HOW OFTEN DO I NEED
TO LUBE MY CHAIN?
HOW MUCH DO I REALLY
NEED TO SPEND?
DO I NEED A 29ER?
OR A 27. 5? OR A 26?
HOW MUCH TRAVEL
DO I NEED?
Not as often as you think. If you’re
dousing your chain with lube before every
ride, you’re likely doing more harm than
good. Lubricants are either oil- or wax-based, but, either way, they attract dust,
dirt and grime. That debris puts excess
wear on your drivetrain. Rather than simply
reaching for a bottle of lube before every
ride, listen to your drivetrain. If it’s sounding dry, it’s time for some lube. If your
chain is squeaky, it has been too long and
you’re overdue. If it’s running smoothly,
simply leave it alone. And, if you’ve been
over-lubing for a while and your chain
looks like a victim of the Exxon Valdez
spill, it’s time to wash your bike and start
A new bike is a heck of an investment.
Ask non-mountain bikers what they think
the cost of a new bike is and they will
likely come back with a number that is
less than $300. Ask an experienced
rider how much he spent and he might
come back with something more than
your car cost. Bottom line: you don’t
have to mortgage your house to afford
a bike and have a good time; however,
you should plan to buy what we would
call a “real” mountain bike rather than
one that looks like a mountain bike but
is actually just for cruising bike paths.
You will probably need to spend at least
$600 to $900. While bikes that cost less
are capable of doing some light-duty dirt
road riding or mellow singletrack, they
are not equipped for the rigors of real
riding. If you choose to spend more,
you will get lighter and more durable
There is no perfect answer for this
question, although we can give you some
guidance. Twenty-six-inch wheels are all
but obsolete these days. While you may
be able to find a deal on a used bike
online with 26er wheels, there will be
limited options for things like wheels, tires
and forks in the coming years. We’d recommend staying away from these for the
most part. Bikes with 27.5-inch wheels
are here to stay and are available in every
size—from extra small to extra large.
These are the most versatile bikes available now. They have a slightly larger-di-ameter wheel that rolls over obstacles
better than a 26-inch wheel. Bikes with
29-inch wheels take the big diameter one
step further and offer even more rollover
performance; however, they can be slightly heavier and may not fit smaller-sized
frames as well.
Most tall riders will find that 29er
wheels are better for cross-country and
trail applications, because they will feel
more efficient. Shorter and more aggressive riders will appreciate the nimbleness
of 27.5-inch wheels; however, there is no
hard-and-fast rule here. Bottom line: it’s
best to try before you buy.
Most riders think they need none or they
think they need a lot. It’s much more likely
that you need something that’s smack in
the middle. Rigid hardtails are hard to ride,
and downhill bikes are slow on anything
steep enough to warrant a chairlift or shuttle vehicle to get you to the top of the hill.
Unless you want to stick to smooth roads
and singletrack, or you only want to bomb
downhill, a bike with 4–6 inches of travel is
likely best. Buy a bike with less travel if you
like to climb and more if you tend to like
the descents. Also, be sure to take your
terrain into account. There’s no reason to
ride a fully decked-out enduro bike while
wearing head-to-toe armor if you’re only
riding the bike path.
debate is still raging.