The Essential Guide to Finding the Best Beginner Mountain Bike + Reviews
Whether you haven’t cycled in ages or you’re just starting out, getting the best beginner mountain bike is what’s probably on your mind. However, with so many rigs available in all shapes and forms, finding one that’s fit for your needs and budget can be tough. This is where we come in, as we’ve done the research and picked some of the most popular bikes that are fit for beginners and not only. After comparing plenty of models, we think that the one that deserves the 1st place is the SAVADECK DECK300 Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike Hard Tail. This bike is relatively inexpensive, yet it comes with a carbon fiber frame, 3×10-speed drivetrain, a SunTour suspension fork with 100mm of travel, and you can choose between 3 wheel sizes. In case it is no longer available, you might want to take a look at the Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike.
This model from Savadeck has a sleek carbon fiber frame, several Shimano Deore components, and 30 speeds to play with. The suspension fork has 100mm of travel which is perfect for absorbing bumps. The Shimano brakes offer reliable stopping power when you need it.
The Shimano M200 hydraulic brakes are entry-level. However, they offer plenty of stopping power, especially for the price.
This is a very good pick for beginners but also more advanced riders due to its quality components such as Shimano Deore shifters and derailleurs, carbon fiber frame, and others. It’s also very good-looking.
The bike comes with an aluminum alloy frame that’s strong and light. The RockShox Reba RL fork gives you plenty of shock absorption so you can feel comfortable even on more aggressive rides. The Shimano MT500 brakes provide excellent braking power.
While the 1x11-speed drivetrain is great for cross-country and similar disciplines, the single-chainring might be limiting to touring or road riding.
The Overdrive is a bike that’s not too expensive but which comes with a sturdily built frame, a RockShox fork with 100mm of travel, and a drivetrain that’s excellent for aggressive trail riding and not only.
Also To Consider
The Bonafide is a good pick for beginners as it is relatively light, thanks to its aluminum frame and other components. The fork can soak up some shocks, while the 29-inch wheels help with speed and obstacles. It also comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
The 3x8 drivetrain is pretty old and the Shimano EZ shifters are also not exactly high tech, even if this is a relatively cheap bike.
If you’re searching for an affordable bike that comes with 29-inch wheels and other goodies, this is a decent pick. It has a modern aluminum frame, 29” wheels with solid double-wall alloy rims, and knobby 2.25” tires.
9 Best Beginner Mountain Bikes (Updated Reviews) in 2020
Are you looking for a good beginner mountain bike but can’t decide among the plethora of options currently available? Fear not as we’ve scoured the market and picked some of the most appreciated models, and wrote beginner mountain bikes reviews for each one. Read on and perhaps you’ll find the bike that suits your preferences.
- 1. SAVADECK DECK300 Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike Hard Tail
- 2. Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike
- 3. Schwinn Bonafide Mens Mountain Bike 29-Inch Wheels
- 4. Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike 7 Speed 29-Inch Wheels
- 5. Mongoose Status 2.2 Mountain Bike for Men and Women
- 6. Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike 26-Inch Wheels
- 7. Schwinn Traxion Mountain Bike Full Dual Suspension 29-Inch
- 8. Diamondback Bicycles LUX Comp Women’s Hardtail Mountain Bike
- 9. Diamondback Bicycles Hook 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike
- Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions:
1. SAVADECK DECK300 Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike Hard Tail
If you’re just starting out riding but want a bike that rises above entry-level, then you couldn’t make a better choice than this. The Deck300 comes with quality components yet an affordable price. The frame is made of Toray T800 carbon fiber which makes it extremely light yet durable and stiff which translates into better response and increased performance.
The SR Suntour fork has 100mm of travel which is plenty for absorbing shocks and staying in control on bumpy terrain. You get the classic 3×10-speed drivetrain with Shimano Deore shifters for smooth gear transitioning so you won’t have a missed shift and lose momentum. The front and rear derailleurs are also Shimano Deore so you get quality all across.
The Shimano M200 hydraulic brakes do their job quite well, even if they’re entry-level. You need stopping power and they deliver while keeping the price of the bike low. You can choose between 26”, 27.5”, and 29” wheels.
If you’re in need of an inexpensive bike but wouldn’t like cheapo parts all around, then this model is a great option due to its quality build and accessible price.
The carbon fiber frame is lightweight and strong but it also looks great. The internal routing allows you to keep cables out of sight and away from the risk of snagging.
The Suntour fork gives you 100mm of shock absorption power so you can enjoy your rides even on rugged terrain.
This bike comes with Shimano Deore shifters and derailleurs which is quite amazing for the price. These offer smooth shifting every time.
The Shimano M200 brakes aren’t exactly high-end and some riders might have wished for a braking system that’s a bit more advanced.
The crankset and cassette could have been better as well, but it must be noted that the bike does come quite cheap.Buy from Amazon.com for ($1199)
2. Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike
This bike surely deserves its name, as it is built for rough riding while still being beginner-friendly in both terms of design and price. The frame is made of strong aluminum which is still somewhat light and stiff so you will get a great feel on the trails. The RockShox Reba RL fork gives 100mm of travel so you know bumpy paths won’t be a problem ever.
This rig comes with a 1×11-speed drivetrain which is excellent for cross-country and off-roading in general, even if it’s perhaps not the best choice for bike touring. You get the SRAM GX shifter and cogset for smooth shifting and the SRAM NX crank for putting the power to the pedals.
Thanks to the Shimano MT500 hydraulic disc brakes, you get excellent stopping power so you get plenty of confidence and control on all your rides. The bike comes with 29-inch wheels for extra speed and the ability to get over large obstacles easily.
Thanks to the 100mm RockShox Reba RL fork, you can now negotiate any type of terrain like a pro, and that without spending tons of money.
The aluminum frame has a sleek design that makes it attractive yet also highly resistant, which should make it able to serve you for years on end.
The Shimano hydraulic brakes are a nice addition since they’re inexpensive but they do a pretty good job offering the stopping power you need to feel safe.
The SRAM GX drivetrain is pretty nice for XC and similar riding styles and you still get enough climbing ability.
There’s only one chainring so you don’t get to benefit from the same flexibility when it comes to gear ratios as bikes with two or three chainrings.
For the price, you might have wanted a fork with 120mm of travel, even if this one works just fine, anyway.Buy from Amazon.com for ($1400)
3. Schwinn Bonafide Mens Mountain Bike 29-Inch Wheels
Are you looking for a cheap bike to ride all sorts of terrains, from paved roads to forest trails? Then look no further than the Bonafide from Schwinn. This bike is proof that getting a decent rig doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. The aluminum alloy frame has a simple yet elegant design that gives the entire bike a pleasant appearance, but it’s also strong and durable.
The Schwinn suspension fork soaks up potholes and bumps so you feel great no matter where the ride takes you. You get 24 speeds to play with so you can climb hills and descend without a problem. The Shimano EZ shifters help with smooth gear transition so you don’t lose precious time fiddling with the shifters.
The bike comes with 29-inch wheels so it’s built for speed, even if you do lose some handling ability. The 2.25-inch knobby tires offer enough traction on hardpack and gravel.
The bike has a solid aluminum frame that’s bound to last for years and resist use and abuse wherever your journeys take you.
The mechanical disc brakes give you control over the bike and the best part is that they’re much easier to adjust and service than hydraulic brakes, even if they’re not as powerful.
The 29-inch wheels are great for big riders but also for going over large obstacles such as rock gardens, tree stumps and roots, and they’re also great when it comes to pedaling efficiency.
Thanks to the 29×2.25” knobby tires, you’ll get adequate grip and traction on various terrains in mostly dry conditions.
The 3×8 drivetrain isn’t exactly high-grade and you might expect something better, considering the price of the bike.
The brakes are mechanical which isn’t great as there are quite a few cheap hydraulic models that could have been used. At least they’re easier to repair and adjust.Buy from Amazon.com for ($1061.99)
4. Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike 7 Speed 29-Inch Wheels
This is perhaps one of the most affordable models in its category so buying one of these shouldn’t put a strain on any budget. The bike has a solid steel frame which means it’s very strong yet durable. It’s a bit heavy, but it should last more than an aluminum frame.
You get Shimano twist shifters which are very easy to use so you can say they’re beginner-friendly – as the name says, you need to twist to shift gears. The suspension fork isn’t something to brag about but it does its job of absorbing shocks and it’s definitely better than a rigid fork.
The pull brakes do what they’re supposed to: help you control the bike and stop whenever you need to. The wheels have aluminum rims so they’re strong but light. You get to choose from three sizes: 26”, 27.5”, and 29”. The tires are the all-terrain type so they should offer adequate grip in various conditions.
This is a bike that’s bound to be appealing to anyone who’s planning on getting out to cycle a bit this season.
You can choose the wheel size to suit your height and riding style. The all-terrain tires are grippy and should be able to handle rough terrain quite well.
You get Shimano twist shifters and 3×7 speeds so you can climb hills or pedal on the descent without a problem.
The suspension fork will soak up bumps and holes so your arms and bottom don’t have to.
Despite its simple design, the bike is quite attractive and the best part is that it is beginner-friendly and should suit just about any rider.
The V-brakes might not please some riders who might have expected mechanical disc brakes. However, the bike does come very cheap.
The steel frame is a bit on the heavy side. The good part is that it could actually last for a lifetime.Buy from Amazon.com for ($949.99)
5. Mongoose Status 2.2 Mountain Bike for Men and Women
This is a good-looking bike that’s perfectly fit for beginners, not least because of its low price and simple design. What’s even more important is that you get both front and rear suspension so you can ride on rocky and rugged terrain without feeling all the bumps. The frame is made of hydro-formed aluminum tubing for extra endurance.
The model has a Shimano rear derailleur and SRAM twist shifters which keep things simple and allow you to choose the right gearing for any situation. There are 21 speeds you can choose from to suit any part of the ride. The wheels have alloy rims that are durable and strong enough to handle all the abuse you can put it through.
The bike comes with 2.125-inch tires with an all-terrain tread pattern so you can count on them to pedal fast on the road but maintain proper grip off-road as well.
This bike comes at a price that’s hard to beat. You get front and rear suspension so you can handle all sorts of rugged and rocky terrain like a pro, without fatigue setting in.
There are 21 speeds that you can fiddle with which means you get all the right gear ratios for climbing, descending, pedaling on flat terrain, and anything in between.
The v-brakes ensure that you can stop the bike at any time and that without costing too much.
The frame is built of hydro-formed aluminum tubing so you can trust it to last through years of intense use.
The pull brakes aren’t the best around, and while the bike is indeed quite cheap, better brakes could have been used.
While this bike does come with a front suspension fork and rear shock, don’t expect them to perform as well as high-end ones.Buy from Amazon.com for ($436.99)
6. Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike 26-Inch Wheels
Whether you’re a beginner getting the first bike or someone who’s forgotten how to cycle and looking to get back into it, this bike is surely a great candidate. This model is as good on paved roads just as it is on forest trails, and just as the name suggests, it is built to help you ride on off-road trails and dusty country roads.
The frame is made of steel so it’s a bit heavier than aluminum, but at least it’s more durable, and it’s also a bit more flexible so not as unforgiving to mistakes. You get a front suspension fork that will soak up shocks and help you enjoy your outings.
The bike is equipped with Shimano twist shifters for easily selecting the right gear ratios, and you get 21 speeds in total for various situations. The bike comes with 26-inch wheels, but there’s also the option of getting a 29-inch variant.
The frame is very sturdy as it’s made of steel, and despite its greater weight compared to aluminum, expect it to last for years and years.
The Shimano twist shifters make things easy even for a beginner which is why it is advertised to be a great choice for this category.
The 26-inch wheels offer easy handling that someone who’s just starting to cycle would need and they are also quite strong.
Thanks to the suspension fork, you won’t feel every bump in your path so that you can enjoy all your outings.
The marketing is pretty confusing, as you get the described model with a steel frame and pull brakes as well as an aluminum model with disc brakes, and some users can mix them up.
The tires are pretty good on the road and on hardpack, but you might want to get something more grippy if you ride off-road more often.Buy from Amazon.com for ($741.99)
7. Schwinn Traxion Mountain Bike Full Dual Suspension 29-Inch
While not the cheapest bike in its category, the Traxion from Schwinn comes with pretty good components that more than justify the price. The frame is made of aluminum so it’s quite light but also strong enough to last through years of rides. It also looks quite good so you’ll feel proud of riding it in the city.
The bike has a powerful Schwinn suspension fork that will absorb all those tree roots, rocks, and other obstacles and so will the rear shock that’s just as good. You get 24 speeds to play with and the Shimano EZ fire trigger shifters will help you select the right gear so you don’t lose momentum.
The front and rear mechanical brakes offer enough stopping power to ensure that you ride safely and comfortably no matter the terrain type. The 29-inch wheels will help you achieve greater speeds than before while also allowing you to go over bigger obstacles easier.
This model has a sleek-looking frame that’s made of aluminum alloy so you bet that it’s light and strong.
For the price, many riders wouldn’t expect a full-suspension bike but that is exactly what this one is.
Thanks to the large 29” wheels, you will be able to go over rock gardens and tree roots much easier than you could with smaller wheels.
The 24-speed drivetrain and Shimano EZ shifters give you plenty of flexibility as no matter if you’re climbing steep inclines or pedaling downhill, you have the right gear ratios.
The all-terrain tires provide a decent grip on a variety of surfaces and on the road, they roll quite well.
For the price, one might have expected at least entry-level hydraulic brakes and not mechanical disc brakes.
The front and rear shocks seem sub-par, but that’s probably a result of the manufacturer trying to create a full-suspension rig that’s cheap.Buy from Amazon.com for ($1262.99)
8. Diamondback Bicycles LUX Comp Women’s Hardtail Mountain Bike
If you’re looking for a women’s bike that has the looks and the performance that’s required, then the Lux from Diamondback is one that you can’t overlook. This bike comes with a 6061-T6 aluminum alloy frame that has a low-slung geometry which translates into plenty of stand-over clearance for extra comfort and safety.
The RockShox 30 Silver fork gives you 100mm of travel so that you’ll feel awesome pedaling on those bumpy trails, and that without getting bottom sores and tired arms. The SRAM NX 1×11-speed drivetrain gives you the flexibility you need to handle any kind of terrain but also eliminates the front derailleur so you can focus on riding more and less on shifting fears.
The DB SL-7 27.5-inch aluminum rims come equipped with Schwalbe Rapid Rob 27.5×2.25-inch tires which are grippy and stable so you won’t lose traction when cornering or in other situations.
This bike has a women-specific frame that will help you ride comfortably and eliminate the risk of accidents, as the stand-over clearance makes sure of that.
The RockShox 30 Silver has 100mm of travel which is good enough for soaking up all sorts of stumps and bumps on any forest trail.
The 27.5-inch wheels will help you pedal much faster and go over obstacles easier, while the Schwalbe Rapid Rob tires will give you all the traction you need.
You get a 1×11-speed SRAM drivetrain which simplifies things quite a lot, even if it’s not as flexible.
The fork could have been a bit better for the price, although you can still rely on it as RockShox rarely disappoints.
You’ve got only 1×11 speeds which is great in terms of ease of use, but in some cases, you might wish for at least two chainrings.Click to see the price on Amazon!
9. Diamondback Bicycles Hook 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike
This is a simple bike with a single ring drivetrain which makes it ideal for beginners and not only. The frame is built of aluminum and the hardtail design makes it sturdier and less prone to mechanical failures than a full-suspension rig, so there’s less to worry about. The price is also in line with the design, so you don’t have to fork over tons of cash to get it.
The SR Sun tour XCM fork offers generous travel, as 120mm should be more than enough, especially if you’re just starting out. You get a 1×8 SRAM drivetrain with an X3 cogset and X4 shifter.
The DB SL-7 double wall rims make the wheels quite sturdy while the tires offer plenty of grip on various surfaces, thanks to their all-terrain tread pattern. The Tektro Aries mechanical disc brakes do what they’re supposed to: help you control the bike and stop when you need to.
The SRAM 1×8-speed drivetrain keeps things simple so changing gears becomes a piece-of-cake affair, as you can concentrate on pedaling and forget about fiddling with two shifters.
The frame has a stylish look and the aluminum tubing used ensures that it will last for many years to come, in addition to being lightweight.
The SR Suntour XCM fork has 120mm of travel which is more than what you’d hope for in a mountain bike at this low price. It will absorb loads of shocks so your body doesn’t have to.
The 27.5” wheels offer the right balance of speed and handling so you get the best of both worlds, for any kind of circumstance.
While the 1×8-speed drivetrain is certainly simple to use, especially by beginners, it can be quite limiting, especially when it comes to road touring or pedaling fast.
The Tektro Aries brakes do their job, but they’re mechanical and could have probably been a bit better in this price range.Click to see the price on Amazon!
Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
Looking for the best mountain bike for beginner but haven’t got a clue what such a ride should have? It’s true that the market tends to be quite full of all sorts of models, from beginner mountain bikes to those meant for professionals, and you can’t just judge them by their price.
There are several aspects that you need to take into account before choosing your first bike, so read on to find out more.
The first thing you need to look at when searching for a mountain bike, or any bike, in general, is the frame. There are three main materials used for the frame: steel, aluminum, and carbon. Steel has been traditionally used on older bikes, but that does not necessarily mean that it has gone out of fashion.
Steel is a good material because it’s very strong and given the same circumstances, it’s probably a lot more durable than aluminum. It is heavier and it can rust if left out in the rain. It’s also easier to weld, which is a boon for bicycle touring, although that’s not something that you’d probably consider now if you’re just getting started.
Aluminum is probably the most popular choice, whether we’re talking about the best beginner mountain bike for men or for women. That’s because it is lighter than steel and stiffer, which is a quality that makes the bike more responsive, if somewhat less forgiving when you make a mistake.
Aluminum is also much cheaper than carbon, and it tends to deform or bend rather than snap or crack. However, carbon fiber frames are a lot lighter than aluminum, and manufacturing technologies have greatly evolved over the past few years so carbon frames aren’t as expensive as they used to.
Now, when talking about frame design, you could say that the best beginner women’s mountain bike has a special geometry. It’s actually still based on the triangle design, but a women-specific frame has a lower top tube which gives more stand-over clearance for improved comfort and safety, plus it can also accommodate a not-too-long skirt.
Hardtail or full-suspension?
When considering your first bike, you need to figure out whether a hardtail or a full-suspension one is what you need.
The benefit of hardtail bikes is that they are usually lighter than full-suspension ones, and they are also much simpler in design. You’ve got the front fork that deals with the suspension, while the frame is simple and you don’t have to worry about all sorts of moving parts such as rear shock, bushings, pivots, bearings, that the latter would have.
The mechanicals are much simpler and that means maintenance is way easier, which is a plus if you don’t know a lot about bikes. That’s especially true for cases when you need to perform repairs on the fly so that you can at least get home on the bike and not beside it.
A hardtail is also going to be cheaper, so if you’ve got a limited budget, and especially if this is your first bike, then it is a better choice compared to a full suspension. With a hardtail, pedaling efficiency is also higher since there’s no rear suspension to rob you of energy.
However, that has become less true with advancements in technology, and full-suspension rigs now have lockout features, so you can just turn on a switch and you can turn your bike into a climbing monster. If you’re into off-roading much, then a full-suspension bike is the logical choice.
It’s a bit heavier and more complex, but the rear suspension, and the generally bigger fork mounted on such a bike, are going to save your bottom from many sores, let alone allow you to get into downhill riding or freeriding further down the road – a thing that’s pretty impossible on a hardtail bike.
A good mountain bike for beginners should have a drivetrain that gives you plenty of choices in terms of gearing. The classical 3×9-speed is a pretty good example, as you get enough gear ratios for climbing steep inclines, pedaling on flat terrain and even speeding up downhill.
However, with three chainrings and multiple sprockets, you’ll need to pay attention to two shifters and might confuse them or miss shifting at first.
If you’re going to use the bike more for cross-country or off-roading in general, perhaps a single chainring drivetrain would be a good choice, since there’s only one shifter and rear derailleur to worry about so you can concentrate more on actually pedaling.
Read any beginner mountain bike review and you’ll quickly see that there are two popular wheel sizes on modern bikes: 27.5” and 29”. There’s also the older 26-inch standard which is a pretty good choice if you’re on a budget, a short person, or just starting out.
With 27.5-inch wheels, you get some pedaling efficiency but also better control over steering compared to 29-inch wheels, while the latter are better for speed and going over stuff like rock gardens, but steering and handling could suffer quite a bit.
When it comes to brakes, you can find v-brakes or pull brakes which are normally found on entry-level models, and you’ll most likely have these if you’re looking for a cheap bike. Most modern bikes have disc brakes, and whether they are mechanical or hydraulic usually depends on the price, with the latter usually being found on more expensive bikes.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How do I choose a mountain bike that is beginner-friendly?
There are several things you need to look at when getting your first bike, or one that’s beginner-friendly. First, there’s the frame geometry. If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably want a frame with a lower top tube, so you get more stand-over clearance since you’ll be jumping off the saddle quite often.
A low-slung geometry is also something that a women’s beginner mountain bike should have. Next, you need to think about whether you want a hardtail or a full-suspension rig. The former is cheaper and simpler, while the latter will possibly serve you better if you become an off-road fanatic.
You’d also want a simpler drivetrain with one or two chainrings for easier shifting, although that’s not necessarily a must. The bike should also be comfortable, which means that you need to ensure that you get the right wheel size and frame size as well as soft grips and a cushiony saddle. Brakes are also important, and you might want to go for disc brakes, hydraulic ones if possible.
Q: Which is better for a beginner: a hardtail or a full-suspension mountain bike?
If you’re wondering ‘what is a good beginner mountain bike?’, and that in the context of hardtail vs full-suspension, then the answer is: it depends. What will you use it for? How much are you willing to spend? There’s no right or wrong here, as what would fit someone who mostly rides on paved roads would not be suitable for a rider who’d prefer beating forest trails every day.
A hardtail is more simple to use and maintain, and it’s also going to be considerably cheaper. You’ll also be able to pedal more effectively since there is no rear suspension, but you will certainly miss it when riding on rugged and bumpy terrain.
A full-suspension bike is usually more expensive, a bit heavier, and more complex since there are quite a few settings and adjustments to perform, plus repairs can be a heartache. However, for off-roading, they’re usually the logical choice, especially if we’re talking about downhill or freeriding.
Q: How much does a beginner mountain bike cost?
The budget is probably one of the most pressing things on your mind, so how much does a beginner mountain bike cost? If you’re really not pretentious and just need something with two wheels, a handlebar, and pedals, then you are probably looking at about 300 bucks for a bike.
Of course, there are cheaper bikes out there, but you don’t really want to skimp on quality that much. You still want a hardtail with at least decent components and a modest suspension fork that isn’t going to do more damage than good.
If you think that this is just the beginning and chances are that you’ll still use the bike in a few years, consider spending between $500 and $800. That will probably guarantee a bike with a solid aluminum frame, 27.5” or 29” wheels, hydraulic disc brakes, and a decent suspension system.
In case you can afford it, you can also have a look at bikes that are over $1000, as you’ll probably be able to get even a full-suspension bike, Shimano Deore or XT-level components, etc.