If the DIY spirit guides you, then you should start with a frame and build your vision.
Whether it’s fully-rigid, hardtail, or fully-suspended, we’ve got the skeletons to build the dream bike, and the component selection, too. The DIY vibe is very much what the mountain bike forefathers were about.
Component groups were anathema to the fathers of MTB frames. They couldn’t be, as nothing was purpose built for their vision. BMX components were as important as touring and racing stuff. Once they figured what survived, they went about maximizing performance, and that meant selecting the right part for the purpose.
A moment for some nerding out. Before you go into this adventure, you might want to consider what the different wheel sizes mean and how that impacts your choices. The first mountain bikes came with 26” wheels, the occasional 26”/24” mullet, and a rare 700c. As time went on, 29” took over in most disciplines, but it, too, wasn’t perfect, and the 27.5” size started getting popular. We’ve got a guide to help you weigh the pros and cons.
The hardtail MTB frame has a solid place in the world of dirt. Simpler, lighter, more durable, there’s less to go wrong, less to service, less to futz with. In many places, pair a rigid rear with a suspension fork and the right tires, and the result is a rig that can handle everything you can reach. Some like to go way old school, and fit the hardtail with a rigid fork and a single speed, the off-road analogue to a fixed gear on the road. Santa Cruz’ Chameleon is a hardtail that’s strength is its versatility. It has interchangeable dropouts, so you can go either geared or single-speed. If you’re considering the possibility that a rigid fork might make sense, you also might consider the added versatility of a gravel bike. One direction of gravel is drop-bar MTBs, which was once a thing, and is starting to be again.
Go squishy. Full suspension MTB frames run the gamut from taking a little edge off a cross-country ride to 200mm of travel for keeping the fastest downhill runs under control. Suspension is about confidence, something you should have when it comes to used mountain bike frames sold by The Pros Closet. Everything here has passed a 141-point inspection checklist. The suspension elements have been checked, serviced, and replaced if necessary. Great full-suspension bikes often blur the lines between disciplines. Like giving a cross-country bike more travel so it rips descents more like an enduro bike. Specialized’s Stumpjumper does this, though it has to compete with Specialized’s Enduro frame for trail bike frame honors.
The carbon MTB frame is a work of subtlety and joy. The joinery is smooth, the shapes flowing. The clean, smooth lines of a bike like the Santa Cruz Tallboy belies the incredible strength of the frame and the complex workings of the VPP rear suspension.