Shopping for any type of new bike is no easy task.
Shopping specifically for a mountain bike almost feels more difficult.
As more people move to regions where outdoor recreation is a way of life, more manufacturers have hit the market with mountain bikes that tackle everything from relatively flat trails to those extreme downhill tracks.
We’re here to help you narrow down your search by compiling a list of the top brands to consider. Learn about their most popular models, which professional teams are riding those brands, and more.
Here are our 12 favorite mountain bike brands.
- Founded : 1974
- Origin : California
In a way, Specialized mountain bikes kicked off the mountain biking craze of the 1970s with its Stumpjumper bike and have since grown into one of the sport’s most recognizable brands. Specialized founder and owner Mike Sinyard is actually referred to as one of the founding fathers of mountain biking.
Specialized sells all sorts of bikes, but its mountain biking lineup, which covers a range from cross country rides to BMX competitions, is its bread and butter.
One of the top bikes Specialized sells is the Epic, a cross-country-style mountain bike with excellent handling.
The company is known for its suspension technology, which delivers incredible absorption of rough terrain while maintaining speed and pedal efficiency. The Epic also comes in an ultra-lightweight hardtail version.
Beginners should check out the Specialized Chisel.
- Founded : 1994
- Origin : California, United States
I love the story behind Santa Cruz bikes. It was co-founded by professional skateboarder Rob Roskopp, who admits to getting the “mountain biking bug” at the end of his skating career. With full suspension bikes still in their infancy during the early 1990s, Roskopp saw an opportunity to mimic the success he experienced making skateboards.
Today, mountain bikers have plenty of choices across Santa Cruz’s lineup, including the Blur, which is designed for racing on the trails, and the Bronson, which is a great all-around mountain bike with a more affordable price tag.
The company did try to get into the road biking business, but its passion for mountain biking was too strong (along with its dissent for road biking). So, Santa Cruz only focuses on the trails and mountains.
- Founded : 1975
- Origin : Wisconsin, United States
As one of the earliest innovators of mountain bikes, Trek Bikes brings a rich history of the sport to its impressive lineup of bikes. It literally was formed over beers at a small-town Wisconsin pub and the rest is history.
While the company has been around for a while, it’s certainly not afraid of the latest mountain biking technology.
For mountain biking newbies interested in Trek Bikes, you can’t go wrong with the Marlin 7.It comes with an affordable price tag and features a very-useable 10-speed drivetrain. It can handle the trails, but is comfortable enough for commuters, too.
While Trek tends to be a very affordable brand for mountain bikes, it does dabble with luxury products. The Trek Supercaliber, which might be one of the best hardtail designs on the market, retails for $10,500.
- Founded : 1958
- Origin : Switzerland
An iconic European brand, Scott Bikes was actually focused on the slopes as a ski manufacturer before jumping into the bicycle market.
And good thing they did! Swiss cross-country cyclist Nino Schurter, who has won multiple world cross-country titles over the past decade, rides Scott bikes, in addition to a handful of other professionals.
If you’re into cross-country racing and more technical trail riding, the Scott Scale 970 is a great entry-level bike. For the more serious riders, consider checking out the Scott Spark RC 900, which features the brand’s incredible TwinLoc Suspension System.
With a bevy of professional racers supporting the brand, it should come as no surprise that Scott Bikes sell at a large range of prices, some of which eclipse the five-figure mark.
- Founded : 1985
- Origin : Colorado, United States
Coors Beer isn’t the only good thing to come out of Golden, Colorado. Back in 1985, John Parker founded Yeti Cycles. A scrappy company focused on creating no-frill mountain bikes that are comfortable and competitive to ride.
Yeti, which Schwinn acquired in 1995 and then bought by a pair of businesspeople in 2001, tends to make smaller, lightweight mountain bikes that have gained a solid following, especially in Colorado.
Today’s owners, Chris Conroy, and Steve Hoogendoorn, have created progressive, eye-popping designs thanks to Conroy’s artistic eye.
I really like the simplicity of Yeti’s lineup of bikes. The company offers two race bikes, the SB150 and SB115, and then five RIP bikes, two of which feature a hardtail design.
The SB165 isn’t cheap, but it might be the last mountain bike you ever buy.
- Founded : 1971
- Origin : Connecticut, United States
Born out of Canadian bike supplier Dorel Industries, Cannondale has always pushed the limits on mountain bike designs. Some of those crazy designs have actually caught on, attracting other brands to try and mimic their frames, suspensions, and disc brakes.
The company’s hardtail bikes feature a “Save Micro-Suspension,” which is a series of flex zones in the rear triangle and seat tube, offering the cyclists a smoother ride.
Cannondale sells a number of high-end bikes priced well above $10,000, but there are a handful of affordable, entry-level mountain bikes in their lineup, too, like the Cujo 2 and Trail 3. The more entry-level bikes aren’t as technical but doubles nicely as a commuter bike in the city as well.
- Founded : 1988
- Origin : Washington, United States
There’s a lot to like about Kona bicycles, but the fact that they were founded by two guys who loved riding really reflects well in their products.
The rider-owned company delivers bikes with incredible shifting ability, 11-speed cassettes, and super-reliable rack and fender mounts.
The only thing you probably won’t like about Kona is the price. These are premium bikes for serious riders.
In terms of entry-level bikes, there are a handful to pick from pried under $1,000. Check out the Lava Dome, which is great on the singletrack but also as a commuter bike.
While Kona focuses on mountain and cross-country bikes, it also has a lineup of road and commuter models.
- Founded : 1982
- Origin : Minnesota, United States
With a company tagline of Adventure by Bike, Salsa Cycles has to be good for mountain bikes.
The brand’s 29” full-suspension mountain bike, Blackthorn, is one of its top-selling bikes thanks to its “Split Pivot” suspension system, which delivers great pedaling efficiency, not to mention a smooth ride.
The Timberjack is a relatively-affordable hardtail mountain bike that is perfect for any trail and pretty popular among Salsa customers.
A bulk of the new bikes coming out from Salsa now focus on downhill racers who need ultra-technical bikes to deliver them across the finish line first.
- Founded : 2007
- Origin : Arizona, United States
A relative newcomer to the mountain biking scene, Pivot Cycles has quickly established itself as a dependable manufacturer that makes some of the best bikes on the market today.
The company focuses on the trail and all-mountain bikes. Its flagship model, the Mach 6, is designed for power riders who want to attack the trails. Pivot makes super-light but durable frames that are perfect for enduro riders.
Trailer riders should check out the Trail 429, designed for speed, even on the most technical trail.
Pivot makes extremely technical bikes, which means they’re not exactly affordable. I’d say they fall in the category of second bike purchase. You’ve established your hobby as a mountain biker, and now you want to take that hobby a little more seriously.
- Founded : 1972
- Origin : Taiwan
Established nearly 50 years ago, Giant Bikes has a reputation for making solid, entry-level bikes that are not only affordable but also capable of helping young riders learn to tackle trails and mountains.
Today, Giant is the world’s largest bike manufacturer, with its lineup of mountain bikes ranking high in performance, comfort, and price.
If you’re tackling trails, look into the Trance and Stance lines. The Stance 2 is an affordable aluminum-body model that’s super grippy, giving you complete control on any technical surface.
Giant’s Glory gives you the speed, durability, and precision to confidently zoom down the steepest of mountains in terms of downhill mountain bikes.
- Founded : 1985 (brand started in 1996)
- Origin : Germany
As a direct-to-consumer brand, Germany-based Canyon has established itself as an affordable mountain bike option in a market where bikes are increasingly getting more expensive.
The company has been Europe’s largest bike maker for some time, but riders in the U.S. only have been able to get a taste of the Canyon Experience since 2017.
I’m most impressed by the Canyon Neuron AL 6.0 SL. For under $2,000, this full suspension trail bike is extremely dependable on technical trails. The SRAM NX Eagle 12s shifting operates effortlessly.
Remember, as a direct-to-consumer company, your bike is going to show up in the box in a few pieces, and you’re responsible for putting it together. Reviews of bike assembly have been favorable, though.
- Founded : 1981
- Origin : California
Ibis is a California bike shop that solely focuses on mountain bikes. Their entire lineup features carbon frames except for one aluminum model.
Ibis sells its bikes with several available upgrades and options, which is nice if you’re looking for more of a custom mountain bike that fits your needs. It also allows you to prioritize money if your budget is tight.
The Ibis DV9 is a hardtail perfect for general trail riding. If you’re into enduro trail riding or take your bikes downhill, look into the Ibis Ripley, which features great balance.
Ibis has sponsored the Enduro World Series Team for many years, supplying bikes and accessories to that team members.