Bike buying – a San Antonio beginner’s guide

The frame is the beating heart of any mountain bike. While there are obviously, other parts to consider, it’s important to invest in a half-decent frame from the outset. If you’re a beginner then it stands to reason that you want something affordable and not too plush. If you want to use the bike for off-road purposes, think hard before choosing between a full suspension bike (which usually comes at a premium) and a bike with front suspension only.

Front suspension is better if you plan only to use it for riding on paved surfaces; for rough off-road riding then either a suspension fork or suspension seat post should be considered. Unfortunately, with suspension forks, in general, the more expensive they are the better they are. You should also consider whether or not to go for disc brakes, which work much better in the wet and last a lot longer than brake pads. Make sure that you can attach things to the frame itself.

There should be rack and mudguard mounts attached to the seat stays so that you at least have the option of using them if you need. Pay attention to the wheels too, making sure the rims of the wheels are either box section or aero section, which greatly adds to the strength of the wheels. Attached to the wheels are, of course, the tires. A smooth tire is better for on-road use, but for off-road usage, there’s a wealth of choice, which depends really on riding conditions. For example, some tires contain a component that reduces the weight of the tire – a good idea if you’re looking for a speedy number.

Mountain Bike Reviews

A good mountain bike can make you feel like a tour de force, as you power up hills and mountains, reaching the parts cars wouldn’t, and couldn’t dare go. Bikes one of the most sustainable forms of transport too, the only oil they use being for the chain.

But above all, due to its all-terrain capabilities, mountain biking takes you out of the nine to five and puts you back in touch with nature. Mountain bikes give you your money’s worth in towns too, as an alternative to the classic city bike.

Trek Session 9.9 Mountain Bike Review

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No review section of mountain bikes would be complete without featuring a Trek, one of the leading producers of mountain bikes.

The firm has been producing carbon fiber frames for years now, but this bike is their first carbon downhill bike. The advantage of carbon fiber is that it allows for internal cable routing.

It also uses a new material called InTension, which will make the bike much lighter without compromising performance.

New technology is the order of the day for this bike, with it also featuring DRCV Fox Forks which will take your comfort to a whole other level.

With an increase in suspension travel to 210mm, it’s no surprise that World Cup star Aaron Gwin uses a Trek Session as his bike of choice.

An agile bike that does what you want when you want it and doesn’t compromise on durability, speed or comfort.

Summary Rating = 3. This is an average bike.

Boardman Team Mountain Bike Review

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This snazzy little two-wheeler was developed and inspired by the former Olympic biking champion Chris Boardman,

It weighs just 11.77 kg, making it perfect for off-road escapades.

It includes brake discs too, making it good for all conditions, and it also comes with 120mm RockShox Recon Gold TK suspension forks, meaning it’s a comfortable ride.

For the price, this is high performance, with decent specs, including new frame tubing and a generous warranty.

However, it does have its detractors, with some complaining about its boring, grey look.

Admittedly, it doesn’t stand out cosmetically, but this is as sturdy and as good value a beginner’s mountain bike as you’re likely to find.

Unfortunately, in the UK only Halfords distribute the bike, so be careful when you purchase as the firm’s servicing department is notoriously not much cop.

You might want to find somewhere else to get it set up.

Summary Rating = 2Just better bikes around if we are being 100% honest.

Carrera Vulcan Mountain Bike Review

These Carrera bikes have been on the market for over 20 years now, so they’ve had time to get it right.

The Vulcan Disc Spec Mountain Bike is a speedy off-road bike, with a sturdy aluminum frame and SRAM X4 gear shifters that for the price of the bike are a very good addition.

The speed and performance of this bike are equal or better than many bikes that are more expensive to buy, and it really excels on hard terrains.

The main problem with the Vulcan is that there is no rear suspension and that you must manually adjust the brakes yourself. That said, it’s definitely a sound choice of bike, and not too expensive either.

Its performance improves the more challenging the terrain tends to be, which is something you can’t really say about many bikes in the same price range.

A good all-round bike, that excels on tough terrains and would make a good companion for adventure biking.

Orange ST4 Mountain Bike Review

The new square chainstay and dropout distinguish this new Orange from its predecessors.

The frame is solid, and there are full Seatpost adjustment, a useable bottle mount, and external cable routing.

The ST4 is great on descents, due to its particularly low center of gravity and the bottom bracket height and wheelbase encourages you to get in that head down, pedal to the metal position.

We found that the ST4 was a great bike to handle, it’s easy to get the wheels off the ground and have fun doing stunts with it.

Unfortunately, we experienced a nasty chainsuck with the ST4, which was so bad that it meant that we had to actually split the chain.

Overall, it feels that Orange need to make adjustments to this bike in order for it to become the finished article.

That is to say, less stiffness in the rear end while maintaining the light weight of the frame.

Summary Rating = 4; Ever so close to a 5 star, just not quite!

Raleigh Spirit Mountain Bike Review

This is a good and relatively inexpensive bike. It’s solid, yet lightweight and easy to maneuver. It’s a Raleigh as well, that famous company with unrivaled history and experience in manufacturing and designing bikes.

But there are a few niggly things that could improve this bike. For one, the saddle is hard and uncomfortable.

Also, the paint job seems to be a bit slapdash, and there are stickers all over the frame. Another dubious point is the Revo-shift gears that are employed instead of a thumb-shift gear.

Wheel gears are admittedly less than ideal – the product of a bygone age of biking.

But on the whole, this is a dependable and sturdy bike that comes at a good price.

Things like the saddle can always be replaced, and the quality of the gears is still high, even if the gearshift isn’t perfect.

Summary Rating = 2 ; Better bikes on the market for a lot less

GT Aggressor XC2 Mountain Bike Review

A trail bike that ticks all the right boxes while not leaving you with a gaping hole in your finances, the GT Aggressor is a popular choice with those who are into extreme hill climbing.

Its lightweight frame ensures high performance and travel fork, and power brake capacity provides total control. Other features include front suspension, alloy rims, and quick-release wheels.

Its Maxxis Ignitor tires are particularly impressive, gripping well to any surface no matter what the conditions are and reducing the impact of bumps while providing a smoothness in ascent.

Some talk of the saddle for this model being particularly hard and uncomfortable, but this is just a minor quibble.

The GT Aggressor gives you bang for your bucks, an ergonomically impressive bike that ensures power, speed, and strength.

An ideal companion for those adrenaline-filled rides up to the summit of steep hills, that is strong when you need it to be.

Summary Rating = 4; One of the best in the price range.

Scott Contessa Mountain Bike Review

Scott is one of the only firms that are prepared to make the top of the range bikes specifically designed with women in mind.

This bike comes with a white carbon frame with splashes of purple and orange. Weighing in at 12kg, it’s as light as a feather, and features Scott’s trademark TwinLoc remote lockout.

The frame has been tweaked to include internal cabling, tapered head tubes and a press-fit 92 bottom brackets, which makes the frameset that bit stiffer and stronger.

This is a fine bike for female riders: light, with good control and very quick. One drawback is that the tires don’t have the best grip for all-terrain surfaces, but at least they can be replaced.

The frame is solid, and stylish looking, while the handlebars are set low so that you can get up a head of steam quite easily.

Summary Rating = 4; Some people won’t like but a personal favorite.

Apollo Phaze

This mountain bike is good for recreational biking whether it’s on or off-road.

It boasts special features, with its front suspension forks guaranteeing total control, and the aluminum frame is light and makes for a comfortable ride.

The disc brakes and 21 Shimano gears give you firm control of the wheels, and other features include quick-release wheels, alloy rims and comfortable foam filled saddle.

It’s one of those bikes that are as aesthetically pleasing as it is functional, available either in black or red. We admire the sturdiness and slick look of this bike.

There are things that could be improved, such as upgrading the bottom bracket for example, but this is a minor quibble.

The bike does whatever you ask of it, excelling at smoothing out uneven terrain and equally competent for recreational riding on paved surfaces or off-road.

Summary Rating = 3; High expectations but just an average bike in its field in the end.

Diamondback M05

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and a Diamondback mountain bike should be held in equally high esteem, with its no messing sturdy aluminum frame ideal for cross country trips.

This versatile bike works well as a runaround which you can take to the shops, or on more serious road trips.

Its off-road tires will ensure you won’t lose your grip in harsh conditions.

It’s a colorful, good looking bike with fine acceleration. Some users, however, have reported that the brake cables could be of better quality and also that the front disc brakes leave something to be desired.

Our experience of the bike was that it performed to a high standard in every test we put it through and found no problem with the brakes.

Summary Rating= 5; Great buy!!