Mountain Bike Features
3. Frame Materials
The frame influences a bike's weight, strength, longevity, ride quality and price. Aluminum alloy is the most commonly used material for mountain bike frames. Some more-expensive models have lighter aluminum frames as a result of the manufacturer expending more dollars and effort in the selection of materials, tubing design and the manufacturing process. Other frame materials include steel (is tough, inexpensive and offers a smooth ride, but is relatively heavy), titanium (light and strong but too expensive for all but high-end mountain bikes) and carbon fiber (fairly common on cross-country bikes, fat bikes, and high-end trail and all-mountain bikes because of its strength and low weight, but it is relatively expensive).
Mountain bikes are available with everything from a single speed to 30 or more gears. To keep it simple, the most important things to consider are your fitness level and the terrain you are going to ride. If you are going to ride lots of steep hills and you find climbing challenging, then you want to opt for more gears. If you are a strong mountain biker or you only ride flat terrain, you don´t need as many low gears to power up a hill so you can get away with fewer gears, which will also help keep your bike light.
Mountain bikes traditionally come with two or three chain rings to provide a variety of easy gears for climbing. Bikes with one chaining are lighter and simpler because you need only one shifter to move through the gears on the cassette, and they offer most of the gears you’ll need.
Most new mountain bikes use disc brakes. They offer much improved stopping power over rim brakes, because they are located at the center of the wheel. They therefore remain drier and cleaner than wheel rims.
These feature brake pads that grip onto a brake rotor mounted to the wheel hub. Disc brakes come in two versions. The Hydraulic disc brakes offer more progressive and stronger braking with less finger effort, and they self-adjust for brake pad wear. And mechanical brakes need manual adjusting as the pads wear. Disc brakes have superior performance in steep and wet terrains and less finger strain. But it is harder to inspect and replace pads. Hydraulic brakes are more expensive to service.
Rim brakes feature pads that grip onto the wheel rims. They are cheaper and it is easy to observe brake pad wear and replace worn pads. Rim brakes gradually wears out the wheel rim, requiring the wheel to be replaced, these have less stopping power, are less effective in wet or muddy conditions, and requires more finger effort on the levers to brake aggressively.
The critical angles in bicycle geometry are the head angle and the seat tube angle. These angles are measured from the horizontal, and drastically affect the rider position and performance characteristics of the bicycle. Mountain bike geometry will often feature a seat tube angle around 73 degrees, with a head tube angle of anywhere from 60-73 degrees. The intended application of the bike affects its geometry very heavily. Steeper angles are more efficient for pedaling up hills and make for sharper handling. Slacker angles are preferred for high speeds and downhill stability.
Mountain Bike Fit
A properly fitting bike can improve your handling and confidence on the trail to help you tackle more technical and challenging rides. Mountain bikes come in standard sizes (S, M, and L). Sizes generally correspond to your height. If you’re in-between sizes, it’s best to err on the smaller side as more sizing accommodations can be made with a smaller frame than with one that’s too large. Go for a test ride. Ask to ride several bikes. Though they may have similar prices and components, each will feel different to ride.
Mountain bikes are also available in tandem configurations. The tandem bicycle or twin is a form of bicycle designed to be ridden by more than one person. The term tandem refers to the seating arrangement, not the number of riders. A bike with two riders side by side is called a sociable.