3 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Mountain Bike

buying a new mountain bike, buying a used mountain bike, buying a mountain bike, mtb tips, mountain bike tips
July 27th, 2017

Today's guest article is from Jen at  Jenreviews.com

When it’s time to buy a new mountain bike, choosing the perfect bike can be overwhelming and confusing. Every mountain bike company will dangle their newest shiny parts at you and latest upgrades, hoping you will choose their brand for your new bike.


Finding the right mountain bike requires research and a thorough understanding about what exactly you're looking for and what type of terrain you'll mostly be riding.  It’s no surprise that there are many factors to consider before choosing  the right mountain bike for you. 

1. Do you need a new or used bike? 

Buying a used bike is an excellent way to budget. When wanting to buy a used bike, create a list of questions to ask the seller.

How many kilometers has the bike been ridden?

How many times has it been repaired?

Is regular servicing of the bike required?

Ask for the serial number to ensure it's not stolen. 

Have any components been changed out? 

 To avoid a heated conversation between you and the seller, here’s what you need to know.

Learning about the drivetrain of the bike is critical. It’s the system that’s responsible for moving the bike forward without compromising on balance and speed. The drivetrain consists of the cranks, chain, rear cogs, front cogs, derailleurs, and the shifters. However old the bike’s condition is, the drivetrain should be able to shift gears without resistance.


Knowing how soon certain parts of the drivetrain need to replaced is a good way to figure out how much money you’d be spending. If it’s anywhere close to buying a brand-new bike, then buying a used bike and going through the extra hard-work is of no value. On the other hand, it’s no problem when there’s minimal wear and tear to the cranks, chain rings, and cassette.


According to a review, if one part of the drivetrain is damaged and needs to be replaced, then the other parts follow the same fate. So close inspection of each and every component is essential. Followed by the drivetrain, you should inspect the brake system, wheels, and suspension. If the  bike produces any sort of noise while riding,  check to see if the bearings at the front brake are stable. As different bike noises indicate different potential defects. 

2. finding the right size

When you end up with the wrong bike size, you’ll know. It will be uncomfortable and you won't be able to ride confidently. Not to mention, it might cause neck pain, back pain, and other stress injuries. You may also experience poor balance, slow riding speed, and frequent falls.  A correct bike size can prevent all of this! For that reason, you must take each bike component into consideration before deciding on the right fit. These components include:

  • Frame size

  • Saddle

  • Pedal position

  • Handlebar height

  • Stem Length 

The first step is to take your body measurements, starting with the inseam measurement. You want your legs to be fully extended with a little bend in the knees for a comfortable riding position. So measuring the saddle height and pedal is important to create a downward stroke without hurting your feet t or knees.The next thing to do is work on the seat angle adjustment. Most  riders want their seats parallel to the ground for better posture and an upright back position. Having your seat’s fore/aft position prevents knee cap, shoulder, and neck pain. 


The handlebars should be at the same height as your seat. This develops a good riding position without causing an abnormal back bend when leaning forward. This measurement holds true for professional cyclists during racing or adventure trips. There are many frame sizing charts you can look up  after you’ve determined your ideal bike size.


Once you've narrowed down the specifications of a few mountain bikes you're interested in, visit that company's website to view their specific sizing charts. A large frame Trek vs a large frame Rocky Mountain will be slightly different with their specific measurements. In simple words, once you decide what type of bike you’re most comfortable with, determining the fit is easy to do. Every part of the bike starting from the seat and handlebar to the pedal matters. Simply standing over the bike and taking rough measurements is not enough. Now enters the fun part -  test ride as many bikes as possible!







3. what is the best wheel size? 

Knowing what wheel size you will be able to work with will be a major deciding factor on narrowing down your ideal bike. If you’re newcomer to buying bikes, this is the kind of information you’re expected to know for a good purchase. It goes without saying that bikes offer versatile wheel sizes based on your type of riding. That said, here’s what you need to know about the various wheel sizes most common in the industry.


650c or lower: Children and bikers with a small stature can find solace in riding bikes with 650c or lower size wheels. There are plenty of road and hybrid bikes that work best this wheel size for people who don’t find the right fit easily. If you’re below 5’4” in height, then a 650c wheel size would fit you perfectly.


700c: If you’re looking for a standard size, opt for a road or hybrid bike with 700c wheels. The “c’ stands for clinchers which is measured in diameter. This size is perfect because it fits most bikers and has the right kind of dynamics for flat surfaces.


26-inches: Most mountain bikes used to come with a 26-inch wheel size, but there has been a shift to 27.5 (650b) or 29er wheels.


27.5-inches: A 27-5-inch wheel size falls between the 26-inch and 29-inch mark. Just as how a hybrid bike is the best combination of a mountain and road bike, this wheel size is the best of both the  26- and 29-inch wheel size. These wheels offer consistent speed. It keeps a persistent  accelerating power without compromising on balance. 27.5-inch wheels are sometimes easier to handle in tight corners than 29ers and are more durable than 26's. Of course, wheel size is highly based on personal taste and the type of riding you're doing. 


29-inches: These wheels might feel slow when moving forward, but they gradually catch up to speed for a consistent and smooth ride. They are efficiently balanced to tackle obstacles and roll over hard terrain. Research has found that professional bikers prefer 29-inchers because they’re far more durable,  rugged hard-tail rigs do their best with 29-inch wheels.

time for a test ride

Nothing beats the benefits of going for a short test ride before buying a bike. Don't rush the buying process and while on a test ride focus on how the bike handles, the bike's comfort, durability, and maneuverability. Since there are so many bikes to choose from, jotting down the most intricate feature adds value to the process.


So what if you’ve never bought a bike before? Learning the basics of any bike is a good practice to avoid making mistakes while buying, take time to do your research. Now, it's time to pedal your way home!