WHAT KIND OF RIDING DO I WANT TO DO?
At the top end of the dual-sus market, the lines are becoming blurred between what constitutes a crosscountry bike, a marathon bike, a trail bike and a ‘gravity’ bike – something that can handle serious bumps and jumps on a downhill or enduro course. When it comes to beginner bikes, however, there are still two distinct categories: cross-country bikes with suspension travel up to 100mm, and trail bikes with suspension of 120mm and more. A cross-country bike usually has a more race-focused geometry (shorter wheelbase, steeper head angle) for sharper handling; a trail bike has more relaxed geometry for stability on fast descents. A trail bike is often a bit heavier. If you want to have fun at your local bike park, and if the downhills are your favourite part of a ride, consider a beginner trail bike. The longer suspension will soak up the bumps better and give you better stability and traction when things get rough. But 120mm or more of travel is overkill if you plan to ride mostly jeep tracks, dirt roads and non-technical singletrack. You’ll end up feeling like you’re sitting on a big marshmallow. Obviously a crosscountry bike can handle the odd trail ride, and a trail bike won’t stop moving on a dirt road; but it’s worth thinking about your favourite ride – the one you do most often, squeezed in before the school dropoff or on the weekend with your mates. That ride. Is it more of a cross-country loop, or is it full of rocks, roots and heart-hammering drop-offs? Got it? Now you know which kind of bike you need.