Which Mountain Bike should I buy?
Mountain bikes have a very wide range of uses, depending on the type of terrain that you are riding in. This includes Cross Country (XC), Trail, Enduro, Freeride, Dirt Jump, Slopestyle, BMX and Downhill mountain bikes. Mountain bikes are the most popular type of bicycle sold in Australia and for good reason too. Whilst designed for off-road riding can also be versatile enough to be used on road. They are designed with durability in mind, as they have to withstand much greater wear and tear whilst off road.
The most common are Hardtail Mountain Bikes, this means that they only have suspension at the front of the bike, and the rear wheel is fixed solidly to the frame. As the trail gets rockier, you then need a Dual Suspension Mountain Bike, which has suspension at the front and at the back. This allows the bike to soak up the bumps and to maintain traction. The more difficult the terrain the more travel in the suspension you will need whilst descending. This allows for more variations in the trail and bigger jumps.
More suspension travel is not necessarily better. In fact, you want as little travel as possible for your riding style. Cross-country bikes typically run 100mm to 120mm of travel, Trail and Enduro bikes typically run 140mm to 160mm of travel and Long travel bikes such as downhill and freeride normally run between 180mm and 200mm of travel. The trade off with more travel is usually the weight which makes it harder to pedal the bike uphill.
Within all these disciplines, there are different wheel sizes, 27.5 inch (650b), 27.5 Plus and 29 inch (29er). The larger the wheel the easier it is to roll over obstacles, but the wheel also becomes heavier and less agile. Typically people will choose according to their height, riding style and of course – cost.
Dirt Jump, Slopestyle and BMX bikes are designed to hit jumps and perform tricks on skate parks and dirt jumps. These bikes are not designed to be pedalled around town as the saddle is positioned as low as possible on the frame to allow for extra movement whilst performing tricks in the air.
Sizes are measured in inches, or sizes such as Small, Medium and Large. They are not as precise as road bikes, because you are often out of the saddle as you manoeuvre through corners and around obstacles so there is typically more adjustability within the size options.