1. Contact Points - These are the areas where your body is in direct contact with the bike.
2. Gears - Indexed gears are definitely the way to go because they automatically click to the next level for you.
3. Brakes - Mid-range mountain bikes come equipped with cantilever brakes. These are very powerful and are even better when M-system pads are added.
4. Rims - Alloy rims are crucial because they are easy to restraighten and are lighter than others.
5. Frame - The most commonly used material to construct a frame out of is chromoly. It is inexpensive, but still very good for frame construction.
6. Derailleurs - Shimano has created the highest quality shifters on the market.
7. Crankset - All mountain bikes should come with a triple crankset which will allow you to ride efficiently on flats and fairly easily up hills.
8. Tires - Make sure that the tires are suitable for off-road use. If they are not knobby and don't have a lot of traction, you should look into a new set.


Mid-range bikes are definitely the right choice if you are planning on strictly off-road riding, but are not planning on racing. You will end up with a high-quality bike that was relatively inexpensive because these bikes are the middle range manufactured by different companies. The bike has some benefits over the lower-end bikes, such as the components are usually of higher quality and do not weigh quite as much. You will find that the mid-range bikes are priced most competitively so you're apt to get a great deal!

Mid-range Bikes Include:

24-Speeds -- Makes your ride easier and more efficient.

Aheadset Stem -- The weight of the front end is greatly reduced with this kind of headset which is a great advantage on a racing bike..

Middle to top of the range bikes feature:

Bonded Tubing - You will find on many of these bikes that all of the tubing is bonded which makes it very strong.

Suspension Fork - Most high-end bikes come equipped with a suspension fork which means that the stem is a bike lower than most.

Custom Tubing - Some companies offer the buyers choice of tubing material used to construct their bike with. This generally tends to make the bike lighter depending upon the material chosen.

External Butting - On high-end bikes, external butting is used to increase the strength of the frame and also reduce the weight.

Sophisticated Fork - Some manufacturers have created their own suspension fork which look much flashier than some of the later add-on ones most people have.

Before you Buy -

1. We recommend that you start by reading bicycle reviews in biking magazines or on the Internet. Also talk with friends to see what they like and dislike about their bikes.

2. Take your prospective bike for a test drive: Make sure that the saddle is adjusted properly and that its not above the maximum height mark. Also make sure that you aren't stretching to reach the handlebars or are too cramped.

3. Ensure that the wheels are secure in the forks and that the quick-release levers are tight. Also check to see that the headset is tight, if its not the bike will not be considered under warranty. While checking the headset, make sure that the handlebars are correctly positioned in the frame, Push down hard on the handlebars as well to see if anything is loose, e.g. brake levers or shifters.

4. Don't allow a pushy salesperson to coax you into buying a bike that you don't really know anything about.

5. Check to see that you are buying the right size.

6. Look around at other bike shops or in catalogs to see if you are paying more for your bike than you should be.

7. If the bike is being sold at a very low price, don't hesitate to ask the retailer why the bike is going for that price. There could be a defect which would cause for a loss of warranty.

8. If you are offered any kind of free tune up after purchasing your bike, make sure that you bring it in. This will allow for any adjustments to be made if the bike had not been set up properly.

9. If you feel that you don't really know too much about bikes, bring a friend along who knows more about them and can ask helpful questions.

Things to Consider-

1. Try to set a budget for yourself so that you will only look at bikes that are in your price range. This will make it easier on you to choose one you like and feel comfortable forking the cash over for.

2. Try to assess how much riding you'll be doing and on what kinds of terrain.

3. Do as much research on your possible purchase as you can. Collect booklets on each bike and then compare them to see which bike has the components you want.

4. Try to test ride each bike that you've been looking at because there's no better comparison then actually riding.

5. If you are intending to buy a second-hand bike, ask a local bike shop to look it over for you to make sure everything is working properly. Also, ask the seller for the original sales receipt to prove that the bike wasn't stolen. You should also find out what types of riding the seller used the bike for to make sure that the bike isn't worn out.

The best thing about buying a mid-range bike is the fact that you have money to spend on upgrading your bike. You can always find the latest accessories that are easy to install yourself at your local bike shop. The following accessories are relatively inexpensive, are easy to install and will improve your ride.

Bar Ends - If you decided to purchase bar ends, they will increase your power and control as you climb up steep hills as well as give you plenty of hand positions for riding on roads.

Toe Clips - These are great because the straps keep the ball of your foot centered over the pedal where you will get the most out of each stride. They are also very helpful for things like bunny hops because you are able to pull up on the pedals with your feet. They may take a bit of getting use to, so practice before you hit the trails!

Tires - If you are going to upgrade one thing on your bike, this is probably the best place to start. Mid-range bikes come with tires that are knobby enough to get by with on trails, but the knobbier the tire the more traction you'll have.

Saddles - Most entry-level bikes come with generic saddles. If you purchase a new saddle you can get it customized to serve your riding needs. Most mountain bikers prefer a narrower saddle because it allows you to slide back easily for going down hill or trying to get better traction.

Clipless Pedals - This is probably one of the most expensive upgrades you'll find because you have to buy the clipless pedals along witht eh shoes to fit. If you decided to install a pair of clipless pedals, you won't be sorry! You have total connection witht the pedals which means that all of your energy is focused on propelling the bike forward and isn't lost between your foot and the pedal. They are hard to get used to at first, but we're sure that you won't give them up once you've figured the out!

Finding a bike that looks like what you want is easy, but fitting it is a completely different story. When you find a bike that fits properly, you will feel comfortable, relaxed and ready to hit the trails. Follow the simple adjusting steps below to make sure that you are getting the most out of your bike!

1. Finding the right fit - When you find a bike that fits you properly, you should have about three to four inches clearance between you and the top tube. When the seat and handlebars are adjusted at the same height, you should be able to sit comfortably on the bike. You will have more control over the bike if you are relaxed because it is easier to balance and if you are stretching too far it's more difficult to balance.

2. Adjusting the saddle height - When you first begin riding, keep the saddle on the low-end and then raise it as you become more experienced. Your feet should touch the pedals when your knee is straight and the pedal is at the lowest point.

3. Adjusting the saddle position - As a rule, you should have about 2 inches adjustment on the rails of your saddle. There is no set standard to decide when it is adjusted properly because it's personal preference. Try adjusting the position until you find one that works well for you.

4. Adjusting the handlebars - Most stems have about 1 to 2 inches of extra stem to adjust the height. Most people find that if the handlebars are adjusted below the saddle then the handlebars are more comfortable to hold on to. If you want to take the scientific approach, look at it this way: if your arms are extended at a 45 degree angle with your arms slightly bent then your handlebars are adjusted properly.

WARNING! Companies use different criteria when deciding on frame size. Don't mistake one 19-inch frame for another!

After finding your dream bike and making all of the adjustments, it's time to focus on parts. Keep in mind that if you aren't satisfied with some of the components on your bike when you buy it you are able to trade them in for others. This usually turns out to be cheaper when it comes to upgrading.

Saddle - Finding the perfect saddle is not easy and may take some riders many tries before they find it. Here are some tips: make sure that the saddle is narrow enough that you can easily slide off of the back, also more padding is not always better! In some cases it will rub against your thighs and after a long ride will become very uncomfortable!

Brake levers - Most brake levers can be adjusted with an Allen Key by loosening or tightening the clamp to fit your needs. Here are the following ways that they can be adjusted:

1. Up or down - You can rotate the levers up or down until they are comfortable. You shouldn't feel any kind of pull in your arms.

2. In or out - You can move the levers closer together (towards the center) or farther apart (towards the grips) depending on your shoulder width.

3. Reach adjustment - You are also able to adjust the resting position of the brake levers either closer or farther from the handlebars. Just be forewarned that your break setup may need to be adjusted after this.

Handlebars - Most handlebars can be rotated backwards slightly at the stem clamp. The best position is found by just getting on your bike and riding!

Handlebar stem - You should be able to adjust the handlebars so that they are comfortable. If you cannot do this, buy a stem that is comfortable. There are many different rise angles, lengths and quill lengths (part of that stem that fits into the fork).


1. Choose your track:

SINGLETRACK - A singletrack trail is wide enough for only one bike. It is often twisty and you must always be prepared to come to a stop for another rider or animal as you may not be able to see very far ahead of you. These tracks can be a lot of fun.

DOUBLETRACK - A doubletrack trail requires less ability and is good for beginners. It is also good if you have a large group.

2. Mapping the route

It is convenient to use a laminated map because it is not only waterproof but you can draw your planned ride on it with a marker. Using a detailed map of the area you anticipate riding in, determine the amount of hills you will have to climb. Hills add a good amount of time and energy to a ride. Make sure your path avoids coastal areas and marshlands.

DIRT ROADS - These roads are used by a wide range of vehicles and are well marked on maps. This makes them very easy to plan a good ride on, because you can connect many of these roads together.

LOGGING ROADS - These roads are specific roads in forests that are designated to mountain bikers. However on these roads you may come across heavy logging trucks and other forestry vehicles.

Some people are scared off by the lycra biker look, but fear not! There are now comfortable, loose-fitting clothes for all of you who want to try biking, but want to leave the racer image at home!

Shirts - Most of these are designed to keep you cool and comfortable while biking. They are available in cotton-blends if you don't want lycra. The back and sleeves are longer to avoid exposing areas of skin while stretching forward.

Shorts - There are many colors and styles of loose-fitting padded shorts. These are designed to look like normal shorts, but with a little extra padding for those long rides.

Cycling Shorts - If you are looking for one thing to make your ride more comfortable, this is it! These shorts come in all different materials to cover your skin instead of flapping in the breeze. Cycling shorts should fit snuggly, but not so snuggly that they cut off your circulation.

All-purpose Shoes - These shoes are usually SPD compatible and come with a stiff sole that is great for riding, but not too stiff to walk in. These shoes usually come in a "half boot" style which gives your ankle plenty of support.

Gloves - Any serious biker will tell you to get yourself a good pair of gloves. Some gloves come with gel inserts that will make your handlebars very comfortable and will keep your hands from getting blistered or scraped if you fall.

Eye protection - While biking, it's important to protect your eyes from mud, dirt, ultra violet rays and bugs. You can get all kinds of styles, sizes, colors and tints. For bright days, try a dark or Iridium lens which reduces glare. On gray days go for amber or yellow tints.

There is so much out there in the way of accessories for your bike that you'll probably be in a tailspin if you go to a local bike shop to check them out. Listed below are the "no frills" accessories that all mountain bikers should have.

Bike Bags - There are several types of bike bags that are recommended for mountain bikers. The first type is a small bag that fits on the back of your saddle and is just big enough for something like an energy bar. Another type is a rack bag which is quite large and sits on a rack if you have one attached to the back of your bike. The third bag is the handlebar bag. These are great because they are large enough to carry almost anything you can think of and even has a plastic sleeve where you can slide your trail map in for easy viewing.

Lights - While it's not recommended to bike at night, most bikers will find themselves biking at night at some point in their career. If you are caught out in the dark, it's important that you have a light on the front of your bike to light your way and also alert motorists of oncoming cyclists. You should also have an LED rear light which can either blink or stay on to alert people behind you. Most lights are either battery powered or hooked up to a generator which is powered each time your wheel turns.

Water Bottles - There are many different types of bottles and sizes (the smallest holding .75 liters and the largest holding 1.51 liters) to choose from. You will want to make sure that the mouth of the bottle is wide enough to fit ice cubes through for those hot days. Giro makes an excellent bottle called the "Rocket Bottle" which allows you to put carbonated drinks in your bottle along with anything else because the screw-top mouth is so wide.

Bottle Cages - If you are going to carry a water bottle, the best way to do this is on the frame of your bike. There are two screws located on the bottom sloping tube of your bike where you are able to connect a water bottle. Depending on the size of your frame, you may be able to get away with putting two bottle cages on the frame. Most cages are designed to carry almost any size bottle without dropping one.

Pumps - There are various sizes when it comes to pumps ranging from floor pumps to micro pumps that are made to fit in a bike bag. A floor pump is the type of thing to leave at home or in your car while a micro pump is great to bring with you on the trails. The floor pump will inflate the tire more quickly, but the micro pump will definitely get the job done.

Computers - Bike computers are great to have because they will usually keep track of trip mileage, total mileage, average speed, maximum speed, cadence, elapsed time and much more depending on the model. Computers are the types of things where the more money it costs, the more features it has.




It's a fact: About 1,000 American bicyclists die in crashes each year-- and around three-fourths die from head injuries. Hundreds suffer permanent brain damage. Many of these are experienced, careful riders-- maybe just like you. And most of these head injuries can be prevented with bike helmets! If you think that wearing a helmet is a hassle or just isn't cool, think about how "cool" it will be to be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. Today's helmets are lightweight, fashionable, cool and inexpensive -- especially compared to an emergency room visit.

The two basic helmet types are hard shell and soft shell. Hard-shell helmets have a thin plastic surface, while soft-shell helmets have only the soft (usually white) foam surface. Hard shells can be safer on the street: When the shell hits rough pavement it'll skid, rather than catch on something and break your neck.

Also, a hard shell keeps the helmet's core-- the soft foam part-- from getting scratched and nicked. So if you do buy a soft-shell helmet, get a cloth or nylon cover that stretches over the whole helmet. Make sure the cover's on tight so it'll slide if you fall.

If you have a crash and your helmet takes an impact, replace it right away. Some companies, take Giro for example, will request that you send them your helmet if you crash. They will then analyze it to see how they can improve their safety and will also send you a new helmet for free. An impact can damage a helmet's foam core, meaning that it won't protect you again.

Look on the inside of the helmet: It should have a green or blue Snell sticker (fig. 1), meaning the helmet passed the Snell Foundation's tests for safety.

Fit: You must have a good fit. A snug fit means that if your head hits more than once, the helmet stays in place. Most brands of adult helmets come in two or three sizes, and you make them fit by adjusting the chin strap and putting foam pads around inside. Don't wear your helmet tilted back, it won't protect your skull in a frontal impact.

New Technology: In the newest helmets, companies, like Giro have come up with something new that they call "RocLoc" (fig. 2). What this system does is it gives the back of you head some support where the straps come together. The plastic piece fits below the helmet and sits against the back of your head, preventing the helmet from sliding off. And if you are worried about not being able to wear your hair back in a pony tail, don't fret! Giro has made the "RocLoc2" (fig. 3) Ponytail-friendly!

Specialized Air Piranha




How to Check For A Good Fit

. The helmet sits level on your head.
b. You can't easily shift the helmet to the front, back, or sides of your head.
c. With the straps tight, you can't possibly get the helmet off.

If the helmet fails these, adjust the straps, put in bigger pads, or try another size.

Cost: You can get a good Snell-rated bike helmet for $30 to $80. Hard shells cost a little more than soft. More costly helmets usually aren't much safer, but they have better ventilation, weigh less, and look cool. Before you buy a helmet, always try it on or have your bicycle store's staff fit you.

Ventilation: A helmet's ventilation depends on front-to-back flow. Good air flow comes from long, wide air vents, and air passages (or troughs) between the vents (Bald, light-skinned cyclists beware: big vents can cause weird tan lines!)

Weight: Less expensive helmets are usually only ounces heavier than expensive ones-- and most cyclists notice no difference. If you think you need an ultra-light helmet, test-ride a regular one to make sure.

Aerodynamics: Many cyclists worry that some helmet safety features, such as sun visors, will increase wind resistance. Don't worry; a helmet's design won't slow you down unless you're going at warp speed.

Summary taken from Mountain Bikers ONLY!

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