How To Choose: Mountain Bike

There are plenty of options when it comes to choosing a mountain bike, each part can be carefully selected to complement the rest.  To make it a little easier, here’s some information to consider before you lock in your decision, with tips organised based on how you might expect to use your bike. This goes on quite long so use these links to navigate to the topic relevant to you.


Recreational Mountain Biking

The recreational Mountain Bike is designed for occasional riders who like to go off-road from time to time to ride on winding paths.

Rigid or suspended fork?

There are a few reasons why a rigid fork might be better than a suspended fork. First, a rigid bike is more efficient on roads and hard, flat ground, as there is no power lost from compressing the fork when pedalling. Secondly, a rigid fork is cheaper.

However, a suspended fork has many benefits on rough paths like undergrowth, trails, or pavements. The suspended fork will provide you with greater comfort while riding as it will absorb the roughness of the roads and paths. A fork with a maximum compression (or ‘travel’) of between 80 and 120 mm is a good compromise between efficiency, weight and cost, allowing you to ride the Mountain Bike almost everywhere you want.

Rigid or suspension frame?

A rigid frame is enough for mountain biking on almost all paths and trails, but a suspension frame with a damper will give you a more comfortable ride downhill or on rougher paths.

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An all-suspension frame does have its drawbacks, such as power loss when pedalling and weight. It is more expensive. Its manoeuvrability and comfort at high speeds or on technical paths, however, are big advantages.

When making your choice, consider which type of paths and trails you usually ride on, and which types you wish to ride on in the future. A rigid frame will be perfect for most paths and mountain bike trails, while a suspension frame will suit you if you ride mostly on rough terrain (scree, roots, small jumps, quick downhills, etc…).

Which wheels and tyres?

The standard wheel size is 26 inches for adults. These wheels are large enough for any terrain, but small enough for you to maintain manoeuvrability and turn easily. Tyres are defined by their diameter and width, written DxW. (For example, 26×1.9 means the tyre’s diameter is 26 inches and its width is 1.9 inches.) The average tyre’s width is 2.0, which is relatively wide, allowing good grip on any terrain.

Sport Mountain Biking

Sport Mountain Bikes are designed for anybody who likes riding MTBs regularly. These MTBs are efficient and reliable, perfect for combining pleasure and sport, on any terrain, from countryside to mountain. If you want a sport MBT, you will find the perfect one for you here.

Rigid or suspension frame?

A rigid frame is enough for mountain biking on almost all paths and trails, but a suspension frame with a damper will give you a more comfortable ride downhill or on rougher paths. An all-suspension frame does have its drawbacks, such as power loss when pedalling and weight. It is more expensive. Its manoeuvrability and comfort at high speeds or on technical paths, however, are big advantages.

When making your choice, consider which type of paths and trails you usually ride on, and which types you wish to ride on in the future. A rigid frame will be perfect for most paths and mountain bike trails, while a suspension frame will suit you if you ride mostly on rough terrain (scree, roots, small jumps, quick downhills, etc…).

Disc brake or v-brake?

Most sports Mountain Bikes come with a built-in V-brake. If well fitted, these are as efficient as a disc brake. They are also cheaper and don’t need to be coupled with specific wheels and frames.

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Disc brakes are more powerful and provide a better progressivity (the more you press the brake, the more the bike slows down, allowing the rider to brake more or less according to the circumstances). These brakes are recommended for fast, long rides with powerful brake applications, such as riding downhill or in the mountains).

Which wheels and tyres?

The standard wheel size is 26 inches for adults. These wheels are large enough for any terrain, but small enough for you to maintain manoeuvrability and turn easily. Tyres are defined by their diameter and width, written DxW. (For example, 26×1.9 means the tyre’s diameter is 26 inches and its width is 1.9 inches.) The average tyre’s width is 2.0, which is relatively wide, allowing good grip on any terrain.

Performance Mountain Biking

Our light, efficient, performance mountain bikes are designed for cyclists whose Mountain Bikes are more than just a mode of transport, Their geometric designs are built specially for your needs, with high-range devices for more settings, precision and comfort.

Brakes for performance MTBs

Performance Mountain Bikes are built with disc brakes. These more powerful, hydraulic brakes have a better progressivity than V-brakes (the more you press the brake, the more the bike slows down, allowing the rider to brake more or less according to the circumstances).

Other devices

Some performance MBTs are built with tubeless tyres. These reduce the risk of punctures as they have no inner tube: the tyre and the rim are a single airtight unit. Tubeless tyres are still rare in the bike world generally, but are already popular in cross-country cycling.

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Drivetrain

It is also a key part. These MTBs have a lot of gears (usually 27), giving you a wide choice of gear ratios and allowing you to ride everywhere you want with ease. Most of the Mountain Bikes have automatic pedals. These pedals can be attached to MTB shoes, giving better output and a more efficient pedalling. Compatible shoes are essential.

Rigid or suspension frame?

Will a suspension frame (with a damper) be a clear advantage compared to a rigid frame? There is unfortunately no clear answer to this question. It all depends on your usage, your speed and the type of terrain you ride on.

A rigid frame will be lighter, cheaper and more efficient on flat terrain, as all the energy put on the pedals will be transmitted to the bike.

The all-suspension frame is heavier and more expensive, but provides a greater comfort and manoeuvrability on rough terrain and at high speeds. The pumping effect is the main disadvantage of a suspension frame. This means that when you are pedalling, part of the power you put into the pedals is lost in the compression of the damper. This means pedalling is less efficient on a suspension frame.

To fight against this effect, B’Twin designed an anti-pumping system, the NEUF system. When riding downhill, your weight will mainly be on the rear of the bike, so the damper will work perfectly to be as efficient as possible while providing maximum comfort. When riding uphill or on level ground, your body weight will then be on the front of the bike: the damper will be compressed only when major shocks occur, and you won’t lose power when pedalling.

When making your choice, consider which type of paths and trails you usually ride on, and which types you wish to ride on in the future. A rigid frame will be perfect for most paths and Mountain Bike trails, while a suspension frame will suit you if you ride mostly on rough terrain (scree, roots, small jumps, quick downhills, etc…).

Which wheels and tyres?

The maximum compression on the fork (or ‘travel’) of a performance MTB is usually between 80 and 130 mm. 100 mm is the most usual travel on this type of bike. It is big enough to provide comfort on most terrains, but small enough to maintain maximum efficiency.

On some all-suspension MTBs, a bigger travel is used (e.g. 120 to 130 mm) to provide even more comfort on really rough terrain. These forks can be lockable from the handlebar thanks to a knob: this blocks the suspended fork, making it a rigid fork. This can be useful on massive uphills or for maximum efficiency on very flat terrain such as roads.

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Freeride and Enduro Mountainbiking

The alternative cycling disciplines of freeride and downhill are as spectacular as they are dangerous. They take place on steep slopes, usually in the mountains, and require full-face, motocross-style helmets type motocross as well as many other protective items (for the back, knees, elbows, etc…). Choosing the right mountain bike is just as important.

Downhill takes place on very steep and rough slopes, usually short (rarely over 5 minutes from top to bottom). The aim is to be the fastest. Competitors go one by one on the same slope and are ranked according to their time.

The freeride is a more varied discipline, with many definitions. There are no precise goals in freeride other than enjoyment and the intensity of the experience. There are no freeride competitions: the keyword is freedom!

The enduro is a very demanding discipline, requiring great endurance. It involves riding long distances up slopes, downhill and on extreme terrain.

Rigid or suspension frame?

Your choice of frame depends entirely on the slopes you want to ride on and on the discipline you’re going for. A rigid frame has many advantages, but isn’t perfect for everything. Being lighter, it will suit beginner riders aiming to develop their technique in freeride or downhill MTB. It indeed pushes the rider to ride more “neatly” than with a suspension frame, as it puts more focus on the body and the technique of the rider.

A rigid-frame MTB will go everywhere a suspension frame can go as long as you have the right technique for it. If you start out on a rigid frame, you will then ride far better on a suspended MTB than a person who has always ridden a suspension-frame MTB.  On the other hand, a rigid frame MTB will put more pressure on your arms, and you will usually be slower than on a suspension-frame bike over long distances or on rough terrain.

A suspension frame (with a damper), is a good choice if you ride on very rough tracks at full speed. It will give greater comfort, and the bike will be generally more balanced compare to a rigid frame if you want to hit the mountain slopes quickly.

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Which travel (Which size) for my fork?

Theoretically, any MTB can be used for freeride. However, if you wish to perform at a high level, we recommend a suspended fork. If you choose a rigid-frame bike, the fork’s travel will usually be between 100 and 150 mm. On a suspension-frame bike, the fork’s travel is usually between 130 and 200 mm. The bigger the fork, the more comfortable your bike, but it will also be heavier. If you only go downhill and take lifts to go back up, you can choose a bike with a travel of 150 mm or more. But if you also ride on level ground and on not too rough slopes, a smaller travel is advisable, between 100 and 150.

Disc brake or v-brake?

Disc brakes have better progressivity (the more you press the brake, the more the bike slows down, allowing the rider to brake more or less according to the circumstances) and so are recommended for downhill and freeride. Hydraulic disc brakes are precise and powerful than mechanical ones.


When looking for a new mountain bike why not have a look at what Decathlon has to offer?

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