Why You Need a Mountain Bike
What do you look for in a mountain bike?
At first glance the specifications for a decent mountain bike appear infinite – wheel sizes and types, suspension options, handling responsiveness, and many more, but for our purposes, we can narrow these down a bit.
Measured across the diameter in inches, the general rule of thumb is larger wheels for more mileage, smaller wheels for smashing trails. The standard wheel sizes tend to be between 27½ and 29 inches, but most edge towards the larger size, relying on tire width to cope with rougher trails. Unless you’re planning on journeying across vast mountain ranges by bike, most preppers seem happy with a 28 – 29 inch wheel.
In terms of tire type, the more knobbly a tire is, the rougher the ground it can cope with, gripping into the surface as it rolls, the lighter treaded tires are designed for
travelling faster on smoother trails.
Hardtail or Full Suspension?
The vast majority of mountain bikes have a decent suspension system built-in. This takes the sting out of uneven ground and helps to maintain traction on steep descents. Hardtails, on the other hand (or should that be butt), have a rigid rear end, and only one set of suspension forks. This makes the hardtail a cheaper option, but potentially at the loss of comfort.
Type of Mountain Bike
Sitting alongside the spec choices are various types of mountain bike, designed for different terrains. Across the US, the terrain varies greatly from vast grassy plains, arid desert, wooded uplands to long univiting mountain ranges, so the type of bike you choose could reflect the country you plan to cross, or you could play it safe and look for an all rounder.
Trail Bikes – Designed to be a good multi purpose machine, these bikes can cope with hard ascents, steep descents and everything in between.
XC Bikes – These bikes tend to be lightweight, and all about going forward as efficiently as possible without worrying about the tougher terrains.
Endurance Bikes – As the name suggests, these can go forever over much more technical terrain than you would probably come across. They also have a price tag that reflects this.
After tackling the toughest trails and sailing along smooth rolling tracks to try these babies out, here’s my top 3 recommends.
This tough looking beast is incredibly well built – sturdy, stable and with great handleability. Designed with high tensile steel frame, supersized all-terrain knobbly tyres, and 7 gears to cope with any hills, this is a great option for a quick getaway, or for quietly scoping an area
I was surprised by how light this machine was, despite its strength and durability. Heightwise, it’s easily adjustable, and would be suitable for the majority of adult riders.The all round disc brakes made stopping, even on a sharp descent, reliably easy, and an efficient gear system made hills a doddle, with the ability to rapidly change gears on the go thanks to the innovative twist shifters. Fair to say, I like the Mongoose.
Although it is lighter than it looks, it’s still one of the heavier models, so bear that in mind if you have an older or weaker person in your group.
The Mongoose is a great all rounder, ideal for a fast getaway in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse!
A less beefy looking bike than the previous model, but no less sturdy. With 24-speed Shimano EZ-Fire trigger shifters, dual suspension, and a disc brake/V-brake combo, this bike is fast, reliable and very responsive.
I like the front disc and rear V braking system – it allowed me to stop efficiently on the dustiest of trails with no sliding, and coupled with tough knobbly tyres, this bike feels reliable and confident. The dual suspension gives a solid, comfortable ride even over large distances of varied terrain, while the 24 gear feature provides plenty of power for the toughest of climbs.
Despite the comfort of dual suspension, the saddle itself was a little hard, but it was a simple, and inexpensive, matter to change it for a more suitable seat.
Schwinn have designed a great mountain bike - tough, well built and packed with useful features!
For mountain bikes, this is a stylishly subdued hardtail model, hand made from hard wearing aluminum alloy. Offering 24 speeds, split between front and rear, and decent disc brakes, this is bike you can feel confident of.
On arrival, this bike required very little assembling – much less than some of the others I’ve tried, and once put together, I was impressed by its rugged and, yet, lightweight frame. The Shimano 3×8 speed drivetrain felt reliable, even at the fastest paces over challenging terrain, and despite being a hardtail, the fork suspension offered enhanced the whole mountain biking experience.
The price could be seen as a little steep, but it is reflected in the quality of the build.
The Diamondback is a reliably efficient mountain bike that feels as good as it looks, and it would certainly get you out of an emergency situation, quickly and safely.