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Lower back pain doesn’t always have to end your cycling hobby, or stop it before it starts. While cycling can certainly exacerbate lower back pain, you can reduce or even eliminate cycling pain by buying the right bike and ensuring you get the right fit. So in this article we’re going to look at 5 dual suspension mountain bikes, some of the best mountain bikes for lower back pain.
Dual suspension mountain bikes can be a lifesaver for cycling enthusiasts struggling with lower back pain.
What is a Dual Suspension Mountain Bike?
Sometimes called a full suspension mountain bike, these are simply mountain bikes with suspension in both the front and rear of the bike. This added rear suspension will reduce the efficiency of the drivetrain, but it will also provide a much more comfortable ride.
With suspension on both the front and rear of the bike, you’ll feel the bumps and dips in the terrain a lot less, and the ride will be smoother. You may have to pedal a bit harder, but you’ll find the ride a lot more pleasant, especially if you’re dealing with lower back pain.
5 of the best mountain bikes for lower back pain
Top 3 Picks
Polygon Siskiu D5
Salsa Blackthorn Carbon
All of these bikes are dual suspension, making them ideal for those struggling with lower back pain. They’ll offer a lot of support and a smooth, comfortable ride.
- 29 inch wheels
- Fork travel: 160m
- 12 gears
- Carbon fiber frame
- Split pivot suspension system
- Shimano SLX drive train
- 4 piston brakes
- Internal cable guides
You certainly get your money’s worth in this top of the line bicycle. It’s designed for maximum performance without sacrificing your comfort as the rider. The split pivot suspension isolates the braking and pedaling forces from each other, providing remarkable precision and control. The suspension will absorb the worst that rough terrain has to offer while keeping the ride smooth and eliminating sources of jarring back pain.
The drive train shifts smoothly and the seat is easily adjustable, and everything is built with premium materials to keep the weight light without giving up durability. This is a superb all-mountain bike that can handle anything you throw at it, all without sacrificing comfort. Shop with confidence at REI.com.
- 29 inch wheels
- Aluminum frame
- 24-speed Shimano trigger shifters
- 18-inch frame
- Schwinn alloy cranks
- Mechanical disc brakes
- Double wall rims
- Aluminum dual suspension
Schwinn is synonymous with quality bikes, and the brand is still going strong after 125 years because they keep making great products. This mountain bike is no exception, and it packs a lot of features into a very affordable package. The 24-speed drive train is controlled via trigger shifters, which makes switching gears fast and easy.
Aluminum construction keeps the cost low while still keeping the bike itself tough and durable. 29-inch wheels maximize traction and efficiency. Most importantly, the dual suspension will keep the ride smooth and comfortable, allowing you to tackle any terrain without worrying about how your back is going to hold up. While this Schwinn lacks some of the features of higher-priced models, it doesn’t make any sacrifices where it counts.
- 27.5 inch wheels
- Aluminum frame
- Cross-country geometry
- 120mm of travel on both front and rear suspension
- RapidFire Plus shift lever
- Shimano hydraulic disc brakes
- Entity Spiderbait tires
- 5 year warranty on frame
- 18 speed drive train
If a cross-country bike, rather than an all-mountain bike, is what you need, look no further than the Polygon Siskiu D5. The geometry of this bike is designed for the modern cross-country rider, with the ability to handle both uphill and downhill riding with ease.
With 120mm of travel in the suspension both in the front and the rear, this bike offers an unbelievably smooth ride on any terrain, and your back will thank you for choosing it. The RapidFire Plus lever can downshift up to three gears at once, and the Spiderbait tires are perfect for providing traction on the trail. The aluminum frame will last a lifetime, but just in case there are problems with it there’s a 5 year warranty included.
The Polygon D5 is definitely one of the best mountain bikes for lower back pain, as well as a great all around dual suspension mountain bike. The price is right too.
- 27.5 – 29 inch wheels
- Aluminum frame
- Cross country geometry
- Rockshox Recon fork
- Shimano hydraulic disc brakes
- Schwalbe nobby nic tires
- 11 speed drive train
- Rockshox Deluxe Select rear shocks
- Cross country geometry with all-mountain capability
The D7 is essentially an upgraded D5. The design is largely the same, but you’re getting more premium parts with this model. The shocks, tires, drive train, and more are all upgraded. The ride will be a bit smoother and the parts will likely last a bit longer.
The D7 is an excellent choice for beginners and experts alike. The price isn’t so high that beginners should avoid it, but it performs like a much more expensive model. Still, you do make some sacrifices to keep the price down, and while Polygon’s customer service is excellent, there are some reports of issues with the shifters and the axles.
- 27.5 – 29 inch wheels
- Alloy frame
- 12 speed drive train
- TRP Slate 4 piston brakes
- 35mm rims
- WTB Vigilante tires
- 160mm suspension travel
- Single trigger shifter
- Fox 36 Performance Front Fork suspension
- Fox Performance Float DPX2 air shock rear suspension
This is Polygon’s top-of-the-line model, and it comes packed with premium features. Rather than just plain aluminum, the frame is made of an aluminum alloy. The brakes are piston brakes, rather than mechanical disc brakes. The gears use a single trigger shifter, the suspension is second-to-none.
It is, however, somewhat heavier than you’d expect a bike this expensive to be, and as a result it doesn’t handle uphill rides as well as it should. It is a very comfortable bike, though, and you should be able to ride it without exacerbating your lower back pain.
Things to consider when shopping for a mountain bike, if you have lower back pain
1. The right size bike
Bikes come in sizes, and finding the right size bike for you can be the difference between agony and a long, pleasant ride through the back country. If the bike doesn’t fit you properly, the motion of your legs as you pedal can put undue stress on your joints and muscles, your back will be at an uncomfortable angle, and you risk serious injury in the long run.
In fact, riding a bike that isn’t the right size for you will actually cause back pain. You’ll be bent forward at an improper angle and your legs will either be moving through a too-large or too-small range of motion, which puts added strain on your back.
Bike sizes, like clothing sizes, aren’t fully standardized, so you really should head to your local bike shop and test out different bikes to figure out your size in a few different brands before ordering one online.
2. The right type of bike
There are several types of mountain bikes, but if you have lower back pain the only type you should consider is dual suspension (sometimes called full suspension.) These are the only mountain bikes with suspension in the front and the rear, which gives you maximum protection from rough terrain.
Other mountain bikes will only have suspension on one wheel, which means that you’ll be feeling the shock every time you hit a bump. These bikes typically have some performance advantages over dual suspension bikes, but they sacrifice a lot of comfort to get them.
3. The bike is easy to adjust
Even if you get the size just right, you’ll want to adjust some things on it to really maximize your comfort level. You may have to play around with the seat height for a while before finding your sweet spot, for instance. The same is true for your handlebars. Moving these around will change the angle of your back while your ride, which is essential for avoiding back pain. Good bikes should make these adjustments easy to make and easy to repeat.
4. Compatible accessories and replacements
You really don’t want to buy a bike only to find out that you can’t replace anything on it, or attach any accessories. For example, the seat can make a huge difference in your pain level, and you find a bike that fits you perfectly but has a terribly uncomfortable seat. If you can’t find a compatible seat that’s more comfortable, you’re in trouble.
5. Long travel suspension
Not all suspension systems are created equal. Some will absorb a lot more of the shock from rough terrain than others. If you’re already dealing with lower back pain, you want a suspension that absorbs even the tiniest bumps seamlessly.
Mountain Biking vs Walking for Lower Back Pain
Walking is one of the most commonly recommended exercises for people suffering from back pain. Walking is an excellent way to remain active without putting any extra stress on the back because it’s a low-impact exercise.
Cycling, too, is a low-impact exercise, which means it should also be a good choice for those looking to remain active while struggling with lower back pain. The main issue with it is that people worry about cycling worsening their back pain because of your body position while on a bike.
However, as long as your bike is properly sized and adjusted to fit you, cycling will not cause or worsen any back pain for you. In fact, once it’s adjusted properly, riding your back will strengthen your back muscles which will lead to a reduction in back pain.
You burn roughly 230 calories per hour while walking, but you’ll burn 560 calories in an hour of cycling- and that’s cycling on a flat, smooth surface. Mountain biking burns even more. So, as an exercise, cycling burns a lot more calories than walking. Since it also strengthens your back muscles when done properly, mountain biking is a great form of exercise for anybody struggling with lower back pain.
The best mountain bikes for lower back pain are going to be full-suspension bikes. The Salsa Blackthorn Carbon is great if you have the money to spend, or the Schwinn Traxion if you’re on a budget. Both of these bikes offer all the features you want and they’re both dual-suspension bikes. Having said that, any of the bikes on this list are an excellent choice that you won’t regret.
Mountain biking can be a fantastic form of exercise for anyone suffering from lower back pain, as long as you stick to dual-suspension bikes which will provide the smoothest, most comfortable ride.
Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes and shouldn’t be taken over that of a professional.