If you are searching to buy a mountain bike and you stumbled on full-suspension mountain bikes that are more expensive than a second-hand car and are wondering why are they so expensive, don’t worry you are not the only one!
There are several reasons why full-suspension mountain bikes are so expensive, in this article I will tell you in detail what these reasons are but still, I will try to make this article as short as possible, so keep reading!
The inclusion of the rear suspension (shock) is the main reason why full-suspension mountain bikes are so expensive. A low-end shock will cost around 250$ while shocks from the upper part of the performance spectrum that comes with more adjustments can surpass the 700$ mark.
The cheapest suspensions on the market are coiled-based suspensions, but these suspensions can be found only on low-end forks.
When we are talking about rear shocks the story is different because even low-end shocks are air compression based and this makes them higher quality and more expensive but also forces manufacturers to use an air suspension for the bike’s fork as well.
If you would have an air suspension on the back and a coiled suspension fork you will immediately feel the difference and the bike will feel cheap and poorly designed.
Of course, you will see that a lot of downhill bikes have a rear suspension with a big coil around id and you may be thinking that I was wrong earlier when I told you that shocks aren’t coiled based but the truth is that these suspensions are a combination of air suspensions and coiled based ones.
The coiled is used to make the suspension more linear while air shocks are more on the progressive side.
Suspension Quality And Travel
As a general rule, the more suspension travel and adjustments a mountain bike has the more expensive it will be, this is because the price of shocks and suspension forks is directly proportional to the terrain complexity and the riding style for which they are designed.
Let us examine the price changes of a suspension in regards to its travel:
|Rear shocks||35-57 mm||244-733|
|Rear shocks||57.5-76 mm||417-733|
|Suspension Fork 29″||100-130 mm||195-1089$|
|Suspension Fork 29″||140-170 mm||458-1249$|
|Suspension Fork 29″||180-200 mm||549-1733$|
On rear shocks, the amount of travel has a lower impact on the price than on suspension forks but still to make cheaper full-suspension manufacturers need to choose from the 35-57 mm range.
On suspension forks, we have greater price gaps than on shocks.
Let us not forget that suspension travel has a big impact on the frame geometry of a bike, yes you can replace a 100mm MTB fork with a 130mm fork but the entire geometry of your bike will change.
Shocks are harder to upgrade because the bike is designed for a certain shock length and the more travel a shock has the longer it becomes.
So it is very important to buy an MTB equipped with the proper suspension travel for the type of terrain on which it will be used and your riding style.
Keep in mind that the price of a suspension is highly influenced by its quality and its complexity, the more futures, and adjustments the suspension has the more expensive it will be.
There is a big gap in quality between a RockShox shock and a Santour one, the suspension quality will have a major impact on the price of a mountain bike.
A More Complex Frame Geometry
The rear suspension adds extra layers of frame complexity for full-suspension mountain bikes, there are more moving parts that are held together by bearings. This ad extra costs in parts and extra complexity in the design process resulting in bigger costs of production.
Designing a full-suspension mountain bike will require more hours on the drawing board but also more hours of testing because there are more things that can go wrong than on a hardtail.
Let us not forget that modern mountain bikes have frames made from aluminum or carbon, so designing a frame with many moving parts from these materials is more difficult than if you would use steel because aluminum is not so tough as steel and carbon is excellent on compression but vulnerable to shocks.
Harder To Maintain A Decent Weight
With the addition of the rear suspension comes extra weight that needs to be compensated with lighter components and this will increase the price of full-suspension mountain bikes by a significant amount, and of course, the end result will be a better bike.
In mountain biking, the weight of the bike is not as important as in road biking but still, manufacturers need to maintain the weight of their bikes at a certain threshold because nobody desires a heavy bike. I have written an article in which I compare the bike weight of the top MTB manufacturers, if you are interested you can check it out!
As we all know the lighter the components are the heftier the price tag is, so the need to incorporate lighter components in the build will result in a more expensive mountain bike.
Designed For The Most Technical Trails
Modern full-suspension mountain bikes are designed to be ridden as safely as possible on very technical trails that will push you and your bike to the limits. For this reason, the bikes are being built using the most reliable components and this will result in a big price tag.
More than this every mountain biker has his preference and depending on the region of the world where he lives there are different types of terrains available to him.
Because every experienced rider wants to improve his times on the trails and always competes with friends or even in events, mountain bikes are becoming more and more specialized.
In the past, you only knew about mountain bikes now we have trail bikes, all-mountain bikes, cross country bikes, and so on.
What is the most important feature of your mountain bike? Of course, it is its reliability!
You are going to ride in the woods, over rocks, over tree branches, on wet soil, over grass and leaves, practically you will use your mountain bike in the roughest conditions so you need to have the confidence that she can handle it.
This leads to reliable components made from the most durable and still light materials and in the mind this will result in an expensive bike.
Innovation In Mountain Bikes Is Expensive
Modern mountain bikes are light years ahead of older mountain bikes and this is great but still, there is little room for more growth and development, and for this reason, it is becoming more and more costly for MTB manufacturers to come up with new products.
And now the rule of diminishing return is taking effect, practically mountain bikes are so performant that every minor improvement comes with a big price increase.
Modern mountain bikes have longer frames and improved bike geometry suited for different riding styles like downhill, enduro, cross country, etc., they are becoming more and more performant and reliable on almost any kind of terrain and riding style.
Because the bar is set this high, smaller companies don’t have the budget to compete with the giants from the industry and they stick to more entry-level mountain bikes that aren’t reliable on mountain trails but they are at an affordable price.
Not Enough Competition And Big Marketing Budgets
There are many small MTB manufacturers but they don’t have the budgets to compete with the more renowned ones. Mountain bikers are becoming more skilled and are tackling more technical trails and so they need high-performing bikes.
For this reason, there are a few MTB manufacturers that can develop a bike that can satisfy the needs of an experienced mountain biker from ower days. The mountain biking industry is becoming more and more popular and new riders are entering the scene every year.
This eventually leads to high demand and lower supply, so the prices are going only in one direction and this is up.
One more problem is that mountain bikes are becoming more and more specialized, we have bikes for downhill, enduro, cross country riding, etc. Smaller companies can’t afford to develop bikes for smaller market shares because they don’t have the reputation to easily sell their products and so the true mountain biking demands are fulfilled by a few big companies.
This lack of competition leads to bigger prices.
Because mountain bikes are expensive they need a proper marketing campaign and guess who will pay the price for it? You guessed it, the end consumer.
Yes, mountain bikes are outrageously expensive but mountain biking is so fun and has so many health benefits that I would pay this price every day.
If you really want to enjoy all the benefits of mountain biking without taking unnecessary risks a good mountain bike is the way to go.
Good and reliable mountain bikes aren’t cheap but you need to take into consideration where will you ride them, if the trails near you aren’t too rough and you don’t plan to travel to more technical trails then you can get away with a cheaper mountain bike.
Maybe you will like to read the following articles:
- Are cheap full suspension bikes worth it?
- Should I buy a cheap mountain bike?
- Hardtail vs. full-suspension for beginners
I started mountain biking many years ago to improve my overall health state. After my first ride, I fell in love with the sport. Now I spend dozens of hours a week researching and training to compete in local XC and Enduro events.