We've been seeing a growing interest and curiosity in mountain biking and with a growing trail system in Northeast Ohio, we wanted to talk a little bit about the differences in mountain bikes and those differences ultimately affect the experience of riding off-road. Before we start we would just like to give a quick shout out to the wonderful people at Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) for all the diligent work they've put into making our region a destination for mountain bikers.
Mountain bikes come in a plethora of options which is great, it means the rider wins. However, narrowing down your options can be a bit daunting. Here are some key points we feel everyone purchasing a mountain bike should consider.
If you've done any research you have surely seen bikes with 29" wheels. Over the past 5 years the bike industry has seen a significant shift in the 29'er direction, away from the tried, true and tired 26" wheel*. 29'ers touted better traction with a larger contact patch, the ability to run really low tire pressures and a better angle of approach for obstacles (which is great for our region and terrain). For most hard tails this wheel size became the end all be all, until very recently. Now I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the 27.5" wheel size is new. It's not at all. In fact, the first 27.5" mountain bike I ever saw was in the late 90's (built by a small company out of New York). It might even be said that the 27.5" wheels were being ridden with more frequency then 29'ers up until some of the bigger names brought the 29'ers to the masses. Well, the 27.5" or 650b is back and with a bit of a vengeance. This wheel size acts as the perfect compromise for those who find a 29'er a little un-wielding and 26, well, impossible to find. For 2015, Cannondale started outfitting XS and SM mountain bikes with the 27.5", making for a better handling bike for smaller riders. We've already had a few of these bikes go out and the feedback has been outstanding. Between 29'ers and 27.5'ers we'll have you covered so you get the most from your singletrack experience.
I'm sure you've heard this phrase and pondered its meaning. A hardtail is a mountain bike with no rear suspension. Equipped with only a front shock these bikes are light weight, great for all skill levels and sit at affordable price points for people curious about mountain biking. Many people purchase a hardtail as an everyday bike, giving them the option to ride anywhere they please. No other bike will give you as much freedom.
Equipped with suspension all over the place these bikes are great for riders looking to up their mud game. Full-suspension bikes absorb the terrain better allowing the rider to focus more on a chosen line. For those longer trail rides, FS bikes keep riders fresh by taking the beating trails can often inflict out of the equation.
We love mountain biking at Beat, to our very core. Its how all of us got into cycling. Being in the woods, away from the chaos of everyday life is one of the most therapeutic things you can do for yourself...why not do it on a bike. And so, I leave you with this....
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms."
- Henry David Thoreau
*26" wheels are still relevant today. Sadly, many companies have completely shifted away from this wheel size making it difficult to find higher end products in a 26" platform. We don't condone this action of obsolescence but its a sad reality. If you're rocking a 26'er do so proudly and don't let anybody make you feel bad, they're just jealous of your individuality and dedication.