How do I Choose the Right Mountain Bike?

Diana Bocco

Choosing the right mountain bike can mean a world of difference when it comes to enjoying the outdoors. Many factors should go into choosing the right model, from your fitness level to how much you are willing to spend. A good bike should meet all basic requirements of a quality product, but it should also fit your lifestyle and preferences as closely as possible.

Mountain bikes are more suited for rugged, outdoor trrips.
Mountain bikes are more suited for rugged, outdoor trrips.

The first thing you need to consider when you are choosing a bicycle is budget. You could probably get a mass-produced, basic mountain bike for a few hundred US Dollars. If you are looking for a high-end bike for specific roads or tricks, however, you will likely need to spend a great deal more money. If you plan on taking your bike on frequent out-of-town trips, it may be worth it to spend a little more. A cheap one may not be as durable and may lack basics such as a good suspension, which will make its use much more difficult and uncomfortable. A good rule of thumb is to buy the best mountain bike that you can afford.

Mountain bikes are designed to traverse rough terrain.
Mountain bikes are designed to traverse rough terrain.

The next most important consideration is the frame. Most frames are made of either aluminum or steel, with aluminum being the cheapest choice. Traditional diamond frames are best for beginners, but they don't allow for full suspension. Bikes with full rear suspension will have a modified frame, usually missing the vertical tube that comes from under the seat. Rear suspension makes the bicycle more comfortable and prepared for rockier terrain — of course, it also makes the bike more expensive.

Make sure you buy a bike that fits you as well. As a rule, mountain bikes should be smaller than a regular road bike. If you know which size of road bike is good for you, simply choose a model that's 2 inches (about 5 cm) smaller. You should also consider length, and if you want to ride sitting up or as low as possible. Low-handlebars allow for maximum speed, but they can be uncomfortable if you are short or have back problems. If you are not sure what bike is best for you, try a few out. Sit up, stretch your arms, and test how comfortable the seat is. Comparing a few different brands and models will make it easier to choose the one that fits you best.

Mountain bike tires are designed for uneven surfaces.
Mountain bike tires are designed for uneven surfaces.

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Discussion Comments


Let's see if anyone can recommend a good bike for my needs. I ride a lot. But I do a combination of riding. I'm looking for a mountain bike (26") that can take a beating and last a while. I do a lot of jumps and trails. But I also do a lot of road driving to get to trails. Usually I get cheap Walmart bikes and they get trashed within one summer. Usually the derailers and brakes go first. So a requirement is dual disc brakes.

I want all this for under 500. Does anyone have any ideas on what i can look for?


I am not an expert, however I have a couple of insights I thought I'd share.

First, I'm a 5'9" female riding on a medium-frame. I'm guessing, unless you have especially short legs for your height, that this bike would be too small.

In addition, with mountain bikes, keeping as much distance between you (the seat) and the handlebars will have the effect of keeping you more stable on steep inclines and reducing the chance of injury, should you go flying forward.

Just some things to consider! Good luck!



Can someone tell me if this bike is too small for me? I am 6' 185lbs. I am fit and not over weight. The bike is a 18" size medium by MTB standards 1996 GT Ricochet..


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