So, you want to be a mountain biker? Where to start? Start with the Bike. I recommend going to a bike shop; like a place that ONLY sells bikes, and asking some questions. JUST LOOK AND LISTEN. Go home with said information and compare those notes with the below lists of information about mountain bikes;
Types of Mountain Bikes
What type of bike you ride is usually decided by where you plan on riding. Suspension type and wheel diameter are two key features that determine what type of terrain the bike is capable of riding.
Rigid: While not the most common type of mountain bike, “rigid” mountain bikes don’t feature any suspension. They are easy to maintain and usually less expensive, but most riders prefer bikes with suspension for greater comfort. Most fat bikes are rigid, and riders find that the wide tires and low tire pressure provide all the squish needed to absorb bumps in the trail.
Hardtail: These bikes have a suspension fork in the front to help absorb impact on the front wheel, but the rear of the bike has no suspension—ergo a hardtail. Hardtails are typically less expensive than full-suspension bikes, and have fewer moving parts (which often translates into less maintenance). Most hardtails have the ability to lock out the front fork for times where a fully rigid bike is desired.
Cross-country riders typically gravitate toward hardtails as they allow more direct transfer of power between the pedal stroke and the rear tire. Hardtails can also be at home on all-mountain trails, and the lower cost and easier maintenance make them a solid option for everything except serious lift-serviced downhill trails.
Full suspension: There are many variations of full-suspension bikes, but the general idea is for the front fork and rear shock to absorb the impacts of the trail. This drastically reduces the impact on the rider, increases traction, and makes for a more forgiving and enjoyable ride.
Bikes designed for downhill riding typically boast a lot of travel—the amount of movement in the suspension—compared to bikes designed for cross-country and all-mountain riding. As much as eight inches of travel front and rear is fairly common.
Now Pick Your Bike
I wouldn’t suggest spending more than $500.00 on your first bike; but that is just me. It’s a good idea to know what is top of the line and so forth. Try to get deals on used bikes on ebay, craigslist and amazon.
While you might start out on trails that are relatively smooth and flat, your ability to navigate around—or over—obstacles will develop as you gain experience and becomes part of the fun of the sport. Mountain-bike-specific trails are typically marked by skill level (beginner, intermediate, expert and double expert) and are maintained.
Singletrack, the most common trail type, has a width that varies from just a little wider than your shoulders on up to a track that’s just wide enough for two bikes to pass. Many singletrack trails are open to one-way travel and wind their way through the best terrain that the landscape offers.
Doubletrack trails are normally double the width (or more) of a typical singletrack trail with enough room for two bikes to ride side-by-side. Often doubletrack trails follow abandoned logging roads, fire roads or power-line roads, where the tires of vehicles created two single tracks. Doubletrack trails are usually a gentler grade than singletrack and tend to have less-technical features.
Mountain bike terrain parks are popping up everywhere from jump-and-pump tracks under urban overpasses to lift-serviced trails at ski resorts. Expect such features as elevated bridges, halfpipes, jumps of various sizes, berms, banked corners and hairy downhill switchbacks.
Be adventurous, have fun, be safe, plan for the weather and plan for the unplanned weather and you will be mountain biking on a regular basis in no time. Please do not let a few bad experiences with weather or terrain deter you from finding the right mountain biking experience for yourself.
Get out there and make a mile!