Mountain bikes give you new possibilities where other types of bicycles start to limit you. They let you explore more and have more fun for the same price. Check out our choice of the best mountain bikes on the market right now.
What Makes One Mountain Bike Good?
What is it that defines a mountain bike and makes it either good or bad? They come in different sizes and shapes, but every mountain bike should have several recognizable features and meet certain standards.
The frame of most mountain bikes is made of aluminum, and its geometry is more comfortable than that of road bikes. It allows the rider to sit in a more upright position and thus have more visibility, as well as experience less strain on the back. Compared to a hybrid bike, the position of the rider is lower.
A good mountain bike will have tires that are wider than those on road and hybrid bikes. They can be 2.1″ or wider and go up to 4.5″ on fat bikes. This gives the rider more comfort and stability and makes the bike more practical.
Another difference between mountain bikes and road bikes is that mountain bikes are usually more customizable. You can generally fit mudguards and racks on them, as well as carry several water bottles. Many low-end mountain bikes already come with much of this additional equipment, so you don’t have to worry about it. However, high-end mountain bikes are usually not designed to carry bike racks, but you can fit mudguards on them.
Mountain bikes typically also have suspension. Based on suspension, we can distinguish between rigid, hardtail, and full suspension bikes. Rigid bikes have no suspension at all, hardtail bikes have only the front suspension, whereas full suspension bikes have suspension both on the front and on the back. All three types can be equally good, depending on what kind of mountain biking you plan to do.
Finally, a good mountain bike needs to have robust and reliable brakes. Most mountain bikes today have disc brakes, which provide much more stopping power compared to V-brakes, which is essential when riding off the road. More expensive bikes have hydraulic disc brakes, whereas the cheaper ones have mechanical disc brakes. Even though hydraulic disc brakes are better, the mechanical ones are a decent choice as well.
In this review, you will find the best mountain bikes by categories:
If you’re looking for a way to enter the world of mountain biking but spend as little money as possible, Merax Finiss is the perfect bike for you. It costs around $200, and it’s suitable for beginners who do not have high expectations but want a reliable bike that can safely take them places.
Merax Finiss has an aluminum frame with a relaxed geometry and comes with a suspended fork for added comfort. The fork has 80 mm of travel, so you can rest assured that it will absorb most of the bumps and imperfections on the road.
Shimano makes the drivetrain and the derailleurs, and you have 21 diverse speeds at your disposal. This number of gears is more than enough to tackle any hill out there, so you don’t have to worry about it.
The absolute highlight on Merax Finiss are the mechanical disc brakes which you don’t often see on a bike that is this cheap. This is just one of the things that make Merax Finish a grand bargain.
All in all, even though Merax Finiss will not win any mountain biking championships, it is perfect for entry-level riders who ride recreationally and just want to have fun on the local trails. It’s a great deal, worth checking out.
Diamondback Overdrive 29 is an affordable mountain bike there is almost nothing to dislike about. We love the price, the design, and the components that you get for your money. It’s a great choice if you want to ride longer distances on the trail and tackle some moderately demanding terrain.
Let’s take a look at what you get if you buy Diamondback Overdrive 29. First of all, this bike has a lightweight aluminum frame and an SR Suntour fork with 100 mm of travel, so it feels light and nimble while riding.
You also have 24 speeds to choose from depending on what terrain you’re riding on. You can shift through them using a Shimano Alivio rear derailleur and a Shimano Tourney front derailleur. The shifting is smooth and precise if you adjust the shifters properly.
Finally, the most positive surprise for us was the mechanical disc brakes which really make a change if you’re riding in challenging conditions or you want to take your ride a notch up.
If you’re looking to spend $600 on a mountain bike that you can use for training, weight loss, and recreation, Diamondback Overdrive 29 is a great buy.
Clench your thirst for the mountains and nature with the Cannondale Catalyst 3 bike. It’s a good looking mountain bike with a price for those who are still not ready to break the bank by spending too much on a bike. It’s available in two colors: green and charcoal grey, both of which are attractive and look great on the road.
Cannondale Catalyst 3 has a Smartform aluminum frame compatible with 27.5″ wheels that allow for easy rack and fender mounting. This bike is a hardtail model, which means it comes with front suspension. In this case, it is the SR Suntour, with 75 mm of travel.
Catalyst 3 will let you take it up any hill thanks to 21 mountain biking-specific gears, that allow you to keep the cadence up, but keep your spirits high as well. Both derailleurs are Shimano Tourney, which is expected to find at this price. They’re not a high-end choice, but they get the job done without any problems.
On the trail, you can also count on the Tektro mechanical disc brakes which have proven to be strong and reliable time and time again. They require a bit more power to engage compared to hydraulic discs, but you’ll be surprised by the stopping time.
We recommend the Cannondale Catalyst 3 because it offers excellent value for the price. It’s a great choice for an entry-level rider who wants a beautiful bike to ride recreationally and spend more time under the sun.
Giant Stance 2 is an excellent full suspension trail bike that will allow you to train on a higher level and get your fitness where it needs to be. This model has a durable and lightweight ALUXX-grade aluminum frame, a suspended fork with 120 mm of smooth travel, and the fantastic SR Suntour Raidon R rear shock.
The Stance 2 is a mid-range bike, with a mid-range price, so its perfect rider is someone with a bit of experience on the trails, wanting to ride more seriously. It comes in two awesome color-combinations: Black/Green and Black/Red/Orange.
Stance 2 has a combo of Shimano Alivio and Deore groupset components and a 2×9 drivetrain. The 2x and 1x drivetrains are very popular on trail bikes because they offer plenty of gearing but keep the weight down.
The wheels on the Giant Stance 2 bike are 27.5″ in diameter and roll on Maxxis Rekon tubeless tires that provide crazy traction and puncture resilience. The brakes are hydraulic discs produced by Shimano, so you can fall back on them whenever you need to stop quickly.
If you’re looking to spend a bit more money and get a bike that you can train hard on and improve your trail knowledge and off-road capabilities, Giant Stance 2 is made for you.
Mountain bikes with 29-inch wheels are becoming increasingly popular due to the fact they are capable of more on the trail and boost riders’ confidence. The Orbea MX 10 29er is a great example of such a bike built around a 6061 aluminum frame. It tackles imperfections on the trail with a RockShox front suspension with 100 mm of travel.
It’s being produced in three color combinations: black/turquoise/red, black/orange, and silver/black. Moreover, the frame has internal cable routing, which makes the lines even smoother and improves the aerodynamics a little bit.
Even though Orbea MX 10 costs less than $1,000, it comes with a combo of Shimano Deore XT and Deore components, including Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. This bike has 20 diverse speeds thanks to the Shimano/Prowheel 2×10 drivetrain.
Another positive aspect of the MX 10 is that the wheels are made in-house by Orbea, which ensures maximum compatibility and performance. The tires are from Kenda, 2.35″ wide, so you will have plenty of traction when cornering on loose terrain.
Our final verdict regarding the Orbea MX 10 is that it offers a lot more in terms of components than a lot of its competitors. If you want a powerful 29er trail bike to use for fitness and training and get the best value for money, we recommend the MX 10.
Salsa Beargrease is a seriously mean-looking fat bike with a camo paint job. It will allow you to blend in and become one with nature and your surroundings. It has a lightweight, rigid carbon frame with a comfortable geometry. Therefore, even though this is a fat bike, it weighs only 29 lbs. and 5 oz. in the M size. The L size weights just 5 oz. more.
The first thing that you notice when you take a look at it, apart from the fantastic paint job, is its monster tires. The wheel size is 27.5 inches, whereas the Maxxis Minion tires are 3.8 inches wide.
The Salsa Beargrease is not made for going fast. On this bike, you’re supposed to go slowly but reach great distances. With that in mind, it has a 1x drivetrain with ten gears that you can shift through with a Shimano Deore derailleur.
To stop this monster, you need good brakes as well, which are provided by SRAM this time. Of course, they are hydraulic discs, so you will get maximum stopping power with little force exertion.
The best thing about Salsa Beargrease is that it weighs so little, which was always a problem when it comes to fat bikes. So, if you want to own a fat bike, but you stayed away because of the high weight, here’s your chance!
Are you an expert mountain bike rider or you’re looking to become one? Diamondback has your back with their Release 5C model. This is a high-end mountain bike with a carbon frame and full suspension. Its price is high as well, but it is worth the investment.
This Diamondback’s sturdy carbon frame is compatible with 27.5-inch wheels and equipped with Fox front and rear suspension. The fork has 150 mm of travel, which will really allow you to take your skills to the extreme and break some records on the trail.
Other specs that need mentioning include premium SRAM XO1 Eagle components. The Release 5C has 24 speeds thanks to a 2×12 drivetrain, so you don’t need to push uphill when reaching the start of your downhill session. Moreover, it has an integrated and remotely controlled seat dropper, which is a must on extreme rides.
The Release 5C rolls on 2.5″ Maxxis Minion tires and RaceFace Arc30 wheels that are durable and light. Finally, the brakes are SRAM Guide RS, powered by hydraulics, for supreme braking properties.
You can ask for more than what Diamond Release 5C offers on the trail, but you simply can’t get it at this price range. It’s the perfect bike for an expert rider who is planning to do MTB racing or just devote their life to MTB riding.
Orbea Alma M30 is the 29er hardtail bike you have always dreamed about. It is a trendsetter on the trails, light as a feather, and extremely stiff. Orbea Alma has a carbon frame with the so-called 4×4 technology which disperses weight and vibrations much better than the standard frame geometry. The performance of the frame is upgraded with the RockShox Reba RL fork, with 100 mm of travel.
The drivetrain is composed of SRAM NX Eagle parts that provide you with an efficient 1×12 gear setup. The wheelset is tubeless ready, produced by Mach1, clad in performance-oriented Maxxis Ikon 2.20″ tires. Braking abilities are nothing to worry about because Orbea has already found a good solution. The Shimano hydraulic discs are a fail-proof choice.
Other pleasant surprises on the Orbea Alma M30 include internal cable routing along the whole length of the cable. We also can’t miss mentioning the Orbea Race Face cockpit which is hardy, comfortable and looks terrific. Finally, the Alma M30 weighs just 26 lbs, which is not much for a 29er.
All in all, if you’re on the lookout for a fantastic XC bicycle that has a reasonable price and is built for expert riders, definitely considers the Orbea Alma. It’ll let you abuse it on the trail and always perform at your finest.
The Cannondale Jekyll AL3 is intended both for hustling and flowing around the trails. Thanks to its FOX suspension system developed in collaboration with Gemini, you can adjust suspension in two modes. They are called Hustle and Flow. The Hustle mode is springy and more responsive, perfect for riding fast and cornering aggressively. The flow mode lets you experience all 170 mm of buttery smooth travel for an unprecedentedly smooth ride.
These properties make Cannondale Jekyll AL3 a competent carbon bike. It’s intended for expert riders (or those who want to become experts) in enduro racing and other mountain adventures.
Jekyll AL3 has 24 gears on a 2×12 drivetrain powered by SRAM NX Eagle parts. They have proven their worth on the trails in numerous competitive environments. The cassette is a 10-50t, so there’s a good range of gears that you can choose from for any occasion.
This bike comes with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with massive 180 mm rotors both on the front and on the rear. The rims are tubeless ready, which is a popular choice these days among professional trail riders. The Maxxis Minion tires are also tubeless ready, as well as puncture-resistant. They’re 2.5″ wide, so you can easily go over obstacles instead of around.
Cannondale Jekyll AL3 is perfect for enduro-oriented expert riders, but it does not limit your choices there. It behaves well in every corner of the trail, thanks to its adjustable suspension and the thoughtful design.
Riding bikes is mostly about having fun and feeling free! That is precisely what Raleigh Eva 2 can offer you for a price that is hard to believe. Eva 2 is a women-specific entry-level mountain bike that is perfect of occasional rides. If you view cycling as a leisurely activity on a calm forest or gravel road, this bike will be perfect for you.
Even though it is cheap and intended for beginners whose demands are not too high, it still over-delivers in terms of components. First of all, Raleigh Eva 2 has an aluminum frame which makes it really light, nimble, and springy. The SR Suntour fork has 75 mm of travel which is just enough to eliminate the most severe vibrations on the road. It will ensure that you have a comfortable ride and prevent sore wrist joints.
Moreover, Raleigh Eva 2 has enough gearing to get you wherever you need to be! Most bikes in this price range have 21 speeds, whereas Eva 2 has 24. Shifting is done with a Shimano Altus, which is a low-end groupset, but far from the lowest. Therefore, it’s a good deal.
Finally, Eva 2 has V-brakes, so it’s not intended for serious mountain biking or intense downhills. Nonetheless, if you are just looking to buy a cheap, but a decent bicycle, to take on recreational rides on the weekend and spend some time in the fresh air, you’ll be quite content with this buy!
The Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1W is possibly the best deal you can get on a women’s mountain bike out there. Considering what you pay for it and what you end up getting, we can say it’s a real bargain. It has women-specific elements, such as a women saddle, shorter top tube, narrow handlebars, shorter stem, and so on. It’s guaranteed to feel comfy even on longer rides.
If you take our advice and make the purchase, don’t hesitate to take the DRT 1.1W on long rides, as this bike can handle it. It has a 6061 aluminum frame with 100 mm of suspension, so it’s built to be light and reliable on the trails. The frame has a comfortable geometry, and it features fender and rack mounts, so you can easily add accessories on it.
Even though the Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1W is cheap, there is no sign of Tourney or no-label components on it. Instead, it comes with a mix of Shimano Altus and Acera parts, which are perfect for what this bike is built for. Moreover, it has a 3×8 drivetrain with 24 total gears, so it’s highly unlikely that you will ever run out of gears.
The absolute highlight on the DRT 1.1W are the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes which means that this bike can deliver serious stopping power when you need it the most! If you’re planning to start mountain biking to lose weight, get fit, or stay fit, definitely consider the DRT 1.1W.
Ghost is a European bicycle company that is becoming more and more popular in the USA. They are trying to take over the mid-range mountain biking market with their Ghost Lanoa FS 2.7 model. This training bike is intended for women who have fallen in love with mountain biking and are ready to invest a little bit more in their hobby.
Ghost Lanoa FS 2.7 has an aluminum frame with a feminine and attractive silver/jade paint job. The aluminum makes the bike light and nimble but keeps the price reasonably low. The Lanoa FS 2.7 is a full suspension model with perfectly smooth vibration absorption. There’s 130 mm of travel on the fork and the rear shock, which makes it a capable trail machine.
Ghost often uses SRAM components on their bikes, so Lanoa FS 2.7 is equipped with a SRAM NX rear derailleur which provides 11 versatile and precise gears. The 1x drivetrain is a pleasant surprise which you don’t often see for this money.
This Ghost model has 27.5″ wheels and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, which are both pretty standard on FS trail bikes. Finally, the tires are 2.4 inches wide, so you don’t need to worry about traction on the trails.
Consider buying the Ghost Lanoa FS 2.7 if you want a bike that is good for training and more serious mountain biking. This bike has everything that a mountain biking enthusiast needs.
If you thought that you do not need an e-bike, we’d like you to think again. The Cannondale Cujo NEO 130 can help you stay on the trails for longer and have an all-day adventure. It has a class-1 pedal assist motor, perfect to provide the extra juice when you need it the most.
Shimano builds the motor, it has 250W, which is more than enough for a decent boost, and it’s mounted centrally. It’s protected with an aluminum plate, so there’s no chance that it will get damaged if you take the bike to the extremes.
Apart from the electric components, the Cannondale Cujo NEO 130 also has a Shimano Deore rear derailleur with ten speeds. Also, this is a full suspension bike, with 120 mm of travel, so you can go fast on the trail without feeling it. Other high points are the hydraulic disc brakes, 2.8″ tubeless ready tires, and a unisex design.
So, in case you are looking for a way to ride more downhills and have more fun on your trail rides for longer, definitely consider buying the Cannondale Cujo NEO 130 4.
Ghost Hybride SLAMR S2.7+ is quite a mouthful, but it’s also one of the meanest-looking FS electric bikes we’ve seen recently. It has a Shimano Steps 8000 motor with lots of torque and a max speed of 20 mph. The full suspension is provided by RockShox and offers 140 mm of travel, which is adjustable to suit your preferences.
Even though the emphasis on this bike is on the high-end electric parts, the mechanical components are not lagging behind either. The Ghost Hybride has a 1×12 SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, with an 11-50T cassette. With such a high-range of gears and a powerful electric motor, there are no hills that you cannot conquer.
The Hybride rolls on Maxxis Minion 27.5×2.5″ tires and uses TRP G-SPEC hydraulic disc brakes for stopping. The weight is around 50 lbs, which seems quite high, but you won’t be moving all of it thanks to the pedal-assist motor.
All in all, the Ghost Hybride SLAMR S2.7+ is quite easy to like and fall in love with. If you want to ride more trails in less time, or overcome an injury and be able to enjoy MTB cycling again, it’s definitely worth the money.
If you’re riding bikes because of the exciting downhills and you loathe long and arduous uphills, then the Giant Full-E+ 1 is definitely an investment you should consider. This electric trail shredder with an aluminum frame and full suspension will conquer anything in its path.
Thanks to its Yamaha electric motor with 80 Nm of torque and a 20 mph max speed, this bike can take you farther and higher than you’ve ever been. The Giant Full-E+ 1 also comes with a full suspension setup, with 140 mm of travel, so you can take your downhill skills to the extreme as well.
The front and rear derailleurs are Shimano XT, which are top of the line. However, you’ll shift through the 2×11 drivetrain with an SLX shifter, which is a high-end choice as well.
The grip is important as well, but it’s not something to worry about due to the oversized 2.6″ Schwalbe tires. We love the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with 200 mm rotors, which look just massive and stop on a dime!
Giant Full-E+ 1 is a beautiful bike that is also very capable and could transform the way you look at mountain biking. If you’re tired of those uphill rides or your knees are starting to hurt, but you still want to ride another downhill at the end of the day, don’t think twice about buying it.
But, is the Mountain Bike the Right Type for Me?
This is not an easy question to address. The best way to provide an answer to it is by asking yourself several additional questions.
Why do you want to ride a bike? Where will you be riding most of the time? What are the weather and the terrain like in your area? How frequently will you be riding your bike? What is more critical for you, speed or comfort?
These are the main questions that everyone needs to have answered and sorted out before deciding to buy a bike. If you are still unsure about these answers, try to think about them and write them down. It will help you clear your head and have a better perspective. To help you out, we’ve created a list of pros and cons of mountain bikes, so take a look at it to determine if they are the right type for you.
Mountain Bike Pros
- Mountain bikes are very stable thanks to their geometry and the wide tires.
- They are stronger, heavier, and more durable than other types of bicycles.
- Thanks to the wide tires, you have a much better choice when deciding where to ride.
- Mountain bikes are more comfortable than other types of bicycles because of suspension.
- You can ride on rough terrain that you would have to avoid on road or hybrid bikes.
- They are fun!
Mountain Bike Cons
- MTBs are often heavier than other types of bikes.
- Maintaining a mountain bike is more difficult because it has more moving parts.
- Riding a mountain bike is slower compared to other kinds of bikes.
- You need more energy to pedal on a mountain bike.
Now that we have covered all of the basics and you know enough about mountain bikes, we can proceed and check out the 15 best mountain bikes that you should consider. The list includes different types of mountain bikes in all price categories, so there’s a high chance you will find something that suits you well.
Is it a good time to buy?
Of course, now is the perfect time to buy!
When possible, you should always try to buy a new bike during the off-season, which is when most online and land-based shops have exciting discounts. This way, you can save up to a half on the price of the bike, so it makes much more sense to purchase a bike in winter and early spring. Check out our list of the 15 best mountain bikes, choose the category that suits you best, and we’re sure you’ll find something that meets your needs.
Related: Best Dual Suspension Mountain Bikes
Which one should I buy?
Now that we’ve covered the most important aspects of mountain biking and presented the 15 best mountain bikes, it’s time to determine which bike to choose.
If you are an occasional rider, you should pick from the Beginners section. If you want to achieve better results, then the Training section is better for you because you can develop more skills on these bikes. The bikes in the Expert section are perfect for you if you are already a skilled rider and you’re taking mountain biking to the extreme (or you’re planning to do so).
The Women section is intended for women and features the three models in three most popular pricing categories. However, women can also pick from all five categories, as there aren’t any significant differences between women-specific and other models.
Finally, if you’re planning to buy an e-bike to overcome an injury or just be able to ride longer, don’t miss our Electric section as it features the three best e-bike picks.
Happy picking! We hope you’ll find something that you like and that makes you happy!
Hope you find yourself a proper MTB!