Mountain biking is an amazing sport. Whether you bike trails, cross country, or downhill, there’s no denying that it’s an activity to get the heart racing, the adrenaline pumping, and the muscles fighting. Unlike many sports out there, mountain biking is pretty heavily dependent on the gear you bring with you — the bike, specifically. Mountain biking with a poorly-made or weathered bike can range from being a real hassle to a literal pain.
So whether you’re brand new at mountain biking or a seasoned expert, the bike you use will be an unsurprisingly crucial element of your experience. Which specific bike model you purchase is going to depend on your specific wants and needs. It’s going to depend on your size and your weight, on the type of biking you want to do, and on your price range. Whether you buy a cross- country bike or a downhill bike, for example, is not something you can just decide by reading some online article — you’re going to need the best bike for the terrain you want to tackle.
Luckily, each brand of mountain bike brings a unique personality into its products, so that’s where our primary focus is going to be. Regardless of branding, you’ll want a bike that’s sturdy and matches your destination plan. No matter where you get your bike from, make sure to look over the warranty. It’s also normal for a bike’s parts to shift around a little after you start using it, so a tune-up plan is similarly crucial.
But there’s no denying that a great brand is a good place to start, so let’s get into it!
Since its inception in the 1970s, Trek has consistently proven itself to be a remarkable brand for mountain bikes of all types and styles. While their bikes are certainly amazing examples of their craft, Trek really sets itself apart by offering amazing value for their products — not to mention great customer service. Trek offers a lifetime warranty on its bike’s frames, for example, and has a vast price range that can accommodate everyone from novices to experts.
Of course, all of the brands we’re highlighting here offer great products and good value. As a brand, however, Trek stands apart for their human side. Just look at the “Culture” section on their website. Personal anecdotes, inspirational stories, and educative articles fill the virtual space, an amazing boon for anyone looking to join and explore a real community built around the sport they love. As a brand, Trek excels, not just for mountain biking products, but for mountain bikers as a whole.
- Extensive online community and support
- Wide price range
- High-quality bikes for different terrains
- Less innovation than their competition, especially when it comes to parts
Whether a prospective biker should buy from Trek or Giant is actually a bit of an age-old question, with both brands offering some of the best value in the business. Giant, in the past, has received great acclaim for their willingness to innovate and push boundaries. They sold the first bikes with carbon steel frames, for example, and their willingness to continue paving the path forward is still evident today.
Giant typically produces durable, lightweight bikes that are good for all styles of biking. They also offer a number of enviable warranties that will help you to feel secure in your purchases. Best of all, Giant places particular emphasis on the quality of their bike’s parts, which often gives them a subtle edge over their competition.
- Giant uses its own Maestro suspension technology to enhance climbing efficiency
- Affordable parts accompany a wide price range in bikes
- Innovative brand with a proven track record of improving their products
- Maestro suspension can’t be pushed as hard as other suspension platforms before it bottoms out
Yeti Cycles are another staple brand for mountain bikes, though their expertise is a little more specialized than our other recommendations. Yeti specifically create heavier, endurance- friendly, trail bikes, and do not offer bikes that will blow the competition away in cross-country. Their brand, unlike many others, places an intense focus on a specific style of mountain biking and seeks to excel at that style. And excel they do.
Yeti uses a unique suspension platform on their bikes to support this style, Switch Infinity. This system supports the heavy, powerful biking style that defines this brand so well.
- Lifetime warranties available
- Unique Switch Infinity suspension supports steep climbs and general trail biking
- Heavier bikes that are still comfortable to ride
- Limited selection of models
- Outclassed outside of their specific niche
Specialized is a truly impressive brand for mountain biking. Specialized is one of the oldest mountain biking brands in North America, and its collection covers pretty much any kind of riding you could want to do. This is an innovative, far-reaching brand for mountain biking, and have firmly established their position as a “jack of all trades” for the sport.
Whether you’re brand-new at biking or a veteran of the sport, whether you have money to burn or need a conservative price point, Specialized probably has a model that will fit your needs. They are also a brand that makes a point of innovating beyond the bike itself; their “SWAT” accessories (“storage, water, air, tools”) make storage transport a breeze. As far as solid, models with fair prices go, it’s hard to beat Specialized.
- Wide selection that covers many price points and biking styles
- Great selection of accessories
- Established brand with a long history of success
- Some people in the industry don’t love their selling practices.
It is difficult to stress enough the importance of choosing a bike that will work for your unique needs and plans. All of these brands offer some really amazing bike models that will enhance your experience manifold! Although it is impossible to recommend a specific bike for a specific person, these brands are all great places to begin looking and are all likely to have a model that will work great for you.
So remember to read your warranties carefully, do your research, and find the best bike for you!