Its all about the bike

 

Bikes today are a far cry from their humble beginning when the likes of Gary Fisher throw wide bars and knobbly tyres onto their cruisers and hit the hills. They now come in all shapes and sizes, made from a wide range of materials and designed to do just about anything possible on a bike.

So you want to get a bike. The first thing you must decide is what kind of riding you will be doing? There are many different kinds of bikes on the market that are suited for specific types of riding. Choosing the right bike for your passion is the first major obstacle.

 

 

Types of Mountain Bike

 

All-terrain, trail bikes, XC, Enduro, Race bikes, Touring bikes, Singlespeed, Free-ride, 4X bikes, Dirt-jumping bikes - street riding bikes, Downhill, Extreme riding bikes

 

Choose the type of bike that is suitable for your riding style. Ask yourself these questions:

 

How much money do you want to spend?

How often are you likely to use it?

What do you want to do with your bike?

How fit are you?

 

It helps if you have some idea of the kind of bikes out-there on the market that is suitable for your style of riding. Most shops are insightful, helpful and can usually fit you up with a bike that will suit your needs, and will be within your budget (maybe!)

 

You should also check out biking websites to get the latest lo-down on the newest products available and reviews from other riders.

MTBR.com is a good starting point.

 

 

 

Bike classification

There are three basic bike designs on the market today hardtails and full suspension, but within these two categories there are many different designs of bikes that are built for a specific job.

 

Hardtails
A bike that has a rigid frame, usually it will have front suspension (80mm-100mm) for comfort and handling. But not always some riders forego the comfort of suspension and install a rigid front fork, these bilks are hardcore stuff and only for experts and the insane. Hardtails also make an ideal bike for touring

 

Softails
These specialist bikes are generally reserved for cross-country, a small shock or elastimer, usually no more than 1 or 1.5 inches in travel soak up a some of the bumps. This is not a suspension bike as the bike relies on the natural flex of the rear stays instead of pivots and linkagesand rides very much like a hardtail.

 

Full suspension
As the name suggests the dual or Full suspension bike is a bike that by means of pivots, linkages and shocks provide front and rear movement. As technology in suspension improves this kind of bike is rapidly becoming the bike of choice for many riders whether it’s a light-weight racer or a full on downhill rig.

 

 

Choosing a bike for your riding style

As we have said before choosing the right bike for your riding style is key, consider what you want to do and buy the appropriate bike for you

 

Cross country (XC)
The cross-country bike is generally built to be light and fast, built up with top end lightweight gear it is not uncommon to get these bikes under or around the 20lb mark. For many years the hardtail was king. But with recent development in full suspension bikes the hardtail has lost its crown. These bikes have a small amount of suspension somewhere in the region of 3-4 inches of travel, enough to soak up the harshest of hits. Great for some of the shorter rides in Hong Kong but the longer and harsher rides will have you wanting a plusher ride.

 

All Mountain
The all mountain bike is rapidly becoming the bike of choice for many riders. With up to 6 inches of travel these bikes are designed to climb and descend gnarly trails with ease. Built slightly heavier than its cross-country relative the all mountain bike will take anything that is thrown at it. New designs in suspension systems now allow the rider to alter the amount of travel while on the trail, by locking out or dropping the amount of travel to the shocks the bike effectively becomes a cross-country bike making climbing easier. However because most bikes being over built weight can become a bit of a factor, it is not uncommon for a bike to weigh 30lb+. Weight aside this is ideal bike for some of Hong Kong rougher trails.

 

Freeride
With up to 8 inches of suspension these bombproof bikes are designed to be ridden hard, they soak up the hugest of drops with their plush suspension. Weighing in at 35lb+ these bikes are designed for going down and over just about anything, climbing on the other hand is a different issue, their slacker head angle (great when pointing downhill) and the soft suspension makes getting back to the top a real grind.

This is a great bike for those who intend to do some serious downhilling, but with only a few trails in Hong Kong where this bike can be rode to its full potential you’ll be left panting at the back over the long contour trails.

 

Downhill
The big daddy of them all, with up to 10 inches of travel and weighing around 40-45lb these behemoths have only one purpose, to hurtle you down the side of a mountain at break neck speed. The soft suspension soaks up all but the harshest of hits, the slacker head angle and wider bars allows the rider to place his centre of gravity further back so that he has more control. Built up with huge tractor like tyres of up to 2.5 inches in size for traction and 10 inch disc brakes for precision breaking these bikes are only for the serious. To be honest there is little to no need for a downhill rig in Hong Kong; even the toughest of trails can be handled by any of the above bikes. Unless of course you are riding competitively where every second counts.

 

 

And then….

… Their are those bikes for the sick and deranged, the singlespeed, the fully rigid and the tandam! But the less said about them the better, for the moment at least!