What Mountain Bike do You Need For Your Trails?

What Mountain Bike do You Need For Your Trails?

Are you looking to start mountain biking, or maybe upgrade your existing bike? It's hard to know what type of mountain bike will work best for the trails you ride, but we've got some helpful tips and advice to make sure you choose the perfect bike for your riding style. No matter if you are a beginner rider looking to cruise around local trails or an avid enthusiast aiming for big jumps, proper selection can be daunting. Read on as we take a look at the different kinds of terrain each mountain bike is best suited for and share our top picks.

Identifying and Evaluating Your Trails

As a mountain biking enthusiast, it's always exciting to explore the different terrains and challenges that various trails have to offer. Identifying the type of terrain you typically ride not only helps you gain a better understanding of your own performance, but also ensures you're choosing the right bike, gear and skills needed for your favorite routes. Personally, I love carving through a mix of forested singletracks and rocky, technical descents. These steeper, adrenaline-fueled trails may vary in distance, but they certainly test my limits and push me to continuously improve my riding technique. Understanding the steepness or distance of my preferred trails also helps me plan my rides more efficiently and set realistic goals for my mountain biking journey. Plus, there's nothing more satisfying than knowing you've conquered a challenging incline, leaving you hungry for the next adventure.

Knowing Your Needs

When it comes to choosing the perfect bike for your next adventure, it's essential to consider your specific needs before making a decision. Ask yourself whether you're aiming to tackle steep uphill climbs or thrilling downhill descents during your rides. If ascending to the mountaintop is your main goal, opting for a lightweight bike can significantly impact your performance by enabling you to effortlessly conquer those grueling climbs. On the other hand, if you're all about the adrenaline rush of speeding down rugged terrain, a more heavy-duty bike with exceptional suspension could provide the stability and control you need. So, before you set out to coast through the trails, make sure you've equipped yourself with a bike tailored to your unique preferences, ensuring an all-around enjoyable experience.

Types of Mountain Bikes

Diving into the world of mountain biking can be an exhilarating experience, and it's crucial to understand the different types of mountain bikes that can accompany you on this adventure. Each style of bike is designed with specific terrains and riding styles in mind, ensuring that your ride is smooth and enjoyable as you traverse new trails.

Santa Cruz Blur Carbon 29 - S Kit

Cross-Country (XC)

Cross-Country (XC) Bikes are the ultimate push in how lightweight and efficient a mountain bike can be. If you want to fly past your friends on the climbs, and distance is the name of the game, you'll want to look at the XC bike. These bikes are low in suspension travel, sometimes a hardtail, and high in efficiency. Here you'll find steeper geometry, the lightest frames and components on the market, as well as smoother, less nobby, tires to make getting to the top a breeze. Popular models include the Santa Cruz Blur, Pivot Mach 4 SL, and the Niner RKT9.

Pivot Trail 429 - Pro XT/XTR


Downcountry is a controversial term, as if it means something it isn't. It is a blend between "Downhill" and "Cross-country", but more literally, it is a bike with slacker, more modern geometry that is shorter on travel. You'll find contemporary 12 speed drivetrains, and bigger suspension than the cross country friends in the previous section. For examples of a Downcountry bike, look at the Santa Cruz Tallboy and the Pivot Trail 429.

Ibis Ripmo 29 - XT


Trail/All-Mountain bikes are what you, me, and most riders are in the market for. They fall squarely in the middle of geometry, components, suspension, and market share. But jokes aside, they solve all of the problems that modern riders face with a very "ok" attitude. They will never climb as well as an XC race bike, or descend as burly as a full fledged downhill bike, but for the average rider who is looking to shred the park with their crew and then do a 20-30 mile ride right after, the trail bike is perfect for people who just want to ride bikes. Modern Trail Bikes include the Santa Cruz Hightower, the Pivot Switchblade, Ibis Ripmo, and Norco Sight.

Pivot Firebird V3 29 - Race XT


If you find yourself climbing slightly less often, but you are into a lot of shuttle runs with the boys, you should find yourself looking squarely at enduro bikes. These bikes are meant for the biggest descents and climbing yourself out of it shortly afterwards. They climb worse than trail bikes but will still get you to the top of the hill surprisingly well. Here you will find the culmination of Mountain bike engineering and components, with lower, longer, and slacker geometry, enduro bikes will start to get very cumbersome on the descents. While some companies consider 140mm travel bikes "enduro" bikes, the industry has firmly moved onto 160mm+ travel for the enduro category. Look for bikes such as the Santa Cruz Megatower, Kona Process X, and Pivot Firebird

Santa Cruz V10 Carbon CC 27.5 - DH X01


Lastly, if all you do are park laps or shuttle runs down incredibly steep and technical descents. Otherwise put as: if you have no interest in pedalling the bike up a mountain, the downhill bike is for you. These bikes are the longest, slackest, and lowest of the bunch, meant purely for going down the mountain. They feature special 7 speed drivetrains, dual crown forks, and, most of the time, coil shocks. These bikes are meant only to go downhill and do it very very fast. If you need the absolute most out of descending on a mountain bike. See bikes like the Santa Cruz V10 or the Intense M29.

Most importantly, there is a lot of variation within categories. Some All mountain bikes may have geometry more akin to an enduro bike or XC bike which can affect how the bike will handle, so check out some reviews of the model you're interested in purchasing or give us a call and we're more than happy to help you find your next shred machine.

Test Before You Buy

So, you're on the hunt for the ultimate mountain bike to satisfy your inner adventurer? Well, buckle up, my friend, because the ride to finding your perfect match can be a bumpy one. However, there's a simple solution - test before you buy! Yep! Take a few different mountain bikes for a spin before fully committing. Our shop has a huge demo(rental) fleet and many companies offer demo days for you to try out their best bikes. It may take some extra time and effort, but trust me, it's worth it to find the one that makes your heart race. After all, like any good relationship, it's important to have chemistry with your trusty trail companion. So, start exploring, and you'll find your next steed in no time!

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