Whether you plan to take leisurely rides or hit the trails like a daredevil, here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for your mountain bike.
Step 1: Know your purpose Know why you are purchasing the bike to begin with -- to do stunts, explore the woods, or to commute.
Step 2: Determine your price Determine the price range you can afford to help narrow your bike search. Bikes range from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars.
TIP: Bike shops have better knowledge and service than most department stores, even if you are shopping for a low-end bike.
Step 3: Learn the features Research the features and options available and how they meet -- or don’t meet -- your needs. These include the composition of the frame, suspension, brake pads, tires, and gear shifters.
Step 4: Take a ride Take a test ride of any models you are considering to see how they handle. Be sure to hit a few bumps, or ask the dealer if you can take the bike off-road.
Step 5: Check the fit Check the fit of the bike by straddling the frame and checking the distance between the upper tube and your groin. You should have a gap of 2 inches.
Step 6: Mix and match Mix and match components if the store model doesn’t have everything you want. Pay special attention to getting a bike seat that is comfortable and easy to sit on.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to negotiate. You may be able to bring down the price.
Step 7: Buy Buy the bike when the price, fit, and components all meet your needs, and then ride off into the sunset on your new set of wheels.
FACT: The Great Divide mountain bike route covers almost 2,500 miles of trail from Canada to Mexico along the Rocky Mountains and is the longest such trail in the world.