The Mountain Biker
American mountain biking got it’s start in the ’70s, when a couple of groups began tinkering and modifying beach cruisers, notably the Schwinn Excelsior, due to it’s frame style. They added gears and modified the handlebars to make “Klunkers”, the precursors to mountain bikes.
Types of Mountain Bike Riding
Mountain biking can be broken down into a number of categories: Cross-country, trail riding, downhill, enduro, freeride, and dirt jumping. The majority of mountain biking can be put into two categories: cross-country and trail riding.
Trail riding varies from relaxed riding on mountain fire roads, to very challenging “singletrack” trails that go down the “fall-line” of the mountain. These singletrack trails are just what the name implies, often only one bike width wide, and sometimes have technical challenges thrown in for good measure! The trails are maintained, and often post skill level required to navigate it.
Doubletrack trails are wide enough for two riders to ride abreast. They are often abandoned logging roads, fire roads, power line roads, etc. They usually have two tracks made by four wheel vehicles.
Dirt Jumping tracks are cropping up in urban parks, and under urban underpasses. These are really popular with kids skateboarders. They feature jumps where you can “get air” and do trick jumps. Bikes for this tend to be smaller BMX style bikes. While not truly mountain biking, it does have it’s place.
Cross Country mountain biking can have both long grueling uphills, and steep downhills. It’s very demanding and some of the rides can be 30 miles or more.
All Mountain or Enduro riding is trail riding taken up a level. It features tough, long uphills, and white knuckle long steep descents. Man made technical are often added, as if it wasn’t hair raising enough already.
Downhill riding is usually done at ski resorts during the warmer months. Not for the faint of heart, you ride over jumps, half pipes, rock gardens, and berms. It’s almost all downhill, but you still get a good workout avoiding obstacles and maneuvering terrain.
Fat Biking is the latest addition to mountain biking. It is a good way for beginners to learn trail riding, because it employs fat
tires, typically 4″ or wider, which is a lot gentler on rough terrain. I’m a little old to take up mountain biking, but if I was going to, I would definitely start this way!
Mountain Bike Suspensions
Rigid This is the original and most common type of mountain bike. It has no suspension, is the cheapest, and the easiest to maintain. The newer fat tire bikes, or “fatties” are also usually of the rigid type.
Hardtail bikes have a front suspension, but no rear suspension. This is a good all around style of mountain bike. The front suspension can be “locked” to make it a rigid bike if desired. As well as a good trail bike, it’s also good for cross county riding, where you want to deliver maximum power to the rear wheel; a rear suspension absorbs some of your pedaling power.
Full suspension bikes have both front and rear suspensions. As a result, they are a little harder to maintain, but do a good job of taking the bumps out of the trail. For some people, this makes for a more enjoyable ride, as it absorbs the impacts, and increases traction. These
bikes are used for downhill, and have more “travel” in the suspensions (up to 8″) to absorb impacts from fast approaching obstacles.
Mountain Bike Wheel Sizes
Up until recently, mountain bike wheels (except for kids) were pretty much standardized to a 26″ wheel diameter. In recent years a 27.5″ wheel was added, and even more recently a 29″ wheel size was added. A 20″ wheel has long been available for smaller children, and now a 24″ wheel size has been added for kids around 10 years old. Or should I say re-added? My very first Schwinn bike had 24″ wheels, but that was many many years ago.
26″ Wheels are still quite popular, being a good all around size. It is both responsive and maneuverable, making it a good fit for a lot of situations.
27.5″ Wheels have been added as an option to help smooth out the bumps. They are still responsive, but not quite as maneuverable as a 26″ wheel. On the other hand, if you hit an unexpected obstacle, recovery from it is easier.
29″ Wheels are size chosen by downhillers. They’re a little harder to get going, but once you do, you can really cover the downhill
terrain quickly. Being the largest diameter, they go over obstacles a lot more smoothly than a 26″ wheel.
Here are a few of each type of the bikes described above. If you buy a bike online to get the best deal, be sure of your size before you buy. If you have one you can actually try out, that would be excellent.
|Rigid Frame - Fat Tire Bike - Diamondback El Oso Uno|
|Rigid Frame - 29er Bike - Motobecane Fantom29 Sport |
|Hardtail Frame - Co-op Cycles DRT2.1 |
Front suspension travel 4.72"
|Hardtail Frame - Raleigh Tokul 2 |
Front suspension travel 4.72"
|Full Suspension Frame - Specialized Women's Stumpjumper Comp Alloy 27.5 |
Front suspension travel 5.9"
|Full Suspension Frame - Cannondale Bad Habit A 4 27.5|
Front Suspension Travel
|Full Suspension Frame - |
Women's Yeti Beti SB5
Mountain Bike Clothing
|Pearl Izumi Canyon Bike Shorts - Men's|
|Wild Rye Free Mountain Bike Shorts - Women's|
|Fox Youth Ranger Cargo Pants - Kid's|
|7mesh Eldorado Bike shirt - Men's|
|Co-op Quarter-Zip Trail Jersey - Women's|
|7mesh Northwoods Bike Jacket - Men's|
|Pearl Izumu MTB Barrier Bike Jacket - Women's|