Monday, February 26, 2007

Buying a Mountain Bike????

A lot of people ask me, "hey how do choose a mountain bike?".

I am not an expert, but having ridden road and mountain bike for about 6 month, perhaps I can share what mistakes I had made during this six month so as not to be repeated by other readers.

Frame Size

Mountain Bikes generally comes in various sizes. Normally, the size would relate to the height and other discerning dimensions such as you crotch height and the length of you arm. As a rule of thumb, the following gives guidance to the size of bike u should choose:-

size 14.............................height 5ft 2in to 5ft 5in
size 16.............................height 5ft 5in to 5ft 8in
size 18.............................height 5ft 8in to 5ft 11in

If in doubt, choose the lower size. Normally, with corresponding size, the top tube of the bikes gets longer (The top tube is the horizontal tube connecting the fork of the bike to the seat post). The longer the top tube, the further away the handle is from you. I made a mistake of using a bike that has a long top tube and this is manifested in the handle being easily lifted during hill climbs. I could do better with a shorter top tube.

Another guide is that when u seat on the bike with seat properly adjusted, you should see that the hub is in line with the handle tube when u are to look down (ie the front hub is hidden from view by the handle bar).

Drive Train and Groupset

For beginners and upto the professional, stick to V-brakes, its much easier to service, easier to maintain and is light to use. Its gives u better feel and control. At the end of the day, it is u that determine the ride ability and speed of the bike. Skills and control is the one that gets u through. For normal Mountain biking, a minimum of 8 speed is adequate. If you can afford it, get groupsets of at least 9 speed Deore or its equivalent. The XTR and the likes could be overkill at this juncture because the weight saving and effeciency maybe wasted when one does not have the skills.

Hard Tail or Full Suspension

If budget is of constrain, stick to hard tail bikes. Sometimes, we tend to buy bikes which are overkill. Most of the time, when u ride cross country, u tend to ride off saddle anyway ie your butt is ridden off the saddle, hence u won feel the rutt and bump on your rear wheels anyway. So it is like riding a full suspension bike but at fraction of the cost.
So those are some of the tips that I can share with you on bike choice and decision making process that I went through. Will be touching on experience and tips of riding on a bike soon in next article.


Levin said...

Very well written article! Thanks for the info. I never knew how to choose an appropriate bike size; but it's a bit too late as I already have a bike (bought ages ago and hardly used; probably time to bring it out from the store).

I am curious though about brakes. I've noticed some bikes have disc brakes instead of the traditional ones. How do those fare? Are they any good or are they a waste of money?

The Editor said...

There are two types of Braking System in the market, namely V-Brakes and Disk Brakes System. The Disc Brakes comes in two flavour or control mechanism ie Mechanical (read cable) or Hydraulic (Oil).

Disc Brakes are supposedly more durable especially in the wet, when your tyres are soaked, the rims will tend to get wet and hence the v_brakes may have difficulties in gripping. Disc does not suffer this syndrom and hence more preferred.

Most people prefer hydraulic as it is easier on the fingers and is more grippy, however at the expense of feel. Hydraulic Disc tends to lockup if you brake hard and hence riders cannot feel the loss of traction and do not like it.

Personally having used Mechanical Disk brakes for 6 month, i find that its a good compromise albeit a bit heavy when compared to the v-Brakes. However, I cud live with mechanical v-Brakes tho.