/ Recommend me a Mountain Bike
I still ride an Orange P7 probably about 1997 vintage so I'm not exactly au fait with modern bikes. I've just bought a house near to decent forest trails so thought I'd modernise and buy something more up to date.
What I'd like to know is, what are the advantages of 29 inch wheels?
Is it worth getting full sus or just front? My Orange has no suspension at all.
Any advantage to Carbon or Aluminium?
I'm going to be riding mostly forest fire roads and gravel type paths, 2 hour plus rides and very little single track or technical stuff.
Thanks in anticipation.
You don't say a budget, but I'll just put my preference down taking into account what you said you'd be riding.
Hardtail 29er with a carbon frame.
Difficult to say spec level without knowing budget .
> What I'd like to know is, what are the advantages of 29 inch wheels?
Faster/require less energy once they get going but more to accelerate. Rolls over obstacles more easily.
> Is it worth getting full sus or just front? My Orange has no suspension at all.
Depends what you're riding.
> I'm going to be riding mostly forest fire roads and gravel type paths, 2 hour plus rides and very little single track or technical stuff.
Probably no real advantage to full suss then, adds weight and cost.
> Any advantage to Carbon or Aluminium?
Carbon is lighter, for wusses. Aluminium is cheaper and makes you strong ;)
Sorry, say £5k max.
I had a Scott scale 930 that sadly got nicked - I'll eventually buy another, or similar - Cube reaction, or Canyon. It really was a delight to ride compared to the steel and Al hard tails I'd owned before. Modern geometry, 2x or 1x are big improvements.
Sounds like a modern MTB would have you over-biked for almost everything you're riding. If P7s were still made using Tange Prestige steel tubing in '97 I can only see a modern MTB feeling clunky and heavy in comparison. If you want to splurge some cash I'd suggest looking at a gravel bike that can take 40mm+ tyres.
Don't understand 2x and 1x sorry, I was looking at some yesterday and a lot had single chain rings is that 1x?
Would a single chain ring have the gear range to cover decent distances?
Nah some of the stuff I'll be using it on would be at the extremes for a gravel bike. Because of my crap bike handling I'd prefer a bit more margin.
Aren't you, or weren't you, a really serious road racer?
For what you are saying how about a gravel or CX bike rather than a full on mountain bike?
Riding real trails is very good fun though, so even if you think you aren't going to do that, you might end up doing it just because it's quite addictive! Just to confuse things, consider 650b+ (27.5 inch plus) as an alternative to 29 inch.
Fair enough. Then for £5k you could get a beautiful steel hardtail 29er. Shand or Swarf. If you're more swayed by carbon someone else would be better placed to advise.
Yeah, had a few years riding abroad in the 80's, way past it now but do 6-7k on the roads every year. I had a day off road over the weekend for the first time in god knows how many years, it felt like I'd done 6 hours road work in 2 hours on the MTB.
Far too many wheel sizes in this MTB lark. I'm pretty much decided on an MTB, I want something very different to my road bikes, I've asked here because I'm fed up getting patronised in bike shops where they have no idea what they're talking about.
Steel sounds good, I ride a carbon road bike but I treat myself to a day out on my old Cougar occasionally, it's still probably my favourite bike.
I'll look up your suggestions thanks.
I bought a mountain bike two summers ago. I particularly like bikepacking on it (camping but no racks and panniers see https://goo.gl/photos/in4SLYS8Hw23dKwD7 ) so got a bike with that in mind - mine has 650b+ tyres but no suspension. The tyres sort of work like some suspension (tubeless so low pressures) and I got decent components and wheels for well under a grand in part because it doesn't have suspension. I've added a dropper seatpost and just that makes it much better for technical rocky descents.
But I sometimes wonder if I could have had even more fun with some more suspension. I really like the look of Alpkit's bike brand Sonder. If the Transmitter had come out a few months earlier I suspect I would have ended up with one of them. But they are trail bikes, for rocky, twisty stuff, of course you can ride them on gravel roads but that's not what they are primarily designed for.
A fully rigid like mine might be better in that regard but it is still great fun on trails.
My understanding is geometry has changed a lot in recent years, with everyone going 'slacker' making most bike better on more technical ground.
For fire roads and gravel paths a burly mountain bike is surely overkill? You'd get a lot more flexibility if you bought a gravel bike, especially if it can also be fitted with mudguards for winter riding.
https://www.stantonbikes.com/product/sherpa-ti-elite-complete-2/ (although I would get the steel)
1X 12 speed will give you all the range you need. You can swap the chain rings easily for varying the gearing. No faffing at those down/up transitions from the big ring to the little ring. Much better for mtn bikes.
https://www.cotic.co.uk/product/solarisMAX another steel is real offering. Run it on some fast tyres like Aspens and it will fly through the woods and be more comfortable over the roots than a gravel bike. Either of the two bikes above will get you down as technical as you want to go but still be comfortable for cruising those flatter through the woods trails.
>I'm going to be riding mostly forest fire roads and gravel type paths, 2 hour plus rides and very little single track or technical stuff
That'll will soon get very boring and you will start to eye up more challenging stuff, its the MTB way of things.
I got myself an Orange Clockwork evo pro last year, really pleased with it and it is quite happy on technical singletrack, I did look at the sonder but was constrained by insurance (bike was an insurance replacement) the other option was a Santa Cruz chameleon, this has options on wheel size
good luck and always overbike yourself when your getting back to MTB as you will get sucked in
Why Steel ? I'm quite tempted to go for a Cotic Solaris, but I associate steel bikes with being heavy and rust-prone, and since I crash too often to go for Carbon I tend to stick with Aluminium
To the OP - A 29er hardtail is a very versatile bike, and certainly seems to meet your requirements
> but I associate steel bikes with being heavy and rust-prone, and since I crash too often to go for Carbon I tend to stick with Aluminium
Blimey, both of your views of Steel and Carbon are a bit out of date Chris!
Think carbon is weak? :
The now famous concrete corner test is 5.00 at if you can be bothered to watch it all.
Fair enough, but I get worried that even putting a frame in a workstand will put pressure in the wrong place and damage it. Maybe that's just road bikes
That's just road bikes. I put carbon MTB frames in soft bags and let airlines do their worst.
A good steel frame just has a nice feel about it. A decent carbon frame will probably outperform it but we aren't talking about racing or smashing descents.
As for 29ers, Joe Breeze (original mtber from San Francisco, repack racer) gave a good idea or why they work well. For any given bottom bracket height, the drop from the axel of a 29er is greater than from a 27.5 or 26. This adds stability. Think how stable you are in a hammock which is hung low to one which is strung high and tight.
The problem is that the 29er 'effect' that many people feel when they upgrade from an older (650 or 26") bike has a lot to do with current geometry of long, slack & low, which all make the bike just ride better, irrespective of 650B or 29er.
Unless you are lucky to ride a lot of new bikes each year I would imagine it is almost impossible to tell what is going on that makes a bike good or bad. Having good technique i.e. driving through the pedals will also make a lower BB more obvious than someone who just clings on. Having said all that 29ers are nearly always a bit faster than smaller wheeled bikes except when it comes to super tech descents where maneuverability comes in to play.
How about swapping out just the frame from a 2014 L to current 2018 XL of same bike model, all other components the same - that's a good test I've recently done. Hence my comment of it being a lot to do with current gen geometry and improved suspension design/layout making things better, not necessarily changing wheel size.
26" wheels are now only for those with an inside leg less than 26" fat bikes with 4" wide tyres
650B/27.5" is standard for normal bikes
29" is for cross countryracers and anyone else with an inside leg bigger than 29"
Suspension isn't just a talent compensator, it greatly reduces vibration and fatigue, which if you ride on washboard fire roads could be welcome.
Carbon is an amazing material but ethically questionable on environmental and health and safety grounds for the people making it.
Carbon fibre handlebars are brilliant for reducing trail buzz and saving the nerves in your hands
Carbon fibre seatposts are to be avoided unless you fancy being impaled in your femoral artery when it snaps.
Make sure you get tubeless tyres fitted, they are brilliant, you may never have to fix a puncture again
Everyone seems to be recommending hardtails so I'll recommend this and tell you to go ride singletrack and technical trails ;)
Thanks, this is exactly why I'm favouring a mountain bike, I'd rather be over equipped than needing to upgrade after a year.
Thanks Jon, excellent post.
I've had steel bikes - if I was spending big money on a bike now I'd get carbon instead. For what the op describes it might not be fashionable but a 29 cc bike would be awesome
Which country /region you in ?
Spend £1k on any decent bike. Spend £4k on biking or climbing trips. Unless you are already mega fit, chasing a few seconds off your time on technical trails you won't feel the extra £4k at all.
It'll be north Wales, near betws y coed mostly
For £5k you want a car!
Keep the bike you have now and use the money that you've saved for other things.
You'll see far too many people on very expensive bikes which they never get the full use from.
You'll have just as much fun, if not more, on your old bike and you'll improve your skill levels riding a non suspension bike.
All of the trails near you are rideable on the bike you have now, except maybe the downhill at Festiniog.
If you must have a new bike go to decathlon and buy one of their mid range bikes.
29 inch wheels are ok for tall people but not shorties.
26 inch wheels are fine.
One benefit of keeping your old bike is that you will find parts for it are cheap as everyone is chasing the latest fad - a bit like climbing.
Plus nobody will steal your old bike.
Enjoy your cycling.
Always good sport passing people going uphill on expensive bikes, or having to give them a minute twos head start on a downhill section.
Glentress seemed to be classic place for this, £4k bikes coming off the back of £50k cars...
I presume that buying over the top gear is applicable to most sports and I have to admit to having to fight the urge to splash the cash every time I'm in a climbing shop!
> I presume that buying over the top gear is applicable to most sports and I have to admit to having to fight the urge to splash the cash every time I'm in a climbing shop!
of course. With the exception of axes, it is pretty hard to buy something that is perhaps over doing it. An expensive cam will potentially save your life on a VS or an E6, or a waterproof will work regardless as the mountaineering elite don't get rained on more than anyone else.
But if you look on at cycling, especially road the willingness for people to spend thousands for relatively marginal gains is staggering.
> 1X 12 speed will give you all the range you need. You can swap the chain rings easily for varying the gearing. No faffing at those down/up transitions from the big ring to the little ring. Much better for mtn bikes.
Let's just review that... 1x12 will give you all the range you need as long as you're happy to remove the chainring and replace it whenever you need a higher or lower gear range.
Removing and replacing the chainring is easily done and better than faffing around using a derrailler to change gear like what you would with a 2x or 3 x
Love that. Why not make it Biopace at the same time and fit a U Brake
I tried a Santa Cruz Chameleon hardtail with plus tyres, before eventually buying a last-years-model Whyte T130s ( I found the Chameleon a bit short for my tastes ) However the plus tyres were awesome, floating over stuff that would have had my ‘95 rigid Kona trying to kill me. Worth a look at around 2k and very adaptable for adventure biking.
And as an old person I find the 1x 11 gears fully adequate, at most you’re missing the granniest of granny gears and usually by that time I’m off and pushing anyway!
I wouldn't listen to peeps like Baron, one of these always turns up on threads like this and its not helpful.
Mooncat - you sound like a very capable person.
If you're in N Wales, with all that riding on your doorstep all year round, get a decent mid to long travel full suss and go out and have some fun away from forest double tracks.
You'll love it and grow into it.
1x systems can (with the right cassette) give you all the range you need.
The comments about changing front ring is not out on a ride (did you actually think that!). You can easily tweak your set up (in a workshop, doh) if you find your chosen 28-30-32-34 too easy/hard etc. I've settled on 32t on a 11 speed 9-46. And I even have an oval front ring, lol.
Many bikes don't even come with ability to use 2x or 3x systems. This has allowed bike companies to have more freedom to make rear suspension work even better as the front der. doesn't restrict rear layout/design.
I've tried 27.5" and 29"wheels and can't really discern any difference. Might be just me. I was hopeful that 29" might roll better over the bumps and be a bit faster but not that I could notice.
I prefer full suspension. Saves your backside and makes for a more relaxing trip. If your only on fire roads then a dropper post might be a waste but more and more bikes come with them these days.
Stick with one chainring. The spread of gears is fantastic and you don't get confused about changing from one ring to another. SRAM are probably the best for the spread of gears (Eagle) but Shimano aren't far behind. You can usually easily change the front ring to make it easier on the flat.
I prefer a carbon frame and carbon bars. The lighter the better.
If you're not going crazy for the full offroad madness then think of the tyres you might use. The trend these days is for wider rims with wider tyres but that just slows you down unless it gets rough and rowdy. 2.3 or even 2.2 might suffice. Definitely tubeless.
If you're an ex roady and do your own mechanics then it might be worth looking at something like Canyon. Delivered to your door but no local bike shops.
Loads of good posts and interesting perspectives on this thread.
I take it this is just for blasting about, not a commute, or general fitness. If it is, my apologies. But if you're wanting to get into MTB, as already mentioned many people soon feel the urge to upgrade or expand the stable.
There are so many great suggestions on this thread, all of them pretty cool, even the keeping the old bike idea will work really well for one type of rider.
I think you need seat time. I'd point out there are loads and loads of great local bike shops that can put the time and effort in to help you choose something that works. You could make a shortlist of different bikes based on the thread (say bespoke steel HT, ultra-light CF x-country machine, 160/160 enduro ripper) and try a couple of each.
With a £5k budget, lots of shops will be 'willing' to help you, and demonstrator models are sometimes available. You could even invest in a hire of models similar to those you like most, and get some time in at a bike park or trail centre; perhaps combine that with some MTB instruction if you're really new to the sport, to help you decide what kinds of riding you like most.
Another small point to note is we have some awesome frame builders and manufacturers here in the UK, the output of the likes of Pace and Starling Cycles really is world class, and they can do complete bikes with a custom frame build, within your kind of budget.
From my own preferences coming back to MTB after a long break, I've noted the following as being game-changing for me:
- 27.5" wheels feel like a great compromise between the nimbleness of 26 and the rollability of 29.
- 150mm+ suspension forks can climb really well, even with bike geometry that favours descent.
- Tubeless tyres are great.
- 1x11 chainsets can provide a decent gear range for trail centre type trails, but I have struggled a bit going up REALLY steep stuff. (Someone mentioned something about you being a serious roadie, if so then 1x11 is all you'll need anywhere!)
- Modern flat pedals coupled with the likes of 5:10 bike shoes are a revelation.
- I now consider a dropper seat post as essential.
Final, most important for me was this. a little while back I bought a brilliant full-sus bike. It cost about £3000. I was constantly scared to break it, despite the maker having a bomb-proof rep. The anxiety got too much, that coupled with the fact my riding partner got left a long way behind on her HT... I sold the full-susser, bought a second-hand alu hardtail with modern geo, big-travel fork, dropper post and flats, and I ride the shit out of it.
I'm not quick, but I have a lot of fun and the worry about big bills is no longer there.
> 1x systems can (with the right cassette) give you all the range you need.
I seem to remember you saying you rarely do more than 15 miles on a ride. Which I guess means you mostly just do the hardcore stuff and very little riding on roads or easy ground. And part of the appeal of a hard tail is that you can cover some distance
> Many bikes don't even come with ability to use 2x or 3x systems. This has allowed bike companies to have more freedom to make rear suspension work even better as the front der. doesn't restrict rear layout/design.
Very valid point on a full suss. But less so on a hard tail. And I still don’t understand how a 1x system costs around 50% more than an 2x system. Which makes me think that the price will drop in a year or two. That said I do see the appeal of the simplicity of 1x and the 500% range of SRAM Eagle is pretty impressive
I’m sorry if advising someone to not spend five thousand pounds on a mountain bike which they don’t need is bad advice.
2k on a full suspension
1k on a hardtail
1.5k on a gravel bike
500 on essential upgrades
Doesn't matter what you buy, you'll want something different / better soon enough
Buying one more bike is getting me in enough trouble thanks.
I bought a mtb with 29" wheels and I'm not sure I would again. I find it incredibly unwieldy at low speeds (like going up steep hills) as with the front wheel turned left and right your feet hit it when pedalling. Instant decking.
I might just need to get better at handling the bike, but I suspect it's just a limitation of the set up. It's fantastic on the south downs though, rolls over anything.
If all I'd ridden was XC 29ers from a decade ago I'd never ride one again
If all I'd ridden was Enduro 29ers from today I'd never ride anything else
Wheel size is a tiny fraction of many that make up how it'll feel.
My five foot three wife has a 29er and it's her favourite bike despite Internet wisdom saying she's too short. My favourite mountain bike is a steel hardtail that has zero steel is real feel and weighs significantly more than my full suspension.
If you want to know what bike to buy you have to try some and know what you're after.
> If you want to know what bike to buy you have to try some and know what you're after.
Yes exactly. Seat time is required!
Thanks for all of the replies, lots of useful stuff to ponder. I've got a couple of test rides sorted for next week trying out some very different bikes and genuinely no idea what I'll end up with.
Ask them to give you a good set of pedals to try (if no one has mentioned it) and try some mtb specific shoes. The difference is like going from walking boots to rock shoes on a VS.
All sorted for shoes and pedals thanks.
Totally agree. If you are already a competent rider then gei a mid travel full-sus (Santa Cruz 5010) and you can tackle anything. It won't be overkill anywhere. It might be harder to pedal up fire-roads than a super light carbon hard tail but who cares?
1 x drive trains rock and so do droppers and ignore anyone who attempts to tell you otherwise.
Have fun testing!
Just be aware that front (and rear suspension if you are going that route) do need to be set up initially in the right ball park for your weight and then its down to preference on how you want it to feel for the way you ride. So make sure you push the bike shop to sort it as it can make or break a test ride.
I'm guessing you are over 40 so a more comfortable full sus would allow you to access some of the awesome terrain you have on your door step. (they are talent compensaters compared to hard tails!) Up to 150mm of travel will be fine and still ride reasonably on forest trails. I would keep your old rigid bike for the easier forest trails, it will be more fun!
Update, thanks for all the help and suggestions.
I've had loads of test rides, 2 stood out, the Whyte T130 SR and the Santa Cruz 5010 RS. I was recommended 29 inch wheels because I'm a lanky streak of piss but they felt a bit cumbersome on all of my test rides so I've got 27.5.
Anyway, I bought both of the favourites, I've got a gaff in France near the Cevenne, so the Santa Cruz, feeling a bit quicker steering is going to live there and the Whyte will be my comfortable mile muncher for home.
For forest roads you don't need to spend the extra on full suspension. Get an aluminium cross country hardtail. £700 will get you a good new one, £400 will get a good 2nd hand one. Bigger wheels are for longer distances IMO.
Both bikes with great reputations. If Whyte did a "frame only" option, I'd take one in a second.
I've bought them now thanks anyway.
You'll have loads of fun on them!!!
Great stuff. Enjoy!
Good decision. Can't go wrong with any of them.
So how's it going with your new bikes?
You on Strava? Be cool to follow your transition from the Dark Side to the Fun Side ;-)
> For forest roads you don't need to spend the extra on full suspension. Get an aluminium cross country hardtail. £700 will get you a good new one, £400 will get a good 2nd hand one.
is the voodoo bizango 1x11 good enough at £520?
Only been on the Whyte so far, had a 15 mile ride on the trails round Brenig so nothing too testing but it felt great. I'm off to France in a few weeks so the Santa Cruz will be off to it's new home then, some of the trails round the Cevenne look perfect for the type of stuff I like.
I'm not on strava sorry although I've finally embraced the 21st century and got a fitbit versa so that might change.
As you are an (ex) road racer (from previous posts) ... ignore if not interested!
Looks like the Versa doesn't have Ant+ so can't broadcast heart rate to phone if you were to use Strava anyway.
Shame, as Strava can build an interesting Fitness Trend (better with StravistiX plugin on a browser).
However, with the StravistiX plugin on a browser, you can now build an estimated fitness trend without HR data (also useful if you forget to turn on HR etc).
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