In this video we talk mostly about what to look for in a good beginner bike, namely the things that make it affordable, functional, reliable, and easy to upgrade later on. These are the bare bones things a trail worthy mountain bike should have.
We also talk a bit about helmets, and why you might want to spend a bit more on a better one.
Last time, we set Lisa up with everything she needed to start mountain biking. She now has a bike, a helmet, a hydration pack, gloves, and a multi tool. She also has a floor pump, and a rack to transport her bike with. As Lisa progresses we’ll be looking at all this stuff in more detail, but today we’re going to focus on the two things you need most to get on the trails: A bike, and a helmet.
Even if you don’t have your own bike—even if you plan on renting a bike, I still recommend you get your own helmet wearing someone else’s helmet kinda freaks me out.
Lisa is wearing a Kali Protectives Chakra, which would be considered a general purpose mountain biking helmet. It’s lightweight, has good ventilation, fits securely, and looks cool, which are all things you might spend a couple of extra dollars for. Really cheap helmets are usually bulky, uncomfortable, and poorly ventilated, and that’s no fun.
The Chakra, like most bike helmets is single impact, so it’s only made to protect your head once. If your helmet gets impacted, it should be replaced even if the damage isn’t visible. In my experience, shoes wear out before helmets do, so don’t cheap on a helmet just because you might need to replace it. Even a real good one is under $50.
For the rest of this video, we’ll be talking about bikes; specifically, what should you look for in a good beginner bike? Well the four ities of course. The four ities are: affordability, reliability, serviceability, and simplicity.
To find a bike with all four ities, you can go to a bike shop, search online, and even buy used. Rather than tell you exactly what to get and where to get it from, I’d rather help you understand what to look for so you can choose a bike on your own. I’ll be using Lisa’s bike as an example, because I chose it specifically for these reasons.
At around $650, the Hook is of pretty good value. In the last video I mentioned that this is a hardtail, meaning it only has a suspension fork. This, as opposed to a full suspension bike that squishes down in the rear as well. While full suspension bikes are great, they’re also a lot more complex than hardtails. This complexity adds cost, weight, and additional maintenance, so only go this route if you’re comfortable spending some extra money. Figure on at least 500 for a trailworthy hardtail, and at least 1200 for full suspension. These are just guidelines, and I stress that the first ity might be different for different people.
Let’s take a look at some other characteristics of Lisa’s bike. First of all it has disc brakes, as opposed to rim brakes. Disc brakes are virtually maintenance free besides changing the pads, and they’ll stop the bike even when it’s covered in dirt and mud. These are activated by cable, but more expensive bikes use hydraulic fluid. While hydraulic is better, any disc brake is better than a rim brake.
Moving on you can see that Lisa’s wheels have quick release levers, which make removal of the wheels possible without tools. More expensive bikes will come a very similar looking thru axle. On the other hand if a mountain bike wheel is held on with nuts, you are looking at an extreme cost cutting measure which will make the bike difficult to maintain and next to impossible to upgrade. Aside from specialty bikes like dirt jumpers, you want a mountain bike with levers on the axles.
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