Mountain bikes are a great way to get out and about. They offer you an excellent level of versatility which means you can escape the city and the tarmac and start having adventures in more exciting and beautiful places. To escape the tarmac, though, your bike has to be designed in a way that’ll handle some trickier conditions. Mountain bikes are defined by their upright frame geometry and their thick wheels.
Both of these features will allow you a good level of control in more challenging handling conditions. Mountain biking can also mean challenging routes that require even more carefully designed bikes. For these sort of rides, you’re also going to have to be thinking about your brakes and your suspension and whether or not they’re up to scratch.
In the article below we’ve reviewed a whole range of mountain bikes and explained what we like about them. In each case we’ve chosen some of their best features, offering a clear sense of each bike’s individual strengths.
Got a budget in mind? See these mountain bikes under $1500.
View The Best All Mountain Bike Below
1. Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men’s Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike
This is a strong offering from Schwinn. This full suspension mountain bike is made with an aluminum frame, meaning it’ll be nice and lightweight. In turn, that’ll mean it’ll be able to climb well up steep mountains. It has a full suspension system with a shock absorbing fork and single-pivot system at the rear. A full suspension system means that the Schwinn can be handled across an excellent range of terrains, including those that are particularly technical or tough.
It has a front disc brake and a rear alloy V-brake, offering a combination between the two main braking systems. Additionally, it has a 24-speed Shimano gear system with trigger shifter. This is a great level of range and will really help you on the climbs. Finally, it has sturdy wheels, featuring 32 spokes, offering an excellent level of durability.
+ Aluminum frame
+ Full suspension
+ Front disc and rear V-brakes
+ 32 spoke wheels
+ Alloy crank
Why We Like It – This is a mountain bike with a great range of features. The aluminum frame means that it isn’t too heavy, however. This bike will offer you a great level of versatility on the trails.
Bonus buy; safe mountain bike lights for nighttime.
2. Mongoose R2780 Impasse Dual Full Suspension Bicycle
This is a similar kind of bike from Mongoose. It too offers a full suspension system with an aluminum frame. The good thing about this is that it keeps the weight down. Often a full suspension system can mean a very heavy bike, but an aluminum frame means that this is balanced out. In addition to the frame and suspension, the Mongoose bike has a 21-speed Shimano gear system with twist shifters.
It is built with a range of great materials. For example, the wheels are made from a strong alloy. There’s a quick release skewer on the front wheel. This means it can easily be removed if you want to put it in the trunk of your car. In addition, the bike has front and rear disc brakes offering the best level of stopping power in all conditions.
+ Lightweight aluminum frame
+ Element Suspension fork
+ Single-pivot rear suspension
+ 21-speed Shimano gear system
+ Alloy wheels
Why We Like It – This is a mountain bike that would be suitable for a rider who really wants to engage in some of the more technical aspects of the sport. It has a full-suspension system without being too heavy and would perform really well on a variety of more difficult conditions.
3. Kent KZ2600 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike
Something particularly appealing about this frame is the floating-bar suspension system. It is an adaptation of the straightforward single-pivot system featured on the Mongoose and the Schwinn. The floating-bar system offers slightly more progressive suspension, which gives a little more comfort. In addition, the front fork offers a 65mm of travel. Overall this means that the bike has an impressive suspensions system, offering a bike that will give you a comfortable ride in addition to improved handling.
There’s a 21-speed Shimano speed system with a rear tourney derailleur. The frame is made from aluminum, meaning that the whole bike is surprisingly lightweight. At the front, the wheel’s feature a disc brake and there’s a V-brake on the rear wheel. The frame is well balanced and offers a great ride for the price.
+ Well-balanced aluminum frame
+ 65mm of fork travel
+ Floating-bar rear suspension
+ 21-speed Shimano gear system
+ Alloy wheel rims
Why We Like It – This is a good looking bike that has an exciting suspension system. The floating-bar system offers progressive cushioning without being over complicated. In combination with the well-balanced aluminum frame, the result is a bike that is a pleasure to ride on even some of the trickiest trails.
4. Huffy Escalate 21 Speed Hardtail Mountain Bike
This is a bike that is predominantly designed for a younger rider. It comes in a variety of frame sizes to suit a range of heights. Additionally, there are several options for frame design and geometry, including women’s design frames. This means you can make your own decision based on your height and personal preferences. The frame is lightweight aluminum and is covered by a 10-year manufacturing warranty.
It’s a hardtail mountain bike that means it doesn’t have rear suspension. This doesn’t have to be a disadvantage: front suspension can offer an excellent level of cushioning, and the lack of rear suspension considerably reduces the weight. The result is something that can accelerate well and tackle hills with ease. There’s an all-Shimano drivetrain which results in a high level of pedaling efficiency.
+ Perfect for younger riders
+ Choice of frame design
+ Lightweight model
+ ATB saddle
+ Forged crown in the front fork
Why We Like It – If you’re shopping for a younger rider, then you should strongly consider this model. The frame choices will mean you can get a bike that really fits. In addition, it is lightweight and easy to handle.
5. Schwinn Bonafied Mountain Bike
This is a serious-looking bike that comes with serious design features. The Schwinn Bonafied model will offer you great capability on the trails at a surprisingly affordable price. It has an aluminum mountain frame that gives a great weight ratio and allows you to reach some impressive speeds. It’s a hardtail bike, meaning it doesn’t offer rear-wheel suspension. In order to partially compromise for this, what stands out about this bike is its wheels. They’re an almost-scary 29″.
This means they’ll give you a great level of stability and allow you to reach some excellent speeds, particularly while moving downhill. They’ve got high-profile double walls which are lightweight but offer great durability, meaning the wheels can take a decent pounding. The mountain bike tires are 2.25″ thick and well-treaded, giving great stability. The bike has front and rear disc brakes, which provide excellent stopping power in a range of conditions. This is important because you might end up going pretty fast on this bike.
+ Impressive hardtail bike
+ Double-walled wheels
+ Front and rear disc brakes
+ Potential for high speeds
+ Aluminum frame
Why We Like It – This bike is a great choice for someone looking for a hardtail. It offers a good level of cushioning through the front fork and because of its overall low weight, it means you can build up some real speed on it. Overall, a great bike.
6. Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bikes
This is another set of bikes that have a range of frame sizes. This means you can choose something that’ll be suitable for almost any size of rider. All of the bikes come as hardtails, with front fork cushioning to balance out any rockiness in the road. The largest frame size comes with impressive 29″ wheels, offering a good level of speed and balance.
The frame is made from steel, offering excellent durability down some of the tougher trails. The compromise is that steel adds a little weight. The mountain bike seat post has a quick-release clamp meaning it can be adjusted quickly and without any tools. This is ideal if the bike is being shared or if the rider is growing fast!
+ Good range of frame sizes for all riders
+ 21-speed system
+ Alloy wheels
+ Uncomplicated design
+ Range of color choices
Why We Like It – This is definitely a bike to consider if you’re shopping for your family. It comes without some of the high-end features but often that makes for a less complicated, more enjoyable ride. This is a versatile bike that would suit an entry-level rider.
7. Huffy Mountain Bike Summit Ridge
This is a range of bikes that are generally designed to suit riders 5’10” and under. The maximum frame size is 17″ but there are also options for younger and shorter riders. This means that it is a great option when shopping for your children, who might need a more precise fit. In addition, the wheels come in a variety of sizes too. It’s a hardtail bike with Kolo 1200 front suspension that can handle a variety of bumps and dips and still provide a comfortable ride.
The handlebars are slight-rise which enables a more upright riding position which reduces back and shoulder strain, especially on longer rides. Because it cuts down on some of the extra features, like disc brakes, it means it is very affordable. It is great for someone who is just starting out in mountain biking and isn’t ready to invest heavily yet.
+ Variety of frame sizes available
+ Perfect for younger riders
+ Slight-rise handlebars for comfort
+ Kolo 1200 front-suspension
Why We Like It – A great entry-level beginner mountain bike. The variety of options means that you can choose the perfect one to fit almost any member of your family. It’ll perform well and be an enjoyable ride on less technical trails.
P.s. don’t forget mountain bike shorts!
8. Schwinn Men’s Protocol 2.7 Mountain Bike
In some ways, this is a fairly similar bike to the Schwinn Bonafied. The big difference is that the Protocol offers a full-suspension system. While this adds some weight, it also means that it’ll give you extra cushioning on the bumpier and more technical trails. It comes with a 21-speed Shimano gear system, using a trigger mechanism for shifting.
Like the Bonafied, it has high-profile double-walled wheels which are incredibly durable without being too heavy. The wide 2.25″ will mean excellent stability on all kinds of terrain. The bike feature front and rear disc brakes, offering excellent braking power in all sorts of conditions.
+ Full-suspension system
+ Agile and responsive ride
+ Disc brakes front and rear
+ Lightweight alloy crank
+ Trigger shifters
Why We Like It – This bike offers all the features you might want in a mountain bike. It has a great weight ration without compromising on stability and agility. A bike that’ll take you comfortably up and down some of the tougher trails.
9. RALEIGH New 2015 Talus 2 Complete Mountain Bike
This is a good-looking straightforward, hardtail bike that comes in a variety of frame sizes to suit different sizes of rider. It has a lightweight frame that’ll see you achieve some impressive speeds. The front fork offers a good level of cushioning, meaning that you can pursue a variety of off-road trails with ease. It has V-brake suspension and offers easier maintenance. It does, however, mean you might have a trickier time stopping in rough conditions.
It is a bike that would be suited to a rider who wants to ride on tarmac and on trails. The design means that it is almost a hybrid bicycle and would suit a commuter well who was looking for a versatile way to get around on a bike that also has some off-road capability. The wheels are well-sized, and the tires have strong treads, meaning that the Talus 2 can offer this versatility.
+ Large, 27.5″ wheels
+ Upright, comfortable geometry
+ 21-speed gear system
+ Potential for commuting
+ Lightweight design overall
Why We Like It – If you want something that can nip around town and also take you on some light off-road adventures, the Talus 2 is well suited for you. It’s a no-nonsense bike that will be extremely fun to ride. It’s uncomplicated but built to last.
All Mountain Bike Buyers Guide
When you’re choosing what mountain bike to purchase there are lots of things you’ll want to consider. The biggest thing to bear in mind is what level of mountain biking you want to engage in. It’s a sport that can be engaged in a variety of levels. Maybe you want a bike that can be ridden on the tarmac with occasional use on trails.
If, however, you’re looking to ride some technical trails, you’ll want a bike that has a wider range of features. In this buyer’s guide, we’ve discussed some critical components that you should be looking for, depending on your planned usage.
It is really important that your bike fits you, especially if you’re planning on using it a lot. If a bike fits you well, it’ll also be much more comfortable. If you’re a shorter rider, or you’re buying for a child, then you should look for a bike that’ll have a slightly smaller frame. Always check the frame size before you buy, because it’s important to get the right fit.
Geometry is also important. An upright geometry is standard for mountain biking, this is because it gives you more control while riding and a good view of the track. Some geometries offer an even more upright position, which is more suitable for longer rides.
Women’s frames are also an option. They offer a partial step-through design and a higher level of stepover clearance. This can be more comfortable and can be useful with a rider with limited mobility.
In terms of materials, all mountain bikes need to be sturdy. This is because when you’re riding the trails, you can expect your frame to absorb a lot of shocks. So, you’ll need to choose a bike that can cope with that level of impact. From the bikes we’ve reviewed, you can choose from a steel or aluminum frame.
A steel frame is especially strong but is heavier. It’ll also be cheaper. An aluminum frame is much lighter weight and will be strong enough for all but the hardest of usages. The lightness of the frame will mean you can climb hills more easily.
The suspension is something that a lot of mountain bikes feature. It not only makes for a more comfortable ride but prevents jumping and gives you a higher level of handling. You can choose a model without suspension, but they might struggle on more tricky trails.
In terms of suspension options, you can either choose a hardtail model or something with full suspension. A hardtail bike only features suspension on the front wheel, but a full suspension model will include suspension on the back wheel. Often, a hardtail bike is perfectly sufficient for most mountain bike needs. Most of the shock while riding goes through the front wheel, so it’s the most important place to have suspension. Not having rear wheel suspension means that you’ll have a more lightweight bike too.
For the most challenging off-road trails, a full suspension bike is extremely useful. It can dramatically increase the handling of potential and responsiveness. Particularly if you’re jumping and landing on the back wheel.
Wheels & Tires
Your wheels are very important because they’re where your bike meets the ground. Off-road conditions are often quite unstable. This means you need more contact with the ground. That’s why mountain bike tires are thick and knobby: they make a lot of contact with the terrain in order to give you a high-level of stability.
In general, a thicker tire will give you more stability so if you’re planning on tackling tougher trails, then it is important to choose some thick tires. This is particularly important if you choose a hardtail model, as they can take some of the pressure off the back wheel and compensate for a lack of suspension there.
Wheels should also be sturdy. The best way to achieve this is to have plenty of spokes, guaranteeing that they stay true even under heavy impact.
Size is also something to consider: a larger wheel is generally a bit quicker and will give a good level of stability. A smaller wheel will give you better maneuverability and handling potential. This can be useful on more technical trails.
When you’re racing downhill, you need to be confident that you can stop quickly. You can choose between V-brakes or disc brakes. V-brakes are more mechanically straightforward, easier to maintain, and lighter. They’re generally available on better value bikes.
Disc brakes, however, offer superior stopping power, especially in tough weather conditions. Because off-road cycling often means mud and rain, this means they can often be a better choice. If you’re planning on riding in more difficult conditions, disc brakes are probably the way to go. There are bike models that offer a combination of V-brake and disc brakes.
When choosing your mountain bike you want to consider your budget and what you’ll be using your mountain bike for. It’s really important to find a frame that will fit the rider you’re buying for. There’s plenty of options on our list for children or shorter riders, so make sure you check what size of frame you need before purchasing. Beyond that, the most important thing to bear in mind is what level of bike you’ll need.
The more serious features, as described above, mean that you can ride more difficult trails safely. Of course, if you don’t mind so much about tackling hardcore mountain biking trails, you can choose a different sort of bike. Whatever kind of mountain bike you’re looking to buy, you’ll be able to find an excellent bike on this list.
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