The Best New Mountain Bikes
Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
Cycling Special, March 1997
The Best New Mountain Bikes
When it comes to buying a mountain bike, an old aphorism gets turned on its ear. He who hesitates gains. With innovation focused exclusively on the high end, last year’s best equipment is now showing up on midrange bikes. Case in point: Shimano’s ultrapowerful V-brake, a revolutionary design that at first came only with the company’s most elite
GT Karakoram, $699
With a suspension-free design and GT’s signature “triple-triangle” frame (in which the rear triangle overlaps the front for added strength), the chrome-moly Karakoram is for merciless riders, as sturdy a bike as you could hope to find–as well as one of the least forgiving. But thanks to the rigid fork and steep, short geometry, the Karakoram is also noticeably responsive,
Giant Iguana SE, $470
While others in the under-$500 market fumble around with off-brand suspension and lower-grade frames, Giant has risen to the top by splurging where it counts and economizing elsewhere. Adding nicely to the Iguana’s bottom line are its butted chrome-moly frame and RockShox Quadra 5 suspension fork, which make it sturdy yet supple enough to soak up most ruts. As you’d
Schwinn Moab 1, $899
Klein Pulse Pro, $1,299
A pioneer of oversize-aluminum-tube frames, Klein now offers a level of rigidity previously unavailable in a bike priced under $1,500. The key to this sub-24-pound sprinter’s dream is its huge, butted-aluminum tubing, tapered at the joints for even more stiffness. Klein has paired these monstrous pipes with steep geometry, as well as Grip Shift ESP 9.0 shifters and rear
Specialized Stumpjumper M2 Pro, $1,625
T h e T o y D e p a r t m e n t
As mountain biking has matured, so too have gearhead gewgaws. It seems the purveyors of fat-tire accessories have come to realize that there’s more to life than $200 brake levers and titanium replacement bolts. Thus, in a joyous nod to nonessentials, here are a few items that may not impress your technogeek friends but most certainly will add some spice to your time on the
What better way to distinguish yourself from those who take the sport too seriously than this jersey-cum-luau-shirt, the Gila Five-O, from Mimbres Man ($50; 800-646-2737). The side-zip back pocket makes this cotton top bona fide bikewear, while its fluorescent flamboyance boldly declares your nonconformist outlook.
So diminutive is the Canon Elph APS camera ($420; 800-828-4040) that you won’t mind toting it in your jersey pocket. The Elph features a built-in zoom, pop-up flash, and a self timer–all in a package the size of a Clif Bar.
If you’ve decided to spurn dual-suspension but still want a little cush for your tush, the Thudbuster Quadra-Pivot seatpost ($189; 800-256-6240) may be just the middle ground you’re looking for. Utilizing a simple elastomer design, the Thudbuster provides three inches of travel but doesn’t steal any of your pedaling power.
Since your hands typically take more than their fair share of abuse, perhaps you should consider pampering them a bit. TWP’s moldable grips ($18; 714-453-8977) become pliable when heated with a hair dryer and can then be customized to fit.
Photographs by Clay Ellis; Illustration by Mick Aarestrup