How to choose a beginner mountain bike – Mountain Biking Explained EP2

How to choose a beginner mountain bike – Mountain Biking Explained EP2


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.

Turn on the closed captions to read the rest of the transcript.


  1. IndigestionMonster

    You, sir, are amazing! Not only do you fully explain all the significant choices and tips, but also provided a full checklist without sounding condescending or patronising. Thank you so much for making these videos, they will be the main driver for me getting into mountain biking!

  2. I have the same Shifters xaxaxaxaxa

  3. Why not SARS?

  4. Blue berry Gaming

    Seth what is the difference between the hook and the line instead of the colour because I want to buy one from Dimondback's website

  5. What do you think about btwin rockrider 520 ??

  6. diamondwolf 1224

    Grants on 400k

  7. Alan Armstrong

    Hi my name is Alan and I am new to Mountain biking I just bought a trek Marlin 5 and I have a question about it the break levers are actually on the opposite sides the front one is on left side while the back one is on the right side so is it correct or do I need to switch the sides and also is marlin 5 good for small beginner trails.

  8. On an internet full of a-holes who will instantly criticise anyone and anything, we have Seth, who is kind, patient and understanding with us noobs. What a great guy for sharing his knowledge with us 🙂

  9. Melacanth Unknown

    She's at Virginia key, great bike trails and beautiful scenery.

  10. What would you recommend for someone that's is past the beginner stage but hasn't done mountain biking seriously and has only usedcheep bikes but is looking for an upgrade

  11. 0:43 The helmet gap XD


    I need a new bike now

  13. Commonduchess00

    Can anyone link me to a full suspension bike under $500 that's good enough to start mountain biking?

  14. I recently get into this outdoor activity and I watch your whole series for beginner. Very good information for beginner like me. Thanks and look forward to your other videos.

  15. calling Ace Jack

    Yea Disc Breaks are great… Only till one dumbfuck puts Oil on the disk.

  16. AKmotorider150

    I don't shift gears because it, truly, fucks it up. Too many crashes.

  17. I need you in my world…can you come to Massachusetts? LoL

  18. Southern wolf Productions

    Is it bad that I use a cheap 50 dollar bike that has a middle spring

  19. I'm looking into buying a mountain bike now that I have some money. Unfortunately, not enough to buy Diamondback's Hook, but enough to buy their Sorrento. I was just wondering how good of a bike the sorrento is?

  20. I already have a really nice all-mountain bike but want something cheaper to ride street on. I wouldn't call myself a beginner, but I don't want to spend a lot. What do you all think of the Diamondback Hook as a fun commuter that I can jump around on?

  21. I need some new MTB gloves any good cheap gloves that perform well

  22. Is Lisa your wife? If you plan on continuing the series with her in NC, then she has to move with you.

  23. RaviRam Chudasama

    I want a dirt jump bike. My budget is 600 dollars. But I don't know what to look for.

  24. My 15yo Trek Promax rim brakes are still powerful enough to lock up even when the rims are soaked in mud. Proper pads make all the difference.

  25. What do you think of the Vilano Blackjack 3.0 29er for a beginner Mountain bike ???

  26. GT makes some good beginner mountain bikes for under $400.

  27. Get a quality 21 gear,….you can keep the front on the middle gear until you've gotten enough experience to use the others….

  28. What kind of bike is this

  29. I'm a larger (fatbastid) rider, what bike would you recommend for bigger taller riders. I'm currently looking at Salsa 29er, but really like the Diamond Back Overdrive 29… let me know what you think

  30. affordability+reliability+serviceability+simplicity = arss, more easy to remember than ities

  31. For anyone looking for a good beginner bike try the trek Marlin 6 it's got hydraulic disc brakes and its less than $600

  32. Hi I live far away from the USA I live in Australia and I can't find any good trails help😔

  33. 6:49 that guy's seat was way too high lol

  34. is a trek Marlin 5 a good beginner bike.

  35. Carlos De Jesus

    that last guy that fell spent a lot of money on that orbea full suspension bike yet he does not know how to even ride a bike properly.

  36. Richard Toombs

    very informative video, thanks

  37. drive fast so you will know why you crash

  38. Keegan Stafford

    Hi Seth, I have been looking at the Diamondback Sinc'r and want to but it. I realized that it is only a 1 by though. I will mostly be trail riding, but when I do go on the road will I still be able to go fast? or will my legs be spinning the cranks to fast? Thanks , love your videos, and you got me obsessed with mountain biking 🙂

  39. Mohammed Moosawi

    what mountian bike you recommend for 500$

  40. She's in such a low gear biking on flats

  41. Emily and Tyler Begrow

    I wish I would have taken more note on selection before I bought my wife's bike. Her brakes just don't have enough power and I've tried to adjust them to no avail. It just feels like a safety issue on the trails.

    I got her a Small GT Laguna Pro. Any suggestions on a hydraulic disk brake replacement?

  42. sorry, but only full face helmets lool cool xD
    I know you have to wear one and fullface are heavier, but bicicle helmets do not look cool (you should still wear them nevertheless)

  43. my gear shifter in and the handle so u have to twist up or down

  44. id rip those trails😂

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