How To Choose a Mountain Bike? Buyer’s Guide & Types

There is a wide variety of bikes and their abilities. With so many good options, you'll be able to find one that fits your riding style. To get ready, think about how much money you want to spend, what kind of mountain bikes you like, and how you like to do it. We've given you a lot of details here. The table of contents on the right can help you determine its meaning.

Types of mountain bikes 

All-mountain bikes

how to choose a mountain bike

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All-mountain riding is like trail riding on steroids, with longer, scarier descents and more technical features, both natural and manufactured. All-mountain bikes are made to work well on steep downhills and to be light and quick enough to ride uphill.

Cross-country bikes

how to choose a mountain bike

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This style of riding usually involves going fast and being good at climbing. Distances range from just a few miles to more than 25, and most bikes are made to be fast and light. These bikes can be great if you want to start racing or if you want a quicker ride for the trails near you.

Trail bikes 

how to choose a mountain bike

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This style of mountain biking is probably the most common because it is based on something other than any type of racing. This style is for you if you want to meet up with friends at the local trailhead and ride a mix of climbs and descents. Fun, speed and an excellent overall weight are all critical to the bikes in this category.

Fat-tire bikes

how to choose a mountain bike

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Tires 3.7 inches to 5 inches or broader give these bikes excellent grip, especially in sand or snow. Fat-tire bikes are great for people just starting because the wide tires make picking a path through rough terrain easy.

E-mountain bikes

how to choose a mountain bike

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E-mountain bikes are known as electric mountain bikes that are made to be used on trails that aren't paved roads. These bikes have all the technology and parts of traditional mountain bikes, but they also have a motor and battery to help you ride on rough, mountainous terrain.

Downhill/park bikes

how to choose a mountain bike

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These bikes are mostly used at bike parks with lifts, and REI doesn't sell them. Downhill bikes are big and challenging, and riders wear full-face helmets and body armor as they go over jumps, berms, rock gardens, and wooden ladders.

Folding mountains bikes

how to choose a mountain bike

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A folding mountain bike is exactly what it sounds like: it's a bike that can be folded up. They are made to save space for commuters and people who ride bikes in cities where space is limited.

How much do you want to spend? 

Top-of-the-line mountain bikes can cost more than $10,000. A mountain bike can also be bought at Walmart for $100. This huge price difference suggests a difference in performance between a go-cart and a Tesla. Pro tip? Don't choose either one. Here are some general price ranges:


We only buy hardtails or used full-suspension bikes in this price range. A new bike that costs this much is more complex than one that costs more. It will be heavier and have lower-quality parts, making shifting harder and less consistent, pedaling slower, and the front suspension feel rougher. Frame designs range from good to far behind what's new in MTBs. Everything adds up to less fun. If you can spend more than $1,500, you'll be able to get a much better bike.


Around $2,000, you have to choose between a hardtail and a full-suspension bike. Full suspension will make it easier and give you more grip if you are new to the sport. At this price, you can get a good one. On the other hand, a hardtail is easier to maintain, encourages good technique, and you can get a nice one in this price range.

Most of the significant changes in MTBs end up at this price point. Think about things like dropper posts, one-by-12-speed drivetrains, and thru-axles. Even so, they won't be the best versions. That also applies to your front fork and rear shock. But if you buy a reasonable frame, you can upgrade parts over time to make the bike run better.

At this price point, it's unlikely that you'll get one of the best frames from a traditional manufacturer. For example, the Santa Cruz Tallboy, one of our favorite short-travel bikes, starts at around $2,800. You can get a complete bike with an aluminum frame from consumer-direct brands like YT and Electric for under $2000. Even though they are cheaper, direct consumer brands are usually able to build their bikes with the same or, in some cases, even better parts.


You can get a high-quality aluminum frame with a mix of high-quality parts for $3,000. Even if you ride several times a week, a bike in this category is often worth keeping, taking care of, and improving over several years. This is an excellent place for people who want to buy mountain bikes but are on a tight budget.

$4000 to the infinity 

Between $4,000 and $5,000 is a standard price range for serious cyclists, and this is where carbon frames start to show up. Components in the $4,000 price range are still a pretty even mix of good and evil. When you spend $5,000 on a mountain bike, most parts are in good shape and work well enough for most mountain bikers.

From $6,000 and up, you can get better-quality carbon builds, which are usually a bit lighter. We have yet to see this price jump off in our tests. The parts are also the best you can get for this price. Many people think that means lighter. This price range is more like a flash than a substance unless the frame or parts are new and different.

Buying guide bikes

  • Keep Some Cash — because your bike will likely need some work. Set aside 10–15 percent of your budget to cover it.

  • Be Wary of Scammers — be careful of con artists and go with your gut.

  • Get Help—If this is your first bike, ask a friend with more experience to help you figure out all the details, or read many reviews. If you can't find reviews and don't know any mountain bikers, you might want to buy a new bike at your local bike shop.

  • Sizing: A bike that isn't the right size for you can make you miserable. Check the website of the maker for help.

  • Ask About and Avoid —  Cracks or dents in a frame are not good, especially on a carbon bike. Also, look for rims with cuts. You can get new ones, but the price should go down. Red flags are things like rusty chains, cassettes, or worn-out tires.

  • Ask For Details —Ask for high-quality photos that aren't stock photos of the actual bike, a detailed list of its parts, and any mechanical issues that need to be fixed. Ask how often the fork and, if necessary, the rear shock have been selected. (The correct answer is every year.) If it's a bike with full suspension, ask how often the bushings and bearings were cleaned (monthly) and when they were last replaced (annually). Some people will keep the bills for repairs. Ask them about how many miles they have put on the bike. Get the bike's serial number, usually stamped on the bottom of the bottom bracket shell, to ensure it hasn't been stolen.


What height is a 26-inch bike good for?

People who are between 4'10" and 5'7", or 147 cm and 170 cm, can ride a 26-inch bike well. Also, it works well for people with legs that are between 25 and 30 inches (63 and 76 cm) long. Depending on your height, you may need to change the size of the frame.

Which mountain bike is better, a 27 or a 29?

Acceleration. The 27.5-inch wheels go faster, but the 29-inch wheels are better for long rides. The speed of smaller wheels is faster than that of larger wheels.

What is the difference between an enduro mountain bike and a trail mountain bike?

The travel on an enduro bike is usually between 140 and 180 mm. Up to 140 mm of travel will be on a trail bike. A good rule of thumb is that because enduro bikes have longer travel, they are better at going down a trail than they are at climbing. This is because of enduro races.


Choose the type of bike you want, then figure out the right size and build. We hope our article will be helpful for you in selecting the top-ranked bikes.

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