If you are just getting into mountain biking, then you may not be aware that mountain biking has some distinctly different styles that you can go with. These are most commonly referred to as downhill mountain biking, cross country mountain biking, freestyle mountain biking, and enduro mountain biking which is also sometimes referred to as all mountain.
In general mountain bikes weigh in at somewhere around 20 to 45 pounds. However, each of the 4 main mountain biking disciplines affect the build of the mountain bike and therefore also affect how much it weighs.
Some of the features of mountain bikes are interchangeable, so you can take any kind of bike and make it either heavier or lighter by making certain modifications to it. Some of these modifications are quite easy to do, but some of them are much harder and more expensive to make on a mountain bike.
For this reason, in addition to several others, it is very important that you choose the right mountain bike that will best suit your style of riding. Making the wrong choice in this area will possibly either end with your mountain bike breaking or in making you slower on the trail.
Downhill Mountain Bikes
Downhill mountain bikes are definitely in the heavier range and are quite easily the heaviest mountain bikes that there are. Sometimes these bikes can weigh over the 45 pounds, though they are usually in in high 30s to low 40s.
Most of the weight of a downhill mountain bike, like with all other bikes, is something that comes from the frame of the bike. The frame of the bike is the core that all of the other parts are added in around and, while most of those other parts are interchangeable, to change the frame of the bike can be just as expensive as buying a whole new one sometimes.
Considering the fact that the downhill mountain biking discipline involves going down what are often steep hills and even having fairly big jumps off of small cliffs and hitting everything at a high rate of speed, it is vital that the frame of a downhill bike is able to handle all of this and that it is as durable as possible.
This being the case, mountain bike frames that are made for downhill mountain biking are usually made of steel or aluminum, with a few being made out of titanium. Steel is the heaviest choice for a bike frame to be made out of, and it is also perhaps the most durable choice.
There are two main different kinds of steel that mountain bike frames are made up of. High tensile steel is the first of these and it is very cheap, but it is also the heaviest thing that you could possibly go with which is why most mountain bikers who are after a light bike avoid it.
The other type of steel is chromoly and it is lighter than the other steel and might even be more durable, making it a far better choice for mountain biking. However, this option does come with a pretty big price tag, so it is not used as often as it otherwise might be.
Aluminum frames are slightly more common, and these can be sturdy enough for downhill mountain biking if they are of good enough quality. However, you should be careful to make sure that these are sturdy enough for downhill use by getting one that says it is specifically for downhill mountain biking.
Going with a frame that is lighter for something like this can lead to some serious accidents on the trail, since if the frame breaks or bends when you are going downhill at a fair rate of speed then you can get seriously hurt quite easily.
Along with the frame of the mountain bike comes the suspensions. These can add quite a bit of weight to the bike but very rarely will you find any downhill mountain bikes that do not have dual suspensions to them.
This is because suspensions are an absolute necessity when you are hitting all of those bumps going downhill. These suspensions not only help to cushion the ride, but they also help keep your tires on the ground more which will give you better control.
There are a number of reasons why you need as much control as possible when you are doing downhill biking, one of which is that you will have less time to react to things on the trail in front of you since you cannot press down on your brakes too hard too suddenly or you will risk flipping yourself right over the handlebars with the back part of the bike and all.
The next thing that will add a bit of weight to the mountain bike is the handlebar setup. It should come as no surprise that when going downhill at a fast rate of speed that you will need the handlebars to both be wide to help you with your balance and control as much as possible, but also that they will need to be durable in case you crash into something.
This being the case, just like the frame, the handlebars that are used for downhill mountain biking are the heaviest ones that there are as often as not. A heavy duty aluminum is a great option with them being as wide as you can find comfortable.
Next, the seatpost is also made to withstand the great amount of shocks that are given to it, making this part also weight more. The saddles for this mountain bike discipline can be some of the biggest ones, but almost all of them have a certain diagonal tilt to them to reflect the fact that you are going to be going downhill at a sharp angle.
Considering how jarring downhill riding can be, the biggest saddles are often some of the most cushioned, so if you are wanting comfort then these are usually the best way to go. A larger saddle will also spread your weight out a bit more.
Cross Country Mountain Bikes
Unlike the downhill mountain bikes which weigh in at the heaviest, cross country mountain bikes are the lightest option most of the time. This is because these bikes do not have to take nearly as much punishment as a downhill mountain bike does.
This being the case, most cross country mountain bikes weigh 20 to 25 pounds or so which is comparable to some of the heavier road bikes that you can find. When it comes to the frame, these bikes are most often made out of carbon fiber or aluminum which are a couple of the lightest options out there.
This is perfectly fine for these bikes because of the fact that cross country is mostly following trails, maybe doing some fun technical features, but it does not really involve anything that would be too rough on the frame.
If you are after the lightest bike possible then the carbon fiber frame is likely what you will want to go with, but if you are looking for something that can handle the rougher trails, then you might want to go with a heavier frame that is made out of aluminum.
You should be careful when you are getting either carbon fiber or aluminum since these can be of great quality or of poor quality. Both of these can have versions that are lighter or heavier, with the aluminum being the heavier of the two, but sometimes the poor quality ones can have flaws in them which can make the frames crack or bend over time which is something that you obviously do not want to happen.
When it comes to suspensions, this is another area that you can save some weight on. Out of all of the different mountain biking disciplines, this one is perhaps the only one where rigid mountain bikes can be found at.
Rigid mountain bikes are ones that have no suspensions at all, and since suspensions do tend to weigh a bit these are sometimes quite a bit lighter. The most common option for suspensions for these bikes is actually hardtails though.
Hardtail mountain bikes are ones that have suspensions on the front tire only with the back tire not having any form of suspension at all. This is in part for comfort, but it is also something that will once again help with the control of your bike as well over the bumpier areas.
The handlebars for these can be made out of anything that you might want them to be made of, with carbon fiber being the preferred material that they are made out of and aluminum forming a close second.
When it comes to the width of these handlebars, this is a matter that is left more to personal preference. Most of the time slightly wider bars are something that is preferred, but in some cases the cross country trails can get quite narrow, so if these are the trails you will be using you might want your handlebars to be narrow enough to fit through these tight spots easily which will also cut back on the weight as well.
As for the seatpost and the saddle, these are the lightest ones with the saddles being the smallest ones that mountain bikers use. Though these saddles are not nearly as small as the ones that are seen on rode bikes, these can be quite small.
However, the saddles you choose here is mostly a matter of personal preference. So, if you don’t mind a small saddle and you are trying to cut back on weight then this is a great place to do so. On the other hand, if you do not care about a small amount of added weight and want the comfort that a larger saddle can often give, then you can feel free to get a big one.
Enduro Mountain Bikes
As mentioned, enduro mountain bikes can also be referred to as all mountain. These bikes should be able to handle tough mountain trails with some steep descents as well as the hard climbs. For this reason, these bikes do weigh more than the cross country bikes in order to handle the punishment.
These mountain bikes also weigh less than the downhill ones, however, because of the fact that you will be going uphill with these sometimes which is something that will make you want as light of a bike as possible. All of these factors put together means that these bikes come in at around 25 to 35 pounds in weight, which is right in between the other two kinds already mentioned.
These frames are most often made out of aluminum, with some being made out of steel and a few options being made out of lightweight carbon fiber, but aluminum is perhaps one of the best choices for this kind of mountain biking since you can have some pretty rough downhill sections in your rides and you still do not want your bike frame to bend or break.
Aluminum is not only one of the best options for this type of mountain biking, but it is often one of the cheapest options as well even to get a frame that is made to be of good quality. This is also the best choice most of the time for the handlebars too.
All things considered, most enduro mountain bikes are at least hardtail ones, with the suspensions in the front. However, just as many of these can be dual suspension ones too. This is because when you are doing all mountain biking you sometimes need as much grip as you can with your tires and suspensions are something that helps with that.
You should know though that some mountain bikers believe that they do not get as good of a “feel” for the trail when they have suspensions. For this reason, there are the occasional enduro mountain bikes that have no suspensions at all and, while these are certainly lighter in weight without the suspensions, these do make for bumpier rides.
Since enduro riding has you doing some pretty rough stuff and is mostly in wide open spaces, this type of mountain biking most often uses aluminum handlebars for a moderate amount of strength without being to heavy.
It also has slightly wider handlebars than cross country tends to, without being quite as wide as the downhill mountain bike handlebars can be. The saddles too are a little bigger on average than the cross country ones are without always being as big as the downhill ones are.
Freestyle Mountain Bikes
Freestyle mountain biking is not something that has its own type of mountain bikes for it, and neither does it have its own range of bike weights for that reason. This is because of the fact that freestyle mountain biking is mostly comprised of riding your mountain bike where there are no trails for you to follow.
Sometimes this means that you are going downhill, sometimes up and down a mountain, or sometimes through relatively flat meadows and things of that nature. All things considered, the most common mountain bikes that are used for freestyle mountain bike are the enduro bikes that we already went over.
Since freestyle mountain biking is all over the map, both literally as well as figuratively, you can look at the terrains that you will be riding down and then decide which one of the other mountain biking disciplines that your riding will most resemble and get a bike from that discipline.
This means that the frame can be made out of carbon fiber, titanium, aluminum, or steel. The same is true for the handlebars, saddle post, saddle, and other parts of the bike as well. Even the suspensions that are best suited for this branch of mountain biking is somewhat dependent on what type of riding and the terrain you will be going through.
All in all, if you are undecided or you want a mountain bike that can do it all so to speak, then your best option will most likely to be to go with a mountain bike that has most of the parts made from aluminum. When it comes to the handlebars and the seatpost, these should be medium sized like the enduro ones are.
The suspension would likely be best suited by going with a hardtail option so that way you could have some suspensions when you need it but yet would not have too much unnecessary weight for the times where you might not need to have suspensions.
Other Important Details About Mountain Bike Weight
There are a number of different reasons why the weight of a mountain bike can be important. While the type of mountain biking you do and the different features of the mountain bike are certainly things that play a large part in the weight of a mountain bike, there are also a few other things that I have not mentioned yet.
While what the frame is made of is one thing, the size of the frame is something that will affect the weight of the mountain bike too. Th larger the frame is, then the larger the wheels are that can be used with it.
Taller mountain bikers should of course go with larger frames so that they do not end up towering over their mountain bike when they stand and so that they are not scrunched up when they get on and try to pedal on it.
On the other hand, smaller mountain bikers should go with a smaller sized frame so that they can actually put their feet down to touch the ground when standing over their bike. The size of the frame, in addition to what it is made of, are the two determining factors that are going to account for most of the weight of a mountain bike.
The wheel size that you should go with is a whole topic of its own, and it is a very important part of picking your mountain bike. Simply put, larger wheels can take a little longer to respond both for those sharp turns and for some of the technical features on the trail as well.
On the plus side however, bigger tires can be a huge help when it comes to letting you roll over smaller obstacles easily and it will also help you to get over ones that would catch a smaller tire and make your bike and you come to a sudden, and likely painful, complete stop. Bigger tires will also help you go over other things like sandy or muddy terrain too.
When it comes to the wheel, a very important part of the wheel is the tire itself. This can be either a tubeless or tubed tire, but again this is something that is for the most part a matter of personal preference no matter what type of mountain biking you are doing.
On the whole though, most mountain bikers prefer tubeless tires regardless of the terrain that they are going through. This kind of tire is slightly lighter in weight than tubed tires are, though this is not by much when the sealant is added into the tubeless tire.
The next part of the mountain bike that can affect the weight is the gear setup and just how many gears that there is on a bike. The cogs and rings for the gears can add some weight to a bike, so the more gears you have on a bike the more the mountain bike will weigh.
This, again, is a matter of personal preference, with some mountain bikers preferring to keep things simple and to only have a few gears to change between, or even only having one gear. Others prefer to have a number of different gears on their mountain bikes.
Generally speaking, downhill mountain bikers do not need a whole lot of gears because of the fact that they are going to be heading downhill for almost the whole ride. Cross country mountain bikers are the ones who most often find that a few gears is all that they need.
However, if the trails you plan on riding on have a lot of ups and downs in them, then you may wish to go with a slightly heavier mountain bike in terms of having more gears since these will help you both with the climbing and with the descent on the other side of the hills.
There are also a number of other small things on a mountain bike that can be either lighter or heavier. These include: the pedals, the grips on the ends of the handlebar, and even the kind of brake system and how it is set up.
While to some degree the weight of a mountain bike will affect your speed, thig is only by so much. What can affect the weight just as much if not more than any of these things is how much you weigh yourself.
One of the main reasons why people try to cut back on the weight of their bike is because when you are trying to go uphill you are having to pedal harder the more weight you have to pull up the hill. However, the weight of your mountain bike is most often going to be only a portion of what you yourself weigh.
It is for this reason that true mountain bikers should cut their own weight down as much as they can if they really want to get rid of weight instead of spending money in buying a new bike part that weighs less. In fact, if you happen to weigh quite a bit then it can actually be a very bad thing to go with lighter parts for your mountain bike.
The reason this is so is because of the fact that lighter parts are not made to withstand the greater pressures most of the time which, as mentioned, is why the heavy-duty parts are most often also the heaviest. When you weigh a lot, or even just slightly more than you know you should, this puts more weight and therefor more strain on the bike.
For this reason, if you are heavy then your bike should be heavy as well or you risk breaking part of your bike. All in all, even if you are only going to be doing cross country mountain biking you should take your own weight into consideration when you are choosing your mountain bike.
While this does not mean that if you weigh a lot you have to go with a downhill mountain bike no matter what kind of mountain biking you want to do so as to have a bike that is the most durable, you should try to go with something that is towards the higher end of the weight range for mountain bikes that are in the discipline that you want to do.