How to Choose Beginners Best Mountain Bikes: A Simple Guide

When it comes on how to choose the best mountain bikes for beginners, there are a few factors we need to consider.

How to choose beginners best mountain bikes with girl

Mountain biking offers an exciting and exhilarating way to explore the great outdoors, but it can also be quite daunting to newcomers.

Thankfully, there are plenty of options available for those who are just starting out in the sport.

Factors on How to Choose Beginners Best Mountain Bikes: Key Aspects

One of the key aspects we should focus on is the type of bike that suits new riders. With options like hardtail bikes, full suspension bikes, and fat-tire bikes, it’s essential to understand each bike’s features and benefits, so we can make an informed decision.

Apart from the bike type, other factors include the component quality, frame materials, and budget constraints.

As beginners, our goal should be to find mountain bikes that offer the perfect balance between performance and affordability.

Some of the best beginner mountain bikes available today include the Cannondale Trail 5, Vitus Nucleus, Specialized Chisel Comp and Trek mountain bikes . These bikes are tailored to provide a stable and comfortable ride, allowing us to build confidence while navigating varied terrains.

Understanding Mountain Bike Types for Beginners

Before selecting the best mountain bike for beginners, it’s essential to understand the different types of mountain bikes available on the market.

Each type has specific features and characteristics suitable for various terrains and riding styles.

We’ll cover six popular mountain bike categories: All-Mountain Bikes, Cross-Country Bikes, Downhill Bikes, Electric Mountain Bikes, Enduro MTBs, and Trail Bikes.

All-Mountain Bikes

All-Mountain Bikes are designed for versatile riding, tackling challenging climbs, and descending through rough terrain.

These bikes usually have a suspension travel range of 140-170mm, which provides ample support and comfort during both steep ascents and fast downhill sections. REI recommends All-Mountain Bikes for riders who enjoy conquering diverse terrains and taking on technical features.

Cross-Country Bikes

Cross-Country Bikes are tailored to riders who value speed and efficiency during long, fast-paced rides.

The lightweight frames and suspension systems with typically 80-120mm of travel make these bikes perfect for climbing and covering long distances.

If you’re looking to participate in cross-country races or ride for extended periods efficiently, a Cross-Country Bike might be the right choice for you.

Downhill Bikes

As the name suggests, Downhill Bikes are made for descending fast and tackling the steepest, roughest downhill sections.

The suspension travel in these bikes is usually between 180-220mm, providing excellent stability and shock absorption on challenging descents.

These bikes are generally unsuitable for climbing, so if you’re looking for a bike specifically for downhill riding, this may be the perfect choice.

Electric Mountain Bikes

Electric Mountain Bikes (eMTBs) provide additional power and assistance while riding, making them a great option for beginners or those who want more support during their rides.

With different styles based on the other mountain bike types discussed, these bikes utilize a motor and battery system that supplements the rider’s pedaling power. This extra boost can be especially helpful when navigating uphill sections or tackling longer rides.

Enduro MTBs

Enduro MTBs are designed for a specific type of mountain bike racing that combines both uphill and downhill courses.

These bikes have suspension travel in the range of 160-180mm and feature a balance of climbing efficiency and downhill stability.

If you’re looking for a bike that can handle aggressive trails and technical descents, an Enduro MTB would be a fitting choice.

Trail Bikes

Trail Bikes are an ideal choice for most beginner mountain bikers. With a suspension travel between 130-160mm, these bikes are equipped to handle a variety of trails, including technical climbs and descents.

Their versatility makes them an excellent option for riders who want to explore different terrains and get a feel for various aspects of mountain biking.

Frame Materials

As beginners, it’s vital for us to understand the different frame materials available for mountain bikes. The material used for the frame impacts the bike’s weight, strength, longevity, ride quality, and price.

In this section, we will delve into the most common frame materials: Aluminum, Carbon Fiber, Steel, and Titanium.


Aluminum is the most widely used material for mountain bike frames. It is relatively lightweight and provides a stiffer ride, which can be beneficial for efficient power transfer when pedaling.

Additionally, aluminum is generally more affordable than other materials.

Some drawbacks of aluminum include a harsher ride compared to steel or carbon fiber, as well as possible fatigue issues in the long term.

Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber is popular among higher-end mountain bikes and professional racers. A significant advantage of carbon fiber is its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio.

This material provides a smoother ride due to its natural vibration damping properties, and it can also be molded into various shapes for aerodynamic benefits.

However, carbon fiber mountain bikes can be expensive and may not be the best choice for beginners who may not know how to maintain them properly, causing a reduced lifespan for the frame.


Steel has been a classic frame material for many years. It is known for offering a smooth and comfortable ride quality, with a natural springiness. Steel is durable and repairable, ensuring longevity for your bike.

On the downside, steel can be relatively heavy compared to aluminum or carbon fiber. It is also more expensive than aluminum and may be susceptible to rust if not well maintained.


Titanium is a material that combines the best qualities of steel and aluminum. It is lightweight, similar to aluminum, but provides a ride quality that is smoother like steel.

Durability is also a strong point for titanium, and it is resistant to corrosion, which is an advantage over both steel and aluminum.

The main drawback on this material is the cost. Titanium is significantly more expensive than other materials, often making it an option for higher-end bikes or riders looking for a premium experience.

Wheel Size and Tires

In this section, we will discuss various wheel sizes and tire considerations for beginner mountain bikers.

It’s essential to understand the differences between the types of wheels and tire sizes available, as these factors significantly impact your riding experience and the bike’s capabilities.

26-Inch Wheels

Once considered the industry standard, 26-inch wheels are now generally found on dirt-jump and slopestyle bikes.

Although these wheels are smaller and may not provide as smooth a ride as larger sizes, they are more agile and offer excellent maneuverability, making them suitable option for some beginners who prioritize this aspect.

27.5-Inch Wheels

Also known as 650b wheels, 27.5-inch wheels are favored by many riders who appreciate their balance of maneuverability and rollover capability.

These wheels offer a snappy feel and make it easier to get the bike off the ground, making them a popular choice for beginners and experienced riders alike.

29-Inch Wheels

Larger and faster-rolling than their counterparts, 29-inch wheels (also known as 29ers) provide better rollover capability and increased stability.

Their size allows them to smooth out rough terrain, making them an excellent choice for beginners who may appreciate the added confidence and control these wheels provide.

Tire Considerations

When selecting mountain bike tires, it’s important to consider both the size and width, as they influence your bike’s handling and performance:

  • Cross-country bikes: These typically have tires in the 1.9 to 2.25-inch width range, offering a balance of grip and rolling resistance.
  • Trail and all-mountain bikes: Tires in the 2.25 to 2.4-inch width range are common, providing increased grip and cushioning for rougher terrain.
  • Plus-size tires: Ranging from 2.8 to 3.0 inches in width, plus-size tires offer even more traction and rollover capability. They are an excellent choice for beginners or those who prioritize grip over all else.

When choosing your mountain bike’s wheel size and tires, consider how they will impact your riding experience and which features align best with your goals and preferences as a beginner rider.

Suspension Systems

As you embark on your journey to choose the best beginner mountain bike, it’s important to understand the different suspension systems available.

Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so let’s explore the main options: hardtail, full suspension, and rigid suspension.


A hardtail suspension system features a front suspension fork, which helps absorb impacts on the front wheel, while the rear remains rigid with no suspension. This setup offers a balance between comfort, control, and affordability.

Hardtail mountain bikes are typically lighter and more efficient for climbing, as well as easier to maintain due to fewer moving parts in the rear.

If you’re starting out, a hardtail mountain bike with an aluminum frame and 27.5″ or 29″ wheels is a popular choice.

Full Suspension

Full suspension mountain bikes feature both front and rear suspension systems. The rear shock helps to absorb impacts and keeps the rear wheel in contact with the ground, providing increased control and rider comfort.

However, full suspension bikes can be more expensive and require more maintenance, as the additional components and linkage systems need to be serviced regularly.

These bikes are ideal for those looking for maximum comfort and control on rough terrain, but be prepared for slightly higher costs and upkeep.


Rigid mountain bikes do not feature any suspension, making them the simplest and most budget-friendly option.

While they don’t offer the same level of comfort or control as their hardtail and full-suspension counterparts, rigid bikes can still be suitable for beginner riders on smoother trails or gravel roads. With fewer mechanical components, these bikes are often lighter and require less maintenance.

When considering a rigid bike, remember that the terrain you plan to ride on will play a significant role in determining its suitability for your needs.

Gears and Drivetrain

Gear Systems

When selecting a mountain bike for beginners, it’s essential to consider the bike’s gear system. Gear setups on mountain bikes have evolved over the years, with modern bikes typically featuring between 10 to 12 gears, while older bikes might have up to 3 chainrings in the front with more gears in total. (Bike Perfect).

Similarly, there are three main types of chainrings found on mountain bikes – 1X, 2X, or 3X (Cyclist’s Hub).

Single front chainring setups (1x) have become popular for their simplicity, reduced weight, and wider set of gears available in the rear cassette.

Understanding Gear Ratios

Mountain bike gear ratios affect how easy or difficult it is to pedal, crucial for tackling changes in terrain.

Higher gear ratios make it more challenging to pedal but increase speed, while lower gear ratios make it easier to pedal but may result in slower speeds.

To determine a bike’s gear ratios, simply divide the number of teeth on the front chainring by the number on the rear cassette.

Understanding gear ratios is essential for beginners because different gear ratios cater to varying types of riding conditions.

For example, lower gear ratios are ideal for steep inclines, whereas higher gear ratios are suitable for downhill or flat terrain.

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the specific gear ratios of your selected mountain bike and how to efficiently use them while cycling.

In summary, when choosing a mountain bike for beginners, it’s important to consider the gear system and understand the bike’s gear ratios.

Balancing simplicity and versatility in the drivetrain will ensure a beginner cyclist can adapt to various terrain types and enjoy their mountain biking experience.

Braking Systems

When choosing a beginner mountain bike, it’s essential to consider the braking system, which enables us to stop and control our speed on various terrains.

In this section, we will discuss 3 main types of brakes: Mechanical Disc Brakes, Hydraulic Disc Brakes, and Rim Brakes.

Mechanical Disc Brakes

Mechanical disc brakes operate using a steel cable to apply force to the brake caliper, which clamps down on the rotor to slow the bike down.

These brakes provide reliable stopping power in various weather conditions since the disc is located closer to the hub than the rim.

Mechanical disc brakes are relatively easy to maintain and adjust, making them a good option for beginners.

One of their downsides is that they can require more force applied to the brake lever to achieve the same stopping power as a hydraulic system.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Hydraulic disc brakes use fluid pressure to apply force to the brake caliper, providing more efficient stopping power with less hand strain compared to mechanical disc brakes.

They offer better modulation and require less maintenance, as the system self-adjusts for pad wear.

However, hydraulic disc brakes can be more challenging for beginners to service and are generally more expensive.

Rim Brakes

Rim brakes work by applying pressure directly to the wheel’s rim through brake pads, causing friction and slowing the bike down.

Rim brakes are generally lighter and less expensive than disc brakes, which can be advantageous for beginner mountain bikers.

However, their stopping power is not as effective, especially in wet or muddy conditions. They also tend to wear the rim over time, requiring wheel replacement.

Now that we have discussed the differences among Mechanical Disc Brakes, Hydraulic Disc Brakes, and Rim Brakes, it’s essential to consider your preferences, riding conditions, and maintenance skills while choosing the right braking system for your beginner mountain bike.

Fitting and Sizing

As beginners, finding the right size and fit for your mountain bike is crucial for a comfortable and enjoyable introduction to the sport.

In this section, we will discuss various aspects of mountain bike fitting and sizing, including proper sizing techniques, standover height, and cockpit length.

Proper Sizing Techniques

It is essential to choose a bike that corresponds with your body dimensions to ensure a comfortable riding experience.

To begin, measure your height and inseam, and refer to the manufacturer’s size chart for guidance. Each brand may have slightly different sizing recommendations, so it is important to consult their specific charts.

Online bike sizing calculators can also be helpful, but they should only serve as a starting point for choosing a bike, as fine-tuning the fit might be necessary.

An in-store fitting session, assisted by a skilled bike technician or sales associate, can provide the most accurate sizing recommendations. They will help you find the right bike size and make any necessary component adjustments to achieve a personalized fit.

Standover Height

Standover height refers to the distance between the bike’s top tube and the ground when you’re standing over the bike with both feet flat on the ground.

This measurement is crucial for ensuring riding comfort and control. Ideally, there should be a gap of approximately 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) between your inseam and the top tube of the bike.

If standover height is too low, it may cause discomfort when stopping, as your body comes into contact with the top tube.

Conversely, if the standover height is too high, it becomes difficult to mount and dismount the bike, affecting overall control and confidence on the trails.

Cockpit Length

The cockpit length determines the distance between the saddle and the handlebars.

While riding, you should be able to maintain a comfortable, slightly bent elbow position, with enough room to shift your weight when needed.

If the cockpit length is too short, it can cause strain on your back, arms, and shoulders, leading to an uncomfortable and unstable riding experience.

On the other hand, if the cockpit is too long, it becomes difficult to maneuver the bike and maintain control over rough terrain.

To adjust the cockpit length, you can change the stem length or swap to a different handlebar width. This may require consultation with a bike technician or trying different setups until you find the ideal cockpit length for your needs.


When it comes to choosing the best beginner mountain bike, budget plays a significant role in narrowing down your options.

In this section, we’ll discuss setting a budget and provide some examples of the best mountain bikes for beginners within various price ranges.

Setting a Budget

Firstly, it’s essential to determine how much you’re willing to spend on a mountain bike. By establishing a budget, you can focus on the models that offer the best value for money within your price range.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to consider other cycling-related expenses, such as helmets, gloves, and additional gear, when establishing your budget.

Beginner mountain bikes can range from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars, but aiming for a mid-range budget can provide a good balance between quality and affordability.

Let’s explore some notable beginner mountain bikes within different price ranges.

Under $500

If you’re looking for a beginner mountain bike under $500, take a look at Bike Radar’s guide for options within this budget level.

Under $1,000

  • Cannondale Trail 5 – $950: A decent beginner mountain bike for those looking to explore varied terrain.
  • Orbea Laufey H30: Suits riders who want a versatile, all-around bike with a focus on trails.

By considering your budget and researching the best mountain bikes within your price range, you can confidently select the perfect beginner mountain bike for your needs and preferences.

Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners on a Budget

We have compiled a list of the most popular and highly rated beginner mountain bikes available on Amazon.

These bikes are known for their quality, value for money, and user-friendliness for beginners. Here are our recommendations:

1. Schwinn High Timber 29

The Schwinn High Timber 29 is a versatile bike with 29-inch wheels, making it suitable for a wide range of terrains. I

t features a durable steel frame, 21-speed Shimano shifters, and alloy linear-pull brakes for reliable stopping power.

It’s a great choice for beginners looking to explore the world of mountain biking.

2. Mongoose Dolomite

Designed for off-road adventures, the Mongoose Dolomite is a fat tire mountain bike with a sturdy steel frame, 7-speed Shimano drivetrain, and mechanical disc brakes.

The 26-inch wheels with 4-inch wide tires provide enhanced traction and stability, making it an excellent choice for those just starting out in mountain biking.

3. Huffy Hardtail 24

The Huffy Hardtail 24 is a great bike for younger or smaller riders with its 24-inch wheels, lightweight aluminum frame, and 21-speed Shimano shifters.

The front suspension fork smooths out bumps on the trail, and the alloy linear-pull brakes ensure consistent stopping power. This bike is perfect for young beginners or shorter riders looking to tackle mountain biking.

4. Diamondback Overdrive 29

With a reliable aluminum frame, the Diamondback Overdrive 29 offers a smooth ride and precise handling for beginners.

The 29-inch wheels provide better roll-over ability, while the 24-speed Shimano drivetrain enables smooth shifting in any situation.

Mechanical disc brakes offer dependable stopping power for increased safety on the trails.

Each of these mountain bikes has its own unique features, but they all provide a solid foundation for beginners to start their journey into mountain biking.

We highly recommend considering these affordable bikes and easily available to purchase at Amazon when looking for the perfect beginner mountain bike.

Getting the Beginners Best Mountain Bikes

As we’ve explored in this article, choosing the right beginner mountain bike is crucial for starting your journey towards a healthier and more adventurous lifestyle.

Our simple guide on how to choose beginners best mountain bikes empowers you to navigate through the numerous options available on the market, enabling you to make an informed decision that best suits your individual preferences and budget.

By following our advice, you’ll be investing in a trusty companion to explore off-road terrains, connect with nature, and experience the thrill that mountain biking has to offer.

Not only can this new hobby improve your physical fitness, but it can also contribute to your mental well-being and sense of accomplishment as you conquer those challenging trails.

Through this guide, we commit to ensuring your transition into the world of mountain biking is seamless and enjoyable, leaving a lasting impression that you can be proud of.

By selecting the right beginner mountain bike, you’re setting yourself up for a lifelong adventure that promises excitement and personal growth. Happy trails!

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

When selecting the perfect mountain bike for a beginner, it’s natural to have questions. We’ve gathered some of the most common queries to help guide you through this process.

What type of mountain bike should a beginner get?

For beginners, we recommend considering a fat-tire bike. These bikes have wide tires (at least 3.7 inches), which provide excellent traction on snow and sand, as well as on all-season trails. Fat-tire bikes are forgiving and can be a great option to help you develop your skills and confidence on rough terrain (REI Co-op).

How to choose a mountain bike size?

Choosing the right mountain bike size depends on your height and inseam measurement. Most bike manufacturers provide size charts that list a height range for each bike size. If you’re in-between sizes, it’s best to err on the smaller side as more sizing accommodations can be made with a smaller frame than with one that’s too large. Another way to determine the right size is to use the leg inseam measurement and multiply it by 0.66. The result will give you the right frame size.

How do I know what type of mountain bike to buy?

Deciding on the right mountain bike for you depends on the type of riding you plan to do. There are two basic types: hardtail and full suspension.

Hardtail mountain bikes lack a rear suspension, while full suspension bikes have both front and rear suspensions. Hardtail bikes are generally more cost-effective and suitable for a variety of terrains.

If you plan to do more aggressive, technical riding, you may opt for a full suspension bike.

How to choose a bike for beginners?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a beginner’s mountain bike:

Budget: Determine your budget and research bikes within your price range. There are options available at various price points, so finding the right bike for you is possible regardless of your budget.

Size: Ensure the bike fits you properly, as an ill-fitting bike can lead to discomfort and injury. Your local bike shop can help you find the correct size.

Test ride: Test ride multiple bikes to get a feel for different types of mountain bikes, and find one that feels comfortable and suits your riding style.

Research: Read reviews and seek advice from experienced riders, friends, or online forums to get more insight on specific models.

What are the best mountain bike brands?

Some of the best brands are: Trek, Giant, Cannondale, Yeti and among others.

What’s the best entry-level mountain bike full-suspension?

According to our search results, the Sirdar S-700 S-800 Mountain Bike is a good option for an entry-level full-suspension mountain bike.

By considering these factors on how to choose beginners best mountain bikes and keeping your intended riding style in mind, you can find a suitable mountain bike that meets your needs and provides an enjoyable riding experience.


Find out more about: Types of Bikes for Outdoors.