5 things to look out for when purchasing a mountain bike

So you’re looking to buy a mountain bike? These beauties are more durable than road bikes and there’s a chance you’ve grown up with one, or even a BMX for that matter. With biking becoming more popular in recent years, and some cities offering incentives to ride one to work, now may be the perfect time to get one.

There’s a lot more to purchasing a bike than just walking into the local store, picking a colour, and walking – or cycling – out. There are defining traits, such as what the bike is made out of, what kind of suspension you want, and what kind of biking you’ll be doing as well. Yes, you can use a mountain bike for a few more things than just going to the local shops.

What will you use it for?

If you’re just starting out, chances are you’ll only be interested in one of two types of mountain biking styles: trail and downhill. It’ll be good to make sure you know which discipline you want to specialise in.

Trail is your standard biking experience. This usually involves trekking along already established trails, such as from one side of a mountain to another, where you’ll be gone for a few hours. This is something that most people start with, besides leisurely Sunday bike rides, of course.

On the flip side are downhill trails. These consist of cycling down steep paths, overcoming much larger obstacles, such as rocks, and well as higher falls. This requires a sturdier bike to take the punishment, as well as gears for only riding downhill, and far more powerful brakes.

What kind of suspension do you want?

Before you go running along to a full suspension bike and gloss over this point, it’ll be to your advantage to read further. Bikes have three types of suspension, which are hardtail, rigid, or full.

The first is a bike with no suspension at all. While these usually fall into the cheaper price range, they also have their own uses, such as riding on flat surfaces.

Next up is the hardtail, a bike that only has front wheel suspension. This is pretty standard and if you grew up with a mountain bike, there’s a good chance you’ve actually had one of these already. Hardtail bikes are great for riding trails.

And, finally, there are full suspension bikes, which, of course, have suspension on the front or the rear. These are more expensive than the other variants but are suitable for a wide range of riders and riding styles.

Be careful not to purchase a bike with suspension that is too cheap from a normal retail store. If the bike comes with a hardtail or full suspension and looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

Be careful of second-hand bike sales

You’ll probably be able to pick up a second-hand mountain bike for cheaper than any mass market or specialised store, which is tempting. If you’re going that route, then you’re going to need a keen eye when inspecting the bike, even if it’s from your best friend or a family member.

Make sure to look over the brakes, tyres, frame, and cables. Everything should be thoroughly checked for wear and tear as well as rust and weather damage. If you’re unsure of how to check for these things, take it into a local specialised bike shop and ask them to inspect it.

Keep an eye out for demo days and buy ‘local’

Once you’ve decided on the kind of bike you want and for what purpose, it’s time to try it out in person. You can, of course, order brand new mountain bikes online, but it’s best to walk into a store and try them out first. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t order online, but not when you’re still new to the different manufacturers, bike sizes, and styles.

A lot of specialised bike stores hold open days for potential customers. These allow would-be cyclists to try out different bikes with specialists on hand to help them with a purchase, and any questions they might have. It’s worth looking into these days.

Get yourself some safety gear

You may think this aspect is silly or even “dorky”, but purchasing safety gear may just save your life. In the beginning, you’re probably not going to be jumping over hills or scaling down mountains, which means it’s unnecessary to purchase special suits and incredibly expensive gear.

Make sure you at least have a helmet, elbow and knee pads, and riding gloves as well. Do you really want to fall off of your bike, slide along gravel and tear the skin from your hands? It’s a pretty graphic image, but a highly likely scenario as well.

And there you have it, five things you should look out for when purchasing a bike. Stick to these and you’re sure to not only find the bike that’s right for you, but your budget as well.