Purchasing a good mountain bike is not an easy feat for the majority of people. Not only are there more bikes on the market than ever before, the sheer amount of choice available can make it hard to even get started with the process of buying a solid bike.
For your convenience, we have put together a buyer’s guide that will cover the best mountain bikes to purchase at different price points. So no matter what your budget is, we’re sure that you will find something that will suit your needs, as well as set you off in the right direction of buying the perfect mountain bike.
How much do you need to spend to get the best mountain bike?
For the majority of people, and especially for newbies, your budget will often be one of the deciding factors when it comes to purchasing a mountain bike. How much cash you are willing to drop on a new bike will greatly affect what’s available to you. It’s also easy to look at mountain bikes in retail stores or online and easily get put off the idea of owning one altogether due to their often hefty price tags.
But just because there are expensive options on the market it doesn’t mean you need to go for the high end model right away, but you should still understand what you are paying for.
Below you’ll find a list of prices, as well as what you’ll get at each price point.
Believe it or not, it is possible to get a well-designed, off-road capable mountain bike for about $350 if you know where to look, although there are a few snags to this deal. At this price point, you should avoid the temptation of suspension bikes, which is where the suspension rods fit at the front and rear of the wheels. You should avoid suspension bikes at this price range because they’ll be considerably heavier than hardtail bikes or rigid bikes, and the cheap suspension units may actually do you more harm than good.
Even though a rigid, suspension-free bike may seem a bit basic, the simplistic design means that the money you spent on the bike will be spread over the bike’s frame and its components, which can make it a better deal overall. However, there are a range of bikes that you can purchase that are fitted with good quality front suspension rods at $350.
At example of a good bike at this price is Calibre’s Two Hardtail, which is made by GO Outdoors. This bike has received numerous positive reviews on shopping sites and can be purchased for a little over $350.
In any case, you should look for a frame that is made from aluminum due to its low weight. You should also hunt for a bike that comes included with disc brakes over rim brakes, as disc brakes perform better under wet conditions, as well as providing more reliable power. Most disc brakes are powered via cables, which are different to the hydraulic brake units seen in more expensive models, but they will still be worth their cost.
If your intention is to take your bike on dirt trails, then you should also make sure your model has adequate gearing. Cheaper bikes are mostly suited towards people who want to use them on the roads, and may lack a gear low enough to get you up steep inclines such as hills and valleys.
As the bikes begin to creep up in price, you get presented with some options such as lighter frames and better developed equipment. At the $500 range, you should keep an eye out for bikes that use hydraulics for their brakes instead of cables. Hydraulics requires far less upkeep and tends to be more reliable and powerful than cable-controlled brakes.
One good example of a $500 bike is Scott’s Aspect 740 trail bike.
At the $500 mark, you should consider a bike that has at least nine gears (also known at a 9 speed bike) with three matching chain rings at the front of the bike. This would give the bike a total of 27 ratios to choose from. The tyres of the bike should also be fitted with an adequate tread profile that is made for off-road use. Soft rubber is perfect here for off road bicycles, which allows you to get better control during wet conditions. You can test the firmness of the tyres yourself by pressing your thumbnail into the rubber.
The fork that provides suspension should also feel smooth and controlled when you are using it. To test how steady the suspension is, you can press down on the handle bars and see if it returns smoothly or not. If the bike makes concerning noises, or if it bounces too fast like a pogo stick, then you should consider choosing a different model.
It should be noted that at $500 full suspension bikes still are not a good option, as they will likely be too heavy to use off-road.
At this price point, bikes start to become individualized to suit various types of riding needs. We will uncover the different kinds of bikes that are available a bit later.
At $750, bikes continue to use aluminum, but you’ll also see advanced construction methods to make the bike lightweight as well as practical for use for long days of riding. Hydraulic brakes are from made by some popular brands such as Shimano or Avid.
You’ll be able to get something that has a decent suspension fork, and ideally air-sprung. Air-sprung suspension rods are lighter than coil springs, and also feature the option to adjust the fork for your weight and height.
A good example of a bike at $750 is VooDoo’s Bizang, as it blew away most of its competitors in a series of tests and reviews conducted by consumers online.
The most recommended models at this rate will come with a thru-axle fork rather than a quick release system. They also feature an axle that is of a larger diameter than cheaper bikes. The larger diameter provides a more rigid connection between the wheel and other parts of the bike, which can improve steering accuracy. You should keep an eye out for a frame that features a special head tube with a large diameter and lower bearing. All of the above features result in a stiffer frame, and you can always chop and change parts and forks in the future.
$750 mountain bikes usually come with at least 10 gears at the bike, and frequently come with a clutch such as Shimano’s Shadow Plus. The clutch prevents your chain from falling off your bike when travelling over rugged terrain.
Many bike manufacturers have now started to include tyres that do not come with an inner tube. The tubeless tyres help to reduce the likelihood of punctures, as well as saving the user on weight the extra expense of repairs. You can identify these tyres with the words: ‘tubeless ready’ and ‘tubeless compatible’, which will be written on the side of the tyre.
$1,000 is widely considered the ideal amount of money to pay for a mountain bike. With this price point, you can get a full suspension bike that has a reasonably light frame, as well as featuring well-controlled and adjustable shocks. The catch here is that you will likely pay for something a bit heavier, or a downgrade on some features, especially if you are paying for a hardtail bike – although they do offer more control during rough descents.
All bikes should come with adjustable air-sprung forks, and preferably feature a through axle design with a tapered steerer. It’s not uncommon to see adjustable rebound damping either, which is used to configure the rate at which the shock extends after a pump. You also see lockout leavers that help to keep the suspension rods in place for greater efficiency.
For this amount of money, you should definitely expect a 10-speed drive train with a clutch, as well as other higher spec equipment. In general, you should look for something that is lighter, durable, and works flawlessly.
At this price point, the downsides to full-suspension bikes are virtually nil. Cross country bikes that are designed for long voyages will have light enough frames for you to ride all the time, while the endurance ranges of cycles will be enough to handle the harshest of terrains without any dramas.
Around the $1500 mark, the advantages of choosing a model with rear shock absorbers are quite apparent. The suspension rods and units will be of an enhanced quality, and will also offer an increased range of dampening adjustments. The bike that you choose should also have a 10 speed drivetrain, as well as an extra wide cassette that is designed to handle a front chain ring to reduce the load.
This price range includes hardtail bikes that employ lightweight carbon fiber for their frames, while aluminum bikes will also come with premium parts and components. You can even find models that allow you to lower the saddle without stopping, which makes for an easier riding experience over difficult terrain.
For this amount of cash, it’s likely that you’ll encounter bikes that use carbon fiber frames, regardless of the kind of bike that you choose. You’ll also notice a higher degree of specialization in the kind of bikes available, with a wide range of options and frame geometry.
Hardtail bikes are more likely to come with top end parts, which include 11-speed vetrains from leading manufacturers such as Shimano and SRAM. Some suspension mountain bikes will also come with these vetrains as well.
Dropper posts will come attached to almost everything but the most specialized bikes as well. The tyres will usually come in special compounds that have been made to withstand harsh conditions.
You will start to see less and less options and value for money as you get past the $4,000 mark. It’s at this point that the law of diminishing returns starts to creep in, as you will probably need to spend a tremendous amount of money to shred extra weight, while the performance increases remain marginal.
Carbon fibre frames at this price range is common, while the components used are of high quality and durable from the most revered manufacturers. You can find bikes in excess of $4,000 from the big names in mountain biking, as well as specialty niche makers.
The suspension units used will be performance models, and will include adjustable dampeners with frictionless coatings. The tires will feature plenty of traction and speed, which have been carefully engineered to suit the task at hand.
The best overall mountain bike
Diamondback Overdrive Comp Complete ReadyRide Mountain Bike.
There’s a lot that goes in choosing the best mountain bike of this year, but here it is: the 2016 Diamondback Overdrive Comp Complete ReadyRide Mountain Bike.
This model is a hardtail mountain bike that is perfectly suited for cross-country trailers. It was made for adventurous riders who crave the best in terms of speed and reliability. The bike’s aluminum frame contains tubes in a neutral geometry, which means that it is both lightweight as well as responsive when taking it on challenging trails.
The bike features 27.5” wheels, which means the bike is easily handled in tight situations and without the downsides of a lack of traction or sped. The Overdrive models are some of the fastest bikes available, featuring Shimano disc brakes, 160mm rotors, and a 2×10 drivetrain.
Best mountain bike under $3,000
BEIOU Carbon Dual Suspension Mountain Bike
The BEIOU Dual Carbon Suspension Mountain bike is one of the few of its kind that features dual suspension. The bike also includes a carbon fiber frame measuring 27.5 inches, which makes it great for the rider that wants something lightweight and transportable.
The BEIOU Carbon also features an 11 speed clutch, and 315 hydraulic breaking, making it ideal for challenging climbs and responsive turns. The 720mm carbon fiber handles adds to the bike’s overall lightweight construction, and features a carbon fiber seat post.
In summary, the carbon fiber mountain bicycles from BEIOU are some of the most widely sought models on the market, combining the best of speed and efficiency in a reasonably priced package.
Best mountain bike under $2,000
Diamondback 2016 Mission 1 All Mountain Full Suspensions Bike.
This mountain bike is suited towards the mid to top-end buyer, featuring a 1×10 gearing and disk brake that fits nicely to the fork and stern of the model. The chain ring is small and it provides an impeccable amount of control for a bike of its price range. Many users of the bike commented that it felt similar to riding professional model mountain bikes that are known to cost tens of thousands of dollars.
The biggest benefit to the Diamondback Mission 1 is its aluminum frame, which makes it lightweight and maneuverable. This is the perfect option for people who have an aggressive style of riding, and require a bike that is reliable enough to be taken on the most adventurous trails and circuits.
Best mountain bike under $1,500
BEIOU Fiber 650B
Yet another outstanding mountain bike from BEIOU, the 650B is the slightly less expensive alternative to their premium models in the market. The 650B features a SHIMANO M610 DEORE System for brakes and suspension rods. The bike has a 3*10 speed clutch, as well as fork suspenders and a Hardtail disc brake.
The biggest selling point of the 650B however, has to be its ultra-light weight construction, as it weighs only 10.7 kilos, making it one of the lightest mountain bikes that money can buy. The 650B comes in black, white, and red with a matte black finish.
The BEIOU was designed as a cost-performance model for professionals and entry-level riders alike, and typically arrives in 7-10 business days to residents in the United States.
Best mountain bike under $1,000
Diamondback Overdrive 29 Hardtail Mountainbike
For those who are new to mountain biking, the Overdrive 29 makes for an excellent choice. It is suitable for trail riding due to its 29 inch wheels, and 6061-T6 aluminum frame, making it uniquely strong and lightweight. The custom butted tubes helps to control the suspension of the bicycle, and the machine head tubes allows the rider to control the bike with an unparalleled precision that is not often seen in mountain bikes.
All of the parts on the Overdrive 29 are replaceable, so you don’t need to worry about a part breaking or going missing.
Overall, the Overdrive 29 could be a great match for someone who is getting into mountain biking that wants to pay a little bit more to get a significant bump in quality.
Best mountain bike under $500
Overdrive ST by Diamondback Bicycles
The Overdrive ST is widely considered one of the best budget mountain bikes that is on the market at the moment, as it is one of the few hardtail cycles that is available in its price range. There are many positive reviews that you can read about the Overdrive ST, and it is one of the top sellers of its kind of many shopping sites such as Amazon.
The mountain bike can be used by people of all shapes and sizes, being able to comfortably handle a maximum weight of up to 100 kilos without a problem. The only conceivable downside the Overdrive ST is that the seat is not known for being particularly comfortable, especially if the rider is on the heavier side. That being said, one can always replace the seat with something more comfortable, as all the parts that come with the Overdrive ST are interchangeable with other components sold by Diamondback Cycles, so you are able to shop and change depending on your requirements and preferences.
Best mountain bike for beginners
Diamondback Recoil 29er
If you are just getting started with the great sport of mountain biking, then it’s likely that you won’t want to outlay a huge amount of cash to begin with. That being said, most people prefer to not buy the cheapest option if they have a choice in the matter. For these reasons, we have chosen the Diamondback Recoil 29er as the best mountain bike for beginners, as it achieves an ideal synergy between price, performance, and bottom line customer satisfaction.
The Diamondback Recoil 29er features a 6061 T-6 aluminum alloy frame with full suspension. It also features a single pivot with sealed cartridge bearings for maximum performance and durability during tough climbs.
The SR Suntour XCT suspension fork delivers up to a 100mm of travel, while the four inches of rear suspension will dampen the shocks coming off debris while on the trail.
That concludes our list for the best mountain bikes that you can buy in 2017. We hope that you have found this guide useful, as well as helping to point you in the right direction of buying the mountain bike of your dreams.
It should be noted that the success or failure of a given purchase will mostly come down to what your budget is and your own expectations. Because of this, nothing beats firsthand experience when buying a mountain bike, and there’s plenty of places that you can try a bike out without any obligation to make a final decision. Sports stores, BMX tracks and other places can make for the ideal spot to test out a new bike if you are curious.
If you do not have the time to test out a bike in person, and simply want to get going with the information that’s at hand, a good place to start looking is by reading the reviews other users have left about their mountain bikes. These reviews can be read all over the internet, but the best places to find them are generally on shopping sites such as Amazon and Ebay, as these are some of the most unbiased reviews that can be found.
Thanks for reading, and you can view any of the mountain bikes above by clicking their links above which will take you to their respective listings on Amazon.