Today I'll show you 5 best entry level mountain bike reviews and comparison that enable you to start off with trail riding.
The best part? You're going to find out how to choose a good brand of mountain bike for a beginner later on. So check it out:
Top Rated Entry Level Mountain Bikes:
|Motobecane Fantom 29 Elite WTB TCS Tubeless Compatible||Check it on Amazon.com|
|Diamondback Bicycles Hook||Check it on Amazon.com|
|Diamondback Bikes Sync'r 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike||Check it on Amazon.com|
|2018 Gravity FSX 2.0 Dual Full Suspension Mountain Bike Shimano Acera Suntour||Check it on Amazon.com|
|Vilano 26" Mountain Bike Ridge 2.0 MTB 21 Speed with Disc Brakes||Check it on Amazon.com|
Big 29” Wheel
The Motobecane Fantom 29 Elite WTB comes with a 29" inch wheel that lets your bike roll over rocks and roots with ease due to its large diameter.
You're always confident on regularly riding on technical terrain, with conspicuously less effort.
The larger tires from these wheels allow you to ride smoothly and offer a volume that acts as an additional suspension.
You're sure of having a larger contact patch, and better traction when climbing, braking or cornering.
Hydraulic Disc Brake
Just like the Diamondback Bikes Sync', the Motobecane comes with hydraulic disc brakes that come with less force at the lever compared to a mechanical disc brake.
In practice, the lever of the hydraulic disc brakes feels so light that you can basically break them using your little finger.
And the good news is that it gives you far more control over how much braking force you want to apply.
TCS (Tubeless Compatible System)
Our intent look on the Diamondback shows it has a Tubeless compatible system that prevents air compressors, pinch flats, and tire levers.
The included rims are designed to shave away critical weight from the tires and let you easily service the wheel at any bike shop.
Another part of the TCS is the tubeless tire that comes with a WTB's lightweight casing with a sealant tubeless for extra durability--thanks to its tough tires and thicker casings.
The TCS RIM TAPE are strong, light, durable, and leak-resistant. Also, the TCS VALVE allows for optimal fit on multiple rims that are easily removable for valve core cleaning and uninterrupted inflation.
The Fantom 29 Elite also took a page from Vilano by featuring a fork that comes with a Poploc Remote Lockout to keep the energy from getting lost on a smooth surface.
The included SRAM Guide Hydraulic Disc Brakes is easy to use by beginners and offers maximum stopping power.
For starters, this is a hardtail mtb that has a low slung, coupled with a modern frame to give a strong balance when riding on it.
The included well-wheeled line and Sync’r siblings, as well as the Coil fork, pave the way for easy maneuverability.
In my opinion, this is best entry level mountain bike for the money in this list.
For those who want a bike that's rock-steady on tight trails, the Hook Diamond comes with a precise and deft design to give you a steady ride on the steepest descents.
On trails and on roads
Apart from riding on trails, you can even use the Diamond Bicycle Hook on smooth roads for a comfortable riding as well.
The stellar performance of this high-end bike also extends to 120mm SR Suntour fork that does a great job in soaking up the Chunder.
Simple Shifter (1x8)
The included beginner-friendly SRAM X3 1x8-speed drivetrain makes up for an easy spin up and going down hills like a champ.
27.5 Quick Release Wheel
Unlike other mtb, the Hook features a 27.5 quick release wheel that is very easy to replace without tools.
It also provides an all-day sufferfests for easy pedaling to your desired location. There's also the compatible frame that is very much like routed dropper posts, and this makes up for its sturdy and steady design.
Mechanical Disc Brakes
The Diamond Bicycle Hooks also features mechanical disc brakes that are not so great but good enough for a novice.
It comes with tires that are 2.35 inches wide to give you a long lasting ride.
The bike comes right from the box as 85% pre-assembled. Meaning, you will have to install the remaining parts and components yourself.
Of course, this is simple and straightforward to put together; but if you feel assembling isn't your advantage then give it out to a good bike shop.
However, the Diamond Hook comes with some limiting factors you need to know about.
This bike isn't tubeless neither is it compatible with tubeless.
While this bike will do well when riding on trails and smooth roads, we noticed that the seat is extremely uncomfortable when you sit on it for long during a smooth road ride.
Not Easy for Climbing Hill
Yes, as earlier mentioned, the beginner-friendly SRAM X3 1x8-speed drivetrain allows for easy spin up and going down hills like a champ.
But because it only offers a cassette of 8-speed, climbing hills becomes a bit difficult. You should upgrade it later.
The paint of the body is susceptible to peeling, while the straight head is not tapered. Meaning, you're limited from upgrading your forks.
Easy to Adjust Air Fork
This is the truth about Sync'r:
It is a hardtail mountain bike with an air fork design that is lightweight and extremely easy to adjust.
You will feel completely different feeling when try this fork.
Yes, the mountain bike weighs about 25-30 lbs and can easily be picked up with a single hand. It has 27.5" wheel size that is capable of handling most demanding trails on the way.
It also comes with a front hub boost of 110 and rear boost (148) to give you the best experience. And the 130mm Recons are impressively soft, user-friendly and smooth.
Hydraulic Disc Brakes
This bike comes with included hydraulic disc brakes with less maintenance and lets you use less force at the lever than a mechanical disc brake.
The rims are tubeless, but there is no shock pump or a torque screwdriver to compliment the tools.
Water Bottle Ready
A well-designed water bottle mount is readily present to keep you hydrated whenever you're tasty.
No worries about Upgrade Headset
I also like the fact that it offers a comfortable threadless headset that lets you easily service and upgrade your gears with no worries.
And the best part is that it comes with a 1x11 speed that is easy for beginners and let them easily use it to spin up and go down hills like a Pro.
The Gravity FSX 2.0 Dual is one of the top entry level full suspension mountain bikes for anyone who wants to move around trails and moderate downhill.
It comes with Powerful disc brakes and an optimal Shimano 24 speed drivetrain for a fluid shifting on rough terrain.
The 26” wheels are much lighter, smaller and more agile than its counterparts.
Meaning, they offer much better acceleration for fast-flowing, steep climbs, and quick-turning trails.
Lock/Unlock Setting Fork
It also comes with a plush Suntour suspension fork for leisurely rides on smooth terrain.
The included lock-out delivers advanced and maximum performance at will, and there's an attach water bottle to keep you hydrated whenever you need water.
You're also getting a tough SunTour Cranks, Powerful Disc brakes, Shimano rear derailleur, Lockout Suspension fork, and sturdy Double-wall rim wheels, all to give you the best experience using your bike.
Mechanical Disc Brake
The 2018 Gravity FSX 2.0 also comes with Mechanical disc brakes that maximize pull power. And a threadless headset is readily available for easy adjusting.
It gets better with Shimano shifters:
The 3x8 Shifter speed also does a great job for comfortable riding in smooth and rough terrains.
The bike will also work for road and general purpose of town riding.
I also like the fact that the front Suntour works fluidly while the lockout will not malfunction.
A noticeable drawback is that the baseline Shimano drivetrain is a bit chintzy, and skips gears if you do not maintain it carefully.
Also, the rear coil shock is of low quality and will not adjust to fit in properly.
While the 29-inch wheel is incredibly agile and gives riders the needed freedom to saddle, it is often too tough to control on rough terrain.
Also, since the saddle and handlebars on a 26-inch wheel are placed close to each other, it becomes a bit difficult for the rider to control and maintain their balance.
I don't think it is a stretch to say The Vilano Ridge 2.0 MTB is one of the most versatile mountain bikes for beginners. This bike is perfect for commuter riding, light trail riding, and to cruising around to work.
Perhaps, more interesting than this is the all-purpose tires that cover all terrain from the trail to streets.
Locked out Shock Fork
Though the suspension fork system works in rough trails, you can quickly lock it out with a flip switch to prevent the energy from getting lost on road cycling.
Mag Wheel Alloy
As a hardtail bike, the Vilano has a durable and easy to maintain Mag Alloy 26" wheel size.
Mechanical Disc Brake
It also has mechanical disc brakes that have optimal stopping power and very easy to use by beginners.
A back Peddle on this bike make it clicks and not move. The Shimano 21 Speed drivetrain allows for easy spin up and going up hills like a champ.
The mountain bike comes partly assembled right out of the box and putting the parts together is very easy, thanks to its detailed instruction books.
All you need to do is to install the front wheel, handlebar, front brake assembly, seat, and pedals. But you can still decide to take it to a bike shop to double check your assembly.
A few gripes I have for this bike are quite much:
First, the pedals are cheap and need replacement. We noticed that they do flex a bit due to the 3 spoke rims, especially in the front.
Sinked Air Fork
Also, because the front fork sinks often, I don't think I would be confident to use them on rough, and technical trails.
Need Chain Stop
And if you are someone that shifts quickly, the chain is likely to come off on the rear sprocket.
What you need to do in this case is to do some adjustment and chain stop that is connected to that sprocket.
Hard to Air Tires Up
The tires are hard to air up when they are flat due to the thick rim. But a better air tool that fits the valve will do a great job as opposed to the one that squeezes on to the threads.
Just Good Enough of Brakes
Although the mechanical disc brakes have optimal stopping power and also very easy to use, they aren't the greatest.
I think the brakes grab too much, causing the discs to twist a bit out of shape.
And though the 3x7 speed drivetrain is great for climbing uphill, it is a bit complex for beginners, but can be upgraded.
There are two main types of mountain bikes:
If you are on a budget, a hardtail mountain bike will be a good choice to go with. The reason is that they are lighter, and often require less maintenance.
If you are also a first-time rider or a beginner rider, then a hardtail bike will allow you to learn a lot of useful skills such as line choice and body movements on the bike.
If most of your riding is on rolling trails, smooth trails, and cross country trails, hardtail could be an excellent choice for you if you are going to be tackling rockier terrain.
However, they are not suitable for riders with back pain or waste pain.
The second type of mountain bike is the full suspension. This type of bike comes with suspension forks that let the wheels move up and down to absorb small bumps.
While it does this, it also keeps the tires in contact with the ground for better control.
In short, this is a more advanced mountain bike and pricey.
So, you want to make sure that the bike you want to choose has a minimum of air fork and shock alongside hydraulic brakes as well.
Other great features to look out for are lockouts which can make climbing more efficient, especially if you are riding from road to trail.
It should also have high-end suspension forks with multiple modes you can switch when you are descending or in a full lockout. Otherwise, you would be better off with a hardtail.
Cheaper full suspension most of the time has 27.5 wheels. Ensure you try a 29er HT. It makes a difference.
The wheel size of a mountain bike comes in 3 sizes:
26 inch wheel
A 26” Wheel Size is considered the standard size and comes with much maneuverability and ideal balance for all riders.
29 inch wheel
If you ride a bit faster, then a 29-inch wheel size will be much quicker.
Also, if you are taller, you might prefer 29-inch wheels as well, and a 29-inch wheel will also come in handy if you like to plow through rocky terrain.
27.5 inch wheel
On the other hand, a 27.5 wheel will be able to work well if you are a total beginner who likes riding on technical terrains or like throwing your bike around.
For example, if you are a shorter rider, you might be more comfortable on a bike with a 27.5-inch wheel.
Seatposts are almost always present on the mid-level and high-end trail and enduro bikes.
The benefits of a dropper seat post are that it allows the rider to drop the saddle to make it much easier to move around the bike through rough terrain.
This then, allows the rider to corner better and makes a more confident descending. So, if you're going to be dropping a lot then see if your bike has this as an option.
The point is that not all shifters are suitable for beginners. Some are complex while others are very easy to use.
1x (one by) is recommended as it is simple and suitable for beginners. Others that are more complex are 2x and 3x shifters. So, ensure you go with the one that won't be too complex for you.
The Fork of a bike can be in two kinds:
Experience has shown that coil fork is beginner friendly and will let you ride on smooth terrain as well.
On the other hand, Air fork will give you more fun and allow you to ride on both rocky and bumpy trails for a longer duration.
Full air is a big difference: they are more complicated for beginners. However, a full air fork would give you a long lasting bike and still allows you to use it in for all types of riding.
Obviously, a hardtail is going to save you money and help keep the overall package light. But that also means you'll need a decent fork to help you have control on descents.
Spend more to save more in the long run works for me...not for everybody though. I have friends who went with cheaper bikes and have now spent twice as much upgrading and replacing at the same time I have had one bike.
So, I'd recommend you go for a Hardtail bike that cost around $500 and a Full suspension bike that cost about $1k.
So, I'd recommend you go for a Hardtail bike that cost around $500 and a Full suspension bike that cost about $1k.
Disc brakes are what most modern bikes come with--and they are divided into two types:
While some brakes are easy to use and others very powerful, a nice startup for beginners are bikes that have mechanical disc brake since they are more responsiveness.
What about Hydraulic disc brakes?
These are the best brakes for me since they are more advanced and works extremely great in controlling the speed energy.
Stay away from Rim brakes. They are complex and are not easy to use for beginners.
Headsets come in different types and all of them do come with pros and cons. But I recommended threadless headsets for beginners, as they are designed to allow you to remove the bars without removing levers.
Besides that, they are known to adjust a lot better than threaded (quill stem).
These are truly the best budget mountain bike for beginners with high-end components that you're going to appreciate.
If you want to get the best experience cruising around multiple terrains, then we recommend you to try out these bikes.
But if you're a bit confused on which mountain bike to choose from on our list, then go with our choice - The Diamondback Bicycles Hook.
All these perks make the Diamondback Bicycles Hook stand out from the competition.
So, in your opinion what is the best entry level mountain bike? And what’s your experience using them? Were they pleasant or unpleasant?
I’m Keith – founder of Keithandersoncycles.com, more than 50 years old and from Colorado, USA. I’m also a grand-dad of 3 kids and a great husband (I think so, lol). Web engineer is my main job but I play mountain bike at weekend.