I was recently asked this question by a rider who hasn’t ridden mountain bikes before. Knowing the athlete’s background in road and cyclocross racing, plus the terrain around where he lives, I initially responded either a 100mm travel hard tail or XC bike. He came back to me saying, so why is the industry telling me to buy a 130mm travel full suspension trail bike then?
This got me thinking and I clarified my response – look at what the people you are going to ride with are riding. Base your selection on that. All MTB’s are a compromise and there is no point having a big bike if you are riding with XC types, likewise no point in having a xc bike if you’re riding with enduro types – you’ll be spending a lot of time by yourself and one of the best things about mountain biking (and cycling in general) is the camaraderie of the shared experience.