How to choose a mountain bike – opinions of experts

When choosing their first bike, many knowingly give their the choice in favor of the so-called “mountain”, even if it comes to urban operation. Buyers are attracted to the prospect of being able to misbehave off-road as well to test for accessibility all kinds of bumps, slides and jumps. AND taking into account the fact that in urban conditions such bikes are different quite tolerable comfort, the choice in their favor becomes clear, logical and appropriate. All that remains for the buyer is decide on specific characteristics and choose the most optimal model.


  1. Brands are everything. Top bike manufacturers for rough terrain
  2. Key Features of Mountain Bikes
  3. What are mountain bikes like?
  4. Main selection criteria
  5. Mountain Bike Video

How to choose a mountain bike

Brands are everything. Top bike manufacturers for rough terrain

Powerful, massive, equipped with thoughtful mechanisms and controls equipped with powerful wheels with developed protector – these are the associations the imagination draws when mention of the phrase “mountain bike”. Given the huge the popularity of such models, the release of “mountain” has mastered the great many manufacturers, however due to the quality of workmanship and far from all of them can boast of ultimate capabilities. For this reason, when choosing a mountain bike, preference should be give products of the following brands:

  1. Giant

  2. Trek;

  3. Scott;

  4. Author;

  5. Specialized

Models presented in the assortment of catalogs of each of these brands, a great many. And in order to make a choice turned out really logical and conscious, should be given attention not only to technical specifications and catalog descriptions, but also reviews of specific users. Find them it is possible in the Internet on specialized forums and public social networks related to the operation and maintenance of such technicians.

Key Features of Mountain Bikes

Studying the assortment of models on sale, distinguish mountain bike from its city or highway counterpart even an inexperienced buyer can. No, technical nodes and their the general design of all bicycles is similar, but the performance and the strength criteria laid down in them at the plant are fundamentally other:

  1. The main structural element – frame – has maximum gain and increased rigidity, has enough high pedal assembly and high strength welds. An optional independent rear suspension (as as a rule, the privilege of the most expensive models);

  2. The front fork is equipped with spring or gas oil shock absorbers with a stroke of up to 170-220 millimeters;

  3. Remote powerful steering wheel, which is an additional fulcrum in ride time;

  4. Powerful and large wheels (minimum 25 inches) equipped tires of considerable width and pronounced tread;

  5. Maximum disc brakes efficiency in any operating mode;

  6. The presence of an advanced transmission system that allows shift gears depending on operating conditions and mode drive. All components used in the transmission have maximum margin of safety and prepared for use in the most harsh conditions. Manufacturer of mechanisms – almost always Shimano

What are mountain bikes like?

As with all other models, mountain bikes have many subspecies intended for use in those or other conditions.

Cross Country Bikes (XC)

Cross Country Bikes (XC)

For many buyers are considered the best option, because they allow you to actively and dynamically navigate both rough terrain, and on ordinary city roads. The developed tread allows for use on complete off-road, and thanks to a transmission system including at least 20-23 speed, decent travel speed is provided outside depending on the type of coating.


  • Powerful and reliable;

  • Low cost;

  • High-quality and well-developed front suspension leveling irregularities;

  • Developed tread that allows you to ride on a complete off-road and on the highway with the same efficiency;

  • Universal;


  • Do not allow truly extreme riding, jumping and maneuvers;

Downhill Mountain Bikes

Downhill MTB

A special subspecies of mountain bikes designed for high-speed maneuvering and descents along bumpy mountain slopes and complete off-road. The main structural elements are dual suspension for maximum shock absorption, and also the front fork, which has a tremendous stroke value – under 250-300 millimeters.


  • Powerful and reliable;

  • Disc brake system;

  • Advanced tread;

  • Big stroke of the front fork;

  • Dual suspension system;


  • Quite expensive;

  • Unsuitable for use on ordinary roads;

  • Heavy weight;

Universal MTB


Bicycles, which are some kind of crossover analogy in the world auto. Designed for active urban pokatushek with the ability exit on light or medium terrain. Their characteristics are similar to older “brothers”, however, there is some simplification in suspension and transmission systems, as well as a slightly different form factor frames for a comfortable fit in urban operation.


  • High versatility;

  • Low price

  • Strong, and at the same time light frame;

  • Disc brake system;

  • Sophisticated suspension design;


  • They are not fully mountain bikes;

  • The brake system is almost always of the v-brake type;

  • Almost always equipped with a budget transmission;

The main selection criteria. What to look for when choosing Mountain bike?

mountain bike selection criteria

Having decided on a specific type, it’s time to pay attention key features that directly affect functionality and comfort.

Frame size

A parameter that directly affects the ride comfort. IN Unlike other models, all mountain bikes have a clear a certain classification of the frame. She includes six various classes starting with XS (extra-small, height up to 14 inches) – bicycles intended for use by riders growing from 135 to 150 centimeters, and ending with models of class XXL (height 24-inch frames) designed for people 2 and more meters tall. Between them are classes S, M, L, XL, whose frame has heights of 16.18.20 and 22 inches, respectively;

The material of the frame

The situation here is quite similar to that characteristic of all other bicycles, however, the difference lies in enough severe mechanical strength requirements associated with specifics of operation on rough terrain. It’s for this reason buyers often sacrifice the bike’s total weight favor strength, preferring heavier models.

  1. Steel is a fairly strong material, but differs maximum weight and susceptibility to corrosion;

  2. Aluminum is a light and very durable material, but with poor-quality welds can quickly exit out of service;

  3. Chrome-molybdenum alloy. “Strong middle peasant” occupying intermediate position between steel and aluminum. Enough strong and hardy, and at the same time much lighter than steel;

  4. Titanium and high modulus carbon fiber. Despite fundamentally the different nature and origin of the above materials have very similar performance characteristics. Both are ultralight and incredibly durable. The disadvantage is the extremely high price, these materials are used exclusively in the upper models price range.

Mountain bike form factor and design

By default, all models of this class are equipped with wheels. 26 inches in diameter (only teen models may have wheels smaller diameter). The diameter is increased by replacing tires on models equipped with a more “fleshy” tread. An important role is played by the material from which the rim is made – from steel models it is better to refuse in favor of aluminum rims either their titanium counterparts.

Suspension system design

  1. Hardtail is the most popular type of construction. Front wheel fastened with a suspension fork, rear – rigidly fixed on the “tail”;

  2. Rigid – a type of suspension in which the wheels are mounted directly to the frame without any shock absorbing elements. The most rigid and highly specialized design;

  3. Double suspension design – the most advanced and at the same time complicated and expensive. The front wheel is fixed with a fork, rear – on a special suspension equipped with shock absorbers.

Front fork stroke length

A parameter that directly affects the shock absorbing performance. Without exception, all MTBs are equipped with a fork with a stroke length of 13-150 millimeters and up to 250-300 millimeters. The latter are characteristic for professional downhill class models.

Type and characteristics of the brake system

  1. Rim brakes are the most affordable option. Popular are the so-called V- and U-brakes, the essence of which lies in the presence of a special mechanism located on it with brake pads and having a cable drive. At when braking, the pads are pressed against the rim, and the stronger the pressing force – the more effective the braking.

  2. Disc brakes for MTB – bicycles much more preferred. Braking is done by contact pads not with a rim, but with a brake disc located in the area hubs, which provides maximum braking performance in any conditions. Depending on the type of drive, such brakes may to be mechanical or hydraulic. The first are given in movement with a classic cable, the latter suggest the presence of special brake fluid and are driven hydraulics.


Mechanical structural element responsible for the change gear ratios of the main pair and movement efficiency as consequence. In order for the transmission to fulfill the assigned to it functions as efficiently as possible; mechanisms should be preferred production of well-known concerns (Shimano, SRAM), equipped not less than 20-22 gears. However, this characteristic is mandatory for universal bikes and models that suggest use not only on impassability, but also in urban conditions. Professional trial and downhill models very often they can be completely devoid of transmission and have one single speed. In those disciplines in which such bikes are used, gear shifting is practically not required.

In the following articles, our experts tell you how to choose wheels for a bicycle, secrets of choosing a chain for a bicycle and features of the choice of a road bike.

Mountain Bike Video

Attention! This material is subjective opinion of the authors of the project and is not a buying guide.

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