Mountain biking is a fun way to enjoy nature and get exercise, and it’s a little more exciting than just going for a walk. However, it’s very important to have the proper gear if you’re going to start mountain biking.
We consulted many experts to give you the best information available for choosing your first mountain bike.
With the wide variety of bikes available, and with so many different options and features of each bike, choosing the right one for you can seem daunting. Once you’ve made the decision to start mountain biking, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions about the type of biking you’ll be doing.
Once you understand your options and what you need, your purchasing decision will become much easier.
Best Entry Level Mountain Bikes
After consulting with the experts and doing some testing of our own, we’re confident that you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in one of the six following mountain bikes. Check out the following reviews to help narrow down your search.
Schwinn High Timber Men's 18 Mountain Bike
The Schwinn High Timber Men’s Mountain Bike is a sturdy and agile option for those who seek the adventure a mountain bike offers without making a big investment.
It has several features that make it an excellent mountain bike including a Schwinn suspension fork for controlled riding, twist shifters, and 21 speeds, quick gear changing, Alloy V brakes for solid stops, and alloy wheels.
You’ll enjoy the ride with the padded seat and trail-ready tires, and the bike is suitable for bike paths, trails, and more. The High Timber Mountain Bike gives you quick shifting, responsive handling, stability, comfort, and a smooth ride.
- Alloy brakes
- Shimano twist shifters and rear derailleur
- Limited lifetime warranty for as long as you own the bike
One of the top reasons for mountain bike crashes is the bike was too difficult to control. The Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike relieves you of this issue by constructing the bike with a steel frame and the Schwinn front shock system. Bumps are smoothed and control is increased with these features.
Many features of the bike are constructed with strong and lightweight alloy, including the rims. Alloy rims provide a smooth ride over any terrain, which I believe makes your riding experience more enjoyable overall.
Riders enjoy this bike for its easy assembly and the high quality you receive for an affordable price.
Additionally, riders of every size praise the Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike’s comfortable fit and smooth ride. It’s an attractive bike that has space to mount a water bottle and rear rack, as well.
26" Wheel Roadmaster Granite Peak Men’s Mountain Bike
The Roadmaster Granite Peak Mountain Bike is great for both paved streets and bike paths as well as the rugged mountain trails.
The 26-inch bike features a suspension fork that offers a smooth ride, trail-ready tires, 18 speeds, smooth SRAM twist shifters, linear pull brakes that give you a sure stop, alloy rims, steel handlebars, and a comfortable padded seat.
When you invest in a mountain bike, you want to be sure you’re paying for quality construction. With the steel mountain frame geometry, you’ll enjoy easy riding.
The bike is equipped with a suspension fork that will smooth the path ahead of you and give you better control of the bike during your ride.
- SRAM shifters
- 3-piece mountain crank
- Steel mountain frame geometry
I believe that one of the most important features of a mountain bike is a smooth gear change, especially when you’re riding quickly along rough terrain.
The SRAM drive twist shifters change the gears smoothly, and the three-piece mountain crank offers a wide gear range - 18 gears total, to be exact.
Mountain bikers, especially beginners, rely on their bikes to have good stopping power. The last thing you want while cruising down a mountain is to not be able to stop quickly and safely.
The powerful linear pull brakes give you great stopping power, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to stop effectively.
Finally, you’ll want the wheels and rims of your mountain bike to withstand any type of ride you take it on.
The 26-inch wheels feature tire treads that will grip everything from pavement to dirt. The alloy rims are both lightweight and durable, giving you ultimate stability.
Diamondback Bicycles Sorrento Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike
The Diamondback Bicycles Sorrento Hard Tail Mountain Bike is a little higher
The heat-treated aluminum frame is solid and holds up well under weight without flexing or breaking. The suspension fork ensures a smooth ride over any type of terrain.
A smooth ride is vital to a mountain bike, and you won’t have to worry about rocks, crevices, or bumps with the Diamondback Sorrento.
It’s necessary that the mountain bike you choose is the right size for you. Diamondback has made this easy for you by offering multiple frame size options to ensure the perfect fit.
Choose from the 16-inch, 18-inch, or 20-inch frame size, and you’ll enjoy a much more comfortable ride with the right size frame.
Each frame size boasts 21 gears that are quickly and easily changed with the SRAM shifters. Linear pull brakes give you simple and certain stopping abilities.
Your ride will be stable on any terrain thanks to the double-walled alloy rims and 27.5” wheels that give great traction and easy rolling.
Overall, the Diamondback Sorrento Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike is a high-quality option for
- Replaceable derailleur hanger
- Shimano derailleurs and shifters
- Available in 16, 18, 20, and 22-inch frames
- 6061-T6 heat-treated, durable aluminum alloy frame
Mongoose Impasse Dual Full Suspension Bicycle
The Mongoose Impasse Dual Full Suspension Bicycle is another 29er at an affordable price. Some of its incredible features include an aluminum full-suspension frame, an Element front fork, Shimano gears, SRAM twist shifters, and front and rear disc brakes.
Compared to steel-framed bikes, the aluminum construction of the Impasse makes it incredibly lightweight yet sturdy and durable.
The rear shock suspension is adjustable, so depending on the type of terrain you’re riding on, you can adjust it to fit your needs.
The Element front suspension fork works together with the aluminum full-suspension frame to give you a smooth and controlled ride. Bumps and unevenness in terrain are minimized with the Mongoose Impasse Mountain Bike.
Shifting gears is easy with the Shimano 21 speed rear derailleur and the SRAM twist shifters. The shifting components are all high-quality and give you smooth gear shifting abilities.
The front and rear alloy disc brakes keep you from sliding out of control or hitting obstacles with their efficient stopping power. You’ll have certain stops in all types of weather and terrain conditions, too, so you can keep riding in rain or shine.
The alloy rims and large, 29-inch wheels give you impeccable control and pedal efficiency. You’ll get a smooth, controlled ride and a durable and quality bike for a great price with the Mongoose Impasse Dual Full Suspension Mountain Bike.
- Shimano rear derailleur and SRAM shifters
- Quick release front wheel for easy transport
- Alloy wheels
- Alloy front and rear disc brakes
Diamondback Bicycles Cobra Junior Boy's Mountain Bike
For blossoming mountain bikers, the Diamondback Cobra Junior Boy’s Mountain Bike gives junior riders plenty of features and a great ride at an affordable price. The heavy-duty steel frame not only supports the average kid’s weight, but it also holds up to rough riding and terrain.
Riders will enjoy the smooth and carefree ride with the excellent suspension fork. Beginners will have all they need with the seven speeds and easy-to-operate twist shifters. Stopping is easy and quick with the linear pull brake system.
The 24” wheel size will help young riders keep up with their parents on the trail. Alloy rims will ensure strength and durability. The Diamondback Cobra is an excellent choice to grow with your child, and the seat can be adjusted easily.
Parents who purchased this bicycle for their kids are happy with the quality for the affordable
It’s a great bike for kids wanting to upgrade to something bigger and better, or as an entry-level mountain bike for kids wanting to ride on rougher terrain.
- 30 mm travel suspension fork
- Heavy-duty steel frame
- Six speeds
How to Choose Your First Mountain Bikes for Beginners
Our buying guide has been crafted to make your decision even easier by giving you high-quality and affordable options you can trust.
Mountain bikes are typically made from one of four materials. Those materials are:
Titanium: This is an expensive material that looks unique and has excellent strength. Its outstanding durability means that most bikes created with titanium include a lifetime warranty. Beginners won’t need to splurge on a titanium-constructed mountain bike.
Carbon Fiber: This material is super light and strong. It absorbs vibrations, as well. It is a newer material in the mountain bike world, and it offers the highest performance characteristics. As with titanium, beginners can choose a more affordable construction for their best mountain bikes under 600
Steel: A popular and traditional material for bikes, steel frames are appreciated for their strength, comfort, and durability. However, steel frames are also heavier than the other materials available today, so they are used less than they used to be.
Aluminum: The most popular material for modern bike frames, aluminum offers lightness, durability, and affordability.
You will not enjoy riding a mountain bike that doesn’t fit you properly. The bike size you choose depends mainly on your height, but also your weight. Not only is a properly fitting bike more comfortable to ride, but it also gives you better control than a bike that is too big or too small for you.
Mountain bikes typically come in standard sizes (small, medium, and large), and most manufacturers include a size chart that lists a height range for each size. If you’re between sizes, it’s best to visit a bike shop to try the bikes out in person.
How Hard You’ll Be Riding
Unless you’re jumping into the deep end of mountain biking and plan to do extreme off-road cycling right off the bat, you won’t need a full-suspension bike.
If you plan on doing a little bit off off entry level road biking, but you’ll also be using bike paths and regular roads, a hardtail mountain bike might be your best option. Hardtail bikes feature a suspension fork on the front that helps give a smooth ride and more control on rough trails.
Most mountain bikes have at least a suspension fork, so it shouldn’t be difficult finding a bike in your budget that offers that feature.
What Type of Riding You’ll Be Doing
There are three main categories of mountain bike riding:
- All mountain or trail
If you plan on sticking to marked trails a majority of the time, a standard hardtail mountain bike should be sufficient.
If you do want to go on a downhill adventure, you can always rent a downhill mountain bike. Even with a tight budget, you can get a decent hardtail bike that will get you down the trail and back in a safe and comfortable manner.
As a beginning mountain biker, you might want to consider a modest budget for your first mountain bike. Your budget will depend on how often you plan on riding, and if you plan on tackling difficult terrain right away.
Frame material, brake type, and shock and suspension type, among other factors, will determine the price of a mountain bike. Understanding how you’re going to use the bike and how frequently will help you set a budget.