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What types of mountain bike are there?


Do you want to explore the world off the asphalt? Are you tempted by the next adrenaline kick on endless trails in the bike park? Or the breathtaking nature in the regional forests? In any case, an MTB is the perfect companion for you. It will take you to the most exciting places and support you on your exploration tour. The right type of mountain bike is produced for every purpose. Here you can find out everything about the different types and the questions about them:

  1. What is a mountain bike? What is the difference to a trekking bike?
  2. What types of mountain bikes are there?
  3. Which mountain bike is right for me?
  4. Where can I find my next mountain bike?

What is a mountain bike? What is the difference to a trekking bike?

Basically, there are different bikes for different purposes. With a road bike, long distances over flat ground are no problem. Road bikes are bikes with thin tyres and a sporty geometry. These bikes are made for fast riding on the road and not for off-road adventures. If you want to go off-road and explore more, you should choose an all-road or off-road bike. A special distinction is made between trekking bikes, gravel bikes and mountain bikes. Trekking bikes have wide tyres that provide stability even on meadows and gravel. However, they have hardly any suspension - so they are not suitable for riding on narrow trails. Gravel bikes are very reminiscent of a racing bike, but with much wider tyres. The tyres allow you to ride alongside the road. However, gravel bikes also have no (or only minimal) suspension. If you want to ride faster, you should opt for a mountain bike. Your mountain bike's own physical strength allows you to climb mountains off-road and conquer rocks and stones without any problems. You can take off metres from the ground with both tyres. Mountain biking is a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A leisurely after-work tour over country lanes, many metres of altitude on an Alpine crossing or riding technique and action on the trails - everything has its appeal. Your project will be especially fun with the right support. Different demands on a mountain bike require different types of construction. There is a suitable model for every area of use.

Whether all-mountain, cross-country or enduro, the special feature is the suspension. A downhill ride over scree requires more suspension travel than an excursion over nearby forest paths. A distinction is made between mountain bike types with simple suspension on the front wheel, or full suspension, i.e. an additional suspension element in the rear. The frame geometry is also decisive. It changes the riding position. For steep descents, for example, it is suitable to shift the body's centre of gravity over the rear triangle of the mountain bike. The design of the MTB frame helps with this. The wheel size or the assembly of the bike components also influence the seating position.

What types of mountain bikes are there?

Here we look at the different types of mountain bikes and their features.


Hardtail is the term for a bicycle that has a front wheel with suspension. It does not have a rear shock. The suspension fork can be locked on most models. The suspension travel of the fork can vary greatly. Most manufacturers use suspension forks with less than 120 mm travel on hardtails. Smaller potholes and roots can be rolled over. The greater the travel of the suspension fork, the more upright the rider's sitting position becomes. In order to be able to sit comfortably even when riding uphill, higher suspension travel is not recommended. The most common frame materials are carbon or aluminium. Carbon frames make it possible to achieve particularly low overall weights for MTBs. This is reflected in the usually higher price. A fall can lead to cracks in the carbon fibres. However, before the frame finally breaks, it can withstand a lot. Aluminium frames are tried and tested and robust. Heavier, but cheaper. The frame can bend in a fall, but it does not usually break.

Hardtails can be purchased with wheels in different sizes. Rims with a diameter of 27.5" or 29" are common. While the 27.5" wheel size allows for particularly manoeuvrable riding, 29" wheels are considered smoother. They compensate better for vibrations caused by bumps. In practice, the manoeuvrability of 27.5" tyres is minimally better. 29" offer significantly better rolling characteristics, as well as longer ground contact. This leads to increased traction. Practical accessories such as luggage racks are usually dispensed with in order to save weight. However, it can still be retrofitted. The hardtail is particularly popular for cycling tours along field and forest paths. The low weight also makes it easy to ride uphill. Longer tours can be mastered without any problems thanks to the comfortable riding position. Nevertheless, the hardtail is often underestimated as a piece of sports equipment. Due to the lack of a shock absorber, it is only considered suitable for limited off-road use. It does not roll over larger obstacles as smoothly as a fully. This means that more attention should be paid to riding technique. For beginners who are interested in riding on dirt roads, it is ideal for learning the technique. Technical riding also makes challenging trails possible with the hardtail. It is less maintenance-intensive than the Fully because it contains fewer suspension elements.


Cross-country bikes are also called XC bikes. Their suspension fork usually offers a travel of around 100mm. There are also variants with full suspension, i.e. an additional shock absorber. The overall weight should be kept as low as possible. Carbon frames are often used. As a rule, the XC bike has a total weight of about 10 kg. The seating position is slightly bent forward. The cross-country bike makes it possible to get everything out of a ride. For this purpose, 29-inch wheels are commonly used to combine speed with excellent rolling characteristics. This mountain bike is particularly popular for off-road races, such as cross-country races. The surface should not be too rough; on gravel, field and forest paths, the XC bike is unbeatably efficient. This MTB is also designed for long climbs and descents. The rather low suspension is ideal for long tours. The XC bike is not designed for the bike park or stony trails.


The dirt bike is an unusual hardtail. It has a maximum travel of 100mm, the suspension fork is heavily pumped up. It is only meant to cushion particularly hard landings. Dirt bikes tend to have smaller wheelbases than other mountain bikes. The frame size is intentionally smaller. The material for the frame is usually aluminium or steel. This makes the bikes very robust. The small wheels are striking. 24" or 26" are used, regardless of the size of the rider. This determines the seating position to a large extent. The dirt bike does without a lot of technology. Gear shifts are unusual. Apart from a suspension fork, there is also a coaster brake. With only one rear sprocket and one front chainring, the bike is always ridden in the same gear. Bicycles with one gear are called "singlespeed" or "fixie". The two versions of the single-speed bicycle can be distinguished by the wheel hub. In the case of the fixie, the hub is immobile, so every turn of the wheel moves the pedals. The dirt bike's range of use is also unusual. Whether in fun parks such as dirt or skate parks, on pump tracks or in the city. This MTB is excellent for spectacular tricks and jumps. It is designed for acrobatics and is only conditionally suitable as a means of transport.

By the way: The BMX bike is similar to the dirt bike in many ways. However, it has no suspension and is not a mountain bike. Normally, BMX bikes are still somewhat smaller, more maneuverable and very robust. The BMX is particularly interesting for beginners who want to try tricks. The price is usually lower than that of dirt bikes.


The fatbike is available both as a hardtail and with full suspension. In some cases, suspension elements are completely dispensed with, as the tyres provide a similar effect. It stands out because of its particularly robust and wide tyres. In addition, they are not fully inflated. The rider's body weight is distributed over the wider contact surface on the ground. This provides grip on particularly loose ground such as snow, mud or sand. The tyres make the MTB move rather sluggishly. However, you can still get around on asphalt with the fatbike.


The Fully

Fully stands for "full suspension", or translated "fully suspended". These mountain bikes have both a front wheel with suspension and a rear shock. The travel of the suspension fork varies greatly depending on the type of mountain bike. A hydraulic seat post is often installed. This ensures that the saddle can be raised at the push of a button. Depending on the terrain, the seating position can be adjusted. The steering angle, also called the head angle, is also important for the riding position. The steeper you ride downhill, the flatter the steering angle should be. This also makes it easier to roll over obstacles. The more suspension travel, the heavier the total weight of the Mtb due to robust components and stable frames. Carbon as well as aluminium are also used as frame material for the Fully. The tyres increase in grip according to the requirements due to large lugs and thus also in weight. Fullys that are designed for downhill riding are sometimes built with wheels of different sizes. So-called mullet or hybrid bikes have 29-inch wheels at the front, while the rear wheel measures 27.5". This makes the steering and seat angles even flatter. Moreover, the idea behind these designs is to combine the best possible traction with manoeuvrability. In practice, this is also noticeable, although the feeling uphill deteriorates due to the changed geometry. Due to the components, fullys are usually priced higher than hardtails. Fully is therefore a collective term for other types of mountain bikes that have full suspension. The most common types are explained below.

All-Mountain-Bike or Trailbike

As the name suggests, the all-mountain is a bike that can be used in as many different ways as possible. Trail bike is a frequently used synonym. Both uphill and downhill, any terrain can be climbed with these bikes. The all-mountain bike is also available with simple suspension. It is mainly sold with full suspension. The front suspension travel normally varies between 110-140mm. Lightweight construction, aluminium and carbon are common frame materials. It is mainly found with 29-inch wheels. Due to the mostly lockable suspension elements, riding uphill is possible, even though there are faster alternatives on MTBs. Downhill, the all-mountain bike is designed for light scree and small jumps and drops. As an all-rounder, it is ideal for a weekend trip to the bike park, crossing the Alps in summer or an active holiday in the bike mecca of choice. For the landscapes within Germany, the suspension travel is sufficient in most cases to be able to roll over obstacles in a damped manner.


Between all-mountain bikes and freeriders are the enduros. With a suspension travel of 140-180mm, they roll over rough gravel. Deeper drops and further jumps than are common with the all-mountain bike are compensated for. You go for long frame geometry with a flat steering angle. The result is an upright riding position. The mountain can thus be pedalled up independently, while rough descents are also no problem. However, due to the comparatively higher weight of about 13 kg, many Enduro riders tend to use a shuttle service or the gondola to their chosen trail start. The Enduro is the all-rounder for bright characters. If you like, the big brother of the all-mountain bike. However, if you want to cover long distances on flat terrain, you should reach for a mountain bike with a stiffer frame. The following models are also designed for alpine terrain.


The freeride bike offers a suspension travel of 160-200mm. This means that very long jumps, metre-deep drops and rolling over large rocks can be absorbed. Very stable components are used to cope with the massive loads of a freeride adventure. The Freerider is mainly used in bike parks or on very rough trails. Riding uphill is fun with very few models. On the other hand, steep descents can be overcome all the better. Since this terrain is technically very demanding, the freeride bike is more worthwhile for competitive athletes, cycling professionals and amateurs with years of experience. Rarely do excursions take you to terrain that requires this kind of suspension travel.


The freeride bike can still be surpassed in terms of suspension travel. A full 180-250mm is possible on downhill bikes. A very flat steering angle and a lowered saddle ensure that the rider's centre of gravity is shifted as far back as possible. Downhill bikes are also subject to high loads. The high load capacity of the frame is accompanied by a lot of weight. The suspension fork has a double bridge. This also provides stability. Riding uphill is hardly possible on a downhill bike. Everything is designed to master rough slopes at high speeds and to compensate for deep drops. Professional athletes therefore use this type of mountain bike for downhill races.


Various types of mountain bikes are now available with an electric motor. This is particularly helpful uphill. E-mountain bikes are an excellent support for reaching unique mountain peaks and viewpoints that would require great effort under their own power. E-fullys are particularly popular. The walk to the gondola or the shuttle service can be saved by getting assistance uphill from the motor. Normal fullys are often too heavy to reach the high starting point of a trail several times under their own power. The e-fully allows a higher number of descents. Due to the usually very high total weight, it has a pleasant grip on the ground, which increases the downhill riding fun. If the battery of the e-motor is empty, it becomes tedious to ride uphill due to the high weight. The fun is limited - until the next battery charge.

Which mountain bike is right for me?

Do you want to go on long tours on slightly uneven ground or reach the top of the mountain on your own? In addition, should the way down be fun and lead over rooty trails? Then the less expensive and less maintenance-intensive hardtail may be the perfect choice for you. Are you in the mood for adrenaline, bumpy descents and full-on fun in the bike park? Then take a look at the fullys from your favourite manufacturers. They often tend to offer more suspension travel and more stable components than you will ever use. You can save money here without sacrificing riding fun. Ultimately, all of the models presented here are mountain bikes that are primarily built for riding. It is rare to make a real bad purchase, as long as you use the bike and enjoy it.

Where can I find my next mountain bike?

Basically, there are 2 ways to buy a mountain bike:

  • Offline / in the shop: The classic variant, where you go to the bike shop, test bikes and take one home at the end. The big advantage is that you can test the bikes and try them out. With a bit of luck, you'll also have a competent advisor to help you make the right choice. The disadvantage - you are always limited to the selection in the shop and therefore only see a fraction of the mountain bike models. In addition, you usually pay a dealer's margin on the bikes from the shop.
  • Online: This option is becoming increasingly popular for buying bikes. You choose the right bike online and buy it. The bike is then conveniently delivered to your door and if you don't like it, you can return it within 14 days of receipt. The big advantage - you can choose from all models from any manufacturer online and benefit from the experiences of other buyers. The disadvantage - you can't physically sit on the bike before you buy it.

Whether offline or online - the bicycle market is booming and many models are out of stock. In addition, manufacturers are responding to the boom with steadily rising prices. Therefore, the used mountain bike market is becoming more and more attractive. But platforms such as Ebay Kleinanzeigen and Co. offer little security when buying a high-quality mountain bike. The Buycycle team has eliminated these uncertainties and established a platform for used premium bikes, where both selling and buying work safely and easily. You benefit from an Europe-wide shipping and return policy. You also benefit from secure payment. This can also be paid in installments - so financing is possible.

If you have any questions about buycycle or your new mountain bike in general, the buycycle team will be happy to help!


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