Mountain Bikes - Mount Over All Obstacles
Mountain bikes are engineering marvels designed to provide you with the smoothest of rides in the toughest of terrains.
There has been a sudden surge in interest in adventure sports. And Extreme Mountain biking is one of the adventure sports that has caught the fancy of those who like to live life on a high. For these people no mountain is high enough and quite expectedly, they are very finicky about the kind of mountain bikes they use.
And not only the extreme sports enthusiasts, mountains hold an appeal for quite a large number of people. This is why mountain bike holidays are also on the rise and the bike manufacturers are coming up with newer and improved versions of the mountain bike.
What is a Mountain Bike?
A mountain bike is also popularly known as a mountain bicycle or an All Terrain Bicycle (ATB). It is especially designed to be functional over rocky mountainous terrain, that is to say, unpaved, rough and hostile surfaces. These rugged machines are built sturdier than the conventional street bikes and are powered to withstand quite a beating.
The Design of a Mountain Bike
Meant for a specialized purpose, the mountain bike is thus structurally quite different from the regular road bicycle. For instance, the mountain bike wheels are twisted to give the bike that extra grip over the riding surface and also providing the rider the cushion of some form of a shock absorption mechanism.
After all, the bike will be going over a lot of rocks and ruts. The mountain bike tires in the recent past measured 26 inches, but of late, from 2002 to be precise, there have been some models with wheels measuring 29 inches.
Still harping on mountain bike wheels, it is believed that larger wheels perform better on treacherous terrains, but skeptics sing a different tune. According to them, larger wheels increase the rotational weight and present the rider with a kind of rolling resistance while negotiating the tracks. They also claim that larger wheels lead to slow accelerations.
These days, the mountain bike also packs in a front suspension mechanism, with full front and back suspension being incorporated in most bikes. There are mountain bicycles that come with bar ended handlebars, provided the handlebars are flat and straight. Riser handlebars are the latest craze in mountain bicycles, but these do not allow for much of fancy bars and extensions.
Types of Mountain Bicycles
Mountain bicycles come in various forms, four to be exact and this classification is based on the kind of suspension they come with.
You have the Hardtail mountain bike whose frame doesn't come with any rear suspension, and usually has a suspension fork up at the front. On the other hand, the Soft Tail kind of bike has a little bit of rear suspension, but it is powered by the frame flex rather than the pivots. The Fully Rigid mountain bike is more or less along the lines of the Hardtail variety but for the rigid fork. The Dual or the Full Suspension mountain bike is as its name suggests: with front suspension fork, rear suspension with rear shock and a connection that makes the rear wheel rotate on pivots.
Furthermore each one of these four varieties can be in some of the following forms:
1. The Cross Country (XC) mountain bike are lightweight gears (some are as light as 20 pounds) with only a little bit of suspension (generally 80-100 mm) up at the front and/or the rear. There are also some XC bikes that don't even have suspension but a right front fork instead; but these are hardcore pro stuff, demanding a lot of expertise on the part of the rider.
2. The Enduro or "All-Mountain" bike come with a relatively more elaborate suspension mechanism, usually as much as 150 mm of front and back travel, mostly alterable in the improved versions of the bikes. These bikes are so made so as to be able to climb uphill and go downhill with equal ease.
3. The Freeride mountain bike has even better suspension than the "All-Mountain" variety. In fact, a travel measuring 8 inches or more is common in the Freeride. However, their slightly steep head tube angles make them difficult propositions for uphill rides or slow cycling.
4. Downhill Mountain Biking happens to be one of the hugely popular forms of competition biking. The downhill mountain bike is typically lightweight, ranging from 35-45 pounds but is built sturdy with massive high placed gears and long but soft suspension travel that enables a smooth and fast ride down the slopes. Most of these bikes come with only one chain ring, a big bash guard and a chain guide to aid the ride in his breakneck descent.
The mountain bike can also be of the trail, 4X racing, dirt jumping, urban and street variety, all designed to serve you ably on different terrains and riding conditions.
The mountain bike has seen the most advances amidst all the forms of bikes. You can be as fussy as you want to be; there will still be one mountain bike that won't fail to please you.