1. There are three main types of mountain bike available in stores. You have a rigid frame, which has no suspension; a hard tail that has a suspension fork on the front; and dual suspension, which has both front and rear shock absorbers. Generally for off-road triathlon races you are best with either a hard tail or a dual suspension.
2. We would always recommend buying from your local bike shop. Not only can they offer you a wide variety of choice along with a wealth of knowledge, they will also assist with one-year warranties, a free service and personal contact if you have any issues with the bike.
3. Make a decision of where you will primarily be using your bike. If it is generally used for commuting then you’re not going to need to spend the extra cash on that rear suspension; but if you’re going to be crossing over cross country with some downhill riding, you should certainly look at the dual suspension.
4. Decide your budget. You could get a high-end hard tail MTB bike for the same price as you would get a mid-range dual suspension. Decide what’s more important – a hard tail will be lighter than a dual suspension, so if you plan on climbing lots of hills, this bike may be for you.
5. Let the test ride decide. Whenever possible, take a spin on any bike you plan to buy. Pay close attention to how the bike fits the reach from the saddle. The handlebars. You shouldn’t feel cramped or over-extended. Giant bikes have regular demo days and Liv Cycling offers group ladies’ rides from most stores where you can test ride the latest and greatest bikes.
Words by Ben Allen & Jacqui Slack.