The market for mountain bikes has exploded worldwide. In the US alone, they contributed 25 % of the $ 6.1 billion in bikes sales in 2012. That’s a lot of coins. As a biker, you want a combination of speed, strength, control, and flexibility (among others) from a bike while keeping your wallet happy.
With many reviews gushing about expensive varieties on offer, here’s how you wade through the noise to select the best mountain bike under $2000.
Tip #1 Be honest about your skills and the riding you want to do
Mountain biking can be an ego sport in many ways, what sport isn’t? When it comes to buying a bike for your long-term enjoyment, however, I’d suggest you consider the whole picture. The terrain you’ll use your bike on in the next 2 years should qualify your choice. If you will mostly ride flats, for instance, a hardtail is a sensible buy over the more expensive full suspension.
And what about skill? If you want fast, you’ll have to ride fast. Expecting your bike’s features to do it all will suck out the fun of riding when reality sets in. Maybe money can’t buy fun?
Tip #2 Only pay for what you need
Now that your real needs are out in the open, look for a bike to match it. Notable features affecting a bike’s price are the suspension, frame materials, gears, brakes, and wheels.
The frame material determines the weight, strength, and longevity. A brand’s mid-range aluminum model can be as much as $1000 cheaper than its Carbon model. Hilly terrains call for many low gears to power up them. For more aggressive riding with lots of bumps and jumps, a full suspension bike is ideal. The debate is still on about wheel size and performance, I say don’t think too hard about it especially if you are starting out.
It’s alright to build your skill on a lower end model and work your way up to a loaded one.
Tip #3 Don’t decide based on hype
The advertising for mid-range bikes is often not so loud, giving an impression that they’re nothing special. It’s an excellent idea to allow 1 – 2 years cooling-off period after a new bike release from a brand you’ve got your eyes on. By the time you are ready to buy, a new shinier version comes along, and the price of the previous range(s) reduces considerably.
What’s more, during the cooling-off period, customer reviews and user discussions on forums will emerge to separate the performers from the bling. You can also ask riding friends and family whose opinions you trust, about their own experiences.
Tip #4 Buy used
Used bikes are regularly put up for sale at reduced prices on websites like eBay, Craigslist, and bike classifieds. I would advise that you actually know about bikes and to tread with a caution of course. Compare listings of used bikes with their original prices to give you a sense of what previous owners were willing to pay for them. If you are lucky, you can score a high-end bike at an attractive price.
The same used bike model can have different prices depending on heavy use, upgrades, or bike sizes. Be satisfied with the reason. Time of year also matters people are more eager to part with their bikes during winter than in summer.
Tip #5 Walk into a physical store
Another option is to visit a local bike shop and check out bikes on sale, used bikes or Demos. A good store will have expert salespersons who are riders themselves. The wrong kind of store can leave you all shades of confused and starry-eyed after they’ve done their sales voodoo on you.
Don’t forget accessories. Many a beginner has made the mistake of blowing their entire budget on a bike they just had to have. Confirm warranties and ask about price discounts. It’s possible you’ll be sold a bike bundled with some accessories at a price that’ll make you smile.
Tip #6 Build yours from scratch
If you know your brakes from your spokes, like to get your hands dirty, and are a sucker for DIY, you could build your own bike. This way, you are in control of the price, design, and performance outcomes. You can really have fun with such a project as there are many ways to source for quality parts. New, used, or repurposed, you simply mix and match.
Not into bike building? You’ll still need to give some thought to repairs, maintenance, and upgrades. Some parts are expensive to upgrade, others are not. Things like saddles, tires, handlebars are easily replaceable but keep an eagle eye on the other expensive stuff.
Tip #7 Know your brands
For each brand, you’ll find a massive spread of bikes coming in different wheel sizes, frame material types, bike sizes, etc. Because the sizes of bike brands aren’t the same, you shouldn’t make assumptions. Hop on those you fancy when the opportunities present and observe how they fit. Make a note of your size for each brand.
Take as many bikes as you can for demo rides. With a friend’s bike, you could even test it out on various terrains. You could also rent from shops. Discover why you prefer one bike over another by noting how a bike feels when you turn, speed, ascend, or descend slopes and do other maneuvers. Prepare to be blown away by unexpected performances.
Above all, choose a mountain bike that is comfortable and enjoyable to ride. Happy trails!