How to choose a bike? What do we get by overpaying for expensive models?


Price. Why are MTB bikes so popular?

Once upon a time, when the bicycle market was just beginning to develop, MTB bicycles were something completely new, fashionable, feature-rich. A powerful frame created a feeling of reliability, wheels of smaller diameter were equipped with "evil" rubber with a swamp tread, so that certainly no one had any doubts: such a monster will travel everywhere. Any manufacturer from the Asian no-name to the eminent brand has sought and is striving to equip an inexpensive MTB model with the greatest number of speeds, many of which will be completely unclaimed, but who cares: any marketer knows that bicycles are sold thanks to not practical, but catchy tricks. 21 speeds, 24 or even 30 speeds! Talk to your relatives: this is much cooler than the pitiful 11-12 speed girls, which, moreover, cost as much as if we are talking about some kind of "iPhone", which is allowed to rise in price without explanation.

Gornik has long been synonymous with a cool, sophisticated bike, which is why it has always been in demand. And, realizing the loyalty of the public, manufacturers have always tried to saturate the market with inexpensive models: you can save on anything, but people want a cool bike for an “adequate” price. Personal observation: not so long ago, the equivalent of $ 500 was considered "adequate". Today there are already 300 - inflation, crisis, other reasons.
Frame material. Carbon is expensive
The mountain bike has never been suitable for a wide circle of cycling enthusiasts, but it has always been treated kindly by attention. It's simple: a couple of weeks ago we talked about how cool gravels are made today - great, comfortable, fast, and at the same time truly versatile. So it is, but the price tag starts from 2-3 thousand. That's the price of three miners - not so cool, but also with two wheels. What will the majority choose?

Therefore, it turns out that you can find an almost ideal bike for any type of riding, for any sporting ambition, for any task. You can find a bike for the most demanding buyer. All the rest are buying miners and are right in their own way. The cycling world has really learned to rivet these "cars" of quite decent quality at a very low price.

Frame material. Carbon is expensive

There is one unpleasant truth: an expensive bike does not have to be carbon. And one more truth, also unpleasant: a carbon bike will not necessarily be good, but it will definitely be expensive.

Prices for MTB with a carbon frame start from somewhere around 2000$, and this is the average temperature in the ward. In the sense that some bicycles of uncertain origin may be cheaper, but branded models - yes, they start from this price tag on the market of almost any country. Moreover, this is the entry-level for carbon bikes, the ceiling of the price in the Catalog, for example, is 43 thousand.

How do expensive carbon bikes differ from very expensive ones? Yes, in general, everything, from wheels, attachments, and other components. But the frames themselves have very significant differences in weight, strength, and properties. Carbon is a polymer composite that can be compared to a hard and durable fabric. The carbon sheet also consists of interlaced and glued threads. From how this "fabric" is made, how it was laid in the manufacture of a bicycle frame. And, of course, the price.

Recently, it is especially often said that the price tag for bicycles of an average and high level is artificially raised, that the disciplines of cycling more and more resemble golf - that is, an elite occupation that requires unreasonably high financial investments. Maybe. All we need to learn from this is that having an expensive bike is great. Whether it is necessary to buy a precious bicycle is an extremely individual question.

When buying a model with a carbon frame, you have the right to expect that the frame will be lighter than its metal counterpart, it will better dampen unpleasant road vibrations, that is, it will be more comfortable while remaining strong and durable enough. There are over 40 carbon MTBs in the Catalog right now - these bikes are in stock and available to order.
Wheels and hydraulics - everything is grown-up
Almost the only adequate alternative to carbon is still aluminum. It is a metal with its own advantages: lightweight, durable, corrosion-resistant. And at the same time inexpensive. Another trump card is that the bicycle industry has been working with aluminum for a long time, much longer than with carbon. And they learned to work really well with this metal. Aluminum frames are competitive in sports disciplines and are sought after by amateurs. And butting and proper construction limit the possible weight difference between aluminum and carbon to a minimum.

It turns out that by this criterion alone, you can't choose a cool bike, you need to understand the nuances. The aluminum model will be cheaper than the carbon model of a similar class. However, the level of attachments, shock absorbers and wheels plays an even greater role in how the bike rides and how the cyclist feels. This is again a question of budget, but also a question of approach and choice to the same extent.

Brakes. Wheels and hydraulics - everything is grown-up

But when it comes to the brakes of expensive mountain bikes, everything is unambiguous - only Bicycle Disc Brake. It is in the case of highways or urban bike models that there can be a debate with powerful arguments on both sides. In MTB, disc brakes are both logical and in demand, and are widely used in models even in the budget segment.

Not that the good old v-brakes were doing something bad. The advanced models of the older groups coped well with their task and, if we are not talking about a purely sports purpose, they closed the question with inhibition. Another issue is striving for the best. Disc hydraulics are more responsive than any cable brakes. More responsiveness means that even the slightest touch of the brake lever has an effect. And the stronger it is, the tighter the brake pads are pressed against the rotor. The cable system is simpler but always rougher. 

This is the reason why options with mechanical disc brakes are used (instead of brake fluid, the same cable is pulled, which drives the brake pad or pads, depending on the caliper model) - this is always a compromise option: cheap, but not ideal. In the sense that the bike will still stop quite well, but you will always know that you can brake better.

A number of speeds. Bigger is not better

But with the number of speeds, things are a little more confusing, and again because of the numbers. At one time, this was almost the main marketing feature. "How many speeds does yours have great?" - we asked each other to understand what the friend was driving. 18, 21, 24, 30 - all this at different stages was an indicator of quality: more is better. Then we grew up and saw how the market sets prices at its own discretion, increased excitement sometimes around completely useless things. And we thought.
The more gearshift speeds on the bike, the better
Those who have ridden, for example, 21-speed bicycles, have probably confirmed that the smallest Speed Cassette was never used at all, or was used so rarely that each case was rather a desire to swing your feet uncontrollably and pointlessly. The same was true for the outermost sprockets at the back: how often did you spin the 11-tooth, small rear sprocket?

We are now talking about a transmission message. Ideally, if we are not talking about the sport of achievements and incredible efforts, on a bicycle we strive for reasonable loads and a comfortable state of the body. That is, to pump up your legs, and so that the heart does not jump out. For this, all these stars are needed in our arsenal. Throwing the chain over them in front and behind, will allow in any situation to pedal with a cadence that suits us. If it is too difficult to twist, this does not mean that we will quickly pump up our legs, this is a quick way to "shake" our knees. If it is too easy to twist, shortness of breath appears, the load on the heart increases. Uncontrolled cardio is also not great. So look for a middle ground, avoiding extremes.

As for the cassette (a set of Speed Cassette at the back, ratchets in this price segment are no longer mentioned), the situation here is the opposite, which is again dictated by equipment manufacturers. With a high degree of probability, we can assume that the more stars behind, the more advanced the transmission group we are dealing with, the better it is. Simplified logic, which, however, will help when choosing a bike.
Maybe you need a women's bike
Manufacturers are experimenting with 13-speed cassettes, 12-speed cassettes are in use, 11-speed groups are widely used and still good. This is what you can count on in this price segment.

Perhaps you need a bike for sports discipline? Or do you simply intend to ride at speed on serious off-road, jump on tree roots where there are no trails, or go down rocky slopes on a trip abroad? In this case, it makes sense to take a closer look at the two-suspension. The rear shock absorber in such models is needed primarily not for comfort, but for holding the bike: if the wheel bounces on bumps, it can be difficult to catch it, which is fraught with a fall. The cushioning of the wheels leads to the fact that they seem to "lick" irregularities, without bouncing too much, the bicycle thus maintains stability.

Although there has been some tendency to use such models purely in urban environments - for the sake of comfort. Well, it probably makes sense on our curbs.

Hardly many people buy a bike for a season or two, and then change it to a fresh model. For me, this is a purchase for a long time. In any case, a purchase that will last much longer than a new smartphone. So is it worth saving by purchasing transport, sports equipment, and a faithful travel companion for many years? Feel free to be urgent, exacting, to choose exactly what you need. And when you choose and you are sure of it, the question of the price will disappear by itself.