Buying A New Mountain Bicycle?

Is a Mountain bike right for you?

Mountain bikes continue to evolve. Full suspension is lighter and more affordable. Disc brakes set a new standard. Overall engineering for durability is markedly improved. Mountain bikes are now sophisticated machines, with exotic frames and components for both men and women.

Mountain bikes are usually for the aggressive rider who likes to take risks, and ride hard. Do you like to go in the woods to ride amongst the trees, rocks and bumps, doing jumps and riding through creeks. Mountain bicycles are designed for riding over rugged terrain.

                    DOWNHILL ROCK STOMPING

If you are looking for something that you can go out rock stomping, and creek jump, a mountain bike will take the abuse and will provide the control and gearing that is going to make your riding a blast.

Built with strong components that can absorb rough riding, mountain bikes are designed for off-road use.

Downhill: Aggressive, Tough Mountain Bike Riding. Generally means most of the ride is going "down the hill". Downhill mountain biking is associated with downhill skiing both featuring giant slalom, slalom and freestyle events. Bike frames need to be sturdy have lots of support, usually full suspension, front and rear shocks, and high performance brakes. Front suspension bikes are suitable for the rider who spends most of their time off-road and serious off-road riding (downhill). Some full suspension bikes have become lightweight enough to fit into the Cross-country category. Hardtail bikes climb hills better in general; although some full suspension bikes have new technology that make them climb like a hardtail, and the benefits of a full suspension.


Does everything that downhilling is not. Cross-country bike is constructed to be a light weight as possible. Cross-country bikes tend to be what are known as hardtails, meaning they are equipped with a shock up-front, but not at the rear.

Rigid: Cross-country with no shock at all are called rigid bikes. Rigid bikes have no front or rear suspension. Great for smooth dirt or paths.

Here is a list of some additional "types" of mountain bike

ATB or All Terrain Bike: Low cost version of a mountain bike

Freeride: Mountain bike with suspension

        XC or Cross Country: Mountain bike with suspension

Slalom: Mountain bike with wide tires, small frame, suspension fork, and high gear ratios for speed

Trail: Mountain bike with wide tires, small frame, rigid fork, and low gear ratios for acceleration



The riding position is fairly upright so you can see where you are going quite easily.

You ride in a leaned over position, the seat is high, bars are straight, and frame is small.

This combo makes the bike handle better for the aggressive ride through the woods, and over rough terrain.


Mountain bikes have fat knobby tires for better climbing and control in mud. Knobby tread tires are designed specifically for front and back wheels. An aggressive tire designed to dig into loose soil.

Mountain bikes are usually 21 - 27 possible gearing combinations. They are geared very low for easier climbing on mud, and soft surface terrain. If you are riding mostly on street and maybe some flat trails a mountain bike may not be right for you. Low gearing and fat tires make mountain bikes less attractive to those riding on the street. Fat tires have more rolling resistance and knobby fat tires have even more resistance, the gearing makes it hard to get the speed that most would like for riding on paved roads.


Steel Alloys: High-tensile steel is strong and longlasting, but it's also heavy. A well-built steel frame can last a lifetime. Carbon-steel tubing is usually used in entry-level bikes. An advantage of steel alloy mountain bike frame is repairs can be made easy. It's most suitable for kids' and recreational or comfort style.

Chromoly Steel: Chromoly steel is 40% stronger than high tensile steel. Because of chromoly's significantly higher strength, we can use thinner, and therefore, lighter tubing.

Aluminum Alloys: Aluminum Alloys are lightweight, affordable, and has high resistance to corrosion which makes it easy to maintain. Aluminum frames also offer great rigidity, which is crucial in the construction of full-suspension mountain bikes.  It's not a s forgiving as chromoly, but is lighter than steel. Good for riders who want lightweight and who don't mind a slightly rougher ride. Basically, it is light, stiff and strong.
Carbon Fiber: Very tough and light. Will never rust or corrode, but it's also brittle. Metal lasts because it can bend and regain its shape. Carbon Fiber can't, which is why these have to be built stronger than actually needed. Carbon Fiber however is designed to absorb bumps and "road shock" causing this material to provide a very smooth ride.  Carbon Fiber is moderately expensive and is best suited for riders who want a fast, light and comfortable bike.

Whatever material you choose, the fit of your bike is the most important factor. Your bike frame together with its components, must fit your body and your riding style. Talk with us at The Bike Shack, work with us on our Custom Fit process, and we'll help you find a bike you'll love.

Determine your ability level

  • Entry level models are good for beginning riders who plan to ride primarily on bike paths, dirt roads or rocky trail
  • Front suspension bikes are suitable for intermediate riders who spend most of their time off road, but may also venture onto bike path, dirt road or trail
  • Full-suspension cross-country models are designed for serious off-road riding

MTB Advantages & disadvantages:

  • Strong. . . but can be heavy
  • Huge range available. . . but can be expensive
  • Very versatile. . . but may need add-ons
  • Comfortable. . . but not that fast


Learning minor bike repairs and adjustments is easy and a must when riding rough terrain. They usually can be done with Allen wrenches between 2mm and 6mm.

Take along tools for every ride.

The16 function multi tool design incorporates spoke wrenches to tire levers. Swiss army-style folding layout for easy use. Includes:

  • Universal chain tool
  • Removable plastic tire lever
  • 4mm Allen wrench for the chain tool
  • Phillips and flat head screwdrivers
  • Torx T25 bit
  • Multiple Allen wrenches
  • Great tool for mountain and road bikes.

Here are the easiest, most often needed adjustments or service and can be done with an Allen wrench.

  • Seat height and front/back adjustment
  • Handlebar or stem adjustment
  • Pedal tension release tuning
  • Replace brake pads

Ask The Bike Shack, we'll help you choose the best tools for your riding needs.


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Let us show you some bikes

We hope this overview helps you pick out a great new mountain bike. Feel free to kick some virtual knobbies on our website and be sure to visit our real store soon so we can show you some of these amazingly fun bikes up close and personal. Happy shopping!

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