On Test: Entry-Level Mountain Bikes

The TW team go down to the woods to test some stylish entry-level machines from Giant, Focus, On-One, Specialized and Merida

Posted: 11 January 2010

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The term ‘mountain’ bike covers a multitude: cross country (XC), free ride, downhill, and then there’s hardtail suspension (just like it sounds), full suspension, even rigid-fork bikes.

As for wheels, the 26-inch variety are the most popular but 29-inch models are becoming more common.

There are also gender-specific bikes – if you’re a woman, or a man with a smaller body, you’ll be able to find bikes with a women-specific design (WSD). These bikes have shorter top tubes to reduce reach to the bars, narrower bars, short-reach brake levers and wider-set, female-friendly saddles.

The Contenders

The TW test team took some entry-level bikes for a serious spin in the woods above Oxford.We tested five beginner-friendly bikes in the £450-800 price bracket to see what you can get for your money. They are all are ‘proper’ mountain bikes, designed to give a novice rider a great start on real trails.

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