I got hooked on mountain biking pretty quickly. I bought myself a cheap hardtail off ebay initially so I could give it a good run before committing to buying something more substantial. It turned out that it didn’t take me long until I had itchy fingers and was trying to rush in and buy something. If only I knew then what I know now, how much time and money I would have saved.

Before you even walk through the door or start looking at the shiny bikes online, you need to figure out what kind of riding you’re going to be doing. And more importantly you need to try and be a bit of a mystic and have an idea of what kind of riding you may be doing in the future.

The last thing you want, like me, is to buy a bike that’s not going to be fit for purpose in 6-12 months.

These guys do a pretty good job at mapping out the different disciplines: http://www.ibikeride.com/beginners-mtb/1505-the-different-mountain-biking-disciplines-and-bikes-explained

Once you know where you’re going you’ll have a better idea on how to answer some pretty key questions.

How much do I want to spend on a mountain bike?

Put some serious thought here, you can get a good hardtail for around £600 but if you’re looking at a full sus, which you probably are, you should be looking at £1200 as a starting point. I made the mistake of going cheap and bought a Giant Trance X4 for £1000 (on sale). It’s taken me about 3 years and about another £1000 to upgrade it to suite my riding.

Think about what components are on the bike, if it has Avid brakes just walk away but that’s for another time. You want to ensure the bike you choose has the component quality to handle the intensity of the riding you’re doing.

The pricing levels look something like this.

Hardtails: £500 – £1000

Budget: £1000 – £1500

Midrange: £1500 – £2000

Upper-mid: £2000 – £2500

Upper: £2500+

Time to choose a mountain bike

Finally the day has arrived, time to buy your mountain bike. You need to spend as much time as needed trying out some bikes. The best way is to check with the manufacturers/stores on demo days so you can try out the bikes on actual trails rather than just sitting on a bike in a store and going “hmm yeah it feels pretty good”.

Once you’re certain on which bike you want think about these before you buy:

  1. Have you shopped around and checked the prices online. You may even want to wait until the next sale season kicks off.
  2. Have you considered an older model? Usually a model 1 year older is pretty much the same with slightly different/older components.
  3. You may be looking to buy second hand, nothing wrong with that just make sure the bike has been well looked after. Check all the components for damage especially the frame.

That said you should be good to go. Comment below on what your first bike was, include a pic if you can.