Mountain bikes fall broadly into three categories.

  • Rigid
  • Hard tails
  • Fully Suspended

Which you choose depends on the kind of terrain you will be tackling. After pioneering a revolution in transmission in the 1980s with indexed shifting, triple changes and ten speed rear hubs developments have focused on braking systems and suspension.

Once seen as highly specialized downhill tools a high-end fully suspended mountain bike equipped with hydraulic disk brakes weighs about the same as a high performance rigid from a decade ago – about 12kg. However the performance on difficult and steep terrain is unrivalled.

For cross country use, on trails and singletracks a hard tail is ideal. This could be equipped with V-brakes which are simple and cheap to run, Magura hydraulic rim brakes which give progressive performance and power or even hydraulic disk brakes although these require more maintenance. The frame could be steel or more usually aluminium with more exotic titanium or carbon fibre sometimes making an appearance. The front fork will offer between 80 – 100mm of travel with a lockout system for climbing. A top end model will weigh around 10-11kg.

These days many ski resorts open their lifts for mountain bikers during the summer months. With a ski lift to get you to the summit weight becomes less critical and riders can use long travel forks (200mm), large tires (up to 2.5”) and large disks that can cope with the heat buildup on descents (it is not unusual for smaller disks to fail on long descents). Some of these monsters weight around 18-20kg but more typically you are looking at 13kg which broadens your horizons outside of lift-served terrain to the main trails that criss-cross the hills and mountains.

Ski Touring