Best Entry Level Mountain Bike in 2018- Top Models Compared!
What’s the best entry level mountain bike out there? To be honest, there’s no guesswork answer to this. In fact, this is a question best answered with research and testing. You know what, that’s exactly what we’ve done. Considering the hundreds of models out there, we’ve done some sifting to select the best model based on comfort, performance, durability, and of course affordability. Hand-picked and tested for quality, we’ve narrowed down the list to 11 bikes that are tailored to fit your lifestyle. This post also has a purchase guide to completely eliminate the guesswork when choosing the right entry level mountain bike.
OVERALL BEST PICK!
Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike
Best Entry Level Mountain Bike - Comparison
Best Entry Level Mountain Bike -Reviews
1. Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike
Diamondback mountain bikes have almost become synonymous with precision and efficiency. Well, the Overdrive mountain bike is no exception.
This is a bike that delivers without putting a huge dent in your pockets. It’s an aggressive ride built for all kinds of terrains from rugged, smooth, and anything in between.
The bike is a solid performer loaded with features suitable for both seasoned and entry-level riders. Overdrive hardtail is available in 4 sizes and fit riders from 5 feet 4 inches to 6 feet 4 inches tall.
Trustworthy 6061-T6 Aluminum Alloy Frame:
This is a renown frame in the lightweight category. It’s custom-built with butted tubes to provide a uniquely strong structure. I mean, you won’t have to worry about anything breaking. This frame holds up well in adverse conditions to keep up your confidence. The head tube is designed in a way that lets you steer with a lot of precision. In short, this is a frame that doesn’t disappoint in terms of composition strength, durability, and precision.
Front Suspension Lockout Function:
Let’s be honest, SR Suntour XCT 27 suspension fork does stand out in its class. It comes with pre-load and lock-out functions improve riding comfort. The lock-out function eliminates travel in places where suspension isn’t necessary, for instance, when riding long uphill climbs or smooth, even surfaces. This helps minimize energy loss by directing the power needed for using suspension and putting it into your bike.
24-Speed Shimano Drivetrain:
When it comes to mountain bikes, the gear is one part where the magic happens. Well, Overdrive mountain bike doesn’t disappoint with its option of 24 different gears to choose from. It lets you experience immediate power transfer for incredible speed. The drivetrain holds together well and delivers the power you need to crank up the hills. Suntour XCT cranks come in handy to provide the most strength at the least price.
Rugged 27.5-Inch Wheels:
These wheels provide the maneuverability of 26-inch wheels while delivering the efficiency and technical ability of 29-inch wheels. The tires provide good grip for improved control and stable ride.
Diamondback Overdrive arrives 85% assembled. What you need to put on are the pedals, front wheel, and seat.
Kent is known for its innovative bikes designed to get you moving without having to spend a fortune. Excalibur is one model that delivers as promised.
This entry-level mountain bike offers solid quality with a perfect price balance. It feels at home, even in the most unforgiving terrains. This bike has the right features you need, be it in sport or physical fitness riding.
Handcrafted Aluminum Frame:
There’s something I like about handcrafted bike frames. This is a type of frame that adds an “air of authenticity’ to your ride. It offers a unique look and feel. The aluminum material keeps weight to a minimum while providing plenty of strength and durability. It holds up well to all types of weather so you can enjoy your ride in all sorts of weather.
Extra-Large 29-Inch Wheels:
Wheels are a prominent feature of any mountain bike. Excalibur bike gives you rugged tires and a decent wheel size to ensure you don’t lack anything in trail riding. The large wheels traverse over objects to ensure that no obstacle stands in your way. Knobby tires provide better grip on every root and rock to keep you confident and in total control. The bike uses deep v-rims that are built for racing. Well, that makes for a perfect combination of durability and speed.
21-Speed Shimano Drivetrain:
This bike is sure to give you a wonderful riding experience with a full 21-speed Shimano drivetrain. You get enough gears to nail every accent and road variation you might encounter. Shimano shifters give you the quality you need and offer fast and smooth shifting of derailleurs.
Front Disc Brake and Rear Linear Pull Brake:
Excalibur mountain bike offers an amazing braking system. It’s one bike with two different braking systems that guarantee reliable stopping force whenever you need it. The bike has an all-weather front disc brake and a solid rear linear pull brake perfect for navigating those unfamiliar trails.
Kent Excalibur arrives 90% assembled. What you need to put on is the front disc brake. The brake also needs some adjustment to ensure proper functioning.
Dirt, rocks, drops, and jumps - that’s what mountain biking is all about. Well, Raleigh has an efficient hardtail that’s designed to make all these look so easy.
Enters Tokul 2, a mountain bike with an aggressive geometry designed to take a beating on the rough trail. This bike comes in 4 different sizes for riders who are 5 feet 3 inches to 6 feet 4 inches tall.
AL-6061 SL Custom-Butted Aluminum Frame:
Tokul 2 has an aluminum frame that produces a lightweight setup. The frame is custom-built, a clever approach that makes it work even better. Machined compounds add around an extra inch to the thickness of the frame. This provides a stronger, wear-resistant structure good at absorbing shocks. The frame has a relaxed geometry that balances its descent and climbing capabilities.
120mm SR Suntour XCM Front Suspension Fork
Let’s face it, suspension systems are a common feature in mountain bikes. However, this mountain bike stands out in terms of fork travel, a feature you can’t afford to ignore. It offers 120mm of fork travel, which is exactly what you need for trail riding. The fork comes in a lightweight alloy structure to add a ton of comfort.
Strong 9-Speed Shimano Alivio Drivetrain:
This drivetrain gives you multiple gear options and a lighter, more durable crank design. I consider this drivetrain a good starting point in case you need a trail-worthy mountain bike. The shifting mechanism links well to the drivetrain giving an easy time navigating even the roughest mountain trails.
Tektro Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Tokul 2 uses the more advanced hydraulic disc brakes designed for ultimate stopping power regardless of weather condition. This brake system offers a stronger ride, consistent friction, and a comfortable texture that make it easy to control. It keeps the bike more steady, especially on a downhill incline.
Raleigh Tokul 2 arrives 85% assembled and requires installation of parts and adjustments. You need to put on the handlebars, attach the front wheel, and adjust the saddle.
4. 2018 Gravity FSX 2.0 Dual Full Suspension Mountain Bike
Gravity mountain bikes are in high demand for their affordability and reliable performance. FSX 2.0 is it’s newest model out there. This is a strong, durable full suspension mountain bike built with ease-of-use in mind.
It’s sleek and on-point in the way it’s set up. This is surely a mountain bike designed to make heads turn. It comes in 4 sizes designed for riders who are 5 feet 6 inches to 6 feet 1 inch tall.
Advanced Single Pivot Aluminum Frame:
FSX 2.0 offers an advanced aluminum frame that is lightweight. The frame is hydro-formed to make it stronger and structurally stiff. Apart from the higher stiffness-to-weight ratio, this frame offers more tolerance and allows for a smoother finish.
Adjustable Front and Rear Suspension:
Let’s face it, single-pivot rear suspensions are there to stay. Well, this suspension system has less moving parts. That means it can either be made lighter, stronger, or more reliable. Good news is that FSX 2.0 mountain bike provides all this in one package. Furthermore, the suspension has a long travel adjustment allowing you to vary ride height or ground clearance. This provides all the comfort you need, especially when riding over rough terrain.
24 Speed Control System:
Those finding their groove in the sport will find this feature to be very handy. This Shimano drivetrain system offers 24 gear selections to conquer those steep inclines. It uses Acera derailleurs that are more resistant to corrosion. EF51 shifters make derailleur shifts a fast and smooth experience.
Quick-Release Front and Rear Wheels:
The quick-release feature makes the wheels easier to fit or remove. It’s a feature that also comes in handy to make storage and transportation much easier. This mechanism is fast and you won’t be needing any tools for the task.
This mountain bike requires installation of the seat, front wheel, pedals, and the handlebars.
5. Schwinn Men's High Timber Mountain Bicycle
A brand from the past riding into tomorrow - that’s exactly what Schwinn is. This is a brand that adds more freedom to a ride without compromising comfort and performance.
High Timber is a model that stands tall among Schwinn’s line of mountain bikes. It’s a solid performer that feels at home on scenic bike paths, bumpy trails, and beyond.
Sturdy Steel Mountain Frame:
High Timber sports the new Schwinn mountain steel frame. This is a high-performing, dependable frame that adds more comfort to the ride. It’s flexible and lack of stiffness helps a lot in dampening road vibrations. This is a frame that can support heavier riders without a hitch.
21 Speed Shimano Drivetrain:
You get a 21 speed Shimano derailleur for cruising up and down inclines. High Timber uses the lighter twist shifter system that allows for quick shifts across the cassette. This results into rapid and smooth gear changes whenever you need it. This combination adds more to the durability and performance of the bike while keeping the price at a minimum.
Knobby All-Terrain Tires on Light Wheels:
This mountain bike comes with knobby tires built for the rough mountain trail. The tires provide improved grip on every root and rock for stability and great control. They seat on light yet durable 27.5-inch alloy wheels designed for nimble maneuvers and faster acceleration.
Simple Front and Rear Linear Pull Brakes:
High Timber bike provides the secure stopping power of linear pull brakes. These brakes offer a higher mechanical advantage for increased braking efficiency. They’re built of a lightweight alloy material and are much easier to maintain.
The assembly process of this bike will require tools, such as cutter, wrenches, pliers, and screwdriver. You’ll need to attach the quill stem, front wheel, seat, and pedals. Adjustments are needed for the brake, handlebars, and derailleurs.
6. BEIOU Carbon Fiber Hardtail Mountain Bike
Let’s be honest. Most carbon frames out there are exclusively reserved for the highest price tags. However, there’s one bike that makes carbon frame technology more affordable than ever.
This is none other than BEIOU 650B mountain bike. Well, this is a mountain bike that provides ultimate durability, lightweight body, and top-of-the-line components without the ridiculous price range.
Ultra-Light Carbon Frame:
The frame is perhaps the most noticeable part of this bike. Crafted from T800 carbon fiber, you get a frame with more rear flex, better shock absorption, and greater longevity. Calling this bike lightweight would be an understatement. At just 24 pounds in weight, you get an ultra-light bike that’s easy to carry on the trail.
Responsive 30 Speed Shimano Drivetrain:
This bike has an exceptional speed system that makes riding a whole lot of fun. With a whopping 30 gear options, it offers plenty of speed to enjoy. The shifters are from high-end Shimano Deore 610 groupset known for being lightweight, precise, and very responsive. This gear and drivetrain system is sure to give you a full advantage in terms of speed and efficiency.
Extra-Large 29-Inch Wheels:
The wheelset of this mountain bike is a perfect combination of low weight and ultimate durability. The extra-large 29-inch size makes them a great option for trail and cross-country riding. A unique fast tread design on the tires provides improved grip and traction without being too knobby. These are tires you can count on, especially when it comes to avoiding pinch flats.
Hydraulic Dual Disc Brake System:
BEIOU 650B has one of the most advanced brake system out there. The brake makes use of Shimano M355 technology to deliver a powerful, swift stop in all circumstances. These brakes are very responsive and provide an added measure of control. They’re hidden for low maintenance.
BEIOU comes already tuned out of the box. The parts that need to be assembled are the seat, front wheel, and pedals.
7. Diamondback Bicycles Full Suspension Mountain Bike
This is a do-it-all, dependable trail ripper. It’s almost similar to the Overdrive 29er model but with one very important difference - it’s a full suspension bike with independent frame movement.
Recoil 29er has a rather elegant construction that makes it one of the best entry-level rides for beginners. It offers more than average collection of features without costing a fortune.
6061 T-6 Aluminum Frame with Pivot Technology:
The frame is one of the best highlights of this mountain bike. It provides a strong and sturdy foundation that can take a beating from bangs and bumps on rocky trails. The aluminum alloy material offers great weight saving and combines with a pivot design to make the bike look even cooler.
Adjustable Suntour XCM Suspension with Rear Shock:
This is a bike that’s doing everything to give you a smoother riding experience. It has a front suspension fork and a rear coil shock both with 100mm of travel. This combination adds more confidence by providing total control over roots, bumps, and rocks. A preload adjustment feature makes the suspension system fully customizable to your weight and riding style.
Full 24 Speed Shimano Drivetrain:
The 24 gearing options present no problem when riding inclines, flat terrains, and anything in between. Premium Shimano shifters allow for seamless shifting to easily low down a gear whenever you need it.
Enhanced Mechanical Disc Brakes:
You’ll surely appreciate the safety that this bike has to offer. It uses Tektro Aries disc brakes to deliver reliable stopping power. This is a brake system you can count on at high speed. It works efficiently regardless of the weather condition.
29-Inch All-Terrain Wheels:
Large 29-inch wheels let this bike roll over obstacles without the fear of getting stuck. Sitting on the wheels are Kenda Honey Badger tires. These all-around tires come ready to traverse any terrain. One thing to note is that this bike doesn’t sacrifice speed for wheel size. With a low-rolling resistance, you’re assured of getting a bike that’s even faster than most 26-inch mountain bikes out there.
Diamondback Recoil arrives 85% assembled. What you need to put on are the pedals, front wheel, and seat
8. Recreation Women's 26M Mountain Bike
Are you a casual rider that enjoys occasional mountain bike adventure? Well, recreation mountain bike might just be the perfect ride for you. This particular model is designed with women riders in mind.
Step-Thru Aluminum Alloy Frame:
This bike has a lightweight aluminum frame that’s easy on female riders. It keeps the weight of the bike to a minimum making it easy to carry. Well, this frame isn’t designed for the hardcore rider. Rather, it provides a simple, lightweight structure perfect for the recreational rider. The frame has a low-standover step-thru design that makes it easy to get on and off.
50mm Hardtail Suspension System:
Well, as I pointed out earlier, this bike isn’t designed for hardcore mountain riding. That makes the 50mm front suspension good enough to ensure a smooth and comfortable ride.
21-Speed Shimano Drivetrain:
21 gear options and quality Shimano components service you well in your recreational mountain biking adventure. The shifters are responsive, precise, and ready to put down a gear with a simple flip.
Lightweight 26-Inch Wheels:
When it comes to recreational riding, small wheels make a big impact. Such is the case with this mountain bike. It boasts 26-inch wheels, which are the lightest options out there. Despite the lightweight built, these wheels are structurally strong and provide increased maneuverability compared to larger wheels. They’re are nimble and accelerate faster.
The assembly process involves attaching the front wheel, seat, and pedals. Adjustments are needed for the brake, handlebars, and derailleurs.
9. Merax Falcon Full Suspension Mountain Bike
Done with recreational riding and ready to step up your game just a bit? Well, Falcon full suspension bike is a ride that’s ready to take on the challenge. This is a bike that you can’t beat for the price.
Equally enticing are the features that this bike brings in off-road riding. In fact, it’s been named the most economical fully featured mountain bike out there.
6061 Heat-Treated Aluminum Alloy Frame:
At the heart of Falcon is a lightweight heat-treated aluminum frame. This hydro-formed frame has a consistent level of hardness that gives the bike a robust structure. In fact, this frame is strong enough to support up to 330 pounds.
The frame has a dual-suspension design that evens out bumps for improved control and comfort. This suspension system is certified and approved, an assured quality standard you don’t always get in most mountain bikes.
21-Speed Shimano Derailleurs and Shifters:
The drivetrain of this mountain bike enjoys the reputation of quality Shimano components. You get 21 gear options for uphill climbs and long flats. Shimano shifters offer easy, responsive shifting that gives an easy time over rough terrains.
Lightweight 26-inch Wheels:
Merax Falcon has 26-inch wheels, which is standard for mountain bikes. The smaller circumference of these wheels makes them structurally stronger with more resistance to deformation. These wheels handle drop-offs well and offer increased maneuverability for easy navigation.
This bike arrives 85% assembled. Upon purchase of Merax Falcon mountain bike, you’ll need to assembly the handlebars, front wheel, pedals, and air up the tires. Tuning is also required.
10. Mantis Orchid Full Suspension Bicycle
Looking for an agile, resilient, and affordable women’s mountain bike? Well, check out Mantis Orchid full suspension bike.
It’s a master of all terrains durable and flexible enough to withstand energetic rides. The bike has a unique, cool design that announces your presence on the track.
Low Standover Steel Frame:
The frame of this bike is made of steel for improved strength and durability. It offers a robust structure that can support large body weight and take a beating on bumpy terrain. The frame offers a low standover height making it easy to get on and off.
Dual Suspension Frame with Steel Suspension Fork:
This is a full suspension bike equipped with a dual suspension frame and a high quality steel suspension fork. This is a strong, proven suspension system designed to offer a smooth ride regardless of the terrain.
21 Speed Shimano Control System:
Mantis Orchid provides the quality of Shimano drivetrain. This speed control system offers 21 gear options for those uphill climbs. Twist shifters allow for quick and effortless gear changes.
Nimble 26-inch Wheels:
At 26 inches, the wheels of this mountain bike are quite small. This contributes to its lightweight feature while improving acceleration. It makes the ride effortless, especially for longer distances.
Parts that need to be assembled in this bike are the seat, front wheel, and pedals. Adjustment is needed for the brake and derailleurs.
11. Schwinn Women's High Timber Mountain Bicycle
High Timber is among a few mountain bikes out there that deliver as advertised. This bike offers an agile, resilient, and reliable ride that feels at home over diverse terrain.
It’s a mountain bike that surely lives up to the quality standards that Schwinn upholds.
Steel Step-Thru Frame:
Schwinn is known for its unrivaled quality construction. The frame of this bike has been crafted to uphold this standard. It’s made of steel to give a stable, controlled ride. A step-thru geometry offers a low standover height, a feature specifically designed with women riders in mind. This design makes it easy to get on and off the bike even with those tight clothes that limit movement.
Front Suspension Fork:
Schwinn High Timber is a hardtail bike. It has a front suspension system that insulates the rider from the rough terrain. This suspension system minimizes upper body exhaustion, offers a smooth ride, and increases control.
Mix and Match 21 Speed Drivetrain:
Well, Schwinn saw it good to settle for a groupset offered by the two main manufacturers: SRAM and Shimano. You get a 21 speed Shimano derailleur for cruising up and down inclines. SRAM grip shifters ensure rapid and smooth gear changes whenever you need it. This combination adds more to the durability and performance of the bike while keeping price at a minimum.
26-Inch Alloy Wheels:
These are the type of wheels you need for quick maneuvers. They’re lightweight yet strong enough to take a bite off the rough trail. The rims are also made of alloy material for great weight saving. What you get is a bike that’s easy to carry and effortless to control.
You’ll need a cutter, wrench, pliers, and screwdriver for the assembly process. Parts that need to be attached are quill stem, front wheel, seat, and pedals. Furthermore, adjustment is needed for the brake, handlebars, and derailleurs.
Buying A Entry Level Mountain Bike - Things to Consider
I think this is the very first consideration you need to keep in mind. After all, it’s the one thing that matters most in your purchase decision. Ask yourself where and how much you’re going to use your bike. As you might have noticed, mountain bikes come in different categories according to purpose. These include recreational, cross-country, trail, and all-mountain bikes. Knowing when and how much you’re going to use your bike will help you determine the right features and specs you want.
Selecting the right frame material is quite crucial. Most mountain bikes have an aluminum frame that is durable, lightweight, and affordable compared to other frames. Steel offers a lot more strength compared to aluminum. However, it’s a little heavier and more expensive in most cases. Those willing to spend more can settle for high-end carbon fiber frame. This frame is ultra-light, more durable, and absorbs shock better.
When categorized in terms of suspension, you get three types of mountain bikes: full suspension (front and rear suspension), hardtail (front suspension), and rigid (no suspension). Well, suspension adds to the smoothness of the ride, increases control, and improves handling. Suspension is measures in millimeters of travel. For instance, 100mm of suspension makes for a great cross-country bike. 120-140mm is good for trail riding while 140-170mm makes a perfect choice for all-mountain biking. 50-80mm are recommended for recreational rides.
Wheel size is an important consideration. After all, this is the part that’s going to take the most beating. The choice of wheel size mostly depends on the type of terrain you’re going to ride on. The most common sizes of wheels are 26-inch, 27.5-inch, and 29-inch. 26-inch wheel is the standard size appreciated for its lightweight nature and nimble maneuvers. 29-inch wheels roll over obstacles the easiest. They provide more contact with the ground for improved traction and stability. 27.5-inch wheels are a perfect balance of the features provided by 26-inch and 29-inch wheels. Choose wheels that translate to better handling, acceleration, and climbing.
You need a good brake system to deliver excellent stopping power and control. Most of the modern mountain bikes are equipped with disc brakes designed to perform in all conditions. Disc brakes are categorized into two: mechanical and hydraulic. The mechanical disc brake uses a cable to actuate the caliper. It’s easy to service and works great in cold temperatures. On the other hand, hydraulic brakes use a fluid that actuates the pistons. These brakes provide better lever feel and deliver more stopping power than mechanical disc brakes.
There are two types of handlebars in mountain bikes. There’s the flat bars designed to be lighter while sitting a little bit lower. This type of handlebar offers the comfort you need for riding long distances. The other option is the riser bars. These are made slightly wider than flat bars. They support an upright posture and are mostly preferred for downhill riding.
There’s a ton of things to consider when choosing a entry level mountain bike. In fact, the experience can be quite overwhelming. But you can make things easier on your part. Put into consideration the recommended products and purchase advice to ensure you get a ride that will never disappoint.