Outdoor pundits would have you believe that the minimum you need to spend for a quality off-road bike is $1,000, maybe even $1,500. To cut costs, many of us end up skimping on necessary accessories, like helmets. It doesn't have to be this way. You can get an exceptional bike for $400, plus all the stuff you need to ride safely and comfortably for maybe another $250. That's right, everything for under $750. Says who? Says Dave King.
King is the founder of the country's first instructional program for mountain biking at Mount Snow, Vermont and coauthor, with Michael Kaminer, of the newly published "The Mountain Bike Experience" (Henry Holt, $16.95). He's field tested most everything during his 15 years in the sport. And he's concluded that the first-time buyer should shop with just two objectives in mind: get a quality chrome-moly steel frame and good components. You don't need gizmos like shock absorbers. At the entry level, they're more cosmetic than functional. "The most effective suspension is the original suspension," declares King. "Fat tires and your legs."
Affordable Equipment, head-to-toe:
- Specialized Mountain Man Helmet, $50
- Nashbar Activator Sports glasses, $34
- Cannondale 6-panel cycling shorts, $36
- Nashbar 3/4-finger ATB gloves, $19
- Ritchley CPR 14 trail tool, $27
- MountainSmith Mud Puppq bag, $17
- Specialized Air Force II pump, $20
- Diamondback Topanga bike, $399-$429
- Specialized Ground Control shoes, $65