The Best Mountain Bikes You Can Buy Right Now
In the past couple of yours, we have gone all out to test drive over 100 mountain bikes, conducted thorough studies, and made our evaluations. Be it a budget hardtail to the ultimate do-it-all trail models; we have done it all! As a result, we came to a realization that the entry-level hard trials in their full potential can cost you less than $900. Whereas an advanced, full-suspension bike for approximately $1500, even though it was not known for the longest time. And yes, we found out some extraordinary deals costing 3-4 times of that.
Continue reading this guide to know of our five top picks, coupled with in-detail reviews of the same further below. You can also expect high-ranking models, along with our buying advice for the same. Let’s get started!
First of all, let’s look at what’s new in design
With an extensive selection of elements like dropper posts, improved suspension, and a geometry that promotes greater front ends and firmer rear end, shredding high on bikes with limited travel has become possible. Classic mountain Bikes like the Santa Cruz Tallboy, Evil Following MB, and Giant Trance 29 in the recent ones hold approximately 120mm of rear travel but the sluggish angles coupled with the stability of enduro bikes.
Other than that, mountain bikes such as the Pivot Firebird offers a DH travel with more bracing pedaling to produce one of the most ingenious and versatile long-travel bikes that we have come across. Considering the fact that you’re awaiting your next ride, make sure you pay as much time and thought to its geometry as you usually do for travel or wheel size.
Everything you need to know about Geometry
If you have been in touch with the recent mountain bike trends, you would have definitely noticed that the most selling word has become “longer.” From reaches and head tube angles to the bike’s front center and even the wheelbase, everything is getting longer.
The extra length added allows the biker to feel more stable, secure, and in control even when riding along a steep terrain. It gives an overall smoother riding experience, which is key in today’s date. However, you should know that longer is not equal to better at all times. Sometimes, you may even feel less stable and difficult to hand in tighter terrains when riding at a slower speed.
Apart from that, even the seat tubes have seen a steeper design, going as steep as 76 degrees or even greater than that in some cases. This makes up for a more comfortable seated position for the rider. However, a steeper angle can also enable the frame engineer to get the seat tube out of the way when attempting to extend travel, lower chainstay length, or fit larger wheels and tires within the frame.
Types of Mountain Bikes to choose from
Cross-country bikes are meant for short traveling or racing on XC or even marathon courses, for that matter. That’s because, in these cases, riders require sharp handling and excellent suspensions. Many of the cross country bikes come with a 70-degrees head-tube angle, paired with 29-inch wheels, and up to 90-120 mm of rear suspension meant for travel.
Trail bikes happen to be the most popularly preferred type of mountain bike for all valid reasons. It is designed with care such that it is able to handle every condition, be it the general XC trails to super rough and unpredictable downhills. In this type of bike, you can expect a head angle somewhere between 65-68 degrees. Apart from that, it also comes with a relatively long wheelbase and travel of 120 to 155mm.
Enduro mountain bikes, also known as mini-downhill models. These are excellent for climbing as they can easily climb and steep descent slopes irrespective of how fast you are going. The head angle usually varies between 62-66 degrees, whereas the reach is a bit on the lengthier side so that you can keep your weight more distant behind the front wheel.
These are made particularly to suit downhill bike races and for riding in bike parks. Downhill bikes come with an extraordinarily long wheelbase, greater scope for travel which is usually found to be over 220m or so. It also comes with dual-crown forks that help in slow handling while making sure that the bike goes downhill in a straight line. This also allows the rider to take massive jumps, more impressive than anything else when it comes to downhill biking.
Here’s how we tested the bikes
We started testing a variety of mountain bikes along with our team of biking experts and experienced testers. We spent our hours riding the bikes for miles and miles together, with the sole purpose of understanding its intended design and evaluating whether it lived up to the offered promises or not. From racing on the bikes to riding them across the local trails and even hitting the bike parks once in a while, we left no stone unturned.
Finally, after spending an incredible amount of time, effort, and sweat as we get our clothes dirty in the long miles, we looked at tried to conclude the full picture on the basis of its performance, reliability, comfort, value, and of course, the price.
Following are our top five picks
The new Pivot Switchblade is found to be one of the most balanced trail bikes, all thanks to its excellent composition and geometry. Speaking of which, it has a 142mm rear and 160mm front, which is not only longer but also slacker compared to the prior model. However, it is also a little taller and has a greater steep than the competitors.
The Pivot Switchblade is also known for its incredible balance, which offers better stability even at speed. It is quick and exciting while ensuring a top-notch climbing experience too. Being quite cooperative with gravity, it still manages not to be entirely gravity-focused. So if you’re a rider who enjoys climbing, this one is just for you!
Spot Ryve 115
Looking for a fast trail bike? Why not opt for the fastest one? That’s right, the Spot Ryve 115 is, by far, the fastest trail bike, filling the gap between a true XC race bike and a casual trail bike. It is light and agile, weighing not more than 24.5 pounds.
Besides, it also promotes quick and easy handling by offering a shorter travel of 115 mm rear and 1200 mm front. The excellent suspension and super-efficient pedaling system also ensure that you never have to struggle while handling the bike. It is what we like to call a “super zippy bike,” ideal for downhill biking or even racing. So if you’re bike requirement mentions efficiency, agility, and capability, this is the one.
Is 1×10 & Hydraulic Disc Brakes a priority for you, but you don’t want to spend more than $1K for it? Guess what? The KHS Aguila is your ideal match. It offers a modernistic, fully up-to-date geometry and comes with an aluminum frame and some of the best parts for less than $1000. It is one of the simplest yet most secure models with no front derailleur to struggle with. This means that there are very few chances of your chain dropping as you bounce your way through rough terrains. It also comes equipped with the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, ensuring incredible power and an extremely smooth feel.
The suspension fork is efficient enough to absorb minor bumps and even deals with the major ones. Thanks to its superior level of stability, this bike is capable of off-roading too. So if you’re hunting for a highly durable and proficient bike model on a tight budget, you know which one to look for.
Rocky Mountain Growler 20
This is yet another budget-friendly bike, offering almost everything you may need in a hardtail. You may be aware of the fact that a couple of years back, you would have to break your bank only to buy a decent hardtail to live your biking dream. But those days are gone, as we have bikes like the Rocky Mountain Growler 20, which ensures comfortable and smooth trails at an affordable price.
As a matter of fact, this bike manages to outperform so many of its competitors, costing two times than what it does. It comes with an aluminum frame, trail geometry hydraulic brakes, and even a coil-spring fork measuring 120 mm. All in all, it is one of the best budget-friendly bikes that have it all.
Norco Fluid FS2
Last but not least, we have the best women’s bike on this list, which is The Norco Fluid FS 2. It is an appealing, agile, and pliable bike at an affordable price and probably the best women’s bike we have seen. It comes equipped with 120mm of reliable suspension and ensures stability and comfort even in the rough stuff. The tires, too, are wide and knobby, making it all the easier and more enjoyable to ride.
In addition to that, you can find a RockShox Deluxe R shock present in its aluminum frame, coupled with a 130mm-travel RockShox Sektor RL fork that provides you with a greater suspension and bounces at the front. You may get your hands on an excellent SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain, along with the SRAM Level T hydraulic brakes, which are proficient components that assist you in developing skills or getting rough.
In a nutshell, there are many bikes available in the market, suitable for different people and purposes. All you need to do is find your purpose of riding and understand your level of performance. Based on that, determine your budget and accordingly make your next purchase. Happy biking!