Best Mountain Bikes 2016: The Complete List ($100 to $3000)

Are you looking for a mountain bike? Browsing through websites online, looking for the best price-value combination?

If the answers on our questions are “YES”, you are in for a treat.​

Mountain bikes originate from 1896 ; the rough terrain of Yellowstone in the United States was a big challenge for bikes during that time. Since then, mountain biking grew to become a popular sport for adventure seekers all over the world. Many are opting for this sport today, since it brings a lot more adrenaline to the bike riding, and it’s much more interesting than road cycling.​

No matter if you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, when buying a mountain bike, there are a number of things to consider. Here is a buyers' guide to help you get the perfect mountain bike.​

**We update our mountain bike picks bi-weekly to make sure you have the newest information.​ Last Updated July 24, 2016

9 Things To Consider When Buying a Mountain Bike

1. Mountain Bike Riding Styles

The way you ride determine the bike you will need. Different bikes are made for different terrains and uses. Knowing what type of riding you will be doing the most will influence the type of bike that you will need; pick your bike according to your riding.​

Trail Mountain Bikes

  • People who are riding on trails are not necessarily riding for speed. They are more focused on the thrill of the jumps, rough trails and some speedy areas as well. However, they will need to be able to go both uphill and downhill efficiently. This bike is made more for all-terrain, leisurely riding. Many of these bikes will have 27.5" tires.​
  • A trail bike is equipped with more travel than other models and it is directed to trail centers, making jumps, drops, and generally for you to have fun. They are meant for the trail, but you will be able to ride them for all-day events or wherever you like. A best trail mountain bike can do almost anything, and they weigh more than a cross-country bike. They fall between a bike for free-riding and cross-country bikes.

XC / Cross-country Mountain Bikes

  • Generally, cross-country bikes are the lightest mountain bikes available. That's because they are made to travel long-distance trails with few obstacles. These bikes have short suspension and do not handle jumps well. They are some of the most efficient pedalers, though.
  • When it comes to cross-country riding, you should only use bikes that are built for it especially because you will be riding for a long time. Not all bikes will make you feel comfortable enough during those long trails , because some have seats that will hurt your rear after a while and other bikes do not have the proper suspension for cross-country.
  • The best XC mountain bikes are built for fast riding so expect them to be light in weight. They also come with a wide set of gears so you are given more freedom to speed up and slow down. More and more people are getting into cross-country riding these days for the enjoyment of riding through some beautiful natural areas and a sense of adventure​.

All-mountain / Enduro Mountain Bikes

  • All-mountain bikes are made to handle both inclines and declines smoothly. They weigh slightly more than the cross country bikes because of a sturdier frame and stronger suspension.
  • Because of this, Enduro bikes can handle the downhill ride and some jumps that the cross country bike would not be able to manage well. Despite their name, these bikes are not made for the steepest of inclines because of the heavier weight.
  • A great advantage of these bikes is that these bikes have slightly wider tires, increasing the grip significantly.​

Downhill / Park Mountain Bikes

  • ​Downhill bikes are NOT made to ride uphill. In fact, because of their geometry, it will be almost impossible. These bikes are heavy, and they are meant to withstand heavy drops and high obstacles. They generally have shocks added to them to endure more abuse. These bikes are for daredevils with quite a bit of experience jumping and flying big distances.
  • The best downhill mountain bike will be able to withstand an impressive amount of impact and handle rough slopes, holes, and obstacles that other mountain bikes can’t. Downhill mountain bikes are also very stable. The suspension they are equipped with live up to its promise, and you can easily press on the brakes whenever you need to.

Freeride Mountain Bikes

  • Freeride bikes are made to go downhill, but they will be able to go uphill as well. They have lighter tires and are lighter in general. However, they still have a very high suspension. These bikes can withstand a lot of impact, but you can take a freeride bike uphill (even if it isn't so easy).
  • When talking about the best freeride mountain bikes, these are the ones made especially for downhill, dirt, and jump riding that also involves tricks. It lets you do different styles of tricks with your bike.
  • The wheels of freeride bikes are also made for off-road riding so you can expect that they have a firm grip on the road, and the bike will remain stable and sturdy while hitting the rough terrain. These bikes are very agile, and the frames are lightweight, so riders can easily shift positions when doing tricks.​

2. Mountain Bike Suspension Types

The suspension is the mechanism that allows your bike to jump and drive over obstacles. The bumpier terrain or more jumps during your ride, the better suspension you will need.​

Hardtail Mountain Bikes

Hardtail suspension means that there are shocks at the front. These bikes will generally be less expensive than full suspension bikes. They also will not be able to manage as much punishment as bikes with full suspension.

This certain type of bike has a very solid frame because it has a suspension fork at the front and when it comes to climbing, the pedaling power on the rear wheel is better. If the surface is not very hard, you will be able to increase the speed right away, and when the trail becomes more complicated, not having a rear suspension will help you go uphill or reaching higher speeds.

If you are particular about weight, a hardtail bike is a good choice because they are usually light in weight. Hardtail mountain bikes are less complicated to maintain compared to other types of bikes. The best hardtail mountain bikes on Amazon.com:

Full Suspension Mountain Bikes

Full suspension (dual suspension) means that there are shocks both in the front and the back. Bikes with full suspension are heavier than hardtail mountain bikes. They are more expensive as well.

With that being said, full suspension bikes are easier to control (even at high speed), and they make for a more comfortable ride rider. You will be able to ride in a more relaxed manner, because the shock absorbers are more efficient than ones on the hardtail bike.

There is also better traction on the road because the front and back wheels have the capacity to handle the bumps equally, and this gives you a better control of the bike. Since the wheels are able to give a good traction, you will be able to accelerate and decelerate quicker. Stopping will also be very accurate on a full suspension bike.

Full suspension mountain bikes are very versatile and you will be able to ride them anywhere because of the exceptionally comfortable ride they provide. You will be able to enjoy the outdoors even more with this type of bike because the terrains and bumps will no longer be a hassle for you. The best full suspension mountain bikes on Amazon.com:

3. Mountain Bike Budgets

For new mountain bike riders in particular, the budget is going to be a huge factor in which mountain bike you buy. In general, beginners will want to purchase a cheaper mountain bike. Once you are skilled and know more about the exact specs you need, it will be worth your time to check the particular (costlier) types.

A better approach is to determine your budget first. When you know how much you want to spend on a mountain bike, you’ll have the approximate idea which model will suit your needs. We’ve separated all mountain bikes on Amazon.com in price ranges, so you can pick according to your budget and style.

Mountain Bikes Under 200​

At this price point, expect to see a lot of bikes made of aluminum. It is lighter than steel, but it is a less smooth ride. Mountain bikes under $200 won't be able to take the hardest of impacts; expect the mountain bike to come with a hardtail suspension. Expect rim brakes, and low-quality equipment (derailleurs, chain, gears, shifters).

Don’t think if they are cheap that they won’t be any good for you. They are equipped with features enough for any beginner to start mountain biking. These bikes are great for people who want to ride around the neighborhood or practice with. The best mountain bikes for sale under 200 dollars:

Mountain Bikes Under 300​

Aluminum is still going to be the most popular material for bikes at this price point. It is lighter, more durable, less corrosive, and cheap for production. Since rim brakes are the least expensive, most mountain bikes under $300 will have these brakes.

You might think, what is the difference between these two price classes? These bikes come from credible brands. These brands have been in the business for a long time and already understand what people are looking for. They have managed to include good features in a bike while keeping the price minimal. The best mountain bikes for sale under 300 dollars:

Mountain Bikes Under 400​

For under $400, you may see bikes that come with full suspension. The problem with these bikes is that they are going to be far too heavy. As most inexpensive mountain bikes, aluminum is the best option for the frame material.

You may be able to find a bike with disc brakes, but they will likely be cable-operated. You also won’t have a hard time upgrading to a much more expensive bike if you start out with a mountain bike under $400. The best mountain bikes for sale under 400 dollars:

Mountain Bikes Under 500​

If you're looking for something with larger wheels, you will probably find a good mountain bike for under $500 with 29" wheels. No surprise here, the best bikes for under $500 all have the aluminum frame that has become popular with inexpensive mountain bikes.

One thing that you want to be sure to look for is that you avoid overly elaborate frames. Don't spend money on style at this price. That will only take away from important things. The best mountain bikes for sale under 500 dollars:

Mountain Bikes Under 600​

If you are determined to full suspension, despite the extra weight you might find some worthwhile options under $600. Remember, a bike that weights too much might not give you the speed that you want on trails and might be impossible to take uphill.

Most brakes in this price tag will have cable-operated disc brakes. Also, most bikes will be made of aluminum. Mountain bikes under $600 will have features that you will be able to choose from depending on your riding goal. The best mountain bikes for sale under 600 dollars:

Mountain Bikes Under 700​

Know what features matter the most to you. For this price you can find fast, light bikes with good brakes. You can also find durable bikes that can withstand a lot of power.

If you know what means the most to you, you will be able to find a bike that suits your needs the best for under $700. Just know that you’ll might have to compensate some strengths and weaknesses. They already have great suspension, brakes, different types of frames, and size of wheels. The best mountain bikes for sale under 700 dollars:

Mountain Bikes Under 800​

At $800 price tag, you can get a bike that will provide a great combination of light and powerful. That's because at this class, lighter materials are used, alongside with larger tires and full suspension.

Even if these bikes are not the most expensive ones, they are still able to provide the best riding experience because they are also made by the most reputable bike companies. The best mountain bikes for sale under 800 dollars:

Mountain Bikes Under 900​

You will find the bikes made from light materials, you will see full suspension and large tires, you will also see hydraulic disc brakes in this class.

These bikes already have the features of more expensive bikes, but the manufacturer has managed to mix it in with other features that will not raise the price of the bike too much so with these, you are getting a good deal overall. The best mountain bikes for sale under 900 dollars:

Mountain Bikes Under 1000​

For under $1000, you can really start to enjoy some stylish looking bikes. Most bikes in the $1000 price tag are made of titanium or carbon fibers. They will have either cable-operated or hydraulic disc brakes. Also, there will be plenty of options with full suspension.

Determine where the bike will be ridden and check if the specs are good enough for the areas where you plan ride it. Specific mountain bikes under $1000 are better for riding on terrains, trails, bumps, and other obstacles on the road. The best mountain bikes for sale under 1000 dollars:

Mountain Bikes Under 1500​

Most of the highest-rated bikes at this price point were made out of carbon fiber, but aluminum was still the main material in one or two of the options. Within this price range, you will be able to choose from different kinds of frames so get one that will be appropriate for your riding goals.

If you’re choosing a mountain bike for under $1500, you are not limited too much. Even expert athletes can choose a bike in this category. They will give you a superb riding experience and all of them have certain features that make them unique from each other. The best mountain bikes for sale under 1500 dollars:

Mountain Bikes Under 2000​

Bikes in this price tag are made out of titanium or carbon. You will also find plenty of bikes with full suspension and hydraulic disc brakes. These bikes will be light enough to gain speed and go uphill but will be fully capable of taking the impact.

Mountain bikes under $2000 already come with a very durable frame. If you prefer a bike that has a carbon fiber, hand-built, or aluminum alloy frame, you will find them within this price range. You will also have more options for the suspension and gears of the bike. They are very easy to assemble, control, and ride. The best mountain bikes for sale under 2000 dollars:

Mountain Bikes Under 3000​

These bikes are very durable, high-quality downhill bikes. They can be made out of a number of materials. You can expect full suspension and larger, 29" wheels. Any bike at this point will come with advanced hydraulic disc brakes, high-class gears and derailleurs, even with a dropper post – hydraulic seat.

Mountain bikes under $3000 are able to deliver high-class performance and the features are more advanced compared to bikes in lower price classes. These bikes are built to be ridden under extreme circumstances because they are equipped with top features and you can expect nothing but endurance and stability from these bikes.

Before purchasing a mountain bike that is under $3000, you should understand the components of the bike because you are no longer buying an entry-level mountain bike. You need more expertise and experience in handling a bike with this quality. The best mountain bikes for sale under 3000 dollars:

4. Mountain Bike Brands

The brand name is everything with mountain bikes. If you buy a branded bike, you know that you will have the support necessary if something goes wrong. The brand name companies have generally been making mountain bikes for a long time. This means that they have modified problem areas and learned how to make the best bikes possible.

The three most popular mountain bike brands on Amazon.com are Diamondback, Mongoose, and Schwinn.

Diamondback

Mongoose

Schwinn

On the global market, the most popular brands are:

Scott

Giant

GT

Cannondale

Merida

Trek

Specialized

Santa Cruz

5. Mountain Bike Wheel Sizes

Wheel size can be a person preference. However, different sized wheels will have different weights, have different strengths and weaknesses, and work best on different terrains.​

24-Inch-Wheel Mountain Bikes

  • These wheels are lighter and easier to maneuver. However, these wheels are also less sturdy. These are not necessarily ideal for mountain bikes. These are generally used more for BMX bikes and other street bikes. These wheels won't be able to withstand much impact.
  • A 24 mountain bike means that they have 24-inch wheels and they are primarily made for bigger children because of their size. They don’t have training wheels and they can be used to train for mountain riding. They also have a type of suspension that is built for heavy duty riding and not for the road.​

26-Inch-Wheel Mountain Bikes

  • 26" wheels are the most popular in mountain bikes. In fact, for the longest time, these were generally the only option available. These tires are the fastest downhill.​

27.5-Inch-Wheel Mountain Bikes

  • These sized wheels are some of the newest in the industry. They are made to have the downhill speed and lightness of the 26" wheels combined with the strength, power and uphill ease of the 29" wheels.​

29-Inch-Wheel Mountain Bikes

  • The largest option for the wheels on a mountain bike is 29". While these larger wheels may weigh more, they can ride over more obstacles than smaller wheels. This can be particularly useful in rocky areas or other areas with many obstacles.
  • It may be more difficult for these wheels to pick up speed, but they do better going uphill. These are also recommended for taller mountain bike riders.
  • One thing that highlights a 29-inch-wheel mountain bike is its bigger ground coverage compared to other bikes with smaller wheels. Due to this, they are able to conquer terrains better and they give you more angular momentum.​

6. How To Measure Mountain Bikes To Find The Appropriate Size

If you don't fit on your mountain bike properly, you will not have the best experience riding it. That’s why bikes are made in different sizes and assembled differently for genders as well.​

Men's Mountain Bikes

The first thing to do to size your mountain bike is stand over it with your feet flat on the floor. You want a distance of 1 - 3" from the frame to your inseam. Generally, people of a certain height will fit a certain frame size:​

People

Should use a frame between

4'10" - 5'3"

13" - 15"

5'3" - 5'7"

15" - 17"

5'7" - 5'11"

17" - 19"

5'11" - 6'2"

19" - 21"

6'2" - 6'4"

21" - 23"

Over 6'4"

23" or higher

**Remember, these are generalizations. You may fit better on a bike outside of these recommendations.

When choosing a men's mountain bike, you need to look for the features that will be able to comply with the riding goals of men. You need to choose a bike that is not only easy to ride on the trails but will also be able to run smoothly no matter where you ride it.

Women's Mountain Bikes

Some bikes are specifically made for women. This means that the bike is made to accommodate specific body differences between male and female riders.

Women's bikes will generally weigh less because women typically weigh less. These bikes are also made to accommodate longer legs and shorter torsos. Not all women will fit these generalizations.

When talking about women's mountain bike expect the bike to have a feminine touch to its appearance and you will immediately notice how the bike looks because the color is cute.​

Kid's Mountain Bikes

Children grow so quickly. Luckily, most bike companies understand this and try to make children's bikes adjustable. Generally, you can move the seat as the child grows taller. What you'll want to pay attention to is the height of the tires on the bike. As a general rule:​

Wheels

Are best for a child between

12-inch wheels

28 - 38 inches

16-inch wheels

38 - 48 inches

20-inch wheels

48 - 60 inches

It's time to look into adult bikes

Over 60 inches

While your kids are growing up, it is important that they get involved in any form of physical activity to help them develop strength, endurance, and the habit of incorporating exercise into their lifestyle. Riding a mountain bike is a great way to help them become physically fit.

When buying a mountain bike for your kid, make sure that is it the right size and check for safety options of the bike. The quality of the training wheels is also important because they should be keeping the bike sturdy and safe all the time.

Before making any decision, consider the factors that you are looking for in a mountain bike for your kid. These bikes provide a great form of exercise as well and they will become stronger and have more endurance in the long run. No matter what age they are in, there is a mountain bike suitable for them.​

7. Mountain Bike Frame Materials

Bikes are made out of a number of different materials. The type of material used will mostly affect the cost of the bike and the weight.​

Aluminum Alloy

  • Aluminum tubes have a larger diameter than steel tubing. Compared to steel, aluminum is 1/3 the density of steel. Aluminum is 1/3 the strength of steel as well. This will be a stiffer ride, but it is a light, affordable material for mountain bikes.​

Steel

  • Steel is the most popular material used to create bike frames. Steel is thinner in the middle compared to the edges of the tubing (this is known as "butted"). Steel is generally a less expensive option. There are two options:​
    1. Carbon Steel: Carbon steel is strong, and it will last a long time.
    2. Chromoly Steel: Chromoly steel is the lighter option. It offers a good amount of flexibility.

Titanium

  • Titanium is especially light, and not vulnerable to corrosion like steel. It has one of the best strength-to-weight ratios available. The material itself can even be used to withstand severe punishment, so it is used in bikes made for that particular type of riding. This is one of the most expensive options.​

Carbon Fiber

  • Carbon fibers are glued together and used to create any mountain bike frame that you'd like. There is no worry about corrosion. This is a lightweight option, but it is also expensive.​

Folding Mountain Bike Frame

  • A folding mountain bike is a bike that has a folding system which lets you bend the frame to make it smaller. It has the components of a regular bike but it has an added component for folding.
  • Folding mountain bikes are space-saving because they take up as little space as possible and they offer the same benefits as a regular bike. This type of bike is easy to transport as it won’t take a lot of space inside the car. You also won’t have a hard time unfolding and using the bike.​

8. Mountain Bike Brakes

The type of brakes that you use are an important safety feature. However, the best-performing brakes are more expensive. They work more efficiently with less power and stop more smoothly.​

  • There are rim brakes and disc brakes.

Rim Brakes

Rim brakes work by pushing on the brake leaver which causes the brake pads to stop the bike wheels with direct pressure to the wheel.

Rim brakes are lighter than disc brakes. They are also less expensive and easier to maintain. However, it's important to remember that they don't work as well in mud and rain. They also simply don't have as much stopping power as disc brakes. Lastly, a mutated rim can and will affect your braking.​

Disc Brakes

Disc brakes are the most commonly used braking option in mountain bikes.

Compared to rim brakes, they do weigh more and cost more. They also have better response time, work better in all conditions, stop quicker and more smoothly, and they require less force to work. There are two types of disc brakes:​

1. Hydraulic Disc Brakes​:

  • Hydraulic disc brakes work by using a liquid to transfer force. The main disadvantage to these brakes is that they are complicated. They need to be taken into a shop to be fixed. If you find yourself on a trip and the brakes fail, you are done until the brakes are fixed.
  • These brakes have the best braking capabilities, though. They respond the quickest, are more sensitive, and they have a smoother braking process.

2. Cable-activated Brakes:

  • Cable-activated brakes use a pulling system to stop your wheels. These brakes are easier to maintain than disc brakesand also cost less. However, they require the rider to use more pressure and cannot automatically distribute brake force.

9. Mountain Bike Gears

Mountain bikes have multiple gears to help your pedaling capabilities through different conditions.

Most of the time, you will use shift levers at your handlebars to change gears. There are grip shifters and trigger shifters. Grip shifters work by the rider twisting the grip to get the appropriate gear. Trigger shifters are the more popular option. The trigger is next to the handlebar, and you move the trigger until the derailleur to moves indicator shows.

The big question becomes when to shift. When it becomes especially difficult or far too easy to pedal, you know that you need to change gears.

The amount of gears you have on your bike is a matter of preference. The more gears that you have, the more control you will have. However, you will also have to pay more attention to changing gears throughout your ride. Therefore, it becomes a matter of whether you'd like more control or whether you'd like to pay more attention to the scenery.​

Single Speed Mountain Bike

  • A single speed mountain bike has only one gear, it does not come with derailleurs, and you won’t have to work with too many cables. It is actually a bike that is very simple to use and it does not require a lot of adjustment if when you are riding it.
  • Single speed mountain bikes are good for training if you want to develop more skills and endurance in controlling a bike while going uphill or downhill because you don’t have options when it comes to switching gears.
  • Using a single speed mountain bikes also calls for more patience and hard work, but you will end up enjoying it in the long run because of the tricks it can teach you.
  • If you want a different riding experience and to be able to get more out of mountain bike riding, go for a best single speed bike. You will have a whole different feeling while riding it on difficult trails and obstacles. It will give you a certain level of pride and confidence when you have conquered a tough trail riding a single speed mountain bike.​

Already Know How to Choose a Mountain Bike?

Mountain Bike Online Shopping Tips

There are certain characteristics beginner needs to consider when looking for the best entry-level mountain bike:​

  • Think about where you will be using the bike. Are you looking for a bike that you can just exercise with or are you already into racing? If you want something that will be used for recreational activities, a sportive bike is your best option.
  • The material of the frame is crucial if you’re racing because you will need one that is light, durable, versatile, and easy to maintain. The fork material is also important and you need to go for ones that are made of alloy if it’s an entry level bike. There are ones made of carbon which are available if you are willing to spend more.
  • The size of the bike and how it fits you is a primary consideration you need to make. Not all bike sizes are for everyone. The size of the wheels also matters because it will determine the height of the bike and will it suit you.
  • Choose a bike with a good suspension and traction since you will be riding it most of the time on terrains, trails, bumps, and dirt. You do not want to feel uncomfortable while you are outdoors.
  • The size of the wheels also matters because it will determine how quickly you will be able to increase speed and how much effort it will take. You need to choose one that is suitable for your riding goals and a terrain where you will be ride the bike mostly.
  • The response of the brakes should be quick and you should not have a hard time making them work especially because you will be mostly riding on the mountain.

Take the time to shop properly and find the top rated mountain bike that's right for you. Also, be realistic about where you will use it and how often you will use it. Most importantly, know what features are most important to you:

  • Do you need a light bike with a lot of speed that you can take on a smooth trail with friends?
  • Do you need something that can go uphill?
  • Are you a professional looking for something that can take a ten-foot drop without breaking (and you have good insurance)? Go to the store with your needs in mind.

And have fun! You are going to use this bike to have fun with friends.

Make sure that you perform a test ride. Test everything; from the brakes, the gears, and the turning. You want to enjoy your ride and be comfortable.

Mountain biking is a sport that has gained more popularity over the years because people have become more aware of the benefits of it. People who get into biking also tend to join triathlons when they want to reach their full potential as an athlete and make it more interesting.

Take note of all the information given in this guide and use it; having this knowledge in mind, choosing the right mountain bike won’t be hard. Also, be sure to check out the link below to see the models that bring the best value for the money.​

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