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How to choose a mountain bike: a complete guide for every rider

How to choose a mountain bike: a complete guide for every rider

When choosing a new mountain bike, you will certainly have many questions and will be faced with a number of decisions that can affect your overall riding experience. There are many different types and models on the market, whether you're looking for a men's mountain bike or a model specifically designed for women. In this blog, we will provide you with detailed information and useful tips on how to choose the right mountain bike that will suit your needs .

Basic types of mountain bikes

There is not just one mountain bike (so-called MTB - Mountain Bike). They are divided into several basic types according to specialization in different terrains or driving style. First, think about where and how you want to ride it . Choose the right one to give yourself maximum driving pleasure. We divide mountain bikes into:

  • Cross-country (XC): These bikes are designed for speed and efficiency over long distances. They are light and often have less fork travel, thus less suspension. They are also suitable for racing tracks.
  • Trail bikes: More versatile with more travel and more robust construction, ideal for different types of terrain. They are a good compromise if you are looking for performance on the climbs and fun on the descents.
  • Enduro and All-mountain: Made for more demanding terrain with more pronounced lift, suspension and more durable construction. They are suitable for more technically demanding trials and those who are not afraid of challenges.
  • Downhill bikes: Specifically designed for steep and technical descents. They have a large lift and handle even the most difficult conditions.
How to choose a mountain bike

Mountain bikes are very popular mainly for their versatility. They are very capable in the field and can also handle the asphalt surface.

Criteria for choosing a mountain bike

In our offer you will find mountain bikes from long-standing manufacturers or world names with whom the best mountain bike riders in the world work together. But how do you find your way around the technical parameters that mountain bikes abound in? Our trained salespeople will be happy to help and advise you at the store. You can read more about the technical parameters in this blog.

Frame size and type

The right frame size is the first prerequisite for a safe and comfortable ride . It is the first parameter to look at when choosing a bike. Today, frames are made of different materials and their size scales according to the rider's height.

Mountain bike frame material

Mountain bike frames can be made of different materials or a combination of them. Consequently, they differ in weight, quality, durability and, of course, price. Most often, mountain bike frames are made of the following materials:

  • aluminum – the most used material for regular, recreational riders, durable, good ratio of weight and stiffness
  • carbon – it stands out for its low weight and stiffness, it is preferred by racing drivers, it is more expensive
  • steel – traditional material with high resistance, but also higher weight
  • titanium - known for its high resistance, low weight, but also high price, it is used by more exclusive bikes

Women's mountain bike

A women's mountain bike should have a specifically designed frame geometry that matches a woman's stature and body structure. An appropriately chosen geometry ensures a more comfortable ride. Women's mountain bikes tend to have lower top tubes to make it easier for women to get on and off the bike. The frame is shorter due to the length of women's arms and the width of their shoulders. They can also have a lower weight and a different type of saddle that is wider. You can also choose a women's design. 

How to choose a bike according to the height of the rider

When choosing a bike according to the rider's height , follow the size chart of a particular brand of mountain bike . That's how you make the best choice and you're sure that you'll hit the spot. There are also general tables for choosing a bike according to height, but they may not be exact and fit you. There is no universal table.

In our offer you will find mountain bikes of the Spanish brand Mondraker and the Czech brand with a long tradition - Amulet. Both offer frame sizes from XS to XL. Depending on your height, you can easily choose the right frame size. Correctly selected bicycle parameters ensure not only efficient riding, but also your comfort and, above all, safety.

MOUNTAIN BIKE AMULET

How to choose a mountain bike

MONDRAKER MOUNTAIN BIKES

How to choose a mountain bike

General table for mountain bikes

The size of the frame (length of the center tube) for MTB mountain bikes is measured in inches (unlike, for example, road bikes, where it is measured in cm). You can choose the right frame size according to your height as follows, but take the data as a guide only... If you get a result between two values, choose the smaller version. It can always be adapted to the stem or seat post and is easier to control. However, as we mentioned above, it is best to follow the size chart of a specific manufacturer.

Height in cm         Frame size

150-160cm          13-14 inches

160-170cm          15-16 inches

170-180cm          17-18 inches

180-190cm          19-20 inches

over 190cm         over 21 inches

Why is the right bike size important?

A bike that is too small or too big can be an obstacle for you while riding. It can reduce the ability to have good control over the bike, lead to injury or accident. 

Is bike weight that important?

Weight can play an important role in children's bikes. With mountain bikes for adults, it doesn't have to be that much. Race drivers tend to look at weight. However, the lighter the bike, the better it handles.

EXI tip: Try the Amulet children's bikes from our offer, which are characterized by extra light weight!

How to choose a mountain bike

Mountain bike suspension

You can buy a mountain bike with or without suspension . A bicycle without suspension is more suitable for recreational riders who are not going to ride on difficult terrains or trails. For more demanding riders who prefer uneven mountain terrain, we definitely recommend a mountain bike with suspension. According to the suspension, we divide mountain bikes into:

  • mountain bikes without suspension (Rigid) – for recreational riders, the lightest option
  • mountain bikes with front suspension (Hardtail) - suitable for XC and trail riding, but also for demanding recreational cyclists, for whom they comfortably cushion uneven terrain
  • mountain bikes with full suspension (FSX - Full suspension) – suitable for enduro and downhill, suitable for sports riding in difficult terrains, they will provide high comfort and ride control, riding uphill is much more difficult with them; they are also suitable for riders who have joint or spine problems
How to choose a mountain bike

Mountain bike wheels

The driving characteristics of the bicycle are also affected by the size of the wheels, their diameter and the width of the tire. Larger diameter wheels are, of course, slightly faster. As a standard, mountain bikes are made in these sizes.

  • 26 inches - once the standard, now less popular and less available; acceleration with this wheel size is easier and obstacles can be jumped more easily, the wheels are more agile, they are also suitable for juniors
  • 27.5 inches - they are a good compromise between agility and the ability to overcome obstacles, also suitable for women and teenagers
  • 29 inches - best for overcoming obstacles in uneven terrain and smooth driving without losing speed; suitable for longer routes, the contact area with the surface is larger, which results in better traction and braking, also suitable for tall riders

Brakes on a mountain bike

Brakes on a bicycle play an important role mainly for safe riding . We know several types of brakes that are used on mountain bikes. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages , therefore it is important to take into account the following factors before choosing them:

  • terrain and conditions in which you plan to drive
  • the level of the rider , whether it is a beginner, advanced or professional
  • maintenance and service , i.e. how much time and money you want to invest in bike maintenance 
  • Your budget , because the types of brakes also differ in price

Rim brakes (V-brakes)

Their principle of operation consists in the fact that they adhere to the rim of the wheel during braking. When the brake lever is depressed, the brake pads are pressed against both sides of the wheel rim, creating friction and slowing or stopping the bicycle.

Advantages:

  • they are the easiest to maintain and the price
  • they have a low weight
  • more easily noticeable wear
  • they are suitable for less experienced cyclists who want to maintain their bike themselves

Disadvantages:

  • they are less effective in wet rainy conditions and mud
  • wear of the wheel rim during long-term use
  • weaker performance than disc brakes on steep descents
  • they require more finger force on the levers for more aggressive braking

Disc brakes (mechanical)

When the brake lever is pressed, the cable is tensioned, which moves the brake pads towards the disc connected to the wheel hub. The pads are pressed against both sides of the disc, creating friction and slowing or stopping the bike.

Advantages:

  • less wear on the wheel, because they do not press on the wheel rim, but brake directly on the disc
  • consistent braking performance that is not affected by wet conditions or mud

Disadvantages:

  • more complex maintenance
  • higher price and weight than rim brakes

Disc brakes (hydraulic)

When the brake lever is depressed, the pressure in the hydraulic fluid increases and is transmitted through the hoses to the brake caliper. This pressure moves pistons in the caliper, which push the brake pads against either side of the disc, creating friction and slowing or stopping the bike.

Advantages:

  • the best braking performance, which you will appreciate in technically demanding terrain
  • consistent performance regardless of conditions (dry, wet, mud)
  • when properly adjusted, they do not require as frequent maintenance as mechanical disc brakes

Disadvantages:

  • a difficult setup that requires expert help
  • higher price compared to other types of brakes
  • higher weight
How to choose a mountain bike

Other components

The quality of components such as brakes, gears and transmission also significantly affects the performance and life of the bicycle. You can choose renowned brands such as Shimano, BOSCH or SRAM, but today even cheaper alternatives meet all the necessary safety and quality standards . It depends on how often and to what extent you want to engage in mountain biking, how many km to ride per year.

How to choose a mountain bike in a store

When buying a bicycle, in addition to its components and parameters that we mentioned, be sure to try the bicycle. Sit on it, try it for at least one turn of the pedals, get to know it... Don't be afraid to ask for seat adjustment, etc. Take your time to make the right decision. In addition to the parameters mentioned above , the following must also be adapted to the rider:

  • seat height - when sitting on a bicycle, your knee should be slightly bent, the seat should be in a horizontal position
  • handlebar adjustment - comfortable holding and control of the bike, for example, the movement when turning sideways should be natural, not too tense, arms level, but not too hunched over; the handlebars should be at the height of the seat, or lower; Your position should be bent, not a straight back, the handlebars should not be narrow, so that your hands are not too close together (you would press your chest and breathe badly), but not too wide, so that you can maneuver them well, in basically a little wider than the shoulders
  • the length of the stem (between the handlebars and the frame) - it should be such that it allows you to sit comfortably

Proper bike setup is a guarantee of better performance and less fatigue.

How to choose a mountain bike through the e-shop

You can also buy a mountain bike online. After placing the order, our service staff will check it, pack it up, and the bike will be handed over to you according to the delivery method you selected.

How to choose a mountain bike

Mountain bike service

Caring for a bicycle only begins with the purchase. At least once a year, before or after the season, you should entrust your bike to professionals. We also provide mountain bike service at selected stores. During the season, choose high-quality cleaning products designed for bicycles to take care of it.

EXI tip: And if you want your bike to last as long as possible , you can read what not to do with it in our blog.

Investing in a quality mountain bike, its suspension and reliable components is always worthwhile. Especially if you plan to drive in difficult terrain. A high-quality mountain bike will bring you not only greater joy from riding, but also greater safety and security on two wheels.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between men's and women's mountain bikes?

Women's bikes are designed with women's smaller average height and proportions in mind, often with lower top tubes and specific seats. They can have a lower weight. Men's mountain bikes are usually more robust.

What accessories should I buy with my mountain bike?

We recommend basic accessories such as a bicycle helmet, gloves, pump, spare inner tube and tools, or even a bicycle backpack. And don't forget about comfortable functional clothes.

Is it better to buy a bike online or in a store?

Buying from a store has the advantage that you can try the bike and get professional help with setting it up.

How often should I service my mountain bike?

It depends on the frequency of use, but at least once a season you should have the bike serviced. Regular inspection and maintenance of all parts of the bicycle, including the chain, brakes and suspension, is important.

How do I choose the right mountain bike size?

You can find the correct bike size based on your height and leg length. Follow the manufacturer's size chart.

Is it better to buy a full suspension bike or a hardtail?

The choice depends on the type of terrain you plan to drive on. For technical and demanding trails, full suspension is more suitable, which provides higher comfort and control. Hardtail, on the other hand, is better for less demanding trails and is lighter, which can be an advantage on climbs.

How do frame materials differ and which one is best for me?

The choice of frame material should take into account your budget and type of driving. Aluminum provides a good price-performance ratio, carbon is the lightest and most durable, but also the most expensive. Steel is traditional and very durable, while titanium is a luxurious material with excellent properties.

How can I test a mountain bike before buying?

Testing the bike in real conditions will allow you to better understand how the bike reacts to different terrains, how its geometry suits you, or what needs to be fine-tuned on it. It is possible to test our bikes, for example, every year at the BikeFest in Kálnice or at some events that we organize together with Active Life .

What should I know about mountain bike warranties?

Warranties vary by manufacturer and can range from one year to a lifetime frame warranty. It is important to read the warranty terms carefully and find out exactly what the warranty covers. We provide warranty and post-warranty service for mountain bikes purchased from us.

Is it good to insure bicycles ?

It is certainly an advantage. Bicycle theft insurance is suitable at least for more expensive bicycles or for those owners who use their bicycle in places with a higher incidence of theft.

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