Best Bike Buyers Guide 2018

Northwoods Pomona Women’s Dual Suspension Comfort Bike

Northwoods Pomona Women's Dual Suspension Comfort Bike, 26-Inch

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Dynacraft Speed Alpine Eagle

'Dynacraft Speed Alpine Eagle Mens Road/Mountain 21 Speed Bike 26'', Black/White '

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Dynacraft Magna Major Damage Boys BMX

Dynacraft Magna Major Damage Boys BMX Street/Dirt Bike 16', Yellow/Black

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Guide on How to Choose Bike

If you’re a beginner and you have unlimited money then this discussion is over Just go out and spend a bunch of money on a nice bike and you’re done. But I suspect that most beginners are looking for the smallest financial commitment they can make, while still getting a decent mountain bike. This bike is decent enough to get you into big trouble, again and again. Better yet, it’s on clearance.

Yes, it’s a diamondback Overdrive and I ride for diamondback, but I want you to forget about that today because Diamondback may not be available where you live, or you might be looking at a used bike. So today I want you to pretend this bike is colorless with no logos on it. How do we objectively determine that it’s trailworthy just by examining it? Let’s start with the most important indicator of a good mountain bike: the derailleur hanger. If a mountain bike is equipped with a rear derailleur, it should be hung from the frame by this little piece of metal, the hanger. During a crash, the hanger is designed to break away to prevent damage to the frame.

It can then be realigned or replaced inexpensively. That’s a lot better than throwing the whole bike in the garbage which is what you’ll need to do if you break part of your frame. So when examining a bike, be wary of band-aid solutions like this, or worse yet a derailleur mounted directly to the frame. Bikes like these could be one crash away from total destruction, and mountain biking is all about crashing. So a derailleur hanger is the very first thing you should look for to determine if a bike is trail worthy.

Even the most entry level bikes will have a precision cut, purposeful looking derailleur hanger right here So your examination should start, and possibly end with that. The next important part to look for is a thread less stem, which you can identify by these pinch bolts here, and these 4 bolts holding the handlebars on. If instead you see this, it’s usually bad news. To service or replace anything up front including the fork, you’ll be limited to unreliable parts or vintage mountain bike parts which are hard to find.

Good luck tracking down a brand new mid 90’s suspension fork to replace your old one. A threadless stem is not only easier and less costly to service, but it’s also more rigid. This is not something you want to compromise on Moving on to the wheels, you need to make sure they have quick release levers. These are common on entry level bikes, and they make it so you can remove or replace the wheels by hand without any tools.

More importantly, they’re an indicator of the bike’s intended use. When mountain biking flat tires are inevitable, so always carrying a 15mm wrench to remove these nuts is problematic. Worse yet, mountain bikes with nuts on the axles are nearly impossible to upgrade the wheels on, and wheels are one of the things you’ll outgrow as you gain experience. So on an entry level mountain bike you should look for quick release levers and if you see nuts, stay away. Next up is the crank and chainring assembly.

It should be modular and bolted together, not riveted together as one big piece. I’m sure you can see the problem with that. Break anything here, and you’re probably out the cost of your entire bike Sure you could drill out the rivets and fabricate something, so if that’s your thing then good on you. Otherwise, look for something you can actually wrench on.

The next thing you should look for are disc brakes on the front and rear. Even cheap disc brakes are replaceable with better ones, which is important to note because your bike needs to have the mountings points for them from the start. More importantly disc brakes are dramatically more reliable than rim brakes, which is why the mountain bike industry switched to them quickly and decisively decades ago. Because a good mountain bike should be low maintenance and upgradeable, you should be very suspicious of one that does not include disc brakes. Finally, you need to ensure that the bike is available in different sizes, and that the manufacturer actually offers some guidance as to what size you need.

Anyway if the manufacturer isn’t offering this information they probably don’t put much thought into their bikes, and therefore you shouldn’t trust it to take you deep into the woods. I realize this indicator is less objective than the others, but at the very least, you should get a bike that fits you. Although there are many other indicators of a trailworthy bike, they’re largely irrelevant if the bike in question doesn’t satisfy the requirements we just discussed. So we’ll focus our attention now on what you can expect from an entry level bike like this, and some of the things you can do to upgrade it.

First of all it’s important to note that almost all entry level mountain bikes will be hardtails, or bikes without rear suspension. The linkage required for rear suspension is costly and heavy, so it’s generally not worth investing in until you start to breach the thousand dollar point. For the sake of simplicity we’ll limit this discussion to hardtails. Hardtails are fun and fast, so they’re great to start out on anyway. But sub hardtails are almost always XC, or cross country bikes.

XC bikes are optimized for pedaling and laying down power. They’re fast, and easy to go long distances on. But those advantages can hold you back when you start to dabble in freeride. This is not to say that you can’t do a little jumping on an XC bike It’s just that jumps, drops, rock rolls, or any kind of prolonged descent is best done on a trail bike.

This black hardtail next to Overdrive is a good example of a trail bike. The raked out fork, aggressive angles, wide bars, longer travel, and shorter stem, make it better for the kind of riding I do. Since you can’t convert an XC bike to a trail bike or the other way around, you need to be honest about what you intend on doing on your mountain bike before you buy one. But if your budget, you’re getting an XC bike whether you like it or not So if you eventually take to jumping and throwing the bike around a bit more, you could feel limited.

So here’s what I did to enhance the capabilities of my budget XC bike. The biggest thing you can do, hands down, is change the tires. When I threw these wider, knobbier tires on my. Overdrive, it felt like a completely different bike I was able to run these tires at a lower pressure, making them grippier and more forgiving. But that’s not all I did.

You hear all that rattling? That’s my chain slapping everywhere, and in fact it came off entirely on several drops and jumps. To remedy this I installed a chain guide, which virtually eliminated the problem. This will cost you a lot less than upgrading your drivetrain, which could easily run you as much as this bike. If I were a beginner trying to progress as far as possible on this bike, I might upgrade the pedals as well, and maybe the fork to something like this. Venturing beyond that would not necessarily be economical, and considering a decent trailworthy bike can hold its value well, you’d be better off selling it and upgrading the whole thing.

Tyler Corlis is a 25-year old Cyclist from Italy. He enjoys cycling and biking on a weekly basis, and has extensive experience in cycling for 100’s KMs across Europe.