from heavy and shock-resistant steel to lighter weight carbon fiber models. Trail bikes are a well-rounded option that can be adapted the specific needs to the rider.
The Downhill Bike
For some folk, the whole fun of getting to the top of the mountain is to go back down. A downhill MTB will provide excellent control at higher-speeds. However, for making a difficult climb, pushing longer distances or even just biking through rough country with your mates, they are substandard. The only reason a Downhill would be good for you is if you have a love for this particular adventure.
The Cross Country or XC
This type of bike is sort of the opposite of a Downhill bike as it is designed to make uphill climbs quickly and easily. They are often made of lighter weight materials like aluminum or carbon fiber and typically feature a larger wheel size. They are designed for being ridden long distances. While you will find full-suspension and hardtail XC bikes, full-suspension will increase the endurance of the rider to match the advantages of the bike.
The Enduro bike
A New type of biking event that is catching popularity is the Enduro challenge. This involves timed events through a set of checkpoints separated by non-timed travel distances often involving uphill climbs. These bikes are built to be technically precise and strong enough to handle all types of terrain as well.
Final Notes on Your First MTB
If this will be your first MTB you would do well to forgo all the bells-and-whistles and even full suspension, in lieu of a top-quality product with lux rock lights. A top-quality rigid or hardtail will serve you better than a second-rate full-suspension. Besides, 90% of the MTB experience depend on the rider and their capacity to maneuver the hills and trails. Remember, a choice for quality is a also a choice for safety.