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Not sure which mountain bike to buy? Try these 2 easy tricks to test out all of your favorites

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It can be tough to find the right mountain bike for you. Pretty much all high-end mountain bikes will perform well, but there are still many factors to consider. Knowing what category of bike you are interested in is often the first step.

You’ll also need to consider your method of purchase. You can go to your local bike shop where you can get answers to your questions and even test ride a bike. If you’re not interested in face-to-face interactions, mountain bike sales now happen with the click of a button. 

Mountain bikes even come gender-specific. A few brands or frames are designed specifically for women. What we then might deem as a “men’s mountain bike” is actually unisex. The most significant thing is ensuring the bike fits the rider.  

We are fortunate to be at a point in time where mountain bike design and engineering is perhaps at its peak. Pretty much any high-quality mountain bike you throw your leg over is going to ride great. While great overall quality may take some of the guesswork out of deciding which bike to buy, it doesn’t mean that all bikes will perform exactly the same. The best thing to do is to ride as many bikes as possible.

Professional mountain bikers will tell you the same thing. And, if you are like me, you’re likely to respond with, “Easy for you to say. I don’t have bike companies lining up to send me bikes to try out.” But what if there were a way to ride many bikes before you buy without breaking the bank? 

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Mountain bike festivals

If you haven’t been to a mountain bike festival, do yourself a favor and go! Some are free, some have a fee to attend. Often, the cost of a festival ticket comes with some rad benefits like free merchandise or shuttles to the tops of the trails.

And if you are in the market for a new bike, you’ll completely forget about the entrance fee when you see the plethora of bikes that you can demo—for free. Most bike festivals are held near or at local trails. Big bike brands attend different mountain bike festivals as well and bring truckloads of bikes for people to demo.

Are you thinking of buying a mid-travel trail bike? At an mtb festival, you can try as many trail bikes as there are companies attending. Just sign a waiver and hand over your credit card. The demo is free, but they will keep your information on record in case you damage the bike or forget to return it.

riding bike chain
Wayne Bishop Wayne Bishop/Unsplash

Mountain bike shop rental

So let’s say that you had a blast at the mtb festival and have narrowed it down to one or two bikes. Or maybe you know what bike you want, but you can’t decide if you need a medium or large. Find a local bike shop with the bike(s) you’re interested in and demo them there.

Many bike shops have a rental fleet that is the same as the bikes they are selling in their shop. It is likely around $100 per day to rent one of these bikes and hit your local trails. The awesome news is that many bike shops do is apply the rental cost towards purchasing your bike. 

It may take some planning, but taking advantage of these opportunities will have you on many different bikes and finding the one best suited to you.

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Travis Reill
Hi! I'm Travis, a teacher turned stay-at-home dad turned freelance writer. Mountain biking is my passion. Fortunately, I've…
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