How to Choose Trail Bike | Buyer’s Guide

You’re thinking about buying a mountain bike. It’s an exciting time, but it can also be confusing and frustrating. This is especially true if your goal is to ride a trail bike.

Every year, the mountain bike market is constantly coming up with new features, categories, buzzwords, and buzzwords. It can lead to confusing advice. We reached out to Evo to help us sort through the myriad of specs, numbers, and specialty bike lingo.

How to Choose a Trail Bike

It doesn’t have to be difficult to pick up your bike. The Evo team has created a list of fundamental questions that you can answer in order to help you choose a bike that will make you laugh every time you ride it.

What does ‘Trail Bike” actually mean?

Before we can start having fun, it is important to define terms. Trail bikes have been a difficult category for the bike industry, as it has been long since they were categorized.

This is partly due to the fact that every trail is different. The rolling hills of Arkansas require a different type of bike than those of the Pacific Northwest. There’s no reason to make your shorts look different from everyone else’s.

A trail bike is the best bike for your specific area. You can ride it on any trail you like.

It is not an XC whip or an enduro sled. It’s a happy middle that can handle some of everything. You can choose from 29-inch or 27.5-inch wheels and have anywhere between 120 to 140 mm rear travel.

The first thing you need to know is what my trails are like. Make a mental list of the best rides and the trails you love the most. Do they consist of mostly singletrack, smooth and rolling? Are they technical and steep with long climbs that are followed by gnarly downs?

Your mini trail bike should offer more adventure for you the more technical and challenging your ride.

Which size wheel should you get?

There are currently two main sizes of mountain bike wheels: 27.5-inch and 29-inch. Although they perform very similarly, their differences are subtle and significant.

These smaller wheels, which measure 27.5 inches, are easier to turn and can make a bike feel more fun. They are also ideal for shorter riders. 29-inch wheels, on the other hand, are easier to turn and provide more traction.

Don’t worry if you aren’t sure which size you prefer. The most important feature of a bike is not its wheel size. Find a bike that meets all of our requirements, regardless of the wheel size.

How much travel should my bike have?

The bike industry has a funny thing about it. We measure wheel size in inches, but wheel travel is measured in millimeters. The more travel a bike has on technical trails, the more comfortable it will feel.

Bikes with less travel can be more efficient climbers, and they feel quicker when pedaling.

Travel doesn’t tell all the story. To create long-travel bikes with remarkable pedaling and short-travel bikes with a luxurious feel, suspension designers can modify the bike’s geometry.

It’s important to not get too attached to a certain amount of travel when deciding how much you want to do. Instead, try to find the right range for you.

Trail bikes with a travel range between 120-130mm are best for riders who prefer to climb more than the descent. If you are passionate about down riding and want to ride technical trails, the 130-140mm frame is a good choice.

Remember that your rear travel is fixed but your fork’s travel can’t. Forks with 20 to 30mm more travel than the frame are often spec’d by some brands. They can withstand the terrain and still be efficient.

Think of your bike’s total travel as the sum of its front- and rear travel numbers.


The components are crucial in deciding on the right trail bike. They often go unnoticed. It’s a bit like your helmet. It doesn’t matter how it looks but performance is what matters most.

Components are easy to modify. You will generally get a better deal if you buy a complete bike than if you upgrade.

It is cheaper to buy a bike equipped with SRAM GX components than to replace all of the NX parts with GX individually.

There are two major components that trail bikes must pay attention to the drivetrain and the brakes. While suspension components are also important, that discussion delves quickly into nuance. Many mountain bikes, including entry-level models, come with a 1×12 gear drivetrain. This is awesome. Don’t settle with less, or in this instance, settle for more gears.

Front derailleurs have no place on modern trail bikes. Entry-level bikes usually come with SRAM’s SX Eagle and Shimano’s Deore. These drivetrains are excellent value for the money and can be upgraded as they wear.

There are two things you should be aware of when it comes to brakes: the number and type of resin compound. You don’t need to worry about brakes if you live in an area with smooth, flowing trails. If you ride long, steep descents, four-piston brakes are better than two-piston ones.

Some beginner brakes only use resin pads. If this is the case, you will need to purchase new rotors in order to use the more powerful metallic pads. This upgrade is not expensive, but it’s something worth considering.



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