Haven’t you got bored with your daily commute? The same old roads and the never-ending traffic jams. The adventurer in you must be dying to move out and explore the world. The city has its limits and your work requires care. Don’t feel bad because we have good news for people like you. There is a way to breathe in the fresh air if you are ready to take a different road. Why not take your mountain bike and let the adventurous journey begin. And the best way to do this is by getting the best mountain bike and ride over the mountains.
You might get excited about the thought of riding down the hilly roads. But hold that thought and read our guide to get the best mountain bikes review 2021. Or else in the excitement, you will end up buying the wrong product and be disappointed. Our experts have made a simple mountain bike buying guide 2021 covering all the points you might prefer to find the best mountain bikes. We have brought the best mountain bikes for beginners so that your expertise level doesn’t matter at all.
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Best Mountain Bikes – Top 3 Favorites for 2021
What is a Mountain Bike?
Mountain bikes are also known by the name MTB. These bikes are specifically designed for off-road purposes so you can take them confidently down any rough mountain tracks. Mountain bikes usually have higher control over the rides and an upright riding position. The striking feature you will usually notice on them is their huge tires. With larger grips, you will be able to stay on the road no matter how slippery and rough the terrain is. Apart from this, the mountain bikes have to be superior in performance to normal bikes since it requires a lot more effort to climb mountains.
Because of this, they have a good range of gears. For the same reason, mountain bikes are made with powerful brake systems to keep you safe and sound during the ride. The normal tire sizes we have seen are 26″ to 29″ and the tire widths from 1.8″ to 3.5″. Usually, people start with these MTB bikes to learn mountain biking rides. MTBs can also be used for riding on normal roads. But because of the huge tires and the heavy construction needed for the rough roads, it will not be a good performer when compared to the normal bikes.
What are mountain bikes made from?
1. Aluminum: By far aluminum is the most commonly used material for mountain bike manufacturing. And that is for a reason too. They are lightweight and are really cheap keeping the overall price of the product down. They have high durability and good performance.
2. Carbon fiber: Carbon fiber is the strongest material available in mountain bike manufacturing. They are strong and highly durable and have the capacity to absorb the impact of usual rides. This is a recent innovation in the mountain bike manufacturing but nobody has ever regretted the decision of using it. Therefore, the increase in popularity.
3. Steel: Steel has long been used in the manufacturing of heavy machinery for their high durability and strength. But the drawback of steel is that they are amongst the heaviest material that could be used. So, despite offering high durability and strength, it is not generally used in manufacturing.
4. Titanium: Titanium is popularly used for aircraft manufacturing so the quality of the material can be understood just by that. But that quality comes at a price, they are way too expensive. But because of their superior strength, more and more manufacturers are adopting this as their standard.
Do A Little Homework First
Doing a good background check will always come in handy for getting the best equipment whatever it is. Every market is saturated with multiple product varieties so it is quite easy to get misled. First of all, not all mountain bikes are made to ride the same. The kind of bike you need depends on the kind of mountain riding you are planning to do. If you have biker friends, then it will be better to consult them when you are new into bike riding. Since you will mostly be riding with them you will naturally be selecting their biking style. Find it out and narrow down your options.
Maybe you are a pro in mountain biking and you might already know your riding type. Then choose the one that suits your riding style. Sometimes you have been into BMX riding and just want to try your hand at mountain biking. Then naturally you will be interested in lightweight bikes which can be used for freestyling and jumping. For that, you will need a bike that is totally different from the needs of an average consumer. Being specific with your needs will help you get the best match.
If you are a total newbie and doesn’t have anyone to assist you then don’t worry, we have got you covered. We have made a detailed guide on the kind of fun you could have with your bike on the mountain roads. Select the one that appeals to you the most. In there we will be detailing the bikes you will need for different roads and different riding styles. When you are sure of that head back here and continue reading. To get a more accurate selection, it will be always good to try the bike you liked in real life. Riding on it a few times will let you know whether it is your cup of tea.
Which kind of Mountain Bike I should prefer?
Mountain bikes can be taken for all-rounder since they easily are used for both off-road rides and on road rides while the normal bikes will suffer on rough terrain. There are different categories of mountain bikes that will perform really well in different situations so choosing them based on your style will be helpful. The main types of mountain bikes are listed below.
- Cross Country (XC) mountain bikes
Cross country bikes are for people who prefer to travel long distances when on an adventure trip. It won’t focus much on the rough terrains so the endurance capacity of this category of bikes is comparatively less. But their ability to ride fast will be more than other types. A famous category of cross country bike you might have heard of is hardtail bikes which only have a single suspension in the front. They are lightweight models to make the riding easier. Mountain bikes with 29-inch wheelbase are the popular one in this category followed by the 27-inch one.
- Trail mountain bikes
We all know that the hardest part of mountain riding is the uphill climbs and the best part about it is riding down with your maximum pace. And the best bike to have great downhill rides is the trail bikes. They are not just about racing downwards but are as good for uphill climbs. They are built with a special kind of geometry that makes you enjoy the bike rides to the maximum. They do not have a slacker head angle as much as the enduro bikes but they will surely keep you thrilled. The most common wheel sizes in this category include the 27.5-inches and the 29-inches models.
- Enduro mountain bikes
Enduro bike riding is the most popular bike riding we see these days. It is a lot similar to trail riding but it includes many climbs and downhill rides which are all time calculated for racing. Enduro bikes are built with the primary focus put towards the descending rides so you can expect to see slacker angles on the bikes. This will make the downhill rides much easier and give stability during the rides.
Enduro bikes are made with longer tubes so that you will have better control over the bike when riding at greater pace down the hill. With this coupled with the shorter stem, you will be having good stability down the road. The most popular form factor among the enduro bikes is the 27.5-inch variant.
- Hardtail Mountain Bikes
As we have told earlier, not all bikes are for everyone. These bikes are rugged but are designed specifically for different purposes and they will only shine in those fields. If all you need to do is roam around the countryside and have some light hill climbing the hardtail mountain bikes are the best bet, you have. They are cheaper and only have a single suspension in the front which will function really well during the descent.
But don’t think that they are better than the full suspension bikes. Of course, they are in a different league and with fewer features and moving parts, hardtail bikes tend to be cheaper than the full suspension models. With fewer parts, the maintenance also becomes easier so you can expect to get a higher lifespan out of it. This could also be a good option for people who are just entering the mountain bike riding.
You can easily learn the trick with it and upgrade whenever you want to. If you get the best hardtail bikes with all the features and higher price tag then they will perform similarly to a full suspension bike with great climbing advantage.
- Full Suspension Mountain Bikes
This is the blind choice to make if you need an easy choice. Full suspension bikes are costly but they cover all the features that are required for a good mountain bike. Like the name says both the rear and the front is equipped with suspensions to take all the impacts away from your body on rough terrains. So, the mountain paths will now become your companion rather than your foe. The only problem you will face will be during the uphill climbing.
They are heavier and the pedaling is a bit harder than the one you do on hardtail bikes so it will be difficult for you to climb up the hill. But that’s it once you reach the top you become the King of speed again. You got full control so you don’t have to worry about anything else down the road. The latest models are fitted with lockdown dials which can store the energy used while riding the bike downwards and positively use it for uphill climbs.
Which Frame Bike should I prefer?
The bike manufactures try their hand with different materials to bring down the cost and to score high on the quality. Out of all the bikes we have seen so far the 4 different material combinations we have seen for mountain bike builds are carbon fiber, aluminum, titanium, steel or a mixed combination of materials. Each material has its own advantages and drawbacks.
It can impact the cost, durability, comfort, weight, stability or we could say the material decides how the bike behaves in your hand. The techniques adopted by different companies will also change the way these materials behave but the materials themselves can help us draw any conclusions. We have explained the types of materials used in detail so you won’t get confused on seeing the feature lists of these bikes.
Out of all the materials available, aluminum still remains the most sought out option. First of all, they give good value for the money you pay. So, you can cut the cost but not the quality. They are both strong and light, so the bikes made using them, will be easier to ride on. Carbon fiber is superior in quality to aluminum but they are very expensive and are difficult to work with. Because of the stiffness, it has, if the bike lacks suspension then the jerks on the roads will be felt on your body quite easily.
Manufacturers use different techniques to reduce the weight of the bike more by butting the tube made using aluminum during manufacturing. So, the thicker and stronger portions will be present wherever needed and the other portions will be thinner. This increases the price of the bike but it will make a lightweight bike in the end. So, if you are on a budget, choose the aluminum mountain bikes. Not much will be lost.
- Carbon fiber
Carbon fiber is like the Ferrari of materials used in mountain bike manufacturing. In olden days it was impossible to find a bike made with carbon fiber unless it is made for high-end professionals. But recently we have noticed a sharp decline in that trend. The price of manufacturing the carbon fiber frames has come down and the overall pricing of the mountain bikes has also gone down drastically. Carbon fiber is not a metal that is hard to change the shape.
They are directional and easy to shape making the carbon fiber bikes to be made with innovative geometrical designs. They are highly stiff and the quality it offers has made it the default choice of all the professional bikers. The only problem with the material is its susceptibility to cracks when under heavy stress like a big crash on a downhill road. Once it starts to show damages the only option left with you is to repair the body.
Bikes made with steel are quite rare and is only found in the lower end. They are strong as any other material but the major drawback comes with its weight. They are cheap and that is why they are used in entry level bikes. Before the arrival of carbon fiber, and aluminum was the popular choice. Steel ruled over both the professional segment of bike riding and the normal bike riding.
They are susceptible to corrosion too. The new steel manufacturing has made it more reliable but the manufacturing is costly as compared to the alternative options available making it a rarely used choice.
This is by far the most expensive choice you could get on a mountain bike. Titanium is usually used for aircraft manufacturing so you can easily expect the quality it offers. Titanium is extremely lightweight and durable giving it a greater edge over other materials. but it is really difficult to work with titanium. It doesn’t easily make molds like other materials.
But it is due to the property of the material and this is even reflected in the occasion of a fall. The high resiliency of the material will hold the frame together no matter what. So, if you want a piece of luxury that’s going to last you forever then choose the one made with titanium. With new manufacturing techniques, titanium can be manufactured with thin frame making it much lighter than the initial varieties.
Which will be the best suited Mountain Bike Fit for me?
The perfect bike size is the one in which you are most comfortable to ride on. It must be the apt size and the seating must be comfortable so that you never feel to get off from it. In total it should sync it with you giving you enough confidence and the power to handle any tough tasks with ease.
How mountain bikes are sized?
There are three different sizes which you can select from for the mountain bikes (S, M, and L). These are generally made in relation to your height. Some companies have put up size charts that will make it easier for you to select the right bike size. If you are on the shorter side to any size category, then go for the shorter ones because it is easier for you to go for modifications and make it bigger. If you have problems in fitting the mountain bikes, then go through the guide we made specifically to help you learn the basics of mountain bike fitting.
Is Bigger Better? Fat and Plus Bikes
Huge tires are the first thing that you will see to distinguish a mountain bike from a normal bike. It is easier to feel that the mountain bikes with bigger tires are better but that’s not always the case. Depending on the type of ride you take and the terrain surface, the tire size can change drastically. The biggest ones available are at 4 inches in size and they will give enough traction to ride smoothly on slippery surfaces and terrains that are difficult to grip on. The big fat tires will protect your back but it is a bit too hard to ride on them as they will decrease the pace of riding.
Huge tires can be the optimum choice on the roughest grounds and slippery valleys but what if you need a good performing tire too. You don’t want to tire yourself up trying to reach the other end of the road. For that, you will need to choose the mid-range tires that can offer good performance while also giving enough cushioning and traction on the road.
Huge tires have become the preferred choice amongst the people these days. Moreover, you will find that most of the ready-made MTBs are equipped with bigger tires. You get all the good features of a flat tire without its drawbacks. This can keep you enjoyed and safe on your bike rides.
Choosing the Right Accessories
Mountain biking is not as simple as a normal bike ride. It is a good sport and to get the best out of it you have to choose the right tools. If you couple the best accessories with your bike, you will be happy with the more productivity you get out of it.
- Some of the things that we would suggest you take with you is a spare tire tube, tire patches, a mini hand pump and a bag to carry this all.
- Even the tire pressure plays a good role in the comfort you will have on your ride. For example, for mountain riding, it will be better to stay with lower tire pressure for better grip but when it comes to riding back home having a higher pressure will reduce the effort of riding.
- Mountain riding is not a child’s play so anything adverse can happen so keeping a first aid box and few repair tools handy all the time will become useful on the day when you really need it.
- Puncturing your tires will almost become a habit when you ride on roads like these.
- For better control and stability, you can use clipless pedals.
- Recessed cleat system like that of Shimano SPD is good to use for off-road rides.
- For your safety also consider buying some safety equipment beginning with rugged MTB helmets to protect your head to elbow protections.
Part 2: Bike Considerations
1. Frame Sizing: Mountain biking is a dangerous game. If your bike is not the size you require, then chances of injuring yourself are higher. You will be exerting a lot of force on the uphill climbing so the design must be able to put your effort into making the bike move faster. There are multiple size guides available for you to choose which one you need. If you are in between two sizes, then go for the smaller size or think about the kind of riding you are planning to do with the mountain bike.
If you are a freestyler, then a smaller footprint will come in handy while if you are a cross country rider then go for the larger one as they tend to support the purpose. You can easily put down your force on a bigger bike rather than on a small bike while the smaller ones are easier to handle.
2. Gears: Mountain climbs involves a variety of rides you have to take and it needs different kinds of effort. It is for these that the gears will come in handy. They will help you maximize the pressure you are exerting on the pedals. The basic versions will have triple chainrings. This gives low range which is suitable for hill climbing, a mid-range suitable for flat surface rides and the high range which is useful for descending rides.
The cluster of sprockets located in the rear will have around 7 to 10 gears. If the cluster is a 7-speed cluster then it will have 21 gears while an 8-speed cluster gives 24 gears.
Recently, we have noticed that there are many single chainring drive trains used in high-end trail bikes. They offer much more reliability and durability. They are more expensive than the normal chainrings and steps between each step are bigger. For plus bikes, this is not an issue as they will easily climb up the mountains.
Shimano gears are the most popular gears used in mountain bikes these days. The first level mountain bikes are usually equipped with Shimano Tourney gears. These tend to be more resistant to wear and tear. Up from that, there is Shimano Altus, then Shimano Acera gears which are found in mid-range models. And when you reach the highest end, you will see gears like Deore LX, Shimano SLX or Deore XT groupsets.
With the increase in quality, they will have a number of gears and will be lighter too. Racing bikes are generally equipped with Shimano XTR gears and downhill bikes with Shimano Zee. These gears are made to perform well in those specific situations so the performance will be the best in ideal situations.
3. Brakes: Since you will be going at a fast pace and if you can’t stop whenever you need you will end up in a ditch and nobody wants that to happen. So, make sure that the brakes of your mountain bikes are intact. Get the best brakes which your budget will let you. The basic brakes you can use on your mountain bike are the V-brakes. MTB V-brakes will let you stop the vehicle whenever you need to. When you have mastered the art of riding bikes, you will surely hit higher speeds with it.
And when you realize this, be ready to upgrade to disc brakes for your safety. They will be expensive but the stopping power given by disc brakes is unparalleled. No matter whether your bike is on a wet floor or a dirt track you will be able to stop when required. Disc brakes tend to be more durable than other kinds of brakes so the investment made is worth it.
4. Wheel Size: Which Mountain Bike Wheel Size is Best?
Once you have made the selection between the full suspension bikes and hardtail bikes you need to find out which wheel size is perfect for you.
- 26″ WHEELS
26-inch wheel size has become long outdated. They have been replaced by larger ones. So, getting them is not a choice but you will find second-hand bikes with that wheel size.
- 650b/ 27.5″ WHEELS
27.5-inch tires are highly versatile and can be a good combination for using with Trail bikes, enduro bikes, and downhill bikes. These tires tend to be nimble so you can easily ride over through obstacles without much difficulty. If you are short, then it will be better for you to stick to this riding size.
- 29er/ 29″ WHEELS
29-inch wheels are among the largest wheel sizes available. They are most commonly used by XC riders. Since they are big, they will give more momentum which literally makes it easier to ride on any terrain with ease. If you are short, avoid this one as you might struggle when you are in rough terrains to balance yourself. The speed of riding downhill will be higher but the stability of the bike will be a bit reduced because of the larger wheel size.
5. Handlebars: Different bike types have different kinds of handlebars. For example, the country bikes will have wide handlebars which will require a bit of practice to get used to if you were using shorter handlebars earlier. Once that is done you will feel cool to go. Wider handlebars will give more control and stability with only a few drawbacks like a minimal weight penalty and obviously the additional space needed for the bike to move around.
We have seen trail bikes to have wide handlebar sizes that range from 760 mm to 800 mm. Somehow once you get used to this size you will never settle for anything else.
6. Dropper Post: Most of the features that we have mentioned will make the bike better at something at the cost of something else but this is not the case with dropper posts. Make sure that you are getting a bike with a dropper post. The dropping height depends on the frame and seat construction.
Put it in a way that makes it easier for you to stay closer to the frame from the riding position. There are seat tubes with a bend in them which limit the dropper insertion to around 125mm instead of the usual 150mm to 170mm.
The better your seat the more comfortable your riding experience will be. There are scientifically designed seats which are comfortable but ultimately it comes down to the personal choice. If you are not happy sitting on it then avoid it. And the best way to find it out is by sitting on it. But remember it will take a few rides for the seat and you to get used to each other.
To make the sitting better, you can use cycling shorts that have padding in the crotch area increasing the comfort and reducing the moisture level in that area. Check out our best shorts for cycling and select the one for you.
7. Pedals: The basic pedals found in most of the mountain bikes will be enough for general users unless you have some specific priorities. There are pedals that come with straps to fasten your feet to the pedals too. When you advance in your cycling, you will need more adjustments to make the riding experience better. Experts in this field upgrade really soon to clipless pedals which can put most of the energy you exert into riding the bike.
But you will need to buy cycling shoes which have cleats on the bottom to lock the pedals to the hoes for increasing the pedaling efficiency. Locking your feet with pedals might sound dangerous but is quite easy to take the foot away from the pedals. You only need to swing your feet away from the pedals and you will be done. This requires a bit of practice so just get the hang of it before taking it out for hasty rides.
And once you love it you will never leave it because they will make the riding a lot better. Don’t use this kind of pedals if you are planning to do freestyling with these pedals. For that, regular pedals and shoes are optimum. Anyway check out the wide range of pedals available and think whether you need it or not.
Part 3: Budget
What’s my budget?
Mountain bikes are expensive. Don’t think of getting a dirt cheap variant for mountain rides. They are available from $200 to $10000. The more you pay the better you get. And will always suggest you go for an expensive one to keep yourself safe. It will be safe to buy something for around $500 and if you are looking for full suspension bikes then don’t go below $1000.
If you pay at a premium price, then you will get features like disc brakes, more gears, and carbon fiber parts. In a nutshell, they are going to live long in a healthy way. Carbon fiber frames tend to be really costly and you will only get the basic one for $1500 and around $2000 for full suspension bikes.
Part 4: Maintenance and Assembly
Mountain bikes are complex and they can no way be easily assembled. So don’t think of assembling one yourself. Just get a finished product and you will be happy.
1. Mountain Bike Maintenance: Go to a bike shop and make sure that the bike is assembled well and is ready to tackle the rough terrain of the mountains. Also, adjust the parts based on your weight and size.
2. Make sure you have at least the bare essentials for repairs and maintenance: Keep all the things that you will need immediately for repair. Spare tube, patch kit, tire levers, pump, multi-tool, chain lube are all included in it. This will make sure that your bike stays healthy in the long run. And to keep you healthy make sure to take a helmet.
3. Many shops like REI provide a free first tune-up: Almost all the bike shops will provide a free tuning for your bike. Make use of it. It will give a personalized feel to your bike.
Part 5: Buy from us with confidence
Our selection is the best one but still doing homework will give you an assurance that the choice you make is wise. Just list down the best mountain bikes which you found. It will most probably coincide with ours. But that doesn’t matter get yourself the best giant mountain bike. Our experts have been working with mountain bikes for many years so they know what they are doing. We always bring the best to our customers. If you buy from us, you won’t ever regret it and we will always be at your service. If you want, you can always come to us and try out the products.
Mountain bikes are not for all. It is only for the most adventurous people. If you have read till here, then you must be one among them. Our experts have put their best efforts into making a brief guide that will give you a clear picture of what to look for in a good mountain bike. Never make a random purchase. Understand your needs first. Fix your budget and then find out what suits your purpose the best.
This way you will be getting the best mountain bike for the adventurer in you. Once you have picked a few selections read out mountain bike reviews and gain more insight into these products. Finally, if you can do to the shops and try out these bikes to make sure that they are good for your purpose.