How to choose a mountain bike: 7 tips you should consider to get it right

13 December 2023

Not just any bike will do for mountain biking.

You need one that will adapt to uneven terrain and finish in one piece after climbs and descents.

And not only that.

That it also keeps you intact by properly cushioning the ride. You are even more important than the bike.

That’s why we want to help you make the right choice if you’re just starting out in mountain biking, so that you’re comfortable, injury-free and your bike can keep up the pace.

In addition, we explain it to you in an easy way so that you understand all the concepts.

Let’s roll!

How and where to get a good mountain bike

The first thing is to know where to get a good bike.

You have 3 options:

Now, let’s see what you need to take into account to make the right choice.

7 tips to keep in mind when choosing a mountain bike

You know where to get a mountain bike.

Now find out what are the 7 essential elements that you must take into account. We talk about them in a simple way and give you tips below.

#1 Suspension suited to the terrain: choose between rigid, semi-rigid or full suspension mountain bikes.

We start with the suspension.

It is essential because it is the system that protects you from the unevenness of the terrain thanks to the cushioning.

On the one hand, there are rigid and semi-rigid bicycles. These are the ones that only have front suspension. The good thing about them is that they roll very fast, are lighter and more economical.

On the other hand, there are the double suspension bicycles. They are those that have suspension at the front and at the rear. For this reason, they are better able to absorb shocks and irregularities in the ground.

Although they are somewhat more expensive and heavier, we recommend the latter if you are going to make long routes through rocky places or with ascents and descents.

After a good time pedaling, you will be much more comfortable (essential to get the hang of cycling).

#2 Type of forks: spring or air forks?

The fork is the part of the bicycle that connects the front wheel to the frame (chassis).

In addition, it is also responsible for the front suspension.

We have already seen that the most advisable thing to do is to get a full suspension bike, but how do we recommend the front one?

You can choose between air fork and spring fork.

Air fork

  • It is lighter.
  • It is more precise (so you will have more control over the terrain on descents).
  • It requires more maintenance and wears out sooner.
  • It is affected by temperature changes.

Spring fork

  • Its feel is better.
  • Maintenance is easier.
  • It is not affected by temperature changes.
  • Reduces hand discomfort on long descents.
  • It is heavier and less accurate.

If you are concerned about the lightness, we recommend the air one. But if you like to enjoy the downhill, then go for the spring one.

#3 What type of wheels should a good mountain bike have?

A few years ago it was common to find 26″ wheels, but these have practically disappeared.

The current standard size is 29″ and also the size we recommend above 27.5″ (unless you need a smaller bike size or are looking for more speed).

Among other reasons, they are more stable on uneven terrain, make better use of inertia and are comfortable during ascents and descents.

Man fixing mountain bike wheel because he didn't make the right choice

#4 Choose the right bike size to avoid injuries.

Some time ago we told you how to know your bike size.

In that article you have the details, but let’s recap so you don’t miss anything.

Remember to calculate your inseam height (the distance between your groin and the ground) and multiply it by 0.21.

The result corresponds to the inches your bike should have. That is, your size.

#5 Aluminum or carbon frame

The frame or chassis is the part to which the other parts are attached.

In our experience, there is hardly any difference between the two (it is more a matter of taste).

In any case, here we tell you how to decide.

Carbon frame

  • Absorbs vibrations better.
  • High rigidity and strength.
  • More expensive.
  • You can hear the crunching of the material on the road.
  • You need a special wrench to tighten the screws.
  • Its manufacture is more polluting and it is not recyclable.

Aluminum frame

  • It is difficult to find high-end aluminum frames.
  • It is more environmentally friendly and can be recycled.
  • It is more economical.
  • It is more difficult to repair if it cracks.
  • It usually weighs a little more.

In general, the most experienced mountain bikers prefer the carbon frame.

#6 Transmission and brakes: make the right choice for your mountain bike

In general, we recommend single chainrings because they are lighter and easier to maintain.

Here are some recommendations:

  • High-end: Shimano XT, Shimano XTR, Sram XX1, Sram X01 and Sram GX.
  • Mid-range: Shimano SLX, Sram X01, Sram GX, Sram NX and Sram SX.
  • Low range: Shimano Deore, Shimano Alivio, Shimano Acera, Sram SX, Sram X9 and Sram X7.

#7 Types of pedals: clipless or platform pedals

Most mountain bikes come without pedals or with platform pedals.

However, we recommend automatics. With them you avoid slipping off your foot on downhills (or stumbling over bumps) and you have less chance of injury because it makes it easier to pedal well.

The only drawback is that they are more expensive and you must buy specific shoes.

So, maybe you can try the platform ones if you are starting out and invest in automatic ones later on.

Men's feet on mountain bike clipless pedals

Get your mountain bike

Remember, at CiclaMadrid it is possible to rent a mountain bike at several of our locations.

Mountain bikes offer great versatility, as they allow us to enjoy cyclotourism both on roads and on road sections, allowing us to discover all kinds of trails on our routes.

And you can also do many of the organized routes that we put at your disposal (whether you are a cycling crack, or if you are just starting or you go with your family).

Get to know us on our website and become a friend of pedals!

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