Buying Guide: Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners (2016 – 2017)

If you are a beginner to mountain bike riding or you want some basic information before you head out shopping to buy a new bike, you are in the right place to learn everything you need to know. There is a wide variety of mountain bikes you can choose from. As you learn more about mountain bikes and the many types and varieties that are available for sale, you may find the task a bit daunting. Click below to see our top selection on Amazon, or keep reading for more information.

#1 Top Rated Beginner Mountain Bike (Editor Selection) — Click Here!

To save you any frustration or headaches, below are a list of our editors’ top rated mountain bikes for beginners, reviews on those MTBs and a guide to the things you need to consider before mountain bike shopping.

Our Beginner Mountain Bike Ratings At-A-Glance

beginner mtb ratings

Top 10 Best Beginner Mountain Bikes for the Money (2016 - 2017)

Here you'll find our list of the best cheap mountain bikes we've reviewed based on our team's ratings of the products. If you want to read reviews or get more product information, just scroll down the page or click on the links.
PRODUCTOUR RATING
Vilano Ridge 2.0 Mountain Bike
Vilano Ridge 2.0 Mountain Bike
(10 / 10)
Upland X90 26-inch Hardtail Mountain Bike
Upland X90 26-inch Hardtail Mountain Bike
(9.6 / 10)
Diamondback Overdrive Sport 29er Mountain Bike
Diamondback Overdrive Sport 29er Mountain Bike
(9.9 / 10)
Vilano Blackjack 3.0 29er Mountain Bike
Vilano Blackjack 3.0 29er Mountain Bike
(9.5 / 10)
Merax Finiss 26
Merax Finiss 26" 21-Speed Mountain Bike
(8.8 / 10)
Charge Cooker 3 29er Hardtail Mountain Bike
Charge Cooker 3 29er Hardtail Mountain Bike
(9.7 / 10)
Vilano Ridge 1.0 Mountain Bike
Vilano Ridge 1.0 Mountain Bike
(10 / 10)
Navi RS100 Hardtail Mountain Bike
Navi RS100 Hardtail Mountain Bike
(9.6 / 10)
Kawasaki DX Full Suspension Mountain Bike
Kawasaki DX Full Suspension Mountain Bike
(9.6 / 10)
Diamondback 2016 Recoil Complete Full Suspension Mountain Bike
Diamondback 2016 Recoil Complete Full Suspension Mountain Bike
(9.5 / 10)

Beginner Mountain Bike Reviews

Below you will find reviews on the MTBs you see listed in the chart above. Our editors evaluated each model and let you know the best and worst things about each one so that you can make an informed decision.

Vilano Ridge 2.0 Mountain Bike Review

Vilano 26-Inch Frame Mountain Bike Ridge 2.0 MTB 21 Speed Shimano with Disc Brakes

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For a bike that looks and rides like a high-end mountain bike but comes at a price you can live with, choose the Vilano Ridge 2.0. It boasts 21 speeds that’ll have you covered anywhere you go on or off-road. The suspension fork with lockout and mechanical disk brakes give you maximum control in all conditions. The Vilano Ridge 2.0 Mountain Bike has a lightweight 26” 6061 aluminum frame and quality mag alloy wheels. Form meets function in this bike that’ll take you from the street to a mountain trail with style and ease.

Pros: High-quality bike at an affordable price. Suitable for a wide range of terrains.

Cons: Only performs well on mild terrain.

Upland X90 26-inch Hardtail Mountain Bike Review

Upland X90 26-inch Hardtail Mountain Bike

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Get ready to hit the trails on the X90, Golden Wheel Group’s high end mountain bike. Perfect for hardcore enthusiasts or daily commuters, the X90 is a 24 speed with Shimano EF51-24 shifting levers for variable speed changes and smooth transfers. High quality parts like a Suntour fork with 75mm suspension carry you over obstacles on your path, whether it’s dirt or paved. DSK-320 mechanic disc brakes ensure a safe, clean stop. A team of engineers and designers worked hard to create a high quality hardtail mountain bike that looks as sharp as it feels to ride.

Pros: high quality Shimano parts, easy to assemble, available in three color options

Cons: no kickstand

Diamondback Overdrive Sport 29er Mountain Bike Review

Diamondback Overdrive Sport 29er Mountain Bike

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This mountain bike can get you on those rugged trails and back with ease. It can used to pedal through parks and  through cities The mountain bike is lightweight with a strong frame. It steers precisely on rough terrain and has 27 shifting options for those steep climbs. This bike stops on a dime with the excellent brakes installed. It is rated as an entry level mountain bike.

Pros: Solid mountain bike for riding on rugged trails and through cities and towns.

Cons: Bike seat is not very comfortable for long rides.

Vilano Blackjack 3.0 29er Mountain Bike Review

Vilano Blackjack 3.0 29er Mountain Bike MTB with 29-Inch Wheels

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Take on any terrain in this newly designed Vilano Blackjack mountain bike. It handles well on various surfaces like smooth roads, bumpy trails, and dirt roads. Its light weight makes it easy to mount and take with you anywhere adventure beckons you. Shift gears easily and accurately with its Shimano EzFire shifters. Powerful disc brakes in the front and rear of the bike will slow you down no matter what terrain or weather condition you find yourself in.

Pros: Sturdy double wall alloy rims, hard tail frame is hand built, bike easily rides over bumps and other obstacles

Cons: 250 lb weight limit

Merax Finiss 26″ 21-Speed Mountain Bike Review

Merax Finiss 26

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Hop on the Merax Finiss to experience the thrill of the ride once again. The heat treated aluminum frame is strong and lightweight and is perfect for paved paths or wooded trails. Shimano derailleurs and shifters make hills easy to master on this 21 speed. 26-inch double wall aluminum rim wheels and mechanical disc brakes ensure smooth rides and easy stops. An 80mm suspension fork improves control and minimizes the effects of rough terrain. No tools are needed for the quick-release front wheel when you need to change a tire.

Pros: lightweight, budget friendly, soft suspension that’s great for trails, available in three colors

Cons: front shock quality, brakes and derailleurs need adjustment, reflectors and bottle holder subpar

Charge Cooker 3 29er Hardtail Mountain Bike Review

Charge Cooker 3 29er Aluminium Hardtail Mountain Bike

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Mountain biking is a great activity – especially in the spring and summer – and this mountain bike particularly offers a quality ride. The handling is designed with "appropriate stiffness" in mind, allowing for riders to have a lot more control over their riding experience than other bikes may offer. It is also designed with strength and durability, which not only makes for a more enjoyable and trustworthy ride, but also a greater degree of longevity.

Pros: Handling is stiff when it needs to be, a high degree of longevity, quality and high-tech gears and brakes, designed with durability and strength in mind

Cons: Depending on your size, you may want a larger or smaller mountain bike

Vilano Ridge 1.0 Mountain Bike Review

Vilano Ridge 1.0 Mountain Bike MTB 21 Speed Shimano with Disc Brakes

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This bike can handle it all! The Vilano Ridge 1.0 26" Mountain Bike is the ideal entry-level mountain bike that’s equipped to handle trails, dirt paths or simply the ride to work — all with flawless ease and great style. With a Shimano 7 x 3 drivetrain (21 speeds), steel suspension fork and alloy rims, this bike also has mechanical disc brakes for amazing stopping power in a variety of conditions.

Pros: Gears shift smoothly, handles feature good grip, great value for the price

Cons: Tires could have better tread for maintaining traction on dirt trails

Navi RS100 Hardtail Mountain Bike Review

Navi RS100 Hardtail Mountain Bike, Aluminum Alloy Frame, Disc Brakes, Shimano Tourney 21-speed, 27.5

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Taking you on or off road, the Navi RS100 Hardtail Mountain Bike is a great choice for beginning riders and biking experts alike. A 6061 aluminum alloy frame is both light and durable, and along with double wall rims and stainless steel spokes it is made to stand up to extreme conditions and dedicated riders. It comes with Shimano 160mm stainless steel disk brakes as well as three front and seven rear gears to choose from. 90% pre-assembled, it is ready to take on the trail.

Pros: Light, durable, and ready to ride

Cons: Pedal grips, reflectors, and other extras not included

Kawasaki DX Full Suspension Mountain Bike Review

Kawasaki DX Full Suspension Mountain Bike, 26 inch Wheels, 19 inch Frame, Men's Bike, Black/Green

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When you’re riding on your bike, you want to have a certain degree of control over it. This bike offers that in spades – not only does it come with a high level of power and durability (with its 26-inch wheels and 19-inch frame), its high-quality design also allows for riders to get along on it without any fuss about it not responding well that you may find in the case of other mountain bikes. Aside from some quick assembly, you should be riding on this thing in no time.

Pros: Solid build, solid handling, a lot of power to it, good lasting value

Cons: Might be too big/heavy for some riders to fully enjoy

Diamondback 2016 Recoil Complete Full Suspension Mountain Bike Review

Diamondback Bicycles 2016 Recoil Complete Full Suspension Mountain Bike by Diamondback Bicycles

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A mountain bike is a great investment for people who want to just get out and enjoy nature, especially when it’s a bit warmer out. This one is no slouch, offering riders both the style that they want and the power that they need. Designed with experienced and inexperienced riders alike in mind, this mountain bike is built by hand and is designed to be ready to ride in just a few steps.

Pros: Very weighty and powerful, good for both newbies and more experienced riders, high degree of durability

Cons: Riders may be advised to make certain upgrades as components are basic and not top of the line quality

Know Which Mountain Bike Style is Best for You

You must first identify the type of mountain bike style you want. Mountain bikes are basically categorized into the following styles:

  • Trail
  • All Mountain/Enduro
  • Cross-Country (XC)
  • Downhill/Park
  • Fat Biking

Mountain bikes are designed for different terrains and riding styles. In order to choose the right style, you must figure out what type of riding you will do most of the time. If you are looking for a mountain bike to handle all types of riding, you should go for a trail bike since these bikes are fun, efficient, and have a sensible weight for all types of riding conditions.

All Mountain/Enduro bikes are more suited for handling mountain terrain while pedaling uphill or handling steep descents. Cross country bikes are designed for competitive riding and faster speeds down trails. Downhill/Park bikes are used mostly at lift-serviced bike parks such as a ski resort. Fat biking is designed for riding in snow or sand. More than likely, your best bet is to choose a trail style mountain bike.

The Frame

Now that you know what style of bike you want, the next step is to look at the frame. The frame is the heart of the mountain bike and everything else is centered around it. For beginners, you should consider a bike with front suspension only which is known as a hardtail frame. If you can afford a few extra bucks, then go for a full suspension frame which provides a more comfortable ride and better control when compared with hardtail frame.

The Price

There is no limit when it comes to the price of a mountain bike. It is a good idea to figure out a budget you can afford for your new bike so you will only look at bikes within that specific budget price range. It is a good idea to shop around at a few different bike shops as well as check prices online.

Take Your Time

There are several other components to a bike that you should also consider such as the type of brakes, gears, frame materials, wheel size, and the list goes on. Make sure to take your time and find a reliable mountain bike dealer who can help you understand which components are right for your specific riding needs. Do not choose someone who is only interested in selling you the highest priced bike in the store. Follow these tips and you will be armed with enough knowledge to make a good purchase when shopping for a mountain bike.

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