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.
— For Beginners —
Clench your thirst for the mountains and nature with the Co-op Cycles DRT 2.2 bike. It’s available in a beautiful brown color scheme that will appeal to most riders.
Co-op Cycles DRT 2.2 is a capable and good looking trail bike with a price for those who are still not ready to break the bank by spending too much on two wheels.
DRT 2.2 has a 6061 double-butted aluminum frame compatible with 27.5+ wheels and tires that ensure high on-trail performance.
This bike is a hardtail model, which means it has front suspension. In this case, it is the RockShox Recon RL with 120 to 140 mm of travel, depending on the frame size.
DRT 2.2 will let you take it up any hill thanks to 12 mountain biking-specific gears, that allow you to keep the cadence up, but keep your spirits high as well. The drivetrain is SRAM NX Eagle, which is the best mid-range choice.
On the trails, you can also count on the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes that have proven to be strong and reliable time and time again. You’ll be surprised by the stopping time and the lack of maintenance.
We recommend Co-op Cycles DRT 2.2 because it offers excellent value for the price. It’s a great choice for any entry-level to intermediate rider who wants a beautiful bike to practice skills and spend more time under the sun.
Ibis Ripmo AF Deore
Best Value FS Bike
Ripmo AF Deore is an interesting addition to Ibis’s collection of mid-range bikes intended for serious trail enthusiasts. This is a proper 29″ trail monster with a slack geometry that will rip sketchy descents like they’re a walk in the park.
The DVO Diamond and DVO Topaz front and rear suspension provide 160/147mm of travel, which makes it super fun to ride.
The frame comes in two colors, gray and red, features internal cable routing, and has eyelets for one water bottle.
You can easily ride the Ibis Ripmo AF FS on most kinds of trails in your vicinity, as this bike is a capable climber and descender.
When faced with challenges,Ripmo AF performs well thanks to quality Shimano Deore components. This bike is an excellent climber as it comes with a 1×12 drivetrain with a 10-51T cassette and a 32T crankset. Granny gears abound.
The Shimano Deore 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes provide constant and reliable stopping power both on and off-road, even when you ride through deep puddles or muddy sections.
The biggest surprise on the Ibis Ripmo AF is the dropper post. What you’ll also like are the 29 x 2.5″ Maxxis Assegai tires, which is almost as wide as you can get on 29″ wheels. You’ll feel like you’re riding on a cloud, even when you’re rolling over rocks or roots.
Get this full-suspension bike if huge tires, a new Deore groupset, and durable components sound like a good deal to you for $1,300.
Winner! Best Beginner’s Mountain Bike
MSRP from $289.99
+ Good price/quality balance
– Mechanical disc brakes
– 80mm fork travel
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.
Merax Finiss is a phenomenal choice for beginners who do not have high expectations but want a reliable bike that can safely take them places they’ve never been.
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 Finiss 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.
Related: Cheap Mountain Bikes section
Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1
Best Affordable Fat Bike
Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1 is an affordable fat bike there is almost nothing to dislike about. We love the price, the design, and the components that you get for your money.
Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1 is a great choice if you want to ride longer distances on the trails and tackle some extremely demanding terrain on extra-wide 4.8″ tires.
Let’s take a look at what you get if you buy this Co-op bike. First of all, it has a lightweight aluminum frame and a rigid aluminum fork, so it feels light and nimble while riding.
You have 12 speeds to choose from depending on what terrain you’re riding on. You can shift through them using a SRAM SX Eagle rear derailleur. The shifting is smooth and precise and granny gears amass.
DRT 4.1 rolls on Innova 4.8″ wide tires, with 60 TPI. Both the aluminum wheels and the tires are tubeless-ready, which will ensure you get significantly fewer punctures.
Finally, the most positive surprise for us was the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes which really make a change if you’re riding in challenging conditions or you want to take your ride up a notch.
If you’re looking to spend less than $1,500 on a fat mountain bike that you can use for training, weight loss, and recreation, Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1 is a great buy.
— Best for Training —
Salsa Mukluk Deore Fat
Best in Class! Best Fat Bike w/ Carbon Fork
Salsa Mukluk is an excellent fat bike that will allow you to train on a higher level, ride more extreme routes, and go on bikepacking adventures.
This model has a durable and lightweight Aluminum frame and a Bearpaw carbon fork for maximum stiffness, comfort, and best power transfer.
Salsa Mukluk is a mid-range fat bike with a tempting price, perfect for someone with a bit of experience on the trails, wanting to ride more seriously.
The Mukluk fat bike has a Shimano Deore drivetrain that gives you 11 massive-range gears to choose from.
The wheels on this bike are 26″ in diameter and roll on 4.6″ wide 45NRTH Dillinger 5 tires that provide lots of traction and puncture resilience. They look impressive and ride even better.
The brakes are hydraulic discs produced by Tektro, so you can fall back on them whenever you need to stop quickly.
If you’re looking to spend a reasonable amount of money and get a capable fat bike that you can use to ride extreme terrain and even bikepack, Salsa Mukluk is made for you.
Kona Satori SE
Best 1x Trail Bike
Kona Satori SE is a slack 29″ full-suspension mountain bike with loads of travel and other features that will put a smile on your face.
Mountain bikes with 29-inch wheels have become increasingly popular due to the fact they are capable of more on the trail and boost riders’ confidence.
This bike is built around a 6061 aluminum frame and tackles imperfections on the trail with a RockShox Recon RL front suspension with 140 mm of travel.
There’s also the RockShox Deluxe RL DebonAir rear shock with 130 mm of travel, so don’t hesitate to take this Kona to some gnarly trails.
Kona Satori SE costs around $2,400, so it doesn’t surprise that it comes with a Shimano Deore rear derailleur on a 1×10 drivetrain. The package also includes Shimano hydraulic disc brakes which fit the general image nicely.
Kona Satori SE is a capable and well-equiped trail bicycle with plenty of fork travel and oversized wheels that boost riders’ confidence and conquer trails.
Another positive aspect of the Satori SE is the WTB ST i30 wheels with Alivio boost hubs. The tires are WTB Vigilante, 2.3″ wide, so you will have plenty of traction when cornering on loose terrain.
Our final verdict regarding the Kona Satori SE is that it offers a lot more in terms of components than a lot of its competitors. If you want a powerful 29er bike to use for fitness and training and get the best value for money, we recommend it without second thoughts.
Salsa Beargrease Carbon SX Eagle Fat Bike
Best Fat Bike!
The first thing that you notice when you take a look at this massive bike, apart from the fantastic paint job, is its monster tires. The wheel size is 27.5 inches, whereas the 45NRTH Dillinger 4 tires are 3.8 inches wide.
Related: Best Fat Bikes You Can Get
Salsa Beargrease is a seriously mean-looking fat bike with a silver/orange/black paint job. 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 12 oz. in the M size. The L size weighs just 5 oz. more.
Salsa Beargrease Carbon SX Eagle is capable of permanently extending your riding season and allowing you to tackle snow, mud, and sand year-round.
The Salsa Beargrease is not made to go fast. On this bike, you’re supposed to go slowly but reach great distances. With that in mind, it has a 1x drivetrain with 12 gears that you can shift through with a SRAM SX Eagle derailleur.
To stop this monster, you need good brakes as well, which is what you get with SRAM Level. Of course, they are hydraulic discs, so you will get maximum stopping power with little force exertion.
The best thing about Salsa Beargrease Carbon SX 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!
— Experts —
Cannondale Jekyll AL 4 29
Best Full-Suspension Setup
The best way to describe Cannondale Jekyll AL 4 is to call it a competent aluminum full suspension bike. It’s intended for experienced riders (or those who want to become experienced) in enduro racing and other mountain adventures.
The Cannondale Jekyll AL 4 is intended for both hustling and flowing around the trails with a suspension setup that can assume different roles and match a variety of riding styles.
The suspension system consists of a RockShox Lyrik Select fork with 150 mm of travel and a RockShox Deluxe Select Plus rear shock that’s buttery smooth.
Jekyll AL 4 has 12 gears on a 1×12 drivetrain powered by SRAM NX Eagle parts. They have proven their worth on the trails in numerous competitive environments. The cassette is an 11-50t, 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 AL 4 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 quality suspension and the thoughtful design.
Orbea Occam M30
Winner! Best Carbon Race-Ready
Are you an expert mountain bike rider or you’re looking to become one? Orbea has your back with their Occam M30 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 Orbea’s stiff carbon frame is compatible with 29″ wheels that provide unparalleled performance on tricky sections. It is also equipped with Fox Performance front and rear suspension.
With 140 mm of travel on the fork, Orbea Occam M30 will really allow you to take your skills to the xtreme and break some records on the trail.
Other specs that need mentioning include Shimano XT or SRAM NX Eagle components, as there are two builds available. Occam M30 has 12 speeds thanks to a 1×12 drivetrain on both builds, so you don’t need to push uphill when reaching the start of your downhill session. Moreover, it has an integrated and remotely controlled dropper post, which is a must on extreme rides.
Orbea Occam M30 rolls on 2.40″ Maxxis Rekon tires and DT Swiss M-1900 Spline 30c wheels that are durable and light. Finally, the brakes are Shimano MT501, powered by hydraulics, for supreme braking properties.
You can ask for more than what Orbea Occam M30 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
Highest Spec’d Model
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.
Orbea Alma M30 is a bike that appears to have come out straight from a hardcore mountain biker’s wet dream.
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.
— Women —
Santa Cruz Hightower A R
Best in Class! Best Value Unisex Trail Bike
Santa Cruz Hightower A R is a unisex mid-range mountain bike that is perfect for demanding trail rides. If you view cycling as a challenging activity that will test your physical limits, this bike will be perfect for you.
Riding bikes is mostly about having fun and feeling free! That is precisely what Santa Cruz Hightower can offer you for a price that is hard more than fair.
Santa Cruz Hightower A R is a competent full-suspension trail bike that can climb, descend, jump, race, drop, and do whatever comes to your mind.
First of all, Hightower has an aluminum frame which makes it really light, nimble, and springy. It’s available in two attractive colors: desert and highland blue.
The RockShox Yari RC fork has 150 mm of travel which is more than enough to eliminate the most severe vibrations on the trails. The same can be said for the Fox Float Performance DPS rear shock with 140 mm of travel.
Moreover, Hightower A R has enough gearing to get you wherever you need to be! The SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain gives you 12 gears with an 11-50T cassette and a 30T crankset.
Finally, this bike has SRAM Guide R hydraulic disc brakes, which is the best you can get in terms of stopping power.
If you are just looking to buy a quality and fun bicycle that you can abuse for years you’ll be quite content with this buy!
Giant Revolt Advanced 1
Best Unisex Gravel Bike
We know this is not really a mountain bike but bear with us. Giant Revolt Advanced 1 is a capable gravel bike that can easily conquer off-road routes!
Considering what you pay for it and what you end up getting, we can say it’s a real bargain. It has a comfortable geometry and an attractive color so it’s suitable for both genders. It’s guaranteed to feel comfy even on longer gravel rides.
Giant Revolt Advanced 1 is made with a high-performance grade raw carbon frame with a lightweight carbon fork, so it’s built to be light and reliable on the trails.
The frame features fender and rack mounts, so you can easily add accessories to it.
Giant Revolt Advanced 1 is a do-it-all gravel workhorse that any outdoors-oriented rider can find exceptional value in and have years of fun on.
Other than the stiff and light carbon, this bike has a few other surprises. It comes with SRAM Apex 1 components, which are great for what this bike is built for. Moreover, the 1×11 drivetrain has a wide range and easy granny gears for climbing hills.
Another highlight on the Giant Revolt Advanced 1 is the SRAM Apex 1 hydraulic disc brakes which means that this bike can deliver serious stopping power when you need it the most!
If you’re planning on doing some gravel riding or easy mountain biking to lose weight, get fit, or stay fit, definitely consider the Giant Revolt Advanced 1.
Santa Cruz Hightower A D
Best Unisex Full-Suspension Bike
Santa Cruz Hightower A D has an aluminum frame with an attractive red or gray paint job. The aluminum makes the bike light and nimble but keeps the price reasonably low.
Hightower A D is a full suspension model with perfectly smooth vibration absorption. There’s 150 mm of travel on the fork and 145 mm on the rear shock, which makes it a capable all-mountain machine.
Santa Cruz Hightower A D is intended for men and women who have fallen in love with mountain biking and are ready to invest a little bit more into their skills and hobby.
Santa Cruz often uses SRAM components on their bikes, so this model is equipped with a SRAM SX Eagle rear derailleur which provides 12 versatile and precise gears. The 1x drivetrain is a considered feature at this price.
The Hightower has 27.5″ wheels and SRAM Guide T hydraulic disc brakes with 180 mm rotors, 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 Santa Cruz Hightower A D 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 a 29er FS bike, we’d like you to think again after you take a look at the Ghost SLAMR X5.9.
Ghost SLAMR X5.9 can help you stay on the trails for longer and have an all-day mountain biking adventure thanks to its capable suspension and slack geometry.
SLAMR X5.9 also has a SRAM NX Eagle rear derailleur with 12 speeds. Also, this is a full-suspension bike, with 150 mm of travel at the front and 145 mm in the back, so you can go fast on the trail without feeling it. Other high points are the TRP hydraulic disc brakes, 2.5″ tubeless-ready tires, and a dropper post.
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 Ghost SLAMR X5.9.
Cannondale Habit Carbon 2
Best Carbon Frame & SRAM Components
Cannondale Habit Carbon 2 is by far one of the best full suspension mountain bikes that we are reviewing today.
It is built around a super-lightweight carbon frame and equipped with exquisite RockShox suspension.
At the front, the RockShox Pike Select+ RC fork travels 140 mm, attached to a tapered head tube with a decently slack angle.
In the back, the quality of the rear suspension is ensured with a RockShox Select Deluxe+ RT shock, which is air suspension.
When it comes to the components, you get the best when you pay more than $5,000. SRAM X01 Eagle groupset puts 12 speeds at your disposal for climbing hills and smashing flats and downhills.
Another nice touch is the SRAM G2 RSC hydro disc brakes with 180 mm centerline rotors. The braking power of these is more than enough for the steepest downhill rides.
Cannondale Habit Carbon 2 rolls on Stan’s NoTubes ARCH MK3 wheels and Maxxis Minnion 2.5″ (F) and High Roller II 2.3″ (R) tires that are puncture-protected and tubeless-ready.
All in all, if you have the money to spare and you want a carbon beast that’s ready for competitions and serious trails, get the Cannondale Habit Carbon 2.
— Electric —
Ghost Hybride SLAMR S1.9+ (2019)
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 with this bike is on the high-end electric parts, the mechanical components are not lagging behind either. Ghost Hybride has a 1×12 SRAM SX 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 on the front and 2.6″ on the back. It uses Tektro TKD94 hydraulic disc brakes for stopping. The weight is around 50 lbs, which seems quite high, but you won’t be moving all of it on your own, thanks to the pedal-assist motor.
All in all, 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.
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.
Read Next: Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes
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.
Consider Other Types Too
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!