Last updated: September 8, 2021

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Riding a bike is a great healthy, cheap, and environmentally friendly option of getting around. If you still need convincing that it should be your new mode of transportation, it also helps you cut through traffic in big cities with ease.

But bicycles aren't just for getting around urban areas. Mountain bikes (AKA mountain bicycles or MTB) are all-terrain bikes made for use on trails, and rough and rocky terrain. Thanks to their versatility and usefulness, they are among the best selling recreational products on the market today.

Key Facts

  • Within the MTB market, there are many different models. The most important decision to make is the model you would like. The most popular mountain bikes are all-terrain models.
  • The most commonly made mistake when choosing a mountain bike is getting one that is the wrong size. This error will make your first mountain bike experience very unsatisfactory. If the bike is too big or too small you will not be comfortable nor will you be able to handle the bike well.
  • If you are buying your first mountain bike, you should stick to simpler products that are not super advanced (or expensive). You need to make sure you are getting good quality components, but that you are not paying for anything you are not going to get any use out of.

Our selection: The best mountain bikes

Below you have compiled a list of five of the best mountain bikes currently on the market. We have included all of the pertinent buying information so you can get the product that is best suited for your needs, experience, and budget.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about mountain bikes

Mountain bikes are becoming more and more popular for those who live in cities as well as those in the country. If you are looking for something to take to work, or want something to enjoy your weekends in the country with, Fit For Beach will help you find the best mountain bike for your needs, experience and budget. The below sections lay out all of the information you need to make an informed purchase, and we answer some of the most commonly asked consumer questions.


One of the biggest mistakes made when buying your first MTB is choosing the wrong size. (Source: stage 7: 1231402/

What is a mountain bike and what is it for?

Mountain bikes were first seen in the 70s in the United States as bikes for recreational purposes. Since they first hit the market, mountain bikes have become much more complex to suit different styles and uses. This is why it can be difficult to choose the right MTB for you, since there are so many features to factor into the equation, including the size and style of suspension, and the type of wheels and brakes.

What are the different types of suspension?

It is possible to find mountain bikes with many different types of suspension, from those with front suspension (rigid or semi-rigid) to those with full suspension (also known as double suspension). People tend to choose their suspension based on the kind of terrain they are going to be riding. The below table contains more information regarding the different styles of suspension out there:

Type of suspension Characteristics Price Weight
Rigid or semi-rigid No suspension. They are not advisable for rocky sections or long rides Cheaper because they are simple to manufacture Light
Double suspension Provides a more comfortable riding experience. More effort is required when riding uphill due to the extra weight More expensive Heavier

What wheels to choose when buying a mountain bike?

Smaller wheels (27.5 inches) are better for acceleration because they are lightweight, but they are not so good for biking long distances. Larger wheels (29 inches) give you better stability, which is ideal for rougher terrain, and they let you go further with each push of the pedal.


Mountain bikes have been a mainstay of recreational activities for decades. (Source: aaron thomas: 216204/

What should I be aware of before starting mountain biking?

If you are unsure whether mountain biking is your thing or not, the following section is going to be interesting for you. We will give you some insight into what it takes to ride certain terrains so that you know how to temper your expectations, as well as not invest money into features you are unlikely to use. Keep the following information in mind and make sure you get the best bike for you.

  • Don't be seduced by bargains: Anything too cheap is unlikely to be something you are going to want to ride. You should get something stronger (and better made) that will keep you safe and give you control, over something ludicrously cheap.
  • Physical fitness: It is important to be consistent when practising this sport so that you build up your physical fitness. The best tip for uphill riding is to start off slow and steady and pick up the pace around halfway up.
  • Pace yourself: When you first get a new bike you will likely want to ride it every day without rest. When you first start out, however, it is better to pace yourself and gradually build up to that level.
  • Listen to your friends: Mountain biking is a sport that is more fun when accompanied by friends. It's great to learn from the people who have been doing it longer than you.
  • Hydration: It is key to stay fully hydrated when biking and to take water wherever you go.
  • Take care of your gears: When you change gears, you should take the pressure off your pedals so you get more life out of your crankshaft.
  • Relax: Many new riders, especially downhill riders, are super tense and grip their handlebars tightly. Make sure to control your breathing and let the energy flow through you without being taken over by fear.

What types of mountain bikes are there?

If you compare a mountain bike to a car (a hatchback versus a 4WD for instance) there are similar distinctions to be made. The common feature is that all mountain bikes are designed to be used on uneven terrain, but each one is made with different uses in mind. The below table with break it down better:

Bike type Characteristics
Trail (or All Mountain) Used to ride on unpaved stretches (forest tracks, dirt roads and mountain trails) and are aimed at recreational users. They are ideal for beginners looking to ride at slow speeds
Downhill Used to descend at full speed on trails or downstairs. They can be made with double or single suspension, are strong bikes and are designed to withstand falls and blows
Cross Country (also known as XC) Suitable for crossing mountain sections at high speed. These mountain bikes are used to compete in the Olympic Games, the X-Games and professional races
Enduro Mountain bicycles that are designed to go up and down hills. They are for routes that pass along mountain roads or wider tracks with some jumps

What material are mountain bikes made of?

It is not only professional racing bikes that are made with the best components available as entry-level bikes are also built using high-quality materials. Thanks to the evolution of mountain bike design and technology, MTBS use components (gears, brakes, suspensions) that are lightweight, robust, and the prices have dropped considerably. Below are some of the materials that mountain bike components are commonly made from:

Material Feature
Steel The lowest price material and the pioneer in mountain bike design
Aluminum Lighter than steel, but less resistant. Aluminium absorbs impacts very well
Titanium One of the lightest materials, although more expensive.
Its main characteristic is its elasticity/adaptability.
Due to its high price, few brands use titanium for the frames of their mountain bikes
Carbon fibre Absorbs the vibrations of the ground very well.
More flexible than all other materials however the weakest material

What is the most important part of a mountain bike?

Bar none, the most fundamental part of your mountain bike is the chassis/frame. This is the biggest component of a bike and it holds the machine together. Frames can also be made from a wide range of materials:

Frame material Advantages Disadvantages
Steel Very affordable and simple material for manufacturing Steel is less resistant than other materials
Carbon fibre It is a high-quality material that is extremely light and absorbs vibrations well Very fragile in case of falls or large impacts. Expensive material
Titanium It is the lightest and strongest material of the four. Used in professional mountain bikes The most expensive
Aluminium It is as strong as steel yet lighter On bumpy roads, the rigidity of the material can be uncomfortable

What MTB suits each different style of mountain biking?

Just as there are various ways to ride a mountain bike, there are different bikes made for each kind of biking. This means that you will need a different kind of bike based on the kind of riding you would like to do. The below table lays out the different styles of mountain bike out there and what they are used for:

Riding style Type of bike
Free riding Bike should be lightweight, easy to manage, and durable. Doesn't necessarily need to be ridden long distances.
Urban fixed speed riding Their gears are fixed and the speed you ride at is based on how hard you push down on the pedals. It takes great physical fitness to ride these bikes.
Downhill riding Specialised mountain bikes for safe descents. These are robust, reinforced bikes because they are made for the harshest terrains.

What is the best mountain bike to start with?

As the years pass, more and more people get into mountain biking. If you want to experience the thrill of mountain biking for yourself, the first thing to do is get yourself a mountain bike. Most experienced mountain bikers suggest that a bike with front suspension is the best for new bikers. Below will explain more:

  • They're often cheaper: If you are just testing the waters then you are going to be price-conscious. It is better to spend an average amount of money and not like your bike or the sport than to go top shelf right off the bat.
  • They are simpler to use: While you need to pedal all bikes, those with front suspension are usually more lightweight and easier to propel forward that those with dual suspension.
  • They're more resistant and durable: No unnecessary shock absorbers that need care or maintenance.
  • They're more versatile: They are good for downhill mountain biking and for distance riding. You can use these kinds of mountain bikes for a wider range of riding than dual suspension bikes.

Shopping Criteria

The modern mountain bike market offers a wide range of different models. Since there is so much choice knowing what to get can be tricky, and certainly requires some knowledge. The below section lays out the essential buying criteria you will need to apply so you get something that will last you, and something you are going to use.


Mountain bike frames usually offer standard styles for inexperienced riders. The difference is in how the components are assembled, as well as the type of components. Each brand of mountain bike has its frame differences. There are generally two key considerations to keep in mind when evaluating a mountain bike frame:

  • The standover height: This is the distance from the ground to the top of the top tube of the frame. Bigger is usually better here, but you should always be able to touch the flats of your feet to the ground.
  • Design: Your bike you should have more relaxed geometry (with a more open steering angle).


The best wheel size for medium, large, and extra-large mountain bikes is around 29 inches, while for small and extra-small bikes, 27.5 inches is best. Smaller wheels are less heavy, so they're better for smaller riders. If you want to start downhill biking or hitting jumps, smaller wheels are also better.


Your fork is what provides you with your impact resistance and cushion so it is incredibly important. The below table lays out the different kinds of forks on the market:

Fork Features
Suntour XCM They are the most basic kind of fork and tend to wear out quickly.
RockShox XC 30 High quality with great reliability and shock absorption
Air fork Both high quality and lightweight
RockShox Recon Gold Made with aluminium(lighter than those of steel).
These are the most professional forks available

If you are new to mountain biking you should get something from the second category (or higher). if you aren't finding anything in these categories, try to see if there are any equivalents available that will perform the same.

When mountain biking, you should only ever consider models that use hydraulic or disc brakes as these are the only kinds that allow for fast stopping without locking up and sliding. These kinds of brakes also require you to apply less pressure, so they aren't as hard on your hands. Tektro and Shimano are the most commonly encountered brakes on mountain bikes.


A mountain bike's pedals and crank are what we transfer the force from our legs to move us in the direction we want to go. With mountain bikes, they use gears depending on the terrain that changes the resistance of the crank. Gears are typically referred to as speeds, and the best system for a novice is a 2 x 10 or 1 x 11 system.


It is common for people to replace the stock tires that come with their first bike with better ones, or ones better suited for the type of riding they want to do. If you are going to replace the stock tires, it is a good idea to get all-terrain ones that have a thick tread. You can always get tires from the previous year as the design doesn't change enough in that time to be significant to performance.


The suspension is made to absorb the impact of rocks, bumps, roots etc. in the ground when we ride over them so we don't feel everything in our arms, wrists, and hands. You should pay close attention to the suspension of your bike, because a good suspension makes riding comfortable and, depending on the terrain, possible.


The wide variety of choices on the market when it comes to mountain bikes means that you need to know how to evaluate the different important factors. To start with, you have to know what you'll use the bike for because all of the other decisions (forks, shocks, frame, tires) are based on that.

You need to be honest about how and where you will ride your mountain bike, because tougher terrain requires more robust, and generally more expensive components. wherever you ride, always be aware that mountain bikes are made and should be purchased to stand up to rough terrain and the added strain that places on the machine, so you are going to want quality parts that perform well and keep you safe.

If you found this article interesting and helpful, share it with friends and family on social media. Additionally, you can drop us a comment in the below section and let us know what you think!

(Source of featured image: Bogdancadar: 666656/

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