After exhaustively researching five of the top mountain bike companies we found that Diamondback is the best brand overall.
In my opinion, there are few ways of enjoying the outdoors that are more thrilling and physically taxing than by going mountain biking. That speed and a little bit of danger to go with your fresh air and beautiful surroundings.
Most consumers will feel great on Diamondback bikes because of their high-quality construction and easy-to-ride designs.
However, some mountain bikers have different needs and may want to check out other options to find out if there’s a better fit for them.
You can also check our guide for best mountain bike for beginners and best mountain bikes under $1000 or Best Mountain Bike under $2000.
Read on to find the best mountain bike brand for you.
The 5 Best Mountain Bike Brands Reviewed
Diamondback (Best Overall Mountain Bike Brand)
Diamondback is one of the most famous mountain bike manufacturers in the world, selling bikes since the late-70s.
They make everything from inexpensive entry-level models to competition-level bikes in several different categories. Essentially, if you’re looking for any kind of mountain bike, at any price point, you’ll likely find one among Diamondback’s offerings. That’s why we’ve listed them as best overall.
Diamondback’s Standout Models:
- Hatch 1: This model is great for beginners, especially taking the price into account (under $600). If you want slightly more in terms of performance, you can take a look at the Hatch 2 or Hatch 3.
- RAtroz 3: If you aren’t concerned with the aesthetic appeal of your bike, the Atroz 3 has a lot to offer. Suitable for beginner to intermediate level cyclists, this full-suspension MTB is optimized for 650B wheels. The single pivot suspension system ensures shock absorption on even the most challenging of trails.
Diamondbacks are known for using very high-quality materials and components in their bikes. If you’re considering one of their bikes and look at the specs, you’ll often see brakes and gears made by Shimano and SRAM.
When Diamondback sends out their bikes, they are part-assembled, so you won’t have to worry about spending hours and hours putting everything together. All you have to do is attach the handles, saddle, and wheels before being ready to go (of course, you’ll want to check the gears and brakes first).
Another plus is that you’ll be guaranteed a good warranty when you buy from Diamondback. You’ll usually get a lifetime warranty on the bike’s frame and a 5-year warranty on everything else. They are very focused on keeping their customers happy, so you’ll seldom face problems with getting the company to reimburse you or pay for repairs.
Giant Bicycles (Best Mountain Bike Brand for Beginners)
The philosophy of Giant Bicycles, based in Taiwan, has always been to pay more attention to the average rider than the pros.
The company produces bike frames for many other brands, but they also sell their unique models. This means that although there’s a little bit less prestige that comes from riding a bike from Giant Bicycles as opposed to, say, a Yeti, there’s not going to be a big difference in quality.
Giant Bicycles Standout Models:
- Giant Bicycles TALON 1: This entry-level hardback (i.e. cross-country bike without rear shocks) is great for beginners and very versatile for riding in many different conditions.
- Giant Bicycles TRANCE 29: The trance line is a well-established and respected model of a trail bike. It can be ridden comfortably by everyone from beginner to advanced-intermediate riders.
Although mountain bikes are not Giant Bicycles specialty, they create great rides for beginner and intermediate bikers.
The company has the advantage of producing all of their frames themselves (since remember, they produce frames for many other brands), allowing them to innovate and produce high-quality frames without paying an external manufacturer. Passing those benefits on to consumers is one of the reasons they are one of the largest and most successful brands in the world.
Trek Bikes (Best Mountain Bike Brand for Cross-Country Mountain Bikes)
When Trek Bikes started in 1976, they were a small team producing steel frames out of a small Wisconsin town. They were quick to get up to speed by producing their first carbon fiber mountain bikes in the mid-eighties and entering the pantheon of top mountain bike brands.
In the decades since, they’ve grown to be one of the most highly-regarded US bike manufacturers due to their emphasis on quality.
Trek Bikes Standout Model:
- Top Fuel 7 SX: One of the premier cross country bikes in the world, the Top Fuel 7 SX is great for riders who want a serious yet versatile bike. The Top Fuel line includes several other models (the Top Fuel 8, 9.7, 9.8, 9.9, as well as further sub-categories), which gives you a lot of choice about the exact components you want on your bike.
The mountain bikes from Trek feature several innovative technologies primed by the company. They have introduced several modifications that increase their effectiveness in cushioning your ride.
For instance, Trek developed a technology that responds to the terrain and the rider’s unique style. The Re: Aktiv suspension system changes the performance of the shocks automatically, thus allowing for a personalized ride.
To do this sensitive the shocks are replaced for alternative ones with more depth on downhill terrain and less responsiveness when you’re pedaling flat out.
The Top Fuel line has a system that allows you to lock the suspension in place using a lever on your handlebars.
This feature comes in handy during steep ascents, during which it will increase your pedaling efficiency.
Yeti Cycles (Best High-End Mountain Bike Brand)
Yeti Cycles puts a lot of effort into creating mountain bikes to the absolute highest standards, creating machines that pro and expert riders swear by.
They are a relatively young company, founded in 1985 by John Parker, which exclusively makes mountain bikes. This means that they put all their energy into developing great bikes for off-road conditions.
The Yeti turquoise color has become an iconic symbol of the brand and will turn heads wherever you ride.
Yeti Cycles Standout Models:
- Yeti Cycles SB115 Race: This is a cross-country bike that has the chops to feature in races at the very pinnacle of the sport. It has a unique frame shape and the highest quality components to ensure high performance on all angles of terrain.
- Yeti Cycles SB165 Turbo: The SB165 Turbo is one of the best Enduro bikes in the world, which makes sense since Yeti has been at the front of the pack in the discipline for decades.
Yeti Bikes are of undoubted quality, but they are incredibly expensive. Often, it costs over $4000 for just the frame and upwards of $7000 for a fully equipped bike. If you can afford these prices, though, you won’t have any regrets once you get out onto the trails.
We have to get a little bit technical to discuss the unique Switch Infinity Suspension System, which only Yeti bikes have. The system allows your suspension to travel linearly as well as up and down, meaning that side-to-side impacts will be broken just as much as up and down ones.
There are too many other unique systems that go into Yeti bikes, from their unique Turq carbon fiber technology to their Anti-Squat frame shape, for me to get into. When you’re buying a Yeti, be sure to research all your options as you’re customizing your new bike.
Cannondale (Best Mountain Bike Brand for Electric Mountain Bikes)
Cannondale is a large bicycle manufacturer that makes everything from road bikes to eclectic bikes.
Since their founding in 1971, they’ve made a habit of attracting some of the best engineers working on bikes and have the track record to show for it. As you’ll see, their E-Mountain technology has revolutionized the niche market for electric mountain bikes.
Cannondale Standout Model:
- Cannondale Habit Neo 1: This trial bike comes equipped with a powerful motor and a 625Wh battery that combine for an astounding 100km range on a single charge.
The craziest technology that Cannondale has developed, which testifies to their willingness to break the rules, is their famous lefty suspension system. This suspension uses only one side of the traditional fork to secure your wheel to your bike. Although it looks strange, you’ll quickly get used to it and enjoy the exceptional handling the technology provides.
This rule-breaking spirit has led to their success in creating electric mountain bikes. Built from carbon fiber and integrating unique suspension systems into the E-Mountain concept, the newer versions of mountain bikes like the Habit Neo and Montero are integrated into incredibly impressive pieces of technology.
Buyer’s Guide for Mountain Bikes
There are quite a few considerations to take into account when buying a mountain bike. From choosing the correct type of mountain bike for your skill level and the terrain you plan to ride to make sure you buy a bike that’s the correct size for you.
In our buyer’s guide, we’ll go over the five most important questions to ask yourself when considering buying a mountain bike.
What Are the Different Types of Mountain Bike?
If you walk into a specialty cycling store and just ask to buy a mountain bike, the response will be: what kind?
The general public might not realize that there are many different kinds of mountain bikes, since the sport became popular, manufacturers have created several different classes of bikes that are meant for different kinds of riding.
The designs of these different types of mountain bikes make a large difference when you’re riding and can impact their speed, how easy it is to pedal them, and the bike’s stability.
In this section, we’ll go over all the different options so that you avoid the uncomfortable situation of buying the wrong type of mountain bike.
Cross-Country Mountain Bikes
These are the most basic and easily recognizable types of mountain bikes and they excel in most conditions. If you’re just now learning that there are different types of mountain bikes, this is probably the type of bike you should go for.
Manufacturers design cross-country Mountain Bikes, which are also often stylized as ‘XC Bikes,’ to do most things well. For instance, it’s easy to pedal a cross-country mountain bike across the flat ground and up an ascent, while they still possess a great deal of stability when you’re bombing it down the mountain.
Generally, cross-country bikes are very light compared to other kinds of mountain bikes. The frame of a cross-country mountain bike is usually made of lightweight metal like carbon, aluminum, or steel (and oftentimes a mix of these) to create a stiff, heavy-duty body for your bike while remaining light enough to pedal easily.
If you want a bike that will get you where you want to go, a cross-country mountain bike is the best for you. Luckily, you’ll have lots of options. Since cross-country mountain bikes are one of the most popular categories for consumers, nearly all the brands on our list have their own.
Trail Mountain Bikes
Trail Mountain bikes have very different construction and feel very different when you’re riding them. That’s because trail bikes have been designed for riding downhill at high speeds. They are popular among riders who either drive to the top of mountains or go skiing hills during the summer to ride down their trails.
If you know that you primarily want to use your mountain bike for descents, then you should get a trail bike.
The specialization of trail bikes for descents means that they are slower and more difficult to pedal on the way up. However, they are quite a bit easier to handle. After all, you’ll have to be making sharp turns at high speeds when riding downhill. One more relevant difference is the high-performance braking that trail bikes usually come equipped with.
The performance differences between the specialized trail mountain bike class and the more basic cross-country come from several subtle differences.
First of all, the frame of a trail bike is usually quite short, which makes sense when you consider that you’ll most often be sitting straight up while riding down a trail instead of bent over the handlebars while pedaling. In a reverse effect, the handlebars of trail bikes are very wide, which gives you more stability and balance at high speeds.
Finally, many of the components of these bikes are also tailored to downhill riding. Most notably, trail mountain bikes have thicker wheels with a rougher tread on them, which stand up to difficult terrain.
Enduro Mountain Bikes
The emergence of Enduro mountain bikes as a distinct type came from a new kind of competition that emerged in the 80s and 90s before being formalized in the early 2000s.
Enduro races are a mash-up of downhill races, where riders only need to complete a downhill course, and cross country races, where riders need to complete a course that has both uphill and downhill sections. In an Enduro race, riders need to ascend to the top of a downhill section, but only the downhill portion is timed (they can take as long as they want to get uphill).
As a result of this new discipline, mountain bike manufacturers began to produce models tailored to the new demands of these races that combine some of the features of cross-country bikes, trail bikes, and downhill bikes.
The easiest way to explain the unique design of Enduro bikes is to say that they have a similarly long frame length to cross-country bikes while preserving many of the downhill riding-related features of trail bikes, such as wide tires and heavy brakes.
Enduro bikes are made from either aluminum or carbon fiber, which keeps the weight down and allows you to pedal up hills without too much resistance.
This class of mountain bikes is still fairly new and specialized for a specific kind of racing. This means that they are often quite expensive and not great for entry-level riders. However, if you’ve been riding a certain kind of bike for some years and want something new, it’s worth trying out an Enduro bike.
Downhill Mountain Bikes
Downhill mountain bikes are the next level up from trail bikes in terms of their suitability for extreme downhill conditions. These mountain bikes sacrifice just about any ability to pedal uphill or on level ground for features that make them able to handle incredibly steep downhill trails and even significant drops.
Nearly every design feature of design bikes contributes to making them perfect for taking on descents. They have very thick and heavy frames so that they can stand up to the rigors of downhill riding and face repeated jumps without any damage. This, of course, makes them heavier and more difficult to pedal on level ground.
As well, downhill bikes don’t have as many different gears as other types of bikes. Many of them only have seven gears instead of the 21 you’ll usually find on other types of bikes.
Finally, downhill bikes have components with an even more extreme bias towards downhill riding. Their tires are even thicker than trail bikes and many of them have two layers of rubber to protect against flats. They also have suspensions that give up 200mm when called on, helping you weather impacts without feeling them as much.
You should only buy a downhill bike if, well, you only plan on riding it downhill. That means that you have access to a ski hill so that you can ride the lifts up, or you know some great spots that you can drive to.
Other Types of Mountain Bikes
There are even more types of mountain bikes meant for specific uses, but these aren’t as popular as the four we’ve covered. These include:
- Electric mountain bikes (which come with a battery that helps power the wheels)
- 29ers (which have huge 29-inch wheels)
- Dirt Jumping bikes (specialized for going off jumps and doing trips)
- Singlespeed (mountain bikes with only one gear)
These types of mountain bikes are a little bit more niche and not so popular with regular consumers as opposed to pro riders or serious hobbyists.
What’s Your Skill Level?
The degree of skill and experience you have makes a large difference to the type of mountain bike you should buy. In essence, the most important thing to do is avoid biting off more than you can chew. If you buy a mountain bike you don’t have the skill to handle, not only will you not enjoy riding it, there’s a serious risk of injury.
Beginner riders should avoid getting a bike that’s too specialized for any one purpose for several reasons.
First of all, if you’re at the beginning of your journey as a mountain biker, you might not know what type of terrain and riding will prove to be your favorite. Perhaps you’ll go into it thinking that you want to ride downhill only, but find that you love level riding or ascents. It’s best to get a bike that can do it all. Save the specialized types for the second bike you buy.
Secondly, specialized mountain bikes are usually more expensive than cross-country or trail bikes because they have much smaller markets. Further, the market for, say, an Enduro bike skews towards really serious mountain bikers who won’t bat an eye at spending many thousands of dollars on a bike.
Once you get to an intermediate level, there are more options you can look at in terms of the type of bike you get. At this point, you’ll have a better idea of both your preferences and your ability as a mountain bike rider.
However, it’s still inadvisable to buy a bike that was designed for expert riders simply because you won’t be making use of all the little performance features that add to the price.
Finally, expert riders can think about the full range of types of mountain bikes, but the choice becomes much more individualized at this level. Once you have a good grasp of your riding style and know which features of bikes complement it, you’ll want to be looking at individual models much more closely.
What Type of Components Do You Need?
When you’re buying a mountain bike, many manufacturers allow you to customize your bike by selecting the components that go onto it. For instance, you might be offered a choice between pad brakes and disc brakes. The disc brakes will be higher performance, but also carry a higher price than the pad brakes.
These decisions are highly contextual. For instance, if you’re buying a cross-country bike but foresee riding it downhill quite often, it makes sense to go for disc brakes (as you’ll want to have that extra braking power).
If you aren’t too experienced and don’t know the pros and cons of adding on a certain component, we’d recommend talking to someone who does or extensively researching the options online.
When doing this, you’ll want to be quite specific–don’t google ‘disc brakes vs. pad brakes,’ but rather investigate the specific brands and models of the components you’re choosing between.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to make all these decisions right away. You can purchase the basic model of a bike and slowly upgrade its components as the original ones wear away or you find them lacking.
Our Verdict: The Best Mountain Bike Brand
Diamondback remains the go-to for the average consumer. The balance the company strikes between quality and affordability is incredibly impressive and suits beginners and intermediate riders. However, they also have the history and know-how to produce bikes for the most advanced riders and even pros.
If you can see yourself taking a Diamondback out onto the trails, why not take the jump and get one today?