If you are in the market for an entry level mountain bike, you have a lot of different options available to you. When choosing a mountain bike, one of the most important factors to consider is the type of terrain you ride.
Before I continue, let’s get one thing out of the way: if you do a lot of street riding, you probably should not get a mountain bike. Its not that a mountain bike would be BAD, but you might be better off purchasing a hybrid, road bike, or cyclocross. Why? Because these types of bikes are going to be a lot faster than most mountain bikes on pavement.
If speed is not one of your concerns, and you just want something a little more rugged for riding on pavement, a mountain bike is fine. Mountain bikes are also good for riding on gravel roads. While not as fast as hybrids or cyclocross bikes on gravel, a mountain bike will have much better traction because they use wider tires. You may also find that a mountain bike is more comfortable, because the wider tires and longer travel forks will soak up more of the bumps.
If you know that a mountain bike is for you, its time to figure out what kind of mountain bike you should buy. You can find quality mountain bikes in all sorts of price ranges, starting out at about $300 online. Usually, if you purchase online, you will get much more bike for the money compared to your local bike store, although there are exceptions. If you do decide to buy locally, the best time to buy is between December and March, when the weather is colder and there aren’t as many people riding. Bikes are usually marked down during this time period, because many bikes stores have clearance sales on previous year models.
Please note that I DO NOT recommend bikes purchased at most major discount department stores. These bikes, while cheaply priced, usually also have cheap components, and may fail on the trail. Imagine your forks falling off after landing hard on a jump! They also are “once size fits all”, meaning that whether you are tall or short, there is only one size available, and trust me when I say that you do not want to ride a bike that is too small or too big!
Here are some places you can purchase online that frequently have great deals on good quality bikes. They carry bikes in all different sizes, and they also have bikes in a variety of price ranges. Bikes purchased online usually come partially assembled, but assembly is usually pretty easy. You can also learn something during the process!