Insider Hacks To Buying A High-Quality, Yet Cheap, Mountain Bike

I grew up bike riding all the time. My sister and I bike rode to the nearest pool for our swimming lessons every day in the summer. We bike rode to parks. My boys currently have bikes that they're outgrowing, and I probably need to get them larger sizes. Currently, though, my husband and I don't have any bikes, and this post from Dave Henly gives some great ideas on how to get your money's worth when buying a mountain bike.

Like most twelve-year-olds, I saved up every penny of my allowance money all winter so I could buy a new bike.

At the first garage sale we stopped at the next spring, I struck gold: a 12-speed Huffy mountain bike. It was black and neon green, an ideal color for a child of the nineties like myself.

From that moment on, I discovered that bicycles were an engineering nightmare. Flat tires -- which I had learned how to fix on my small bike -- required navigating a jumble of gears and brakes.

And the gears and brakes created added problems. The cables would break or would refuse to shift.
It was frustrating, and, after a few weeks, my bike was relegated to its spot in the rain, leaned up against the storage shed.

Over the next four years, the system repeated itself. I would purchase a bicycle, only to have it break on me. After taking it apart and trying to fix it, my frustrated little self would lean it on the pile and go in search of my next ride.

When I turned 16, my experience began to improve. I purchased my first-ever Cannondale. It wasn't the right size for me, but it worked exceptionally well, was easy to repair, and held up well under all of the mileage. Plus, it could handle off-road riding without disintegrating into a bunch of broken pieces.

As a parent, you want to get the best price. At the same time, you need a bicycle that is not going to require maintenance every weeknight after work.

A bike that your kids will love.

There is a silver lining to my childhood bike struggles; I learned how to repair bicycles. This skillset landed me a college job, working at the local bike shop.

During my time in the industry, I've learned a few, solid, tips that you can use to get the best deal on your next bike.

1. Buy The Correct Size

When your children are young, you help them purchase a bike based on the wheel size. So they will likely start off with a 12" or 16" balance bike or bike with training wheels and then upgrade later to a 20" bike.

When you get to mountain bikes, you are likely to find three "sizes" at your local department store: 24" 26" and 29".

(Sometimes they throw a 27" in there to confuse you)

These numbers aren't the correct bike sizes. They only refer to tire size. You see, these big stores are less worried about getting accurate sizing for their customers and instead take a one-size-fits-all approach. This system allows them to sell more bikes with lower manufacturing costs.

What you must do is work off of the frame size. The frame should be measured from the top of the seat tube down to the middle of the cranks. Sometimes they affix a sticker under the seat so you can readily identify the proper size.

Other times, you'll need to measure it yourself.

Bike fit is the most important consideration when shopping. A poorly-fit bike will create back, neck, and knee pain. There are charts online that you can follow that will provide you with the proper size based on your height.

Get this point correct, and you will be much happier with your purchase.

2. Buy Used

Thanks to the internet, it is possible to get an excellent price by purchasing a direct-to-consumer mountain bike. There is a good list of cheap mountain bikes, here:

However, if you can find a gently used bike, you are going to save a significant amount of money. Bicycles lose about 30-50% of their value immediately after purchase, providing extreme value for the second-hand shopper. All you need to do is find someone who purchased the bike for a loved one (or had one given as a gift). As with most workout equipment, these bicycles often don't receive as much mileage as the original owners thought they would.

Craigslist and Facebook are going to get you the best deals. Ebay is the second option. Sometimes your local pawn shops will have bicycles as well, but those tend to have been ridden more. I use Pawn shops as a last resort.

3. Buy A Brand-name

This final tip is the one that could have revolutionized my childhood experience. You see, not all bicycles are built the same. Huffy and Mongoose use defective parts and cheap cables, and they break regularly.

High-end brands cost 6-7 times as much, new, but are built to last. Stick with a brand such as Cannondale, Specialized, Giant, Trek, Fuji, Raleigh or Diamondback, to name a few, and you'll have a much better experience with fewer repairs.

Schwinn has mixed quality, so, as a rule, I discourage them from folks who plan to ride a lot.

Cycling should be one of your favorite sports. Hopefully, these bike buying tips will help you get a better deal on your next purchase, and provide you and your kids with many years of healthy, trouble-free, riding!

Do you like to ride bikes with your family? Did you bike ride a lot growing up? What type of bikes do you and your family have? What has your experience been like in terms of getting the best bikes for your money?

See my disclaimer.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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