What You Need to Know to Buy Your First Mountain Bike

Picking up a new hobby? Mountain biking is a great choice, because it's an extreme sport perfect for those who love adventures. But getting started with your new passion begins with finding the right equipment. Follow along for six pieces of advice to keep in mind when shopping for your first mountain bike.

1. Shop for a Shop First

First off, consider looking for a reputable shop before throwing hundreds to thousands of dollars at a new bike. If you can't trust the person selling you a bike, you'll second guess your purchase. A true mark of a good shop is the quality of help you get from the staff. The ones that take their time to ask you questions and help you choose what's right for you have your best interest at heart.

2. Bring an Experienced Friend

It helps to have a friend whose been on a few rides. Their knowledge is invaluable for selecting your first bike and helping you find a shop to call your own. See how their experience lines up with what the shop staff is saying, and hey, maybe they'll learn something new too.

3. Full Suspension vs. Hard Tail

There are two types of mountain bikes to chose from: full suspension and hardtail. Many will chose between the two based off personal preference but here's a quick breakdown:

  • Full Suspension: bike is comprised of two separate pieces, a front triangle and rear triangle joined by pivots allowing independent movement of the two sections of the frame and the rate of that movement is controlled by a shock absorber.
  • Hard Tail: solid frame typically with a suspension fork on the front. This type of bike has a lot less going on which means you're potentially getting more bike for your buck when comparing it to a full suspension bike at the same price point.

Long story short, many pros recommend hard tail bikes for beginners because they're more bang for your buck.

4. Get the Right Fit

Once you know the type of mountain bike you want to start riding, consider the fit. Buying a bike frame too big for you could lead to issues such as back pain and lack of control while riding. On the other hand, buying a bike frame that is too small could also lead to back issues from a cramped position and lack of control. The following guidelines will help you find the right size for your bike.

  • Small frame → meant for riders 5'4" - 5'7"
  • Medium frame → meant for riders 5'7" - 5'10"
  • Large frame → meant for riders 5'10" - 6'1"
  • Extra Large frame → meant for riders 6' and over

5. Least Amount You Should Spend On Your First Bike

$800 - $1000. If you are buy anything cheaper, you risk running a bike with parts that'll give you trouble in the future. Consider buying used, but remember the dollars you save on the initial cost could come back in repairs. If you're set on mountain biking, think about investing in a more expensive bike that'll get more mileage before you ever outgrow it. The resell value will be better, and you'll have the peace of mind knowing you're handing over a good bike to someone looking to get into the sport.

6. Don't Get Into Analysis Paralysis, Just Get Out There!

The last piece of advice is to not overthink buying your first bike. Yes, do your research and ask questions, but the right bike for you today might not be the right one tomorrow. Getting a new bike and trying a new sport is about learning more about yourself. It's okay to find this bike is not right for you. Take the bike out for a few months, get used to the terrain you're riding on, then decide where you want to go from there.