Shift your car­dio up a gear with our ex­pert pick of the best moun­tain bikes

Men's Health (UK) - - In This Issue -

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.

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