Trail_Bikes

If you are looking for a mountain bike with which you can push your limits when you ride off of the paved road, and confidently take on terrain that used to make you tremble with fear, then the best trail bike you can buy is what you need. Incorporating the latest advances in bike technology and build quality, the best trail bikes are made to take on the roughest of rides and are the ideal fit for adrenaline lovers and daredevils who can’t wait to hurtle down the hills.

Because of their extensive features and usually advanced build, the choice of the best trail mtb might not be as straightforward as one might think. To help you choose, and get the best possible results out of your future ride, we have put together in this article a list of top rated trail mtbs the market can offer you today. There is something for every kind of rider out there, so read on to discover what are the best options you can get for your money.

How To Choose A Trail Bike – Buying Guide

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Wheel Size

Choosing the right wheel size for your trail bike will let you get the most out of your ride since it will provide you with the perfect balance between the power you need to get over obstacles and the maneuverability that is necessary to navigate around sharp turns. There are three main wheel sizes you’ll find on the market today, which are 26, 27.5 or 29 inches. These measures refer to the circumference of the wheels, and only concern adult-sized bikes, with children’s ones having different dimensions. 

 For riders that have a powerful style, preferring long and slower strokes instead of many small and fast ones, a 29er trail bike will likely be the best option. These larger wheels take more energy to get rolling, which won’t be a problem for someone used to pushing hard on the pedals anyway but will then maintain their rolling motion for longer, requiring less effort. This is especially suited to flatter trails, or ones that do not rise or descend at a very steep rate, since having larger wheels means you will lose a little of the maneuverability you might need to confidently navigate the more technical sections of the trail. 

The other two wheel sizes, which we will describe together since they share many characteristics, are 26 and 27.5 inches. Wheels this size will be easier to get turning because they are smaller, but won’t have the same inertia as 29-inch ones. Where they stand out, however, is in the precision they give to the turn and sharp maneuvers that a rider can often be called to do in the woods. Paired with a good set of handlebars and a reliable front fork, smaller wheels can give you excellent control over your bike’s movements when you need it the most. 26-inch wheels, the smallest of the lot, are the preferred choice for those who want to jump or perform tricks, precisely because of these features, while 27.5-inch wheels have been progressively imposing themselves as the industry sweet spot, which is why you will have seen them so often in our trail bike reviews.  

Tire Size

 To the untrained eye, the shape and width of the tires and the design of the handlebars are the only things that differentiate road bikes from mountain bikes, but in truth, there is a much greater variety that lies underneath, especially for tires. These are a fundamental part of any mountain bike, and much of your success will depend on them since they are the only point of contact between the bike and the road or trail underneath. Tires on mountain bikes are wider, thicker, and heavier than the ones found on road bikes because they have to withstand prolonged close contact with rough surfaces, ready to cut and damage them at a moment’s notice.

Depending on the kind of bike you have, you will be using tires of different widths. On a cross-country bike, you’ll get away with tires that are between 1.9 and 2.3 inches wide, since they are usually used on tracks which are somewhat well maintained. Thinner wheels will also help you maintain higher speeds with ease, since they will generate less friction and drag on the road as you pedal along, but they will deliver the strongest possible grip. This combination will work well from cyclo-cross competitions but is likely to not be enough if you are planning to push your bike over wilder terrain and take on some brutal descents.

If this is the case, you’ll find yourself looking at tires that are between 2.3 and 2.5 inches in width. This allows them to have plenty of space to deploy a gnarly, knobbly texture, that will work great in gripping onto the ground as you pedal along. Trail riders will be more than willing to give up on some speed or push a bit hard to overcome drag if what they are getting in return are tires that allow them to push their bike to the extremes and still feel in control. For downhill bikes, which are going to be pushed even further in terms of performance, tires can even be wider than 2.5 inches, although we wouldn’t recommend going far beyond that because you risk falling into fat bike territory, and quickly lose all the advantages of a good mountain bike.

 Rim Width

The rim width of a wheel is an often overlooked feature, but it can have a profound effect on your ride because it will determine the fit of the tires that you are planning on mounting. The outer edges of bike wheels are not flat but curve gently between two ridges to allow some space for the tire to expand once it is inflated. The distance between these two ridges is what is known as rim width, and it has to work in sync with the tires to give you the best possible experience. 

For trail riders, you will be fine with the numbers that characterize most mountain bikes, which are rim widths between 30 and 50 millimeters. These allow riders to mount wide enough tires to take on the rough terrain they are headed for, without encumbering themselves with heavy wheels that will slow them down on the road. Smaller, tighter rims are, as you might expect, reserved for road bikes since they let you mount the thinnest tires available and reduce the drag they generate to the minimum possible amount. 

Frame

When looking for bike frames, you will come across options made mostly of steel, aluminum, or carbon fiber. These are the three most common materials used to build bike frames and with good reason since they offer a great compromise between weight and toughness, which is something all cyclists have to keep in mind at all times. Weight will always be an issue for bikers, especially those planning to take on some tough climbs, so knowing what to look for can go a long way in helping you improve your performance on the pedals. 

Aluminum and steel are the materials you will see on most mountain bike trail builds because they keep the price reasonably low and accessible to most pockets. Carbon fiber options are also present but come at a much higher price point than other options and are usually reserved for people that have deep wallets or absolutely need the greatest performance. Balancing your needs and your ambitions with the size of your pockets will help point you in the right direction and find the bike frame that best adapts to your body and your personal style of riding. 

Fork and Rear Shock 

The front fork of a bike is one of its most vital components since it has to absorb a great deal of energy after every impact with the trail and also remain light enough to let the rider twist it and turn it to their heart’s content. Often times, even if the main bulk of the frame is made of aluminum, the front fork will be built of steel, precisely because you will need to have a very strong and reliable section right upfront.

The front fork is also often supported by a suspension system, which is a common feature on mtb and adventure bikes. Having a good set of suspensions means that you can focus better on the road that lies ahead and be less distracted by the constant bumps and jolts that come from the road. You will still feel them, of course, but having the bike frame absorb even just a fraction of that energy before it reaches your bones can go a long way towards improving the quality of your ride.  

Suspension rods are defined by their “travel”, which serve to indicate how much they can collapse into each other when subjected to intense stress. Common numbers you will find on the market are values of 100 up to 140 millimeters. On bike models that are designed especially to take on fast and steep descents, you can often find a second set of suspensions on the rear wheel. These will be designed differently than the front ones but the principle that makes them work is exactly the same. Rear suspensions also help you keep your center of gravity nice and low during fast descents, improving your balance and overall control of the bike as you hurtle down the trail. 

Suspension

Bike suspensions have been around for a while by now, and nowhere have they been more useful than in the realm of mountain biking. This is a sport that does not go easy on your body, since you will are constantly exposed to the elements, you risk falling and are vulnerable to scratches and bites from branches and twigs, and despite all the padding you might have in your bib shorts, you will be feeling in your bones every impact and hole in the trail beneath you. 

There are two kinds of suspensions on the market, which both achieve the same result via different methods. One works by absorbing the shocks with an air layer, while the other uses a coil spring that compresses upon impact to drink up the energy of the hit. Air cushions tend to be less sensitive than coils, even if they are improving with every generation, but metal coils are often heavier.  

Suspensions are also defined by their “compression damping” rate, which is there to indicate how fast they will react when a force is applied to them. Changing the compression rate of a suspension is possible, and it will make it feel “harder” or “softer” as you hurtle down the trail. The spring, or air column, will then return towards its original position, and the speed with which it does so is known as the “rebound damping”. This can also be adjusted, especially on higher-grade bike models, and can let you fine-tune exactly how you want your bike to feel on the road, stiffer, faster to react, or slower and more gentle to adjust. 

FAQs

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Q: What Are Trail Bikes Good For?

A: 

Trail bikes are designed to take on the roughest terrain you can think of and still keep you on the saddle. With tough builds, grippy tires, and strong suspensions, they are the perfect tool to push the boundaries of what was thought possible on a mountain bike and help riders establish new, groundbreaking, records.

Q: Should I Get A Trail Or XC Bike?

A: 

The choice between a trail or a cyclocross bike will depend on what kind of riding you plan on doing. Both are very good options, capable of solid performances but the XC bikes tend to be built to lean slightly more toward speed than durability, with usually thinner wheels and often rigid front forks. They still are good choices, but if you are looking for a bike that is not afraid of anything then trail bikes are the way to go.

Q: Why Are Trail Bikes So Expensive?

A: 

Trail bikes, unfortunately, tend to be rather expensive because they are built to withstand the toughest of challenges. This means that they have to use components of the highest level to guarantee the reliability that is expected of them in the hardest of circumstances. This may well seem like a steep hill to climb if you are just only getting into the sport, but it will soon pay off when you’re in the middle of a rough, muddy trail.

Globo Surf Overview

Trail bikes represent the ultimate frontier in mountain bike riding nowadays because they give you a way to go almost anywhere and still feel in control of the trail. Choosing the best one for you, however, is no easy task, since they are many features and details to take into account. In this article, we have tried to present to you the best trail bikes on the market, highlighting what makes stand out from the bunch. We are confident that by following our tips you’ll soon be able to find a model that suits you like a glove and rapidly be on your way towards new and exciting adventures.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!