New to MTB – A Buyer’s Guide
So you’re getting into, or getting deeper into, the sport of mountain bike riding. Good work. MTB is a great balance of exercise, adrenaline, as well as the peace and adventure of being outdoors. Frankly a place that a good percentage of your neighbors and co-workers miss out on… But it can be somewhat intimidating buying your first real mountain bike. This series will inform you on important aspects to consider. We’ve been penciling this project out for a while and have some cool content coming your way. In this series we will have some basic concepts or points as well as links to deeper “rabbit holes” of information for those who want to know more. Enjoy New to MTB – A Buyer’s Guide.
New to MTB – A Buyer’s Guide
Our first set of notes on this series is a mish-mash of critical components as well as concepts of the purchase. This first post will reflect that.
Your new bike should be fun to ride. It should inspire you to get outside and pedal. You should have room to “grow” into your new purchase as your skills improve. It should be confident and competent on trail. You shouldn’t have buyer’s remorse. It can all be done!
Sport Level Bikes for Sport Level Riding
Let’s get this out of the way: sport level mountain bike riding requires sport level equipment. Your big box store’s look-alike bike isn’t a mountain bike. It’s going to fail. And failing on two wheels can hurt you. Save up some more, look at financing offers (at BikeCo we offer Synchrony financing), etc but don’t kid yourself that a Costco or Wal-mart bike is something that’s going to be OK when pushed. It’s not.
Sport level mountain bikes are designed for trail conditions. Ideally they have the ability to replace, upgrade or change basic components due to wear or rider preference. Components below a sport level are hard to source for replacement. Proprietary components should raise an eyebrow as well.
New vs. Used
This conversation could go on all day but let’s keep it short and tidy. The used bike market is easier to navigate the more educated you are. Do you know what you’re looking at as well as what it will cost to bring it up to riding condition? Not all used bikes are the same. Even my personal bikes, which tend to be babied a bit as 1. I have gray hair and don’t like to crash and 2. I work here will have some issues when I sell them. Generally you can expect the bike will need a drivetrain, tune-up, suspension service, maybe cables and housing, etc.
New bikes have a few notable advantages for a true “new” rider. Here are two of the most notable. They’re completely fresh – you’re not chasing someone else’s problems. And you have access to a resource as a client to help you dial in suspension, cockpit, tire setup for your particular riding.
We want you to enjoy riding as much as we do. Our clients receive the best after purchase service from our staff in MTB. If you’re looking to have riding be the main hobby a fresh setup will help keep the bike on the trail more and in the stand less…
OK, onto the fun stuff.
What Makes The Right Bike
Understanding your personality, learning curve and typical riding conditions are important when picking a bike. Here are three common personalities we see when new to the sport.
I’m going to ride a hard-tail to see if I like it.
Hard-tail bikes are less expensive which seems like where you might start? Except hard-tail, bikes without rear suspension, are less forgiving and require more advanced riding techniques to be fun. Not to say there aren’t conditions where this is right, but, it’s not super common. Going back to our themes “your bike should be fun to ride” as well as “your bike should be confident and competent” – there might be a lot more fun to be had on a full suspension setup.
I don’t need all that travel, I’m not pushing that hard.
Seems really legit at first thought right? You see the pics and videos of the pro rider’s doing things that seem truly impossible. Well, I’m not doing that so I don’t need as much bike. This personality gravitates towards shorter travel, “faster climbing” XC type bikes. The issue becomes smaller travel XC bikes are designed to have quick, nimble handling. Quick, nimble handling for a newer rider can mean nervous. “Your bike should be confident and competent” – under-gunning on travel hurts a bike’s confident feel. You also want to ensure you don’t outgrow your purchase.
I need ALL the travel.
We see this less than the other two personalities. It tends to be a bit of a younger rider deal. Too much bike tends to feel sluggish under power whether uphill or out of the corner. Bigger bikes can also have a tendency to “not come alive” until a faster speed is reached.
So let’s say you’re none of the above, or we’ve bumped you off one of the above for now, what else do you look at?
Your personality. My all time favorite example, true story, was spec’ing a full XC style bike with a client. When I asked if he did any other adventure sports so we could help define his personality he answers, as calmly as if I asked the time, “Ya, I’m a base jumper.” So, you, ah, hurl yourself off of tall things? “Yup.” And, you don’t need all that travel, you’re not pushing that hard? Do you think you might, might end up in a bit bigger and faster terrain than you’ll start out? “That’s a really good point man. What do you think?” Well we ended up on a bit bigger bike with more room to grow and this client was super pumped.
Do you enjoy other adventure sports? How quickly did you pick them up? Understanding your learning curve will help define the best setup.
What type of terrain is typical where you will ride most? If you’re somewhere without a ton of chunky a more poppy, fast bike adds to the fun. When your friends are taking you on the after work rip in larger terrain the right amount of travel with the right amount of tire are critical for a fun day.
Well you’ve got some info about you to start the process. Now it’s time to get into the real fun stuff – the bikes!