MTB: how to choose yours in a maze of possibilities
Remember that your bicycle must be fit for you, not the other way around. In recent years the evolution of mountain biking has created an authentic maze of offerings difficult to deal with, if you don't have enough experience.
In fact there are many ways to face the off-road: from the “soft” way like a Sunday day out with family, up to the “hard” way of the daring acrobats of Downhill. Between them there is a wide range of intermediate levels.
Let's start with the most accessible of all, the Cross Country (abbr. XC) or Marathon: this category includes both Sunday excursions and Gran Fondo competitions. Peculiarity of this category are the wide and speed paths, not very technical except of some occasional passages.
Hence the XC bicycle is not particularly evolved in components terms (shocks absorbers only on the front wheel) but it could be evolved under the profile of performances, in particular about lightness and elasticity of the frame. In recent years companies have worked on material composition above all: carbon is a very light and versatile material but also quite fragile.
For example I would like to mention Bianchi that offers the Methanol model (of extremely high quality) or Torpado model Nearco, or Scott model Scale 900. For those who prefer the aluminum at the expense of a few kilos more (but in exchange for a greater resistance) there are many excellent models by KTM, such as Ultra, released this year. If you have a tight budget but you don't want to give up a quality bike, Rockrider 8 by Decathlon could be the right choice.
But you also may not need a performing vehicle (that anyway rewards in reliability and handling); if your goal is riding long distances for several days with panniers or trailers, you must remain in a low range of bicycles endowed with carrier attachments.
But if you find the Cross Country paths boring, and you desire to front sharp rocks and exciting slopes, it means you are geared towards Enduro or All Mountain. There are many differences between XC mountain bikes and those for other disciplines, especially in the rear shock absorber (full suspended) and in the high resistant frame, usually made with reinforced carbon or top-grade aluminum.
They are quite sophisticated bicycles, which require a specific maintenance after every ride. The German Cube is one of the most innovative brands on the market: on their website you can find a very wide range of models, made both of carbon and aluminum.
The last frontier we are going to explore is the Downhill / Free-ride one; here bicycles are more similar to cross motorbikes without a motor, than the other bicycles. They are disciplines evolved to face the hardest slopes and the most daring and acrobatic jumps on bumps, ramps and wood bulkheads. The spectacular downhill racers often come from other reckless sports such as motocross, skateboarding, trial.
It would be useless to speak in detail about these vehicles: better to adopt a gradual approach before deciding which bicycle to choose, preferably under the advises of experienced friends who will help you. If you want to get an idea, look on the internet for the most famous brands: Commencal, Norco and Devinci just to name a few.
Choosing the right MTB to buy is not easy: start off with testing some of our tracks (you can download the GPS files for free!) and then decide. No hurry... enjoy your biking!