How to Find the Best Mountain Bike Components [STARTER GUIDE]
If you are passionate about mountain biking, knowing your MTB components is critical. This guide lays out an A-Z overview of all the important components of a mountain bike, whether you are looking to buy replacements or just understand more about your rig.
For every mountain bike, there are essential parts that must be considered and one of them is the tire set. However, there are various tire specifications and different needs that your tire set should meet. In this article, you will be shown these specs and you will be provided with our top-10 list of the best mountain bike tires available today.
CRITERIA FOR CHOOSING TIRES
There are several factors that must be considered when you are buying a mountain bike tire set. Some people argue that your choice should be based on your riding style, but there are various factors that must be considered in this case. Here are the factors you must look out for when purchasing MTB tires.
Durability is an essential factor that you need to consider when purchasing a mountain biking tire set. You will need a tire that will last through the various harsh conditions you will encounter. There is no doubt that your tires will be caked with dirt and there is a need for the tire to have a durable casing that will help in the absorption of heat during your adventure. For instance, Maxxis has a specific EXO technology that ensures durability and sustainability.
The design pattern should also be considered when you want to buy tires. The tread pattern of the tires plays a critical role in how the grip works when you are riding. For beginners, the best advice would be to have a decent understanding of tread patterns and use it during the selection. Tread pattern info can be found here.
You won’t have much trouble selecting the tire size and width because there are just three sizes essentially, 26”, 27.5” in and 29”. It is always best to go ahead and test out all tire sizes at the bike shop before making a decision on which size works best for you. Smaller tires are going to be faster and more agile while larger tires, such as 29rs, are going to be better at taking impact and rolling over items.
Tube or a tubeless?
Tubeless tires can be an awesome addition to any Mountain Bike. Going Tubeless has several benefits, from reduced friction to better speed and more performance, going tubeless is typically always a good idea.
LIST OF TOP TEN MTB TIRES
These are the links to our top ten best mountain bike tires on the market today. Have a look at them and be sure to educate yourself on which tire set will work best for you before you make a purchasing decision.
- Continental Trail King Fold Protection Bike Tire
- Maxxis Minion DHRII 3C Exo Tubeless Ready Folding Tire
- Kenda K850 Aggressive MTB Wire Bead Bicycle Tire
- Maxxis Ardent TR Exo Tire
- Maxxis minion DHRII 3C EXO Tubless ready folding Tire
- Schwalbe Hans Dampf Tire
- Maxxis Ignitor Mountain Bike
- Panaracer Fire XC MTB Tire
- Contintinental Vertical 26×2.30 Black Tire
- Kenda John Tomac Signature Series Nevegal Mountain Bike Tire
Die-hard mountain bikers are aware of the fact that their bikes should be properly maintained. Every part is delicate and should be properly handled to ensure it lasts for a longer time. In case any part of the bike is broken, there are plenty of choices you can make when replacing it.
The pedal is one of the easiest and most affordable part to replaced when it is damaged. It is also very smart to make sure your pedal set is selected based on your preferred riding style and feel. Like every other part of the bike, there are certain things you should know before venturing off into buying a new pedal set.
Types of MTB Pedals
There are two major types of pedals – clipless and flat pedal, both of them have unique designs and can be used in diverse ways.
It may surprise you to know that clipless pedals are actually pedals that clip onto your shoe. The name may fool you, but don’t be fooled by the intensity of these pedals when you are speeding down a mountain clipped in on a full suspension mountain bike.
They are double-sided which means it doesn’t matter what part of the pedal you place your feet; a little adjustment would have it ready to be used. With this sort of pedal, you will have more power and foot grip when riding. It equally gives you extra control when you ride.
Flat pedals are made for high platform mountain bikes. They are double-sided pedals that ensure comfortability and are designed with a lot of contact pins to bring balance and steadiness to your shoe on the pedal. The surface area of your pedal determines the level of convenience and contact between your feet and your bike.
Tension and float
Tension and float are other components that you should consider when buying pedals. Tension is described as the force that acts against you taking your foot off the clip while the float is the movement of your feet when on the pedal.
Both are important and based on your riding style, you should get the best product that suits your needs. You should also avoid the temptation of buying what other people are buying and make a purchasing decision based completely on the type of riding you will be doing and what is most comfortable for you while doing it.
The Top MTB Pedals on the Market
With this information, we dive into our top ten pedal sets you can buy for your hard-tail or full-suspension mountain bike. Feel free to follow the links and make a purchase if you already know what type of pedal you need.
- Shimano XTR M9020
- RaceFace Atlas Bike Pedal
- Crank brothers egg beater 3 MTB pedal
- Crank brothers Mallet Enduro MTB Pedals
- Time ATAC XC 8 Carbon pedals
- Hope F20 platform Pedal
- Swank spoon Bicycle Pedal
- DMR Vault Platform Pedals
- Chromag Scarab Platform Pedal
- Shimano Deore XT M8020 Trail MTB Pedals
In addition to having the pedals and the saddle as the contact point between you and your bike, the grip acts as a crucial contact point as well. As the name suggests, it is meant to keep your hand in position and avoid slipping from the handlebars.
Usually, most mountain bikers complain of sore hands after riding for many hours, but you will get a steady and a stress-free ride with the right handlebar grips.
Various factors should be considered when buying good MTB grips and there are a few points that you should consider; you might want to consider changing the grip that comes with your bike if it causes you much hand fatigue or pain. Here are a few things to consider that may influence your purchasing decision.
Types of MTB Grips
There are two types of grips, and they vary in ability and purpose. We have the Lock-on grip which, as the name implies, has single or double clamp locking rings to put your grip in place while the Slide-on grips are easier to install and remove with their simple slide on attachment to the bike handle.
You should know that when dirt or moisture gets beneath the slide on the grip, they rotate easily but Lock-on grips remain in position and get even tighter and harder to remove overtime.
Span and shape
You should also consider how long or short the grips are before buying them; a great tip is for you to try different types of grips and settle with the one that suits your needs. If you have a small hand, buying a long grip will not be a smart decision because it will only make it harder to reach the brakes, so in essence, know yourself and what suits you best.
Material compound used
The material compound used in making the grips also tells whether or not your grips will be durable. In a case where your grips are made of soft materials, they may be soft and comfortable, but they don’t last long.
If your grip is made from silicone, it has more strength and gives firmness during a ride but can get damaged pretty easily during a crash. Hard materials last longer but don’t take in much vibration, soft materials take in vibration well, but don’t last quite as long.
Have bar plugs
The bar plugs are mainly in place to prevent you from stabbing yourself during a crash. It’s a safety measure to keep the grips on your handlebars and shouldn’t be taken off. Below is our top ten list of the best mountain bike grips on the market today.
The Top MTB Grips on the Market Today
- Ergon GE1
- Race Face Half Nelson
- Lizard Skins Peaty
- DMR Brendog Death Grip
- Ergon GA2
- Schminn Tri-layer Gel Comfort
- ESI Chunky MTB Grip
- ODI AG-2 Aaron Gwin Lock-On Grips
- Chromag Palmskin
- ODI Ruffian
The importance of the brakes cannot be overemphasized. It is equally as important as every other part of the bike because of the support your brakes deliver when riding.
The brakes essentially help you come to a firm halt when applied, but that’s not all. Good brakes also have lightweight yet durable features that give you better control when and mobility when riding.
Disc brake technology has paved the way for innovation in the way brakes are made, they impact the weight, cost, performance and aesthetic value of your brakes. Simply put, these brakes are the future. As always, we will take you through a series of necessities you should have in mind when you are about to purchase a new set of brakes.
Types of Mountain Bike Brakes
There are essentially two types of brakes; hydraulic and mechanical. Mechanical brakes are the easy type, the type you can install yourself after reading a short page of instructions.
The benefit of this type of brake is that you generally have no issue trying to fix them on the go. They are heavier and at a low temperature perform close to as well as the hydraulics. They work by applying mechanical tension, when you pull the brake cables; the calipers get tightened and respond accordingly.
The Hydraulics work in a similar manner as the brakes on your car, they are somewhat expensive and technical to install, they will typically require an expert to help you with the installation. The brakes are sharp and respond quickly to the cables when set up properly.
MTB Brake Adjustability
You will want a break set that is easily adjustable and customizable for you as the rider.
MTB Brake pads
There are three types of brake pads, all have their unique properties and uses.
Metallic brake pads: these brake pads are very durable. The only problem with them is that they perform at a lower than optimum level in low temperatures, as they heat up, they preform pretty good compared to the other brake types.
They’re also semi-metallic brake pads. These types of brake pads are the ones that come standard with most bikes. They provide a pretty reliable pad for quick stops.
Organic brakes: This is yet another type of brake pad that can be used. They are not made with metals but from an organic source, resin. They tend to fail at high temperatures but perform well most seasons when the weather is moderate.
MTB Rotor size
When you have a small rotor, it means less power, vice versa. There are three essential sizes 200mm, 180mm, and 160mm. Below is our top ten best MTB brakes available today.
The Top MTB Brakes Worth Considering
- Shimano M820 Saint Disc Brake
- Clark’s Cable Systems Rear Hydraulics
- Sram Guide Ultimate Disc Brake
- Magura MT7 MTB
- Hope Tech 3 V4
- Hope Race EVO X-2
- Sram Guide RSC
- TRP Spyke Alloy
- Avid Code R
- TRP Quadiem G-Spec
How to Find the Best Mountain Bike Saddle
The saddle is another contact point between you and your bike and with that being said, it is an essential part of the bike. By default, all bikes purchased come with a saddle, but chances are that they probably are not very high quality. Therefore, it is a good idea to get a good saddle that fits your needs.
Some individuals get an entirely new bike because of the level of discomfort caused by the saddle, a change in saddle can go a long way in bringing better comfort.
We are all different, and no two butts are equal. This is the reason why there are several specifications made to cater to a wide range of customer preferences. It may sound like an easy task just heading to a bike store to pick a saddle, but you will need to test out several saddles before you find the perfect one for your unique bum.
Here are a few criteria to check out when buying your next MTB saddle.
MTB Saddle Width
The width has got to be the most obvious and important part of the saddle We all have different pelvic bone sizes which determine the size and shape of our bum; Sometimes it is a great idea to buy a saddle that has a width that spans well across our pelvic bone for maximum comfort.
Women have wider pelvic bones and this is the reason why women would typically need a wider saddle. Most often, it is tough to choose a great saddle. A useful tip would be to try them all out, especially for longer rides to find the best one for you.
The next thing to look out for after you have settled on the saddle you want is the length. The length of the saddle helps with posture and weight placement. A saddle with a long nose helps you place your weight forward when you are mounting the bike; it also gives you more weight to work with.
A lot of people have the perception that the more the padding, the more comfort you will feel, but that is not totally true. Padding essentially helps absorb shock, but adding extra does not translate to comfort.
Soft padding equals pressure on your skin while thicker paddings can temporarily interrupt the flow of blood to your muscles.
Mountain Bike Saddle Shape
The shape of your saddle should be a factor you need to consider in getting comfort from your saddle. While some are curved, others are flat, and all design types are meant to suit certain people, their shapes and goals.
The Best MTB Saddles Worth Trying
Here is our top ten list of the best saddles you can buy today.
- Fabric scoop radius
- Ergon SMC3 Comp
- Selle Italia Max SLR GEL Flow
- Ergon SMC4 Sport Gel
- WTB Pure Race
- WTB Speed Comp
- Brooks Cambium C15 Carved
- SQLab 611 Race Titanium
- Brooks B15
- Selle Italia Vanox Rails SLR XC Saddle
How to Find the Best MTB Stems
The stem is a component of your bike that connects your handlebars to the steering tube. The right stem selection is highly important if you are riding for a long distance and do not want to be in pain for the majority of your ride. You will find that the stem accounts for the control you have of turning your handlebars.
The truth is that, as a mountain bike rider, you would need to understand your bike and the connection you have with it for you to come out with the best experience possible.
There are slight differences between certain stem types, and sometimes you will need to take a test ride to feel these differences.
Try taking a few rides on bikes with different stems to find out which design and size works best for you. Here are a few things you need to consider when trying buying a new stem.
MTB Stem Length
The length is one of the first factors you should consider when you want to buy a new stem or replace an old one. Since the length is the measure of distance from the stem to the handlebar, you can see the effect of the length in the overall control of your bike.
Shorter stems will give you a more agile and accurate response to turns and maneuvers while a longer one helps place your weight forward giving you a better position for long rides. It is said that the best size to use is within the range of 50mm to 80mm.
MTB Stem Rise
The stem rise is measured in degrees, and it is the level of the handle bar relative to the stem. When you get a measurement of the degree between the rise and the handle bar, you should get a zero-degree read, this shows that your stem fits perfectly and you don’t need to modify it any further.
The handlebar width is an obvious part of your bike and should be modified inversely as you modify your stem. Let’s assume you have a long stem, the width of your handlebars should be reduced, and vice versa, a short stem with a wider handle bar will allow better control and stability.
The Top MTB Stems on the Market
Here is our top ten list of great handle bar stems on the market today.
- Truvativ 40 0-Degree 42 Height 31.8
- Race Face Respond Mountain Bike Stem
- Race Face Ride Mountain Bike Stem
- Truvativ Stylo T20
- Origin8 Pro Fit ATB Stem
- Easton Haven Stem
- Ritchey Pro 30 Degree
- Control Tech One 5-Degree Bike Stem
- Hope AM Stem
- Kind Shock Ethers
It is pretty easy to see the role suspension plays within the grand scheme of your mountain bike; it more or less acts as the main component that allows you to take on impact without destroying you or the bike. If you are looking for your perfect mountain bike, be sure and test ride both a hard-tail and full-suspension bike before making a decision.
There a quite a handful of suspensions out there, and each of them has its their own unique features. Based on tests and surveys, research has shown that the best suspension forks are the ones within the 140mm to 160mm range.
The suspension forks are very significant part of the bike and there a ton to choose from when buying a new suspension rig for your bike. Hard-tail bikes typically come with a less than impressive fork that you can later upgrade to a higher quality fork such as the band Fox. A better fork is going to allow you to ride more effortlessly and will help to keep your back and arms from fatiguing.
CRITERIA FOR CHOOSING A GOOD SUSPENSION
Your bike’s design
When it comes to buying a new suspension fork, you need to take a few things into consideration.
One thing you should consider include the size of your wheel. To know what size you are using, check the side of your tire. Typically, your tire will either be 27.5” or 29”. This is important because you need to know the size of your tire to determine the size of the suspension that will fit with your particular wheel size.
Another thing that you have to consider is the type of axle; your bolt-thru axle will help direct you to the perfect fork for your bike, there are 9mm, 15mm and 20mm bolt-thru axles, and you are most likely using one of these sizes.
Another key part that needs to be considerd is the bike frame vs. how long you want to travel. Your bike frame is either designed for a short or long suspension fork; it would be silly to buy a short suspension fork for a frame made for a longer one.
Know your fork steerer and disc mount
For the fork steerer, the tempered model will work just fine, and if not, then it has got to be the 11/8 model.
For the disc mount, there are two types, the post mount, and the I.S mount disc brake calipers. The first type is for newer bike designs, while the other is for older bike designs.
Make your choice
This is the part where you shop around and choose the right suspension fork for your bike. Every decent mountain bike will come with an “Ok” suspension, but if you want to start taking the sport seriously, you will need some serious gear.
You can ask an expert at any bike shop for more info on what you can do to make your suspension more effective while on the trail. Just be sure to take everything we listed above into account before purchasing a new suspension fork.
The Best MTB Suspension Forks Available
Here is a list of our top ten suspension forks available today.
- SR Suntour Disc Fork
- XOSS MTB FRONT SUSPENSION
- 26’ Cruiser Bent Spring Fork
- UpanBike 26” Disc Brake
- Fox Racing Shox 36 Float 27.5
- SR Suntour XCR Air Spring MTB Fork 29”
- RockShox Recon Silver TK Fork 26”
- SR Suntour XC Epixon MTB Fork
- Manitou Machete Suspension Fork 29”
- Lixada Ultra-Light 26”
Mountain biking is an awesome activity by yourself. You get to embrace beautiful nature and taste pure adrenaline. For me, it is very meditative and relaxing, yet exhilarating at the same time. With that being said, nothing beats riding new terrain with a couple of friends who know the trails.
It is easy to forget about the small components of your bike when you are having so much fun, but it is essential to factor every part in so that your bike can keep up with you and your buddies! One of these small, yet essential components, is the hub. The hub is the center part of the wheel that allows it to spin and allows you to bomb that beautiful run tomorrow!
The wheel would be incomplete without the hub. The spokes of your wheel attach to the hub and create the tire itself. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to ride the bike at all.
If you wreck and ruin your hub, don’t worry. There are plenty of replacement options out there for you to choose from. When looking for a new hub for your bike, here are a few simple things you should keep in mind.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A NEW HUB
Do a quick measurement of your tires and compare with them the size of the hub. Just like the way the rim works, you should know the bearing size of your hub so that you don’t have to guess when purchasing a new one.
It is also smart to make sure that you have solid bearings that won’t allow dirt and grime to get in them. This will slow the rotation of your hub/wheel and leave you on the side of the trail instead of racing down it. These bearings allow your hub to rotate and allow you to have a lot of fun on your bike.
It is important to choose a hub that is strong and will last a long time. You obviously want to purchase a hub that is going to last, even when abused by the harsh elements and many long rides. It is worth every penny to get a hub that is durable. You will regret buying a cheap hub when your buddies are asking you to come ride a new track and your hub is clogged and not working properly.
Some hubs are made from aluminum while others are made from carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is tough but light weight; In my opinion, this is the best option because of its lightweight property and tensile strength. It is also good to keep in mind that the requirements for a rear hub is slightly different from that of the front of the hub because of weight balancing and control.
The Top MTB Hubs Worth Checking Out
Here is our top ten list of the best hubs on the market today.
- DT Swiss DT350
- Novatec Mountain Hub D882SB
- Shimano HB-M525
- Taliman DC4 428 Gram
- Miles Quick Release MTB
- Shimano HB-4600 Tiagra
- Sturmey Archer S30
- Shimano Deore M525A
- Joylive Pair Disc Brake Hub
- DT Swiss Hub RR DT 350S
How to Find the Best MTB Handlebars
The handlebars are one of the most important contact points on your mountain bike. The handle bars are the center of control and allow you to steer the bike in the direction needed on a dime.
Most mountain bikes come with decent handlebars that will work fine for most people. But if you want to up your game and take your riding to the next level, you need a solid set of handlebars to meet your demand. Things to take into consideration when buying a new set of handlebars is the length, design, width and material of the handlebars.
Things to consider when buying new handlebar
The first thing to consider when buying new handle bars is comfort. Obviously, you want your bars to be nice and comfortable when you are riding. If your handle bars keep you in a bent position, then they might not be the right handlebars for you. You want to be able to sit strait up and be in a bent, racing position when holding your handlebars.
MTB Handlebar Design
Design is another factor that must be considered. Basically, there are two types of designs for handlebars; there are flat bars and rise bars.
As the name implies, the rise bars help you to adjust the center of gravity on your bike making it easier to jump the bike if you are into freestyle riding and tricks. Most BMX bikes have bars like these, but most mountain bikes do not. Most mountain bikes have flat bars that will allow you to make sharps turns and stay grounded with the bike.
Look closely at your handlebars, you should be able to tell what purpose the handlebars are serving. Some handlebars are bent in certain places to add comfort and some are as straight as a board. This is completely relative to what is most comfortable for you, the rider. If you need slight variations in your handlebars then you will have many options when buying new ones.
Best MTB Handlebar Material
The material of your handlebars determines the strength and weight of the bars. It is smart to decide the material you’d like by the type of riding you will be doing.
If your intention is to go fast, then carbon fiber is your best bet. If your ambition is to have a rugged and indestructible bike, steel is always reel. Most handlebars will be made of either carbon or aluminum, aluminum being the primary choice for most beginner riders.
The Top MTB Handlebars on the Market
Here is our list of the top handlebars on the market today.
- Race Face Next
- Ritchy Superlogic Rizer
- Origin8 Pro Sweep
- Sunlite North Road
- Soma Oxford
- Spank Oozy Vibrocore MTB Core
- Thomson MTB Carbon Cross Country Handlebar
- Syntace Vector Carbon High20
After you have gotten your bike meticulously out together with the right specs, the right wheels, the right handlebars, the right pedals and the right components, you will need to make sure that your gears are also up-to-par.
Shimano makes some of the best mountain bike components available today, and gears are no exception. The type of gears that will work best for you is completely dependent on the kind of riding you will be doing.
While some riders have a standard 10 gear system with 7 in the back and 3 in the front, some riders prefer 1 gear in the front and 3 in the back. If you are going to be riding down a sketchy mountain, you may want to opt for having more gears for more control of the bike.
If you are riding freestyle, you will usually be flowing down a track that allows you to stay in the same gear for most of the ride.
Usually included in the gear category is the crank and pedal arms. The crank is the component of the bike that rotates the chain in turn, rotating the wheels. The pedal arms attach to the crank, and the pedals to the pedal arms. If you are lucky, you can find this entire set up in one place and purchase a high-quality groupset all at once.
None-the-less, you want to make sure that your gears are made of high-quality material and come from a reputable brand such as s\Shimano. Here are a few options that we like.
The Best MTB Gears to Check Out
- Shimano XT M8000 1×11 Drivetrain Groupset
- SHIMANO PARTIAL XT 8000 2X11 GROUPSET
- 2018 Shimano Deore M6000 MTB Groupset Group Hydraulic Brake 2/3x10s 11-42t
- Sram vs Shimano Groupsets Compared
What About Clothing, Gear and Accessories?
No problem! We have you covered. Check out our guide to finding the right MTB gear for more on that.