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 —
Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1
Best Value Fat Bike
DRT 4.1 is the newest addition to Co-op Cycles collection of affordable bikes intended for beginner and intermediate riders. They had some 27.5+ models, but this is the first proper fat bike they are offering.
Co-op Cycles DRT 4.1 is a full-aluminum fatty which makes it both weight and cost-efficient. The frame is painted bright orange, features internal cable routing, and comes with a large number of frame and fork eyelets.
You can easily fit the Co-op DRT 4.1 fat bike with racks and fenders and take it on a bikepacking adventure or you can ride it on local trails in winter.
When faced with challenges, DRT 4.1 performs well thanks to SRAM SX Eagle components. This bike is an excellent climber as it comes with a 1×12 drivetrain with a 10-50T cassette and a 32T crankset. Granny gears abound.
The Shimano 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 DRT 4.1 are the 26×4.8″ Innova fat tires, which is almost as wide as you can get on the market. You’ll feel like you’ll riding on a cloud, even when you’re rolling over rocks or roots.
Get this fat bike if huge tires, a 300 lbs. weight limit, and durable components sound like a good deal to you for $1,300.
Cannondale Trail Tango 2
Best Women’s Trail Bike
Clench your thirst for the mountains and nature with the Cannondale Trail Tango 2 bike. It’s available in a beautiful black and yellow color scheme that appeals to most riders.
Cannondale Trail Tango 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.
Trail Tango 2 has a SmartForm C2 alloy aluminum frame compatible with 27.5″ wheels that allows for an easy rack and fender mounting.
This bike is a hardtail model, which means it has front suspension. In this case, it is the RockShox XC30 TK with 100 mm of travel.
Trail Tango 2 will let you take it up any hill thanks to 10 mountain biking-specific gears, that allow you to keep the cadence up, but keep your spirits high as well. The drivetrain is Shimano Deore, 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 Cannondale Trail Tango 2 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.
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
Salsa Rangefinder Deore 29
Best Cheap 29er
Salsa Rangefinder 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.
Salsa Rangefinder Deore 29 is a great choice if you want to ride longer distances on the trails and tackle some moderately demanding terrain on extra-large 29″ wheels.
Let’s take a look at what you get if you buy this Salsa bike. First of all, it has a lightweight aluminum frame and an SR Suntour Air fork with 120 mm of travel, so it feels light and nimble while riding.
You also have 10 speeds to choose from depending on what terrain you’re riding on. You can shift through them using a Shimano Deore rear derailleur. The shifting is smooth and precise if you adjust the shifters properly.
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 around $1,000 on a mountain bike that you can use for training, weight loss, and recreation, Salsa Rangefinder is a great buy.
Best for Training
Liv Intrigue 2
Best in Class! Best Women’s FS Bike
Liv Intrigue 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 SL Aluminum frame and a Fox 34 Rhythm fork with 150 mm of smooth travel.
Rear suspension is provided by Fox Float DPS Performance and offers 140 mm of travel.
Liv Intrigue 2 is a mid-range women’s bike with a tempting price, perfect for someone with a bit of experience on the trails, wanting to ride more seriously.
Intrigue 2 has a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain that gives you 12 massive-range gears to choose from.
The wheels on the Intrigue 2 bike are 27.5″ in diameter and roll on 2.4″/2.5″ wide Maxxis High Roller 2 tires that provide lots of 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 reasonable amount of money and get a women’s bike that you can train hard on and improve your trail knowledge and off-road capabilities, Liv Intrigue is made for you.
Orbea Laufey H30 (2020)
Best 1x Trail Bike
The frame has internal cable routing, which makes the lines smooth and improves the aerodynamics a bit. 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 even better news is that Orbea Laufey H30 is capable of fitting both 27.5 and 29-inch wheels. It’s built around a 6061 aluminum frame and tackles imperfections on the trail with a RockShox Recon RL front suspension with 140 mm of travel.
Orbea Laufey H30 costs around $1,700, so it doesn’t surprise that it comes with a Shimano SLX M7000 GS Shadow rear derailleur on a 1×11 drivetrain. The package also includes Shimano hydraulic disc brakes which fit the general image nicely.
Orbea Laufey H30 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 Laufey H30 is that the wheels are made in-house by Orbea, which ensures maximum compatibility and performance. The tires are Maxxis Rekon, 2.6″ wide, so you will have plenty of traction when cornering on loose terrain.
Our final verdict regarding the Orbea Laufey H30 is that it offers a lot more in terms of components than a lot of its competitors. If you want a powerful 27.5″ or a 29er trail bike to use for fitness and training and get the best value for money, we recommend the Laufey H30.
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!
Trek Fuel EX 8
Winner! Best Aluminum Race-Ready
Are you an expert mountain bike rider or you’re looking to become one? Trek has your back with their Fuel EX 8 model. This is a high-end mountain bike with an aluminum frame and full suspension. Its price is high as well, but it is worth the investment.
This Trek’s sturdy aluminum frame is compatible with both 27.5-inch wheels and 29-inch wheels, depending on which frame size you get. It is also equipped with Fox front and rear suspension.
With 140 mm of travel on the fork, Trek Fuel EX 8 will really allow you to take your skills to the xtreme and break some records on the trail.
Other specs that need mentioning include SRAM GX Eagle components. The Fuel EX 8 has 12 speeds thanks to a 1×12 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.
Trek Fuel rolls on 2.60″ Bontrager XR4 Team Issue tires and Bontrager Line Comp 30 wheels that are durable and light. Finally, the brakes are Shimano Deore M6000, powered by hydraulics, for supreme braking properties.
You can ask for more than what Trek Fuel EX 8 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.
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.
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!
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1
Best Unisex Trail Bike
The Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 is possibly the best deal you can get on a unisex 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 a comfortable geometry and low standover clearance so it’s suitable for both genders. 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 1.1 on long rides, as this bike can handle it.
It has a 6061 aluminum frame with 100 mm of suspension travel, 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 to it.
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 is a do-it-all trail workhorse that any outdoors-oriented rider can find exceptional value in and have years of fun on.
Even though the Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 is cheap, there is no sign of no-label components on it. Instead, it comes with Shimano Tourney parts, which are great for what this bike is built for. Moreover, it has a 3×7 drivetrain with 21 total gears, so it’s highly unlikely that you will ever run out of gears.
The absolute highlight on the DRT 1.1 is 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 1.1.
Ghost Lanao FS 2.7 (2020)
Best Women’s Full-Suspension Bike
Ghost Lanao FS 2.7 has an aluminum frame with an attractive green and gray paint job. The aluminum makes the bike light and nimble but keeps the price reasonably low.
Lanao 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 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 Lanao FS 2.7 model.
Ghost Lanao FS 2.7 is intended for women who have fallen in love with mountain biking and are ready to invest a little bit more into their skills and hobby.
Ghost often uses SRAM components on their bikes, so Lanao FS 2.7 is equipped with a SRAM SX Eagle rear derailleur which provides 12 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 with 180 mm rotos, which are both pretty standard on FS trail bikes. Finally, the tires are 2.35 inches wide, so you don’t need to worry about traction on the trails.
Consider buying the Ghost Lanao 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.
Orbea Wild FS H30 E-Bike
Winner! Best Electric Mountain Bike
If you thought that you do not need an e-bike, we’d like you to think again after you take a look at the Orbea Wild FS H30 E-Bike. It has a powerful pedal-assist motor, perfect to provide the extra juice when you need it the most.
Bosch builds the centrally mounted motor that helps you develop speeds of up to 20 mph. 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.
Orbea Wild FS H30 E-Bike can help you stay on the trails for longer and have an all-day mountain biking adventure thanks to its durable battery and competent motor.
Apart from the electric components, Orbea Wild FS H30 also has a Shimano XT rear derailleur with 12 speeds. Also, this is a full-suspension bike, with 160 mm of travel, so you can go fast on the trail without feeling it. Other high points are the hydraulic disc brakes, 2.6″ tubeless-ready tires, and a 500 Wh battery.
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 Orbea Wild FS H30 E-Bike.
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.
IZIP E3 TRLZ Step Over
Best Hardtail E-Mountain Bike
Thanks to its SR Suntour Torque-activated Performance Rear Hub motor with 60 Nm of torque and a 20 mph max speed, this bike can take you farther and higher than you’ve ever been.
The E3 TRLZ also comes with a suspension fork with 80 mm of travel, which is plenty to make your rides enjoyable and smooth. If you’re riding bikes because of the exciting downhills and you loathe long and arduous uphills, then the IZIP E3 TRLZ is definitely an investment you should consider. This electric trail shredder with a lightweight 7005 aluminum frame and front suspension will conquer anything in its path.
The rear derailleur is a Shimano Tourney which offers 7 speeds in total on a 1×11 drivetrain. The crank is equipped with a Torque, Cadence and Speed Sensor, so you’ll know your metrics at all times.
The grip is important as well, but it’s not something to worry about due to wide 2.25″ Vee Rubber, Off-Road Style tires. We love the Tektro mechanical disc brakes with 180 mm rotors, which look massive and stop on a dime!
IZIP E3 TRLZ is a beautiful bike that is also very capable and affordable 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.
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!