Mountain biking became popular in the 1970s in the United States. Since then they have evolved to adapt to different profiles of use on unpaved terrain. For this reason, today it is sometimes confusing to choose the right mountain bike.
there are two elements that generate doubts among those looking for their first mountain bike or do not have a deep knowledge of the market. The first is the type of suspension. Is a rigid or double suspension mountain bike better? The second is the size of the wheels. Is it always preferable to choose the largest?
If you are one of those who are still not sure when to choose a 26 ″ bike or when to bet on a double suspension.
Tell me where you are going and I will tell you what suspension you need
In the market you can find bicycles with different degrees of damping. You have them with front suspension, with total suspension or without any mechanical suspension. The latter are indicated for very specific uses of high competition, as is the case with the Orbea Alma M-LTD. Normally they usually have front suspension or total suspension.
The former are called rigid or semi-rigid. The second are known as double suspension bicycles.
Rigid and semi-rigid mountain bike
They are bicycle that either lack suspension or have a front damping system on the fork. Normally the route of this suspension is less than 120mm, since they are designed to roll at full speed on tracks and unpaved sections without large slopes or steep obstacles.
They stand out for their lightness, dynamism and agility. It is not an urban legend that in this type of bicycle the force is transmitted more directly to the bottom bracket, but that it is simple physics; With nothing more than an iron bar between the saddle and him, the force does not dissipate as it does when there are dampers in between. That's why they are faster.
To this we must add that they are cheaper than the others because their manufacture is simpler, since the frame is either a single mold, or the rest of the tubes are welded. By dispensing with the rear or central suspension, they have fewer elements and parts, which also translates into fewer breakdowns and less expense and maintenance work.
Of course, if we have the bad fortune that our back or our joints complain often, it is more advisable to bet on another more comfortable model.
In summary, rigid or semi-rigid mountain bikes are indicated for those who are looking for a live reaction driving and fast rolling along sections of forest tracks. To make technical paths, to alternate great ascents and descents by very stony sections and to roll for long routes, are less advisable.
Double suspension bicycle
The more cushioning, the greater the ability to absorb the irregularities of the terrain and the more comfortable it rolls. That's why double suspension bicycles are more comfortable.
They weigh more than the rigid ones and their price is also higher, but in return they are much more comfortable. If you are a regular of the mountain we do not need to tell you that, when you have several hours of activity, you can recognize and feel even the smallest vibration that occurs under the wheels.
With a double suspension you may need an extra dose of effort, especially on the climbs, because you are carrying more parts than in the case of a rigid bicycle, but your body will appreciate how comfortable they are.
The wheel dilemm
The two main fork standards on mountain bikes are those that allow 26 ”and 29” wheels to be mounted. The first measure was the most common until a few years ago, when all mountain bikes mounted wheels of this measure.
But little by little it has been giving way to size 29 ”, especially in the medium and high ranges. In recent times an intermediate solution has emerged, the 27.5 ”wheels. Given this panorama, the 26 ″ bicycles have been relegated to very low ranges or bicycles with descent geometry.
Which one to choose from all of them? Smaller wheels will facilitate greater acceleration because they are lighter, and will also give you greater rigidity. In other words: you need less effort to make a complete turn. This is especially noticeable when the terrain rises.
Larger wheels, like those of 29 ”, will be more stable, something that is much appreciated on irregular terrain. To this we must add that larger wheels will facilitate a greater use of inertia and offer you greater traction. That is, they allow you to travel more meters on each pedal stroke.
If you are going to roll on mostly flat sections or with few level breaks, the 29 ″ wheels will make it easier for you to move forward with less effort. If you are going to alternate ups and downs and speed is not the most important thing for you, opt for 27.5 ″ wheels..