Best Mountain Bikes For Beginners

Mountain biking is a great sport for everyone. While all the jumps and downhill racing look extreme, there are many trails you can explore with every member of the family or friends.

Finding the best bike for beginners can be daunting as there are so many types. Here we bring together the top five mountain bikes and compare them against each other.

By the end of the reviews, we will see which ones deliver the best value to performance for your budget.

Mountain Bikes For Beginners

What is a Mountain Bike?

A mountain bike is designed to be ridden off road. While there are different types for different types of riding, they all follow the basic design.

Even a bicycle for beginners will come with nobly tires to deliver more grip on rough terrain. Frames will be upright and offer lots of clearance for when the going gets tough.

They are often made to be very durable and come with different kinds of suspension, or in some cases none at all. Along with this, they will have upgraded brakes and gears than regular bikes.

This means you can tackle the steepest inclines and stop when you need to whilst going downhill.

It doesn’t matter which discipline you wish to follow, be it just going along single tracks, racing or cross-country, there are affordable mountain bikes in every category.

Top Mountain Bike Brands Reviews

2018 Gravity FSX 1.0 Dual Full Suspension Mountain Bike with Disc Brakes, Shimano Shifting, Aluminum Frame

1. 2018 Gravity FSX 1.0 Dual Full Suspension Mountain Bike with Disc Brakes, Shimano Shifting, Aluminum Frame

The Gravity mountain bike comes with some features only found on top branded models. This was a surprise and a welcome inclusion for a bike that is ideal to be a beginner mountain bike.
One noted feature was the weight; this was light considering it is a full-suspension bike.

While being a perfect choice for mountain biking for beginners, casual cross-country and endurance racing, it is an adaptable dual-suspension mountain bike.

Add to this, its feature set, such as the Tektro Novela disc brakes are the best on the market.

Pros

  • Easy to assemble and repair
  • Great build quality and light
  • Fits a range of body sizes
  • Full suspension

Cons

  • May require more routine maintenance
  • Limited tire tread
  • Narrow travel on rear suspension

Technical Specifications

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Shifters: Shimano 24 speed
  • Brakes: Full disc, front, and rear
  • Weight: 38 pounds
  • Rims: Double Wall
  • Wheels: Quick release
  • Rear suspension: Single pivot

With a guide price of around $380, there is lots of value for the money. Build quality is excellent, and even surpasses some more expensive models.

It even leaves you some of your budget to purchase the best bike repair stand.

The Gravity FSX bike delivers all you could ask for in a bike, and this doesn’t just mean if you are looking at the best starter bikes.

No matter on your skill level, if you are after a bike in a set budget, then this could be the best mountain bike under $500.

Diamondback Overdrive 29 Hardtail Mountain Bike

2. Diamondback Overdrive 29 Hardtail Mountain Bike, Black

New mountain bikers may browse online or brochures and ask are Diamondback bikes good?

The brand is well known for their BMX bikes, and now they spread to become one of the best mountain bike brands.

The men’s Diamondback mountain bike being no different. The frame is hand-built from aluminum alloy to deliver one of the best mountain bike for the money. However, this may be outside some people’s budget.

With a Shimano drivetrain and all-around Tektro disc brakes, the Diamondback hardtail is rugged enough to tackle any trail.

Pros

  • Bike comes with all assembly tools
  • Great quality for the price
  • Can tackle large obstacles with 29-inch wheels
  • Very strong frame

Cons

  • Limited upgradeability as head tube isn’t tapered
  • Braking system not highly efficient
  • You can find it hard in rockier regions

Technical Specifications

  • Frame: Aluminum alloy
  • Shifters: Shimano 3 x 8 speed
  • Brakes: Full disc, front, and rear
  • Weight: 52 pounds
  • Rims: Double Wall, 32 hole with 22.4 ID
  • Warranty: 3 months
  • Rear suspension: No suspension

The Diamondback 29er mountain bike has a guide price of around $600, so this can stretch the budget of a beginner.

However, right from the easy assembly with the included tools, they make sure every rider can be ready to roll straight away.

With such a pedigree behind the company, you could find this is the best hardtail mountain bike under $1000.

Vilano 26″ Mountain Bike Ridge 2.0 MTB 21 Speed with Disc Brakes

3. Vilano 26″ Mountain Bike Ridge 2.0 MTB 21 Speed with Disc Brakes

The Vilano mountain bike is the first in these reviews, which has magnesium alloy wheels. While these can be durable, they may be more suited to lightweight riding. This would make it the best cheap mountain bike that looks different.

While it covers many sizes, it is smaller than many men’s bikes because of the 26-inch wheels. This can also mean it isn’t so good at tackling larger rubble on the trail.

Pros

  • Lightweight so ideal for large kids
  • Decent quality for the price
  • Comes with lots of Shimano equipment
  • Best entry-level mountain bike for beginners

Cons

  • Only available in one size
  • Brakes are not the best
  • Only 21 gears

Technical Specifications

  • Frame: Double-butted aluminum
  • Shifters: Shimano 21 speed
  • Brakes: Full mechanical disc
  • Weight: 41 pounds
  • Rims: Double Wall, 32 hole with 22.4 ID
  • Magnesium alloy rims
  • Rear suspension: Hardtail

The Vilano bike comes with a guide price around $299, so this does make it a lightweight mountain bike that is ideal for those who are on a tight budget.

With a double-butted aluminum frame, this is perfect for a smaller adult who wants something to zip around on that had good looks.

It may not be suited to the most rugged terrain, but it doesn’t try to be the most expensive mountain bike.

For lightweight trail riding, it delivers more than enough to casual riders who want to explore the great outdoors on two wheels.

Diamondback Bicycles Hook 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike

4. Diamondback Bicycles Hook 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike

The Diamondback 27.5 mountain bike is for those people who know what they want. They want a bike that can do pretty much anything.

While it doesn’t have the advantages of a 29er, it holds the middle ground between this and 26-inch wheels.

The frame is hand-built and highly rugged. The hardtail allows ridders to gain the most traction while the front forks soak up the worst of the bumps.

There would be a massive difference if you were comparing this to the best full suspension mountain bike under $2,000.

However, this bike aims at a very different market. If you check all the Diamondback mountain bike reviews, you can see how well it is favored, and apart from rear suspension, the rest of the bike is as good as any of the best full suspension mountain bike under $1000.

Pros

  • Lots of bike for the money
  • Requires very little assembly
  • Perfect geometry for comfort
  • Great brakes and suspension
  • Very stable and responsive

Cons

  • Only one color available
  • Now where to hold water bottles
  • Limited gears for some riders

Technical Specifications

  • Frame: Aluminum alloy
  • Shifters: SRAM shifter
  • Brakes: Tektro Aries front and rear discs
  • Weight: 32 pounds
  • Rims: Double Wall, 32 hole DP25
  • Warranty: 3 months
  • Rear suspension: No suspension

The hook is designed for riders who want to feel the thrill of fast-paced riding on a bike that is very responsive. It has an uncomplicated single ring drivetrain with the best brake discs you can get. With a SRAM shifter, you know you won’t be running into problems no matter how far you are riding.

With a guide price of just under $700, this is the top end for a beginner’s budget, yet this bike will last for years with some love and care after a spill here and there. It could be one of the best mountain bikes under $1000 you can find.

Raleigh Bicycles Tokul 2 Hardtail Mountain Bike

5. Raleigh Bicycles Tokul 2 Hardtail Mountain Bike

This Raleigh bike review looks at the first hardtail by the company. The company has a rich history, and almost every family has had a Raleigh sport bicycle at some stage.

The Tokul 2 has some classic looks, and with the white-walled tires, it has a unique feel. Under the aesthetics, you get a well-crafted aluminum frame, Tektro Auriga hydraulic disc brakes, and Shimano shifters.

Unlike many bikes, the one thing that stands out in Raleigh bicycle reviews is the limited lifetime warranty on the frame.

Pros

  • Handles nearly all trails
  • Great traction from the 27.5 wheels
  • Lightweight and durable – lifetime frame warranty
  • Great brakes in all weathers

Cons

  • No water bottle mounts
  • Lack of gears for extreme speeds
  • Styling appears dated
  • May need to replace pedals

Technical Specifications

  • Frame: Aluminum alloy
  • Shifters: Shimano Altus shifters
  • Brakes: Tektro Auriga front and rear discs
  • Weight: 30 pounds
  • Rims: Weinmann U28 tubeless compatible 27.5 inch
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime on frame
  • Rear suspension: Hardtail – no rear suspension

The Raleigh mountain bike may look a little on the bare side, yet it can handle anything you throw at it. With a guide price of around $700, this could be the best mountain bike under $1,500.

It is rugged and comes from one of the best bike brands ever. Any rider will still be hitting the trails with this bike for years, no matter how much dirt they tackle.

What to Look For When Buying a Mountain Bike for Beginners

When you want to get into mountain biking, there are some things you need to know. There are many various kinds of bikes, so you need to find the one which suits the kind of riding you wish to do.

Types of Mountain Bikes

Types of Mountain Bikes for Beginners

Trail Bikes: These are not specifically designed for one purpose. These are a perfect entry-level bike for getting out there with family and friends to tackle climbs and descents.

With a trail bike, you will find a middle of the road spec that delivers fun, efficiency, and bike weight.

Cross-Country Bikes: These are built for fast riding and ease of climbing. Cross-country trails can be a minimum of 25 miles, so these types of mountain bike are lightweight and very efficient.

Fat Bikes: A fat bike looks like nothing else. It has huge tires that are great on sand or snow. These can be a great beginner mountain bike as the big tires deliver stability.

All-Mountain Bikes: These are the serious bikes. They often come with a full suspension system on the front and rear, so they are made to handle anything.
They can take on the steepest of descents while being agile enough to tackle the steepest of climbs and rough terrain.

Downhill or Park Bikes: These are usually at the top end of the price range. Speed can be of the essence so they are likely to have 29 wheels. This enables them to ride over rough ground with ease.

Full Suspension vs. Hardtail

A full-suspension bike has a suspension fork at the front and a shock on the rear. This configuration helps to maintain traction when riding across rough ground at speed.

The downsides to these are the bike can feel as if it is bobbing on the rear suspension, this can make uphill climbing harder.

Bike manufacturing now includes suspension lockout, this means you can stiffen it as you are ascending.

Hardtail just have the front suspension, and the rear wheel is fixed. You can find these are not as expensive, and for beginners, they can be easier to get used to.

Hardtails are often more suited to cross-country as there is a better power transfer. Not only this, but they also require less maintenance.

Wheel Sizes

26 inch – this used to be standard, nowadays; they are limited for the smaller rider.

27.5 inch – these deliver responsiveness whilst having a good attack angle to tackle obstacles.

29ers – These will be slower on acceleration, yet once you are going, they will be much faster. They are also more suitable for longer rides.

Frame Materials

Mountain bike frames can come in different materials. The higher price tag models from the better-known bike brands opt for light aluminum, yet the most common material is aluminum alloy.

This offers the best price to performance as you can see in bikes from the manufacturer GT bicycles.

Other materials are steel, yet this is heavy. Titanium is very strong yet very expensive, as is carbon fiber.

This takes specialist construction methods and is more often found on cross-country bikes where there is a premium price to match.

Brakes and Gears

These are important because you need to go, and you need to stop. Many mountain bikes offer these components from several manufacturers because of reliability. Shimano and Tektro being two of the most popular.

Bike Size

Finding the right size can be as easy as heading to your local bike shop. Once you know the right size, you have all that you need when browsing.

A lot of the size can be dictated by wheel size, so generally, the smaller the wheel, the smaller the rider.

Best Mountain Bike for Beginners 2018 Gravity FSX 1.0 Dual Full Suspension

Final Verdict

After putting the best from the top mountain bike brands through their paces, we sat down and began going through the price to performance.

As we were looking for good starter bikes, one winner was showing itself above the others. The 2018 Gravity FSX 1.0 Dual Full Suspension Mountain Bike with Disc Brakes, Shimano Shifting, Aluminum Frame came out on top because it delivered in almost every area.

There were a couple of niggles, yet these were nothing serious. Being full suspension, this was something you only find on good mountain bike brands. While the rear suspension had limited travel, this actually helped whilst climbing.

With top components for gears and brakes and quick-release wheels, there wasn’t any area where this mountain bike was lacking.

You will see for the price, you will be looking at cheap mountain bikes, or ones, which lack many features.

If you want to start mountain biking, then you can do much worse than choosing the Gravity FSX.

Best Mountain Bikes For Beginners