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FAQ and guide and for the novice, beginner and budget buyer.

supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
edited April 2009 in MTB beginners
Q: How much should I spend on my first bike?
A: For an entry level mountain bike £200 is the minimum you should be looking at. You can get away with less if your riding encompasses very light off roading and mainly paths and lanes, but venturing further afield requires a better level of componentry.

Q: What type of bike do I need?
A: Most bikes below £500 are aimed at XC and light trail riding. Some are more focused on dirt jumping and harder riding, but can be quite heavy. Think carefully about what you want to do and how your budget fits into this.

Q: I really want disc brakes. Are they any better than V brakes?
A: They can be! In the dry V brakes often stop better than cable discs though, while cables have superior wet weather performance. Hydro discs offer great all round performance but may not be needed for all types of riding. Disc brakes can also eat into the budget. Look for disc ready frames and wheels if you want to upgrade in the future.

Q: And suspension?
A: Fewer and fewer MTBs come with rigid forks nowadays which is a shame as they are light, stiff and work well. If spending over £300, look out for hydraulic forks for extra control, otherwise ensure they have preload adjusters. Rear suspension should generally be avoided below £500 as adds weight, complexity and usually perform badly.

Q: What other parts and features should I look out for?
A: Have a look at the following link which sums up the main parts of a mountain bike and lists the features all entry level XC bikes should have:

Q: Where should I buy my bike from?
A: Beginners and novices should see what the local stores have to offer. Not only can you physically try the bikes out for size, but you can chat to the salesman, swap parts, have it built properly, a first free service and you only have a short hop back if things go wrong. Buying online forgoes most of this service which is one reason why they are cheaper.

Q: What size should I get?
A: The one that feels best! Reach is just as important as the seat tube size, but some clearance over the top tube is preferable, more so if riding rougher terrain. Testing models out will give you a feel for this, and be aware sizing standards vary between manufacturers.

Q: Should I buy anything else with my bike?
A: A helmet is essential for off road riding, and like the bike, should be tried in store. You may want to invest in gloves and shorts for comfort, a hydration backpack, some basic tools, a pump, tubes, puncture kit, oils and cleaners and if commuting, lights and lock.

Q: What about SPD pedals?
A: Personal preference. It is best to start on flat pedals, and get used to the bike, then think about changing to SPDs once your technique improves.

Q:How much air should I put in my tyres?
A: The recommended values should be written on the tyre sidewalls, but it depends on your weight too. 30psi is a good starter value: experiment to see what works best for you as often different conditions require differing pressures. Lower pressures can provide more grip while higher ones tend to roll better on firm terrain.

Q: What kit should I take on a ride?
A: There are lots of threads elsewhere on the forum full of ideas! Check the FAQ section too for first aid kit details.

Q: I have been on my first ride! But the bike doesn't feel as good as before and the gears are slipping. Is this normal?
A: Surprisingly, yes! Often after a ride or two the components bed in a little, cables 'stretch' and parts need readjusting. Your free service will sort all this out, but it is a good idea to learn basic maintenance skills and how to do a pre ride check: they don't look after themselves! There are some good books on the market, or take advantage of the workshop guides on the site.

Q: Should I upgrade anything?
A: Tyres are often worth changing to lighter, grippier kevlar beaded versions, but apart from that and maybe altering the contact points for comfort and set up, it is best to wait until parts have worn out. Spend as much as you can to start with to maximise your purchase.

Do check out stickied threads and the FAQ section too!
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