The mountain bike – versatile companion wherever you go

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The mountain bike enables you to overcome limits. Whether on paved roads, gravel, dirt roads or rough terrain: This hardy off-road bike feels at home anywhere. It gets you up the mountain on the weekend and back to work on Monday. Today, we will take a closer look at one of the most popular and versatile bike types.

The first bikes designed for almost any terrain were developed way back in the 1970s. Initially, these bikes were known as “all terrain bikes” (ATB for short); occasionally, they were called “mountain bikes.” Then, in 1977, the first true mountain bike was built specifically for riding off paved roads and trails. Today, there are countless specialized models, and our roads and trails are hard to imagine without mountain bikes (MTBs).

Designed for special capabilities

Thanks to its characteristic wide tires with their deep tread, the mountain bike provides good grip on loose surfaces. Over the course of MTB development, the original, smaller rim and tire sizes of 26 inches have given way to larger wheels. Today, mountain bikes are mostly equipped with 27.5 or 29 inch wheels. Even hybrid models, with a 27.5 inch rear wheel and a 29 inch front wheel can be found – albeit 29 inch wheels for the front and rear appear to prevail.

In addition to the wheel size, the size of the frame and its geometry have also seen adaptations to the specific requirements of mountain biking. The frame, which is on average about 10 cm lower than that of city, touring or racing bikes, is designed for agility through rapid changes in direction, facilitating the handling of the mountain bike. The comparatively large tube diameters, especially since aluminum and carbon are being used in frame construction, provide ruggedness, rigidity and greater stability on the track – which is readily apparent in rapid descents and jumps.

Disc brakes and spring deflection

The mountain bike needs hard-gripping brakes, not only for rapid downhill descents. The good old rim brakes such as cantilever and V-brakes have been replaced in current models by more powerful disc brakes that respond quickly while being easy to dose.

The common derailleur gears used with mountain bike provide a relatively small gear ratio, usually comprising 21 to 30 gears. This allows you to take on steep climbs but also to pick up speed on downhill or straight stretches. However, many newer models are fitted with only 1 × 12 gears in favor of lower weight and less frequent maintenance.

In the course of its evolution, the mountain bike has seen impressive developments. Today, it is a lightweight sports machine, commonly featuring full suspension, made of high-tech materials such as carbon, with stately disc brakes and an automatic seat post. Its price tag, in some cases, is not much different from that of a small new car – especially when it comes to up-market e-mountain bikes.

MTB specialization: downhill, fully, down country or hardtail mountain bike and full suspension bikes

Originally designed as a special-purpose bicycle, the classic mountain bike has evolved into a range of bikes for various disciplines for the mountainous terrain and off-road use as well as for longer tours. Known as trekking bike for some time, the touring bike was one of the first offshoots of the classic mountain bike, even if it constitutes a separate bike category today.

Other specialists include downhill bikes, specially designed for fast descents, and so-called enduro bikes. For almost all MTB types, the question asked today is: fully or hardtail mountain bike? The classic hardtail offers you greater stability and direct power transmission with its rigid frame. The fully absorbs hard shocks and landings thanks to its full suspension chassis particularly well, making it ideal for trails and rides through the wilderness.

Hot for mountains?

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