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How to Buy a Mountain Bike

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.

You Will Need

  • A budget
  • Research
  • Test rides

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