Best Full Suspension Mountain Bikes for Smoother Rides

Last updated: April 03, 2020
BEST OVERALL
Lightweight Carbon Frame and Adjustable Suspension
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BEST BUDGET
24-Speed and Mechanical Disk Brakes
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BEST WITH STEEL FRAME
Disk Brakes and Steel Folding Frame
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BEST WITH STEEL FRAME
Padless, Breathable and Tight-Fitting
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BEST LIGHTWEIGHT
Ultralight, 12-Speed and 2-Piston Brakes
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Your guide

While weight and size have a big part to play when it comes to all types of bicycles (lightweight being the goal in most cases), another major factor is suspension, especially when it comes to mountain bikes.

In the case of full-suspension bikes, this added suspension, of course, adds weight to the bikes thus making them heavier than hardtail mountain bikes. It also adds to the price of the bike, since more has been put in for your comfort. You will mainly need a full suspension bike if the terrain that you aim to ride on is going to be very bumpy.

While they are very nice to have either way (even for the “in case” factor) their main purpose is to provide additional comfort and shock absorption on these trails and if you are looking at getting something a little cheaper and will be riding on flat ground, there are other bike options out there that you can consider, such as road bikes or beach cruisers.

Full Suspension Mountain Bike: Top 5 Picks

If you’ve ever been mountain biking, in the true bumpy sense of the sport, you understand that shock absorption is a big component in your physical well-being both during and after the ride. Although riding over bumpy terrain whilst saying “aaahh” is fun, after a while the “aaahh” thing gets boring and your arms start to feel the strain.

trek full suspension MTB on grassy path

When you come to the sudden realisation that you should probably save yourself from pain and get a bicycle with more shock absorption, it’s in your best interest to look at full suspension mountain bikes (also known as dual suspension mountain bikes).

The difference between the usual hardtail mountain bikes and full suspension mountain bikes is that full suspension bikes have additional shock absorption on the rear end, allowing the ride to feel much smoother. So, now that we have explained what a full suspension mountain bike is and why you might need one, let’s get into which one you should get. 

1. Best Overall - SCOTT Spark

Specifications:

  • Frame – Spark RC Carbon frame
  • Rear Shock – RockShox NUDE 3-mode
  • Front Shock – RockShox SID Select+
  • Remote System – SCOTT TwinLoc Suspension System
  • Brakes – SRAM Level TLM Disc Brakes

Key Features:

  • Adjustable suspension
  • Lightweight carbon frame
  • 12-speed drivetrain
  • SCOTT custom chain guide

SCOTT Spark RC 900 World Cup Review

The SCOTT Spark RC 900 World Cup is our top pick for “Best Overall” due to its lightweight frame, high-quality parts, and excellent durability. While the RC 900 SL is better than the RC 900, we felt that the price made it much less obtainable, thus giving us the notion to decide on the more affordable, while still excellent, RC 900.

This is still not a cheap bike, and you might have to dig into your pocket a little more to obtain one. With that being said, you get what you pay for with a great design and great durability. 

Quality and Durability

It’s always good to have a bicycle with good quality parts, and that is exactly what you get with the SCOTT Spark RC 900 World Cup bike. The bike performs well and will last you a long time, even with constant rough riding.

One of the components worth mentioning is the Spark RC Carbon HMX frame, which will withstand tough trails (as it is stiffer than lower-tier models) and remains light to assist you when riding or pushing/carrying the bike up steep hills.

While it’s hard to find any downfalls with this bike, if we are grasping at straws, one might find that they would prefer to have more than one bottle rack within the frame, when the bike only comes with one.

Gears and Brakes

When you ride this bike, you can feel that it is built for speed. The 12-speed drivetrain gives you a good range of gears to deal with various slopes and terrain while the custom SCOTT chain guide protects your drivetrain from debris.

In terms of stopping power, the SCOTT Spark RC 900 World Cup bike comes equipped with SRAM Level TLM Disc brakes to provide sufficient stopping power when it is most needed.

Shock Absorption

A RockShox SID Select+ fork on the front end of the bike, and a custom RockShox NUDE 3-mode rear shock keep your ride smooth whilst providing stability and dampening the impact of big drops. The 3-mode rear shock gives you the option to choose between lockout, traction control, and descend, allowing you to adjust it as needed for different riding styles and terrain.

A TwinLoc below bar remote controls the front and rear suspension and has three adjustment options which allows you to set it to get the most out of your suspension.

With the SCOTT Spark RC 900 World Cup bike, you aren’t really left wanting more (unless you want an additional bottle rack). With great, adjustable suspension, high quality parts and a build that is made for speed, you get everything you need for a wide range of riding styles and levels, which gives this bike the top position in our “Best Overall” category.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Efficient Climber
  • Adjustable Suspension
  • 12-speed Drivetrain
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Only one bottle rack

2. Best Budget - Schwinn Traxion

Specifications:

  • Frame – Schwinn Aluminum Dual-Suspension frame
  • Front Fork – Schwinn Suspension Fork
  • Brakes – Mechanical Disk Brakes

Key Features:

  • Aluminum Dual-Suspension frame
  • Mechanical disk brakes
  • 24-Speed easy shifting
  • Schwinn alloy cranks

Schwinn Traxion Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike Review

Getting a cheap bike does not come without its downfalls, but if your price range doesn’t allow for the more expensive bikes, or you simply want to buy an affordable bike to “test the waters” before you dive straight in, then getting something more affordable is probably the best option.

When choosing an affordable bike, you need to make sure that it is still of decent quality and will last you a while (so that you don’t just waste your money). That’s where we have come in, to help you with your choice. And, after much research into affordable full suspension bikes, we settled on the Schwinn Traxion Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike.

Quality and Build

Substituting on cost, usually comes with a drop in quality, and you may find that some of the parts of this bike are not amazing. With that being said, the bike is still a decent buy and, if you can look past some minor defects in some arrivals, it will be a great bike for its intended purposes – smoother mountain biking.

The frame is a Schwinn aluminum frame which is quite durable, yet a little heavier than more expensive bikes. Durability is the main factor here, as you want your bike to last.

Gears and Brakes

With 24-speed Shimano EZ Fire trigger shifters, you get a nice range of gears for all types of terrain, whilst being able to shift gears easily. Shimano is known for their high quality parts, and this gear shifter is a great addition to the bike.

The durable Schwinn alloy cranks allow the bike’s gearing to be steady and prevents maintenance difficulties. Both the front and rear brakes are mechanical disk brakes, which provide sufficient stopping power in a wide range of situations.

Shock Absorption

The Schwinn Traxion Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike is equipped with both a powerful Schwinn suspension fork, as well as a dual-suspension frame. These combined aspects of the bike soak up bumps and give you a smoother ride, allowing you to ride in harsher terrain and feel less of the force from drops and bumps.

Although dropping the price comes with its downfalls, the Schwinn Traxion Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike is a great option and will undoubtedly get the job done.

With good shock absorption and a durable frame, you can get out onto some rough trails and have peace of mind about the bike staying together and getting you from point A to point B comfortably and successfully. Plus, for such an affordable bike, it comes with some great features.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Durable Frame
  • Easy Gear Shifting
  • Mechanical Disk Brakes
Cons
  • There may be some quality issues
  • Heavier than more expensive options

3. Best Folding - Xspec

Specifications:

  • Frame – High tensile steel folding frame
  • Suspension – Dual steel suspension system
  • Brakes – Disk Brakes

Key Features:

  • Foldable
  • 21-Speed
  • Durable steel frame
  • Disc Brakes

Xspec Folding Mountain Bike Review

Although conventional bikes are great, when you live in a small apartment and have limited space, the bikes can be quite difficult to store. If you are one of these individuals with limited space, then you will probably appreciate the fact that you can get a folding bike.

In addition to regular folding bikes, there are some options to get a full suspension folding bike too, our best pick being the Xspec Folding Mountain Bike.

Much like our “Best Budget” bike choice, this bike is quite affordable, and does come with a few quality issues, such as the pedals potentially being weak. But if you really need to save on space, this is, in our opinion, your best option.

Durability and Foldability

Although one might think that the extra components and foldability of the bike might cause weakness when it comes to rough terrain, the Xspec Folding Mountain Bike has been made well enough to withstand these conditions.

Made from steel, the frame of the bike is very strong, although a steel frame is heavier than carbon frames. The folding aspect of the bike does not require tools, which makes stopping and packing the bike away a fast, simple process.

Gears and Brakes

The wide range of gears on this bike is a big plus, but this does add to the overall weight. If you are looking for something with a lot of versatility, you will be happy with this 21-speed shifter. The brakes on the bike are disc brakes, which allows for more consistent braking power and prevents your tires from being worn down.

Shock Absorption

The bike comes equipped with a dual steel suspension system. Again, the steel adds to the durability of the bike. As with all full suspension systems, this helps you when it comes to terrain which is more rough than usual and allows for a smooth ride.

While a folding bike might not be the first thing that you would consider when buying a new full suspension bike, sometimes a lack of space requires you to make this choice.

Out of all the folding bikes that we reviewed, our chosen pick is the Xspec Folding Mountain Bike, due to its durability. Although it does weigh more than your average full suspension bike, this might just be the price you need to pay for something that gives you more space.

Pros
  • Foldable
  • Durable
  • Affordable
  • 21-Speed
Cons
  • Potential quality issues
  • Heavy

4. Best With Steel Frame - Eurobike

Specifications:

  • Frame – 18” Steel
  • Front Fork – MTB Suspension Fork
  • Brakes – Disk Brakes

Key Features:

  • Steel frame
  • 21-speed drivetrain
  • Disc brakes
  • Max weight capacity of 300lbs.

Eurobike Full Suspension Review

When looking for a full suspension bike, one doesn’t usually go for those with a steel frame, as they are heavier and therefore can be harder to ride. You would have noticed, however, that bikes that do have a steel frame are cheaper than those with high-end, lightweight carbon frames. Steel is also very durable which you might appreciate.

Steel framed full suspension bikes are not as easy to find as they used to be, but we searched and searched until we found the right one for this category – the Eurobike Full Suspension.

Durability

As we mentioned, the durability of steel is excellent. The price is also really good, and although it is cheaper than our “Best Budget” option, we wouldn’t say that it is better. There are many quality aspects of this bike which do not make it the greatest bike out there, but it is still pretty good for the price. 

Gears and Brakes

The bike is a 21-speed bike, which gives you excellent range, but does add to the weight of the already heavy frame. The brakes on the Eurobike Full Suspension, much like most full suspension bikes, are dual disk brakes, which are better than V-brakes and provide better stopping power and control.

Suspension

The bike’s full suspension is good for a wide range of terrain, but should not be used too roughly for jumps. This is one of the downfalls of getting a full suspension bike at such a low price, as the higher tier full suspension bikes are great for jumps and drops.

Although a steel full suspension bike isn’t something that many people still look at buying, you may appreciate that the cost is lower and the durability of steel is quite good.

The Eurobike Full suspension is our chosen bike for a steel model because it gets the job done and maintains durability in most conditions. Although it cannot be handled like some of the higher-tier bikes, if you are looking for a steel frame specifically, this is probably the one to go for.

Pros
  • Durable
  • 21-Speed
  • Disc Brakes
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Some quality issues

5. Best Lightweight - Pivot Mach 4 SL

Specifications:

  • Frame – Carbon Mach 4 SL frame
  • Rear Shock – Fox Factory DPS with Remote
  • Front Shock – Fox Factory Stepcast with Remote
  • Brakes – Shimano XT M8100 2-Piston

Key Features:

  • Ultralight carbon frame
  • Automated electronically-controlled damping
  • Shimano XT M8100 2-piston brakes
  • Adjustable shock absorption

Pivot Mach 4 SL Review

Another high quality bike is the Pivot Mach 4 SL. When looking for a mountain bike, one of the major aspects that you want to look at is weight, in particular lightweight. There are many lightweight full suspension bikes out there, but our top pick for this category would be the Pivot Mach 4 SL, specifically for the pure quality of the bike.

Much like our “Best Overall” bike, there aren’t many flaws to find here, and the only thing other than the price that we would say could be considered a flaw is the single water bottle space within the frame.

If you want a second one, you would need to install it onto the bottom of the frame which might be impractical. If you get an XL size, however, you can fit 2 bottles inside the frame, which fixes this issue.

Quality and Durability

As we have said, the Pivot Mach 4 SL is of high quality, but this comes for quite a high cost. If you are willing to pay a lot for a bike of this standard, however, then it is worth it. And weighing only 20.9 lbs when completely put together, you can imagine the ease of climbing hills and the speed which you can get out of this bike.

A big part of this ultralight weight is the Carbon Mach 4 SL frame, which weighs only 4 lbs alone. This lightweight does not cause the durability of the bike to drop, and it is able to withstand some of the toughest terrain. High quality is something that can often not be beaten, so paying the high price might just be worth it.

Gears and Brakes

The bike comes equipped with a Shimano XT M8100 12-speed shifter, which not only gives a good range of gears to get you over any terrain faster, but keeps the weight of the bike down. The brakes on the bike are also Shimano, and are the XT M8100 2-piston model, which provides all the stopping power you need in any situation.

Shock Absorption

The full suspension on the Pivot Mach 4 SL is certainly something to marvel over. With automated, electronically-controlled damping, which reacts to terrain 100 times faster than the blink of an eye, you get a comfortable, efficient ride.

And with five different settings, you can customize the bike to feel and ride just the way you like it. As you can imagine this high-quality method of shock absorption gives you a smooth ride and assists massively with extra-tough terrain and big drops.

If you are looking for an ultralight full suspension mountain bike, the Pivot Mach 4 SL is probably one of the best choices you can make. Although it is quite expensive and you may need to make some adjustments to get a second water bottle in, it is a high-tech, durable bike and should make you very happy on any ride.

Pros
  • Ultralight
  • Automated Electronically-Controlled Damping
  • High Quality
  • 12-Speed Drivetrain
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Might need some adjustments for a second water bottle

Full Suspension Mountain Bikes: Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Full Suspension Bike Worth It?

In terms of comfort and control, a full suspension bike is definitely worth looking at. The full suspension provides better comfort and shock absorption on rides, and the bikes are usually nicer to handle and offer better traction.

Can You Make a Hardtail Bike Into a Full Suspension Bike?

You would have to check with your local bike shop based on the model you have, but yes, many hardtail bikes can be converted into full suspension bikes. This can be done through the use of a light bulb repair kit or a full suspension conversion kit.

What Should I Look for in a Full Suspension Mountain Bike?

The main things that you should be looking at in a full suspension mountain bike are weight, durability, suspension quality, and size. While size is an obvious one, you may want to make sure that the bike comes in the right size for you. In terms of everything else, you want something that is of high quality and will last a long time. You can also look at the price, but be aware that full suspension bikes are often more expensive than hardtails.

When Should I Buy a Full Suspension Mountain Bike?

You should look into buying a full suspension mountain bike if you are wanting to ride on tougher, more technical trails than what is considered the norm. This is because these bikes offer better control and much better shock absorption than hardtail mountain bikes.

Are Expensive Mountain Bikes Worth It?

When you look at all the additional components that come with the added expense on full suspension mountain bikes, it is easy to see that they offer better performance and durability. So, yes, a more expensive mountain bike is definitely worth it if you are willing to pay the price.

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