Tips On Choosing A Good Mountain Bicycle

Good mountain bikes can cost as much as a second hand run around car, but most people don’t have that kind of budget. What about the cheap mountain bikes will they be sufficient for casual riders?

buying-a-mountain-bike

Mountain bikes are designed to meet very different criteria to the traditional road racer. The bikes have a steep head angle and shorter wheelbase making them more maneuverable than their road counterparts with larger head angles and longer wheelbases.  Additionally, mountain bikes have wide tires and suspension designed to take rougher terrain, the rougher the terrain the greater the amount of suspension and suspension travel.

As a general rule the cost of a bike will be directly related to the frame materials used and the quality of the components fitted. A heavier and more robust full suspension frame suited for all mountain or downhill riding is going to cost more than a XC hardtail   For example, if you intend to downhill and perform stunts then it’s absolutely essential that you choose a bike built for that type of riding. Titanium frames with high butting or a heat-treated chromoly steel is the way to go.

As mentioned earlier, components play a large role in price and functionality of the bike.  Precision gears, derailleur’s, and good disc brakes are expensive. But for hard riding along rapidly changing surfaces, they are a must. The high-end gear is made with low tolerances from either brass or titanium which all adds to the overall cost of the components.

High end tires are another factor that needs to be considered in the equation.  At the top end are the Kevlar beaded composite rubber tires which provide excellent cornering capability and a must for anyone who intends to do downhill or trail riding. However if you are more into leisurely cross country style, it’s an area of possible compromise.

It’s a balance between what you can afford and what is a must have.  I am biased towards XC trail riding, so I prefer a hardtail bike. However regardless of the brand there are a few features that are must haves and some that are nice to have.  For me 6061 aluminium frame, 160 mm hydraulic disc brakes and 100 mm travel front forks are a must have.  While a 27 speed Shimano SLX and alloy platform pedals are a nice to have.  Components can always be upgraded once they wear out.

Choosing a mountain bike that fits

All good mountain bikes will have some things in common regardless of the specific type of riding or terrain you intend to tackle.  Choosing a bike that fits you personally is paramount

The first and most important consideration is the stand over height. When riding on irregular terrain you want to be able to stop without crashing against the top tube. Ensure you have at least 100 to 150mm clearance between your inseam and the tube as you straddle the bike.

When sitting on the bike you should be seated in a comfortable riding position, always make sure the reach to the handlebars is adequate and check your comfort.  Additionally, the saddle height needs to be set to the right level. As a general rule the bony parts of the pelvis should contact the wide portion of the saddle.

This will allow you to be in a position to accurately check your leg position angles.  Put the balls of your feet in the centre of the pedal spindles.   Secondly check the leg position one foot to a six o’clock position, the other to twelve. The six o’clock leg should be slightly bent at the knee. The other should be no more than horizontal.

I recommend going for a 15 minute test ride. This will allow you to gauge that the riding position is neither cramped nor too elongated. Make sure you can reach and operate the controls easily. On a side note women riders should consider trying these check on bikes designed especially for women.

Choosing good mountain bikes

These combined checks will guide you to choosing the right mountain bike you need regardless of your desired type of riding.  Ultimately you need to take into consideration your budget, the bike materials and design are important but the most important factor is how the bike fits you personally. You will quickly arrive at just the right mountain bike for you.  A big brand name with the reputation of being the best mountain bike may not be a good mountain bike for you, it might be the wrong style or fit or even be an overkill for your particular circumstances.

Choosing good mountain bikes is not always about which brand is best or currently in vogue, a lot has to do with fit and fit for purpose meaning that the frame material and components are just as important as the manufactures stickers.

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Top Mountain Bikes In 600 Dollars

Mountain-bikes

The key to finding the best mountain bikes under $600 is taking the extra time in which to study the options available, compare reviews, and take a close look at what other customers have written about the experiences that they have had with various models.

MeraxFiniss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike

Although I could not find much on the Merax Company and also did not find a lot of issues either. For the price, it gets really good reviews.
This bike like all others comes needing to have assembly finished and adjustments made to it. Many recommend replacing the front shock and tires before hitting the trails.

Features

  • Great bike for long rides
  • Assembly tools provided in the box.
  • Includes pre-mounted kickstand
  • Seat is comfy and a keeper.

Positives and Negatives

All the instructions and warranties on the Finals are available online prior to purchase.
Front shock leaves plenty to be desired. Make sure to do all the adjustments to prevent brake drag and noise.

Customer feedback

Good bike for the money. Good brakes, nice quality frame, and as a bonus it only weighs in at 33 pounds.

The front fork is way too soft and is not adjustable. Tires are not tough or rugged enough for the trails.

Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men’s Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

Schwinn has been a household name for numerous generations and from the looks of this Protocol, they will continue to be for a very long time to come.

Description

The Protocol is the mountain bike to keep an eye on as it is a sure fire winner.

Features

  • Weighs in at 43 pounds, shipping weight of approx. 50 pounds
  • Great for large and small riders
  • Front and rear adjustable suspension
  • Great all override, rock, sand, up or downhill

Positives and Negatives

Front wheel quick release, 26” wheels.
Unable to change out the tire size without a major changing of parts.

Customer feedback

Decent to impressive derailleurs, brakes, and shifters.
Tires are not good quality and may have issues depending on the trail and path ahead.

Schwinn High Timber Men’s 18 Mountain Bike

Schwinn is pulling out all the stops as it is trying to dominate the mountain bike market. As it has already dominated the world’s previous classifications that enabled them to be a household name for many years.-

Description

The High Timber is a high-quality mountain bike that should not be overlooked.

Features

  1. Linear pull brakes
  2. Double walled rims
  3. 21 speed Timber, 27.5 tires
  4. Schwinn front shock system

Positives and Negatives

Parts are of good quality and bike feels sturdy and secure.
Be sure to check the sizing chart as this bike runs larger than expected.

Customer feedback

Simplistic assembly and easy adjustments if any needed at all. Just saw an issue with pedals stripping in a couple of the reviews.

Genesis Saber 26 Mountain Bike

Manufactured by Kent the Genesis Saber is a family owned and operated company that has been around since the 1900’s.

Description

Amazing bike ant an astonishingly low cost.

Features

  • Four bar linkage
  • Full suspension
  • Shimano derailleur and gearing
  • 24 speed with 26” wheels

Positives and Negatives

Both the front wheel and the seat come equipped with a quick release.
Front fork leaves plenty to be desired and it is recommended to be upgraded before taking to the trails.

Customer feedback

Reviews show shock and disbelief that such a great bike is being offered for such a low price.

Chain derailleur exploded while one first outing less than five-mile trek.

SE Bikes Big Mountain 24-Speed D Hard Tail Mountain Bicycle
SE is at it again, proving that they know more than just the workings of the BMX bikes.
Description
If the forks locked out this bike would have gotten nothing but four and five-star reviews.

Features

  • Double butted alloy frame
  • Weighs in at 40 pounds
  • 17” frame with 29er wheels
  • 24-speed power machine

Positives and Negatives

Stoutly built front coil fork on the front suspension offers amazing durability even in mud.
The seat and the pedals are a little on the rough end and would be a happy upgraded.

Customer feedback

160 miles on the first ride and had zero mechanical problems.
The bike comes mostly un-assembled, took it to the bike shop and let the pro’s handle it, even though it will cost you a minimal fee.

What to look for in bikes under $600

This selection of bike shows us it is okay to look for quality and components all in the same bike offering. There is no reason to have to give up a lot to get what you are looking for in a bike to take on the next hill bound journey.

There is still a little upgrade or two that is a good idea but no longer are we finding that they must be done for the bike to be able to perform as we had with the previous cheaper and beginner models.

Conclusion

We find ourselves looking at a nice mixed pack of nice, decent bikes that we have the choice of selecting between. Selecting the winning bike in this category was not as easy or straightforward as many of the other categories.

The winner of the best bike under $600 goes to the
SE Bikes Big Mountain 24-Speed D Hard Tail Mountain Bicycle.