Cycling now seems to be in my blood. I have been cycling pretty seriously for the last seven years. Before this, I considered a major ride to be 10km, whereas now a major ride to me is 100km. This has helped me both physically and mentally and now, in my forties, I consider myself extremely fit compared to when I was in my thirties.
This brings a common question from some of my friends wanting to get into mountain biking for fitness. What sort of bike do I buy? It is not an easy question to answer as there are now so many options compared to when I was a kid. Back then it was a Cyclops or Malvern Star.
I do recommend that, as a starter, you don’t get in too deep. Cycling is not for everyone and going out purchasing a $2000 plus dual suspension 140mm travel mountain bike may put you off if you’re a newbie. I really love some of the marketing photos of “sick air” jumps, wheelies and railing manmade wooden berms, but this requires a lot of experience and skill. There have been a lot of newbies that go out and expect to replicate these moves then come unstuck with an injury.
So with all this in mind, can I please suggest an interim bike? Something costing no more than $1000, being a hardtail variety (hardtail having suspension only on the front). This gives the user a variety of riding options from bike paths to reasonably gnarly singletracks. I don’t recommend big jumps, as the consequence is normally broken bones. Starting off on something like this, getting some experience and finding out what riding style you like, prior to upgrading to the specific riding discipline that you eventually choose. Mountain biking disciplines such as recreational, cross country and downhill will then dictate which bike setup direction you want to go. This could be anywhere from sticking to the $1000 Hardtail riding bike paths and the odd trail to the $13000 full on downhill weapon that is used by the pro’s – the ones we see in all those “sick air” marketing photos.
My suggestions for first-timers:
- Brand: Normally doesn’t matter
- Type: 29er Hardtail Mountain Bike
- Frame: Alloy
- Brakes: Preferably hydraulic
- Gearing: Preferably one chain ring on the front for ease of maintenance, but two chainrings OK
- Components: Sram or Shimano
- Budget: $1000 (AUD)
Mark Brockwell – Masters Mountain Bike Racer, Pushys Sponsored Athlete