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I have recently purchased a new 'MTB' a few weeks ago, and have been enjoying riding ~12 miles daily on it on tarmac. I now wish to taste some off-roading on it.

I wanted to know how much can my bike take given its specs, and what kind of terrain I should throw it on to the best from it.

Here are the specs of it -

Huge HDT-39 Specs

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    how much experience do you have with technical riding? what are you comfortable with? – Paul H Sep 10 at 17:01
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    Align those reflectors if they came like this. – Vladimir F Sep 11 at 8:41
  • @PaulH - That's zero – prateekmathur1991 Sep 11 at 11:45
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If this bike is your only transportation and you have limited funds to fix it don't take it off road.

Otherwise, don't worry about the bike. You might as well break things on a less expensive bike first.

Make a plan to ease into off road riding.

Start small for several weeks - easy off road riding at low to moderate speeds - and learn about how to choose your path and handle various terrain.

Work your way to moderate riding - building skill and getting to know your bike. Do moderate for several weeks.

Experiment a little with more difficult off road - ease your way into it.

Your goal should be to maximize experience and minimize risks. Expect things to break. You will get more flats. If you hit rocks and holes you will bend wheels. Don't get too far from civilization.

Several things will happen if you take the "ease into it" approach.

  1. You will learn how to handle your bike
  2. You will build strength
  3. You will find out the limits of your bike and what qualities in a bike are needed to support the type of riding you like.

This information will be very valuable when you shop for your next bike. The skills you develop will help your next bike last longer because you'll know what to and what not to do.

Carels suggestion of removing the kick-stand is very good.

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    Stay within a walkable distance from your home or at least from public transport. – Carel Sep 11 at 6:36
  • “If you hit rocks and holes you will bend wheels” – it's worth noting that this happens, like, an order of magnitude easier on a cheap bike than on one with decent quality wheels. And particularly fragile point of those bikes tends to be the rear axle (I should know, I've ridden such bikes for a long time). So – though I agree with “you might as well break things on a less expensive bike first”... you may quickly end up with a Frankenstein bike with all the replaced parts much more expensive than the original bike, and then it'll still not really be a good bike. – leftaroundabout Sep 11 at 11:49
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The biggest weak points I can see are the front fork and the rear wheel. This is a very basic fork. It consists of springs that compress when loaded. There are no adjustments. It is basically a pogostick with a wheel attached. It is suitable for bumpy gravel roads at most. It will fail quickly if subjected to log hopping or drops of more than a few inches. The rear wheel has a freewheel hub. The weak spot on a freehub wheel is the axle. The drive side bearing is located inboard of the largest cog. This leaves a long unsupported section of axle. This the typical failure point. It doesn't take much of an impact for the axle to bend.

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It looks like a entry level big-box store bike.

I would not do a lot of (or any) technical rides with it.

I'd stick on pavement or easy gravel paths.

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    If you want to use it on any rough surface, remove the kick-stand. It is the most likely item to fail and make you fall. – Carel Sep 10 at 18:14
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    Without trying to come across as offensive, I suspect OP will run out of ability before even a cheap BSO bike will hit its limits. – Criggie Sep 10 at 19:40
  • @Carel How can a rear kickstand like the one shown in the picture ever fail and make you fall? The only problem with kickstands that I know of is that they fail to hold the bike up (extremely common problem, though), but not that they somehow break off to cause a crash. But I'm lacking off-road experience, so I'm curious. – cmaster Sep 10 at 21:24
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    The issue with kickstands while riding on rough terrain is they have a tendency to bounce into the down position. This is a big concern if it hits the ground or obstacle especially while turning. – mikes Sep 11 at 1:54
  • My kickstand never flipped out but every bump it would make an annoying bouncy noise. So best case it's annoying and worst case it hurts you. All you lose out on is being able to easily stand you bike up. In the woods there's bound to be a tree around to lean it against. – Captain Man Sep 11 at 15:59
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  1. Check the documentation you got with the bike (if any) and the bike itself for a classification. Often times you will find a sticker stating what terrain the bike should be used on.

  2. The bike mostly consists of low level or no-name components. It is certainly not intended for jumps and big drops. However, if there aren't any hidden defects, it should absolutely be capable for forest roads or simple trails. Even at lower price points hard tails can be very sturdy.

  3. Expect some parts to fail. Have a patch kit and a small pump ready and learn how to fix a flat tire.

  4. Have a backup plan in case something breaks that you can't fix (the chain could snap, a wheel bent to a banana shape, the rear derailleur could hit the spokes and destroy itself and the wheel in the process, ...). This backup plan can be "walk home for an hour" if that's OK, or a mobile phone (and reception) to get someone to pick you up.

  5. The bike has a so called "Derailleur Gard". This is a metal part that can protect your rear derailleur from light bumps like another bike being pushed into it or the bike slowly falling over. If however this part gets hit at speed (which can easily happen when riding over rocks) it might bend the bike frame and destroy it for good. Probably better to take it of. The rear derailleur on your bike costs around 10$/€, prices in India might even be lower. Cheaper to replace only a broken derailleur than buying a new frame.

  • “Even at lower price points hard tails can be very sturdy.” Nope, not with a freewheel. In fact, even a bad-quality rear suspension will somewhat reduce the shock loads on the rear axle, which is the no.1 point of failure on those bikes. With a proper cassette and hubs, hardtails can be sturdy indeed. – leftaroundabout Sep 11 at 12:42

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