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Mountain biking is a fun sport that gets you in the great outdoors. And it only requires one piece of equipment, which is a high-quality mountain bike that’s built to keep you safe and comfortable while you’re doing tricks or riding trails. New mountain bikers will want to choose a bike that comes at a reasonable price. It should also have an effective suspension system, high-grade brakes, and a firm saddle.
The bike’s frame and wheels need to be the right size for the budding rider’s height and body type. And you must make sure that you like how the bike looks too. Fortunately, there’s a lot of fantastic bikes out there that are designed for new riders.
So that you can choose the very best mountain bike to begin your off-road riding journey, consider this list of ten of the best mountain bikes for beginners, as well as the buyers guide that follows it.
View The Best Entry Level Mountain Bike Below
1. Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike
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This mountain bike is an excellent option for anyone new to off-road biking. Why? Because it offers quality across the board without costing an arm and a leg. This Diamondback Overdrive bike has an exceptional 6061-T6 aluminum alloy, hardtail frame, which is hand-built by the Diamondback team. But one of the most impressive features of this mountain bike is its braking system.
It’s got Tektro disc brakes that are sure to keep you safe while you’re exploring new terrain on your first off-road bicycle. It’s got an Aceror derailleur so that you have 3 gears at the front of the bike, and another 8 gears at the back. This will help you to handle inclines. And to ensure that you don’t become uncomfortable when going over bumps or rocky ground, there’s a superb XCT fork that delivers 80mm of suspension travel. To top it all off, this bike is a real eye-catcher thanks to the cherry-red paint job.
+ 24 speeds to choose from
+ High-quality, aluminum, hardtail frame
+ 80mm of suspension travel
+ Gorgeous looks
+ Excellent value-for-money
Why We Liked It – In the entry-level price range, this bike is one of the best, as it’s got an exceptional hardtail frame, substantial suspension, and it looks great too.
2. Marin Rift Zone 2
Marin Bikes is one of the most highly-regarded bicycle manufacturers in the world. This bike is perfect proof of why the company is so loved. It’s a premium mountain bike that’s well worth the price. As you’d expect from Marin, it’s loaded with lots of thoughtful technology. For example, the MultiTrac suspension system is one of the best around.
It is highly effective at absorbing big hits and bumps while you’re out mountain biking. That’s because of the excellent pedaling platform that’s critical to the MultiTrac system. This bike also had internal routing, which means that all the cables are routed through the front triangle, so that the whole bike is a lot cleaner, and there’s no need to worry about the cables getting snagged on a branch. The Shimano BR-MT201 front and rear hydraulic disc brakes are exceptional too.
+ MultiTrac suspension system
+ Internal cable routing
+ Hydraulic disc brakes
+ Comfy saddle
+ Stainless-steel spokes
Why We Liked It – It’s a premium-quality mountain bike that’s one of the best on the market for the price. It’s a dream to ride. And the suspension system makes it perfect for the most rugged terrains.
3. Trek 820
This Trek bike is a great option for any budding mountain biker who wants quality for a budget price. It’s loaded with high-grade features that far outperform the low price tag that it’s available for. The steel frame is highly robust and durable, and this contributes to a much smoother ride.
It’s also got a shock-absorbing front suspension fork that offers an impressive maximum travel of 75mm. As you build up your skills of riding on the trail, there’s a good chance that you’ll want to bring along some accessories, just in case you fancy a picnic or something to drink, and this bike has an excellent rack mount so that you can easily attach your belongings to the bike.
+ Custom steel frame
+ Affordable price
+ Excellent suspension
+ Durable tires
+ Rack mounts
Why We Liked It – It’s got to be the best beginner mountain bike in this price range. It’s proof that you don’t need to break the bank to get an exceptional mountain bike that’s perfect for trail riding, thanks to the superb suspension system.
4. Raleigh Talus
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Raleigh has been making bikes since 1885, when the original factory was set up in Nottingham, England. And it’s impossible to make bikes for almost 150 years without figuring out what features matter and what don’t. This bike is a great mountain bike for beginners, as it’s not loaded with unnecessary frills, and instead simply offers what every new mountain biker wants.
You get a choice of 21 gears thanks to the Shimano EZ-Fire Trigger shifter. A smooth ride is ensured due to the SR Sun Tour fork, which gives you 75mm of travel. The high-tensile frame is made from hard-wearing, durable steel that’ll withstand years of trail riding. The Raleigh Plush Mountain saddle is one of the best around too, as it’s soft and firm, which is the ideal combination for any saddle.
+ Made by Raleigh
+ 21 gears
+ Plush saddle
+ Alloy V-Brakes
Why We Liked It – Raleigh has been making the best mountain bikes around for almost 150 years. It’s a company that you can rely on for quality. And this is a dependable bike that any beginner mountain biker will enjoy learning on. The price isn’t bad too.
5. Diamondback Hook
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The Diamondback Hook is built for riding trails. And every good trail bike requires an effective suspension system. The SR Suntour XCM suspension fork that’s incorporated into this bike is one of the best. It offers travel up to 120mm. But the SR Suntour fork isn’t the only good feature of this mountain bike. It’s also got Tektro Aries mechanical disc brakes, which are very effective and efficient. The frame is made from aluminum, as are the arm cranks, but the chainring is made from steel. This mountain bike has been designed to offer low-slung geometry, which is another reason why it’s well-suited to trail riding. It’s also one of the best-looking mountain bikes on the market, as it’s been given a gorgeous paint job. It’s easy to assemble, and it is a good price for beginners.
+ Perfect for riding trails
+ SR Suntour XCM suspension fork
+ Low-slung geometry
+ Gorgeous looks
+ Aluminum frame
Why We Liked It – This hardtail mountain bike is a reliable choice for any budding mountain biker, especially if you plan to ride trails, as it’s got an excellent SR Suntour XCM suspension fork and a durable aluminum frame.
6. Raleigh Tokul 3 Hard Tail Mountain Bike
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The Raleigh Tokul 3 is a superb trail mountain bike that’s fitted with lots of high-grade components that makes it an ideal choice for beginner mountain bikers. It’s got 27.5″ wheels that are fitted with very durable, Gem 8″ tires. There are loads of gears to choose from, thanks to the SRAM 1×11 drivetrain. The frame is made from aluminum, and it’s been painted red, which gives it classic, understated looks. The fork is an SR Suntour XCR-32 Coil, which gives you travel up to 120mm. This beginner mountain bike arrives partly assembled, but you don’t need any expertise or fancy tools to complete the assembly yourself.
+ Hard-wearing, 8″ tires
+ Aluminum frame
+ SR Suntour front fork w/ 120mm travel
+ SRAM 1×11 drivetrain
+ Tektro Auriga hydraulic disc brakes
Why We Liked It – It’s an excellent Raleigh mountain bike that’s got a superb front suspension fork that’s built to offer travel up to 120mm. It’s a lovely looking bike too.
7. Kona Mahuna
Kona makes fantastic mountain bikes. And the Kona Mahuna is undoubtedly one of the best beginner mountain bikes around. It’s full of high-quality components that offer a smooth, comfortable ride, regardless of the type of trails or terrains that you’re mountain biking on. It isn’t a dual suspension mountain bike, but instead has a RockShox 30 front suspension fork that delivers travel up to 100mm. The front and rear tires are both made by WTB and are 29″ by 2.25,” and they’re fitted onto the excellent WTB ST i27 TCS 2.0 wheels. Comfort is ensured when you’re sat on this mountain bike because of the Kona XC saddle. And this bike provides long-term durability due to the 6061 aluminum butted frame.
+ Kona XC saddle
+ 29″ wheels
+ Perfect for all terrains
+ Front fork offers 100mm travel
+ FSA Alpha Drive 1x Crankset
Why We Liked It – You always get quality from a Kona bike, and that’s what this one delivers across the board, with a comfy saddle, a durable frame, and superb tires that are designed for mountain biking on a variety of terrains.
8. Diamondback Bicycles Atroz
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Just like the Diamondback Overdrive, this bike is perfect for people who have little experience with mountain biking, and who want a quality mountain bike to learn on that suits their level now, as well as their future level once they’ve improved and learned how to use the bike properly. This is a full suspension mountain bike that has a hand-built 4″-travel frame that’s constructed from aluminum alloy.
It’s got an excellent Shimano hydraulic disc braking system, and they’ve got 180mm rotors on both the front and back. This mountain bike has an SRAM NX 11-speed drivetrain too, which one of the best around and is both simple to use and offers long-term durability. Diamondback bikes cost a little more than standard beginner mountain bikes, but the price is worth paying, as they’re built to last.
+ Full suspension
+ Aluminum alloy frame
+ Hydraulic disc brakes
+ Single pivot
+ 1×11 Speed drivetrain
Why We Liked It – It’s a beautiful mountain bike that’s got full suspension, a durable, aluminum alloy frame, and an exceptional braking system, which makes it a great bike for entry level mountain bikers.
9. Mongoose Impasse Mountain Bike
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This Mongoose bike has a sturdy, aluminum, full suspension frame that delivers a high level of performance, making it perfect as an entry choice for beginner mountain bikers. It’s got a superb 21-speed, rear derailleur, and also has SRAM twist shifters, which make changing gears an absolute breeze. The price is very reasonable for a bike of this quality.
And the silver paint job makes it one of the most eye-catching mountain bikes on the market. It’s suitable for riders of a wide range of heights, but it probably the best choice for anyone between 5’8″ and 6ft. The disc brakes are made from aluminum alloy, which enhances the sturdiness of this bike, and also ensures that it stops when you want it too, regardless of the terrain you’re riding on.
+ 21 speeds
+ Ideal for people between 5’8″ and 6′
+ Alloy wheels
+ Easy to assemble
+ Perfect for beginners
Why We Liked It – It’s one of those mountain bikes that’s easy to love. It’s sturdy, functional, and comfortable. The price is reasonable too. A safe investment for beginners to get as their first mountain bike.
10. Trek Roscoe 7
When it comes to mountain bikes that are fun to ride, then this is one of the best, as it’s built for rough terrain, thanks to the wide tires that are fitted to the 27.5+ wheels. It’s one of those bikes that inspires a lot of confidence in the rider, as it’s got a sturdy aluminum frame, as well as a 120mm RockShox Judy SL fork, which includes a hydraulic lockout. It also has a hydraulic disc braking system that will keep you safe too.
Another great feature on this mountain bike is the ability to lower your saddle whenever you want thanks to the dropper post, which you’ll enjoy messing around with when you’ve improved your riding skills. That’s why this hardtail mountain bike is so good. You can grow with it, as advanced riders will have as much fun with it as beginners.
+ Wide tires
+ Sturdy frame
+ Designed for a fun, lively ride
+ 120mm fork travel
+ Stainless steel spokes
Why We Liked It – It’s one of the most fun mountain bikes on the market. For an affordable price, you can get a bike that’ll be ideal for learning on, as well as to ride when you’re a more advanced rider.
Entry-Level Mountain Bikes Buyer’s Guide
There’s nothing more exciting than choosing your very first mountain bike. It’ll be the bike that you learn all the basics of mounting biking on. You’re going to have lots of happy memories with it when you take it out on the trail, learn your first tricks, and simply enjoy exploring the great outdoors on. But you want to make sure that you invest your money wisely.
The last thing you want is to spend your hard-earned cash on a mountain bike that’s not up to scratch. Once you’ve read all the bike reviews above, you’ll have an idea of what the best mountain bikes available are, and now, after reading this buying guide, you’ll also know what the key features of a quality beginner mountain bike.
The frame is the most important element of any bike, whether it’s a mountain bike or a racing bike. When it comes to mountain bikes, then the frame will differ depending on if it is a hardtail, which means that it simply has suspension at the front of the bike, or a full-suspension bike, which has shock absorbers at the front and the back of the bike. The frame for each of them needs to be made from a high-quality material that isn’t too heavy.
The most common materials used for frames are steel, aluminum, or an alloy of either of these metals. You might also find that the frame has been made from carbon fiber. All these materials have their benefits and drawbacks. For example, steel is a lot more durable than aluminum and tends to be able to deal with bumps a bit better, but it is also a lot heavier than aluminum, which makes it more difficult to maneuver, and this can be an issue if you want to be able to do tricks on your new bike.
The frame will often come in different sizes too. And you just need to ensure that you choose a bike that’s suited to your body type, height, and weight. Of course, a mountain bike that’s designed for a teenager won’t be ideal for a 6ft6 adult, so keep this in mind when you’re looking for your new bike.
Mountain bike riding means that you’re going to be cycling over rugged, bumpy terrain. You may be doing jumps or tricks on your bike too. That means that the suspension that’s fitted into the bike is going to be extremely important. As it has already been mentioned, you’ll either pick a hardtail, where it only has suspension at the front or a bike that’s got suspension at the front and back.
When it comes to the suspension, this is probably the biggest area where the amount of money that you’ll spend will make a big difference. The key to quality suspension is that the fork at the front is lightweight. A common fork that you’ll find on some of the best bikes for beginner riders will be the SR Suntour. This is an excellent component that instantly makes a mountain bike more forgiving when you’re riding over tough terrain.
A lot of good bikes will include compression damping. There are two main forms of this that you’ll find commonly integrated into the suspension system on a mountain bike. Lockout compression damping and fully open compression damping are the two types. Each manufacturer designs these differently, but they’re very useful to have, as they make it much more comfortable to ride over rugged terrain.
Two types of brakes are common on most modern MTBs, although, you may still find the old-style rim brakes on budget-priced bikes. The two types that you should choose between are mechanical disc brakes and hydraulic disc brakes. Mechanical disc brakes function pretty well, especially in wet conditions, which is always a drawback to the classic rim brakes. The only problem is that they lack the efficiency of the more expensive hydraulic brakes. Mechanical disc brakes don’t cost as much, but if you want a very good first bike that offers effective, efficient braking, then hydraulics are recommended over mechanical disc brakes.
Wheels and Tires
The wheels on MTBs will come in a range of sizes, and the one that you choose will depend on your own size, as well as the style of riding that you want to do once you get out on your beginner mountain bike. You’ll find that most bikes available will offer wheel sizes that are 26″, 27.5″, or 29″.
The 26″ option is ideal for younger or smaller riders. They are also used by freestyle riders, but you’ll probably want to get to grips with the basics before you’re attempting freestyle tricks, so you’re best only choosing 26″ if you’re a small rider.
27.5″ wheels are the standard for most adult MTBs. You can’t go wrong with this size for your first bike. Ensure that they’re fitted with quality tires. The thicker the tires, the more comfortable you’ll be when riding over rugged terrain. There is an option to get fat tires, but this is only recommended for riders who want to have the smoothest ride over bumpy terrain, and don’t like the idea of doing tricks, as these tires are a bit too heavy and thick for tricks.
29″ wheels are ideal for larger riders. And they’re also good for racing, but once again, because they’re larger and feature thicker, heavier tires, then they’re not suited to doing tricks.
The stock derailleurs in a lot of bikes for beginners will be high-quality. Shimano tends to manufacturer a lot of the derailleurs that you’ll find in a beginner mountain bike. These are quality components. They will tend to come in an 11-speed, 10-speed, or 9-speed version.
Most modern MTBs have a single chainring at the front of the bike. This is ideal, as it keeps the weight down and also makes shifting gears a lot more efficient too. Always make sure that the drivechain has been produced by a respectable manufacturer, such as Shimano, but you’ll find that good starter bikes will have a quality drivechain inside it anyway.
You’ve got to be comfy when you’re riding your bike. So, always ensure that the bike is fitted with a good saddle that’s received positive reviews from people who have tested the bike.
How much should I spend on my first mountain bike?
As with most things in life, the more money you spend, the better quality that you get. That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t some amazing mountain bikes around that are available for an affordable price. It’s realistic to get a budget first bike for around $500. Of course, this is at the bottom end of the price range.
If you want to get a first mountain bike that you’ll be riding for many years, as it will be designed for both beginner and intermediate riders, then you probably want to look to spend around $1,000 or more. There are good first mountain bikes available for everyone’s budget. The key is to pick one that’s safe, comfortable, and built to last.
What is the best cheap mountain bike?
The Trek 820 is one of the best low-priced mountain bikes on the market. It offers outstanding quality for a very reasonable price, and it should be considered by any budding rider who wants to make a great bargain purchase.
What is the best all-round mountain bike?
MTB riders of all skill levels adore diamondback bikes. They’re always built to very high quality, with a lot of attention to detail. The frames are usually handbuilt by a team of bike engineers at the Diamondback workshop, and they often include quality components, such as SRAM drivetrains. Diamondback’s Overdrive mountain bike is probably the best all-round mountain bike on the market.
And it’s well worth the money, as it will allow you to learn the basics of riding on it, as well to continue to provide you with a comfortable ride over all sorts of terrain for many years. Experts in the field highly recommend it.
Your most significant decision will be between a hardtail mountain bike or a mountain bike that’s got full suspension. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and both are suitable for beginners. But a hardtail is better suited to smoother trails and flat terrain. If you want to test yourself on rugged, difficult terrains from the beginning, then you’re best choosing a bike that’s got full suspension.
Did you know?
Although people had been using cruising bikes for mountain biking for some years, it wasn’t until Joe Breeze created the Breezer #1 in 1977 that a genuine mountain bike as we know it today was put onto the market.
Once you’ve set yourself a budget and know exactly how much you want to spend, you’ll be in a good position to choose your very first bike for riding on rough terrain and for doing tricks. Then you’ll have to work out what sort of suspension you want so that you can narrow down your choice to a hardtail or a full-suspension bike.
Once you’ve limited your choices, it’s time to have a look at all the key features – such as the drivetrain, saddle, and wheels – that you’ll find on MTBs. As long as the bike offers comfort, durability, and good value-for-money, then you should be onto a winner. And always remember, the best beginner bike is the one that will allow you to grow and keep riding on once your skills improve.