The ultimate guide to buying a mountain bike

Looking to buy a mountain bike but not sure how to choose one? We have compiled the one and only list you need to consider when buying a MTB.

Choosing a frame

Start off by deciding what kind of riding you will be doing. Frame geometry differs, depending on the discipline it is designed for. Have a look at these common forms of mountain biking below and see which one describes you best:

Sports/adventure geometry

Bikes featuring this geometry, like our Stride Range is designed for the recreational rider. The kind of rider who will be doing light off-road riding or commuting. These bikes inspire confidence while descending and positions the rider in a comfortable riding position.

Cross-country bikes

Cross-country, marathon or XC riding usually includes a mixture of terrain like singletrack, gravel roads and technical trails. XC bikes are designed with aggressive angles, placing the rider’s weight over the pedals, allowing every ounce of power to be transferred to the pedals. If you are planning to do long rides, endurance races or race your friends to the top of the hill, this bike is for you.

Trail bikes

Just to clarify, all-mountain bikes can ride off-road, it just depends on to what degree. Trail bikes are for those riders who like to bomb down a hill or test their skill on technical, rocky terrain (as fast as they possibly can). The geometry of this bike is slacker than that of a cross-country bike, making it comfortable for the ride down but a bit sluggish on the climb. Trail riders are usually not concerned with speed going uphill as long as they get to have fun on the way down.

Downhill bikes

Only if you are planning to ride very technical, steep terrain with big jumps and drops, should you consider a downhill bike. These bikes are not suitable if you are looking for an everyday bike as they are heavy, and downhillers usually push their bikes to the top of the hill.

Getting the size right

Selecting the right size bike is essential, as a matter of fact it can affect your entire riding experience. Most manufacturers have a size chart available on their website. This guide is created by the brand to help you choose a bike size according to your length. Although this is usually pretty accurate, it still depends on your own comfort. If a bike is the wrong size, it will affect your power and ultimately your speed. It can also put unnecessary pressure or on joints which can potentially lead to injury.

View the Silverback size guide HERE.

Ask your dealer for a test bike. Even if he doesn’t have the exact model available for testing, take out a similar bike from the same manufacturer.

Jennie Stenerhag claim victory Before Cape Epic
Our size guide for the Stride SX. Comes in 27.5″ and 29″ wheels

The wheel size debate

With so much information/debates on the internet regarding MTB wheel sizes, we thought we would keep it brief. Here is a summary of each wheel size and its strengths.

26” – Ideal for kids bikes and dirt jumpers

27.5” – Quick acceleration, lighter wheels and nimble

29” – More efficient, better traction and rolls over anything.

Carbon vs aluminium

It is very easy to be lured into the world of carbon fibre bikes however it might not be the best possible bike for your budget. Even though carbon is the clear choice of mountain bike racers across the world, it is important to keep 4 things in mind:

  1. How important is saving weight to me?
  2. What is the difference between the carbon and the alloy model?
  3. Is this a reliable brand?
  4. What warranty does the manufacturer offer?

Read more about carbon fibre HERE

Dual suspension VS Hardtail

When buying a mountain bike, cyclists often ask if a dual suspension bike is better than a hardtail. However, there is no is no right or wrong answer to this question.

Hardtail bikes do not have any rear suspension, making them lighter, more responsive, easier to maintain and a bit cheaper.

Dual sus bikes, on the other hand, have front and rear suspension. These bikes are more comfortable on longer rides and smoother on the downhill but need more maintenance and can be heavier.  

Stay away from entry-level/cheap forks and shocks because servicing/ replacing these can be expensive. Rather invest in a midlevel hardtail than a cheap dual suspension bike if your budget is limited.

Think ahead

Before buying a mountain bike, think about what kind of riding do you see yourself doing regularly? Buy a bike that you can see yourself riding for a while, that can easily be upgraded as your riding improves.

For example, if you enjoy cross country racing but you also enjoy a technical challenge, you might want to install a dropper seat post at a later stage. So, choose yourself a bike that can take a dropper post.

Keep in mind that technology in the cycling industry changes rapidly and you don’t want to be stuck with a bike that you cannot customise to your riding style.

Superspeed 1.0 best mtb 2020 - Silverback Bikes

2 thoughts on “The ultimate guide to buying a mountain bike

  1. Great article and informative, thank you

  2. Good, honestvadvice

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