Have you recently decided to start mountain biking? This sport provides individuals with an adrenaline rush, which can be a bit daunting for beginners.
In order to enjoy mountain biking to the fullest, you should purchase a high-quality mountain bike. These bicycles cost anywhere between $1000 and $10,000. A decent budget for your first bike should be $1000-$2000.
The prices of these bicycles are determined by the type, suspension, travel amount, material, wheel size, etc. When looking for the cheapest dual suspension mountain bike, make sure it’s fitted with high-quality components.
Follow these helpful tips to choose one on a budget.
Select a type
The starting point of your shopping journey for a mountain bike on a budget is selecting a type. These bicycles are designed to fit specific forms of riding and environments.
The most important elements that vary across types are the suspension travel amount, suspension design, and the geometry of the frame. There are four different types to consider, including cross-country, trail, enduro, and downhill models.
Cross-country (XC) models are designed for riders whose main priority is their pedaling performance. These are lightweight but provide excellent efficiency and endurance.
Cross-country bikes are the best choice for riders who intend to spend long miles pedaling and prefer climbing over descending. Hardtails are popular among cross-country racers, with suspension travel ranging between 90 and 120 mm.
Trail mountain bikes are actually synonymous with the term mountain bicycle. Their design makes them excellent for climbing and descending.
Travel is anywhere between 110 and 140 mm. Apart from adding more suspension, trail models consist of more components oriented towards gravity, such as thicker tires for better traction and larger brake rotors.
Enduro mountain bikes are designed for enduro racing and are well-suited for long rides due to their potential to cover large distances. Suspension travel is slightly higher in endure bikes, ranging from 140 to 180 mm.
In contrast, downhill models are built for steep terrain and are capable of performing big jumps and drops. These are only suitable for bikers who are interested in pedaling downhill.
Moreover, the travel range of downhill bicycles is above 200mm. The gravity center is placed far back to provide better stability on steep terrain. Brakes are incredibly powerful owing to the large disc rotors providing maximum braking ability.
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Hardtail vs. full suspension
Another important question to answer when choosing a mountain bike on a budget is whether to opt for a hardtail or full suspension.
The former provides suspension only on the front fork while making the back rigid, which explains the name hardtail. The latter features suspension on both the front and rear of the bike. Read here about the history and designs of mountain bikes.
The lack of suspension in the rear makes hardtail models much simpler and more straightforward to manufacture. Consequently, they have two advantages over full-suspension models, which are maintenance and price.
Hardtails are lower in cost compared to full-suspension bicycles, which goes in favor of individuals who just started out and aren’t sure whether mountain biking will turn into a long-term hobby.
Regarding maintenance, the use of fewer parts to service accounts for lower maintenance costs. Hardtails are also an excellent option for individuals not planning to spend too much time riding on the trails.
Individuals who are in love with off-road biking would benefit from a dual-suspension mountain bicycle. The rear suspension provides extra comfort due to absorbing most of the bumps and lumps, thus providing a smoother ride than you would get with a hardtail.
In terms of weight, dual-suspension models are 5 to 15% heavier because of the more complex frame and additional components. The extra weight affects the climbing process as well.
Consider the amount of travel
Irrespective of whether you’ll choose a full suspension or hardtail, the next thing on your list of considerations should be the travel amount the bicycle has.
Travel is measured in millimeters, and it has a large effect on how the bicycle rides and what sort of terrain it can handle. The travel amount is broken down into three categories, including short travel, mid-travel, and long travel.
Short travel ranges between 80 and 100 mm, and it’s excellent for cross-country riding. As there are fewer ups and downs, the suspension is not necessarily needed. The lower amount of travel makes it easier to save weight and provides enjoyable long-distance rides for bikers.
In contrast, mid-travel ranges between 120 and 150 mm, which is viewed as the sweet spot for trail biking. Most dual-suspension mountain bikes are featured in this range. Long travel is classified as anything longer than 150mm. While most enduro models feature between 170 and 180mm, downhill bicycles usually come with a 200mm travel amount. See this URL, https://www.declinemagazine.com/mtb-parts/how-much-suspension-travel-do-you-need/, to determine how much suspension travel you need on your mountain bike.
Moreover, the choice of suspension travel is difficult to determine, as it’s dictated by personal preference. When calculating your budget, you should bear in mind that bikes with longer travel are more expensive.
They are heavier as well. Nevertheless, the additional suspension makes these models better at handling downhills with big rocks and bumps.
Inspect the frame material
Another aspect to factor in when choosing a mountain bike on a budget is the frame material. There are two popular options to consider, aluminum and carbon fiber. Both of them are high-quality choices, meaning you cannot make a wrong decision. While carbon fiber comes at a premium price, it offers better stiffness and lighter weight.
Nevertheless, the benefits provided by carbon fiber can be negatively affected by the poor choice of components. Even if this material offers weight reduction, it wouldn’t make a huge difference if the wheels are heavier than those on aluminum bicycles. Consequently, buyers should consider not just the frame material but the other components as well.
According to many, aluminum is claimed to be stronger than carbon fiber, which isn’t necessarily true. Both materials provide sufficient strength, meaning you shouldn’t allow this aspect to influence your choice. As already mentioned, carbon fiber is costlier than aluminum.
Check the wheel size
The ultimate factor to look at is the wheel size. The most popular wheel sizes in mountain bikes include 26, 27.5, and 29 inches. The size encompasses the wheel’s circumference.
Wheels with big diameters require larger tires. Anyhow, you should remember the weight increases along with wheel size. Heavy bikes accelerate more slowly and require more energy during climbing.
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The bottom line
You can purchase a mountain bike at a fair price without sacrificing its quality!