15 Tips to Choose the Best Mountain Bike for You – MTB Buyer Guide

MTB Buyer Guide
(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)

Are you an adventure fanatic that has recently developed a passion for cycling? Or have you amassed enough experience and now have finally gathered the courage to experience mountain biking? Well, if you have never explored the off-beaten path, the adrenaline rush of mountain biking will keep you wanting for more. For those that have already taken the plunge and discovered the sweet addiction, make sure that you have the best mountain bike.

The amount of jargon associated with mountain biking is frankly enough to confuse, and even, terrify any beginners. Not only the correct type, but you must also ensure that you have the appropriate components and take numerous factors into consideration. Comfort, duration of travel, and money are some of the essential criteria that cannot be overlooked.

However, the abundance of brands in the market has the potential to overwhelm even experienced cyclists. In order to make sure that you have an enriching experience traversing the rugged terrains, we have compiled a list of tips that will assist you in purchasing the best mountain bike for the money.

Know about the world of mountain biking

If you are an amateur stepping in to experience the thrill of mountain biking, it is vital that you know more about it before you make any kind of purchase. Keep in mind that there is a significant amount of investment involved.

Before you fall in love with any MTB, check if any of your friends share the same passion. If they do, maybe you can borrow their mountain bike for a ride. This is just to get a feel and see if you are up to the challenge.

Also, connect with friends that have been mountain biking for some time. If you ride with them, you have the chance of exploring the best scenic trails. Moreover, it is best if your first venture is in a group. That way, you can get help if you need it.

However, if you are already well-versed with BMX riding, then mountain biking will take your breath away. You must decide on the use of the cycle. For instance, if you are interested in enjoying forest loops instead of dirt jumping, then you need a different mountain bike.

Learn about the different types of mountain bikes (MTB)

After evaluating yourself about the kind of ride you prefer, you can decide on the mountain bike type. There are different types of mountain bikes available. These include –

  • Rigid
  • Hardtail
  • Full Suspension
  • Freeride
  • Downhill
  • Dirt Jumping
  • All Mountain
  • Singlespeed
  • 29er

If you want an all-round cycle that will assist you in trails as well as roads, then you must opt for the rigid type. But, if you want to try dirt jumping, then make sure that the mountain bike has short chainstays along with low and strong frames.

Nowadays, All Mountain bikes are gaining huge popularity. These mountain bikes are equipped with numerous technical features that ensure climbing uphill and pedaling descents with ease. But, if you have a competitive side and love racing, then the cross-country bikes with low weight and more efficiency is perfect for you.

All these bike types have numerous designs that come with minute differences. You must choose the mountain bike depending on where and how you want to ride it.

However, before purchasing the top-rated mountain bike, make sure that you check out the reviews of other riders. It will help you to get a clearer picture.

The popular mountain bikes in India can cost between 30,000-1.5 lakh INR.

Make sure that you purchase the right fit

The importance of getting the right fit cannot be stressed enough. Most of the brands offer mountain bikes in three distinct sizes – large, medium, and small. But, there may be an issue of the size difference between the brands. Several bike manufacturers offer size charts that detail the range of height that is suitable for a particular size.

Check out the distance between the bars and saddle and the distance between the mid-head tube and the crank center. Notice if the bike has the correct handlebar position (it must be of the same height as that of the seat). Also, make sure that you have some standover clearance, even if it only a few centimeters.

handlebar position

If the seat tube is short, then you can get the right standover clearance along with fantastic chances of maneuver. However, you must also ensure that you have the correct pedaling height.

right standover clearance

However, issues mainly arise when you are between sizes. If that happens, it is advisable to choose the smaller one. It is due to the fact that you can tweak the mountain bike if the frame is small.

Look out for the type of frame material

frame material

The frame material type has a significant effect on the strength, weight, durability, feel, and cost of the mountain bike. There are different types of materials that are used to build the cycles. These include – aluminum, steel, titanium, and carbon.

Out of these four types, aluminum is the most common material used. It is due to the fact that there are multiple aluminum grades that are available, along with the various ways of developing the tubing. The result is a cost-effective, lightweight, aesthetically pleasing, and strong frame that even displays resistance to rust.

Steel is also quite popular as it is cheap compared to titanium and carbon. It is the best way to produce mountain bikes that are not high on expense but offer excellent characteristics and strength.

Titanium is, in fact, the costliest frame material. Frames made from titanium are lightweight, comfortable, strong, and resistant to rust, and other external factors. Unless you have an unlimited budget, leave the titanium to the professionals.

Also known as composites, the leading carbon frames offer resistance to corrosion and are light in weight. But, you have to think about the price and durability. If you are a novice, then crashing can damage the carbon frames, to a great extent. 

Think about the duration of the travel

duration of the travel

You might not think that the travel amount matters a great deal. But, it does! Based on this amount, you will find that there are various kinds of full-suspension mountain bikes. There are primarily three types of suspension categories – short-travel., mid-travel and long-travel

In the case of short travels, the mountain bikes offer about 1-3 inches. It provides great efficiency and is perfect for various types of riding, including cross-country, dirt jumping, etc.

For medium-travel, there are 4-6 inches of suspension in the mountain bikes. You can opt for, either the freeride, or the all mountain type. The frame of the freeride style is more suited for steeper descents, along with jumps and drops. With the all mountain bike, you can try the complex cross-country trails.

In between the short and the mid-travel, lies the gated-racing and the slopestyle bikes. They use about 3-4inches of suspension. The presence of excess stand-over height enables the rider to move up from the seat while maneuvering through drops and racecourses.

With a suspension of 7-10 inches, the popular downhill bikes offer the kind of thrill while zooming past the technical terrains that are irreplaceable. You will find it difficult to ride uphill as it is mostly built for downhill rough landscape. The top 3 downhill mountain bikes include Saracen Myst, Specialized Demo 29, and Mondraker Summum.

Check out the types of suspension

bicycle suspension

If you are a beginner and wondering why suspension is such a talked-about aspect, then you need to know about its function. Apart from the increase in speed and wheels touching the technical terrains, the suspension is a salve to your back and neck. Bumpy rides often lead to sore backaches that can dampen the fun, but the suspension absorbs the shock and ensures that you have a pleasant journey.

There are primarily two types of suspension – full-suspension and hardtails. The full-suspension offers a great deal of comfort, along with enhanced speed and better control. But, the only downside is the added weight.

However, the presence of both the rear and the front suspension absorbs the shock of the terrain and provides relief to the body. The popular full-suspension mountain bikes are – Trek Slash 9.8 XT, Canyon Spectral CF 7.0, and Marin Rift Zone 3.

Hardtails, also known as front-suspension types, offer much more efficiency than the other type. As a result, you get simple and lightweight frames that are easy to clean. Some of the top-ranking hardtail mountain bikes in India are – Giant XTC Advanced 27.5 1, Scott Aspect 750, Trek X-Calibre 7, and Montra Rock 1.1.

Know more about the tires of the mountain bike

bicycle-tires

The mountain bike tires are basically dependent on the venue or the type of riding you prefer. Full-suspension and hardtail types are equipped with tread, which offers better control and traction. The tread patterns range from heavy to semi-slicks. 

However, if you want to purchase the best-quality rigid MTB, then make sure that the tread pattern is dual-purpose that offers a good dirt grip along with smooth movement on roads.

Most of the cyclists prefer tread patterns that provide excellent grip over slippery trails. But, if you are eager to race with others, then semi-slick tires are the best option. They offer increased speeds and a reduction in the rolling resistance. The popular mountain bike tires are – Maxxis High Roller II, Kenda Excavator DTC Tire, and WTB Wolverine 2.2.

Another interesting aspect that you can look out for is the absence of tubes. The removal of pinch flats means that there is a possibility of reducing the tire pressure. This results in the ride being more comfortable, better control when cornering, and exceptional traction.

Focus on the wheel size

The wheels of the mountain bikes are sturdy and reliable so that they can endure the rough terrains of the off-roads. If you are careful in the selection of the wheels, they can last for years with relative ease.

You will find four types of wheel sizes – 26, 27.5, 29, and 27.5 plus inches. The 26 inches is not as prevalent as it was in the past few years.

Instead, the one gaining massive popularity is the 29 inches. They are available in rigid, full-suspension, and hardtail. It is perfect for covering long distances with remarkable efficiency, along with the ability to keep the momentum amidst the trail obstacles. The cost of the best 29ers can range from 37,999 (Marlin 5) to 184,99 INR (Fuel EX 5).

The bikes with 27.5 inches are a bridge connecting the 26 with the 29 inches. It offers more capacity for maneuvering than the 29ers and is much easier to ride in rough terrains than the 26s.

The 27.5 plus inches are wheels that have an extra width of about 2.8 inches. These offer more comfort and lowers the rolling resistance comparatively. Choose the wheel size that suits the terrain and your riding style.

Do not overlook the aspect of comfort

Comfort is one of the most essential criteria that you must look out for when searching for the perfect mountain bike. Apart from the bike frame size, you must also take into account are the distance of the handlebars and the pedals. If you feel difficulty in reaching the pedal, then that model is definitely not for you.

Another thing that you must keep into account is the seat. The comfort of the saddle or seat is of great importance. Keep in mind that if you are not comfortable being in the seat for long, then you will not be able to cover long distances. MTB seat price in India can range from 1,000-10,000 INR. 

Lean more on the quality than the aesthetic appearance

It is basic human nature to feel an attraction for things that appear beautiful. Same is the case with mountain bikes. The range of cycles along with the numerous designs and styles is bound to befuddle you. However, this is where you must make a conscious decision.

If you buy the MTB based on its looks only, chances are you are going to regret it real soon. In order for you to enjoy the adventure for at least some years, take note of the quality. Make the wise decision of choosing quality over looks. And, who says you can’t get stylish MTBs with premium-quality components and accessories?

Concentrate on the seats and handlebars

bicycle seats

The right seatpost has the ability to change the entire experience of a rider. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to finding the perfect seat. The only thing that you can make sure of is that you feel comfortable seating on it. For this, make sure that you take the MTB out on a test ride before shelling out the money. Also, make sure that you wear padded cycling shorts to reduce chafing. These shorts range from skintight Lycras to neon-colored clothes.

For mountain bikes, there are two types of handlebars that are available – riser and flat bars. Riser bars are generally wider and higher than the flat bars. If you are more intrigued by downhill riding and prefer the technical terrain, then the rise bar is the better choice. In comparison, flat bars have a low height and are perfect for cross-country riding style.

Some of the most popular mountain bike handlebars are-

  • Race Face Atlas
  • Hope Carbon
  • Renthal FatBar V2 
  • PRO Tharsis 9.8
  • Chromag Fubar OSX 35 Alloy

Choose the right brakes

bicycle-brakes

Nowadays most of the mountain bike brakes are of the disc brake varieties. However, you can still find rim brakes in the beginner MTBs.

The decline in the usage of rim brakes in mountain bikes is due to their inability to offer resistance to wear and tear. Owing to the constant rubbing of the brakes on the rim, they damage the rim significantly. However, they are on the economical side compared to disc brakes.

There are two versions of disc brakes – hydraulic and mechanical disc brakes. These brake pads work by gripping the disc rotor and can offer much more efficiency in muddy paths. The rims are not at all affected but here too the brake pads are subjected to wear. However, they do not need replacements too often.

The cost of installing a mountain bike disc brake set can cost between 10,000-12,000 INR. Keep in mind that the price depends on the brand you choose.

Understand the importance of groupset

A groupset is basically composed of the drivetrain and brakes. The drivetrain includes derailleurs, chainrings, cassette, cranks, shifters, and chains. While moving through the MTB groupset hierarchy, you will observe a change in materials along with the number of gears. The most famous brands related to MTB components are – Shimano Deore and SRAM.

There are three different options when it comes to cranksets – single, double, and triple. However, the latest trends have witnessed a steady rise of the 1x drivetrains in which there is a distinct absence of the derailleur present in the front. Instead, you will only find one frontal chainring. It results in low weight, reduction in the moving parts without compromising the gear range of a double crankset.

The wide range of cassettes available for the MTBs is impressive. You can find 11-32 to 10-50 ratios. Furthermore, if you are using the 1x drivetrain, then you will find a significantly large range of cassettes.

Research about popular brands

Now that you know about the essential components that you must focus on, you can search for well-known brands. If you are a newbie, it is always better to opt for popular MTB brands. Keep in mind that branded MTBs are likely to be more reliable than others. After all, they have a reputation to protect.

But, if you are a professional, then you can explore other lesser-known but noteworthy brands. It depends on your ability to pick out the best mountain bike.

The top 10 mountain bikes in India are –

  • Merida
  • Orbea
  • Giant
  • B’Twin
  • Cannondale
  • Marin
  • Scott
  • Trek
  • Hercules
  • Firefox

When you are researching about a particular brand, make sure that you look into their products and customer feedback. Also, observe if they have showrooms and a customer center nearby. Moreover, you must also check if their components are readily available in the market, in case you need to replace them.

Outline your budget

The budget may the last tip on the list but it is the first thing that you need to do. Before anything, you must determine the amount of money that you can invest. Keep into account that you also need to make room for other purchases like helmets, ankle straps, tool kits, etc.

If you want to opt for MTBs under the 40-50K INR price range, then you can choose – Merida Big Seven 20-D, Giant Tempt 3, etc. However, if you have a budget that can include MTBs over 1 lakh INR or more, then you can opt for – Scott Scale 940, Merida Big Nine 600, Giant Anthem 29 3, etc.

Furthermore, know more about the maintenance and repair costs of a particular mountain bike before making the final decision.

Note: Please learn how to do basic repairs like fixing a flat tire before going out. 

Now that you are aware of the tips, make sure that you keep them in mind while you choose the perfect mountain bike for you. Also, remember that while having an adventure of a lifetime is exciting, safety must not be ignored. Always wear helmets and ensure that it is a proper fit and do not forget the headlights as well as the taillights. Furthermore, make sure that you have a saddle bag that has the leading tool kits of 2020 along with food, water, and other contact details.

Before you embark on this thrill-inducing journey, check all the parts. Then, you can climb uphill and make the exhilarating downhill climb with the feeling of fresh mountain air around you. If you are a nature enthusiast, then mountain biking on some scenic trails will leave you utterly mesmerized. Also, if you want to escape from the chaotic buzz, you can step onto this wonderful adventure with your friends.

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