Back in May, I decided to replace my barely road worthy ‘mountain’ bike with a bike that can handle proper off-road riding. I hadn’t ridden off-road since I was a kid, which was well before mountain bikes had disk brakes or suspension so I went into buying a mountain bike very green.
Buying a Mountain Bike
These are the main things I considered:
New Bikes: Budget
Everyone has a different amount to spend; my magic number was £400 max. I knew the bike would get plenty of riding on the road to cycle to work, but having not ventured into the rough stuff for nearly 2 decades, I couldn’t justify spending more in case the off road riding never happened.
Suspension: Full, front or none
When I last rode bumpy trails, suspension consisted of standing up to avoid a sore bottom! Now with the choice of full-suspension (front and rear), hard tail (just front suspension) or no suspension, I could choose to avoid the sore bottom but had a sore head trying to decide what to go for.
In the end, it came down to what I could afford: I wanted some suspension, but I could only afford a bottom of the range full-suspension bike, which would be very heavy – so as I would be doing plenty of hill climbing, I went for a hard tail.
Buying a Mountain Bike: Where?
When buying a Mountain Bike I decided to shop around; I visited Halfords, Evans and 3 local bike stores in Brighton. Asking my friends they all recommended avoiding Halfords.
However when I got chatting to the staff there, they always had time for me and were very helpful and knowledgeable. I also felt that they were giving advice that was impartial, and that I wasn’t being sold to – which is how I felt in the other stores.
The staff at Halfords had recommended checking out the website for more options and end of season sales. In the end I did a lot of online research (not just the Halfords site) comparing components, bike weights, reviews etc.
Eventually, I settled on 09/10 range GT Aggressor XC2 from Halfords online as it was reduced from £550 to £400, and it had by far the best specs and components for the money – a friend had also recommended me GT.
On me bike!
The bike came with free assembly by Halfords and local store pick up. On collection it was ready to go, and after adjusting it for my height I was off. But I didn’t get very far as I had a flat tyre within a mile!
My first thoughts were ‘faulty inner tube’ so I headed straight back to Halfords. It turned out that I had ridden over a nail – what are the odds of that on your first ever ride? The guys at Halfords just replaced the inner tube free of charge and sent me on my way.
Since then I haven’t looked back, and you will be pleased to know I have been off-road at least once a week, and as yet, no more punctures! Buying a mountain bike has been one of the best decisions I have made in a long time.
If you’d like to get into MTB check out our mountain biking articles.