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LAST UPDATED: November 4, 2019

Best Mountain Bikes: Conquer Trails With Ease

These are the strongest, most durable and stylish mountain bikes to take on your off-road adventures

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PUBLISHED ON November 4, 2019

Mountain biking is a sport with a rich history, and it has grown into a range of disciplines over time. As a result, mountain bikes also have undergone a lot of developments to serve every rider’s needs, from traditional cross-country biking to the recent trend of urban and street cycling. With a huge variety of types and options to choose from, it may be difficult to make a decision. Here’s our list of the most versatile and tough mountain bikes available on the market.

  • Best Overall
    Mongoose Malus Fat Tire Bike
    Summary
    Summary
    This bike has a mountain-style steel frame and fat tires to help you navigate through any terrain. It includes a Shimano rear derailleur to help you make smoother gear changes.
    Pros
    Pros
    The fat tires ride smoothly over debris, snow, dirt, shallow water, and loose earth. The frame is made from durable steel to enhance its sturdiness. It features all-terrain handlebars that can handle rough rides.
    Cons
    Cons
    Heavier than most mountain bikes. Poor packaging. It ships almost dry with minimal grease on its assembly. 
  • Best Overall
    Mongoose Malus Fat Tire Bike
  • Best Value
    Diamondback Overdrive 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike
    Summary
    Summary
    This bike has a lightweight yet stiff design made from hand-built aluminum to give it a classic hardtail look. It gives you 24 speeds to choose from for a better mountain biking experience.
    Pros
    Pros
    Effectively soaks in the shock of a bumpy ride to reduce rider fatigue. It features several gears that help you cover a wide variety of terrain. It offers reliable braking power and handling on any terrain.
    Cons
    Cons
    The chains may snap relatively faster than other models and chain slap is common when riding over rough terrain. Cheap, uncomfortable pedals.
  • Best Value
    Diamondback Overdrive 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike
  • Honorable Mention
    Diamondback Sync’r 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike
    Summary
    Summary
    This is a heavy-duty mountain bike with a hardtail aluminum frame. It’s designed to be versatile enough to handle an aggressive trail or hold up to long-distance travel.
    Pros
    Pros
    Incredible stopping power and accurate shifting. Its lightweight frame helps to improve acceleration and ride quality. Its long wheelbase helps you to gain air when you make jumps.
    Cons
    Cons
    Expensive. May ship with missing bolts, untightened brakes, and minor damages. Uncomfortable handlebar grips.
  • Honorable Mention
    Diamondback Sync’r 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike

    Mountain biking is a sport with a rich history, and it has grown into a range of disciplines over time. As a result, mountain bikes also have undergone a lot of developments to serve every rider’s needs, from traditional cross-country biking to the recent trend of urban and street cycling. With a huge variety of types and options to choose from, it may be difficult to make a decision. Here’s our list of the most versatile and tough mountain bikes available on the market.

    Best Mountain Bikes Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    This mountain bike has 26-inch wheels and knobby 4.5-inch tires, which is why they are called fat tires. They are made huge to make it easier to glide over sand, loose dirt, shallow water, and snow. In addition, there’s sufficient clearance from the pedals to the ground to make it easy to maneuver over any terrain. 


    It’s designed with alloy a-head stem and mountain handlebars that help you maintain perfect control of the bike when you are off-roading. Changing gears will be a breeze with the help of the seven-speed drivetrain coupled with a Shimano derailleur. Lastly, the bike has front and rear disc brakes that allow for fast braking and help you control the speed as you ride. 


    While the fat tires make the bike roll over easily, they do make it a bit heavier than most mountain bikes. Another downside is it can come in poor packaging where some buyers have complained of scratched paint, bent frames, or a stripped front axle. Also, most owners have had to disassemble, regrease, and lubricate the parts since it comes with minimum grease.


    Best Value

    The Overdrive 27.5 is an affordable model that can help you tackle cross-country trails or ease into aggressive mountain biking. It’s designed with a classic hardtail frame made from aluminum alloy and has an SR Suntour suspension fork that absorbs the shock of rugged terrain for optimal control. It has a Shimano 24-speed drivetrain that’s obtained from three gears at the front and eight on the rear. More gears help to ease the transition from gravel roads to rougher terrains. 


    This bike offers reliable stopping power on any type of terrain with the help of Tektro Aries mechanical disc brakes. It can also accelerate just as aggressively, all thanks to its large knobby tires that provide great traction and reduce rolling resistance. In addition, its large 27.5-inch wheels are easy to control even on challenging surfaces. 


    However, its chain may wear out and snap relatively faster than the higher-end Diamondback mountain bikes. It’s also not uncommon to get a chain slap (a racketing noise as it slams against the swingarm) when you are riding over rough terrain. Moreover, it comes with poor quality pedals, which may also feel uncomfortable for long-distance riding.

    Honorable Mention

    The Sync’r is a high-end bike sporting most of the features you’d expect in a bike that’s reserved for aggressive conditions. It has a solid build with a stiff aluminum hardtail frame and a tan finish. It also has a progressive design suitable for trail riding with a 74-degree seat tube angle and a 66-degree head tube angle. 


    A RockShox Recon suspension fork helps to drown out the hits from rough terrain, and Shimano MT500 hydraulic disc brakes help bring the bike to an instant stop. Also, an 11-speed Shimano drivetrain coupled with RaceFace cranks allows for smoother and precise shifting. What’s more, It has an AL35 wheelset, which makes it easy to switch to a tubeless tire to improve the traction. 


    However, all these features don’t come cheap and you should be ready to spend a lot of money to get this bike. Also, it may ship with a few issues such as missing bolts, minor scratches, or untightened brakes. Another caveat is that it has stiff handlebar grips, which you may have to replace with smoother ones to avoid blistering your hands.

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    Benefits of Mountain Bikes

    • Get fit. If you enjoy the outdoors and you want to get in shape, invest in an MTB. There are many beginner bikes that can get you started and will help you burn a lot of calories.
    • Enjoy nature. While you could spend time on an indoor bike at home or at the gym, it's much more enjoyable to ride outdoors on a local trail. You will soak in the sunshine and feel good when you breathe in the fresh air.
    • Be adventurous. Riding a mountain bike can pump up your adrenaline. As opposed to riding on a flat road, you must navigate around obstacles, cross bridges, avoid branches, climb hills, and travel on rough terrain.
    • Spend time with friends and family. The great thing about mountain biking is it's an activity that the whole family can enjoy. If your kids are too young, you can join a club for mountain bikers and ride with them or with friends instead.

    Types of Mountain Bikes

    Trail

    Trail bikes are good all-around bikes for the typical rider. They are designed to traverse a variety of terrain, including bumpy surfaces and hills. If you are just getting into mountain biking and are figuring out your riding style, you’ll want to consider a trail bike. They feature sturdy frames and wheels.

    Enduro

    If you plan on participating in competitions on a mountain bike, then you should plan on getting an enduro bike. This type of bike is designed to provide power and strength, particularly when going downhill. It is also lighter in weight so that you can pedal to the top of a hill without too much effort.

    Downhill

    Downhill mountain bikes are exactly what you think they are. They're very rugged and are built to go downhill at very fast speeds. They are extremely durable and can handle abuse at high speeds. The downside is that they tend to be heavy, so they're more challenging to ride up hills.

    Electric

    If you're interested in adding a little extra power to your pedals, you may want to consider an electric mountain bike. An e-bike gives you power when you need it. It allows you to easily ride up hills or ride faster when you're going downhill. You don't get as fatigued when you ride an electric mountain bike.

    Top Brands

    Diamondback Bicycles

    This bike company is based in Kent, Washington, and started out as a BMX brand in 1977. It expanded to making mountain bikes in 1993. One of its popular products is the Diamondback Overdrive 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike.

    Mongoose

    Mongoose launched in 1974 in Southern California and has been making bikes for over 40 years. It sells a variety of bikes, including mountain and road bikes. One of its top bikes is the  Mongoose Malus Fat Tire Bike.

    Schwinn

    Schwinn launched in 1895 in Chicago, Illinois. This popular American brand designs a variety of bikes, including mountain, cruiser, hybrid, road, urban, e-bikes, and tricycles. One of its top bikes is the Schwinn S29 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike.

    Mountain Bikes Pricing

    • $300-$700: A high-quality mountain bike isn't cheap, so don’t be surprised by the price tag. Expect to fork over several hundred dollars, even for a beginner model. Bikes in this price range are reliable with decent components. However, you may want to upgrade some of the parts.
    • $700-$1,500: If you are a more serious rider, expect to pay more for a new bike. Bikes at this price point feature modern drivetrains and more refined and adjustable suspension components. They also tend to be much lighter in weight, which improves overall performance.

    Key Features

    Frame Material

    Many mountain bike frames are made of aluminum. It is light and strong and is often featured on beginner as well as more advanced bikes. A less common option is carbon fiber. This type of material is light and strong and is often used when designing high-end bikes. Other high-end bikes are made with steel frames that are very strong with narrow tubes.

    Wheel Size

    Bike wheels come in a variety of different sizes. If you want to ride cross country as well as some trails, you can't go wrong with 29-inch wheels. They may take a little bit of effort to get going, but they maintain your speed and help you go faster. They're also good for moving around and over obstacles. Trail and enduro bikes usually have 27.5-inch tires for agility, so they can make tighter and more maneuverable turns.

    Tires

    Many mountain bikes feature tubeless tires. They have a sealant to prevent flats and do not have inner tubes. They are lightweight and can be used with lower pressure in order to maintain a grip on rough surfaces. There are also plus-sized, fat, or wide tires, which are commonly used on 27.5-inch wheels. While they are grippy and shock-absorbing, they are heavier and increase drag.

    Suspension

    The majority of mountain bikes have mechanical shock absorbers in either the front fork, the rear frame, or both. The suspension provides a smoother ride and more comfort on rough surfaces. Rigid bikes do not have any suspension at all; the tires absorb all the impact. Hardtail bikes have front fork suspension, while full-suspension bikes have both front and rear suspension.

    Other Considerations

    • Drivetrain: The drivetrain has several components. The shifters on the handlebar control the gears, and the crankset holds the pedals, which transfer power to the drivetrain. The chain moves the power from the crank to the rear wheel. Derailleurs pass the chain from one gear to another. The cassette is the group of rings above the rear wheel, and the larger ones are used for hills. The majority of new mountain bikes have one front ring, no front shifter, and 10-12 rings in the rear. However, some bikes have front and rear shifters, as well as derailleurs and several front chainrings.
    •  Fixed or Dropper Seat Post: The height of the seat post can be adjusted in response to the trail's terrain. You can raise it to have more power and control when climbing and lower it to allow more body movement when going downhill. You must adjust a fixed seat post manually before riding, while you can automatically raise or lower a dropper seat post with a control button while you’re riding. Dropper posts are preferable if you plan on making a lot of transitions. 
    • Brakes: The best brakes are hydraulic disc brakes, and they are the most common brakes, even on entry-level mountain bikes. You can get brake rotors in a variety of sizes, such as 160mm, 180mm, and 200mm. If you want more stopping power, opt for larger rotors.

    Best Mountain Bikes Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    This mountain bike has 26-inch wheels and knobby 4.5-inch tires, which is why they are called fat tires. They are made huge to make it easier to glide over sand, loose dirt, shallow water, and snow. In addition, there’s sufficient clearance from the pedals to the ground to make it easy to maneuver over any terrain. 


    It’s designed with alloy a-head stem and mountain handlebars that help you maintain perfect control of the bike when you are off-roading. Changing gears will be a breeze with the help of the seven-speed drivetrain coupled with a Shimano derailleur. Lastly, the bike has front and rear disc brakes that allow for fast braking and help you control the speed as you ride. 


    While the fat tires make the bike roll over easily, they do make it a bit heavier than most mountain bikes. Another downside is it can come in poor packaging where some buyers have complained of scratched paint, bent frames, or a stripped front axle. Also, most owners have had to disassemble, regrease, and lubricate the parts since it comes with minimum grease.


    Mongoose Malus Fat Tire Bike}
    Amazon

    This mountain bike has 26-inch wheels and knobby 4.5-inch tires, which is why they are called fat tires. They are made huge to make it easier to glide over sand, loose dirt, shallow water, and snow. In addition, there’s sufficient clearance from the pedals to the ground to make it easy to maneuver over any terrain. 


    It’s designed with alloy a-head stem and mountain handlebars that help you maintain perfect control of the bike when you are off-roading. Changing gears will be a breeze with the help of the seven-speed drivetrain coupled with a Shimano derailleur. Lastly, the bike has front and rear disc brakes that allow for fast braking and help you control the speed as you ride. 


    While the fat tires make the bike roll over easily, they do make it a bit heavier than most mountain bikes. Another downside is it can come in poor packaging where some buyers have complained of scratched paint, bent frames, or a stripped front axle. Also, most owners have had to disassemble, regrease, and lubricate the parts since it comes with minimum grease.


    Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

    Best Value

    The Overdrive 27.5 is an affordable model that can help you tackle cross-country trails or ease into aggressive mountain biking. It’s designed with a classic hardtail frame made from aluminum alloy and has an SR Suntour suspension fork that absorbs the shock of rugged terrain for optimal control. It has a Shimano 24-speed drivetrain that’s obtained from three gears at the front and eight on the rear. More gears help to ease the transition from gravel roads to rougher terrains. 


    This bike offers reliable stopping power on any type of terrain with the help of Tektro Aries mechanical disc brakes. It can also accelerate just as aggressively, all thanks to its large knobby tires that provide great traction and reduce rolling resistance. In addition, its large 27.5-inch wheels are easy to control even on challenging surfaces. 


    However, its chain may wear out and snap relatively faster than the higher-end Diamondback mountain bikes. It’s also not uncommon to get a chain slap (a racketing noise as it slams against the swingarm) when you are riding over rough terrain. Moreover, it comes with poor quality pedals, which may also feel uncomfortable for long-distance riding.

    Diamondback Overdrive 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike}
    Amazon

    The Overdrive 27.5 is an affordable model that can help you tackle cross-country trails or ease into aggressive mountain biking. It’s designed with a classic hardtail frame made from aluminum alloy and has an SR Suntour suspension fork that absorbs the shock of rugged terrain for optimal control. It has a Shimano 24-speed drivetrain that’s obtained from three gears at the front and eight on the rear. More gears help to ease the transition from gravel roads to rougher terrains. 


    This bike offers reliable stopping power on any type of terrain with the help of Tektro Aries mechanical disc brakes. It can also accelerate just as aggressively, all thanks to its large knobby tires that provide great traction and reduce rolling resistance. In addition, its large 27.5-inch wheels are easy to control even on challenging surfaces. 


    However, its chain may wear out and snap relatively faster than the higher-end Diamondback mountain bikes. It’s also not uncommon to get a chain slap (a racketing noise as it slams against the swingarm) when you are riding over rough terrain. Moreover, it comes with poor quality pedals, which may also feel uncomfortable for long-distance riding.

    Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

    Honorable Mention

    The Sync’r is a high-end bike sporting most of the features you’d expect in a bike that’s reserved for aggressive conditions. It has a solid build with a stiff aluminum hardtail frame and a tan finish. It also has a progressive design suitable for trail riding with a 74-degree seat tube angle and a 66-degree head tube angle. 


    A RockShox Recon suspension fork helps to drown out the hits from rough terrain, and Shimano MT500 hydraulic disc brakes help bring the bike to an instant stop. Also, an 11-speed Shimano drivetrain coupled with RaceFace cranks allows for smoother and precise shifting. What’s more, It has an AL35 wheelset, which makes it easy to switch to a tubeless tire to improve the traction. 


    However, all these features don’t come cheap and you should be ready to spend a lot of money to get this bike. Also, it may ship with a few issues such as missing bolts, minor scratches, or untightened brakes. Another caveat is that it has stiff handlebar grips, which you may have to replace with smoother ones to avoid blistering your hands.

    Diamondback Sync’r 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike}
    Amazon

    The Sync’r is a high-end bike sporting most of the features you’d expect in a bike that’s reserved for aggressive conditions. It has a solid build with a stiff aluminum hardtail frame and a tan finish. It also has a progressive design suitable for trail riding with a 74-degree seat tube angle and a 66-degree head tube angle. 


    A RockShox Recon suspension fork helps to drown out the hits from rough terrain, and Shimano MT500 hydraulic disc brakes help bring the bike to an instant stop. Also, an 11-speed Shimano drivetrain coupled with RaceFace cranks allows for smoother and precise shifting. What’s more, It has an AL35 wheelset, which makes it easy to switch to a tubeless tire to improve the traction. 


    However, all these features don’t come cheap and you should be ready to spend a lot of money to get this bike. Also, it may ship with a few issues such as missing bolts, minor scratches, or untightened brakes. Another caveat is that it has stiff handlebar grips, which you may have to replace with smoother ones to avoid blistering your hands.

    Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

    Tips

    • The frame size of a mountain bike is the distance from the center of the crank to the top of the frame at the seat tube. This handy chart shows you the right size mountain bike you need based on your height.
    • When you receive your bike, make sure you have all the parts before beginning to assemble it. After you are done, double-check every nut and bolt and make sure everything is tight to prevent any accidents.
    • Regular preventive maintenance can go a long way in keeping your bike rolling for years. Make sure to clean your bike, inspect all moving parts—especially the brakes—and lube the chain during every maintenance round.

    FAQs

    Q: Should I get a fat bike or a normal mountain bike?

    A: This depends on the weight of the bike and the strength of the rider. Fat bikes are generally good for beginner riders due to their enhanced traction, handling, and climbing performance. An added advantage of fat bikes is that due to the fat tires, the pressure is spread over a wide area, and hence these bikes are much more useable on beaches and in the snow. However, it is important to note that a higher bike-to-rider weight ratio can make the bike difficult to handle.

    Q: How do I know if a wheel I received is true or untrue?

    A: Turn your bike upside down so that it rests on the saddle and the handlebars. Spin each wheel and watch them carefully. If the wheel wobbles left and/or right and is not centered, then it is not true and needs to be “trued.”

    Q: Why do some mountain bikes not have a rear suspension?

    A: In full suspension (front and rear suspension) mountain bikes, although the rear suspension provides a much smoother ride, it uses up some of the energy that the rider puts into pedaling the bike (pedal energy). Hardtail (no rear suspension) bikes are a lot more efficient if you use your bike for regular commuting and if your trail involves plenty of pedaling.

    Final Thoughts

    Our top pick is the Mongoose Malus Fat Tire Bike. The thick and larger tires make it easy to ride over any type of terrain. 

    For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Diamondback Overdrive 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike.