How To Buy A Mountain Bike In 5 Easy Steps

You have decided it’s time to buy a mountain bike. It’s an amazing time to get into the sport just about every manufacturer has a great product and the bikes all work really well. The great thing about this is that you have a ton of choices, but some people almost drown in the sea of awesomeness…but fear not it’s really quite easy to navigate if you go into the process with a little knowledge.

How To Buy A Mountain Bike

Start With A Budget

First off, decide how much money you have to spend and stick to the budget. Remember that you are not just buying a bike but also at the very least a helmet. Don’t just use your old helmet from the 90’s…they do not last like that, so get a new one with your new bike. You may also want to get some shorts (lycra and baggies), gloves, jersey and shoes and hydration pack. Decide what you need now and what can wait. This will add a $100-$500 to the total cost so remember to budget for it. Most shops will (should) give you a decent discount on gear when buying a complete bike…so take advantage of that. Stick to your budget, and don’t let a sales person push you higher than you are ready to go.

Here is a very basic rundown of what you may be looking at when buying a bike:

  • If you are looking at under $1000, look used and stick with a bike with suspension in the front and not the back. (EDIT: stumpyfsr on the forums has some great ideas for new bikes under 1k, check them out!)
  • $1000-$2000 is a good starting point, you can usually get a decent bike that will last you a few years, but don’t expect the latest and greatest parts.
  • $2000+ is where the magic happens. A lot of people have a hard time spending more thank 2k on their first bike, and to tell the truth you don’t need to spend that much to have fun, but this is where the bells and whistles start appearing, dropper posts, carbon, higher end components. All these things just make the riding a little easier/comfortable and are not needed to have fun.

Don’t Worry About The Hype

There will be a lot of marketing mumbo jumbo thrown at you in the shops, online, by friends and in magazines…don’t worry about it. All that marketing will not change how much you love riding your bike. There is so much marketing in our sport right now all trying to sell the latest and greatest, if you buy into the hype you are doomed to always have an empty bank account.

Go Ride Bikes

Get your hands on as many bikes as possible and ride them. Do you have friends that ride…see if they will let you borrow their bikes, maybe rent a few from local shops and go to any demo rides in your area. Get a feel for what you like about one bike over another.

If you can ride them on trails even better, find a nice easy trail to ride and do your best to try as many bikes on that same trail so you have a reference on how they feel.

You probably won’t notice much right off the bat, but make sure that you take note of the comfort of the bike, how it feels to turn, how it feels at speed or climbing and descending….this is all down to the most important thing about the bike…the geometry.

Wheel sizes,  clips vs clipless, tubeless, all this pales in comparison to geometry and it is really the only thing other than size you should pay attention to. I can’t tell you what geometry works for you, we all live in different places with different riding styles and the geometry of your bike will show that. If you ride XC trails in Australia you will be looking at different geometry than someone who is riding the steep and technical trails of coastal British Columbia. But if you have any questions about this ask in the comments and I will do my best to reply.

EDIT: Make sure you buy a bike that is the right size for you. Don’t go to a different size for price as it will dampen your experience, do it right the first time, you will be a better rider for it. (Thank you to stumpyfsr over on the forums for the tip.)

Talk to local riders and find out what works for them, ride their bikes and see if you like a steep XC bike or a more slack and aggressive trail bike. This is going to take the longest, but again don’t sweat it that much, just make the best decision you can.

Where I live we have all sorts of people riding just about every kind of bike on the same trails and they are all loving it and having fun because it is what works for them.

Find a Good Bike Shop

This part is very important, your bike shop is your connection to making sure you are taken care of properly. Not all shops are created equal, so talk to the same friends who let you borrow their bikes and ask them where they do their shopping. Next go visit a few shops and see how they feel…trust your gut here…if you have to wait to be talked to or you get attitude, move on. I am lucky to have over 20 bike shops in my area, but will only visit a few of them because of past experiences, only time will tell if you find a good one, but when you do make that connection it’s great!

Go Buy Your New Bike

If you have done the steps above you will already know what you are looking for, all you have to do now is find the bike that fits your budget and riding style, and work on getting the best price for what will fit your needs best.

Once you do, we hope to see you out on the trails! We would love to hear your new bike stories and see the photos in the comments below!

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