Mountain bikes became popular in the 1970s in the United States. Since then they have evolved to adapt to the different profiles of use for unpaved terrain. For this reason, choosing the right mountain bike is sometimes confusing today.
There are two elements that raise doubts among those who are looking for their first mountain bike or do not have a deep knowledge of the market. The first is the type of suspension. Is a rigid or dual suspension mountain bike better? The second is the size of the wheels. Is it always preferable to choose the largest ones?
If you are one of those who still do not know when to choose a 26 ″ bike or when to bet on a double suspension, read on.
Tell me where you're rolling and I'll tell you what suspension you need
In the market you can find bicycles with different degrees of damping. You have them with front suspension, with total suspension or without any type of mechanical suspension. The latter are indicated for very specific uses of high competition, such as the Orbea Alma M-LTD. They usually have front suspension or full suspension.
The former are called rigid or semi-rigid. The latter are known as double suspension bicycles.
Rigid and semi-rigid mountain bikes
They are bicycles that either lack suspension or have a front shock absorber at the fork. Normally the travel of this suspension is less than 120mm, since they are designed to roll at full speed on tracks and unpaved sections without large slopes or pronounced obstacles.
They stand out for their lightness, dynamism and agility. It is not an urban legend that in this type of bicycle the force is transmitted more directly to the bottom bracket, but it is simply physics; with nothing more than an iron bar between the saddle and him, the force does not dissipate as it does when there are dampers involved. So they are faster.
To this we must add that they are cheaper than the others because their manufacture is simpler, since the frame is either a single mold, or the rest of the tubes are welded. By dispensing with the rear or center suspension, they have fewer elements and parts, which also translates into fewer breakdowns and less maintenance work and expense.
Of course, if we are unfortunate that our back or our joints complain often, it is more advisable to bet on another more comfortable model.
In summary, rigid or semi-rigid mountain bikes are indicated for those who are looking for a live reaction ride and fast ride on sections of forest tracks. To make technical trails, alternate large climbs and descents on very stony stretches and roll on long routes are less advisable.
Dual suspension bikes
The more cushioning, the greater the ability to absorb uneven terrain and the more comfortable you ride. This is why double suspension bikes are more comfortable.
They weigh more than the rigid ones and their price is also higher, but in return they are much more comfortable. If you are a mountain regular, it is not necessary to tell you that, when you have been active for several hours, you are able to recognize and feel even the smallest vibration that occurs under the wheels.
With a double suspension you may need an extra dose of effort, especially on the climbs, because you are carrying more parts than a rigid bike, but your body will appreciate how comfortable they are.
The wheels dilemma
The two main standards of forks on mountain bikes are those that allow mounting 26 ”and 29” wheels. The first measure was the most common until a few years ago, when all mountain bikes mounted wheels of this measure.
But little by little it has given way to size 29 ”, especially in the medium and high ranges. An intermediate solution has recently emerged, the 27.5 ”wheels. Against this background, 26 ″ bikes have been relegated to very low ranges or to bikes with downhill geometry.
Which to choose from all of them? Smaller wheels will give you more acceleration because they are lighter, and will also give you more rigidity. In other words: you need less effort to make a complete turn. This is especially noticeable when the terrain rises.
Larger wheels, such as the 29 ”wheels, will be more stable, something that is much appreciated on uneven terrain. To this we must add that larger wheels will make it easier for you to take advantage of inertia and offer you greater traction. In other words, they allow you to travel more meters with each pedal stroke.
If you are going to ride on mostly flat sections or with few level jumps, the 29 ″ wheels will make it easier to move with less effort. If you are going to alternate ups and downs and speed is not the most important thing for you, opt for 27.5 ″ wheels.
Let yourself be advised by experts
There are great professionals who can help you make the best purchase according to the type of bicycle you are looking for, the budget you have set and the size of bicycle you need.
Do not hesitate to consult everything you consider appropriate, because the purchase of a bicycle is an investment that you will enjoy for a long time.
Finally, before acquiring it, also take into account the time you have to dedicate it to periodic maintenance care and the space you have to store it, either at home or anywhere else.
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