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How to recognize a quality (mountain) bike

Author: admin / Comments: 0

When it comes to buying a bicycle, especially a mountain bike, we all want to choose the best one there is; this being the very reason why recognizing a quality bike is of great importance if we want to be satisfied with what we have chosen.
So, when interested to invest in buying a bicycle, make sure not to be misled by certain features of the bike that may seem to make the bike better in any way. This could happen in case you aren’t entirely sure what to look for…therefore it’s important to get informed and know what to check when purchasing a bike.

A guy riding a mountain bike on the mountains

The frame-Always buy the best frame there is. You definitely shouldn't be contemplating getting a cheap frame, just so you can also have the option of getting an equally cheap suspension fork on it.
As you probably know, most mountain bikes are made of steel or aluminum. There are two main sorts of steel: high-tensile, and chromyl. High-tensile, aka hi-ten, is pretty much garbage. Don't buy a bike that has any part made of hi-ten steel, whether in the main frame or in the fork.
One thing you should definitely look for on your frame is the ability to attach things to it. It should have rack/mudguard mounts at the rear dropouts, and rack mounts on the seat stays. You may think this isn’t necessarily needed, and that you'll never want to use a rack or full mudguards on your bike, but your needs may change over time. For example, if you get really into off-road cycling you may decide to buy a full-suspension bike, and this one will be relegated to riding to work, or for touring, in which case a rack and mudguards are pretty much essential.

Another thing that's a good idea to look for, in case you think there is a chance you'll really get into off-road riding, are disk brake mounts, both on the main frame and on the fork. These provide better stopping in the wet and eliminate worn out rims through braking, and thus are a good upgrade for the serious off-road rider.

Suspension fork-If you've decided that you want a suspension fork, you'll want to know which ones are worth to be looking for. Most of the times, the more expensive the forks are, the better they are. The more expensive ones are stiffer, easier to maintain, and more "plush" (absorbing bumps of all sizes better). So, even though sometimes you have to pay more for quality, I’d say it’s definitely worth it.

Wheels-While the frame is the heart of the bike, the wheels are what make a bicycle! Most MTB wheels look similar, but when you get into the details, you'll find the difference between wheels that will fall apart after one month, and the ones that will keep spinning happily until you finally wear out the rims through braking.

Rims-The rim is the outer metal hoop of your wheel. They are made of aluminum. (For very expensive bikes you can get ones made of carbon fiber, and for exceedingly cheap bikes they are made out of steel, which is to be avoided at all costs!) Aluminum is light and provides a good surface for brake blocks to bite into, and they shed water quickly when wet to give you good braking shortly after the brakes pads meet the metal. In cross section, the rim will usually be something like a U shape: the tire attaches to the prongs of the U. The braking surface of the rim should be plain metal, no colors or anodizing or anything like that. Colored braking surfaces badly affect braking (except for ceramic rims, which do have a coating on the braking surface).

Spokes-Generally, MTBs have 32 spokes per wheel. The best spokes are double butted, which means thinner in the middle than on the end. Butted spokes make for a lighter but stronger wheel (stronger because they stretch slightly when subjected to brief but large impacts, thus absorbing the hit, rather than giving in and buckling the rim). Black spokes are OK, as long as they are still stainless.

Hubs-Hubs go around, so the best thing to look for is good bearings that let them go around with as little resistance as possible, and good seals to keep them going that way. You can spin the wheels of a bike you're thinking of buying to see how freely they spin. One simple test is to attach a spoke wrench to a spoke at the rim. Ask your bike shop if you're uncertain about rim quality. If you think that you may get seriously into off-road riding, it's worth buying a bike that has disk-ready hubs, so upgrading to disk brakes will be easier and cheaper.

Tires and tubes-Tubeless tires are fairly new on the scene, and not many bikes come with them. However in a few years’ time they may be proven their worth so much that finding a MTB with normal tires will be as difficult as finding a MTB with rigid forks.

Normal tires come in a huge variety of tread patterns, widths, compounds, etc. For on-road use you should opt for a smooth tire, with width between 1.25" and 2". For off-road use, the choice is bewildering. Usually, narrower tires are better in the mud, but wider tires have more cushioning and grip. Therefore the best tire for you depends on your riding conditions.

Components- You should look very carefully at the components on the bike; things like brakes, brake levers, shift levers and derailleurs (also known as gears). Generally, the higher spec components last longer and are easier to maintain than the lower ones. They are also more expensive. Getting a good frame should be your priority, but the quality of the bike parts can help you choose between bikes that have similar frames.

As far as shifters go, they are to be found in two main styles: twist shifters or lever shifters. It used to be that SRAM made the twist shifters, and Shimano made the trigger shifters, but now SRAM make some trigger shifters and vice versa. Most people prefer one or the other, but you won't know which one you like until you've tried them. Try to test-ride bikes with both kinds so you'll know which type you'd like to have on your bike. If you find your dream bike, but it comes with the wrong kind of shifters, don't despair. The bike shop will often replace them with the other kind for a small fee or even free.

If you are not sure whether you can choose the best bike for yourself, ask somebody whom you trust would give you the best advice. Get the best bike and then ride on!


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