- Health Benefits of Photography Trekking
- How to Be an Environmentally-Friendly Landscape Photographer
photo by Saro17 via iStock
If you are as taken with photography trekking as I am, you will soon find yourself shopping for a mountain bike, either as an entry or as an upgrade or replacement. A mountain bike buyer’s guide for nature photographers will assist your decision making.
Photography trekking is using a non-motorized vehicle to access locations for landscape and other scenic photography. You can see all sorts of ideas about photography trekking at #GoByBike, an inspirational website run by Trek and featuring photography and ideas from around the globe.
Bikes for Photographers
Bikes for photographers engaging in photography trekking will be as varied as our camera choices are. Every photographer and every bike rider will have different criteria for their needs and wants.
We have many articles on camera and lens choices, so we’ll concentrate on a mountain bike buyer’s guide for landscape photographers. What makes some mountain bike features better suited for photography trekking and how do we sort through all the different types of mountain bikes?
Types of Mountain Bikes
photo by stockstudioX via iStock
When we talk about types of mountain bikes for photographers, a mountain bike buyer’s guide will use some specific terms to differentiate them. As a photographer, you can look at it as talking about DSLRs and mirrorless, Full Frame, APS-C, and MFT formats, plus entry level, prosumer, or professional camera.
Some of the different types of mountain bikes include Enduro, Cross Country, Trail Bikes, Downhill, E-MTN, and Fat bikes.
The most common type of mountain bike is a Trail bike. These have all the features for rugged off trail wilderness travel as well as ease of ride features useful for general bike travel. Trail bikes can be found from entry level all the way to top of the line full suspension mountain bikes.
photo by GibsonPictures via iStock
Enduro, Cross Country, and Downhill bikes are designed for specific competition styles such as extreme speed downhill racing and the Enduro competitions which combine speedy downhill with steep climbs. These bikes may be missing some comfort features you would prefer for photography trekking.
Electric motors are added to Trail bikes to make the amazing hybrid E-MTN bikes. These bikes are a good choice for photography trekking across a wide variety of terrain. Many experienced E-MTN riders use the motors as an assist in uphill climbs to prolong their endurance. The Trek Rail 7 is an excellent version of this style and is pretty reasonably priced for it’s features.
A Fat bike has many of the same features as a Trail bike but with hugely wide track tires. If your photography trekking regularly takes into areas with snow or sand, such as winter trails, desert trails, or a beach, these types of mountain bikes rule supreme. Trek Farley 5 is a simple Fat bike with a very budget friendly price.
One of the mountain bike features that separates the types of mountain bikes is suspension. There are 3 basic types, full or dual suspension, hardtail or front suspension, and no suspension or rigid. In addition to the ride comfort and ability to tackle extreme terrain, suspension choices also affect size, weight, and price.
A full suspension bike, also known as dual suspension, has suspension on both tires, front and back. Front suspension will most often be on the forks while the rear suspension may be more varied from bike to bike with a four bar pivot being the most common.
Mountain bike makers tend to add all the best features to their premier bikes which are often full suspension bikes. Since the dual suspension adds weight, you might also want to look for weight saving materials such as a carbon fiber frame.
As an example, the Trek Remedy 9.9 is a full suspension Trail style mountain bike with a carbon fiber frame, Trek’s best drivetrain SRAM X01, and it even has carbon fiber wheels. It is a high end bike and is priced accordingly. Consider it an equal to your high megapixel full frame sensor mirrorless professional camera and the sharp and fast f/2.8 zoom lenses. A top of the line full suspension bike can handle whatever you’re likely to encounter.
photo by monkeybusinessimages via iStock
A Full Frame camera offers incredible quality but everything is bigger, cameras and lenses. MFT format has the smallest and lightest bodies and lenses, but you sacrifice low light performance and extreme resolution. An APS-C format camera system may seem like the perfect compromise of size, weight, image quality, and price.
Likewise with mountain bikes, size and weight varieties give us a lot of options for our riding style and budget. Not to be overlooked is our own body size. A large person will likely be more comfortable with a larger bike and vice versa for smaller people.
photo by lzf via iStock
There are several sizes and styles to choose from for mountain bikes. Three seem to be the most common, 26”, 27.5”, and 29”.
The 26” wheels are very common on lower priced bikes, while the 27.5” seems to be the new normal size and will likely supplant 26” in time for new bikes. 29” wheels offer better traction overall and increased comfort, but they are also heavier and add to the overall price.
photo by pixelfit via iStock
One of the most important considerations for most of us when reading camera, lens, or mountain bike buyer’s guides is the price. A good rule of thumb is exactly what I say about photographic equipment, buy the best you can afford.
While you could go to a discount mass market retailer for a mountain bike at minimal cost, if you want to stay serious about your photography trekking, you should probably step up a rung or two. While high end mountain bikes can cost $5,000 to $10,000, you can also get very good bikes for under $1,000.
For instance, Trek has entry level mountain bikes near the price of an entry level DSLR, all the way up to top-of-the-line models with features that rival motorized transportation. And everything in between.
Another option is to shop used, just like with cameras. Make friends with a local specialized outdoor recreation store or bike shop and periodically browse their trade in models. Some amazing bargains on current models are found this way.
Go By Bike
photo by PamelaJoeMcFarlane via iStock
Photography trekking is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Plus, it has benefits for the environment and my personal health. Don’t just take my word for it. Check out the stories and the amazing photography at #GoByBike.
Photography trekking combines exercise, travel, recreation, environmental responsibility, and landscape photography. What’s not to love?