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What to do with a Mountain bike


specialized mountain bike
Rough Around the Edges

Mountain bikes are meant for the mountain, these bikes are designed top to bottom for off road riding. They usually use v-brakes, mechanical disc brakes or hydraulic disc brakes. V-brakes and mechanical disc brakes are very similar in stopping strength the advantage with mechanical disc brakes is that they continue to maintain that same braking strength in wet or muddy conditions while v-brakes can sometimes lose braking power. Mountain bikes are almost as common hybrids but understood very well; mountain bikes are fun because of their durability and the confidence they give cyclist to ride more aggressively or roughly. But there is more to this category; an important phrase to learn and understand when discussing mountain bikes is travel. Travel is the distance the wheels move as the shocks compress. What a mountain bike is going to be used for will greatly dictate the kind of parts it will use especially the suspension. The suspension in the fork or frame will dictate how much travel a bike will have, the greater the bike's travel the bigger the bump it can absorb before reaching the limit of the suspension. The amount of travel a bike needs will vary depending on the kind of riding it will be used for.

Rigid Mountain

rigid XC MTB
Old Faithful

Rigid mountain bikes are the only ones in the category without any form of suspension. These frames are sturdy and usually use v-brakes sometimes cantilever. These bikes were used competitively off road but as the technology in suspension improved these bikes have been pushed to the commuter lifestyle. These bikes aren’t as fast as most hybrids but they are a bit sturdier because the forks are reinforced a little more and are still made for off road; nothing reckless such as drops and jumps, but still sturdy.

Hard Tail Dirt Jump

hardtail mountain bike
Mountain Bike Built for the Air

A hard tail is a mountain bike with suspension on the fork and no suspension on the frame. These bikes have many gear ranges, some have gears front and rear, some only have gears in the rear and some are single speed. These bikes are very versatile in what they can be used for; some people take them through trails, or use them at dirt jumps, while others use them like freestyle BMX bikes and do street tricks with them. Just like with the other categories what a hard tail is going to be used for will dictate the kind of parts it will use especially the fork. The forks on these bikes offer very little travel because its less needed on them. The type of riding they are being used for typically has the rider using a technique primarily to dampen the impact and use it towards more forward momentum.

Cross Country

full suspension Cross country mountain bike
front suspension cross county mountain bike
If you see concrete your probably lost

Cross Country mountain bikes are available in both full suspension and front only suspension. A cross-country mountain bike will typically have anywhere between 60-120 MM of travel; this is a good amount of travel for these kinds of bikes because large drops will typically be avoided by these kinds of riders. Cross-country riders will also avoid speeding down a mountain in one straight line because the bikes aren’t built for it and can get a bit dangerous. These bikes always have hydraulic disc brakes because in the forest they are being ridden stopping power is important


full suspension enduro mtb
Roll through every Inch of the Mountain

As the name implies an all mountain bike intends to ride the entire mountain, when someone gets on one of these its because they plan to hit everything they can during
the ride. Enduro bikes have anywhere between 120-180 MM of travel,if someone wants to ride every bit of the mountain then they will want to have suspension in the
front and rear of the bike. These bikes are designed to climb up hills and handle drops if approached correctly.


downhill mountain bike
30 minute climb, 5 minute ride down

A down hill mountain bike is 100% designed for fast pace and big drops. Down hill bikes are meant to race down mountains at top speed while handling lots
of vibrations and following a path; a down hill bike can have anywhere between 180- 240 mm of travel. These bikes need a lot of
travel so that the cyclist can handle the bike while going through the worst kind of impacts and vibrations. These bikes are much heavier than all the
other categories of mountain bikes because they must be strong and ready to handle falls. The weight also helps to ground the bike so that it doesn’t
bounce too much and lose control.

triple crown suspension fork
Possible thanks to yours truly

To further reinforce the bike they are usually equipped with a Triple Crown fork . The Triple Crown fork adds stability and strength
to the bike and is also very big to give the rider a more relaxed position so that their body isn’t over the front wheel where their center of gravity would be
dangerously too far to the front of the bike. Down hill bikes are mountain descending juggernauts but are not designed for climbs at all. The large front fork
that allows for comfortable descending causes uncomfortable climbing; the fork sets the rider leaning back making it
uncomfortable to properly pedal the bike. Finally all of the suspension that is making the high speed descent possible is now
causing too much bouncing to properly deliver any power to the wheels while trying to climb a hill.

Fat Bikes

fat bike
Snow, Sand or Mud, it's all the same

Fat bikes have very wide rims and tires, the tires use very low air pressure to allow for riding on unstable surfaces such sand, snow and squishy mud.
These bikes typically use both rigid forks and suspension forks. The suspension fork isn’t really necessary for casual riding because the low pressure big tire acts as
suspension on its own;if riding on a tough course the suspension fork would still be beneficial These bike use a very light-gearing ratio to allow it to pedal through the
unstable surfaces as mentioned before, 8-11 or 16-22 speeds. Mechanical or hydraulic disc brakes are the only options for these bikes.

Which to choose?

To review here are the differences

-Rigid MTB: no suspension, no travel, V-brake or cantilever, 18-24 speeds, hard packed dirt and light gravel

-Hard tail dirt jump: suspension fork, very little travel, V-brake or disc brakes, (1) (8-11) (16-22) (21-30) speeds, dirt jumps, street

-Cross Country: front suspension, with or without frame suspension, disc Brake, 60-110 MM, (9-11) (18-22) (27-30) speeds, off road climbs and descents no big drops

-Enduro / All mountain: full suspension, 120-180 mm, disc brake, 9-11) (18-22) (27-30) speeds, off road climbs and descents, over obstacles and some drops.

-Down hill: Full suspension, 180-230 mm, disc brake, (9-11) speeds, heavy duty off road, no climbing fast pace descents and heavy drops

-Fat bike: rigid fork or suspension fork, disc brakes, 8-11 or 16-22 speeds, unstable ground such as sand, snow etc.

Factors to consider for all mountain bikes are tire sizes.Across the board for all the mountain bikes is the option for wheel sizes.
There is still much speculation about which is the best, the wheel sizes are 26”, 27.5” (also known as 650b), and the 29er. Right now studies
show that the 26” is better for acceleration and sharp turns while the 29er has a higher top speed and allows for rolling over obstacles
with less effort. 650b is the middle of the two sizes; able to accomplish both feats many people have turned to this size in order to
make their bikes more all around capable. Companies are currently trying out sizes called 27+ and 29+, tests are still being done
and no solid advantage or disadvantage has been confirmed.

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