What’s a good beginner bike? – Budget mountain bike


What’s a good beginner mountain bike? This is a question I get every day, so today
I’m going to give you the tools you need to find one, new or used, regardless of brand. But first we need to define what a beginner
bike is. If you’re a beginner and you have unlimited
money then this discussion is over. Just go out and spend a bunch of money on
a nice bike and you’re done. But I suspect that most beginners are looking
for the smallest financial commitment they can make, while still getting a decent mountain
bike. This bike is decent enough to get you into
big trouble, again and again. Better yet, it’s on clearance for $329. Yes, it’s a diamondback Overdrive and I
ride for diamondback, but I want you to forget about that today because Diamondback may not
be available where you live, or you might be looking at a used bike. So today I want you to pretend this bike is
colorless with no logos on it. How do we objectively determine that it’s
trailworthy just by examining it? Let’s start with the most important indicator
of a good mountain bike: the derailleur hanger. If a mountain bike is equipped with a rear
derailleur, it should be hung from the frame by this little piece of metal, the hanger. During a crash, the hanger is designed to
break away to prevent damage to the frame. It can then be realigned or replaced inexpensively. That’s a lot better than throwing the whole
bike in the garbage which is what you’ll need to do if you break part of your frame. So when examining a bike, be wary of band-aid
solutions like this, or worse yet a derailleur mounted directly to the frame. Bikes like these could be one crash away from
total destruction, and mountain biking is all about crashing. So a derailleur hanger is the very first thing
you should look for to determine if a bike is trailworthy. Even the most entry level bikes will have
a precision cut, purposeful looking derailleur hanger right here. So your examination should start, and possibly
end with that. The next important part to look for is a threadless
stem, which you can identify by these pinch bolts here, and these 4 bolts holding the
handlebars on. If instead you see this, it’s usually bad
news. To service or replace anything up front including
the fork, you’ll be limited to unreliable parts or vintage mountain bike parts which
are hard to find. Good luck tracking down a brand new mid 90’s
suspension fork to replace your old one. A threadless stem is not only easier and less
costly to service, but it’s also more rigid. This is not something you want to compromise
on. Moving on to the wheels, you need to make
sure they have quick release levers. These are common on entry level bikes, and
they make it so you can remove or replace the wheels by hand without any tools. More importantly, they’re an indicator of
the bike’s intended use. When mountain biking flat tires are inevitable,
so always carrying a 15mm wrench to remove these nuts is problematic. Worse yet, mountain bikes with nuts on the
axles are nearly impossible to upgrade the wheels on, and wheels are one of the things
you’ll outgrow as you gain experience. So on an entry level mountain bike you should
look for quick release levers and if you see nuts, stay away. Next up is the crank and chainring assembly. It should be modular and bolted together,
not riveted together as one big piece. I’m sure you can see the problem with that. Break anything here, and you’re probably
out the cost of your entire bike. Sure you could drill out the rivets and fabricate
something, so if that’s your thing then good on you. Otherwise, look for something you can actually
wrench on. The next thing you should look for are disc
brakes on the front and rear. Even cheap disc brakes are replaceable with
better ones, which is important to note because your bike needs to have the mountings points
for them from the start. More importantly disc brakes are dramatically
more reliable than rim brakes, which is why the mountain bike industry switched to them
quickly and decisively decades ago. Because a good mountain bike should be low
maintenance and upgradeable, you should be very suspicious of one that does not include
disc brakes. Finally, you need to ensure that the bike
is available in different sizes, and that the manufacturer actually offers some guidance
as to what size you need. This is as easy as using Google, a lost art. Anyway if the manufacturer isn’t offering
this information they probably don’t put much thought into their bikes, and therefore
you shouldn’t trust it to take you deep into the woods. I realize this indicator is less objective
than the others, but at the very least, you should get a bike that fits you. Although there are many other indicators of
a trailworthy bike, they’re largely irrelevant if the bike in question doesn’t satisfy
the requirements we just discussed. So we’ll focus our attention now on what
you can expect from an entry level bike like this, and some of the things you can do to
upgrade it. First of all it’s important to note that
almost all entry level mountain bikes will be hardtails, or bikes without rear suspension. The linkage required for rear suspension is
costly and heavy, so it’s generally not worth investing in until you start to breach
the thousand dollar point. For the sake of simplicity we’ll limit this
discussion to hardtails. Hardtails are fun and fast, so they’re great
to start out on anyway. But sub $500 hardtails are almost always XC,
or cross country bikes. XC bikes are optimized for pedaling and laying
down power. They’re fast, and easy to go long distances
on. But those advantages can hold you back when
you start to dabble in freeride. This is not to say that you can’t do a little
jumping on an XC bike. It’s just that jumps, drops, rock rolls,
or any kind of prolonged descent is best done on a trail bike. This black hardtail next to Overdrive is a
good example of a trail bike. The raked out fork, aggressive angles, wide
bars, longer travel, and shorter stem, make it better for the kind of riding I do. Since you can’t convert an XC bike to a
trail bike or the other way around, you need to be honest about what you intend on doing
on your mountain bike before you buy one. But if your budget is below $500, you’re
getting an XC bike whether you like it or not. So if you eventually take to jumping and throwing
the bike around a bit more, you could feel limited. So here’s what I did to enhance the capabilities
of my budget XC bike. The biggest thing you can do, hands down,
is change the tires. When I threw these wider, knobbier tires on
my Overdrive, it felt like a completely different bike. I was able to run these tires at a lower pressure,
making them grippier and more forgiving. But that’s not all I did. You hear all that rattling? That’s my chain slapping everywhere, and
in fact it came off entirely on several drops and jumps. To remedy this I installed a chain guide,
which virtually eliminated the problem. This will cost you a lot less than upgrading
your drivetrain, which could easily run you as much as this bike. If I were a beginner trying to progress as
far as possible on this bike, I might upgrade the pedals as well, and maybe the fork to
something like this. Venturing beyond that would not necessarily
be economical, and considering a decent trailworthy bike can hold its value well, you’d be better
off selling it and upgrading the whole thing. Finally, if you already have a bike and find
that it fails some of these tests you can still gain from this video. If it’s currently working for you and you’re
having fun on it, then keep shredding. If you feel like it’s holding you back,
you now have the tools to find something a little better. Still, we haven’t spoken about assembly,
maintenance, or all the other upgrades you can do. So I’m sure you have questions. With the help of my viewers, I’ll do my
best to answer them in the comments. So find yourself a good beginner bike and
enjoy it. Because you’re only a year away from selling
all your belongings and financing an irresponsibly expensive bike. It happens to the best of us. Thanks for riding with me today, and I’ll
see you next time.

100 comments on “What’s a good beginner bike? – Budget mountain bike

  1. Trek x caliber 7 2020

    It won't leave you bankrupt and bridges the gap between an entry-level xc to something you can shred your local trails with

  2. from the looks of it the bike im going to be buy has all of these UPDATE: Got my bike its perfect sram gears tektro auriga brakes all the bells and whistles

  3. im a beginner and want to buy a bike for around 400 – 600$ (preferably 400 xD), but i live in Germany, so most brands mentioned in the comments are not available here. Has anybody got a good bike in that price range thats available in germany?

  4. would a bike that cost 700 dollars be considerd as a trail it has suntour xcr rlr 100ml travel forks on it but it does have wide handelbars with an aggresive angle

  5. I have a Marin Bolinias ridge 1 (if i spelt that wrong sorry) Its $429, Hardtail, comes with disk brakes., 7 gears in the back 3 in the front, WTB Trail Boss tires (atleast the one i got) The reccomended height on the website is a bit of a understatement, Im EXTREMELY short and riding a 27.5. Good suspension. For the first week or days, mine wasnt the best with suspension, but it gets better. LOTS of fast trips to school

  6. Just bought a 2020 TREK Marlin 5. Lowest/ entry level bike. Still paid about around 500. I love it! In this hobby you get what you pay for..

  7. I am rebel, I want change my quick release axis for fixed, because of thieves. I saw many locked bikes without one or both wheels and this is at least something what can complicate thieve's life. 🙂 But I am not speaking about only mountain bike, I am speaking about universal every day bike.

  8. I bought a fugi for about 650 and 3 years and almost 3000 miles on it…//I use it to tow trailers and ot IS my vehicle// it's super worth it! Way better than any walmart bike! It passes all your tests except the brakes, but I'm loving it!

  9. This bike literally is not rated as a bike for real mountain bike trails..it’s not even rated for green trails.. it’s got a yellow sticker on the shocks that say DO NOT TAKE IT ON ANYTHING OTHER THAN LIGHT PATHS. This goes the same to say for the derailleur, it’s also not trail rated. Two of the main components. If you plan on riding even green trails DO NOT BUY THIS BIKE. THE BIKE LITERALLY TELLS YOU NOT TO USE IT FOR THAT. Why Seth recommends this bike without telling people of this warning is shitty, it sets people up for failure and disappointment. I bought a bike just like this, as a beginner even on green trails the chain would pop off and the shocks felt horrible and only got worse with use. I had to sell it right away at a big loss. If you cannot afford a $800 plus bike than just buy a used one.. you easily find a used $1000 bike for $700 on eBay or elsewhere.. i bough an $1100 dollar bike for just $600 and it’s a joy to ride.. the bike Seth is showing here was just a pain in the ass and barely even fun with all of its issues.

  10. Got myself a 2nd hand Ridgeback MX4 for little money, it has all these components except disc brakes.
    I just need to keep pedalling and get fitter.

  11. Just getting back into it after about a 10 year hiatus, picked up a DB Line…… I'm already eyeing upgrades. In 6 months if I end up living in my Corolla but with a Mission 2C hanging out the back I'm blaming you…..

  12. A good beginer bike would be the jamis nemesis 650 it might be a cheap price( around 700) it reallly works for jumps and drops

  13. A good beginer bike would be the jamis nemesis 650 it might be a cheap price( around 700) it reallly works for jumps and drops

  14. i have a 2008 trek mt240 hardtail it has all of the features except disc brakes and the drivetrain is a 3×8 do you think its a good beginner bike?

  15. i’ve a question, i ride just flat trails in the netherlands (usually) but in vacation i ride kinda fast downhill, what kind of bike is the best to buy?

  16. ok so i found a raleigh talus 3 for $499 and its got everything but a serviceable crankset, it cannot be wrenched on. Should i buy it?

  17. That bike is a lot better And more expensive than most bikes i ever had, i always had to buy used bikes to get a good fork, and put it in the cheapest but slack as possible then changed pedals fork and handle bar and some very cheap kenda tyres,,

  18. my bike was $600. it’s a 2016 trek marlin 6 hardtail 29er. it absolutely slaps for the price. it’s got all the qualities you’ve said, including hydraulic discs, locking and adjustable forks, and the wheels are pretty nice too. i bought it new. it’s still with me 3 years later and i admit i ride it harder than it was designed for. HIGHLYYY reccomend the bikes (except the grips suck ass)

  19. I have been searching the internet for a few days now for info about bikes and it seems all the bike snobbery is making the community filled with a- holes that are acting in bad faith trying to promote LBS and sell mountain bikes. I see youtube videos giving “tips” about how you shouldn’t even buy a bike unless you are ready to drop $500 on a “cheap” one. I see videos of people going into Wal Mart buying a bike and taking it on a black diamond trail and abusing the heck out of it on purpose, doing tricks they wouldn’t do to the $5,000 bikes they were given by companies that sponsor them, that they didn’t buy. There are many people like me that have no interest in x-games xtreme downhill mountain biking and are looking for a cruiser or a mountain bike just to commute or to enjoy a bit of exercise with good company, or family and friends. You don’t need a $500 LBS bike to do that, you can go to a big box store and get a cruiser or a cheap mountain bike for under $100 for that.

  20. Seth: Your only a year away from selling all your belongings
    Me: pfht yeah right
    Also me a year later: Well this 5000 dollar mountain bike looks nice but i dont think i need it…. oh shit its in red, well i need it now, its obviously the bike holding me back and not the lack of skill.

  21. Thanks Seth for the pointers just got myself a Rocky Mountain Soul 10 but need to get a chain guide I also find it creaks In the BB area I don't know what that's about.

  22. I actually used this video as a basis to start looking so thank you! I found a redline zander and am loving it so far. Chain slap is definitely an issue but it has basically same components of the bike featured in this video.

  23. heres my tips
    1 always buy second hand, for the price of a brand new pos wallmart equivalent bike you can get a second hand trail bike, its doesnt even need to be that used to be cheap.
    2 buy a spoke key, tightening up the spokes will make the wheels feel stiffer and stop them bending in crashes, lots of bikes seem to come with the spokes loose for some reason
    3 take of the reflectors, kickstand, mudguards and whatever other junk is on there, they look silly and will just get in the way or fall off anyway

  24. I did a LOT of research before buying my mountain bike.. and opted for the Trek Marlin 5.. which seems to have everything you've mentioned (except the modular front chain ring) – which i don't think is really much of a deal?.. on the plus side – it has tons of Bontrager parts and hydraulic disc brakes instead of cable.. also has hidden cable routing as well (which is maybe something to consider when looking?).

  25. I spent in the middle of 500 dollars on a Haro flightline 2 and it's a really good bike. It is a hardtail and I'm trying to pop a wheelie on it but I'm only getting up about 1 foot

  26. I got this bike over 3 years ago and am no beginner anymore I need a cheap upgrade around 700-800 dollars bc my money is mostly maintaining my dirt bike any ideas of bikes??

  27. So… Can anyone tell me their thoughts on the B-TWIN Rockrider 540s full suspension MTB for decathlon. This is the cheapest brand new bike that had a front and rear air suspension I was able to find. On my opinion this is the best bike for $600. But still , I want other options too.

  28. Got a 2019 Cannondale Catalyst 3 at REI on end of year clearance for $367 a couple weeks ago. Passes all the tests and so far a great bike. 🙂 🙂

  29. I’m a kid, so my dads bike is a f**ing beast. My dad figures one more year or so until I can ride his. My beginner mountain bike (I ride a BMX through trails currently) will be a god damn bike for pro riders. I can even ride whistler with this and I don’t even mountain bike. I’ve always wanted to tho. My friend has a Mongoose and I rode that thing and I loved it. I can’t imagine this solid steal frame with a 5 inch top frame breaking. And I will be honest. I’m a wuss. I can barely jump on a BMX. Holy sh* I’m dead when I do a actual mountain…

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