Bikes Buying Guide Mountain Bikes News

Buying​ ​Your​ ​First​ ​Mountain​ ​Bike:​ ​Priorities,​ ​Prices​ ​and​ ​Pitfalls

With​ ​so​ ​many​ ​options,​ ​investing​ ​in​ ​your​ ​first​ ​mountain​ ​bike​ ​can​ ​be​ ​confusing.​ ​At​ ​Hargroves Cycles​ ​we’re​ ​confident​ ​we​ ​have​ ​the​ ​MTB​ ​for​ ​you​ ​–​ ​but​ ​how​ ​do​ ​you​ ​know​ ​which​ ​is​ ​right?​ ​In​ ​the  simplest​ ​terms,​ ​the​ ​‘right’​ ​bike​ ​is​ ​the​ ​one​ ​that​ ​best​ ​matches​ ​your​ ​intended​ ​use.​ ​Crucially,​ ​it​ ​will  also​ ​be​ ​the​ ​correct​ ​size​ ​for​ ​your​ ​body​ ​(see​ ​here​ ​for​ ​our​ ​sizing​ ​guide).​ ​Get​ ​these​ ​two  things​ ​right​ ​and​ ​all​ ​the​ ​other​ ​details​ ​–​ ​suspension​ ​travel,​ ​geometry,​ ​wheel​ ​size​ ​and​ ​more​ ​–​ ​will  flow​ ​from​ ​how​ ​and​ ​where​ ​you​ ​ride,​ ​and​ ​your​ ​budget.​ ​Here’s​ ​what​ ​to​ ​consider…


Mountain​ ​bikes​ ​suitable​ ​for​ ​light​ ​off-road​ ​use​ ​start​ ​at​ ​around £300,​ ​and​ ​are​ ​great​ ​for​ ​occasional  adventures​ ​on​ ​loose​ ​but​ ​maintained​ ​surfaces​ ​such​ ​as​ ​towpaths​ ​and​ ​bridleways.​ 

However,​ ​for​ ​more​ ​dedicated​ ​trail​ ​use​ ​and​ ​longer​ ​days​ ​in​ ​the​ ​hills,​ ​it’s​ ​best​ ​to​ ​look​ ​at​ ​‘entry  level’​ ​machines​ ​with​ ​tougher,​ ​more​ ​specialist​ ​features.​ ​Hardtails​ ​(rigid​ ​at​ ​the​ ​rear,​ ​suspension  fork)​ ​typically​ ​between​ ​£400​ ​and​ ​£600,​ ​have​ ​aluminium​ ​frames​ ​with​ ​modern​ ​geometry​ ​and  design,​ ​and​ ​naturally,​ ​the​ ​further​ ​up​ ​that​ ​price​ ​bracket​ ​you​ ​go,​ ​the​ ​higher​ ​specification​ ​their  components.​ ​Check​ ​out​ ​the​ Specialized​ ​Pitch​​family,​ ​which​ ​includes​ ​Sport  and​ ​women-specific​ ​options.

At​ ​the​ ​upper​ ​end​ ​you​ ​can​ ​expect​ ​hydraulic​ ​disc​ ​brakes​ ​(more​ ​powerful​ ​and​ ​reliable​ ​than  cables,​ ​especially​ ​in​ ​the​ ​wet),​ ​air-sprung​ ​forks​ ​(lighter​ ​and​ ​easier​ ​to​ ​adjust​ ​than​ ​coil),​ ​and​ ​a  superior​ ​spread​ ​of​ ​gears​ ​that​ ​can​ ​cope​ ​across​ ​a​ ​wide​ ​range​ ​of​ ​gradients,​ ​conditions​ ​and  fitness​ ​levels.

At​ ​£1000​ ​and​ ​over,​ ​steel​ ​and​ ​carbon​ ​hardtail​ ​frames​ ​appear,​ ​along​ ​with​ ​high-level componentry​ ​from​ ​big​ ​names​ ​such​ ​as​ ​Shimano,​ ​SRAM,​ ​Fox​ ​and​ ​RockShox.​ ​These​ ​are  seriously​ ​capable​ ​bikes,​ ​with​ ​plenty​ ​of​ ​lightweight​ ​cross-country​ ​and​ ​harder-hitting​ ​trail  options​ ​to​ ​choose​ ​from.​ ​Check​ ​out​ ​the​ ​Scott​ ​Scale​ ​900​ ​range​ ​for​ ​the​ ​kind​ ​of quality​ ​design​ ​and​ ​equipment​ ​to​ ​expect​ ​–​ ​it’s​ ​a​ ​great​ ​example​ ​of​ ​high​ ​quality​ ​hardtails,  including​ ​aluminium,​ ​carbon​ ​and​ ​women’s-specific​ ​frames,​ ​and​ ​is​ ​representative​ ​of​ ​what​ ​we  see​ ​across​ ​the​ ​whole​ ​Scott​ ​MTB​ ​family.

Entry-level​ ​full-suspension​ ​bikes​ ​start​ ​at​ ​around​ ​£1,400​ ​and​ ​go​ ​to​ ​around​ ​£1,800​ ​– you’ll​ ​see  some​ ​in​ ​this​ ​guide​. ​The​ ​extra​ ​cost​ ​of​ ​that​ ​rear​ ​shock​ ​means​ ​other  components​ ​are​ ​necessarily​ ​lower-spec​ ​than​ ​an​ ​equivalent​ ​hardtail,​ ​but​ ​rear​ ​suspension​ ​is  less​ ​about​ ​extra​ ​comfort​ ​and​ ​more​ ​about​ ​grip,​ ​stability​ ​and​ ​speed,​ ​both​ ​while​ ​climbing​ ​and  descending.​ ​You​ ​can​ ​buy​ ​cheaper​ ​full-suss​ ​bikes,​ ​but​ ​weight​ ​and​ ​suspension​ ​control​ ​tend​ ​to  create​ ​a​ ​significant​ ​compromise.

At​ ​£2,000​ ​and​ ​above,​ ​expect​ ​quality​ ​air​ ​suspension​ ​with​ ​external​ ​adjustment,​ ​10​ ​or​ ​11-speed  drivetrains,​ ​accomplished​ ​hydraulic​ ​discs​ ​and​ ​frame​ ​geometry​ ​that’s​ ​well-tuned​ ​for​ ​your​ ​riding  (long,​ ​slack​ ​and​ ​low​ ​for​ ​aggressive​ ​trails,​ ​taller,​ ​steeper​ ​and​ ​tighter​ ​for​ ​XC).​ ​Also​ ​look​ ​for valuable​ ​elements​ ​such​ ​as​ ​remote​ ​dropper​ ​posts​ ​and​ ​Tubeless​ ​Ready​ ​wheels/tyres.​ ​Bikes​ ​in this​ ​category​ ​tend​ ​to​ ​have​ ​frames​ ​that​ ​are​ ​well​ ​worth​ ​keeping,​ ​and​ ​adding​ ​upgraded  components​ ​to​ ​as​ ​time​ ​goes​ ​by.

From​ ​£2,500​ ​more​ ​carbon​ ​fibre​ ​framed​ ​MTBs​ ​are​ ​available,​ ​offering​ ​blends​ ​of​ ​stiffness,  buzz-filtering​ ​compliance​ ​and​ ​low​ ​weight.​ ​From​ ​here​ ​to​ ​£3,500​ ​you’ll​ ​find​ ​a​ ​host​ ​of​ ​light,  strong,​ ​highly​ ​capable,​ ​up-to-the-minute​ ​full-suspension​ ​bikes​ ​covered​ ​in​ ​above-average componentry.​


If​ ​you’re​ ​riding​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​towpaths,​ ​cyclepaths,​ ​bridleways,​ ​backroads​ ​and​ ​even​ ​gentle​ ​trail  centres,​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​need​ ​much​ ​suspension​ ​travel:​ ​think​ ​100mm.​ ​These​ ​bikes​ ​sit​ ​at​ ​the  cross-country​ ​(XC)​ ​end​ ​of​ ​the​ ​spectrum.

A​ ​hardtail​is​ ​good​ ​for​ ​less​ ​aggressive​ ​riders,​ ​as​ ​simpler​ ​construction​ ​means  it​ ​will​ ​be​ ​lighter​ ​and​ ​fitted​ ​with​ ​better​ ​parts​ ​than​ ​a​ ​full-suspension​ ​bike​ ​at​ ​the​ ​same​ ​price.  Today’s​ ​27.5in​ ​Plus​ ​wheel​ ​sizes​ ​are​ ​a​ ​big​ ​benefit,​ ​as​ ​their​ ​balloon-like  2.8-3in​ ​tyres​ ​add​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​comfort​ ​and​ ​grip,​ ​without​ ​the​ ​extra​ ​weight​ ​and​ ​cost​ ​of​ ​rear  suspension.

If​ ​you​ ​plan​ ​to​ ​attack​ ​the​ ​harder​ ​trail​ ​centre​ ​routes,​ ​head​ ​into​ ​the​ ​woods​ ​looking​ ​for​ ​trickier  terrain,​ ​or​ ​hit​ ​the​ ​steepest,​ ​roughest​ ​stuff,​ ​you’ll​ ​appreciate​ ​some​ ​extra​ ​travel​ ​–​ ​and​ ​the​ ​longer  frames​ ​that​ ​come​ ​with​ ​it.​ ​Longer​ ​frames​ ​with​ ​slacker​ ​head​ ​angles​ ​(67​ ​degrees​ ​or​ ​less)​ ​are  more​ ​forgiving​ ​and​ ​controllable​ ​on​ ​fast,​ ​slippery​ ​or​ ​rough​ ​descents,​ ​at​ ​the​ ​expense​ ​of​ ​some  climbing​ ​agility.​ ​Look​ ​for​ ​‘trail’​ ​bikes​ ​with​ ​120-140mm​ ​travel​ ​on​ ​a​ ​hardtail,​ ​or​ ​up​ ​to  150mm-160mm​ ​on​ ​full​ ​suspension.

Note​ ​these​ ​are​ ​only​ ​guides,​ ​not​ ​rules!​ ​You​ ​can​ ​only​ ​really​ ​get​ ​it​ ​wrong​ ​at​ ​the​ ​extremes.  There’s​ ​no​ ​point​ ​pedalling​ ​around​ ​lots​ ​of​ ​extra​ ​weight​ ​if​ ​you​ ​never​ ​need​ ​the​ ​extra​ ​travel​ ​or  frame​ ​strength,​ ​after​ ​all​ ​–​ ​and​ ​you​ ​certainly​ ​won’t​ ​enjoy​ ​a​ ​flighty,​ ​twitchy​ ​XC​ ​machine​ ​if​ ​it’s​ ​out  of​ ​its​ ​depth​ ​on​ ​your​ ​favourite​ ​descents,​ ​no​ ​matter​ ​how​ ​easy​ ​it​ ​was​ ​to​ ​pedal​ ​up.


Bikes​ ​have​ ​generally​ ​settled​ ​into​ ​27.5in​ ​(650b)​ ​for​ ​aggressive​ ​trail,​ ​and​ ​29in​ ​for​ ​everything  else.​ ​It’s​ ​down​ ​to​ ​simple​ ​physics:​ ​smaller​ ​wheels​ ​are​ ​inherently​ ​stiffer​ ​for​ ​a​ ​given​ ​weight,​ ​and change​ direction​ ​more​ ​snappily​ ​too.​ ​It’s​ ​also​ ​easier​ ​to​ ​fit​ ​smaller​ ​wheels​ ​into​ ​a​ ​long-travel​ ​bike  without​ ​making​ ​it​ ​too​ ​long​ ​and​ ​tall.

While​ ​there’s​ ​a​ ​noticeable​ ​difference​ ​in​ ​feel​ ​between​ ​27.5in​ ​and​ ​29in,​ ​it’s​ ​another​ ​thing​ ​you  can’t​ ​really​ ​get​ ​wrong.​ ​So​ ​long​ ​as​ ​the​ ​bike​ ​itself​ ​is​ ​as​ ​XC​ ​or​ ​trail-oriented​ ​as​ ​you,​ ​wheel​ ​size​ ​is  personal​ ​preference.​ ​Aggressive​ ​29ers​ ​are​ ​also​ ​emerging.

Whatever​ ​your​ ​ultimate​ ​decision,​ ​you’ll​ ​find​ ​your​ ​ideal​ ​bike​ ​somewhere​ ​in​ ​the​ ​huge​ ​range​ ​at  Hargroves.​ ​So​ ​take​ ​a​ ​look​ ​now​ ​–​ ​and​ ​have​ ​fun!

Bikes Buying Guide Mountain Bikes News

Plus​ ​Bike​ ​or​ ​Fat​ ​Bike?​ ​What​ ​Are​ ​They,​ ​and​ ​What’s​ ​The​ ​Difference? 

After​ ​years​ ​of​ ​unchanging​ ​sizes,​ ​mountain​ ​bike​ ​wheels​ ​have​ ​recently​ ​undergone​ ​–​ ​if​ ​you’ll  pardon​ ​the​ ​pun​ ​–​ ​a​ ​revolution.​ ​The​ ​options​ ​now​ ​are​ ​vast.​ ​But​ ​what​ ​does​ ​it​ ​all​ ​mean?​ ​What’s​ ​a fat​ ​bike,​ ​and​ ​what’s​ ​a​ ​Plus​ ​bike?​ ​And​ ​where​ ​does​ ​Boost,​ ​27.5in​ ​and​ ​29in​ ​fit​ ​in?​ ​Here’s​ ​the Hargroves​ ​Cycles​ ​guide…

Both​ ​fat​ ​bikes​ ​and​ ​Plus​ ​bikes​ ​are​ ​judged​ ​in​ ​relation​ ​to​ ​‘regular’​ ​bikes,​ ​so​ ​first​ ​let’s​ ​define​ ​them.  For​ ​many​ ​years,​ ​off-road​ ​tyres​ ​stayed​ ​between​ ​2.1in​ ​and​ ​2.3in​ ​wide,​ ​while​ ​rim​ ​widths​ ​slowly  crept​ ​from​ ​17-19mm​ ​to​ ​21-26mm.​ ​Although​ ​‘regular’​ ​rims​ ​have​ ​recently​ ​spread​ ​up​ ​to​ ​30mm  (thanks​ ​largely​ ​to​ ​the​ ​emergence​ ​of​ ​fat​ ​bikes),​ ​2.3in​ ​tyres​ ​are​ ​still​ ​the​ ​norm.

Fat​ ​bikes,​ ​by​ ​contrast,​ ​have​ ​massive​ ​4in-5in​ ​tyres​ ​sitting​ ​on​ ​80-100mm​ ​wide​ ​rims.​ ​This​ ​means they​ ​need​ ​special​ ​extra-wide​ ​cranks,​ ​hubs​ ​and​ ​frames.

Plus​ ​bike​ ​sit​ ​between​ ​‘regular’​ ​bikes​ ​and​ ​full-on​ ​fat​ ​bikes,​ ​featuring​ ​2.8in-3in​ ​tyres​ ​and  40-50mm​ ​rims.​ ​They​ ​fit​ ​into​ ​regular​ ​frames,​ ​so​ ​all​ ​the​ ​other​ ​components​ ​can​ ​remain​ ​standard.

Don’t​ ​get​ ​this​ ​expansion​ ​confused​ ​with​ ​wheel​ ​diameters,​ ​which​ ​have​ ​followed​ ​a​ ​similar  trajectory​ ​of​ ​late.​ ​After​ ​many​ ​years​ ​of​ ​nothing​ ​but​ ​26in​ ​wheels,​ ​a​ ​sudden​ ​rise​ ​in​ ​popularity​ ​for  29ers​ ​was​ ​rapidly​ ​followed​ ​by​ ​the​ ​midway​ ​option​ ​of​ ​27.5in​ ​(650b).​ ​Plus​ ​bikes​ ​almost  exclusively​ ​use​ ​27.5in,​ ​while​ ​fat​ ​bikes​ ​actually​ ​have​ ​26in​ ​wheels​ ​because​ ​their​ ​huge,​ ​tall​ ​tyres  have​ ​an​ ​effective​ ​29in​ ​anyway.

The​ ​Boost​ ​wheel​ ​standard,​ ​meanwhile,​ ​purely​ ​concerns​ ​the​ ​width​ ​of​ ​the​ ​axle.​ ​Boost​ ​is​ ​wider  (110mm​ ​front​ ​and​ ​148mm​ ​rear,​ ​instead​ ​of​ ​100mm/142mm)​ ​and​ ​found​ ​on​ ​‘regular’​ ​bikes​ ​too,​ ​for the​ ​extra​ ​wheel​ ​stiffness​ ​it​ ​gives.​ ​Many​ ​Plus​ ​bikes​ ​use​ ​it​ ​for​ ​the​ ​extra​ ​tyre​ ​clearance.


Originally​ ​created​ ​for​ ​snow,​ ​and​ ​also​ ​fantastic​ ​on​ ​sand,​ ​fat​ ​bikes​ ​are​ ​great​ ​for​ ​anyone​ ​looking  for​ ​the​ ​ultimate​ ​in​ ​comfort​ ​and​ ​grip.​ ​Fat​ ​bikes​ ​tend​ ​to​ ​be​ ​simple​ ​and​ ​very​ ​rugged,​ ​and​ ​will  tractor​ ​their​ ​way​ ​up​ ​seriously​ ​tricky​ ​climbs​ ​that​ ​leave​ ​regular​ ​bikes​ ​spinning​ ​and​ ​stalling​ ​out.

If​ ​you​ ​value​ ​fast-trail​ ​precision​ ​and​ ​zippy​ ​climbing​ ​on​ ​smoother​ ​surfaces,​ ​however,​ ​you​ ​may  find​ ​the​ ​huge​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​rubber​ ​at​ ​very​ ​low​ ​pressures​ ​a​ ​little​ ​cumbersome​ ​and​ ​draggy.  Upgrades​ ​and​ ​repairs​ ​can​ ​be​ ​trickier​ ​too,​ ​thanks​ ​to​ ​the​ ​less​ ​common​ ​sizes​ ​of​ ​some​ ​parts.​ ​The  payoff​ ​is​ ​huge​ ​fun​ ​everywhere​ ​else.

DO​ ​I​ ​NEED​ ​A​ ​PLUS​ ​BIKE?

Plus​ ​bikes​ ​offer​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​the​ ​benefits​ ​that​ ​fat​ ​bikes​ ​do,​ ​but​ ​without​ ​most​ ​of​ ​the​ ​downsides.​ ​Their  2.8in-3in​ ​tyres​ ​don’t​ ​create​ ​much​ ​more​ ​drag​ ​than​ ​a​ ​standard​ ​tyre,​ ​thanks​ ​to​ ​generally  shallower​ ​treads​ ​–​ ​they​ ​can​ ​get​ ​away​ ​with​ ​that​ ​because​ ​they​ ​have​ ​much​ ​larger​ ​contact  patches.​ ​Rubber​ ​compounds​ ​can​ ​also​ ​be​ ​softer​ ​and​ ​stickier​ ​for​ ​great​ ​grip​ ​on​ ​rocks​ ​and​ ​roots,  without​ ​slowing​ ​things​ ​down.

A​ ​40-50mm​ ​wheel​ ​rim​ ​means​ ​they’re​ ​much​ ​wider​ ​at​ ​the​ ​base​ ​than​ ​‘normal’​ ​tyres,​ ​creating​ ​a huge​ ​air​ ​volume​ ​for​ ​a​ ​comfy,​ ​compliant​ ​and​ ​generally​ ​very​ ​forgiving​ ​ride.​ ​This​ ​makes​ ​them​ ​an  especially​ ​excellent​ ​choice​ ​on​ ​hardtails,​ ​where​ ​they​ ​give​ ​noticeable​ ​extra​ ​grip​ ​and​ ​comfort,  and​ ​great​ ​for​ ​beginners​ ​too.

Sure,​ ​Plus​ ​tyres​ ​are​ ​heavier​ ​than​ ​standard​ ​sizes​ ​–​ ​though​ ​not​ ​massively​ ​so,​ ​as​ ​their​ ​carcasses  are​ ​generally​ ​thinner​ ​–​ ​but​ ​they’re​ ​far​ ​lighter​ ​than​ ​a​ ​full-on​ ​fat​ ​bike​ ​tyre.​ ​That’s​ ​important​ ​if​ ​you  do​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​climbing​ ​and​ ​stop-start​ ​accelerating,​ ​as​ ​rotating​ ​weight​ ​has​ ​a​ ​big​ ​effect​ ​on​ ​your efforts.


The​ ​Plus​ ​bike​ ​range​ ​at​ ​Hargroves​ ​is​ ​carefully​ ​selected​ ​to​ ​offer​ ​our​ ​favourite​ ​selection​ ​of high-value​ ​hardtails​ ​and​ ​cutting-edge​ ​full​ ​suspension​ ​bikes​ ​that​ ​can​ ​nail​ ​any​ ​trail​ ​or​ ​climb.

For​ ​a​ ​recommended​ ​reliable​ ​performer,​ ​the​ ​2018​ ​Specialized​ ​Fuze​ ​Expert​ ​Carbon​ ​6Fattie (£3,250),​ ​​is​ ​a​ ​neat​ ​update​ ​to​ ​a​ ​proven​ ​carbon​ ​hardtail​ ​frame​ ​with​ ​Fox​ ​Rhythm  Float​ ​34s​ ​providing​ ​120mm​ ​of​ ​smooth​ ​travel​ ​up​ ​front.​ ​The​ ​spec​ ​list​ ​includes​ ​SRAM’s​ ​matchless  X1​ ​transmission​ ​and​ ​huge​ ​Guide​ ​R​ ​hydraulic​ ​brakes,​ ​and​ ​27.5in​ ​wheels​ ​shod​ ​with  Specialized’s​ ​own​ ​3.0in​ ​wide​ ​Purgatory​ ​and​ ​Ground​ ​Control​ ​tyres​ ​–​ ​blending​ ​exotic​ ​style​ ​with  a​ ​ride​ ​that​ ​won’t​ ​let​ ​you​ ​down.

Specialized Fuze Expert Carbon 6Fattie

Don’t​ ​think​ ​Plus​ ​is​ ​just​ ​about​ ​making​ ​hardtails​ ​comfier​ ​and​ ​faster.​ ​Take​ ​a​ ​look​ ​at​ ​the sensational​ ​spec​ ​of​ ​Scott’s​ ​Genius​ ​700​ ​Tuned​ ​2018 ​(£6,999)​​ ​and​ ​you’ll​ ​see that​ ​Plus​ ​tyres​ ​sit​ ​at​ ​the​ ​cutting​ ​edge​ ​of​ ​mountain​ ​bike​ ​technology.

Scott Genius 700 Tuned

Bikes Buying Guide Mountain Bikes News

Best Women’s Mountain Bikes

With​ ​female​ ​participation​ ​in​ ​mountain​ ​biking​ ​growing​ ​in​ ​the​ ​UK​ ​as​ ​it​ ​is​ ​worldwide,​ ​there’s​ ​an ever-increasing​ ​demand​ ​for​ ​specifically-designed​ ​gear​ ​that​ ​fits​ ​the​ ​bill:​ ​clothing,​ ​accessories and ​especially​ ​bikes.​ ​From​ ​trips​ ​along​ ​the​ ​towpath​ ​and​ ​pedaling​ ​the​ ​local​ ​trails​ ​to​ ​tackling  climbs​ ​in​ ​our​ ​national​ ​parks​ ​–​ ​whatever​ ​terrain​ ​takes​ ​your​ ​fancy,​ ​there’s​ ​a​ ​women’s​ ​MTB​ ​to suit.​ ​But​ ​where​ ​to​ ​begin​ ​with​ ​all​ ​that​ ​choice?​ ​Look​ ​no​ ​further​ ​–​ ​the​ ​Hargroves​ ​Cycles​ ​guide​ ​is here.


Women’s​ ​mountain​ ​bikes​ ​are​ ​designed​ ​on​ ​the​ ​basis​ ​that,​ ​on​ ​average,​ ​women​ ​have proportionally​ ​longer​ ​limbs,​ ​shorter​ ​torsos,​ ​a​ ​smaller​ ​frame​ ​and​ ​lighter​ ​weight​ ​than​ ​a​ ​man​ ​of the​ ​same​ ​height.​ ​So​ ​some​ ​key​ ​bike​ ​features​ ​such​ ​as​ ​handlebar​ ​length​ ​and​ ​suspension​ ​travel are​ ​adjusted​ ​accordingly. Fundamentally,​ ​finding​ ​a​ ​bike​ ​that​ ​fits​ ​​you​ ​​is​ ​your​ ​ticket​ ​to​ ​comfort,​ ​handling​ ​confidence​ ​and  ultimately,​ ​maximum​ ​MTB​ ​enjoyment.​ ​But​ ​with​ ​a​ ​number​ ​of​ ​options​ ​to​ ​suit​ ​different​ ​terrains, like​ ​trail​ ​and​ ​cross-country,​ ​it’s​ ​not​ ​​just​ ​a​ ​case​ ​of​ ​size​ ​–​ ​but​ ​also​ ​which​ ​bike​ ​will​ ​best​ ​suit​ ​your intended​ ​riding​ ​styles.


For​ ​hitting​ ​the​ ​trails​ ​you​ ​need​ ​comfort,​ ​efficiency​ ​and​ ​technical​ ​handling​ ​on​ ​your​ ​side​ ​–​ ​and​ ​a  hardtail​ ​(front-only​ ​suspension)​ ​is​ ​ideal​ ​thanks​ ​to​ ​their​ ​fantastic​ ​versatility.​ ​While​ ​full suspension​ ​(which​ ​offers​ ​front​ ​and​ ​–​ ​you​ ​guessed​ ​it​ ​–​ ​rear​ ​suspension)​ ​delivers​ ​better efficiency​ ​over​ ​more​ ​aggressive​ ​terrain,​ ​the​ ​additional​ ​engineering​ ​and​ ​parts​ ​impact​ ​both  wallet​ ​and​ ​weight​ ​so,​ ​unless​ ​you’re​ ​expecting​ ​to​ ​smash​ ​through​ ​or​ ​over​ ​sizeable​ ​bumps, rocks​ ​and​ ​roots,​ ​a​ ​hardtail​ ​will​ ​suit​ ​your​ ​needs​ ​–​ ​delivering​ ​off-road​ ​efficiency​ ​and​ ​making lighter​ ​work​ ​of​ ​the​ ​climbs.

Specialized’s​ ​Women’s​ ​Pitch​ ​Comp​ ​650b​ ​is​ ​a​ ​great​ ​singletrack​ ​starter​ ​with​ ​a low-slung​ ​top​ ​tube​ ​for​ ​plenty​ ​of​ ​standover.​ ​It’s​ ​an​ ​alloy​ ​trail-ready​ ​choice​ ​for​ ​just​ ​£550; equipped​ ​with​ ​size-specific​ ​80mm/100mm​ ​travel​ ​‘Women’s​ ​RX​ ​Tune’​ ​Suntour​ ​fork​ ​and Shimano​ ​hydraulic​ ​disc​ ​brakes​ ​to​ ​deliver​ ​stopping​ ​power​ ​confidence.​ ​Its​ ​27.5​ ​in​ ​(650b)  wheels​ ​provide​ ​agility​ ​and​ ​they’re​ ​tougher​ ​yet​ ​lighter​ ​than​ ​29ers.​ ​Its​ ​Shimano​ ​27-speed​ ​range  makes​ ​the​ ​Pitch​ ​ready​ ​to​ ​climb​ ​just​ ​as​ ​smoothly​ ​as​ ​it​ ​rolls​ ​on​ ​the​ ​flat.     

Specialized Pitch Comp

Scott’s​ ​Contessa​ ​Scale​ ​20,​ ​£899,​ ​steps​ ​up​ ​the​ ​components​ ​to​ ​a​ ​Shimano Deore​ ​groupset​ ​and​ ​an​ ​air-sprung​ ​100mm​ ​RockShox​ ​fork​ ​offering​ ​tailored​ ​settings​ ​through​ ​its  PopLoc​ ​lockout,​ ​while​ ​internal​ ​cable​ ​routing​ ​minimises​ ​mid-ride​ ​snags.

Scott Contessa Scale 20


27.5in​ ​wheels​ ​feel​ ​playful,​ ​but​ ​for​ ​maximum​ ​comfort​ ​when​ ​terrain​ ​gets​ ​rough,​ ​or​ ​for​ ​faster rolling​ ​over​ ​longer​ ​journeys,​ ​the​ ​29er​ ​is​ ​your​ ​ally.​ ​That​ ​said,​ ​while​ ​you’re​ ​considering​ ​whether a​ ​27.5​ ​or​ ​29er​ ​wheelset​ ​is​ ​best​ ​for​ ​you,​ ​remember​ ​that​ ​getting​ ​the​ ​right​ ​size​ ​bike​ ​is paramount,​ ​and​ ​note​ ​that​ ​some​ ​MTB​ ​models​ ​match​ ​wheel​ ​size​ ​to​ ​the​ ​frame​ ​to​ ​help​ ​with​ ​fit, Cube’s​ ​Access​ ​WS​ ​Race, ​being​ ​one.​ ​This​ ​£799​ ​alloy​ ​30-speed​ ​has​ ​27.5in wheels​ ​on​ ​its​ ​13.5/16in​ ​frame​ ​options,​ ​and​ ​29ers​ ​on​ ​the​ ​17/19in​ ​versions.​ ​Kitted​ ​out​ ​with​ ​a female-specific​ ​saddle​ ​and​ ​air​ ​sprung​ ​fork​ ​with​ ​100mm​ ​travel​ ​and​ ​remote​ ​lockout,​ ​this​ ​is​ ​a bike​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​not​ ​only​ ​fit,​ ​but​ ​also​ ​comfort.

Cube Access WS Race

Its​ ​carbon​ ​sister,​ Cube​ ​Access​ ​WS​ ​C:62​Pro,​ ​£1,399​​ ​raises​ ​the​ ​game​ ​with  Shimano​ ​SLX​ ​components​ ​and​ ​stiff​ ​frame​ ​for​ ​incredible​ ​efficiency.​ ​Both​ ​models​ ​feature Shimano​ ​hydraulic​ ​disc​ ​brakes​ ​for​ ​stopping​ ​power​ ​in​ ​any​ ​condition.

Cube Access WS CL62 Pro

Specialized’s​ ​Women’s​ ​Rockhopper​ ​Pro​ ​is​ ​a​ ​quality​ ​29er​ ​for​ ​£950.​ ​The frame’s​ ​butted​ ​alloy​ ​tubes​ ​save​ ​weight,​ ​while​ ​build​ ​and​ ​geometry​ ​inspire​ ​confidence​ ​–​ ​a​ ​low bottom​ ​bracket​ ​gives​ ​a​ ​settled​ ​feel​ ​on​ ​challenging​ ​terrains,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​air-sprung​ ​Manitou Markhor​ ​fork​ ​is​ ​frame-size​ ​tailored​ ​from​ ​80-100mm.​ ​This,​ ​together​ ​with​ ​its​ ​capable​ ​Shimano  2×10​ ​SLX​ ​and​ ​Deore​ ​components​ ​makes​ ​the​ ​Rockhopper​ ​bang-on​ ​for​ ​a​ ​smooth,​ ​fast​ ​ride​ ​you can​ ​rely​ ​on.

Specialized Rockhopper Pro


If​ ​your​ ​heart’s​ ​set​ ​on​ ​conquering​ ​super-steep​ ​and​ ​technical​ ​conditions,​ ​you​ ​need​ ​a​ ​bike​ ​that  tackles​ ​obstacles​ ​and​ ​delivers​ ​grip,​ ​traction​ ​and​ ​control​ ​on​ ​the​ ​descents​ ​–​ ​and​ ​full-suspension bikes​ ​deliver.​ ​The​ ​alloy​ ​full-sus​Specialized​ ​Women’s​ ​Camber​ ​650b,  £1,700,​ ​serves​ ​up​ ​130mm​ ​of​ ​travel​ ​–​ ​pairing​ ​an​ ​X-Fusion​ ​02​ ​Pro​ ​RL​ ​shock  with​ ​a​ ​Women’s​ ​RX​ ​Trail​ ​Tuned​ ​RockShox​ ​Recon​ ​fork​ ​–​ ​for​ ​more​ ​control​ ​in​ ​extreme conditions,​ ​bolstered​ ​further​ ​by​ ​the​ ​hydraulic​ ​disc​ ​brakes.​ ​For​ ​climbing​ ​agility​ ​the​ ​Camber​ ​is equipped​ ​with​ ​front​ ​and​ ​rear​ ​lockout,​ ​while​ ​its​ ​SRAM​ ​1x​ ​(10-speed)​ ​drivetrain​ ​serves​ ​up effortless​ ​shifting​ ​with​ ​less​ ​weight.

Specialized Women's Camber 650b

Scott’s​ ​full​ ​suspension​ ​Contessa​ ​Spark​ ​930​,​ ​£1,999,​ ​features​ ​a​ ​lightweight alloy​ ​frame​ ​and​ ​20-speed​ ​Shimano​ ​Deore​ ​components.​ ​Up​ ​front​ ​the​ ​air-sprung​ ​RockShox Judy​ ​fork​ ​provides​ ​120mm​ ​of​ ​plush​ ​travel​ ​matched​ ​out​ ​back​ ​by​ ​the​ ​X-Fusion​ ​shock​ ​which features​ ​three​ ​modes:​ ​lockout,​ ​traction​ ​control​ ​and​ ​descend​ ​for​ ​cross-terrain​ ​versatility,​ ​while the​ ​Syncros​ ​remote​ ​dropper​ ​post​ ​enables​ ​you​ ​to​ ​quickly​ ​switch​ ​saddle​ ​height​ ​from​ ​speedy ascents​ ​to​ ​control​ ​on​ ​the​ ​downs​ ​at​ ​the​ ​press​ ​of​ ​a​ ​button.

Scott Contessa Spark 930

We​ ​can​ ​all​ ​dream​ ​–​ ​and​ ​for​ ​a​ ​stunning​ ​full-suss,​ ​full​ ​carbon​ ​option​ ​to​ ​tackle​ ​all-mountain​ ​and trails​ ​alike,​ ​the​ ​£3,899​ ​Scott​ ​Contessa​ ​Genius​ ​720,​ ​is​ ​a​ ​1x​ ​12-speed​ ​with  Scott’s​ ​Virtual​ ​4-Link​ ​rear​ ​suspension​ ​linkage​ ​design​ ​made​ ​to​ ​fit​ ​straight​ ​out​ ​of​ ​the​ ​box,​ ​with women’s-specific​ ​saddle,​ ​shorter​ ​stem​ ​(40-50mm)​ ​and​ ​a​ ​narrower​ ​handlebar​ ​than​ ​on​ ​the unisex​ ​build.​ ​Again,​ ​wheel​ ​size​ ​depends​ ​on​ ​frame​ ​size,​ ​with​ ​27.5​ ​suiting​ ​the​ ​configuration​ ​of the​ ​S/M​ ​frames​ ​and​ ​shorter​ ​riders,​ ​while​ ​the​ ​29er​ ​wheels​ ​of​ ​the​ ​L/XL​ ​sizes​ ​keep​ ​the​ ​geometry spot-on​ ​for​ ​taller​ ​women.

Scott Contessa Genius 720

Like​ ​the​ ​Spark,​ ​suspension​ ​versatility​ ​is​ ​at​ ​the​ ​heart​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Genius;​ ​the​ ​Fox​ ​NUDE​ ​Trunnion shock​ ​provides​ ​a​ ​three-mode​ ​remote​ ​which​ ​enables​ ​full​ ​150mm,​ ​partial​ ​compression​ ​to​ ​110mm travel,​ ​all​ ​the​ ​way​ ​to​ ​full​ ​lock​ ​out,​ ​thanks​ ​to​ ​a​ ​TwinLoc​ ​handlebar​ ​remote.​ ​It’s​ ​paired​ ​with​ ​the proven​ ​three-mode​ ​Fox​ ​34​ ​Float​ ​Performance​ ​Air​ ​fork.

Once​ ​you’ve​ ​picked​ ​your​ ​MTB,​ ​you’ll​ ​be​ ​set​ ​for​ ​your​ ​year-round​ ​off-road​ ​adventures,​ ​so​ ​check out​ ​our​ ​range​ ​of​ ​clothing​ ​to​ ​keep​ ​you​ ​warm,​ ​dry​ ​and​ ​comfortable​ ​on​ ​the​ ​ride –​ ​with​ ​the​ ​best,​ ​or​ ​worst,​ ​that​ ​the​ ​British​ ​weather​ ​has​ ​to​ ​throw​ ​at​ ​us!

Bikes Buying Guide Featured Mountain Bikes

Best Hardtails For £1,000

Hardtails have front suspension but are rigid at the rear, and offer plenty of benefits. They’re less complex than full-suspension, so they’re cheaper to make. This means a £1,000 hardtail has better components than a full-suss at the same price, yet costs less to maintain. They’re also significantly lighter, boosting a natural pedalling efficiency for an engagingly fast, sprightly ride – especially if you favour smoother trails.

Meanwhile, a suspension fork adds a lot of comfort and control over a fully rigid bike. But how do you decide what’s best for you with a £1,000 budget?

Hardtails fall into three camps: cross-country (XC) racers, trail bikes and hardcore. XC bikes focus on low weight and rapid acceleration, typically with 100mm of fork travel. At Hargroves Cycles we get a lot of demand for bikes of this type so we’ve shared some of the best new examples with you below. Trail bikes offer longer, slacker and more relaxed geometry, greater strength and 120mm-130mm travel, plus a little more weight. Hardcore hardtails, meanwhile, are a little too tough and heavy for anything other than aggressive descending, and with 140mm-160mm of bounce, they’re incredibly capable. The first thing to decide, then, is what kind of riding you want it for.

At £1,000, the frame is going to be made of aluminium, or possibly steel. Carbon fibre and titanium tend to cost significantly more. Look for a quality air fork (coil forks are heavier and harder to adjust) plus drivetrains and hydraulic disc brakes from recognisable, named series. If it’s Shimano that means Deore at least, SLX and maybe some XT highlights. For SRAM, the equivalent is X-5 and GX, with maybe X-7 or NX highlights.

Single front-ring, 11-speed transmissions are great for trail or all-round use, as they save around 400g, improve ground clearance and mean you’re less likely to drop your chain. They also reduce bar clutter. If you prefer big miles and big, long climbs to woodsy trail hacking, however, twin front rings give you a wider choice of gears.

Tubeless tyres are a great way to save weight and reduce the risk of punctures, so Tubeless Ready wheels and tyres (which can be converted with a simple kit) are a definite benefit. As for wheel size, you have a choice: 27.5in or 29in. Though small on paper, the differences are noticeable on the trails – 29ers roll very well with their shallower angle of attack, and are perfect both for XC and hardtails.

Meanwhile, 27.5in wheels are more agile, stronger for a given weight, and have a wide choice of ‘aggressive tyres’. They usually have the edge for spirited riding (and tend to suit riders on smaller frames better), but you can’t really go wrong if the bike’s intent matches yours.

What about tyre width? The new, mid-volume ‘Plus’ sizes – 2.8in-3.0in, as opposed to regular 2.35in or the 4in-5in of fat bikes – give hardtails valuable extra comfort and traction.

It’s also worth thinking about the potential for future upgrades. Dropper posts are a fantastic boost to performance and confidence, though you’re very unlikely to get one equipped on a decent bike at the £1,000 price bracket, so it’s one to consider adding at a later date.

When you’re looking at hardtails, make sure it’s compatible with a dropper post by checking that its frame takes either 30.9mm or 31.6mm posts (there aren’t many 27.2mm droppers) and has internal dropper routing (‘Stealth’ routing). Check out dropper posts here.


So you know what kind of riding you do, what style of bike you want and what to expect in terms of spec. What now? The most important thing, regardless of preference or brand, is to get the right size.
We recommend our in-depth sizing guide, and remembering that you must have room to move the seatpost from your personal highest setting (for climbing) to right down out of the way (for steep descending). Seatposts have a minimum insertion point beyond which they can’t stretch. Meanwhile, a too-tall seat tube will stop you getting low enough over the back. XC needs less top tube clearance than trail, but more is always better!

When comparing bikes, look for ‘reach’ measurements (sometimes referred to as ‘handlebar reach’, or more accurately ‘saddle-bar reach’, it’s the distance from the saddle to the bars) as these are directly comparable across all brands.

All other numbers – such as the top tube length (TT) or even the effective top tube length (ETT), which is taken horizontally from steerer tube to seat tube, are influenced by the angles of other tubes. That makes them potentially deceptive.

Each maker gives an average height range per frame size, so it’s best to start there. If you’re between sizes, go for the smaller one, so long as the other measurements still work. Why? It’s easier to adapt ‘up’, altering things such as stem length, seat post offset, saddle and bar position, to make sure you get the right fit and the best riding position.

Need some inspiration? The 2018 model year Cube Acid (available now) is particularly stacked. At £899 it offers 11-speed Shimano XT drivetrains and 100mm Rockshox Recon air forks in both 27.5in and 29in wheel sizes. It’s a pretty amazing price too that allows some room to consider new accessories, or treats such as clothing or protection.

Cube Acid

Meanwhile, Scott’s impressively racy £979 Scale 980 goes for SRAM’s NX cranks on its 1×11 drivetrain, plus other quality kit including 29in Synchros rims and Maxxis Ikon tyres, while Specialized takes the 29er all-rounder route with its £950 Rockhopper Pro. This long-running favourite features a 2×10 Shimano Deore/SLX drivetrain and an 80mm-100mm Manitou Markhor air fork with lightweight alloy steerer.


Looking for women’s-specific? Cube’s £959 Access WS SL features an impressive Shimano XT 1×11 drivetrain, Shimano hydraulic discs and Rockshox’ Recon air fork, all in a physique-tailored package. For more on women’s-specific bikes, see our upcoming full guide. 

Cube Access WS SL

Whatever catches your eye, bear in mind the advice on sizing, be realistic about what you might want to do with it, think how far you might want to upgrade in the future, and cast around Hargroves Cycles for what a couple of hundred extra pounds might get you… we got pretty excited about the Cube Reaction Race 2018. At £1,299 it’s a refined, update to an already on-song model with a spec list that boasts SRAM Eagle GX 1×12, RockShox Judy fork, Shimano Deore, Stealth dropper post cable routing, a thru axle rear end, and more!

Cube Reaction Race

Bikes Buying Guide Mountain Bikes News

Best Cube Mountain Bikes Under £700

Well known for their lightweight designs, excellent spec and advanced German engineering, Cube are renowned for making some of the best mountain bikes that money can buy. So, if you’re after a new bike to help you take on the trails, you couldn’t be in a better place…

We’ve picked out five of our favourite Cube Mountain Bikes – and with up to 20% off their usual price, there really hasn’t been a better time to find the perfect bike.

Access WLS Disc

Now £359 – Save 20%

With a high quality frame and hydraulic disc brakes, there really is nothing not to love about this Cube Access WLS Disc. The perfect bike for both new and slightly more experience riders, the Access promises a superb riding experience every single time. With female specific geometries, this really is the ideal entry-level mountain bike for women.

Cube Access WLS Disc 2017 Mountain Bike



Aim Pro

Now £359 – Save 20%

Searching for a new mountain bike? Look no further than the Cube Aim Pro. An absolute steal at £399 the Aim Pro sets the bar high; with a quality aluminium frame, hydraulic disk brakes and internally routed cables, this bike is neat, efficient and totally up for the trails…

Cube Aim Pro 2017 Mountain Bike


Aim Race

Now £399 – Save 20%

Well equipped and affordable, the Cube Aim Race is ready to take on all of your off road adventures. Lightweight, and reliable and comfortable, this entry level mountain bikes looks great and feels great….

Cube Aim Race 2017 Mountain Bike



Now £479 – Save 20%

If you’ve got the mountain biking bug, you need a bike that will deliver, and the Cube Analog will undoubtedly do so. With a high quality aluminum frame, fast responses and balanced handling, you really can’t go wrong. Plus, with an additional 11% off, the really isn’t a better time to indulge!

Cube Analog 2017 Mountain Bike



Cube Attention

Now £559 – Save 20%

The perfect blend between comfort and performance, the Cube Attention offers some pretty nice features. With a high quality 6061 frame, mechanically formed top and down tubes, internal routing and 30 gears, the Attention is there for short all out blasts and longer, more relaxed days in the trails.

Cube Attention 2017 Mountain Bike


Check out full Cube Bike Sale here.

Bikes Buying Guide Mountain Bikes

Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Mountain Biking

Going Tubeless

Going tubeless is a great way to find extra grip and confidence on the trail, with the added bonuses of weight savings and will seal most punctures! Any bike can be converted to tubeless, some conversions may be more involved than others so please check before you start. A lot of bikes now only require the purchased of a set of valves and the sealant itself, with Stan’s being the go to brand. You can browse these here.

Protect Your Eyes

The trail can be a dangerous place for your eyes! You only have one pair of eyes so it’s worth investing in their protection especially with stones, dirt flicking up and branches to dodge and avoid. Basis clear wrap around style glasses can be had for under £20, or the latest tech and styles from Oakley.


Drop It Low

Getting a dropper post could be one of the best things you do! No more saddle in your way on the downhills or endless stopping to put the saddle to the right height for the next bit of trail. Some say they don’t see the point, but once you’ve tried one you won’t be without it! We have access to a wide range of dropper posts to fit your bike and needs.

Setting Your Suspension

Spending a bit of time becoming familiar with your bike’s suspension adjustments and fine tuning your set up will reap the rewards on the trail. While our instore experts can get you up and running with the correct air pressures and fundamentals of how your suspension works, there is no substitute for some real world testing! Our top tip is to find a bit of your favourite trail that has a mix of everything in it i.e. with smooth, flowy and rough, rocky sections and ride it back to back in different settings/adjustments. This is the best way to find out how much is too much or too little rebound, or if you need an extra token in your Pike’s! All of this still gibberish to you? Get in touch with us and we can help find the perfect set up for you.


Check Your Brakes

Are your pads wearing out really quick? Find you don’t have enough bite? Then a simple, but an often overlooked area to upgrade is the brake pads! Swap out your pads for a sintered version that is harder wearing and cope with heat better. If this still isn’t enough then consider going up a disc rotor size. We’ve got a huge range of brake pads that are just waiting to get fitted onto your bike!

Keep It Clean

The best way to keep your pride and joy running smoothly is to keep it clean and lubed. After every ride, make sure you treat your bike to a little TLC with our Muc Off products. Mucky pups

Feed me up!

Nothing worse than the running on empty feeling as you hit that last big steep climb! Make sure you fuel yourself accordingly for the ride ahead. There is no substitute for a good square meal an hour or so before riding, but it is important to take them energy boosting gels or bars with you on the ride. Planning an all-day adventure? Prepare to take energy drinks, bars and gels with you. See our selection here. Caffeine added gels are great for when your flagging on a longer ride.

Words by Rich Swain.