Even if you have never heard of a mountain bike, you will probably guess that it was made specifically to ride in mountain-like terrain. Its tires are designed to go through loose or muddy dirt and has a tough frame to withstand hardcore crashes. They are also great for those that want to take it out on flat trails or simply for commuting by road. This buying guide will walk you through the benefits of mountain biking, the features to consider, and reviews of the best mountain bikes on the market right now.
Best Mountain Bike Comparison Table
|Name||Suspension||Wheel Size||Our Rating||Price|
|Diamondback 2015 Hardtail||Front||27.5"|
|Cyclamatic Power Plus Electric||Front||26"|
|Gravity FSX 29One||Full||29"|
|Diamondback Recoil 29er||Full||29"|
|Diamondback Sorrento Hardtail||Front||27.5"|
|GMC Topkick Dual Suspension||Full||26"|
|Diamondback 2014 Axis Sport||Front||27.5"|
Benefits of Mountain Biking
Biking is a fun cardiovascular exercise that can be a social activity as well. Want more reasons why you should get on a new mountain bike and start riding? Read on!
Builds Leg Strength
Biking is especially great for building quadriceps, calf, and gluteal muscles. Not only that, it also keeps your tendons strong.
When your heart rate is going 65 to 75 percent of its maximum, then congratulations. You are burning fat. To make sure you are in between the 65 to 75 percent range, buy a heart rate monitor watch and watch that heart rate rise.
Works Your Cardiovascular System
Your cardiovascular system is not just your heart, but your lungs too. When you do certain exercises like cycling, it works both your heart and your lungs, making them work more efficiently even when you are not exercising.
Swimming and cycling are similar because when you engage in these exercises, your body is being supported. This equates to pressure off your joints, reducing the chance of injury as you exercise. If you are getting back into exercise after recovering from an injury, participation in non-load bearing activities is a good way to get back into a fitness routine.
What’s great about mountain biking is that you could do it alone, or with a group. If you are looking for a fun way to catch up with a friend, or if you want to be part of a fitness group that supports one another and hold each other accountable, mountain biking is a great way to do all of the above.
Features of Mountain Bikes
Types of Mountain Bikes
Trail mountain bikes are for any type of rough path, from dirt roads to single-track trails. Most people who ride them are trail riders. All mountain bikes are similar to trail, but are made for steeper descents, increased ability to clear obstacles, and can take on small jumps. These ones have full-suspension and strong frames. Cross country bikes are often used in competition with steep ascents and tight turns in mind. They are not at all capable of jumps and landings. Freeride and downhill bikes are meant to go down fast descents, absorbing the impact of any obstacles along the way. These ones are not so fun riding up hills. Dirt jump bikes are for mostly for stunts, which riders often perform aerial stunts on.
Hardtail bikes have a suspension fork only on its front wheel, which will cut down on hand and arm fatigue. Those that ride hardtails will also experience improved steering and control over rough trails. They are suggested for all-purpose use, beginners, and occasional trail riding. Full suspension bikes are hardtails with the rear wheel suspended by a pivoting frame. These ones are usually heavier and more expensive, but is more comfortable to ride. Full suspension riders are able to have better control of their bike over difficult trails and at high speeds. These bikes are suggested for those that ride a lot of dirt trails, or those that want to ride fast over difficult terrain.
Originally, all mountain bikes had the same wheel size, 26”, and it is still one of the most popular sizes on the market. 29” versions are heavier and are slower to accelerate. However, these ones keep the momentum better once you get up to speed. Other benefits include a better contact with the trail and the ability to easily roll over obstacles on the trail. 27.5” bicycles, also called 650b, is a good medium between 26” and 29” bicycles. 27.5” roll over obstacles better than 26”, but are lighter than their 29” siblings. These bike are agile like 26” ones, but stable like 29” bikes.
The most common frame composition is aluminium alloy. Other bike frames are made of steel, titanium and carbon fiber. Steel ones are strong and relatively cheap, but heavy. Titanium has a good combination of strength and lightness, but is very expensive. Carbon fiber types are also strong and light, but are pretty expensive as well.
Components are parts that attach to the frame. These may include drivetrain (cranck arms, front chain rings, rear cassette, chain, derailleurs and gear shifter), suspension, wheels (rims, hubs, axles and spokes), and brakes.
Most mountain bikes have disc brakes instead of rim brakes. Rim brakes are often found on beginner bicycles and feature pads that grip onto the rims of the wheels. There are two versions of disc brakes: hydraulic and cable-activated. Hydraulic offers stronger braking without much rider effort. These ones adjust themselves as the brake pad wears. Cable-activated require manual adjusting as the brake pads wear down.
The number of gears go from single speed to 30. The range of gearing is important, as it influences what steepness (uphill and downhill) in which you can ride without running out of gears to use.
Top 8 Mountain Bike Reviews
Diamondback 2014 Axis Sport Mountain Bike
The Axis Sport touts 27.5” wheels, an aluminum hardtail frame, hydraulic disc brakes, and a range of 24 gears. The bike is meant for users that are between beginner and average riders who do not regularly go out on difficult trails. Assembly is quick and easy. One common complaint about the Axis Sport is the bike seat. Riders seem to agree that seat is pretty painful, so buyers often switch the standard Axis Sport seat for a more comfortable one.
Cyclamatic Power Plus Electric Mountain Bike – Lithium Ion Battery
The Power Plus has 26” wheels with stainless steel spokes, a quick-release lithium ion battery which can go for as long as 27 miles, Servo “anti-cling” safety brake, Samson Champion tires, Shimano Tourney SIS-Index 7-speed gears, and a quick-release front wheel. This bike is suited for riders between 5’2” to 6’2” with a maximum rider weight of up to 310 lbs. Users agree that the Power Plus works well on medium hills, but needs a little pedaling to go up steeper climbs. Assembly is painless. Complaints about the Power Plus include slow rear brakes, inaccurate battery indicator, and a battery that is slow to charge. Due to its impressive weight limit, the Power Plus is great for heavier riders. Because this bike is assisted with a battery, the Power Plus is often purchased by those who want a light workout, or who want to experience fast descents but don’t want to work as hard during the ascents.
Gravity FSX 29One Mountain Bike
This bike features Suntour full suspension in an aluminum frame with CantiBeam SinglePivot technology, disc brake, and Shimano Deore/Alivo 27 speed drivetrain. Users note that the bike is strong, but the components are not as sturdy. Buyers also complain that the FSX 29One arrives with defective parts. Riders advise switching out the FSX 29One components for better, high-quality ones. The FSX 29One is a great consideration for those that often ride trails with ascents, descents, and obstacle due to size of its tires and full suspension.
Montague Paratrooper Mountain Folding Bike
The Paratrooper has a patented folding designed, developed to allow soldiers to parachute into combat. Impressively, this bike can be folded in under 20 seconds without any tools. The Paratrooper features 24 speeds, full suspension and a disc brake on both the front and rear wheels. Users agree that this bike folds easily for easy transport and storage, and is light at 30 lbs. However, the handlebars are bit low, which makes for an awkward riding position, puts more weight on the front of the bike, thereby reducing velocity. The handlebars can be adjusted with a stem raiser, which eliminates all the problems associated with low handlebars. The Paratrooper is great for the hardcore rider that has little space in their lives. The full suspension and disc brakes are great for rough trail riding with ascents and descents, while its foldability allows the bike to be easily tucked away.
Diamondback 2015 Hardtail Mountain Bike
This bike features an aluminum body, with Suntour hardtail suspension, and 27.5” wheels. Those that have ridden the 2015 Hardtail say it’s great on trails, but does not climb very well. Riders often change out the crankset for a better one, especially if they ride a lot of trails. Before riding, users advise to tighten all bolts. Other complaints include small size of the pedals, the heavy weight of the bike and the wide handlebars which make maneuvering through the woods harder. The 2015 Hardtail is another great commuter or beginner level mountain bike.
GMC Topkick Mountain Bike
The Topkick boasts an aluminum frame utilizing a floating beam suspension with a Zoom fork, 21 speeds, Microshift push shifters, Shimano TZ-30GS derailleur, and a Promax disc brake on both the front and rear wheels. This bike comes partially pre-assembled, so the buyer only needs to attach the front wheel, handlebar, pedals and seat. Topkick riders complain that the replacement tubes are not so easily available in department and bike stores. If you decided to buy this bike, make sure you buy multiple tubes at the same time. Also, the standard saddle that comes with this bike is not the most comfortable. Like the Axis Sport, it is recommended to replace the saddle if you tend to ride for more than thirty minutes at a time. Other complaints include non-adjustment of handlebars and cheap pedals. The Topkick is recommended for commuters and for beginner to mid-level mountain bikers.
Diamondback Sorrento Hardtail Mountain Bike
This bike features an aluminum body with 27.5” wheels, hardtail suspension, Shimano 7-speed derailleurs and shifters, and Tektro alloy linear pull brakes. The Sorrento is very sturdy with great tires and responsive gear shifters. However, this bike does not come with a kickstand, and tuning is required before the buyer gets a chance to ride it. The Sorrento is great for entry level mountain bikers.
Diamondback Recoil 29er Mountain Bike
The Recoil 29er is made of an aluminum frame with a SR Suntour XCT fork, Kindshock coil rear shock, Shimano gear shifters and derailleurs, 24 gears, Tektro Aires mechanical disc brake, and 29” wheels. Riders say the Recoil offers a smooth ride with great handlebar control. However, the manual to assemble the bike is confusing, the mechanical brakes make noise, there’s no kickstand, and the components, including the uncomfortable seat, could be of higher quality. The Recoil is great for entry to mid-level mountain bikers who take on easy to intermediate trails.
If you are looking for a commuter bike or one to ride rough terrain, then you should get a mountain bike. Besides getting you from point A to point B, mountain biking is a fun cardiovascular exercise that could be a great social activity as well. Before purchasing one, you should consider the types of mountain bikes available – trail, all mountain, cross-country, freeride, downhill, or dirt jump, hardtail vs full suspension, a 26”, 27.5” or 29” wheel size, the frame compositions – aluminium alloy, steel, titanium, or carbon fiber, and the bike’s components such as rim brakes, hydraulic disc, or cable-activated ones and the bike’s range of gears. After reading the reviews and guides you should now be able to pick the best mountain bike that fits you and your riding style.