the legs of a biker in black shorts on a yellow mountain bike in a forest

So You Want to Buy a Mountain Bike…

the legs of a biker in black shorts on a yellow mountain bike in a forest

Looking for a mountain bike shop in LA? You’re in good company. Known for our beaches and mountains, California is the perfect place to join the mountain biking club. We’ll let you in on a little secret, though- you don’t have to be a pro biker or an expert to begin your mountain biking career. Read our biking blog post below to school yourself on Mountain Bikes 101, and see which type of bike is the best fit for you!


What is a mountain bike?

C. Wiggle Blog

Your journey has already begun if you’re asking yourself this question! It can be a little intimidating to weed through the internet and its wealth of resources about all things biking. You may find yourself asking “is a mountain bike a good fit for me?” “Where is there a mountain bike shop in LA?” and most of all, “what is a mountain bike?” Let’s start with the basics. A mountain bike is a rugged bicycle with flat handlebars, and wide tires, built for riding dirt trails and rugged terrain, and designed for off-road cycling. The features of these bikes are designed to optimize the bike’s performance and the rider’s experience on diverse, difficult, and rough terrain. Typical features distinguishing mountain bikes include powerful brakes, lower gear ratios for climbing big hills, durable, knobby tires for tough terrain, powerful brakes, a suspension fork, and occasionally a rear suspension to balance and smooth riding experience on the trails. Believe it or not, mountain bikes are typically used for – mountain trails! Other types of terrain on which you can use a mountain bike include unpaved roads, fire roads, loose dirt, gravel, and rocky paths. For the more experienced bikers in the game, mountain bike trails may include log rides, rock gardens, log piles, wall jumps, and more. Mountain bikes are built for intense terrain and heavy duty biking, be it in the mountains or on tough urban roads. A mountain bike is a great decision if you are planning on taking it off roads, riding through the woods, or hitting the trails in the desert or the beach.


What makes a mountain bike a mountain bike?

C. Enduro Mountain Bike Magazine

In general, mountain bikes have

  • a stout, upright frame
  • a high clearance, to get through varied types of terrain
  • reinforced features to accommodate wear and tear and allow the rider to enjoy a rugged ride

Mountain bikes have evolved since their invention in the 1970s to include different types of mountain bikes. There are several different types of mountain bikes, depending on the type of bike ride and the biker’s preference. Some styles of mountain bikes include full-suspension cross country mountain bikes, hardtail mountain bikes, full-suspension enduro mountain bikes, and full-suspension trail bikes. Let’s dive a little deeper into the difference between each type of mountain bike, and figure out which type of mountain bike is best for you.


The Anatomy of a Mountain Bike

If it’s your first time purchasing a mountain bike, it’s important to know what features set them apart from other types of bikes. Let’s discuss.

a green mountain bike with black tires with components labeled in red

C. Pinterest


The diagram above may seem a little intimidating– not to fear! “Wheel” break it all down below– it’ll be as easy as riding a bike.


  • Mountain Bike Wheels

The knobby, wide tires of a mountain bike are what sets them apart from other types of bikes. Designed to get a substantial grip and traction on all kinds of terrain, mountain bike wheels are built for durability. The pressure of the tires on mountain bike wheels are low, and create better traction. These types of wheels have strong spokes and rims to handle all types of surfaces.

  • Mountain Bike Frames

A mountain bike tends to have a steel frame, built for bike strength and lasting mobility. A steel frame is costly, but a good investment for the prolific cyclists out there. Aluminum frames are also common, ensuring a light and strong frame. Frames can also be made of carbon-fiber or, for a premium upgrade, titanium.
  • Gears

A constant feature of mountain bikes is their wide range of gears. Mountain bike gears go below those of road bikes, allowing bikers to take on steep or difficult hills.
  • Handlebars

Frequently flat, mountain bike handlebars extend straight out from the stem of the bike. The handlebars have a wide, shoulder-width grip, letting the rider sit upright in a comfortable position. Bikers can sit upright and comfortably, allowing them maximum control of the bicycle, a good center of gravity, and the ability to shift their weight in the optimal direction for control.
  • Pedals

The basic mountain bike pedal is a platform pedal for the rider who puts their feet down. More advanced cyclists may use toe clips or clipless pedals to secure their feet. Given the rider’s preference, bikers may prefer keeping their feet free or clipped in to the pedals, depending on terrain.



There are all kinds of mountain bike accessories available to trick out and outfit your bike for peak success! Specific mountain bike accessories may include a tool bag, a water bottle (hydration is key!), a frame pump, a cyclocomputer, a go-pro, and more!
Looking for more bike accessories? Check out Bike Shop LA’s bike accessories for all of your essential biking needs!

What is the best type of mountain bike?

There are several different types of mountain bikes, designed depending on your cycling goals and choice of terrain.

C. Outside Magazine

Downhill Mountain Bikes

Downhill mountain bikes are made for (you guessed it!) downhill races and bicycle parks. A downhill bike has long wheel bases, 200 mm or more of travel, and dual-crown forks, designed to help with big jumps.

a biker in a red helmet going downhill on a yellow mountain bike

Cross-Country Mountain Bikes

Cross-Country Mountain Bikes are designed for course racing with a proper suspension.

a mustard colored mountain bike with black tires on a black background

C. Trek Bikes

Trail Mountain Bikes

The most popular type of mountain bikes, trail mountain bikes can handle almost all terrains, from the casual to the extreme.

trail bike

C. CT Bikes

Enduro Mountain Bikes

Enduro bikes are good for climbing, built for steep descents, diverse parks, and the need for speed.

C. Gear Patrol

Hardtail vs. Suspension

Okay— what the heck does hardtail mean? What is a “suspension mountain bike?” If you’ve found yourself asking these questions in your search to buy the best bike near you, we’ve got answers for you! Hardtail and suspension are two differentiating factors in mountain bikes. A full suspension bike has both front and rear shocks, whereas a hardtail bike does not have a rear shock. You can determine if you should purchase a hardtail or a suspension bicycle based on what types of terrain and where you plan on riding. Check out the images below from Trek Bicycles to get an idea of how a hardtail bike looks different from a full suspension bike.

a black and grey full suspension bicycle

A Full Suspension Mountain Bike
C. Trek


a black and white hardtail mountain bike

A Hardtail Mountain Bike
C. Trek

What are the health benefits to buying a mountain bike?

C. Jamis Bikes

We are obviously fans of biking over here at Bike Shop LA. Biking is our favorite thing to do, our favorite way to see the city, and our favorite way to keep our health (physical and mental!) in tip top shape. There are multiple health benefits to mountain biking:

  • It’s great for your heart. A study from the British Medical Association showed that people who cycled about 20 miles a week lowered their risk of heart disease by 50%.
  • You’ll reduced stress and improve your mood! Biking is a great way to release stress- and in these times, we could all use a little breather! Physical activity can boost serotonin, increase your focus and self-esteem, and serve as a meditation in action- and couldn’t we all use an excuse to step away from our screens these days?
  • It’s a great full body workout. Mountain biking engages key muscle groups, engages upper and lower body muscles, and builds strength.
  • You’ll get a chance to get outside, get fresh air, and reconnect with nature.
    • Check out more ways mountain bikes can benefit your health in this article!

Where are the best places to ride a mountain bike?

C. Santa Cruz Bicycles

Believe it or not, the best place to ride a mountain bike isn’t just limited to the mountains. You can ride one on a normal urban road, though be advised that due to the bike’s bulk, you may not be able to keep up with other riders on regular bikes. Their cushy, upright positions allow a smooth ride on a variety of terrain, however, and in southern California/ Los Angeles, the possibilities for finding good bike trails near you are endless. Here are a few of our favorite trails:

For more ideas, or if you’d like to book a private mountain bike tour, drop us a line at!


What kind of mountain bikes does Bike Shop LA carry?

a yellow mountain bike in a forest If you’ve made it this far, we already know that you’re a fan of Bike Shop LA, (at least we hope so!) Bike Shop LA is the best place in LA to buy bicycles of all kinds, and we have a premium selection of mountain bikes in stock! We currently have the Diamondback Release 3 Full Suspension Bike. The Diamondback Release 3 is a smooth rig that doesn’t skimp on performance. With a feather-light frame, premium components, and a stable, elite riding experience, the Release 3 is, according to Diamondback, the best trail bike they’ve ever made. Deemed the “pro-caliber bike for those with day jobs,” the Release 3 is primed for all sorts of tough terrain with its Fox 34 Performance Float 150mm travel fork and Fox Float DPX2 rear shock. The sophisticated XT 12-speed drivetrain components and Shimano XT hydraulic disc brakes continue to impress with their excellent balance. This bike is the pinnacle of power and finesse. Bike Shop LA also has a premium selection of other popular hardtail mountain bikes– stop by our shop to find out what models we have in stock!

In conclusion…

a close up of a yellow mountain bicycle

C. Diamondback

We wholeheartedly support your decision to purchase a mountain bike, and are so excited for you to hit the trails! For any other questions about purchasing one, drop us a line at, or stop by our mountain bike shop on Santa Monica and La Cienega! We can’t wait to see you, and wish you happy riding on your new mountain bike![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]