When it comes to bikes, the two most popular varieties are mountain bikes and road bikes. They’re both pretty specialised too. On the one hand there are road bikes. Sleek, light, and fast, road bikes are generally far easier to ride over paved surfaces. They are great for long-range riding, and they come in a number of designs – from beginner to expert.
Then, on the other hand, there are mountain bikes. Robust, tough, heavier, and often more comfortable, mountain bikes are designed to tackle the rough stuff. They are good for short bursts of high intensity off road cycling. And they also come in different designs, to suit different skill levels. Despite their differences, making a decision can be hard. Luckily, we’ve got some tips to help.
Consider experience – Are you an experienced mountain bike rider, or a road bike aficionado?
First of all, let’s look at experience. Are you a life-long road cyclist, with thousands of on-road kilometres under your belt? If so, road bikes are a safe bet for you. Unless you’re looking to branch out into the separate sport of mountain biking, chances are you’ll be best served by a road bike. Conversely, if you’re big into trail riding, downhill riding, or even just long-distance cross country cycling, then a mountain bike is likely to be best for you. Remember, mountain bikes come in lightweight options too. They may not be as light as road bikes, but they still have the suspension you need for cross-country work.
Consider your passion – Do you think you would get more use out of a road bike or mountain bike?
Experience is one thing, but passion is another entirely. If you’re longing to break free from the constraints of the road, then perhaps making the switch to mountain bike is a good call. It will allow you to cover some ground that a road bike simply couldn’t. On the other hand, if your passion is goal-oriented exercise, fitness, and endurance, then a road bike has what you need. And remember – whichever you choose, it’s not too late to turn back. Some people even opt for both!
Getting practical – Are there many mountain bike trails near you, or are bike paths more abundant?
Practicality is easily as big a guide as passion or experience. For some, it’s even more determinative. And the reasons are clear: there’s not point getting a bike you can’t use. So before you decide, think about where you’ll use your bike. If you live in an area with long, new bike routes, then a road bike will be ideal. You might not be roaring down a mountainside every day. But if you can be guaranteed more then 10km of uninterrupted riding, you’ll be doing well! Of course, not everyone is in that position. If you live near some great mountain bike trails, then sooner or later temptation will get the better of you. When it does, you will want to have a bike that’s up for the challenge.
How about transport? Road bikes win for a morning commute, but mountain bikes are useful too
Transport is a priority for so many of us. In fact, it’s one of the main ways we get into cycling. So if you rely on your bike to get to work, you especially need to make sure your decision is a good one. What do you consider, then? Start with roads. Is your ride to work going to take you along some poor quality roads? If so, an all-rounder lightweight mountain bike might be a good call. On the other hand, if you’re cycling along main roads, you want something with speed and endurance. That means a road bike is ideal!
The tiebreaker – If you can’t decide between road bike or mountain bike, get some advice
There’s every chance you still can’t quite make the call. After all, both options are just so enticing! If you’re stuck for answers, ask your local bike shop. They know your area, and they’ll be able to find the right bike for your needs.