Inflation - we’re all feeling the pinch and it’s a topic that no one can escape, even in the freedom of the bicycle world. 5-digit mountain bike prices have quickly become commonplace and the question as to whether or not we’re seeing the bang for buck diminish is tough to answer. Either way, we’re all still lusting after new bikes but at some point, we have to decide what features are most important to us.
Mountain bikes are complex, human-powered machines. One of the first gestures that we often make is to pick up a bike to feel out its weight. That’s a topic that has been argued time and time again. Seb Stott believes you shouldn’t worry about it too much, but there’s no hiding it requires energy to get to the top of the hill, or at least to handle the bike.
Two major factors that should come into account are fit and effectiveness. Does the geometry match your body type and where you ride? You don’t want to look like a circus bear while riding your miniature bike around and if your trails are fairly moderate in terms of terrain, a slack, long-travel bike doesn’t make sense there either.
Suspension design and the amount of travel is another backbone of the bike’s intentions that can quickly overburden the effort needed to maximize the enjoyment out on the trails. If you spend the majority of your time in the air, a high-pivot might not be the most intuitive suspension platform to jump.
The bike will also need to be serviced and that’s not free either. You’ll have to set aside a budget for routine maintenance, even if you perform the labour yourself. Getting a hold of those parts isn’t always straightforward either. Proprietary components and access to local dealers is a worthwhile concern to have, especially if you leave off the beaten path.
When the time does come to say goodbye to your beloved ride, you’ll want to capitalize on your return. Choosing a mainstream brand might reduce that amount, since there could hundreds of others just like it to compete against. On the other hand, having an obscure brand might scare off a second-hand buyer.
On that note, the manufacturer's warranty is worth thinking about too. Is it just one year? What does “limited” lifetime really mean? Nowadays, brands like Specialized are even offering a transferable warranty to second-hand owners.
We’re also purchasing a good, so chances are, you aren’t going to purchase a bike that you hate to look at, performance aside. Similarly, I bet you gravitate towards a brand’s image that aligns with your values. Perhaps you’re not after the cheapest bike and care about where and who makes the frame. A brand’s image and how they perceive themselves in the mountain bike community can certainly influence your purchasing decisions.