Everything You Need to Know About the Best Mountain Bikes on the Market
From a survey done by Shred Trail, 85.9% of mountain bikers said that it was part of
their identity. And this comes as no surprise, as the bike you choose and how you ride it all depends on your personal preference and attributes.
Because buying and riding a mountain bike can be so personal and rather expensive, it can be hard to get one's hands on some of the best mountain bikes on the market right now. But this guide is designed to give you some information to find the next bike for your quiver.
Best Mountain Bikes by Riding Style
There are an incredible amount of high-quality mountain bikes on the market, and with so many options, it can be hard to find the information you need to make an informed decision before you buy. Compiled in this guide are the best mountain bikes by riding style, with categories for the best budget bike, the runner-up, and the best overall.
For trail bikes, there's no shortage of options. With Giant, Focus, and Ibis taking up the spots here, these brands show off quality suspension, adjustability, and excellent geometry.
The Giant Stance 29 2 is one of the best budget trail bikes right now. Sporting a full-suspension and 29-inch wheels, it's designed to give you full control with a Giant Crest 34 RCL fork and Shimano hydraulic brakes. It's an incredibly comfortable ride, and it rolls right over difficult terrain.
But there are some downsides. The saddle is rather narrow and thin, which can be uncomfortable for some riders, and at times it's difficult to navigate sharper corners. Although the wheels have good absorption, they lack some support for the edging blocks, so a wider tire might suit some riders better than the stock Maxxis Forekaster EXOs.
The Focus Jam 6.9 lets riders play rough with an aluminum frame and great traction and stability thanks to the FOLD design on the rear suspension. It's stocked with a Fox 36 fork and 150mm of travel and is one of the best mountain bikes for sale right now.
The weight is one of the biggest negatives about the bike. It hampers the agility and acceleration, and while it adds to the stability and confidence newer riders may feel controlling it, it can make it quite a hassle to climb uphill. Something else to consider is that the inline shock, the Fox Float DPS, heats up on descents and can make downhill riding difficult.
One of the best trail bikes is the Ibis Ripmo V2 XT, which uses a 76-degree seat tube angle and long reach, which sits the rider centrally over the pedals. The Ibis is more customizable, with different setup options available from the Shimano SLX, to the XX1 AXS.
Each configuration features the Maxxis Assegai 29-inch tires, and all except the third, the X01, are built with Shimano brakes, rotors, and cranks. The X01 instead has SRAM branded components.
In terms of the wheelbase, depending on the size, it ranges from 1,187mm to 1,267mm, which makes for a long bike but not too unwieldy. With a solid combination of agility and stability, there's good traction and still allows for a lot of pop.
But this bike does have its limitations. The 147mm of rear travel can feel restricting when going over rougher terrain and the front wheels feel unbalanced, requiring more effort to keep under control. The front-wheel can also oversteer in flat, open corners, so you may find yourself paying more attention to the bike than the trail.
The downhill bike category is full of great bikes, from brands large and small. YT, Nukeproof, and Santa Cruz take the crowns here, with base and premium models sure to fit most budgets and riding preferences.
The YT Industries Tues comes in three designs; the base, pro, and pro race models. The base model is made with an alloy base, RockShox Boxxer Select fork, and RockShox Vivid R2C shocks along with an SRAM GX DH drivetrain.
YT steps up their game with the pro and pro race, both of which have carbon frames. The upgrades on the latter two don't stop there, as they both use Fox 40 forks.
The pro capitalizes on the Fox 40 Float Performance Elite fork, paired with Fox DHX2 Factory shocks and SRAM X01 DH drivetrain. And the pro race utilizes the FOX 40 Float Factory fork, finishing up with the Fox Float X2 Factory shocks and the same SRAM drivetrain.
The base Tues is more than capable of high speeds and high stability, even on demanding terrain. It takes corners with ease and balance and, like many others on this list, absorbs harsh impacts very well.
But like every bike, the Tues has its faults. While plenty of mountain bikes are sold in local shops, the Tues isn't one of them.
If you aren't sure about the size of bike you need or you like to fine-tune the sizing to match your preferred riding position, you might have some trouble ordering this bike online. This sizing issue can be especially felt when handling an improperly sized bike, as with larger sizes, the reach increases and can lead to the bike slipping and sliding out of the rider's control.
Nukeproof's Dissent 290 Comp is an adjustable downhill racer with flip-chips on the chainstays that modify the length from 445mm to 455mm. With a new linkage-actuated single-pivot system, riders can add more suspension progression, from as little as 17% to as much as 30%, to suit them and their riding style. Most of the components are SRAM or Nukeproof stock, with the RockShox Boxxer Select Charger RC for the fork and the RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Select R for the shock.
Due to its 29-inch wheels, it doesn't waste time accelerating downhill, and with solid mid-stroke support, the 290 is stable, with the SRAM Guide RE brakes able to stop at a moment's notice, leaving you fully in control. Stocked with Maxxis Assegai tires, they provide solid grip and traction, leading to a great downhiller that handles speed with ease.
However, it might be a bit of a bumpy ride in terms of the grips for the handlebars. They don't absorb vibrations very well, being too stiff.
The Santa Cruz V10 29 is a force to be reckoned with. It's lightweight, with the S 29 coming in at 37 pounds and the premium model, the X01, at 35 pounds. But those few pounds shaved off won't cost you any stability or comfort during the ride. With a whopping 215mm of rear travel and a 203mm Fox 49 fork, it's ready to eat some rocks and roots and keep you locked in through it all.
Both models are made of CC-grade carbon and can take on tight turns without a problem. Even with its reach of 492 mm at its upper range, it's grippy and keeps you confident and in control.
There aren't too many cons for this bike, as Santa Cruz has meticulously tweaked and redesigned it over the years. But shorter riders may find the seat tube angle troubling as the seat buzzes when set to a shorter height.
The xc lineup features some bikes that break the mold with geometry and suspension innovations from previous iterations. A shared design focus on racing and control makes these bikes stand out as top picks in the cross-country scene.
Made with an aluminum frame and option for either 29 or 27.5-inch wheels, the Wasatch Peak Comp takes on cross-country challenges with ease. This hardtail has a 68-degree head tube angle, allowing for more stability and control over the steering. Fezzaris are also customized to the rider, beginning with finetuning it to your specific body measurements and ending with assembling it and shipping it to you.
The Rocky Mountain Element is a departure from the last-gen f pure xc race-rigs in that it's suited for down-country. Its rear suspension travel has been increased to 120mm from 100mm, and the redesign also includes a new 130mm fork.
And the geometry has been drastically altered as well, with the headtube angle being four degrees slacker. The seat tube angle has been steepened as well, now being around 76.5 degrees.
Available in both carbon and alloy, it's extremely efficient on climbs and very comfortable. Balanced, stable, and responsive, it's a great cross-country/down-country bike.
The Scott Spark RC Comp shines as a racer, with an integrated rear shock that improves pedaling efficiency and its low-slung position that lowers the center of gravity and boosts handling. With space for two water bottles, shock bolts accessible from the outside that don't require disassembly, along with carbon, alloy, and full aluminum options for the frame, there's no doubt Scott put real work into making this bike race-ready.
It climbs without a hitch and handles high speeds with grace, and plenty of bottom-out resistance makes this a fantastic ride. But the comp doesn't feature a dropper post, which saves some weight but leaves something to be desired in terms of descending performance.
Trek, Simplon, and Specialized are the brands with the best all-mountain bikes right now. As all-rounders, these excel on nearly any terrain, with these three being the cream of the crop.
The Trek Fuel EX 5 is a versatile all-mountain bike made with Alpha Platinum Aluminum. 130mm rear-wheel travel and a 140mm RockShox Recon Silver fork make up the suspension package, and its downhill performance is something to write home about. Redesigned to be longer and slacker than the previous iterations, the Fuel hugs the ground and keeps you stable on descents.
The weight of this bike may cause it to feel a bit sluggish and lethargic on climbs, which might be an issue for some riders. Being a budget-minded bike, some of the suspension is compromised, with less than ideal mid-stroke support and some trouble taking on bigger hits and impacts.
The Pivot Firebird Pro XT/XTR is a mountain bike with a Fox 38 Factory fork, 29-inch wheels, and rear suspension travel of 165mm, which means business. With sizes from small to extra-large, this enduro bike fits a variety of riders and gives them the momentum they need, both uphill and down.
The cons start with the tires, however, as it combines with the Maxxis tires with puncture-prone EXO+ casing, both tires coming with the hard MaxxTerra rubber compound. These puncture-prone tire casings and lightweight carbon rims leave the bike unable to live up to the rest of its specs.
One thing many will enjoy about the Simplon Rapcon 170/165 is its integrated storage compartment in the downtube. Small items like tools, keys, and snacks can be kept safe and clean with a lockable lid. This keeps them from cluttering up your backpack or, worse, falling out of it.
Like many other companies, Simplon has an online configurator that lets you customize the specs on the bike. Some of these options include the rear Fox Float X2 Factory shocks, SRAM brakes, and the Shimano XT drivetrain.
The dropper post beats the competition at 200mm of travel and is also able to be fully inserted into the frame. With a comfortable pedaling position, efficient suspension, and agile movement downhill, the Rapcon is a bike to behold. One can find little fault in the Rapcon outside of the fact that the cables, although they're routed internally through the frame, may rattle against the handlebars while going downhill.
Bike Racks & Storage
With how expensive mountain bikes can be, you must have a proper bike rack and bike storage setup. Some of the factors that go into choosing a bike rack and storage option are the weight of your bike, the type of vehicle you drive, and whether you're looking for a permanent or non-permanent storage solution.
For those with lighter bikes, it's easy to put them on a roof or trunk rack. But dealing with a heavy bike that needs to go on the back or even the roof of your car can be a hassle, if not nearly impossible for some riders.
While those types of racks work for those with sedans and SUVs, those with trucks have the advantage of the bed. For truck racks, one of the best brands is ride88, with easy-to-install kits that fit a variety of truck beds, locking in your bike and protecting your investment with quality carbon steel construction.
For those looking for a permanent storage solution, there are wall-mounted racks. Available in either horizontal or vertical orientations, these clear up floor space while setting your bikes up for display. And if there's not much wall space you can use, a hoist system might be what you're looking for.
Non-permanent storage options include wall-leaning racks, free-standing racks, and door racks. Wall-leaning and free-standing racks have a similar design, both allowing bikes to stack on top of each other with a decent amount of space between them. Door racks are best suited for very lightweight bikes, as the lock wraps around the top of the door and uses the weight of the bike to keep it in place.
Step Over and Go
These were some of the best mountain bikes available right now. While each has its cons, they outshine their competitors and aim to give you the best performance for the respective price.
The money spent on a quality bike means buying a quality bike rack for it as well. Don't forget to check out ride88 and measure your truck today for a fitting with their wide selection of bike locks, racks, and mou