Best Mountain Bikes (Top 5 MTBs)

Last updated: November 25, 2021
Technologically Advanced, Versatile and Affordable
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Robust, Powerful, Versatile and Low-Cost
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Capable, Responsive, Well-Spec’d and Great-Value
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Sturdy, Easy-to-Assemble and Height Adjustable
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Lightweight, Durable, High-Performance and Efficient
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Your guide

Considering that mountain biking is a broad category that encompasses multiple cycling disciplines such as cross country, trail riding, downhill, Enduro, and dirt jumping, there isn’t one best mountain bike that’s suitable for all riders.

However, there’s indeed a mountain bike that’s right for you, given your mountain biking capabilities, riding aspirations, budget, and preferences related to technical specifications, design, etc.

Bike lovers from the Paybis team are sure, no matter what the motivation behind you hitting the trails – leisure rides, the thirst for an adrenaline rush, or competitive cycling – rest assured that there is a mountain bike to complement your riding needs.”

After spending hours doing research and conducting test rides on a series of bikes, we have narrowed down our pick of the best mountain bikes in 2020 to five. This list is not a static one and will be periodically updated to ensure it remains current and relevant to the latest bike models available in the market.

Top 5 Mountain Bikes

With off-road bicycle riding becoming increasingly popular with adventure seekers, we are not surprised that the market is flooded with a variety of mountain bikes (MTBs) from both big-name and up-and-coming brands, each claiming to offer you some of the best options in terms of design, features and technology.

a woman riding her bike on a field

No matter what the motivation behind you hitting the trails – leisure rides, the thirst for an adrenaline rush or competitive cycling – rest assured that there is a mountain bike to complement your riding needs.

As someone out in the market to find the best mountain bike that money can buy, we understand how confusing and overwhelming it can be for you to have to choose one MTB from hundreds and thousands of options, especially if you’re a beginner in mountain biking.

Hence, we have decided to simplify the selection process for you with our handy buying guide. This list is the result of our hours of research and testing of several mountain bikes across a selection of categories prioritizing overall value, budget, features and a specific target audience.

Read on to uncover our pick of 5 top mountain bikes 2020 in the categories of best overall, best budget, best with suspension, best for kids and best lightweight. Also, you should check out our guides on mountain bike gloves and some mountain bike tires, because you’ll probably need that for your cycling adventure.


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    1. Best Overall - Giant Stance 29 2


    • Wheel Size: 29 inches
    • Tire Width: 2.35 inches
    • Chassis: Aluminum
    • Rims: 29-inch Giant XCT tubeless-ready

     Key Features:

    • ALUXX aluminum chassis
    • Progressive 29er frame geometry
    • Updated FlexPoint suspension technology
    • Equipped with Giant’s original oversized fork steerer tube technology

    Giant Stance 29 2 Review

    Performance, versatility, quality and value were our primary considerations when determining our top pick in the category of “Best Overall Mountain Bike”. Our emphasis was on a high-performing rig that did not limit its rider to a specific discipline of mountain biking or that was borderline inaccessible for the majority owing to its hefty price tag.

    The redesigned Giant Stance 29 2 steals the show in this category with its progressive and optimized 29er frame geometry, larger and smoother rolling 29-inch diameter wheels, attainable trail performance and its affordability as a full-suspension mountain bike under $2,000.

    If you have been looking to make an entry into single-track fun and without spending a boatload of money at that, you may have just found your dream bike with the Stance 29 2.

    As a brand, Giant is known to leverage innovative technologies for the design and development of its bikes. With advanced trail-taming technologies in use for greater control and faster speeds, this entry-level, full-suspension bike is no exception.

    The updated, lightweight and durable FlexPoint suspension system offers active rear suspension and helps improve your trail-riding capabilities with confidence-inspiring climbing and downhill performances.

    A lightweight yet strong and durable ALUXX aluminum frame allows you to seamlessly pedal through rock gardens and enjoy capable rides on rough terrains. Mellow trails or technical paths – this bike can conquer both.

    The upgraded Stance 29 2 scores well on the fun factor too, thanks to a 120mm rear shock and a 130mm suspension fork that makes for better traction and control, barely noticeable jarring bumps, faster, longer and energetic rides and greater comfort when riding terrains ridden with obstacles.

    Larger wheels, coupled with 2.35-inch Maxxis Forekaster tubeless-ready tires, give you balance and stability on rugged terrains and put you in better control of your technical climbs and tricky single-track descents. The combination of a 67.5-degree head tube angle and a 75-degree seat tube angle, plus fast-rolling tires ensure the necessary momentum for your steep climbs.

    Grip or speed – you don’t have to choose one as you can have both with this well-rounded, cheap full-suspension bike.

    Coming to the no-fuss design, the bike sports a clean look, which works for us. Available in classic Gunmetal Black and Metallic Red colors, the Stance 29 2 is quite the looker for a reasonably priced bike.

    Regarding the technical specifications, the purpose-built bike is engineered with quality components such as Shimano MT200 brakes, Shimano MT201 brake levers, Giant Contact saddle and chain, cassette, shifters and rear derailleur by SRAM.

    To sum up, the Giant Stance 29 2 is a solid choice if you are seeking a mountain bike that can offer you all-round performance across a range of terrains and that too at a highly competitive price. Wherever you go, make sure you clean your MTB regularly.

    Sure, the tires could do with a more aggressive tread for enhanced traction on non-firm surfaces, and the absence of a dropper post is a bit of a bummer.

    However, we aren’t complaining much as there’s ample on offer by way of functionality, technology, and affordability to deliver highly capable and high-value off-road performance.

    • Strong, durable and lightweight frame
    • Larger wheels for balance and stability
    • Smooth and balanced riding performance on different terrains
    • Professional assembly service included
    • Free shipping to store
    • Non-aggressive tires
    • Does not come with a dropper seat post

    2. Best Budget - Mongoose Dolomite


    • Weight: 48.4lbs
    • Frame Size: 17 inches
    • Wheel Size: 26 inches
    • Tire Width: 4 inches

    Key Features:

    • Mechanical disc brakes and Shimano 7-speed drivetrain
    • Adjustable threadless headset
    • All-terrain knobby tires
    • Beach cruiser pedals

    Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Mountain Bike Review

    Looking to explore the great outdoors with a mountain bike under $500? Find an assured pick in the Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire MTB – our choice for the best budget mountain bike.

    At just $329.99, this cheap MTB is a bargain for those looking to conquer off-road trails with an under $500 mountain bike. And, despite being at the lower end of the price spectrum, it does not fall short on performance or quality componentry.

    A solid 17-inch frame made of high-tensile steel metal and supersized all-terrain wide knobby tires offer you all the durability and strength you need to take on challenging mountainous terrains with ease.

    The inclusion of beach cruiser pedals adds to the bike’s versatility and makes the Mongoose Dolomite suitable for riding on the beach as well.

    Regardless of the riding terrain – snow, mud, sand or city roads – expect a cushiony ride with the bike’s big and plump 4-inch fat tires. These conversation starters not only take the bumps out of your rolls over obstacles but also offer enough traction to minimize chances of skidding when riding on snowy, sandy or muddy terrains.

    So, you can expect trails that are less demanding and more fun. A 7-speed Shimano rear derailleur further makes it easy for you to climb hills and gives you the speed you need to cruise faster on uphill rides.

    When looking for the best mountain bikes on a budget, it is imperative to ensure that the bike’s safety and comfort aspects are not comprised for the sake of price.

    The Dolomite is equipped with twist shifters, which make the activity of changing gears while riding smooth and easy. The use of strong, lightweight alloy rims helps reduce the overall weight of the bike and strikes the right balance between toughness and a lightweight feel.

    The alloy rims also contribute to enhanced speed and performance on the most demanding of terrains.

    With regard to safety, this bike is strengthened with a powerful and responsive braking system that makes use of front and rear disc brakes to ensure rider safety in tough riding conditions.

    The Dolomite fat bike comes ready-to-be assembled, meaning limited effort and time involved in the set-up process. The tires come inflated out of the box and detailed instructions are provided in the user manual to make sure even non-professionals can install the bike on their own.

    You will need a 15mm wrench, a few Allen wrenches and a standard screwdriver to assemble the dismantled parts such as pedals, handlebars and the front wheel. In case you need to raise the handlebars on your mountain bike, check out our guide on that.

    As for the maximum weight limit, we like the fact that the Dolomite does not restrict you to a set limit, meaning it can accommodate riders at different weights, so long as factors influencing its ability to withstand weight, such as proper assembly, regular maintenance, and tire inflation, are ensured.

    Any lows? Weighing around 48.4lbs, the Dolomite is not the lightest MTB that you will find in the market. The sturdy steel frame and signature fat tires, while ensuring the bike’s toughness quotient, do render it a bit unsuitable for younger riders.

    Also, the recommended rider height for this bike is 5 feet 6 inches to 6 feet – something to keep in mind when purchasing this MTB for yourself or the adventure junkie in your life.

    • Sturdy and durable build
    • Powerful and stable braking system
    • Suitable for all-terrain conditions
    • Easy to install
    • Budget-friendly
    • Limited lifetime warranty available
    • A bit heavy because of the high-tensile steel frame and fat tires
    • Not the best option for riders who don’t exhibit a tall or heavy build

    3. Best with Suspension - Marin Hawk


    • Wheel Size: 27.5 inches
    • Tire Width: 2.35 inches
    • Frame Material: Aluminum
    • Fork: 130mm

     Key Features:

    • MultiTrac suspension technology for balanced rides
    • Future wheel upgrade compatibility with Boost front spacing paired with 148x12mm Boost rear thru-axle
    • Compatible with internally routed dropper posts
    • Internal rear derailleur routing for clean looks and snag-free rides

    Marin Hawk Hill 3 Review

    If attacking steeper terrains and tackling big jumps like a pro are your thing, a full-suspension MTB will be the right choice for you.

    Such a bike will make riding through the technical sections of your chosen trail smoother, more controlled and more comfortable, thanks to a dual-suspension (a combination of front and rear suspension) that is at work to ensure better traction and handling of your climbs and descents.

    Priced at $2,649.99, Marin Hawk Hill 3 has earned itself the top place in our category of “Best Mountain Bike with Suspension”, owing to its dependable suspension performance, small bump compliance and progressive feel on large drops. We also loved the Kona Process 153 AL/DL 29 for its advanced full-suspension system.

    However, the Marin Hawk Hill 3 gains advantage over the Kona bike with its affordability and versatility as a full-suspension MTB for both entry-level and seasoned trail riders.

    According to Marin, the Hawk Hill range is their most playful and fun short-travel suspension trail bike to date. The Hawk Hill 3 lives up to this reputation with its geometry and technology, making it a solid all-around bike with trail performance offered at a price that you would probably not expect when looking for the best full-suspension mountain bike under $4,000.

    This trail bike sports a Series 3 6061 hydroformed aluminum frame with 120mm travel and relies on the likes of Marzocchi, FOX, Shimano, X-Fusion, VEE Tire Co., SunRace and Marin’s own supplier for the bike’s fork, shock, rear derailleur, brakes, dropper seat post, tubeless-compatible tires, and other parts.

    It is impressive to see that despite the motley of components from different manufacturers, nothing seems to be out of sync and the componentry actually works in the bike’s favor, bumping up its trail performance and value aspect alike.

    The geometry is kept modern and at par with current trends. Notable features and specs include a longer reach, slacker head angle, 35mm stem length, up to 768mm (size-specific) standover height, up to 601.9mm (size-specific) stack height, double-butted aluminum 780mm handlebar and 148x12mm Boost rear thru-axle.

    The Hawk Hill 3 is backed up with an acclaimed MultiTrac suspension system, which has been further beefed up for superior absorption of big hits, simultaneously retaining the bike’s snappy feel on smoother trails.

    This short-travel suspension bike is designed for all-round trail enjoyment. So, it is as effective against small bumps as it is against large drops, thanks to a progressive leverage ratio for the rear shock to improve small-bump sensitivity and the impression of a longer-travel trail bike on bigger rocks and punishing descents.

    The 27.5-inch wheels, while accommodating most riders, also help keep the bike’s weight in check. Lightweight and responsive – the Hawk Hill 3 has what it takes to make trail riding livelier and playful.

    There is so much going for the Hawk Hill 3 that we struggled to fault it when going uphill or downhill. For the price, the playful all-rounder sure packs in a lot of fun for your climbs, descents, and drops. The smaller wheels may mean slightly harder rolls over bigger rocks but they also make maneuvering your bike that much nimbler.

    The pedaling platform is efficient but may not give you the same pedaling efficiency of some of the other high-end multi-link systems in the market.

    All in all, if you are aiming for all-purpose trail riding across varied terrains and changing conditions and seeking a great-value, well-spec’d suspension bike at that, you will find it hard to look beyond the Hawk Hill 3 MTB in the stated price range.

    • All-round trail performance
    • Lightweight and responsive
    • Quality build and well-performing suspension
    • Functional specs
    • Versatile performance
    • Relatively affordable
    • Does not pedal as well some of the other full-suspension bikes

    4. Best for Kids - RoyalBaby Freestyle


    • Weight: 23.3lbs
    • Wheel Size: 14 inches
    • Tire Width: 2.4 inches
    • Steel Tube Thickness: 1.2mm

     Key Features:

    • Quick-release seat post for height adjustability of the seat
    • Cushioned seat and high back
    • Reinforced steel training wheel legs with never-bent design
    • 2.4-inch wide knobby tires for enhanced durability and a steadier ride

    RoyalBaby Freestyle Kid’s Bike Review

    If you are looking for a good-quality kids’ mountain bike at a reasonable price, we suggest giving this popular offering from RoyalBaby a try.

    Manufactured by an up-and-coming brand in the world of kids’ bicycles, this sporty freestyle bike is suitable for boys and girls alike and caters to a broad age group, ranging from 2 years to 7+ years.

    The 14-inch wheel size model is meant for toddlers and young children aged between 3 and 5 years and comes with a pair of heavy-duty training wheels to ensure extra balance and stability for young riders who are new to the activity of cycling.

    Don’t fancy spending hours on the assembly of a new bike? Save precious time with this kids’ bicycle that is shipped 95% assembled, implying no more than 30 minutes for non-professionals to install the remaining parts such as training wheels, handlebar, pedals, and saddle.

    And you don’t have to purchase the assembly tools separately as they are included in the bike’s price of $137.99.

    Sizing this well-made bike is seamless, thanks to a quick-release seat post, which supports easy height adjustability of the seat, thereby extending the bike’s service life for growing children.

    And if your child is a beginner, he or she will benefit from the combination of a front caliper brake and rear coaster brake that offer multiple options for learning to stop.

    The water bottle is a cool addition and adds to the RoyalBaby bike’s appeal as a children’s bicycle. The accompanying bell and the bright green colour further up the bike’s fun quotient and make it a perfect accompaniment for style-conscious little users who like to ride in style.

    When evaluating your options in best kids’ mountain bikes, be sure to pay attention to features that can play a deciding role in ensuring your child’s riding comfort and safety. This kids’ beginner bike boasts a thickened steel frame that not only makes it sturdier and durable but also safer for young riders.

    The bike’s strong and wide training wheel legs are made from reinforced steel and help minimize the probability of your little one meeting with accidental falls while riding or turning with their never-bent design.

    The new brake lever, with a shortened distance to the handlebar, is a thoughtful addition to this bike as it allows for easy application of brakes when needed. The use of 2.4-inch wide knobby tires with a custom RoyalBaby tread further ensures stable and comfortable riding for kids. Not to forget the cushioned seat and a high back that contribute to the bicycle’s comfort quotient.

    According to the manufacturer, all materials used in the making of this bike comply with international safety requirements for bicycles designed for young children, meaning complete peace of mind for parents with the knowledge that this freestyle bike is free of any toxic material.

    Any downsides? For a small kids’ bike, the sturdy steel frame and fork do make for a heavy build but the weight is not so much so to render it unusable for its target audience. Also, this 14-inch model does not come with a kickstand. However, RoyalBaby does offer 16, 18 and 20-inch variants that include a kickstand.

    Barring these two observations, we did not find much to not rave about this quality offering from a promising brand with great after-sales support.

    If you are after a stylish-looking, fun kids’ first bike that has been thoughtfully designed keeping a child’s structure in mind and that can offer years of enjoyable riding to your little one, we recommend considering this top pick in our category of “Best Mountain Bikes for Kids”.

    • Easy and quick to put together as 95% of the bike is pre-assembled
    • Sturdy steel frame
    • Equipped with a front caliper brake and a rear coaster brake
    • Supplied with a water bottle, a bell, assembly tools, and training wheels
    • Reliable after-sales support
    • Build is slightly on the heavier side

    5. Best Lightweight - Specialized Fuse


    • Wheel Size: 27.5+ inches
    • Tire Width: 3.0 inches
    • Frame Material: Carbon Fiber
    • Fork: 120mm

     Key Features:

    • FACT 10m carbon fiber frame construction
    • Bulletproof SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain
    • RockShox Revelation RC fork with 120mm of travel
    • Integrated storage in the downtube via SWAT™ Door

    Specialized Fuse Comp Carbon Review

    When it comes to lightweight mountain bikes, hardtails or MTBs featuring just a suspension fork continue to remain popular with riders looking for a workhorse that ensures all the thrills that mountain biking brings along with it but without a weighty feel.

    Sure enough, there are high-end full-suspension bikes that can feel as light as you would like them to be, but rest assured that the price difference will NOT be marginal.

    After reviewing a plethora of options, we zeroed on the Specialized Fuse Comp Carbon 27.5+ for our top pick in the category of “Best Lightweight Mountain Bike”.

    No matter what you are after – speed, performance, efficiency, durability or utility – this bike has in it to deliver and how. Specialized projects its Fuse range of hardtails as “The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” and the Comp Carbon 27.5+ is a worthy addition to this family of ground-breaking MTBs. So, what did we like about the Fuse Comp Carbon?

    To start with, the use of FACT 10m carbon fiber won this stylish bike instant brownie points as what better than a carbon frame to offer you optimal strength-to-weight ratio. The result is a highly capable MTB that feels light but does not compromise on stiffness.

    A RockShox Revelation RC fork does a solid job of soaking up jarring bumps with 120mm of buttery-smooth travel. So, you can look forward to comfortable and enjoyable rides on rocky terrains.

    If you thought shedding oodles of weight rendered this carbon fiber frame suitable for riding on smooth trails only, you are up for a surprise. The Fuse Comp Carbon is bolstered with SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed groupset that features a wide gear range and delivers superior efficiency for your climbs and descents.

    Speed is not compromised either with bigger and trail-hugging 27.5 x 3.0” tires in use for added traction and floatation, letting you take on challenging trails with better control and deceptive ease.

    The inclusion of a TranzX dropper post further gives you the desired flexibility to lower the height of your bike’s saddle without stopping – setting the scene for safer and speedier descents and faster, skillful turns.

    A balanced geometry, coupled with trail-capable components, permits confidence-inspiring rides that are quite unexpected out of customary hardtails.

    Some of the other key features that deserve mention are a tapered head tube, 12x148mm thru-axle rear hub spacing, 160mm post-mount disc, threaded bottom bracket, Specialized Dirt pedals, and Stout Riser, double-butted alloy handlebars.

    The addition of SWAT™ Door for no-fuss, integrated storage and the provision of internal routing tubes make sure that utility and aesthetics are also intact for this super capable, 27.5+ hardtail with a high fun factor.

    Any major drawbacks with this Fuse? Probably the only one that is worth emphasizing is the price. For a hardtail priced above $3,000, the Fuse Comp Carbon is definitely not the cheapest option that you will come across in the category of lightweight mountain bikes.

    However, for a carbon fiber frame and a reputed brand such as Specialized, we think the Comp Carbon 27.5+ is quite competitively priced. The discounted ask of ~$2,880 is just the icing on the cake.

    • Lightweight and durable build
    • Bigger tires for enhanced climbing traction
    • Plush travel on bumpy terrain – quite unlike for a regular hardtail
    • Balanced geometry
    • Dropper seat post
    • Not the cheapest hardtail around

    Mountain Bikes: Frequently Asked Questions

    What Goes into the Making of Good Mountain Bikes?

    Several factors go into the making of a good mountain bike, including the bike’s design, quality of components and suspension, durability, safety features, wheel size, tire size, and rim width. Furthermore, it’s crucial to choose a bike that’s the right fit for you for better handling of your uphill and downhill rides.

    Why Are Mountain Bikes so Expensive?

    Mountain bikes are expensive for a variety of reasons. They are designed purely for riding on rough terrains and technical trails, which demand a certain degree of durability, agility and engineering tolerance to withstand and overcome obstacles that such riding conditions bring along with them. This necessitates the use of high-quality parts and top-of-the-line frame material for a superb riding experience for the biker.

    With rapid technological advancements made in the world of mountain biking and modern riders demanding cutting-edge safety features and performance capabilities, manufacturers now have to invest considerable time and resources to make sure their designed bicycles do not lag behind the latest trends in the evolving geometry and technology of modern MTBs.

    This could mean improved suspensions, wider tires, longer front ends, slacker head angle, dropper posts etc. All these aspects drive the price up.

    Is Full Suspension Better or Hardtail?

    Whether a full suspension or hardtail is better will depend on certain factors, such as the terrain you wish to ride and the amount that you are willing to shell out for your MTB.

    If you are looking to conquer technical trails and budget is not a constraint for you, we suggest a full-suspension mountain bike to get the most out of your off-road experience. These rigs are designed to support comfortable, stable and fast rides on some of the most challenging terrains imaginable. The use of a dual suspension makes for better shock absorption, which, in turn, can help minimize fatigue and give you the traction and handling you need to tackle technical trails with greater speed and comfort.

    If ripping around smoother trails is more like your kind of mountain biking or you are pursuing your passion for off-road adventures on a budget, you can save yourself the sticker shock and get hold of a hardtail MTB that is fun to ride and affordable as well. Hardtails are usually cheaper than full-suspension MTBs because of their relatively less complicated design, which brings down their manufacturing cost significantly.

    The simpler design also implies the use of fewer components, making hardtails lighter and low on maintenance than many of their full-suspension alternatives.

    Which Is the Best Beginner Mountain Bike?

    While there is no single best beginner mountain bike, there are many reputed bike manufacturers that offer good beginner mountain bikes at pocket-friendly price points. Your options include brands such as Raleigh, Kona, Marin, Diamondback, Schwinn, Huffy and Mongoose.

    For someone new to the sport of riding bicycles off-road, it is advisable to make a start with a bike in the low to mid-range and gradually upgrade to a higher-end MTB as one gain experience riding on rough trails.

    Best Mountain Bikes (Top 5 MTBs) — Bike Hacks