Mountain Bikers...someone please treat me like I’m dumb

Calling all mountain bikers. I literally know nothing and I’m super overwhelmed.

I’m looking to get a mountain bike, mainly because I live in New England and I want something I can beat up over the winter. But here’s the issue, I know almost nothing about mountain bikes. The extent of my knowledge is hard tail vs not hard tail.

Just looking for something I can ride on trails over the winter. Originally was looking at a fat bike but I think a mountain bike will be more versatile. I also don’t want to break the bank. Would like to be in the $1-$2k range. I can splurge to $2.5k If I’m getting a good deal.

I’ve tried to do research but I don’t know where to start. Please help! Just need to be steered in the right direction.


Get one of these… don’t worry about getting fancy components. Even the cheapest Jeffsy or Neuron is going to blow your mind compared to a road bike.


Not sure where you are in New England but I have a Cannondale scalpel si 5 with stages power meter and vittoria tubeless tires for sale. It was only ridden 1-2 times a week for one season. Perfect bike to get into mountain biking and can jump into races.

1 Like

Agree that any trail bike nowadays is awesome though I’d visit a couple of shops and test ride as many as you can or even hit any places nearby that hire them. You will always ride the bike that makes you smile more than the others. If you have friends who have mountain bikes see if you can try those.
You will ache in all kinds of places though and have to shift your brain a bit as it’s a whole new ball game. You won’t go as far as fast generally by comparison to a road bike and it’ll take more energy than you think.
Some of the best fun you can have on a bike though in my opinion.


Oh and I have a Specialised Stumpjumer FSR 29 and love it. There are so many good bikes though.
Few of my mates ride Canyons and love them. They are great bikes for the money as @Benjamin_Reynolds has said even the base models are great.


Yeah I’m personally a Trek fanboy, but for the money there’s really no competing with Canyon or YT. The equivalent bikes from the major LBS brands are all $1,000 more unless you can catch them on a super sale.

Either way, unless you’re going to be racing short XCO style mountain bike races I’m a huge advocate of the trail bike over the cross country bike. Anything in the 130-150mm of travel range is going to be hugely more confidence inspiring than a 100mm xc race rocket.


Also, for the Canyons. Look at their outlet pages. They have some killer deals if they have your size.
But I agree about getting a trail bike. I started MTBing in SW VA which depending on where you are in NE can be similar (very rocky and rooty with a combo of up and down and rolling trails) and I have a Trek Roscoe (120mm hardtail) and definitely felt a little undergunned, especially as a beginner. Talk to some local shops and riders and see what they recommend base on where and how you will ride it. Because they can also give you advice on things like tires which can make a big difference if you get the right ones for your area.

1 Like

If you are considering a direct to consumer bike I would add Fezzari into the mix.
Abajo Peak

I bought this bike for the wife in the 29" flavor as she was on the fence about what she wanted. They have a love it or return it policy. Bike is small for me but I of course have taken it for a rip. I was pleasantly surprised by the bike. Turns out modern bikes are almost all really good. More importantly she has really enjoyed the bike as well.

1 Like

Some binge watching of the following YouTube channels might help you:


  • Seths Bike Hacks
  • GMBN (likely the how to stuff will be what you might enjoy most)
  • GMBN Tech
  • Bike Radar
  • Skills with Phil
  • Flow Mountain Bike


  • Maholo My Dude
  • IFHT Films
  • Paul the Punter
  • BKXC
  • Friday Fails (Pinkbike)
  • Sam Pilgram

So that’s a short list that will likely spill into a larger list by self discovery.

Some basic MTB’ing thoughts:

  • Always get the best bike you can afford - save another week if you need to
  • No one really cares what you ride, so just find a bike and ride
  • Everyone crashes, so don’t be afraid to not crash yourself
  • Ride with people that are better than you; this will encourage you to expand your skill set and also where and what you ride
  • It’s not a fashion competition - wear what you want, however bib shorts under everything just makes everything 100% more comfy
  • Put some money aside in your budget for proper MTB shoes (either for flats or SPD’s, your choice) - starting out using flats is probably best so you can quickly dab your foot. Look for something like Five Ten or Ride Concepts shoes
  • Get a good helmet and always wear the thing. Do the straps up tight so it doesn’t fall off in a crash
  • Don’t apply the front brake when the front wheel is in the air! This applies to riding off something 4" tall, or 4’ tall.
  • Learn to move around on the bike - this ain’t road riding
  • All skills will take time, but you will (likely) get there in the end

Some bike type buying hints:

  • Fat bikes are great for snow and sand. Beyond that they aren’t that efficient. Fun, yes, to a point.
  • If you purchase a full suspension for a first bike look to get something around the 120-130mm mark - these bikes are going to be lighter, and they give great feedback of the trail
  • Some brands are now up-forking their XC bikes offering 100mm rear and 120mm front travel - commonly termed “down country” - these make for a great all day whip and are good for big rides such as Marathon Racing, 50-milers etc. If you see yourself entering those sorts of events then these can make a good choice
  • If possible see if you can get a bike with suspension forks with at least a 34mm stanchion (the slidey bit) - these are nice and stiff and won’t flex under braking
  • Steer away from bikes with lower end forks if the budget allows (such as Rockshox Judy, Sektor) as these are generally steel stanchions, heavy, corrode, and have little to no adjustment
  • The frame is the heart of the bike - all frames in the same model line up will be the same and only the components will differ. As MTB wears components faster than on road, expect to be replacing components, and do so with an upgraded part
  • Contact points are key - grips, saddle, pedals. No one likes a sore butt on a too narrow saddle - if you know the width of saddle that works for you, ask the shop to exchange saddles if possible. Road saddles are OK, but generally lack robustness especially on the saddle wings (which will hit the ground often), or the rails are lightweight and won’t resist your butt landing on the saddle from a bit of a height
  • Prioritise a dropper post over the groupset, if you have the option - I’d rather a dropper post and Sram NX over no dropper and Sram GX
  • Get a bike the colour you like

Go ride, get dirty, fall off, repeat. It’s all good!

Tongue in cheek, but so true too… Howto Buy a Bike:


If you are limited to 1 bike, the Trek Stache is a good option. 29+ isn’t like suspension, but it’s superior in a lot of ways to normal size tires for a hardtail.


Thank you for the heads up. I’m not ready to buy at this very moment. It’ll probably be a few months. Doing the research now and then the hard part is convincing the better half :joy:


That video is so true! :rofl:

1 Like

I’d say try I’d still go for trying as many as you can. Some brands have demo days - even canyon so before you drop any hard earned on a bike try some out. Getting some idea of size is crucial and that comes from playing about on some bikes.
Hope you get the right bike for you. :+1:t2: Happy trails.

Get a bike that fits, start with a FS w/ around 120 mm of travel. It’s harder to go wrong these days, you really have to try. There are amazing progressive XC bikes now, shorter travel but longer and more relaxed HTA, and there’s a million 120mm bikes that split the different between a full on racer and fun trail bike. My only hard opinion, get a 29er.

Just want to emphasize this because its a little lower on the list than I think it should be.


If nothing else, make sure your bike has a dropper. As a roadie it might seem like a silly extra gadget but it really does make any bike more capable and will make you 1000x more comfortable on descents, drops, etc.


That video was amazing haha!

I think 29 makes sense for me. Just based on my brief research! Thanks

1 Like

100% on my must have list. Don’t know what it does but based on listening to Nate and Jonathan on the podcast, it is a must have.

Road and CX bikes are for going fast, with a few unique aspects here and there. Mountain bikes are way, way different. Some make you want to race, some to jump, some to climb, some to descend, and then there are sort of ratios of each. I found my sweet spot in MTB ownership in a sort of renegade XC bike that “goes braaap”. You find what works for your around the trails you ride the most.

Trek Stache is an insanely cool, crazy fun bike that’s great to learn on.

These are my bike of choice but prefer 120/120 high volume dampers. My bike of choice is a Scalpel SE2. The 120mm forks are usually significantly stiffer and feel better due to the increased volume.

Get a bike with the geometry that speaks to you, with the best fork and damper you can buy, and make sure to get a dropper ASAP because they make going down big stuff less scary.

Also, a digital shock pump. I 3psi either way can take the damper out of range and you can’t really get the precision needed with an analog pump/gauge.

I got an email today about the new Salsa Timberjack. I think a 27.5"+ hardtail with a dropper would be good for fooling around on the trails without getting into the added price and maintenance of rear shock. For the price it looks good for what you seem to be talking about. If you end up not liking MTB you wouldn’t be too much into it. Or if you really like the sport you wouldn’t feel bad about upgrading in a year.