May 23, 2023
Card image cap

Intermediate Mountain Bike Buying Guide

Return to blog

If you have already done some research between hardtail and full suspension mountain bikes this is the guide for you. If you don't know what those terms mean, head over to our beginners mountain bike buying guide. When it comes to narrowing in on what you want, head tube angle and suspension travel are very meaningful measurements in how a bike will handle.

Head Tube Angle

A bike's head tube angle also known as the head angle will help determine how responsive the bike is to steering input. A steep head angle (more perpendicular with the ground) is represented as a higher number like 70-67 degrees, commonly found on gravel and cross country oriented bikes. This will result in more direct steering feel while a slack head angle (more parallel with the ground) is represented as a lower number 67-64, these head angles are commonly found on modern trail and enduro bikes and ideal for steep terrain and higher speeds where you do not want steering response to be hyper sensitive. Head angles 64 and under are typically reserved for the most downhill oriented bikes and will not be useful for climbing or mellow terrain.

Suspension Travel

Suspension travel can be recorded as front or rear suspension. If a bike does not have rear suspension it's often called a hardtail while if a bike has both it's often called a full suspension. suspension is useful for soaking up impacts from rough terrain or big hits such as drops. Having a bike with greater suspension often gives the rider more wiggle room for error and lets the rider get away with less precise inputs. In general, suspension travel is associated with the following buckets

  • 0-50mm, Gravel Bike
  • 50-110 XC Bike
  • 110-125mm "Down Country" Bike, this is a relatively new term coined by Pinkbike writer Mike Levy
  • 125-150mm Trail Bike
  • 150-170mm Enduro Bike
  • 170mm+ Downhill Bike

Still not sure about what your head angle and suspension needs are? Try to Rent a Bike from Upcycle

Return to blog