Mountain Bike: A Comprehensive Buying Guide
1. MTB Type
These are also known as XC bikes. They are the most common types in this field and best for racing or crossing rough trails.
These bikes with fat tires are most suitable for beginners. You can safely and comfortably run on rough terrains with such bikes.
This is an all-purpose mountain bike. It’s lightweight, which makes it easy to pedal through uphill and cross steep-climbs.
These are mostly used for racing and competition. You need to wear a full face helmet and full pads when you ride this bike.
If you need a mountain bike for local trails only, then these bikes are there to serve the purpose.
These mountain bikes are designed for dirt-jumps, skate parks, or pump-tracks. They are extremely tough and the only type that comes with 26-inch wheels.
Mountain e-bikes have exploded in popularity in recent times. They come with both a motor and pedals, allowing you to switch between modes as per your convenience.
2. Suspension type
Mountain bikes with front suspensions are called hardtails. Due to having only front suspensions, they tend to be light in weight. You can easily pedal them but they aren’t as comfortable as a bike with full suspension.
Full suspension means your bike will have both front and rear suspension. They offer you extra comfort even on bumpy rides.
Rigid means there is no suspension on front or back. You can rarely find these types. They are particularly designed for unpaved roads.
3. Build quality
Make sure your mountain bike has good quality suspension forks. With high-quality suspension forks, you might expect a higher price. But the suspension forks are extremely important for the reliability of your bike.
4. Bike Size
You’ll get various sizes of mountain bikes for various heights. You should choose the size according to your height, but also keep your comfort and weight in mind. Test ride should be the best solution for finding the perfect size.
5. Wheel Size
The available wheel sizes for mountain bikes are- 26 inches, 27.5 inches, and 29 inches. All mountain bikes in the past used to come with 26 inches wheels. Most common bikes use 27.5 inches wheels while 29 inches are the most modern ones. The former fits with fatter tires and the latter with narrower tires.
The brakes are extremely important to cope with the speed. Hydraulic brakes work the best. It’s more powerful than a cable one. So we’ll recommend you choose a mountain bike with hydraulic brakes.
7. Tire Size & Rim Width
2.35-inch tires used to be considered standard before, but now it’s often 2.4-2.6 inches. Wider tires offer you more traction on the road. You can even get some plus-sized tires ranging from 2.8-4 inches.
A rim less than 25mm width is actually narrow for a rough terrain. Consider getting it within a range between 26-30mm. Remember, the rim should be wide enough to accommodate the tire.
Number of gears varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. You have options from single gear to 30 gears. Shimano is currently the best in the industry for designing brake levers and gears. It’s better to have more gears for steep surfaces.
You have to choose between an aluminum and carbon frame. Aluminum frames are cheaper but slightly heavier than carbon frames. Carbon frames also last longer. Choose the one which is good for your budget.
10. Fork & Rear Shock
It’s important to get quality suspension components. A higher-end rear shock and fork will adjust to your riding style and weight better.
Drivetrains can have either one or two chainrings. Two chainrings means there will be shifters on both sides of the handlebars. One chairing is simpler and easier to shift. Most recent mountain bikes have drivetrains with one chainring.
Carefully choose your rim since it can alter the effectiveness of your tires. Wide rim along with wide tire result in plenty of traction.
We would recommend you to get a dropper seatpost. It’s a game changer. If your bike doesn’t offer one, you can get a dropper seatpost separately.
With better suspension, the adjustment will be wide ranging and simple. You’ll find some forks with a lock-out option. You can turn off the suspension and close down the damper with this option.
Damping is the rate of your shock compression and return to the full length. If you have high-quality suspension forks, the damping won’t be too bouncy or harsh.
Since we are talking about mountain bikes that come at a price under 500 dollar, your budget can be between $200-$500. There are many quality mountain bikes at this range, so don’t think you’ve to compromise with the quality in this specific price range.
What Is a Mountain Bike Used For?
A mountain bike features beefy frame and knobby tires for strength and increased traction on off-road terrains. Mountain bikes are specifically designed for riding on trails, fire roads, unpaved roads or dirt-tracks. If you’re going to be doing plenty of off-road riding, you must get a mountain bike.
A mountain bike is too heavy for road-cycling or commuting. If you want a bike to perform on every terrain, you should look at the hybrid bikes. But if you want the most efficient performance from a bike on trails or mountainous terrain, you must opt for a mountain bike. Mountain bikes also offer you an upright riding position. So you’ll feel comfortable even when crossing a big bump.
Mountain Biking Safety Tips
Mountain biking is one of the most exciting sports for bike enthusiasts, but it can be quite dangerous too. You must take some safety precautions in order to save yourself from the risk of serious injuries. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Here our expert team has prepared a list of safety tips for novice mountain bikers.
- Always wear your helmet. It’s an absolutely no-brainer, but some bikers often ignore it. Make sure the helmet fits you well.
- Get some gloves, the right shoes, and protective glasses. These are extremely important safety gears in case you hit the ground. Also, if the terrain is too rough, get some knee pads and padded shorts.
- Just get off the bike and walk when you see challenging sections. Attempting such sections may lead to a disaster.
- Keep a first aid kit.
- Check the brakes and tires before every ride to make sure they function properly.
- Keep yourself hydrated. Make sure you have enough water with you, especially in summer.
Care & Maintenance
- Clean every part of your mountain bike regularly. Use any basic cleaner such as a towel, a sponge, and a toothbrush. Don’t use strong jets, just use a mist or rain-like spray. After cleaning your seatpost, use some grease before you reinstall it.
- It’s extremely important to make sure your brakes work fine. Make sure you inspect them before each ride. Use a flashlight to check the brake pads and replace them if there is too much wear.
- Check if your wheels are properly tuned. Spin the wheels by elevating the bike. If you notice a wobbly rim, adjust it with a spoke-wrench. Replace the wheels if they are excessively damaged.
- Inspect your drivetrain which includes the chain, pedals, derailleur, and the rear-wheel cassette. Check all these parts and replace any if necessary.
- Check the tire pressure. It’s better to keep it between 30-45psi. Check your tire pressure by a digital gauge or floor pump. Also, check for any damage or wear.
- Inspect the cables for rust, cracks, dirt, and looseness. Replace the cables every 2-5 years from a bike shop.
- Most importantly, lubricate your bike chain evenly. Wipe off the excess oil with a dry rag. It makes sure your shifting is smooth.
It’s Time to Wrap Up
When choosing your mountain bike, it’s important to consider the frame material, wheel size, brake type and the geometry. All the products on this guide are selected considering these parameters to give you the most correct and useful information. As we only talked about the best mountain bike under 500 dollar, we tried to make sure to include the top available options in the market within this budget.
If you’re searching for an entry-level MTB, we recommend you either the Mongoose Dolomite or Huffy Summit ridge. For women riders, we suggest the Schwinn High Timber and Mongoose Status 2.2 since they offer upright riding position and comfortable padded seat.
We advise you to avoid plastic components as they will easily get ruptured. Also, try to avoid too heavy frames that will make it difficult for you to handle the bike.
We hope you’ve got a clear idea now about mountain bikes and your specific needs. So, choose your dream mountain bike and get ready for an adventurous mountain ride!
1. Why are there different wheel sizes available?
Ans: There are basically two wheel sizes available for mountain bikes- 27.5 and 29 inches. However, there is also a 26-inches wheel, which is rare to find in modern mountain bikes. 27.5-inches is the standard size while 29-inches is more efficient to roll over huge bumps. If the tire is fat, it’ll use a 27.5-inches wheel and if it’s narrow, it’ll use a 29-inches wheel.
2. How often should I service my mountain bike?
Ans: If you use your mountain bike regularly, we’ll suggest you service your bike after every six months. Otherwise, you can service your bike once a year.
3. Do I have to clean my mountain bike after every ride?
Ans: It’s always recommended that you clean your mountain bike after every ride, especially if you ride in the rain. Mud is the biggest enemy for your bike. Remember, if you don’t clean your bike regularly, it’ll get damaged quickly and you’ll not get the most out of your ride.
4. What are the risks of mountain biking?
Ans: Mountain biking can be quite a dangerous sport since there are huge risks of severe injuries. Remember your skill level and ride in control. Keep an eye on the trail and most importantly, avoid collision with other riders
5. What is the difference between a mountain bike and a regular bike?
Ans: A regular bike uses narrower tires without any lugs. Such tires provide enough control and grip on the pavement. On the other hand, mountain bikes are particularly designed for off-road terrains such as snow, mud, dirt, and gravel. They are strongly built with strong wheels and thick tires.
6. Is it bad to ride a mountain bike on the road?
Ans: It’s not bad, but a mountain bike might not go too fast on the road. As these bikes use knobby tires, there will be too much rolling-resistance on the pavement. It might slow you down, but it’s definitely not dangerous.
7. Do you burn more calories on a mountain bike or road bike?
Ans: Road biking is mostly a workout for your legs whereas your entire body is required for mountain biking. Also, a mountain bike has more rolling resistance. The weight of a mountain bike is heavier, so you tend to spend more energy to move it. So, it can be generally said that a mountain bike helps you burn more calories than a road bike.