Shift your cardio up a gear with our expert pick of the best mountain bikes
Take your cardio off-road with the best mountain bikes for weekend warriors
Road cycling might have all the gear and the glamour, but while mountain biking is a little more rustic, the kit is no less cutting edge. Dropper seatposts you can adjust on the fly, tubeless tyres for fewer punctures and electric gear shifters all add high-tech slickness to the go-yourown-way grunt. In the saddle, it can offer a superior workout, too. Thicker tyres and uneven climbs offer a far harder legs and cardio workout than a weekend sportive. Studies also say adrenaline-fuelled activities boost your mental health. Biking as meditation? Well, simply avoiding bone-breaking calamity will certainly focus the attention.
That’s why we gave the MH Lab keys to Mountain Biking UK and asked them to get dirty with the newest setups. This is their verdict.
FAT LOT OF GOOD Designed to go anywhere, this Omniterra bike offers incredible value. Equipped with plenty of mounts and bosses, the Wednesday can carry more adventure riding kit than a Himalayan Sherpa, and could handle dunes and tundra with ease. Its 3.8in tyres provide plenty of traction to stop you sinking axle-deep in boggy terrain. EXPERT VERDICT The budget kit is solid, but it may be worth upgrading the cable disk brakes for serious adventure. On dirt, the bike behaved well – the dreaded fat bike self-steer (think: tramlining in a car) still occurs, but you can pull the wheels back on track. And the balloonlike tyres smooth out every bump. SMILE A MINUTE The aggressive angles of this bike’s geometry, combined with front and back suspension with a chunky 170mm of travel, will tackle rougher ground with ease. Rated as one of the best enduro bikes around, it’s geared for full speed downhill. Expect a white-knuckle (and wide-grin) ride. EXPERT VERDICT The stability at speed offers security that guarantees fun, not fear. The steep seat angle helps with climbing and it’s reasonably responsive despite the bounce in the suspension. The tyres aren’t as tough or as grippy as they could be for efficient climbs but, at this price, it’s hard to find any fault at all.
BIG DROPS Combine a mega-robust and fatigue-resistant carbon fibre front triangle with the most extensive suspension pairing (200mm front and back), and no jump or downhill track is off limits. A seven-speed drivetrain helps you get up to speed in a flash while four piston brakes ensure you stop on a dime. EXPERT VERDICT These bikes come in a huge range of sizes to fit all heights. Something that, surprisingly, isn’t always the case. On trail, the bike is practically silent and the way the suspension works ensures it’s supple on small bumps but hard enough to stop you bottoming out on big landings. A bike with the potential to take you to the top of the podium. ELECTRIC FEEL This is a motorised bike for speed junkies, not tired oldies – the Brose motor offers 90nm of max torque when you pedal. An app lets you control the motor’s power output and enter your ride route so you don’t run out of juice. EXPERT VERDICT On the mountain you don’t feel the extra weight of the hidden motor and battery – the Turbo Levo weighs in at 23.7kg – even when you thrash it around a turn or over a jump. Ultra-hard wearing parts mean that it takes the added speeds and forces of an e-bike in its stride, adding to its reliability.