Not all bikes are the same: Even if you are looking just at mountain bikes, there are many categories to choose from. Because nowadays, you are not simply buying a bike – retailers are offering specialist bikes for the widest variety of terrains. Buyers can rapidly lose their overview. We can give you a helping hand.
Mountain bikes are for the great outdoors. So far, so obvious. But with a downhill bike, no-one cycles long routes – just downhill. For longer outings, a cross country or all mountain bike is better. They don’t weigh much, generally around 10 kg, and come with a degree of suspension on the front, and sometimes the back too. That makes steep, alpine descents technically difficult. One type of mountain bike that combines everything is the enduro bike. These full-suspension bikes are reliable when it comes to descents, and they can also be effective going uphill, although only if a bit more muscle-power is applied. Trail bikes are designed to be the answer for mountain climbs and are not quite as heavy as enduro bikes.
The transitions between categories are fluid, and bike brands are looking to emphasize features by breaking through the categories. So you might see an advertisement for an all mountain bike with enduro genes, or a “travel trail bike that doesn’t want to be an all mountain bike”. All this doesn’t make things any easier for shoppers. And so here’s a rule of thumb for starting your research: The lighter the bike, the more fun to be had on long trails and mountain climbs. Good entry models are already around for under EUR 2,000, such as bikes from the traditional manufacturer Rose, based in North Rhine-Westphalia, or from innovation driver Specialized from the USA.
Racing bikes are just as specialized as mountain bikes. Here, you find machines on offer such as triathlon bikes and aero bikes. These are the élite amongst the racing bikes. They love only the best of conditions, smooth asphalt, little wind, and no rain. They are ridden by people who enjoy measuring their performance and pushing themselves. Mere mortals tend to look instead to bikes in the endurance, all road, gravel or cyclocross categories, although here too the dividing lines are fluid and manufacturers like to define the individual categories in their own way. An endurance bike has a geometry that means you still enjoy sitting in the saddle even after long rides. All road, gravel and cyclocross bikes are comfortable even on gravel tracks. The cyclocross is suitable for real racing. All road and gravel bikes are designed more for pleasant outings or bike-packing holidays, where the luggage for a multi-day tour is carried with you on the bike. Well-stocked retailers such as the German mail order distributor and IAA MOBILITY exhibitor fahrrad.de offer the full range here.
In all these categories, you can find bikes with e-motors. In other words, the manufacturers offer their enduro mountain bikes in a standard version and as an e-bike. Recently, racing bikes and gravel bikes with e-motors have been becoming more widely available. For purists, that’s a paradox. Why kit out a racing bike, trimmed to be light, with a heavy electric powertrain? The fact is that e-bikes are currently still very heavy. The Scott Genius eRIDE 920 in the “standard version” costs EUR 5,199 and weighs 23 kg. You need to be prepared to carry that weight if trees are blocking your path, or the lift up to the train platform is out of order.
A young company from Munich called “Fazua” is challenging the status quo, and is offering the lightest motor of all time. The revolutionary aspect is that the Fazua bikes can also be ridden easily without the motor and battery. It’s a declaration of war on established players Bosch, Brose and Shimano, who supply the technology for the lion’s share of e-bikes. The Bergamont E-Grandurance Elite, for instance, is a bike for adventurers who like to ride long distances and don’t want to be carrying a lot of weight.
One category looking to make the transition between mountain bike and racing bike – and one that is particularly popular with Germans – is the trekking bike. The bike effortlessly masters forest paths, and in town too it cuts a good figure. An e-trekking bike is recommended for pleasant excursions, for instance the high-quality Kagu Bosch CX 275 from Simplon. If you are looking to go higher and further, then the leading player is the Superdelite GT, from the Darmstadt-based premium manufacturer Riese & Müller. But you need to be comfortable with the weight (and the higher prices) – the trekking version weighs 31 kg and starts at EUR 7,149.
However, if you are looking for a bike designed as an alternative to the car, the Darmstadt team is the right place to go. The chic, fast cargo bikes from Riese & Müller can be loaded up with children and shopping and still be ridden safely. Even in city traffic, riding a cargo bike such as the Load 60, weighing 35 kg, can be an enjoyable experience.
There’s a special bike for every kind of use. So how do you decide? Analyze your cycling profile and your reasons for cycling thoroughly, be honest with yourself, and take advice from the professionals.
The simplest solution (albeit not a particularly space- or wallet-saving one!) is to buy one bike in each category, to be on the safe side. For bike enthusiasts, though, the rule has always been that you can calculate the perfect number of bikes using the formula n +1, where “n” is the number of bikes you already own.
(Stage photo: © Fazua)
The IAA MOBILITY is transforming itself from a pure car show to an international mobility platform with four pillars: the Summit, the Conference, the “Blue Lane” and the downtown Munich Open Space. Under the slogan of “What will move us next”, it stands for the digital and climate-neutral mobility of the future. From 7 to 12 September 2021, the car, bike and tech industries come together at IAA MOBILITY in Munich.