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 OverallDiamondback Bicycles Hook 27.5 Hardtail Mountain BikeSummarySummaryThis bike is geared towards beginners and has a hand-built aluminum hardtail frame, suspension forks, and single-ring drivetrain.ProsProsMade with high-quality components, this bike is easy to upgrade and very comfortable to ride. It also has good tires and decent suspension for the cost.ConsConsThe bike is a little expensive, and the seat is not very comfortable. It's not great for climbing hills, and the forks don't provide much dampening.
- Best ValueMongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Mountain BikeSummarySummaryA fat bike from renowned brand Mongoose, featuring a 17-inch frame and 26-inch wheels.ProsProsStrong and durable frame made of steel. The wide, all-terrain knobby tires provide excellent grip. Equipped with an adjustable threadless headset to suit riders of different heights.ConsConsHeavy. No front suspension. Some customers report receiving untrue wheels from the manufacturer.
- Honorable MentionSchwinn S29 Dual-Suspension Mountain BikeSummarySummaryThis bike has an 18-inch frame and 29-inch wheels. It includes a dual-suspension frame, front suspension fork, rear shocks, 21-speed Shimano EZ-Fire trigger shifters, and Shimano derailleurs.ProsProsThe bike is comfortable, shifts smoothly, and is nice and light due to the aluminum frame. It's easy to assemble, and the color is very attractive.ConsConsIt may rust prematurely. The pedals can crack after a short period of use. Also, it requires a lot of tuning after assembly.
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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 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.
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 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.
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.
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 Bicycles Hook 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike.
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 Dolomite Fat Tire Mountain Bike.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
The majority of mountain bikes have mechanical shock absorbers in either the front fork, the rear frame, or both. 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.
- 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 2019
Best Overall: Diamondback Bicycles Hook 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike
This mountain bike features a hand-built aluminum hardtail frame. It's designed specifically for trail riding and includes suspension forks for any obstacle you may encounter. It provides simple and smooth shifting with the aid of a single-ring drivetrain. The Hook tires are 2.35 inches wide, but they are not tubeless. It has a straight steer tube, and the front wheel is a quick release.
You will be "hooked" on the Diamondback Hook. This is a great trail bike for beginners and is designed with high-quality components. It takes just a short time to assemble and is very stable because of its aggressive geometry. It is easily upgradable and very comfortable to ride. The tires are good, the suspension is fair for the money, and the drivetrain is very simple.
However, it's a little pricey for a beginner's bike, and the seat is uncomfortable. There is not much dampening in the forks, and it's not geared well for climbing.
Best Value: Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Mountain Bike
This fat-tire mountain bike has a 17-inch high-tensile steel frame and 26-inch wheels. It features a seven-speed Shimano drivetrain and disc brakes. It comes in light blue, navy blue, and red. It has an adjustable threadless headset to accommodate a variety of different-sized riders and is intended for those who are 5 feet, 6 inches tall up to 6 feet tall.
The frame, wheels, tubes, tires, and seat are strong and durable and hold up to regular use on rocky trails and steep fire roads. It easily rides over loose sand, bumps, rocks, and roots. The wide, all-terrain knobby tires have a lot of tread and provide excellent grip. The bike is easy to assemble and stops really well. If you're looking for a decent fat tire bike for an affordable price, this is the way to go.
On the downside, the bike is a bit heavy. It also doesn't include any front suspension and there have been some complaints that it's shipped with untrue wheels. Also, the pedals are a little small and may require replacement.
Honorable Mention: Schwinn S29 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike
This bike has an 18-inch frame and 29-inch wheels. It's recommended for riders who are 5 feet, 9 inches tall to 6 feet, 2 inches tall. It features a dual-suspension frame, front suspension fork, and rear shocks. It also comes with 21-speed Shimano EZ-Fire trigger shifters and Shimano derailleurs. It has 2.1-inch knobby tires on double-wall alloy rims.
The disc brakes provide clean and clear stopping power and speed control. The bike is comfortable, and the full suspension helps lessen bumps and cracks in the road. It shifts smoothly and its aluminum frame makes it nice and light. The bike is very easy to assemble and is high-quality. The blue and matte black color scheme is very attractive and eye-catching.
One drawback is that the bike may rust after a year of use. Also, after assembling it, the bike may require a large amount of tuning, particularly the gears and disc brakes. The pedals may also crack after a short period of time.
- 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.
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.
The Diamondback 2019 Atroz 3 Mountain Bike is the most lightweight mountain bike with great all-round performance and, hence, our top pick.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Mountain Bike.