The 10 Best Mountain Bikes To Meet Every Rider’s Needs (2023)

The best mountain bikes are nimble, yet rugged and powerful. More importantly, they’re tailored to your unique needs. Whether you’ve spent years tackling rough terrain or you’re a beginner blazing through mellow trails, there’s an option—and an off-road experience—for you. That said, there are many different types of mountain bikes out there, including hardtail bikes, electric bikes and more. Finding the best one for you requires wading through a slew of unfamiliar technology and terminology. Trends shift seemingly overnight and changes in tire widths, wheel sizes, components and frame geometries make the process only more confusing.

Not only should you understand the basics of today’s mountain bike designs, but it’s also important to be honest when assessing your abilities and preferred riding style. What kinds of trails do you intend to ride? Are they soft and rolling or are they steep and rugged? Will there be tons of trees, rocks, debris and obstacles? Or are you mostly looking for a capable bike that excels through casual terrain? Right now, our top pick overall is the Specialized Stumpjumper Alloy. But, be sure to review our other picks and FAQ section for some additional guidance to help you understand your needs before forking over hard earned cash.

Buying a new bike can be a big decision, but don’t sweat it too much—save the sweating for the trail this summer. As expert mountain bikers ourselves, we’re here to take some of the stress out of buying a new mountain bike with our thoroughly-researched favorites in each category.

Below, the very best of the current mountain bike class.

Best Mountain Bike Overall

A Versatile Bike For Any Off-Road Adventure

Stumpjumper Alloy

Frame Material: Alloy | Brake Type: Hydraulic Disc | Wheel Size: 29 inches

The Specialized Stumpjumper Alloy might as well be dubbed the Goldilocks of mountain bikes. It can handle a variety of trails and conditions, from climbing rough terrain to gliding over rock gardens with ease. It’s lightweight, maneuverable and for less than three grand, you’re sported with just the right amount of stable and supportive suspension, even on steep descents.

Gear editor Cam Vigliotta rode the Stumpjumper Alloy on a number of trails in the Pacific Northwest earlier this year, and found this mountain bike to be a great value for those interested in an entry-level full-suspension bike. “Whether you’re bombing down the hill like a heat-seeking missile, sending it over jumps without a care in the world or toiling away on long climbs, this bike will happily accompany you through every high and low,” he writes in his Stumpjumper bike review.

If the Stumpjumper Alloy doesn’t quite fit your needs, there are many other Stumpjumper models from Specialized, including the Comp, Expert, Pro and S-Works versions.


  • Versatile
  • Comfortable for long riding days
  • Full suspension


  • Limited color options

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Best Entry Level Mountain Bike

Don’t Break The Bank On Your First Set Of Wheels

Huffy Stone Mountain

Frame Material: Steel |Brake Type: V-brake |Wheel Size: 26 inches

For beginner riders interested in off-roading without breaking the bank on a new bike, the Huffy Stone Mountain can’t be beat. This entry-level mountain bike has a durable steel hardtail frame that can handle some serious abuse as you slowly gain confidence on the trails. A twist shifter on the right grip lets you toggle through 21 different speeds to make tackling hills a bit easier, while front and rear pull brakes ensure you can stop quickly and safely whenever needed.

A slight rise in the handlebars puts you in a more upright riding position to ease the strain on your back and shoulders, which can be especially important for new riders who are still learning proper form. A front suspension fork, 1.95-inch tires and a padded saddle lessen the impact of all those bumps and dips in the road or trail to deliver a smoother ride.

The quick-release seat post can be easily adjusted up or down on the fly to deliver the perfect fit for each rider. The Huffy Stone Mountain bike is available in both a men’s and women’s version and comes with all the required tools to assemble it, so there’s no need to hire a professional bike mechanic. That said, if you’re brand new to biking, it wouldn’t hurt to swing by your local shop to have them look over your work (and to maybe give you some tips on where to ride).


  • Affordable at less than $300
  • Comfortable ride quality
  • Multiple gears make pedaling more efficient


  • Some assembly required

Best Mountain Bike Under $500

A Great Value For Basic Off-Road Exploration

Decathlon Rockrider ST520

Frame Material: Aluminum |Brake Type: Mechanicaldisc |Wheel Size: 27.5 inches

For those in search of a quality, hardtail mountain bike for some basic off-road exploration, the Rockrider ST520 fits the bill. With its lightweight aluminum frame and 27.5-inch wheels, this mountain bike effortlessly shifts through 24 different speeds to get you up and over any terrain quickly and seamlessly. Mechanical disc brakes allow for easy braking on long or steep descents and the relaxed frame geometry makes for easy handling. A front suspension fork offering up to 80mm of travel and 2.0-inch tires work together to smooth out your ride, while an ergonomic saddle and a more upright riding style add an extra level of comfort out on the trails.The bike comes in four different sizes to fit riders from four-foot-eleven to six-foot-five in height.

Global sports retailer Decathlon easily beats most other retailers on price as they sell only their own brands. They’re also vertically integrated, meaning they take 100 percent capacity at most of their factories. With an average review of 4.2/5 stars on the Decathlon website, we found that most reviewers were very pleased with the specs of this mountain bike for the price.To sweeten the deal, Decathlon also provides a lifetime warranty on the frame, stem and handlebars so you can buy (and ride) with confidence.


  • Available in a range of sizes for different heights
  • Multiple speeds improve efficiency
  • Great value for the money at less than $500


  • On the heavy side

Best Mountain Bike Under $1,000

A Hardtail Bike At An Affordable Price

REI Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1

Frame Material: Aluminum | Brake Type: Hydraulic disc | Wheel Size: 27.5

When creating their in-house line of mountain bikes, the Co-op Cycles design team at REI took a fresh look at everything, from geometry and suspension to wheel and tire size. Never one to simply follow the latest mountain bike trends, REI turned to their own membership base to better understand what it was they were looking for in a mountain bike. The number one answer they found? Fit. To achieve this, the Co-op Cycles team designed a wide range of durable-yet-lightweight aluminum frame sizes, from XS up to XL, to accommodate many different riders.

Besides fit, the Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1’s suspension fork features 100mm of travel to help your ride stay smooth and controlled. A Shimano 3 x 7 drivetrain provides 21 gears to help you conquer a variety of terrain, and the hydraulic disc brakes quickly engage with just one finger.

This mountain bike also has many 4- and 5-star reviews. “This bicycle is very well designed and does exactly what it is supposed to do without breaking the bank,” says one satisfied reviewer. I’ve personally tested the full suspension version of Co-op’s DRT mountain bike in Sedona and was impressed with its performance and specs, especially at the price points REI offers.


  • Great fit for any rider thanks to inclusive sizing
  • 21 speed gear range
  • Excellent value for money


  • Only comes in one wheel size, unlike more expensive Co-op Cycles bikes

Best Downhill Mountain Bike

It Not Called The “Downhiller’s XC Bike” For Nothing


Santa Cruz Tallboy

Frame Material: Carbon |Brake Type: Hydraulic Disc |Wheel Size: 29 inches

One of Santa Cruz’s bestselling bikes for years, the Tallboy is now in its fifth iteration. Lightweight and nimble with just enough suspension, this ride is your one-bike quiver that allows you to tackle a variety of trails and riding conditions.

Dubbed the “downhiller’s XC bike,” it climbs up steep technical terrain like a chamois while floating over the chunkiest of rock gardens thanks to its mid-level travel (120mm of rear travel and 130mm of travel up front) and 29-inch wheels. In addition to upping the travel on this iteration, Santa Cruz mimicked the geometry of its longer travel bikes in order to deliver a more confident and stable ride on those white-knuckle descents, or when navigating rough terrain.

Santa Cruz bikes are designed not only to last a lifetime, but also for low maintenance—a key consideration when buying any mountain bike. The company ensures that parts, specs and other information are always available so you can fix any issue with your bike on your own.


  • Excels downhill
  • Superb climber for those troublesome hills
  • Low maintenance if issues arise


  • Sizes are currently limited at reputable retailers

Best Enduro Mountain Bike

For Tackling The Most Challenging Trails

Specialized Stumpjumper EVO

Frame Material: Carbon |Brake Type: Hydraulic disc |Wheel Size: 29 inches

Want to crush the most challenging trails around? Then an enduro bike might be for you, with its plush rear suspension that dampens rough descents and nimble front handling for navigating tricky trail sections.

The Specialized Stumpjumper EVO features 160mm of travel in the front and 150mm in the rear to absorb everything from small bumps to big drops so you can just about fly over features.

Despite its plush suspension, this mountain bike still pedals and climbs responsively thanks to Specialized’s Rx Tune and the bike’s sag value—the amount that your suspension settles under your own weight when you're in the riding position—is set specifically for each bike.

Lots of room in the cockpit means you can remain centered on the bike for better traction and control on sketchy terrain, while the low bottom bracket and slack headtube angle add some stability. A shorter chainstay also helps keep things nimble for a long-travel mountain bike.

The Stumpjumper EVO comes in six style-specific sizes (S1-S6), meaning you can choose your frame size based on your own personal riding style instead of your inseam length. Additionally, the head tube angle, bottom bracket height and even the wheel sizes are all adjustable, and you can even go for a mullet setup with a 27.5-inch wheel in the rear and a 29-inch wheel up front.


  • Cushy suspension dampens impact
  • 29-inch wheels roll over anything
  • Climbs sufficiently well for an enduro bike
  • Multiple sizes cater to different riding styles


  • Not the most nimble through corners

Best Hardtail Mountain Bike

Rigid And Ready For Action

Specialized Rockhopper Elite 29

Frame Material: Specialized’s A1 premium butted alloy | Brake Type: Hydraulic Disc | Wheel Size: 29 inches

The Specialized Rockhopper Elite 29 is a wonderfully capable hardtail mountain bike that offers high-end features for a tenth of the price of other hardtail options, like the Specialized S-Works Epic. With its lightweight alloy frame and internal cable routing, this bike is both durable and agile while maintaining a sleek design. The Rockhopper Elite 29’s suspension fork features up to 100mm of travel (depending on the size you choose) for a comfortable ride. And the 2.35-inch wide tires reinforce the level of compliance and provide more grip when things get loose.

The bike has an overall rating of 4.7 stars on Specialized’s website and many positive reviews. “The Rockhopper Elite is a top-tier mountain bike suitable for riders of all levels,” raves one buyer. “With its impressive performance and reliability, it guarantees an exhilarating experience on any terrain.” If you’re looking for something with slightly smaller wheels, there’s also the Rockhopper Elite 27.5.


  • More affordable than other hardtail options
  • Lightweight, yet durable
  • Fast and agile


  • Suspension available depends on size

Best Electric Mountain Bike

A Little Assistance On Climbs And Long Rides

Trek Rail E-Mountain Bike

Frame Material: Carbon |Brake Type: Hydraulic disc |Wheel Size: 29 inches

Electric mountain bikes have started to sell like hotcakes. Not only can they level the playing field among different riders, they also enable riders to go further and faster than they could with a traditional bike. Even so, you don’t necessarily want a bike that looks like a sci-fi prop. Thankfully, Trek has produced a suite of electric bikes that both look and feel like a mountain bike while being fully equipped for dirt trails and varying terrain.

The Rail series ranges from $5,000 to $13,800, depending on what features matter most to you and your budget. Higher end models boast an ultra-light and ultra-strong carbon fiber frame, a wireless electronic drivetrain and a powerful Bosch Performance Line CX motor with extended battery range. They’ll also come with a new smart LED remote and Kiox display that pair with the eBike Flow app, which provides activity tracking, navigation and Bluetooth connectivity. Don’t need (or don’t want to pay for) all the perks? The lower-end models are still excellent e-bikes that will let you ride further, longer and more comfortably than most mountain bikes on the market.


  • High torque provides plenty of uphill power
  • Powerful, removable battery
  • App connectivity lets you key in on key metrics


  • Not the quietest system available
  • Pricey

Best Women's Mountain Bike

A Ride Purpose-Built For The Female Rider

Juliana Furtado 5

Frame Material: Carbon |Brake Type: Hydraulic disc |Wheel Size: Mullet 29 inches and 27.5 inches

Make no mistake: Women don’t need to buy a women’s bike. Any bike that fits well and rides well is great, regardless of whom it’s designed for. Same goes for men—some smaller men might prefer a women’s model that’s better suited to their size.

If you want a mountain bike that is purpose-built for women, however, the Juliana Furtado 5 is hard to beat. The sister bike to the Santa Cruz 5010, the Furtado features a new mullet wheel setup—the smaller 27.5-inch rear wheel keeps things nimble and tracking though corners while you still get to enjoy the full rollover capability of a 29-er on the front. With 130mm of travel in the rear and a 140mm fork, this is a fun, playful bike for tackling your local trails. A storage compartment built into the large downtube lets you stow ride essentials like tools so you can leave the backpack at home on shorter rides.

The Furtado comes in three different sizes designed to fit riders from four-foot-eight to five-foot-nine. Juliana tailors the stiffness of the carbon fiber frame for each size to make sure everyone gets the same ride quality, and the bike comes in numerous build configurations to suit your budget. Bonus? Juliana offers a lifetime warranty on their carbon frames and wheels, and do a lot in the mountain biking community to help promote and support women in the sport.


  • Mullet wheels reduce weight and drag
  • Built-in storage for on-trail essentials
  • Versatile design caters to different concentrations
  • Inclusive sizes fit smaller riders


  • Not for taller female riders

Best Mountain Bike For Kids

A Rugged Mountain Bike For Small Shredders

Specialized Riprock Kids

Frame Material: Aluminum | Brake Type: Hydraulic disc | Wheel Size: Depends on model

Just because a rider is young, doesn’t mean they aren’t ready to power through rugged rock gardens. And if your kiddo is becoming—or already is—a serious rider, you’ll want to invest in a rugged ride that handles the beating it’s surely about to get. After all, you get what you pay for when it comes to bikes. Sure, there are more affordable kids’ mountain bikes at big box stores, but they may not be able to hold up like the Specialized Riprock. It’s well-made and comes fitted with modern geometry, Ground Control tires, hydraulic disc brakes and internally-routed tires.

Plus, the Specialized Riprock comes in six different iterations (and prices) to accommodate different ages. Some sport coaster brakes and training wheels for younger children, while others feature strategically placed mud flaps, solid suspension and an 11-speed SRAM NX drivetrain for middle- and high-school-aged riders.If you’re looking for more kid-friendly bikes, check out our picks for the best bikes for children.


  • Decent components for a kids mountain bike
  • Durable
  • Different iterations to accommodate a wide age range


  • More expensive than box store choices


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Why Trust Forbes Vetted

As avid mountain bikers and former racers, the Forbes Vetted team has tested countless mountain bike models over the years, from tried and true hardtails to up-and-coming electric bikes. This includes our gear editor Cam Vigliotta—he’s covered dozens of bike-related stories and is even a frequent rider himself.

We regularly update our top picks to make sure you’re getting the most up-to-date advice possible. This story was last updated in July 2023 to name the Specialized Stumpjumper Alloy as the best mountain bike overall. We also switched out our picks for the best mountain bike under $1,000, the best hardtail mountain bike and the best mountain bike for kids for options that are currently in stock and available to buy today. This update also crowned a winner for the best downhill mountain bike.

How We Chose The Best Mountain Bikes

We’re big bikers, which lends us the knowledge necessary to compile a list of the cream of the mountain bike crop. Many of the mountain bikes on this list are some of our favorites. Beyond our personal experience, we also scoured the internet to find bikes with high-quality components, materials, geometries and features that meet the needs of a wide range of riders, from beginners and the budget-conscious to skilled trail blazers, alike.

And because mountain bikes offer a variety of uses, we made sure to include picks that are suited for different terrains and are currently in-stock at reputable retailers such as Specialized, Backcountry, Amazon and Walmart. Many of these mountain bikes are also bestsellers in their respective categories with positive reviews from riders around the globe.

What Are The Types Of Mountain Bikes?

When you’re ready to buy a mountain bike, the first decision you’re likely to encounter will force you to consider what type of mountain bike you need. Cross country (XC), trail, enduro, downhill—what does it all mean? Generally, mountain bikes are classified by the amount of suspension they offer, as well as their frame geometry and the terrain their designed to tackle. The four following types represent the most popular mountain bike styles.

Cross-country (XC) Mountain Bikes

A XC bike is generally lightweight with 120mm of travel or less up front. Designed to go fast and crush climbs, many XC bikes are hardtails (they only feature front suspension), or they come with very minimal suspension in the rear. These bikes are perfect for riders that race, prefer long distances or ride fast, flowy, not-too-technical trails.

Trail Mountain Bikes

More popular: so-called trail bikes, which are known for their ability to climb and descend equally well and are capable on a wide variety of terrain. Trail bikes add more suspension than XC bikes—somewhere between 120mm to 150mm of travel in the front and back—and feature a more relaxed geometry. This is the type of bike you want to buy if you’re looking for a do-it-all, one-bike option.

Enduro Mountain Bikes

Enduro bikes were originally built for races where riders have to pedal uphill under their own power, but only the downhill sections of the course are timed. These bikes add a bit more suspension than a trail bike—generally from 140mm to 180mm in front and back. They’re designed for those willing to earn their ride on the uphill, only to be rewarded with airtime and trail candy on the downhill segments.

Downhill Mountain Bikes

Downhill bikes are designed for those who want to skip the pedaling in favor of chairlift-accessed laps at the bike park. With anywhere from 170mm to 250mm of travel in the rear and 180mm to 200mm up front, these bikes are for highly skilled riders looking to bomb down steep, gnarly terrain.

What To Consider When Buying A Mountain Bike

Now that you’ve honed in on the type of mountain bike you need, there are a few more things to consider such as frame size, wheel size and components.


The single most important consideration is the size of the frame. Proper sizing and fit is critical not just for your comfort while riding, but also to maximize your body’s output, making you a more efficient rider so you can go the distance. Your local bike shop (or the manufacturer’s website) can help you determine which size bike would fit you best. If you find yourself between two sizes, sizing up will give you more stability, while going with the smaller size will give you a more maneuverable bike. Not only is it important to support these local resources, but doing so up front means you’re less likely to visit your local bike shop again to tweak a poor-fitting frame.

Wheel Size

When it comes to wheel size, consider whether you prefer the playful maneuverability of a 27.5-inch wheel or the speed and rollover ability of a 29er. Taller riders tend to prefer a 29-inch wheel, while shorter riders may want to opt for a 27.5-inch wheel. Many manufacturers spec their wheels according to frame size, so be sure to do your research.


Once you’ve chosen a frame and set of wheels, it’s time to consider components, which often determine the overall end price of a mountain bike. This is where your budget comes into play and the sky's the limit in terms of possibilities. Regardless of whatever upgrades you may choose for your bike, make sure it has good brakes and appropriate gearing for whatever terrain you plan to ride.

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