Their importance is frequently overstated and inflated into bigger deals than they really are
Some innovations aren’t entirely essential or even desirable. Here’s a rundown of our Top 10 overrated mountain bike features.
First of all, let me explain that none of the following features are bad or worthless. They are all positive things and nice to have. But their importance is frequently overstated and inflated into a bigger deal than it really is. Some people will rule out buying an otherwise amazing mountain bike because it doesn’t have one the features listed below.
For all you optimists out there, we’ll be doing a Top 10 underrated mountain bike features next week. Suggestions welcome! Comment on our social media channels.
Anyhoo, in no particular order, here’s our list of The Overhyped…
1. Adjustable geometry
Just make the bike in the slackest setting already.
2. Internal cable routing
Bikes are for riding (and subsequently repairing). They aren’t just pretty things to look at. Indeed, prettiness quickly becomes tiresome when you’re into your second hour of trying to thread-up your rear mech. And how about noise? We’ve ridden far too many bikes with annoyingly knocky or clicky internal cabling.
This was just not worth the effort. Want to make your front end stiffer? Increase fork stnachion size. Or beef up fork CSUs. Want to make your back end stiffer? First of all, why? Second of all, go bigger than 148mm. There’s this existing standard (150mm) you could use. Eh dear.
4. Carbon fibre
Got £3k to spend on a mountain bike? Get the blinged out alloy version, not the budget spec carbon one. P.S. 2020 is the year of the return to aluminium. You heard it here first.
5. 35mm bars
A classic example of gong too far. 35mm bars are often just too darn stiff that they’re uncomfortable to ride over rough ground. And their diameter also prevents the use of super short stems too. What’s wrong with a classic 31.8mm aluminium handlebar? Nothing really.
6. Do-it-all bikes
They don’t exist. And nor should they. You don’t see golfers using one club do you? Having said that, modern trail bikes can pretty much do everything can’t they? I might have to re-think this one! Still, there’s always something strangely alluring about riding a bike that’s purely intended for one particular aspect of mountain biking.
7. Short chainstays
The noughties called, they want their geometry theory back. Longer is better. Fancy a flicky hyperactive bike? Get a 26in hardtail from eBay and fill yer boots.
8. Light bikes
We have the Enduro World Series to thank for the increasing acceptance of heavier mountain bikes. Enduro race bikes have to last the duration of a whole weekend of getting battered, not to mention they have to get through timed stages without punctures or some other result-ruining mechanical. If you want a light bike (they are massively overrated by the way) then that means accepting compromises. Less travel, less traction, less stability, less reliability, less money in your bank account.
This is a bit like #4 above (carbon fibre) except with the added ‘bonus’ of the material actually often riding worse than the far cheaper alternative.
10. Clutch mechs
At the end of the day, there’s an argument that a good quality narrow-wide chainring combined with a nu-skool minimalist chain device is just a good a solution, and it doesn’t intefere with full suspension bikes’ rebound action either.