Why Avoid Cheap Mountain Bikes?

At Westbrook Cycles, we have decades of experience in the cycling industry - encompassing masses of experience with stocking, supplying and most importantly - riding Mountain Bikes.

In the Mountain Bike industry, it’s easiest to categorise mountain bikes into cheaper bikes which are available through many different channels, such as supermarkets and high street shops. The next category of mountain bikes is ‘bike shop’ level mountain bikes which are only available through bike specific retailers.

Although many of these ‘bike shop’ level bikes may look roughly the same as the cheaper mountain bike brands, it’s important to note many differences which make the step up to bike shop level bikes, worthwhile whenever budgets allow. In this post, we look at some of the reasons why to avoid the cheapest mountain bikes, and invest in a better quality model.

Value for Money

Although it can cost more to buy a better quality mountain bike, it’s almost always worthwhile. As well as enjoying better performance when using the mountain bike, bikes which have been designed and manufactured by specialist brands will be designed to last - providing years of service with just basic maintenance. Cheaper bike brands have more reliability issues and will wear out quicker.

Safety - Frame

A lot of the safety issues that we will mention below, will only really become important for mountain bikers who are actually taking their mountain bike off road across challenging terrain. Taking cheap mountain bikes across rough terrain, and especially on technical downhill trails can leave the frame of the bike to fail. Weaker metals and welds can snap on impacts, causing severe injury.

Safety - Brakes

Bike Shop level mountain bikes are usually equipped with excellent quality disc brakes which do a great job of stopping the mountain bike when required. Lower performance and quality brakes can fail off-road entirely and there is also a risk that the non specialist brakes will fail to stop the mountain bike in time, causing an accident and an out of control mountain bike.

Performance - Gears

One of the biggest problems with using a cheap mountain bike off road, is the lack of low gearing. The absence of the lower gears makes every hill a struggle - which can result in having to push the bike up the hill. Good quality bike brands have designed their bikes and set up their gearing to tackle even the steepest of ascents.

Performance - Suspension

Such is the importance of suspension components, many bike shop level brands trust specific suspension systems and companies to provide suspension components for their bikes - allowing their frame and components the best performance. The cheapest bike brands will typically use suspension that they have built themselves, with terrible performance and poor travel which is both uncomfortable and dangerous when used off-road.

Performance - Tyres & Components

Bike Shop level bike brands choose high quality components and tyres to go on their bikes when new - seats, gearing and rubber are all designed to enhance the performance of a mountain bike. The cheapest mountain bikes have cheap tyres which provide poor performance and wear out quickly, and cheap components, such as saddles.

Poor Build Quality

Bike Shop level Bikes, whether purchased online or in store - will be assembled and checked over by a mechanic, if not assembled by them. Cheaper bike brands are sold in shops without any specialist bike knowledge, which can lead to mountain bikes being put together incorrectly.