So you’re full of Tour fever and want to get out into the hills? Here’s our advice on getting started with the best fun you can have on two wheels.
Obviously there’s a lot of choice out there and it can seem a bit daunting working out what you need and what size bike is best for you. Between £500 and £1000 there’s a lot of choice but you’re probably going to end up with a hardtail; a mountain bike that just has front suspension.
So our first bit of advice is to call into your local bike shop. They have staff that can advise you on bike fit and give some suggestions on what best fits your budget and the type of riding you’ve got planned.
Test ride a few bikes to see what works for you. Your local bike shop should have a test fleet to give you an idea about how your planned purchase will feel to ride. A lot of local shops also arrange social rides so you can get an idea of what riding is in your locality.
We popped down to our local shop, Blazing Saddles to highlight what’s available in the £500 – £850 price point. This seems to be where most people enter the sport and there’s probably never been a better time to get the most for your money. Any bike within that range should be more than capable of getting you out into the hills or down to the local trail centre.
Specialized Hardrock Sport
The Hardrock Sport from Specialized give a good idea of what’s available around the £500 mark. The bike has an aluminium frame, cable operated disc brakes and a Suntour suspension fork with 80mm of travel. 29er wheels will help it roll over rough trails and keep momentum.
An extra £100 sees some upgrades: £600 – £700 will generally see hydraulic disc brakes, a better suspension fork and better drivetrain parts. Typical of the price range is the Charge Faucet (now replaced by the Cooker 1).
As you increase your price point you’ll tend to see better suspension being fitted to the bike – frame construction and material (mainly aluminium) is broadly similar between brands. The Orange Clockwork at £849.99 has many similar drivetrain parts to cheaper bikes but is fitted with a 100mm Rockshox fork.
Other bikes from other brands are available of course, and it’ll be worth doing a bit of research to see if anywhere else local offers other options.
Don’t forget to budget for some extras that you’ll need to get out on the trails. A helmet, spare inner tube, a multitool and a pump are a good starting point.