How to choose a beginner mountain bike – Mountain Biking Explained EP2

How to choose a beginner mountain bike – Mountain Biking Explained EP2

In this video we talk mostly about what to look for in a good beginner bike, namely the things that make it affordable, functional, reliable, and easy to upgrade later on. These are the bare bones things a trail worthy mountain bike should have.

We also talk a bit about helmets, and why you might want to spend a bit more on a better one.

All Products in this video:

Choosing a beginner bike:

Last time, we set Lisa up with everything she needed to start mountain biking. She now has a bike, a helmet, a hydration pack, gloves, and a multi tool. She also has a floor pump, and a rack to transport her bike with. As Lisa progresses we’ll be looking at all this stuff in more detail, but today we’re going to focus on the two things you need most to get on the trails: A bike, and a helmet.

Even if you don’t have your own bike—even if you plan on renting a bike, I still recommend you get your own helmet wearing someone else’s helmet kinda freaks me out.

Lisa is wearing a Kali Protectives Chakra, which would be considered a general purpose mountain biking helmet. It’s lightweight, has good ventilation, fits securely, and looks cool, which are all things you might spend a couple of extra dollars for. Really cheap helmets are usually bulky, uncomfortable, and poorly ventilated, and that’s no fun.

The Chakra, like most bike helmets is single impact, so it’s only made to protect your head once. If your helmet gets impacted, it should be replaced even if the damage isn’t visible. In my experience, shoes wear out before helmets do, so don’t cheap on a helmet just because you might need to replace it. Even a real good one is under $50.

For the rest of this video, we’ll be talking about bikes; specifically, what should you look for in a good beginner bike? Well the four ities of course. The four ities are: affordability, reliability, serviceability, and simplicity.

To find a bike with all four ities, you can go to a bike shop, search online, and even buy used. Rather than tell you exactly what to get and where to get it from, I’d rather help you understand what to look for so you can choose a bike on your own. I’ll be using Lisa’s bike as an example, because I chose it specifically for these reasons.

At around $650, the Hook is of pretty good value. In the last video I mentioned that this is a hardtail, meaning it only has a suspension fork. This, as opposed to a full suspension bike that squishes down in the rear as well. While full suspension bikes are great, they’re also a lot more complex than hardtails. This complexity adds cost, weight, and additional maintenance, so only go this route if you’re comfortable spending some extra money. Figure on at least 500 for a trailworthy hardtail, and at least 1200 for full suspension. These are just guidelines, and I stress that the first ity might be different for different people.

Let’s take a look at some other characteristics of Lisa’s bike. First of all it has disc brakes, as opposed to rim brakes. Disc brakes are virtually maintenance free besides changing the pads, and they’ll stop the bike even when it’s covered in dirt and mud. These are activated by cable, but more expensive bikes use hydraulic fluid. While hydraulic is better, any disc brake is better than a rim brake.

Moving on you can see that Lisa’s wheels have quick release levers, which make removal of the wheels possible without tools. More expensive bikes will come a very similar looking thru axle. On the other hand if a mountain bike wheel is held on with nuts, you are looking at an extreme cost cutting measure which will make the bike difficult to maintain and next to impossible to upgrade. Aside from specialty bikes like dirt jumpers, you want a mountain bike with levers on the axles.

Turn on the closed captions to read the rest of the transcript.


  1. chas sisom on October 3, 2020 at 3:38 am

    Good info. Thanks

  2. Rajesh K. Pandey on October 3, 2020 at 3:40 am

    Doesn’t 3×8 gives more range than 1×11 or 1×9?

  3. Leo Dubé on October 3, 2020 at 3:40 am

    Hi brother, i’m new to this hobbie/sport. what do you think about the 2020 mountain bike fusion 30, thank and new subb

  4. hazelnut49 on October 3, 2020 at 3:41 am

    What kind of bike is Lisa ridding?

  5. Bergwacht on October 3, 2020 at 3:44 am

    I only have a full face helmet and I rarely ride trails. But the thing is worth its weight in gold for normal trips in winter or in the rain.

  6. ElzabetOwlpaw on October 3, 2020 at 3:46 am

    The first thing I changed for my first cheap-ass MTB was a saddle! These flat hard ones are horrible for female anatomy…

  7. Qtank009 on October 3, 2020 at 3:47 am

    So, say Im quite experienced riding bikes but new to riding on trails. Does everything in this video still apply or are there a few things that would be better for the same price? For example, I’ve always used bikes with 3 gears up front and Im very comfortable with that. Is a 1x still better for mountain biking?

  8. Brandon Kidz on October 3, 2020 at 3:47 am

    5:45 seat was to high

  9. Travsticles on October 3, 2020 at 3:48 am

    I got the felt dispatch 990 hard tail

    Any good?

  10. WOLFRANGER 1 on October 3, 2020 at 3:48 am

    Go to Walmart

  11. MTX Ba11iStiC on October 3, 2020 at 3:48 am

    I know what the 5th (itie) would be

  12. battleforutopia 124 on October 3, 2020 at 3:53 am

    Thanks for these vids man!

  13. Dana Coleman on October 3, 2020 at 3:54 am

    Lisa certainly is a good sport! Good for her!

  14. Iamthearash on October 3, 2020 at 3:54 am

    Short sweet and to the point, thank you!

  15. jacks heller on October 3, 2020 at 3:55 am

    I have a few questions about bikes. There are 2 bikes I’m looking at, the overdrive 29 1 or 27.5 and the hook 27.5 one is better with brakes and the other has better suspension. Which one is more impoirtant for beginners? I am 5′ 8" and the bikes are only available size is for a person that fits a 5’10"-6’1, does height really matter?

  16. Matthew Jones on October 3, 2020 at 3:56 am

    5th itie sendability

  17. Voice IT on October 3, 2020 at 3:57 am

    BS – all you need to do is get rid of the dork disc and put a lot of stickers on your bike

  18. Lt. Bagel Bites on October 3, 2020 at 3:59 am


    I am watching this for the first time even though its been around 3 years.
    I am wondering if the 2020/2021 Trek Marlin 6 checks all the boxes and parts that seth covered?
    Can someone let me know? I might check too, but in case someone does, let me know!

  19. mercury on October 3, 2020 at 3:59 am

    What’s a good way to buy a MTB ?

  20. will1nice on October 3, 2020 at 3:59 am

    That helmet on her head will just fall off does not look secure on her head .

  21. Katie Nolan on October 3, 2020 at 3:59 am

    What happened to Lisa is she mountain biking

  22. InFam0us Teddy on October 3, 2020 at 3:59 am

    Can anyone help me out. I’m deciding to buy a btwin rockrider st900 2020 is it good enough?

  23. Gerado Jimenez on October 3, 2020 at 4:00 am

    Lisa is definitley a shredder now

  24. Travis McDaneld on October 3, 2020 at 4:00 am

    What about shifter type? Are twist shifters a deal breaker?

  25. Ana Vincent on October 3, 2020 at 4:01 am

    just ride and shut up

  26. Panicked JerzeeGrL on October 3, 2020 at 4:02 am

    What happened to this woman?

  27. David on October 3, 2020 at 4:02 am

    The little kid at the end was priceless telling that big 250 pound dude what’s line to take down the Hill lol

  28. TutoredPrince71 Julian on October 3, 2020 at 4:02 am

    Is this bike trail ideal for 10 & 11 year old kids?

  29. Finn Fogal on October 3, 2020 at 4:03 am

    5:44 lower the seat

  30. 11ish on October 3, 2020 at 4:03 am

    this was very helpful, though that spill looked so staged 🙂

  31. Archie SMITH on October 3, 2020 at 4:03 am

    lisas getting better now but i thought i was a begginer

  32. Frosted Tips Gaming on October 3, 2020 at 4:07 am

    she was in like 5th gear on the trail and 1st gear on flat paved ground like b r u h

  33. Voice IT on October 3, 2020 at 4:07 am

    back in the old days with 26" wheels no one had to learn to bike – it just came naturally – 29" wheels are shit

  34. Victor's Everyday on October 3, 2020 at 4:10 am

    4:40 Seth dry shifting makes me want to kill myself

  35. Dana Coleman on October 3, 2020 at 4:11 am

    I wish we could have gotten into the reasons why cheaper bikes have more gears. that certainly is very counterintuitive. I don’t understand it.

  36. owozy on October 3, 2020 at 4:12 am

    thx for this vid seth, it helped me find a good beginner mountain bike.

  37. hazelnut49 on October 3, 2020 at 4:13 am

    Ha ha never-ending it’s in the video lol

  38. Dontay Sullivan on October 3, 2020 at 4:13 am

    Since she just crashed Seth would that mean u will have to buy other one

  39. meltedjabulani19 on October 3, 2020 at 4:14 am

    Anybody else want to just plow Lisa in the middle of the trail?

  40. Riner06 on October 3, 2020 at 4:16 am

    Do anybody know if scott aspect 950 2020 is a good first bike?

  41. Ranger4josh on October 3, 2020 at 4:16 am

    4:17 I find that if you think of a manual car, the gears on a mtb are much the same, make sure you have speed before changing gear and go lower gears for power, higher gears for speed

  42. Donot Robme on October 3, 2020 at 4:20 am

    Good helmets under $50?????
    I must be at all the wrong bike shops. Not one sells anything under $100

  43. Jamie Headey on October 3, 2020 at 4:21 am

    It’s not really that hard to learn the 3x system. I’d much rather have a 3×9 than a 1×8

  44. Christopher Pape on October 3, 2020 at 4:24 am

    Can someone tell me why rim breaks are bad? I’m looking at a bike with them but it’s not a mountain bike I’ll be using it to get around the city and maybe ride some very mild biking trails like just cruising.

  45. Xiu Xiu on October 3, 2020 at 4:28 am

    Why are hydraulic breaks only reserved for more expensive bikes? Even a non series Shimano hydraulic brake set costs only around 30-40$ a pair

  46. Martin Viljoen on October 3, 2020 at 4:28 am

    Thanks for making great videos. How do you differentiate between a ladies and mens bike ? The bike driven by Lisa is it specifically a ladies bike due to the sloped frame ?

  47. KittyCat9000 on October 3, 2020 at 4:31 am

    Just got my schwinn boundary, only 250 but is as good as a 600 dollar bike, best bike ever.

  48. Apex Lucas on October 3, 2020 at 4:32 am

    Is the diamondback hook a mens or womens mtb because i’m looking in the future to get one and wanna make sure its a mens bike

  49. Christopher Lim on October 3, 2020 at 4:32 am

    I’ve been riding bikes all my life and have an MTB worth a couple grand…now sure why i watched this whole video lmao

  50. Gus Johnson on October 3, 2020 at 4:32 am

    I would not buy a used beginner bike they are usually abused and poorly maintained, when I got my first mountain bike I sprayed wd-40 on the suspension stanchions and cassette because it made it look clean.