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Best Mountain Bike in 2022 – Reviews & Buyers Guide

review of the best mountain bike

Mountain biking is a very fun sport and gives so much back. Going out on trails not only gets you into nature but also helps you get fitter and give you an opportunity to make new friends. Finding a new mountain bike can be challenging as they come in all shapes and sizes and are built for different disciplines within the sport. In this article, we are going to tell you about some amazing bikes, and we will tell you what to look for in a mountain bike when choosing in our buyer’s guide.

The bikes we have chosen today are specially selected by us, and we believe them to be some of the best on the market not just for performance but also for value for money. When we look at bikes, the way we tell if they are worthy of this list is to break them down into parts, and we look at;

  • Frame
  • Suspension Forks and Shock
  • Groupset
  • Brakes
  • Wheels and Tires

Looking at all the parts broken down helps us see the pros and cons of each bike, what discipline they will be best at, and if they are good value for money.

BEST OVERALL

Orbea OCCAM MLTD

BEST BUDGET

Diamondback Hook

BEST VALUE

Rocky Mountain Instinct Carbon 50

1. Best Overall: Orbea OCCAM MLTD

Orbea OCCAM MLTD Mountain Bike

Orbea has got some serious bikes to come on the market recently, and their mountain bikes are making some noise in the cycling world. The Occam is one of their high-end models, and when it comes to trails, it’s an absolute monster.

Features of the Orbea OCCAM MLTD

Style: Trail Bike

  • OMR Orbea Carbon frame
  • Fox Float 34 / Fox Float DPS
  • Shimano XTR Groupset
  • Shimano XTR Brakes
  • Raceface 29″ wheels with Maxxis Tires

The Orbea is an incredible machine, and let’s start with the OMR frame. It’s light, it’s fast, and it’s Orbea’s legendary OMR carbon fiber. This bike is going to feel amazing to ride. The Forks are the Fox Float 34 Factory FIT4, and they give 140mm of travel. This is paired with a Fox Float Rear shock, also giving 140mm.

The Shimano groupset is the best they offer and comes in the form of the XTR. This is a 12-speed beast which is what the professional riders use. It’s excellent shifting no matter what the terrain or situation. You also have the XTR brakes, and these have Servo wave technology meaning they are easy to feather, making it easy not to lock up on challenging descents.

The wheels are not Orbea’s own, which we expected. They are the Raceface Next-SL with boost hubs and fully tubeless-ready. They have paired with twin mixed Maxxis tires in 2.4″, which give serious grip and speed. Finally, the last thing to mention is the Fox Transfer Factory Dropper post which comes as standard.

Pros

  • Very Lightweight OMR Cabron Frame
  • XTR Groupset
  • Fox Suspension Setup
  • Fox Dropper
  • Raceface Tubeless Wheels

Cons

  • Not the cheapest

The Occam is an incredible machine and has to sit on the top of this list. It’s a force to be reckoned with on any trail and won’t be shy on a podium finish.

2. Santa Cruz Nomad C X01

Santa Cruz Nomad C X01

Santa Cruz is, for many, a dream bike, and we can see why they are absolutely gorgeous to look at, and they perform. The Nomad is a bike that has some serious clout and is an amazing ride.

Features of the Santa Cruz Nomad C X01

Style: Enduro Bike

  • Santa Cruz Carbon CC Frame
  • Fox Float 38 / Fox Float X2 Factory Shock
  • SRAM X01 Eagle
  • SRAM Code RSC Brakes
  • RaceFace Arc 27.5″ Maxxis Tires

Santa Cruz is known for making some of the best frames, and they come straight out of California. We’re not speaking low-end quality, we’re speaking incredibly high-end carbon fiber, which is super strong and lightweight. They have paired this with one of Fox’s best suspension forks, the Float 38, and as far as the shock goes, you have an X2 on the rear. This gives you 170mm on both ends.

The groupset is the SRAM X01 Eagle has a huge range of gearing on a 1X system. The rear cassette is huge and comes in a 10-50T, which is perfect for enduro and trail riding. The brakes are not just any brakes. They also have toughened these up and use the SRAM Code RSC with 200mm rotors for mind-blowing stopping power.

Then we have the wheels. Like the Orbea above, we are using a very high-end wheelset. The Raceface 27.5″ ARC Rims paired with Industry 9 hubs make a seriously smooth ride. Tires are mixed, Minion on the rear, Assegai on the front, both in a 2.5″ to make it handle like it’s on rails. The RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper and WTB saddle are lovely finishing touches to make this bike something very special.

Pros

  • Santa Cruz Carbon Frame
  • Amazing Suspension Setup
  • SRAM X01 Eagle Groupset
  • 27.5″ Tubeless wheelset and tires Raceface
  • RockShox Dropper and WTB Saddle

Cons

  • Price is high
  • Being an Enduro Bike heavier than a trails bike

If you want a seriously performing bike and fancy taking on enduro with one of the best bikes possible, the Nomad CC X01 is for you. Nothing is going to get in the way of this bike.

3. Pivot Switchblade Pro XT/XTR

Pivot Switchblade Pro XT/XTR

Pivot has been a very inventive brand over the years, and you’re getting a heritage of mountain biking experience when you choose to go with your bikes. The Switchblade is a weapon on a trail and is a weapon on a trail and is going to be great for XC and those longer rides too.

Features of the Pivot Switchblade Pro XT/XTR

Style: Trail and Enduro

  • Pivot Pro Carbon Frame
  • Fox Factory 36 / Fox Float Shock
  • Shimano XT/XTR Groupset
  • DT Swiss XM1700 Wheelset 29″ and Maxxis Mixed
  • Fox Factory Dropper

The Pivot Switchblade Pro is an awesome bike. The carbon frame is not only super lightweight, but it performs. It’s designed for heavy trail and enduro riding, and they are that confident in it. It comes with a 10-year warranty. The suspension is a Fox setup with the Float 36 on the front offering 160mm of travel and a Float on the rear for 142mm travel. This is going to be amazing on very rough terrain.

The groupset is a mix of XT, XTR, and even some Raceface. The majority is XT apart from the rear derailleur being XTR and the crankset being a Raceface. It does have one of the largest ranges on this list and will take mountains with ease. The brakes are the XT 4 piston brakes which have incredible stopping power and come with excellent Shimano reliability.

The wheels are the DT Swiss XM1700. Of course, they are tubeless compatible. Paired with Maxxis Minion tires a 2.4″ and a 2.5″, they are downhill ready and not shy of some loose ground. The bike also comes with a Fox Factory dropper and Chainstay protector.

Pros

  • Pivot Carbon frame with a huge warranty
  • Strong Fox suspension system 160mm / 140mm travel
  • XT Groupset with XTR Derailleur
  • Fox Dropper
  • 10-year frame warranty

Cons

  • A mixed Groupset isn’t for everyone
  • More enduro than trail, so a bit heavier

The Switchblade is a tough bike, and it’s going to rip up a trail as very few bikes could. It is going to make an excellent trail and enduro bike, and if you want to go fast on very rough terrain, this is for you.

4. Best Value: Rocky Mountain Instinct Carbon 50

Rocky Mountain Instinct Carbon 50

Rocky Mountain has brought some amazing bikes out this season, and you can see they have put some serious time into each model. One of our favorites is the Instinct as it’s a full suspension bike which over serious clout for the price.

Features of the Rocky Mountain Instinct Carbon 50

Type: Trail / Enduro

  • Full Suspension Carbon Frame
  • Fox Float 36 Fork / Fox Float DPS Suspension
  • Shimano XT Groupset
  • Shimano SLX Brakes
  • WTB ST Light i30 29″ Wheels with Maxxis Tires
  • Rocky Mountain Toonie Dropper Post

In my opinion, the Rocky Mountain is one of the best-looking full suspension bikes on this list. They have nailed the color scheme, and it just looks epic compared to many bland bikes currently on the market. The frame is their own SMOOTHWALL carbon fiber, and it also has adjustable geometry. The suspension fork is the Fox Float 36, giving 150mm on the front and a Fox Float with 140mm on the rear. It’s a sold setup, and many bikes on this list use it.

The Shimano XT groupset is excellent as far as value for money high-end gearing. I think it’s perfect. It’s 12-speed and has a monster 10-51T cassette on the rear, which is ready for hill crushing. One thing to mention is it has a Raceface crank. The brakes are not XT, and they have gone with the 4-piston SLX model with 180mm disc rotors which is very similar as far as performance goes.

Then we have the wheelset. The WTB light i30 is an excellent wheelset and comes in a 29″. It’s light, strong, and solid when going over lumps, especially when set up tubeless. The tires are Maxxis Minion, which seems to be the way most high-end bikes go. They come in a 2.5″ and 2.4″ mixed pair and are very grippy.

Pros

  • The price is excellent for this bike
  • Adjustable Geometry is excellent
  • Very lightweight Frame
  • Great suspension for the price
  • WTB Tubeless wheels

Cons

  • I would have loved XT all round
  • Sit between Enduro and Trail

We rate the Rocky Mountain Instinct highly, and it’s a bike that sits between trail and enduro well. If you are looking for an amazing value for money bike that will give you a lot of options for races, this is it.

5. Santa Cruz Chameleon AL S MX

Santa Cruz Chameleon AL S MX

The second Santa Cruz on this list and completely different from the first. This is one of the finest hardtail bikes on this list, and an excellent purchase for anyone as this has something very special about it.

Features of the Santa Cruz Chameleon AL S MX

Style: XC Cross Country

  • Lightweight Aluminum Frame
  • Fox Float 34 Performance
  • SRAM GX
  • SRAM G2 R
  • Raceface AR Wheels with Maxxis Tires
  • RockShox Reverb Dropper

The Santa Cruz Chameleon, on the surface, looks like a standard hardtail, but it’s got some very cool tricks under its sleeve and is going to perform so well when it comes to XC. The frame may be aluminum, but it’s very lightweight, and the geometry is low-slung, giving it lots of control. One thing I did really like about this bike is the adjustable rear dropouts meaning you can switch between a racer or a bikepacking rig easily. The suspension on the front is a top-end Fox Float 34 fork, and it gives you 130mm travel and will soften out a washboard section with ease.

The SRAM GX Eagle groupset will offer excellent silky smooth shifting and is solid even when it’s rough. However, it is not as high-tech as the XTR or X01 its still got a huge range and will get you up any hill. Then we have the brakes. They could have gone basic on this XC hardtail, but they went the other way and upgraded to SRAM G2 R, which are very good.

The wheels are very interesting on this bike, and you have a mix of two different sizes. On the front, you have a 29″ to roll over obstacles on, and on the rear, a 27.5″ for grip and control. These are paired up with a mixed set of Maxxis tires, and it does add so much value to this bike and the way it handles. It doesn’t stop there. To give you more ability, you also have a RockShox dropper for those nasty descents.

Pros

  • Value for money
  • Lightweight Adjustable frame
  • SRAM Components
  • Mixed wheel Sizes
  • Dropper Post

Cons

  • CX Focused
  • A lot of money for a hardtail

The Chameleon is a very cool bike, and although it might look basic, it isn’t at all. It’s an incredible machine, and it is very unique

6. Yeti Cycles Turq T2 X01

Yeti Cycles Turq T2 X01

We couldn’t put a list together of the best mountain bike without mentioning Yeti Cycles. The Turq T2 X01 is their premium hardtail bike full of incredible components, and it’s a beast on a trail because of it.

Features of the Yeti Cycles Turq T2 X01

Type: XC Trail

  • Turq Carbon Frame
  • Fox 34 Fork
  • SRAM X01 Groupset
  • SRAM Level TLM
  • DT Swiss XM1700 30 Wheelset with Maxxis tires
  • Fox Transfer Dropper Post

The Yeti Turq T2 is a very fast bike and works on the foundation of simplicity is key, and because of this, we absolutely love it. The frame is incredible, and it’s built to be fast and offer maximum control while being super lightweight with Yeti’s legendary Turq Carbon Fiber. As you can expect, it will be equipped with one of the best forks on the market, the Fox Float 34, and it gives it 130mm travel, which will work for the rider exceptionally.

The groupset is SRAM’s top-level groupset and comes in the form of the X01 Eagle. Perfect shifting with huge ratios to play with make this the perfect gearing for this bike. What better to pair it up with other than the SRAM Level TLM 4 piston disc brakes with 180mm twin rotors.

The DT Swiss XM1700 wheelset is excellent and comes paired with Maxxis tires. DT Swiss doesn’t mess about when it comes to their wheels, and they are strong, light, and very fast. The Fox dropper post is another added bonus for this bike.

Pros

  • Very lightweight Mountain bike
  • Amazing Color
  • Groupset is perfect
  • DT Swiss Wheelset
  • Dropper Post

Cons

  • Not a cheap Hardtail
  • Amazing at XC and light trail, but enduro it will suffer

The Yeti is a very good hardtail, and it is the bike of choice for many XC racers as it’s just perfect for it. It’s not cheap, but it has some serious components and is ready for some rough riding.

7. Orbea Oiz H30

Orbea Oiz H30

The second Orbea on this list, and it’s made for some very fast XC. Very few full-suspension bikes are this fast and cost the same as a hardtail bike.

Features of the Orbea Oiz H30

Type: XC Trail

  • Hydroformed Aluminum
  • Fox Float 32 / Fox I-Line DPS
  • Shimano Deore Groupset
  • Shimano MT201 hydraulic disc brakes
  • Orbea OC1 Tubeless Wheels

The Orbea is one of those bikes that offers so much for such a small cost in the bike world. The first thing to mention is the Aluminum frame. It’s hydroformed and made to be light and tackle trails quickly with the security that if you were to bail, it’s going to be ok. What’s amazing is at the price, you are getting a full suspension, and it isn’t budget. It’s a very good system. You have the Fox Float 32 on the front and The I-Line DPS on the rear giving 120mm travel on both sides.

The Shimano groupset is one of their basic 12-speed numbers, and it is excellent. Smooth-shifting and a very reliable groupset. The brakes are also Shimano, these are the MT201, and they are nice and powerful and will give you confidence in your stopping ability.

The wheels are Orbea’s own, and they are very good as far as aluminum wheels go. They come in 29″ and are even tubeless-ready, so you can upgrade if required. The tires are Maxxis Ikon and are 2.2″, which is the smallest tires we have seen on this list, but that’s not a negative. They will be amazing racing XC and light trails.

Pros

  • Dual Suspension
  • Lightweight Strong Frame
  • Amazing Value for money
  • Tubeless-ready wheels
  • Shimano Components
  • Very cool colors and comes in many

Cons

  • It will be heavier than a hardtail
  • Although components are good, they are basic

I love the Orbea because getting a full suspension bike like this at such a low price is amazing. Not only that, it’s an excellent base to upgrade on and looks gorgeous.

8. BMC Twostroke 01 FIVE

BMC Twostroke 01 FIVE

BMC is a Swiss brand that is known for making a very high-end product. The Twostroke hardtail MTB is as good as it looks and well worth thinking about for a new bike.

Features of the BMC Twostroke 01 FIVE

  • BMC Premium Carbon Fiber Frame
  • RockShox Judy Fork TK R
  • Shimano Deore 12 Speed Groupset
  • Shimano Brakes
  • SHL28OS Wheels with Vittoria Tires

I will start by saying this is one of the most classy-looking hardtails on this list. The Matt black finish and tan wall tires make it really stand out from the crowd, and it looks amazing. The first thing to note is you are looking at a premium BMC carbon fiber frame. This is a very light frame and a serious contender in an XC race. This is paired with a RockShox Judy fork giving 100mm – 120mm travel.

The groupset is a Shimano Deore, and you have your 12 speeds here, plenty of range for loose terrain or slippy climbing. We like the Shimano groupset because it’s amazing value for money and does perform excellently under all conditions. The brakes are also Shimano, and they are the MT200 which are going to work well no matter what the weather.

The wheels are the SHL280S. These are 29″ and are basic rims with solid Shimano hubs. Unlike many of the other bikes on this list, the tires on these are Vittoria tires. They are the Barzo and perfect for fast-rolling XC rides and races. Although this bike doesn’t come with a dropper, they have left space, so you can upgrade if required.

Pros

  • Looks Incredible
  • Carbon Fiber Frame
  • RockShox Suspension System
  • 29″ wheels with Shimano hubs
  • Solid reliable Shimano Gearing
  • Amazing value for money

Cons

  • Quite basic components

The BMC is a great base for upgrading. With this bike, you are getting amazing value for money, but really more than anything, you are paying for the frame. This is perfect for a bike to build on.

9. Marin San Quentin 2 Bike

Marin San Quentin 2 Bike

Marin has an amazing heritage for off-road bikes, and the San Quentin is an amazing bike of theirs. We highly recommend it because it is probably the best value for money bike on this list.

Features of the Marin San Quentin 2 Bike

Type: XC and Trail

  • Aluminum Frame
  • RockShox Recon RL
  • Deore 11 Speed
  • Shimano Hydraulic Disc Brakes
  • Marin own wheels 27.5″ with Vee Tires
  • TranzX Dropper

The Marin isn’t an expensive bike, but it has a lot of great kit and is a very good all rounder. Starting with the frame. It’s made of aluminum and is nice and lightweight but also very robust. The geometry is similar to a dirt jump bike, but with modern trail geometry, so you can imagine it’s going to be a lot of fun. Being rattled around isn’t much fun, but with the Quentin 2, you have a RockShox Recon RL fork on the front giving 130mm travel, so it’s not something to worry about.

The groupset is the Deore, but it is the 11-speed model, which still offers a huge range on an 11-51T cassette, so climbing is not an issue. It’s a strong groupset, and when it comes to the service, the parts are very cheap. The brakes are also Shimano, and they are the MT201 hydraulic brakes, so you get epic stopping power.

The wheels are Marin’s own 27.5″ rims, and although fairly heavy, they are very strong and can take a knock if you get a little too overconfident when there are some big rocks around. They are tubeless-ready and very easy to convert when required. The tires are the Vee Tire Flow Snap, and these are in a huge 2.6″. The setup will offer incredible grip and is wide enough for sloppy conditions. If you feel like you could use an extra hand, there’s a dropper too.

Pros

  • Price
  • Great Geometry
  • Very Strong and Robust
  • Tubeless-ready wheels and large tires
  • Dropper Post

Cons

  • Not the lightest bike
  • I would have loved to see a 12-speed groupset

The Marin San Quentin 2 is an amazing value for money bike and just offers so much for a very low price. We highly recommend it for beginners and amateurs.

10. Salsa Rangefinder

Salsa Rangefinder

If you are looking for a hardtail mountain bike for long-distance trails and maybe even some bikepacking, Salsa has made an amazing bike called the Rangefinder, and you need to know about it.

Features of the Marin San Quentin 2 Bike

Type: XC

  • Aluminum Frame
  • Suntour XCM32 Fork
  • Microshift 10 Speed Groupset
  • Hydraulic Disc Brakes
  • WTB Rims and Maxxis Rekon Tires in a 2.8″

The Rangefinder is a very impressive bike, and it comes in at about $1000, which is an incredible deal, in my opinion. The Aluminum frame is made for all day long comfort and can take on a nasty trail when required. It comes in a very sharp silver and does stand out lovely at a bike park. The suspension it has equipped is a Suntour XCM32. It gives you 120mm and is a solid, reliable fork.

The groupset is a Microshift 10-speed, and although fairly basic, it will get you up a hill easily and expect clean shifting. The bike comes with hydraulic disc brakes, and they are going to make shopping easy for you.

The wheels are a very nice surprise. They are using WTB ST i40 Rims in a 27.5″, and this is a very strong wheelset and even has 32 spokes which make it great for carrying luggage and heavy loads when bikepacking. It does have the capability also to use a 29″ wheel with a smaller tire. Speaking of tires, this bike has Maxxis Reckons. These are monstrous and come in a 2.8″. It might not sound like a lot, but that is an amazing contact patch to keep you upright.

Pros

  • Solid Aluminum Frame
  • Great Wheelset
  • Giant Tires
  • Suntour Fork
  • Great bikepacking rig

Cons

  • It will be fairly heavy
  • Big tires will feel laggy on the road

The Rangefinder is an excellent bike, and for people who want to get into mountain biking, it’s an ideal starter.

11. Best Budget: Diamondback Hook

Diamondback Hook

Diamondback makes an excellent bike, and even on their more budget bikes put a lot of time and quality into design and production. They keep it simple, and we have a lot of time for that.

Features of the Diamondback Hook

Type: XC Light Trail

  • Aluminum Frame
  • Suntour XCM Forks
  • SRAM X4 8 Speed
  • Hydraulic Disc Brakes
  • Diamondback wheels 27.5″

The Diamondback Hook is our cheapest bike on this list, and although basic, it is amazing for beginners or people who just don’t want to spend too much on a bike. The aluminum frame is solid, and it’s a bike designed to be fun on a trail but also offers a decent level of comfort when just riding with the family. The Suntour forks are excellent when it comes to flattening out the road, and 120mm travel on a bike like this is pretty ideal.

The gearing is the SRAM X4, it’s got 8 speeds, and it works on a 1x system. It doesn’t offer the range of the other bikes on this list and has fewer options, so steep hills could take some effort, but it will be fine for general riding. Unlike many bikes of this price, you actually get hydraulic disc brakes, and on an MTB, I feel it’s a huge advantage compared to mechanical brakes.

The wheels are Diamondback’s own and come in a 27.5″. Being the smaller size. It helps it feel much more agile, and it has smooth acceleration getting up to speed. They come with Vee Rubber Crown Gem in a 2.35″, they are going to give you the grip you need as far as trail bikes go.

Pros

  • Price is amazing
  • Strong Frame
  • Comfortable Geometry
  • Looks great

Cons

  • Gearing is a bit more limited
  • It will be heavy
  • Basic Components

If you are looking to get an amazing value bike just to get you started on the trails, the Diamondback is a great option. The price is incredible, and although you won’t see it winning races, it will be a good solid, reliable bike.

Mountain Bike Buyers Guide

Mountain Bike Buyers Guide
Image by Simon from Pixabay

Let’s say none of these mountain bikes take your fancy, and you’re looking for something else to ride. It can be so challenging to know what to look for as there are so many types of mountain bikes. In this next part, we are going to tell you what you need to look for to ensure your get the right bike for you.

Full Suspension or Hardtail

The first thing to make a note of is do you want a full-suspension mountain bike or a hardtail. Hardtails are mountain bikes with just suspension on the front. A full suspension will have suspension on the front and a rear shock. You will find full suspension bikes to be much more capable than hardtails, but they do cost more due to the extra components.

Type of Mountain Bike

Type of Mountain Bike
Image by pixmartin from Pixabay

There are many types of mountain bikes on the market, and depending on what riding you plan to do, you are going to want to ensure you pick the correct one. Although some might split it down differently, this is how we categorize mountain bikes generally.

XC / Cross Country

XC bikes are the lightest mountain bikes you get and typically come in the form of a hardtail or light full suspension bike. They are made for gravel roads and light trails, and because of this, you won’t often see much more than 130mm travel on the suspension. Geometry will be made for comfort and speed because XC rides can go on for a while.

Trails / All Mountain

Then you have trails and all-mountain bikes. These will normally be full suspension and offer travel around 150mm on the front and rear. They are made to take more challenging terrain than XC but still hold a certain comfort level. 

Enduro

Enduro bikes offer even more capabilities than trail bikes. They go up to roughly 170mm in travel and come with uprated brakes. Enduro racing is much shorter as far as course distances go, so expect the bike to feel quite aggressive. 

Downhill

Downhill bikes are the most capable mountain bikes you can buy and offer huge travel on the suspension up to 210mm and also have incredible braking power. They are made to be very aggressive as downhill courses can literally last minutes. They are heavier than other types of mountain bikes but the most capable by far.

Components

When looking at Mountain bikes, it’s also beneficial to speak about the parts and break them down so you know what to expect. When you do this, you will understand if it’s fit for your purpose and your riding.

Frame

Mountain Bike Frame
Photo by Joanne Reed from Pexels

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to the frame. I believe the most important parts are the material and the geometry. You mainly have two choices which are aluminum and carbon fiber. Aluminum is stiff. It is strong and will be able to take a hit. It is fairly light and is cheap to produce. Then you have carbon which is very strong, stiff, and incredibly lightweight. It’s not a material you are going to want to drop as it costs a lot to buy. 

Then you have geometry. Ensure to have a read about the geometry in the description of the bike. If you’re racing, you will want an aggressive bike to make you faster. If you just in it for long days out, you might want something more upright and comfortable.

Suspension

Mountain Bike Suspension
Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

When it comes to suspension, you first want to think about what kind of riding you have planned. As discussed earlier, it’s important to think about the riding you want to do and match the suspension. So for light off-road riding, you’re going to want 130mm suspension travel. If you are planning on doing some enduro races or downhill races, you will need 170mm to 210mm. 

Gearing

Mountain Bike Gearing
Image by Stefan Schweihofer from Pixabay

When it comes to gearing, it is very easy to overthink it. You get mountain bikes with 10×2 drivetrains, 1×12 drivetrains, and even 3×7. This does make it very complicated to know what you’re looking at. What you want to be checking is the range of your gears. That’s the most important thing when it comes to riding. 

How low do your gears go is normally the best question to ask as you will require lower gears much more than higher gears for mountain biking. The easiest way to tell is to count the teeth on the front chainring at the front and ensure the biggest cog on the rear cassette is bigger. 

Brakes

Mountain Bike Brakes
Image by olivermann on Pixabay

Brakes are a very important part of cycling, and ensuring you have good brakes goes a long way for your safety. When it comes to mountain bike brakes, you want to aim for two things. The first is always to go for disc brakes. They are very powerful and also work in all weather conditions. 

The second is if you are looking at disc brakes, you will want to get hydraulic disc brakes and not mechanical. Hydraulic means they use fluid to compress the pads, and they are just so much easier to use on your hands and to maintain. 

Wheels and Tires

Cyclist Riding a Mountain Bike with Lighter Wheels and Tires
Photo by Axel Brunst on Unsplash

You will typically find most mountain bikes come in two wheels sizes, 27.5” and 29”. They both have advantages and disadvantages for your riding. 27.5” wheels are smaller and very agile and can typically fit bigger tires. This means they will be excellent at working around obstacles and will feel very nimble. 

Then you have 29” wheels, and these are much better at rolling over obstacles and much better at higher speeds than 27.5” wheels. 29″ are harder to shift around an object and often come with smaller tires. For very technical terrain 27.5” will be more beneficial, for long-distance and light terrain than 29” as a rough guide.

Special Features

Always look for special features on your bike, as these can make a huge difference to your riding. Things such as dropper posts and adjustable geometry can really make a bike and are not often spoken about enough by manufacturers.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should a beginner spend on a mountain bike?

I believe it comes down to budget more than anything, but I wouldn’t go more than $2000 while your learning the ropes and know you’re probably going to be dropping your bike a lot.

Can downhill bikes do cross country?

Yes, they can, but the work will be harder as a downhill bike is much heavier.

Are electric mountain bikes good?

They’re excellent and even pros use them to get up and down trails now.

Do full suspension mountain bikes handle better?

Yes, the rear suspension helps a lot if you are unsure consider testing one from your local bike shop to experience the difference.

Conclusion

Mountain biking is a lot of fun, and we highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get fitter, make new friends, or generally wants to try something new. Getting the right bike for you will make the experience so much more enjoyable.

Expert Tip

When it comes to mountain biking, sometimes it is not about getting fitter, but it’s about learning more about bike control. Riding with more experienced riders can really help, and we recommend joining a club.

Did you know?

Typically when it comes to bikes and new technology, it originates in mountain biking. On road bikes now, we have disc brakes and 1X gearing systems, and these all came from mountain biking. 

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SaleBestseller No. 1
Mongoose Status 2.2 Mens and Womens Mountain Bike, 26-Inch Wheels, 21-Speed Shifters, Aluminum Frame, Front Suspension, Black/Red
  • Aluminum MTB frame with hydroformed tubing and a powerful front suspension fork is strong and reliable; 26-inch wheels fit riders 64 to 74 inches tall
  • 21-speed shifters make for smooth gear changes on every ride
  • Front and rear V-brakes ensure quick stops out on the trail
  • Light, durable alloy rims and 26x2.125" (diameter x width) tires roll over anything
  • Riser handlebar with colored end plugs completes the MTB look
Bestseller No. 2
Schwinn Traxion Mountain Bike, Full Dual Suspension, 29-Inch Wheels , Blue/grey
  • Schwinn aluminum dual suspension frame and powerful Schwinn suspension fork soak up bumps and thumps to provide you a durable riding experience
  • 24 speed shifters and front and rear derailleurs make gear changes easy and smooth
  • Front and rear mechanical disc brakes provide crisp all condition stopping out on the trail
  • Extra wide double wall alloy rims are light and strong for added durability; 2.25 inch wide knobby mountain tires are ready for bumpy terrain
  • Durable Schwinn alloy cranks provide steady gearing and less pesky maintenance on your end
Bestseller No. 3
Totem Electric Bike for Adults 26”, Electric Mountain Bike 350W Motor, 20MPH Victor Electric Bicycle with 36V 10.4Ah Removable Battery, E-MTB with Shimano 21 Speed Gears
  • Fast charge technology: 3A fast charger can recharge the battery in 2-3 hrs, 350W high-speed rear hub motor, providing higher output efficiency.
  • Powerful motor: 350W high-speed rear hub motor, which provides higher output efficiency.
  • Removable battery: 36V/10.4Ah removable battery features 3A fast charging function and includes security keys. Large battery capacity ensures extended ranges of 20-40 miles.
  • 21-Speed Shimano Gearset: Professional Shimano 21-speed gearing system will satisfy all your speed needs for any terrain.
  • Worry-Free Assembly: This electric mountain bike is 85% pre-assembled, comes with instruction manual and installation tools.

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Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri is a cyclist living in Norfolk in the UK. From breaking World Records to competing in some of the hardest Bikepacking races in the world he is not shy of riding the miles. He has been lucky enough to work at some amazing shops and with some big cycling brands. Alongside this he even had input in designing bikes and has also been a tester for unreleased products. He absolutely loves cycling and believes everyone should have a bike.