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    How to choose a mountain bike? Discover our mountain bike buying guide

    Alice Huot
    Alice Huot
    May 6, 2024 8 min
    How to choose a mountain bike? Discover our mountain bike buying guide

    What to consider to choose a mountain bike? In search of that feeling of freedom or rush of adrenalin that only a mountain bike can offer, but do not quite know how to choose a mountain bike? We are here to help with our mountain bike buying guide that allows you to uncover your dream mountain bike that is perfectly designed for you. 

    Mountain bike buying guide: the basics on choosing

    What do you want to do with your mountain bike?

    The easiest way to figure out how to choose a mountain bike is to first narrow down your choices by asking yourself a few questions:  

    • What style of riding interests me most? (Easy trails, technical descents, mix of uphill/downhill, tricks, etc.)
    • How do I plan on using the bike? (Exercise, commuting, dirt jumps, competition, etc.)
    • What type of bike best fits my current fitness level? 
    • What works with my budget?

    With your answers in mind, read through the different styles below to determine which mountain bike is best for you. 

    How to choose a MTB?
    What do you want to do with your future MTB?

    What to consider to choose a MTB

    Keep in mind that If you are new to the world of mountain biking, do also keep these factors in mind: 

    • Comfort: to inspire you to get out and ride 
    • Versatility: to most easily explore what aspects of MTB riding you may feel most passionate about  
    • Affordability: By opting for a budget-minded MTB, you cover yourself just in case mountain biking is not for you. On the flipside, if you absolutely fall in love with the sport, then you have saved money to afford your dream MTB the next time around.

    You can also read our guide on where to buy a bike to decide where is the best place to find your future mountain bike.

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    The three categories of mountain bikes

    All mountain bikes fall into one of these three categories: rigid, hardtail, full-suspension. Watch our comprehensive video guide to help you determine the perfect mountain bike for your needs.

    Rigid mountain bike

    rigid mountain bike
    A rigid mountain bike is often a good option for bikepacking

    These mountain bikes have absolutely no suspension. This makes them both lightweight and super responsive as there is nothing to dampen handling of the bike. They are ideal for easy off-road terrain such as fire roads and light technical sections.  

    Have a look at our selection of best mountain bikes for bikepacking.

    Hardtail mountain bike

    how to choose a mountain bike
    A hardtail mountain bike

    Suspension fork in the front, rigid (no suspension) in the rear. This is, by far, the most common MTB version because they are a solid balance of weight, maneuverability and capability. Flexible enough to use on most types of terrain, from fire roads to very technical singletracks. Hardtails are ideal for most beginners as they are typically lighter and more affordable. 

    Full-suspension mountain bike

    how to choose a mountain bike
    A full-suspension mountain bike

    AKA dual suspension. Suspension fork in the front, built-in suspension in the rear triangle of the bike. Most comfy on bumpy terrain, and are built to handle most everything thrown at them. Excellent for those who love riding a bike but do not appreciate their bodies having to absorb all the bumps on the trail. The tradeoff is that they are often a bit heavier than hardtails and tend to cost more due to the extra componentry and tech that go into them. On technical, bumpy downhills you will be thrilled to ride this style of MTB for its increased control and ability to smooth out the bumps.

    How to choose the right mountain bike?

    As you read through the various types of mountain bikes, think about what kind of cyclist you are, and what you expect from your mountain bike.

    We have a huge selection of mountain bikes ready for purchase on our shop.
    • Cross-Country (XC): This is the most popular mountain bike version as it is lightweight, agile and can handle most terrains – except for hardcore downhill. An endurance machine that is designed to go fast. Most XC bikes are hardtail, but some are full-suspension to handle more technical, bumpy tracks and to provide that extra level of comfort for long distances like MTB marathon racing. While XC bikes were originally offered in 26” wheel size, the typical size is now 29” for added comfort and easier rolling over bumpy, technical terrain.  
    how to choose a mtb
    A cross-country MTB is the most popular mountain bike version
    • Trail: The right bike for (almost) anything! Usually offered as full suspension, it is a blend between cross country and downhill bikes. If you want to climb just as well as descend, then this bike is for you.    
    • Downhill: Purpose-built race machines, designed purely for going downhill – aptly, swiftly and as comfortably and safely as possible. Designed to handle the stress of pure downhill riding like jumping off high ledges and tackling treacherous rock gardens. Do be forewarned, though, that there is nothing fun about climbing with these heavy monsters.    
    how to choose a downhill mtb?
    Downhill mountain bikes are purpose-built race machines
    • Gravity: A soft version of a full-on downhill bike, with slightly less travel. Perfect for bike parks – ideally with chairlift service as climbing is almost impossible.  
    • All-Mountain: AKA Enduro. More downhill-oriented than a trail bike, its strength lies more in dominating the downhills than climbing. If you find yourself riding uphill just to get to hammer the downhills, then this is your bike.  
    • Fat Bikes: With its distinctively oversized wheels, fat bikes are a very special breed of bikes. A plush ride that is ideal for snow, sand, ice and other terrains where a wider tire offers better traction.  
    how to choose a mtb
    Two fat bikes
    • Freeride: If you love the idea of playing all day at the mountain bike park, then this is certainly an MTB to consider. While not the easiest to climb on as it is super heavy, it is certainly fun for hitting the berms and jumps.  
    • Dirt Jumper: A cross between Freeride and BMX, it is the perfect tool for those who plan to spend most of their time in the air doing tricks. It excels when used for dirt jumps and pump tracks.  
    • Electric: AKA eMTB. An eMTB is basically a traditional MTB but with integrated motor for those who can use a bit of support. With the pedal-assist activated, you will climb faster and enjoy improved technical skills on challenging terrain as it offers more traction and helps you to better roll over obstacles in your way. 
    how to choose a MTB
    An electric MTB can be a good option too

    How to choose a mountain bike: E-bike or not E-bike?

    Is an E-MTB right for you?

    For those seeking an adrenaline rush on rugged trails and steep inclines, an E-mountain bike could be a game-changer. With electric assistance, it offers an extra push to tackle challenging terrain with less effort. Whether navigating rocky paths or dense forests, an E-mountain bike provides the boost needed to explore new heights and uncharted territories.

    Effortless exploration

    Advancements in technology have made E-mountain bikes more efficient and reliable than ever. Electric assistance conserves energy on climbs, allowing riders to focus on the scenery and enjoy the ride. Bid farewell to fatigue and embrace endless exploration with an E-mountain bike as your trusty companion.

    Which mtb is for you?
    Be ready for unforgettable adventures!

    You are now ready to shop for mountain bikes! 

    Now that you have learned how to choose a mountain bike and have narrowed down your wishlist with our handy mountain bike buying guide, head over to buycycle.com to find your dream MTB. Just click on β€œdiscover bikes” and enter your specifications. Soon enough you will be on your way to collecting magical MTB memories! Happy trails!

    We have a huge selection of mountain bikes ready for purchase on our shop.