By Nathaniel Wu
Mountain Bikes are rugged and tough machines built to withstand various terrains. However, researching all the types and parts can seem intimidating. In this article, we’ll take a look at the fundamental mountain bike types and parts.
Hardtail vs Full suspension
Suspension can be thought of as cushioning because the forks compress when weight is put on them, reducing the impact of uneven terrain on the rider. Mountain bikers also use suspension for jumps because the forks act like bent knees. Most road bikes do not have it because there is no need for any. Mountain bikes often have two types: hardtail and full-suspension. Hardtails only have front suspension with no rear suspension, hence the name “hardtail.” Full-suspensions have both front and rear suspension, which provides cushioning in the rear too. Even though hardtails are lighter and easier to maintain than full-suspensions, full-suspensions are built for intense and bumpy rides. Ultimately, the type of suspension depends on the trails and rider.
Light Frame-Mountain bike frames are light and strong, which makes them ideal for carrying and maneuverability.
Disc brakes, unlike their rim counterparts, clamp on a disc spinning with the wheel. Disc brakes are reliable in various conditions, which makes them standard in the mountain biking community.
Dropper Post-The dropper post is a small button and cable that allows the seat to be adjusted quickly and even mid-ride. The mechanism works similarly to an adjustable chair: sit down while pressing to lower, get up while pressing to lift. The dropper post is an extra feature and tends to be on higher-end bikes.
Wheels-Mountain bike wheels are thicker than road bike wheels and have deep tire treads to maintain traction. The valves are usually Schraeder (the thicker ones), and diameters often come in 26, 27.5, or 29-inch diameters (66, 69.86, 73.66 cm, respectively).
Pedals-Pedals come in two types: flat and clipped. The main difference is that flat pedals don’t clip to the feet while clipped pedals do. Most beginners go with flat pedals.
There are four main categories of mountain bikes built for different terrain: XC (Cross Country), Trail, Enduro, and Downhill. XC’s tend to be the cheapest, and on the contrary, downhill bikes tend to be more expensive due to components.
XC bikes are the lightest mountain bikes. The frames are thin and not designed for riding extreme terrains. The wheels are large and carry momentum well, which helps with obstacles. Tires are typically 29 inches long and perfect for gaining distance. These bikes are reliable, capable of handling roots, rocks, and other small obstacles. While they certainly for everyone, beginner mountain bikers will benefit the most from XC bikes because of simplicity, cost, and terrain. XC’s can be both hardtail and full-suspension.
Trail bikes are known for their versatility. They can handle most terrains at a sufficient speed. If you’re looking for an all-around bike, this may be your best choice. The wheels are usually 29 or 27.5 inches in diameter, walking the balance between control and speed. The dropper post is vital because it allows for the rider to get a solid angle and approach on turns. It’s a reliable option for all bikers. Most trail bikes have full-suspension.
Enduro bikes are hybrids between trail and downhill bikes. The overall structure is similar to trail bikes, yet Enduros specialize in darting downhill as fast as possible. Notable features include thick tires, dropper posts, and added weight for momentum. Like a downhill bike, this maximizes the opportunity for speed. These bikes are costly, but they are a versatile option for avid riders.
Downhill bikes are for the most intense kind of riding: downhill. Downhill features are unlike any other bike. For example, there’s no dropper post. These bikes are equipped with full-suspension to counteract the bumps and cuts of the terrain. With downhill, rides happen at high speeds, so control is crucial. Downhill bikes are the most expensive of bikes; prices usually go into the thousands.
The mountain biking world is very diverse and finding the right fit can be difficult. When buying one, be sure to make a list of necessary features to help narrow down the list and make the buying process much more enjoyable. Whether you like to ride peaceful dirt trails or steep rocks, there’s a mountain bike for you.