Frequently asked questions about mountainbikes

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General questions about mountainbikes

Anyone who wants to buy a mountain bike faces the challenge of finding the right one among numerous models. The price range of mountain bikes goes from 300 to 12,000 euros. Especially as a beginner, you quickly ask yourself: How much money do I really have to spend on a good mountain bike? It is difficult to give a general answer to this question, because the assessment of “good” is of course highly dependent on personal quality requirements and the preferred area of use. Nevertheless, we try to answer the question as generally as possible. If you don’t want to do any serious sport with your bike, but just want to get from A to B, i.e. to work, to school or to the shops, you can get good deals for as little as 500 euros. With particularly inexpensive mountain bikes, it is an advantage if they have as little technology as possible. A suspension rear triangle or telescopic seatposts are usually not available in this price range. And that is a good thing. Because at such low prices, it is important that the basic functions of a bike (riding, shifting, braking) work properly. All additional gimmicks in this price range can only be of inferior quality and impair the overall bicycle product. Sporty bikes that can be used for long tours in easy to demanding terrain are available from about 1000 euros. However, even in the price range between 1000 and 2000 Euros we always recommend buying a hardtail, i.e. a bike without rear suspension. Hardtails costing 1000 euros and more can confidently be called good mountain bikes. They are suitable for off-road use, robust and can even be used for the occasional mountain bike marathon. As a rule, hardtails up to about 1500 euros have an aluminium frame. From 1500 euros upwards, some manufacturers even manage to offer a mountain bike with a carbon frame. Our bike-test.com score tells you which bike has the best components in a certain price range and thus makes the offer on the market absolutely transparent and understandable even for beginners. Really good fullys (full-suspension mountain bikes) are actually only available at a price of 2,000 euros or more. The shock absorber and the additional joints required in the rear make the construction of fullys complex and therefore more expensive than that of hardtails. Fullys under 2000 euros usually have very cheap components and are therefore limited in their function, cannot withstand the constant stress of biking or are extremely heavy. The most important questions to ask yourself to assess whether a bike is good or bad according to your personal standards are:
How heavy is the bike?
What is the quality of the mounted parts? 
Does the geometry of the bike suit my riding style? 
Does the bike’s range of use match my idea of cycling?
Asking yourself these four questions can quickly shed light on how much money you need to spend on a good bike.

With a price range of 300 to 12,000 euros, there must be a big difference between cheap and expensive bikes. And there is. The bicycle market is characterised by extremely strong competition. A bad offer usually does not last long in such a highly competitive market. For the end consumer, this means: for every euro I spend more, I get more bike! First and foremost, the quality and workmanship of the components increases with the price. While inexpensive gears on entry-level bikes often don’t work super precisely, the highest-quality gears on the market, such as the Shimano XT or XTR or the Sram GX or XO1 Egale, are real precision wonders that work perfectly even in the roughest terrain. When it comes to brakes, the braking power usually increases dramatically with the price. While inexpensive bikes often still use rim brakes for deceleration, more expensive bikes are equipped with superior disc brakes. While superior systems are used for individual components such as brakes as the price rises, and the quality of workmanship increases, the weight of more expensive bikes falls. With higher-quality bikes, individual components are made even more delicate in order to save superfluous weight. In addition, higher quality, lighter materials are used as prices rise. The cassette, for example, is no longer made of steel, but of a mix of steel, aluminium and titanium. This not only reduces the weight, but also the wear. The technology and workmanship of the suspension elements also become much higher quality as the price increases. With our bike-test.com-SCORE, you can quickly get an overview of the equipment and function of a bike and check which bike suits your preferences best and still has the best price/performance ratio.

Bicycles are extremely diverse. There are specific bikes for every conceivable purpose. Racing bikes with their narrow tyres, efficient seating position and filigree aerodynamic components were specially developed for use on paved roads. Trekking bikes with luggage racks, an upright riding position, lights and mudguards are ideal for long journeys over gravel paths with lots of luggage. Mountain bikes, with their suspension elements, heavily treaded tyres and powerful brakes, feel most at home on off-road terrain. But this consideration of the different bicycle categories only scratches the surface. Each of the bicycle genres listed can be subdivided into much more specific subcategories. Mountain bikes, for example, are categorised in much more detail. Roughly speaking, mountain bikes are subdivided according to the quantity of their suspension travel. The more suspension travel a mountain bike has, the better it rides downhill. Special downhill bikes therefore have 200 millimetres of suspension travel and more, and are really only suitable for downhill riding. Cross country or marathon race bikes have 100 millimetres of suspension travel and are therefore much more purist and lighter. This category of bike is particularly suitable for progressing as quickly and efficiently as possible on easy terrain. Between these two extreme mountain bike categories there are also freeriders (199-175 mm travel), enduros (174-160 mm travel), all-mountain bikes (159-140 mm travel), trail bikes (139-125 mm travel) and down country bikes (124-110 mm travel). In addition to the suspension travel, the various mountain bike categories also differ in their geometries and the attachments used. You can find more details about the different mountain bike categories here.

 

The range of use is closely linked to the respective category of the bike. Because the category designations are often difficult to understand for non-bikers, we have decided to indicate an easy-to-understand area of use for each bike. This way, beginners or inexperienced bikers can get a better idea of what a bike is best suited for. So if you don’t know what you’re looking for under the category “Enduro”, the description of the area of use can give you a better idea. We describe the mountain bike category Enduro more comprehensibly as “touring in demanding terrain”.

Approximately 30 per cent of all bicycles are sold on the internet today. The advantages of buying online can be many. Often a bike is only available on the internet in the desired colour or size. The price is often lower than in a local bike shop. The delivery time online is often much shorter than in a stationary shop. However, with all the advantages of buying online, you also have to take into account that in the event of a warranty claim or problems with the delicate technology, a local dealer can help you better than an online dealer. If you decide to buy your bike online, you have to be prepared for a rather large cardboard box to be delivered to your home. The box is big and bulky because 95 percent of the bikes from online dealers are pre-assembled. Often you only have to fit the front wheel and/or the handlebars. The front wheel can be fitted without tools. To mount the handlebars of a bicycle correctly, you need an Allen or Torx key, which is supplied in most cases. As well as the necessary tools, most bikes bought online come with a description of the steps that need to be carried out to get the bike out of the box and into a ready-to-ride condition. In any case, you still have to mount the pedals on the crank of every bike. And there are two hurdles in this step. Firstly, not every bike comes with pedals. Especially with high-quality bikes, you often have to buy them separately. And ATTENTION: All cranks have a left-hand thread for the pedals on the non-drive side (the left side when you are sitting on the bike). If you try to tighten the left pedal to the right, you will fail. In addition, the seating position and suspension elements must be individually adjusted for each rider. This is also described in the bike manuals and most bikes come with a shock pump. Nevertheless, this important step is not easy for non-professionals.


In short: If you buy your bike on the internet, you should know how to turn a screw into a thread and be able to carry out minor repairs yourself. None of this is witchcraft, but if you don’t have the confidence to do it yourself, you would be better off going to a local bike dealer.

A trail or single trail is a narrow path or path that runs through nature. A single trail is only wide enough to fit one bicycle. There is no other lane to the left and right of the single trail. Normal trails can also be ridden in pairs side by side. The natural nature of the trails with stones, roots, dirt, small bends and steps make trails particularly attractive for mountain bikers. There is a so-called single trail scale for categorising single trails. With the single trail scale, trails can be divided into their different levels of difficulty. A trail with the designation S1 is particularly easy to ride. A trail that is designated S5 according to the single trail scale requires extremely good riding technique and is even then still challenging and dangerous to ride.

In principle, yes. There are classic brick and morter brands like Cube, Bulls or Scott. But of course these brands also have dealers in their portfolio who run an online shop. So almost every bike is available on the internet. 30 percent of all bikes in Germany are sold over the internet. Conversely, there are some brands that can only be bought online. Canyon, Radon, Rose, Propain or YT are typical direct sellers who only sell their bikes via their own website. With the exception of a few flagship stores at the company headquarters, the products of these companies are not available in stationary trade. If you want one of these bikes, you are forced to buy it on the internet.

Used bikes can either be given to your local bike dealer when you buy a new bike there or you can simply sell the used bike yourself. The best platforms for selling used bikes are buycycle.de, ebay, ebay-kleinanzeigen or in europe the bike market on mtb-news.de.

Questions about the bike frame and framesize

Bikes come in different sizes. The size of the bike you need depends largely on your own height and especially on your leg length. We explained how to determine your own leg length and the correct size in a detailed article in our bicycle buying advice blog on determining the correct frame height.

Generally speaking, mountain bikes for adults come in three different wheel sizes: 29er, 27.5er (650 B) and 26 inch wheels. The larger the wheel, the better it rolls over obstacles in the terrain and, generally speaking, the better its riding characteristics. This is the reason why large 29er wheels have become established on high-quality bikes. However, for bikers with a body height of less than 170 centimetres, smaller 27.5 inch wheels can also make sense. Bikes with 26 inch wheels, on the other hand, are only available in old or very cheap bikes. Children’s bikes are of course also available in a wide range of wheel sizes from 12 inch to 24 inch. Here, the wheel size is strongly related to the body size. Certain bike sizes for children are only available with one wheel size anyway, so there is no choice here.

Mountain bikes come in different frame materials. The most common are certainly aluminium and carbon. Titanium, stainless steel, steel or wooden wheels are niche products for design fans in 2021. We will therefore only deal with the frame materials carbon and aluminium. If you want to keep it simple, you could describe the two materials as follows. Carbon is the absolute high-end material, aluminium the cheaper price/performance counterpart. However, it is not quite that simple. When it comes to bicycles, the aim is to build frames that are as light as possible with a high degree of stiffness and durability. The first two characteristics (light and stiff) can be ideally fulfilled with carbon. The average density of carbon, at 1.5 g/cm3 , is just half the average density of aluminium. (Just for information: steel has a density of 7.8 g/cm3). So when it comes to lightweight construction, there is no getting around carbon. When it comes to durability, however, aluminium pulls its ace out of its sleeve. After all, it is much more robust than a bike made of carbon in the event of stone impacts, falls or continuous use in tough terrain. The fact that high-quality bikes are made of carbon always has a certain marketing aspect. Purely in terms of technical properties, small manufacturers like Liteville or Nicolai prove that aluminium can also be used to make first-class bikes that are competitive with high-quality carbon bikes. Aluminium can also be recycled much more easily and efficiently than carbon, which is ultimately degraded to hazardous waste at the end of the product life cycle. One advantage of carbon: manufacturers have absolute freedom of design here and can thus build really shapely bikes. In short: both carbon and aluminium have their place in frame construction. Even if the range on offer in the market gives the impression that carbon is not the absolutely superior material for bikes. Rather, one can speak of a high-quality alternative to the mainly used aluminium.

Questions about the bike bike suspension

Before we get to the question of which is better, it is important to understand the difference. A hardtail only has a suspension fork that suspends the front wheel. A fully suspended bike has a rear suspension in addition to the suspension fork. With a fully suspended bike, the rear and front wheel are suspended. This makes it much more comfortable to ride off-road. In addition, tyres with suspension can always build up significantly more grip than tyres without suspension. There is no general answer to this question. We have therefore written a detailed article on whether a fully or a hardtail is the better bike. In general, this question depends on the intended use and the budget you want to spend on your bike. We recommend a hardtail for less than 2000 euros. Fullys are the technically superior system, but also come with some disadvantages. They are more expensive, heavier and require more maintenance. So what is really better depends on your personal biking preferences.

Suspension forks and shocks on bicycles can have different suspension elements. High-quality forks and shocks use an air chamber as the suspension element. Inexpensive suspension forks and shocks have steel springs instead of an air chamber to absorb shocks from the ground. There is one exception to this superficial view. There are also high-quality steel spring shocks for Enduro and downhill bikes of the extra class. However, these are rather niche products for competitive sport. On the whole, the following advantages make air suspension the superior suspension in bike sport. Air as a suspension element is always lighter than a steel spring. Air chambers are more versatile and easier to adjust to your own body weight and riding style. In short: A fork and shock with air as a suspension element is simply the better choice for most bikers.

Questions about bike-test.com

No, we don’t sell bikes, but we try to advise you on as many bikes as possible. Our mission is to find the best bike for you in a crowded market.  We then refer you via links to dealers who have bikes on offer. There you can buy your dream bike. We are an independent online platform for bike buying advice, but we do not sell bikes.

We try to collect as many bikes as possible on this platform. In doing so, we take into account all brands known to us. The presence of products on bike-test.com is not subject to a fee. If a brand is not present here, we have simply not yet had the chance to analyse the bikes of this brand. If you are missing a specific bike brand, just send us an email and we will try to put the bikes of this brand online as soon as possible.

This website comes from the heart of Bavaria (Germany). We have our office in Kelheim and run computers and ride our bikes down the trails here every day to give you the best possible advice on your bike purchase. Learn more about us here.

No, we have not physically ridden every bike on this platform, but we have systematically evaluated the product data of each bike in order to make our statements. You can read more about how we evaluate bikes here.