LAST UPDATED: October 24, 2019
Best 29-Inch Mountain Bikes: Get a Bike You Can Trust on the Trail
A good quality mountain bike will take a beating in any condition
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON October 24, 2019
Whether for the road, trail, or endurance rides, it pays to get a bike that’s robust and dependable. Good-quality bikes are comfortable and solid enough to take a beating. This list includes some of the best mountain bikes with 29-inch wheels currently available.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of 29-Inch Mountain Bikes
- Stability. The increased circumference of 29-inch mountain bike wheels increases the centrifugal force exerted, which aids in balance and stability on the trail. Feeling confident lets you concentrate on your ride and enjoy yourself.
- Roll over rough terrain. Stumps and rocks are less of an issue with a 29-inch mountain bike. You’ll benefit from greater clearance, and 29-inch wheels also roll over smaller obstacles much easier than 26 or 27.5-inch bikes.
- Fit. Taller riders may find the fit of a 29-inch bike more comfortable than a smaller bike. The bikes’ geometries are designed to lower a taller rider’s center of gravity, despite the taller wheels.
Types of 29-Inch Mountain Bikes
Rigid bikes are what most people picture when they think of mountain bikes. As the name suggests, rigid bikes have no suspension. The only shock absorption or trailing effect inherent to a rigid bike comes from its tires. Some riders find them uncomfortable, but they are potentially lighter than a hardtail or full suspension bike. Rigid suspension bikes were far more common years ago; however, recent improvements in suspension have allowed older suspension technology to become affordable on lower-end bikes.
If you need an affordable bike but still want performance, a hardtail is probably the way to go. Hardtail bikes have no suspension in the rear but have a suspension fork in the front. This allows the bike to absorb uneven surfaces with better comfort but also quickly pushes the front tire back to the ground to improve handling. While not as plush as full-suspension bikes, they tend to be more affordable and lighter, making them a good all-around choice for a casual rider.
Full-suspension bikes are considered the high-performance class of mountain biking. These bikes have both a suspended fork on the front of the bike as well as a shock in the rear of the bike. This much suspension allows a rider to absorb much greater blows on the trail while losing far less speed. They are comfortable for casual riding; however, they tend to be heavier than a hardtail, and unless your rear shock can be locked out, they’ll absorb power while pedaling uphill.
Originally a BMX brand, Diamondback has been around since 1977. Based in Kent, Wash., Diamondback has since expanded to road and mountain bikes and offers something for all types of riders. Check out this Diamondback Release 3 if you’re looking for a hardcore race bike to throw a number plate on.
Mongoose Bicycles is another bike brand that cut its teeth in BMX. Founded in 1974, this Madison, Wisconsin-based company produces a bike for just about anyone. They even have full-suspension bikes available for heavy riding. Check out the Mongoose XR-Pro.
Some consider Schwinn Bicycles the original American bike brand. Founded in 1895, this Vancouver, Washington company has produced millions of bicycles and still offers affordable mountain bikes of decent quality. The Schwinn S29 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike is worth taking a look at.
29-Inch Mountain Bike Pricing
- Up to $400: Bikes in this range are on the lower end when it comes to quality. Department store bikes are common in this range and typically feature cheaper, heavier components.
- $400 to $1,000: A mountain bike at this price point will probably be a hardtail of decent quality. This is a good price range for a casual or newer rider.
- $1,000 and Up: The sky’s the limit, but bikes around $1,000 will be light, fast, and possibly fully suspended. These bikes will come with quality components and good warranties.
Frame material is an important factor in how enjoyable a bike is. Years ago, steel frames were everywhere, but today, aluminum and carbon fiber have taken over. Make sure whichever bike you purchase is at least aluminum. Aluminum doesn’t transfer hard bumps like rocks, roots, and drops as much as steel. Also, aluminum is lighter than steel but cheaper than carbon fiber.
If you’re getting serious about mountain biking, you’ll eventually find yourself grunting up a tough climb so you can enjoy a fast descent. Uphill pedaling is far more enjoyable on a full-suspension bike if the rear shock has a lock-out feature. The lock-out essentially turns the bike into a hardtail and thus allows the rider’s power to transfer better through the bike. Riding with an open shock can absorb energy and make a tough climb even tougher.
There are far too many good bikes on the market that come with disc brakes to settle for anything else. Disc brakes last longer, stop better and make removing and replacing your wheels far easier over other options. Depending on the price point, you can even get hydraulic disc brakes that operate like the brakes on your car.
- Warranty: Considering what a mountain bike might be put through, it’s nice to have a warranty that will back up its components and frame. Take a few minutes to research which bike brands have the best warranties before you make a decision. Some companies have longer warranties than a brand-new car.
- Derailleur Hanger: This may seem like a small technical detail, but it can mean the difference between a small repair and a new bike. Derailleur hangers are meant to break off and be replaced in the event of a hard crash. Cheaper bikes may hang the derailleur directly from the frame, meaning a tumble could bend the frame and render your new bike useless.
- Quality of Components: There are department store bikes with aluminum frames and derailleur hangers, but that doesn’t mean their components are high quality. Do some research and find out what gear set, shifters, brakes, and shocks your bike comes with before buying. This way, you’ll know if it’s worth your investment.
Best 29-Inch Mountain Bike Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Our choice for the Best 29-Inch Mountain Bike Overall goes to the Diamondback Overdrive. This hardtail is built on a lightweight aluminum alloy frame and has Shimano components, an SR Suntour front fork, and WTB tires. It’s also the most hardcore bike on our list.
This hardtail has a lot going for it. For one, it’s just plain good looking. It’s designed with modern geometry, which shows us that Diamondback is serious about creating a good bike at a reasonable price. Also, the Shimano components are good quality for a bike at this price point. We also like Diamondback’s Ready Ride program, which means your bike arrives assembled. All you have to do is open up the box and go.
Two concerns we have with the Overdrive involve the build quality and Ready Ride’s sometimes poor execution. There have been complaints that the build quality is questionable, including wheels with jagged edges, bent frames, and other issues. Also, while we like Ready Ride, some buyers haven’t been able to ride their bikes without taking them to a shop for a tune up first. We think a little more attention to detail on Diamondback’s part might solve these issues.
We do love a good bargain, and the Schwinn Bonafide definitely fits the (small) bill. The Bonafide is an aluminum alloy hardtail, so it’s lightweight and easy to handle. It also comes with dual disc brakes and a decent Shimano drivetrain. That’s why it’s our Best 29-Inch Mountain Bike Value pick.
There are more things to like about the Bonafide in addition to the price. First, a bike at this price point with decent quality disc brakes isn’t easy to find. While the Shimano drivetrain may not be top of the line, it’s a good name that you’ll be able to find aftermarket support for if needed. The Bonafide’s tires are beefy and oversized, so trail use should be a blast. Best of all, the Bonafide has a five-year warranty, so if you’re concerned about quality at this price, Schwinn has you covered.
Most of the issues with the Bonafide revolve around build quality problems. Several users have complained about their rear hubs. They may be loud or arrive incorrectly assembled. Another common issue has to do with the chain. Several buyers have broken their chain during their first rides. That can be troublesome if you’re on the trail and far from home.
This bike features a lightweight aluminum suspension frame and built-in SR Suntour suspension fork to absorb impacts on rough terrain and enable better handlebar control. It's designed for riders five-feet-four-inches tall to six-feet-two-inches tall. It comes with front and rear disc brakes and wide, lightweight, and durable alloy rims.
It has 24-speed SRAM SX4 trigger shifters with an SRAM X4 rear derailleur and a Suntour crank for fast, fluid, and precise gear changes. The seat is comfortable, and the wheels are quick-release so you can swap road tires in seconds. If you just plan on riding on the road, dirt roads, and easy smooth trails, it does the job. Overall, the bike is very high-quality and has some great features for the price.
However, it’s not very well-suited for riding on trails that have rocks, roots, and ruts. It's also a little heavy compared to some other bikes, and the sprocket system does not appear to be made very well.
- When choosing a bike, pick one that fits your body size. The distance from the saddle to the bars (reach) and the distance from the mid-head tube to the center of the crank shouldn’t be too long.
- Keep some money aside for accessories. Many riders upgrade the pedals to clipless or sticky pedals. In addition, you may also need good sunglasses and a backpack.
- As with any machine, mountain bikes need maintenance and repairs, and you should at least have some essentials, such as a spare tube, pump, multi-tool, chain lube, and a patch kit.
Q: Why is a 29-inch mountain bike better than smaller options?
A: Bikes with 29-inch wheels have taken the market by storm over the last few years. The main benefit of the larger wheels is that they can get over rocks and bumps more easily and can cover more distance per pedal revolution.
Q: What types of mountain bikes are available?
A: There are different bikes for different purposes, and while it’s possible to use one good bike for a number of uses, it’s best to get the one that suits your activities. The common types are enduro, trail, downhill, and cross country bikes.
Q: What are the differences between the different types of mountain bikes?
A: The main differences are the angles of the tubes as well as long and short wheelbases. Other differences include shock absorption, with some having front shock absorbers only and others having both front and rear shock absorbers. Some bikes have forks and no shock absorbers at all.
If you’re looking for a durable 29-inch mountain bike that’s at home on the road or the trail, you won’t go wrong with our top pick, the Diamondback Overdrive 29-Inch Hardtail.
The Schwinn Bonafide Men's Mountain Bike is a great budget-friendly alternative with many great features.