Mountain biking is constantly gaining in popularity as more and more people become interested in the sport, but choosing a good entry level mountain bike to get started is no easy task. The technical details are numerous and prices may often seem unattainable, so much so that even the most passionate potential riders may be tempted to give up before the fun part has the chance of beginning.
Luckily, there are several options available on the market for those just getting into the sport, and the best beginner mountain bikes nowadays sport performances that don’t put them that much far behind the professional models that break the bank. Finding the best mountain bikes for beginners is not an impossible task in this article you will find all the tips you need to understand how to do it.
How To Choose A Beginner Mountain Bike – Buying Guide
When looking for a mountain bike, regardless of your skill level, you will be faced with two main choices when it comes to suspension, hardtail or dual. A hardtail bike only has suspension on the front fork, while a dual suspension bike has it on both wheels. Your choice will mostly depend on your budget and your intended use of the bike. As you can imagine, a hardtail bike has a simpler design so it will generally be cheaper than a dual suspension one. This kind of bike also requires less maintenance and is generally recommended for beginners that need to learn the basics of bike handling. As your skills improve, you might consider transitioning to a dual suspension bike. On these bikes, you will have more precise control over your tires since the two suspensions work to keep them in constant contact with the ground, but this does usually come at a premium price. Dual suspension bikes are also recommended for jumping or acrobatics, since they absorb impacts better, but again you need to be more comfortable with your skills before you embark on such an adventure.
The most common wheel sizes you will encounter on your quest for a beginner mountain bike are 26, 27.5 or 29 inches. 26-inch wheels used to be the standard but have since dropped in popularity in favor of 27.5-inch ones. The benefit of having smaller wheels is that you can maneuver them more precisely and, therefore, you have a better control of your bike during turns. On the other hand, smaller wheels are harder to keep turning over long periods of time. Should you opt for 29-inch wheel, you will find that they keep rolling longer although they require more strength to be gotten to move. Bigger wheels are indicated if you prefer speed and power over precision, or if you plan to go riding on straighter and wider routes instead of on narrow and technical trails.
Dropper seatpost are an innovative kind of bike seat that allows the user to change its height with the simple press of a button. While some beginner riders will not see the point of it, more experienced bikers know just how valuable this can be. Having a lower saddle means that your weight will be closer to the ground and that the bike will be much easier to control on sharp turns and rapid descents. A high saddle, on the other hand, is perfect for smoother section since it allows you to pedal more efficiently, using your leg extension to the fullest. You can then easily see why a dropper seatpost is very useful, since you don’t have to commit to one choice anymore but can have the best of both worlds ready at a moment’s notice.
A good and smooth shifter is an essential part of any mountain bike, but if you’re only just getting into the sport all those little numbers may look very confusing. If you want to avoid any complications you can stick to a one by (1x) shifter, which will simply display numbers that represent the amount of gears on the rear derailleur, while there will only be one ring on the front derailleur and you won’t have to worry about making combinations. For those that already more comfortable with the way bicycle gears work, a 2x or even 3x shifter is probably the best option. This will let you get the best performance out of your bike and give you a much wider range of gears to choose from, so you can gradually adapt to any changes in the steepness of the trail.
There are two kinds of forks in mountain bikes nowadays, air forks, which use the air chamber in the compression circuit like a spring, or coil forks, that use a metal spring to push back against the forces they receive. Coil forks have a more even response throughout the whole range, and because of this they are recommended for beginners, also because they generally come at a cheaper price. The downsides are that they are slightly heavier and more complicated to mount on your bike, but on a beginner model, they are likely to come pre-installed and not be a problem. Air forks are more light and easy to adjust for a specific rider’s weight, but their response is not linear, meaning that they will react differently depending on the strength of the impact, and you might feel the suspension getting harder on bigger hits, although steps have been taken to fix this. Overall, we would recommend air forks for trail or cross country riders, while riders that prefer riding on longer distances with less elevation will be fine with coil forks.
A good pair of brakes are without a doubt something that a beginner’s mountain bike cannot be without. Riders who are not experienced and are still learning the techniques required to slide along on the trails need first and foremost a good and sure way to stop themselves when they feel things slipping out of their control. Most mountain bikes today will have disk brakes, since they are generally more powerful than rim brakes. Disk brakes divide into mechanical and hydraulic. Mechanical disk brakes use a cable to move them, while hydraulic ones use the transfer of fluid to generate the force that is needed to stop your wheels from turning. Both are good options, but hydraulic brakes do have a slight edge when it comes to performance and require less pressure for the same amount of stopping power. They are, obviously, also more expensive, but if your pockets have a little capacity and if you’re serious about the sport, they are the way to go.
Threadless headsets are a relatively new innovation that is finding its way on more on more bikes as times goes on. These headsets do not feature a locknut at the entry point with the bike frame. This used to be the source of numerous problems as with time it would progressively stiffen, greatly influencing the smoothness and precision with which a rider could adjust his or her course while pedaling. A threadless setup makes for considerably less friction when the handlebars are turned and is also much less subject to wear and tear than previous models. This makes is a significantly better choice and a much more comfortable steering system, especially for beginners, so we would recommend having one on your bike even if it might be a little more expensive.
The bike frame is the main support of your body when you ride, so it has to be tough, durable, and ready to withstand some serious hits. Most bikes get away with the traditional diamond shaped frame, which works well for most occasions. Once you start getting into more technical models, that are designed for acrobatic jumps or speedy descents, you will likely encounter frames of different shapes, since they have to accommodate for a rear suspension. This changes the balance of things, and usually bring the rider lower, closer to the ground, since this position is best to get the most out of the bike in those specific situations. A diamond frame, on the other hand, is good to keep you higher and allow you to use the full extensions of your leg to pedal more efficiently. Keep in mind that frames have sizes, so be sure to carefully read the size charts that manufacturers provide to find the one that best suits you. This is crucial to ensure you are comfortable when riding and have full control over the bike.
For entry level bikes, the most common material you will find is aluminium, since it is very durable and reasonably light, and most of all not too expensive. Steel is also often used for bike frames, with several different available alloys that have very good performances. These two options are the heaviest, and there are of course better options out there, such as carbon fiber or titanium. Shaped by the latest advances in technology, these materials are even tougher than steel or aluminum and remain lighter. The main downside, however, is that they come with a hefty price tag which usually puts them out of reach of most riders who are thinking of buying their first ever bike.
Having a bike that is the wrong size for you is kind of like trying to walk with the wrong sized shoes on. You feel uncomfortable, it may even get painful, and for sure you can’t get the most out of your feet. The same goes for bike frames and is the reason why they come in different sizes. To find out which one is the best for you, stand with your feet as far apart as your shoulders, then measure the distance from the inside of your foot up to your crotch, where your leg meets your waist. Once you’ve done this, multiply the value (in inches) by 0.67. The number you get from this operation will give you the length of the seat tube, which is the one that joins the saddle to the handlebars and is used to mesure the frame size.
Q: How Much Does A Decent Mountain Bike Cost?
For a respectable beginner mountain bike, 500$ is a good starting point that should let you purchase a valid product, good for most situations. Of course, the more you spend, the better bike you can buy, but even for under 1000$ there are plenty of good options, as you have seen in our beginner mountain bike reviews, that won't make you feel like you are missing out.
Q: Are Entry Level Mountain Bikes As Good As Expensive Ones?
This might have been the case a few years ago, but nowadays even entry level bikes have become very good performers and can deliver similar features as some of the pro models. Unless you need a very specific kind of bike or you can't be without the latest and greatest materials, most beginner bikes will give you more than enough to work with.
Q: What Suspension Is Recommend For Beginner Mountain Bike?
For beginners, it is recommended to start with front suspension only. This is because they are usually cheaper and also because dual suspension bikes, most of the time, are more specialized models, used only by a certain niche of riders. Beginners are more likely to need a good all-round bike, and front suspension should be more than enough.
Globo Surf Overview
With mountain biking becoming more and more popular, options have grown so much that when it comes to buying your first bike it is understandable to feel a bit lost and confused. In our article we have shown you the best ones available today as well as useful tips and tricks to know what to look for, so you can quickly make the best decision and head straight for the fun.