Mountain Bikes - Types
Written by: msilvestre
Basically, there are five different types of Mountain Bikes
: cross country, trail, downhill, freeride, and dirt jump. Each type is designed to tackle different kinds of terrain and obstacles and it has its own advantages and disadvantages. In choosing the right Mountain Bike, it is best to know first where you are going to ride and what kinds of obstacles you are going to face while riding. It all boils down to what you want and need.
- Cross Country Mountain Bikes - Also referred to as XC bikes, Cross Country Mountain Bikes are designed for off-road trails with minimal to moderate obstacles. They can also be used for climbs and descents. XC bikes are made of the most lightweight materials (they weigh between 20-30 pounds) in order to go as fast as possible in all natural conditions. Suspension often comes in the form of air shocks. These bikes are usually more rigid than those of other Mountain Bikes. XC bikes are divided into two sub-types (according to suspension):
Hardtail Mountain Bikes
These are bikes without rear suspension integrated into the frame. However, to improve comfort, bike suspension forks may be added as an upgrade. Most Mountain Bikes nowadays come standard with a suspension fork. Hardtail bikes weigh 2-3 pounds less than the lightest full-suspension Mountain Bikes. An advantage that a hardtail has over a full-suspension Mountain Bike is that during sprints, you don't waste energy. With full-suspension bikes, you will get this bouncing feeling when you get off the bike saddle.
Hardtail frames do have an amount of shock-absorbing characteristic due to the improved materials used for the seatstay and chainstay. Starting out with a hardtail Mountain Bike is not a bad move. You will save on a lot of extra weight and you will be able to have good pedaling technique without the bouncing feeling. This is the choice for some bikers, be it a newbie or an experienced rider since they require minimal maintenance and can be a bit cheaper than the full-suspension bike. If you are riding in single tracks or planning to race, this is the ideal bike to get. This also works great for women given the lightweight feature of the ride.
Full-Suspension Mountain Bikes
Full-suspension mountain bikes have both front and rear fork suspension integrated in the ride. These bikes are the way to go for those uneven terrains and tracks, with the increased suspension working to provide more ride comfortability. These rides are designed to do one thing, to handle the roughest terrain and allow you to ride longer and better. Since these bikes have more suspension than the hardtail, they require more maintenance and are a bit more expensive. This suspension can be easily adjusted and turned off according to the riderís preference. Given the better riding conditions provided for by this ride, the tradeoff is the fact that they can be heavier and slightly less efficient. This is so because the weight can be a big deal when you ride a lot of uphill courses, and the additional weight can create a lot of difference. So when youíre thinking about getting a full suspension bike, consider the weight, price and maintenance. But if youíre thinking about the performance, then this is the bike to go for.
- Trail Mountain Bikes - Trail mountain bikes are actually an improvement from XC bikes and are also known as all mountain bikes. It is the cross between an XC bike and a downhill bike. These bikes work best for those who require a ride that would work well in downward sloping terrain, but can also perform well in terms of climbing and over jumps. Trail Mountain Bikes provides the efficiency of a downhill bike, but the comfort of an XC bike. This is the best bike to work with for any mountain biker exposed to a full day of going through uphill and downhill terrain.
- Downhill Mountain Bikes - For those who ride on downhill slopes and tracks, a downhill mountain bike is the best way to go. They are built to work efficiently for speedy mountain descents with its bigger tires and heavier weight. The full suspension bicycle works well on steep trails and works up to an advantage in terms of gear durability and stability. These usually have disc brakes and a chain guide to protect the ride from accidental chain deraillment. Features of this ride usually includes 7 to 10 inches of suspension in the rear, with strong frames with head angles slack at about 63 degrees. These are ideal only for downhill riding in trails and courses.
- Freeride Mountain Bikes - Freeride bikes are rides that are built for power and can typically do almost anything, from racing to jumping and other stunts that require more skill compared to the XC bike. They have that climbing ability and are much heavier due to its suspension, and would weigh from 14 to as much as 20 kilograms. Given that freeriding has no set rules and courses, the creativity of the biker is amplified, resulting to the increasing popularity of this discipline of mountain biking. Main features of a freeride bike is the steel or aluminum alloy frame equipped with rear suspension, and the fork which allows the bike to work for a number of ways.
- Dirt Jump Mountain Bikes - Dirt Jump bikes are a cross between a freeride bike and a BMX bike. Also termed as an urban and street mountain bike, it features a system that allows the biker to ride over obstacles, requiring a takeoff and an eventual landing. Features of this bike include fast-rolling tires, 4 to 6 inches of front suspension and hardly having any rear suspension. Oversized handlebars allow the rider to fully maneuver the ride, with extended rear cables to allow them to spin the bars without getting tangled with the cables. These rides also have a smaller frame, and have about 24-26 inch tires. The lower seatposts provide riders with much leverage so the rider can perform tricks without the seat getting in the way. Riders prefer this type when they perform tricks as it lessens the impact of the crash, and are much simpler in terms of components that need replacement during accidents.
These discipline-oriented bikes have evolved over the years, providing riders with the certain thrill and sense of adventure they are looking for. Defined by the terrain and purpose for which they are used, these bikes are vital for the type of biking the rider is set to engage in. So depending on your purpose and need, get a bike that will work best for you.