Types of Mountain Bikes for Riding on Dirt Paths

by : Muna wa Wanjiru

Mountain Bike, abbreviated as MTBs or ATBs (All Terrain Bikes) is a bike that are meant for riding on dirt paths or unpaved environments. They are more rugged than road bicycles, and can handle more strain.

The tires of the mountain bike are wider and knobbier than road bikes, for more grip and shock absorption. Front suspension for the MTBs is becoming the norm, and in today's mountain bikes, you can find front and rear suspension. The wheels are usually 26" in diameter, but this is slowly changing to 29" in the newer mountain bikes.

Mountain Bikes can be widely classified into four types.
* Fully Rigid
* Hard Tail
* Soft Tail
* Dual/ Full Suspension

Fully Rigid Mountain Bikes don't have any suspension, and their frames have fixed rears and a rigid fork.

Hard Tail Mountain Bikes have a suspension fork in the front, and no suspension in the rear. A soft tail Mountain bike has very less suspension in the rear, and its frame has a flex in the rear, rather than the pivot. A Full Suspension MTB has a suspension fork in the front, and a rear suspension as well, with a link that lets the rear wheel move on a pivot.

Until recently, MTBs had the same design and geometry of Road Bikes. When mountain biking became more popular, riding became more aggressive, and new mountain bikes with lighter and stronger frames were created to cater to the rider's needs and aggressive riding style.

The New-age mountain bikes have 21, 24 or 27 speeds. They usually have 3 gears in the front. The rear has 7, 8 or 9 gears. They also feature disc brakes. This gives the rider better stopping power than normal rim brakes. They can also take heavy breaking without wearing out soon, and causing lesser problems.

There are a wide range of tire types for mountain bikes. Some styles include slick street tires, sticky rubber tires, etc. Tubeless tires are also gaining popularity in the MTB world for their pinch flat resistance. Some good MTB tire manufacturers are Wilderness Trail Bikes, Schwalbe, Kenda, Maxxis, Nokian, etc.

Mountain biking has become more of an adventure sport by itself, and lot of equipment can be found just for mountain bikers, most of it safety related. Protective gear that is worn by the rider is often referred to as 'Armor', and is work to protect against injuries. 'Armors' may range from just knee and elbow caps, to full body padding. Usually, Downhill and freestyle bikers wear more armor, as their riding styles are more dangerous and prone to injuries. Most of these bodysuits also have special protection for the spine, comprising of a set of plastic plates, covered with foam.

Most bike parks require bikers to wear full face helmets, to protect against injury. These helmets a just like their counterparts used in motocross, but are considerably more ventilated and lighter. Most professional riders wear these by choice, to avoid head injuries.

Some of the Mountain Bike manufacturers are Airborne cycles, Alpine design MTBs, Arrow Racing, Dagger, Dart, Full Dynamix, etc.