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How to Choose a Mountain Bike

specialized mountain biking woman

In the market for a mountain bike? There are tons of options! At ERIK’S, we sell over 100 different mountain bike models for all types of riders and terrain. So how do you know which mountain bike to choose? Keep reading to find out!

The purpose of this article is give you the five questions you need to answer to help pair down your choices when shopping for a mountain bike. The really fun part come after narrowing down the bikes – test rides! Swing by your local ERIK’S and test ride as many MTBs as you want! Our experts will help you find the perfect ride. No ERIK’S near you, no worries! Give us a call or chat and we’ll help you select the best bike for you.

1. Do you want an acoustic (regular) MTB or an eMTB (electric)?

Now, you might be wondering… why would I need an electric mountain bike? (If you already are an electric bike convert, skip to the next question.) There are many reasons to consider electric. First, they are fun! It is tough not to smile as you are ripping around on an electric bike. Second, electric bikes allow you to go further. They save your legs on the uphill and these bikes ride like an acoustic bike on the downhill. And finally, did we mention they are fun?!?

Still need more info? Check out our Mountain Bike Guide and our Electric Mountain Bike Guide to get all of the details about these two styles of bikes.  Ready to shop? Check out our Electric Mountain Bikes here, or shop all our Mountain Bikes here.

2. What kind of suspension do you need?

The suspension is a key component of any mountain bike. There are 3 suspension styles to choose from:

Rigid Mountain Bikes have no suspension in the frame but often have it elsewhere on the bike – like in the tires. Because Fat Bike tires are so large and can run very low pressure (sometimes as low as 5 PSI), the tires absorb a lot of the bumps in the road. You might think winter riding for these bikes, but they are also great on singletrack and a fun go-anywhere mountain bike.

Hardtail Mountain Bikes have a suspension fork, but no suspension in the rear. By adding front suspension to the bike, you allow it to flow through rougher terrain faster with more control, and make the ride more comfortable.

Full-suspension Mountain Bikes have suspension in the front and rear. The suspension allows the bike to tackle rough terrain with ease, providing more control, speed, and comfort to the rider.

Learn more about these suspension systems on our Mountain Bike Buying Guide.

3. How do you plan to ride?

There are a lot of mountain bike options available, and each model has characteristics that make it best suited for specific terrain and styles of riding.

Do you envision yourself riding relatively flat, gravel trails? Are you planning to mountain bike on hilly singletrack? Do you want to compete in mountain bike races? Do you want a MTB that will let you ride in the snow? There’s a style of mountain bike for each of these!

Our Mountain Bike Buying Guide explores the different MTB types in-depth including trail bikes, fat bikes, all-mountain bikes, downhill bikes and more.

Once you have an idea of which type of mountain bike interests you, you can hone your search online or simply visit your favorite ERIK’S and tell us what you’re looking for.

Check out our Mountain Bike Buying Guide to learn more.

4. What’s your budget?

ERIK’S sells some of the best mountain bike brands in the industry including Specialized and Santa Cruz. Entry-level models start as low as $500 and high-end models can cost over $10,000.

As you can see, there’s quite a range in MTB pricing. Typically, as the bikes go higher in price they get lighter and faster with better components and wheels. On the low price side, frames are usually aluminum. As the price increases, the frames become carbon fiber. (Carbon fiber frames are the standard because they are light, strong and provide a smooth ride.)

If you are brand new to mountain biking, our entry level models will provide what you need to get out there and begin enjoying the sport without a huge upfront investment. As you get more experience you may want to upgrade certain components on your bike and/or get a new mountain bike that caters to the skills you’ve developed.

View all our mountain bikes here.

specialized mountain biker riding

5. What size of bike do you need?

Riding the right sized mountain bike affects comfort, safety, and pedaling efficiency — helping you feel at one with the singletrack!

If you visit us in-store, our expert staff will help you determine which size of mountain bike is appropriate for you. You’ll have a chance to test-ride different types and brands too so you can experience directly which size fits your body best.

If you’re shopping for a mountain bike online, check out our Bicycle Sizing Chart. Using your inseam and height, you’ll be able to figure out which size is ideal for you. Our chart is a general reference and so some brand’s sizes vary slightly. When shopping online, click the “sizing information” link in the left side-bar of the bike product page to see individual brand sizing recommendations. If you have any questions, give us a call or chat and we’ll help you select the right size for you.

Learn more about bike sizing here.

Let’s go ride!

Now you have the essential information you need to begin your mountain bike search! Check out our amazing selection of mountain bikes online here or visit your nearby ERIK’S to take a few styles on a test-ride today!

Once you’re set-up with your new mountain bike, we recommend taking a spin at Carver Lake Park near our Woodbury store or Monarch Singletrack near our Eden Prairie and Minnetonka stores.