If you’re in the market for a new mountain bike and need some inspiration, have a read below. We have put together a list of the 15 best mountain bike-specific bike brands.
This means all of the brands listed below have produced a series of bikes in one or more of the following categories:
- Dirt Jump & Freeride
- Youth mountain bikes
The term ‘boutique mountain bike brand’ means that they have specialized in one niché only, and focus on the higher-end spectrum of quality.
THE TOP 3
Santa Cruz Bicycles – Known for their spotless paintwork and cult-like following
Ibis Cycles – One of the first mountain bike brands to manufacture a full-suspension carbon bike
Yeti Cycles – Performance race bikes
Ibis vs Yeti vs Santa Cruz – Comparison in numbers
1. Yeti Cycles
Strictly Carbon Mountain Bikes!
Founded: 1985 | Founder: John Parker | Headquarters: Golden, Colorado
Yeti’s philosophy is simple: they build bikes they want to ride.
In 1985 John Parker, a former Hollywood set designer and welder founded Yeti Cycles after falling in love with the burgeoning sport.
They had several sponsored riders whom they used to develop bikes with, using their ‘For Racing Only’ (FRO) models. After the company changed hands a few times, they are currently well represented in the pro ranks by several top riders including Richie Rude and Shawn Neer in the Yeti/Fox Factory team. They have developed a wide range of mountain bikes across a number of disciplines and are among the most respected brands in the industry.
Yeti ARC – 29″ – 130mm (f)
Yeti SB115 – 130mm (f), 115mm (r)
AM & ENDURO
Yeti SB130 – 29″ – 160mm (f), 150mm (r)
Yeti SB140 – 27.5″ – 160mm (f), 140mm (r)
Yeti SB150 – 29″ – 170mm (f), 150mm (r)
Yeti SB165 – 27.5″ – 180mm (f), 165mm (r)
2. Ibis Cycles
Founded: 1981 | Founder: Scot Nichol | Headquarters: Santa Cruz, California
Founded in 1982 by Scot Nichols, aka ‘Chuck Ibis’, Ibis Cycles has since become one of the quirkier, more innovative mountain bike manufacturers.
Now headquartered in Santa Cruz, California, the brand has expanded to produce a wide range of mountain bikes across several disciplines, including; trail, enduro, and most recently, gravel. After a brief hiatus from 2000 to 2005, the brand is now thriving and sponsors its own enduro race team.
Ibis Ripley – 29″ – 130mm (f), 120mm (r)
Ibis Ripmo – 29″ – 160mm (f), 147mm (r)
Ibis Mojo 4 – 27.5″ – 140mm (f), 130mm (r)
Ibis Mojo HD5 27.5″ – 170mm (f), 153mm (r)
Ibis Hakka MX – 27.5″ & 700c
3. Santa Cruz Bicycles
Founded: 1993 | CEO: Rob Roskopp | Founders: Rob Roskopp, Mike Marquez, Rich Novak | Headquarters: Santa Cruz, California
Founded by Rob Roskopp, Mike Marquez, and Rich Novak in 1993, Santa Cruz Bicycles has been at the forefront of modern mountain biking technology and development since the brand released its first bike, the Tazmon.
Since then, they have grown to offer more bikes across many disciplines, and have even created a spin-off line of women’s bikes under the brand name Juliana. Santa Cruz manufactures high-end performance mountain bikes and has had major success in the professional ranks, with current team riders including Greg Minnaar and Luca Shaw.
Highball – 29″ – 10mm (f)
Blur – 29″ – 100mm (f, r)
Chameleon – 27.5″ & 29″ – 120mm & 130mm (f)
Tallboy – 29″ – 120mm (f)
5010 – 27.5″ – 130mm (r)
Megatower – 29″ – 160mm (f,r)
Hightower – 29″ – 150mm (f), 145mm (r)
Nomad – 27.5″ – 170mm (f, r)
Bronson – 27.5″ – 160mm (f), 150mm (r)
Heckler – 27.5″ 160mm (f), 150mm (r)
V10 – 27.5″ & 29″ mixed – 203mm (f), 215mm (r)
Stigmata – 650b & 700c
Jackal – 26″
4. Evil Bikes
Founded in 2009 | Founders: Kevin Walsh, Dave Weagle, Tod Seplavy | Based in Seattle, Washington
Evil Bikes is a brand with an interesting history, with more than one go at becoming a fully-fledged mountain bike manufacturer.
Although the last decade hasn’t been the easiest for the Washington-based brand, they are now a well-respected manufacturer of high-performance mountain bikes and loved by riders across the globe. They currently offer a wide range of bikes across several disciplines including trail, enduro, dirt jump, and gravel. They also currently sponsor a team of riders named the ‘Black Collars’, a group largely made up of free-riders who all share a passion for mountain biking.
Following – 29″ – 130mm, 120mm
Wreckoning – 29″ – 170mm, 157mm
Insurgent – 27.5″ – 150/160/170mm, 151mm
Offering – 29″ – 150mm, 140mm
Chamois Hagar – 700x50c
Faction – 26″
5. Transition Bikes
Rider owned and operated
Founded: 2001 | Founders: Kevin Menard and Kyle Young l | Headquarters: Bellingham, Washington
Proudly rider-owned, the Bellingham-based brand has been at the forefront of developing mountain biking technologies since its inception in 2001.
They have developed such technologies as the GiddyUp suspension system, which allows the bike’s suspension to be tuned to the rider’s specific needs, smoothing out bumps and decreasing power transfer losses. Transition bikes are well received by reviewers across the globe and offer a range of high-quality mountain bikes – now with lifetime warranties on the frames. Their range has expanded to several disciplines including trail, enduro, downhill, dirt jump, and kids’ bikes so you can buy one for everyone in the family.
Spur – 29″ – 120mm, 120mm
Patrol – 27.5″ – 170mm, 160mm
Sentinel – 29″ – 160mm, 150mm
Scout – 27.5″ – 150mm, 140mm
TR11 – 27.5″ – 200mm, 200mm
PBJ – 26″ – 100mm
RipCord – 24″ – 100mm, 100mm
6. Pivot Cycles
Founded: 2007 | Founders: Chris Cocalis | Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona
Pivot Cycles was founded in 2007 by former Titus Cycles founder and leader, Chris Cocalis.
After Titus Cycles was bought by Vyatek Sports in 2006, Chris found himself back designing mountain bikes again after a short break, and Pivot Cycles was born. The bikes were designed around the DW-Link suspension system, and since then the company has built its reputation as being one of the leading bike manufacturers in terms of development and research.
Fast-forward to today and Pivot Cycles make a whole host of bikes across different disciplines, including XC, trail, enduro, downhill and more. All bikes are made from carbon fiber except their jump bike, the Point, which is made from Chromoly steel.
Les – 27.5″ – 100mm
Les Singlespeed – 29″ – 100mm
Les SL – 29″ – 100mm
Mach 4 SL – 29″ – 120mm, 100mm
Trail 429 – 29″ – 140mm, 120mm
Mach 5.5 – 27.5″ – 160mm ,140mm
Firebird – 29″ – 170mm, 162mm
Switcblade 29″ & 27.5″ – 160mm, 142mm
Mach 6 – 27.5″ – 160mm, 158mm
Phoenix – 29″ – 203mm, 190mm
Vault – 700c / 650b
Les fat – 26″, 27.5″, 29″
Point – 26″
E-Vault – 700c
Shuttle – 29″ – 160mm, 140mm
7. Revel Bikes
Rider owned, privately-funded
Founded: 2019 | Founders: Adam Miller | Headquarters: Carbondale, Colorado
A new brand that was only founded in 2019, Revel Bikes already has a reputation for innovative and forward-thinking mountain bike design.
With their bike based around the Canfield CBF linkage design, their mission is to create some of the best mountain bikes on the market. Currently, they offer three mountain bikes, the Ranger, the Rascal, and the Rail. All with unique characteristics, but all built around the CBF suspension.
As expected from a somewhat boutique brand, the prices are quite high, but you do get a lifetime warranty on the frames, and there are multiple build options for each bike to suit an array of budgets.
TRAIL / ALL-MOUNTAIN / ENDURO
Ranger – 29″ – 120mm, 115mm
Rascal – 29″ – 140mm, 130mm
Rail – 27.5″ – 170mm, 165mm
8. Rocky Mountain Bicycles
Founded: 1981| Founders: Grayson Bain, Jacob Heilbron, and Sam Mak | Headquarters: Vancouver, Canada
Named after the stretch of mountains in which they were founded, Rocky Mountain Bicycles have a long history of producing high-quality and race-ready mountain bikes.
From winning World Cups to competing at the Olympics, these bikes have a racing pedigree. They currently sponsor several professional riders within freeride, enduro, and XC, as well as several ambassadors around the globe.
Their current crop of bikes extends across most disciplines including XC, trail, enduro, downhill, and even kids‘ bikes to name a few. Their price bracket sits alongside most other high-end mountain bike brands, so expect to be spending a couple of thousand dollars on a Rocky Mountain. We’re sure, however, that current owners would say it’s worth the price tag.
Element – 29″ – 100-120mm (f), 100mm (r)
Instinct – 29″ & 27.5″ – 150mm, 140mm
Thunderbolt – 27.5″, 26″ ready – 150mm, 140mm
Growler – 29″ – 130-150mm
Altitude – 29″ & 27.5″ – 170mm, 160mm
Blizzard – 26″, 27.5″, 29″-ready
Solo – 700c, 650b
Fusion – 29″ – 100mm
Soul – 27.5″ – 120mm
Instinct Powerplay – 29″ (27.5+ ready) – 150mm, 140mm
Instinct Powerplay BC Edition – 29″ (27.5+ ready) – 160mm, 155mm
Altitude Powerplay – 27.5″ – 160mm, 150mm
Growler Powerplay – 29″ – 130/140/150mm (hardtail)
Slayer – 29″ & 27.5″ (Frame Size Dependant) – 170-200mm (f), 170-180mm (r)
Reaper – 27.5″, 26″, 24″ – 150, 130, or 120mm (front), 130mm (rear)
Soul Jr – 26″ or 24″ – 63mm (hardtail)
Vertex Jr – 24″ or 20″ – 65mm (hardtail)
Growler Jr – 24+ or 26+ – 80/100mm (hardtail)
Edge – 26″, 24″, 20″, 16″, 14″, or 12″ – 80mm (26″ only)
9. Intense Cycles USA
Founded: 1993| Founders: Jeff Steber | Headquarters: Temecula, California
Founded in 1993 by Jeff Steber, Intense Cycles is a high-performance mountain bike brand that uses its racers and factory team to build and develop new ideas.
Currently, their top downhill rider is Aaron Gwin, a five-time World Cup overall champion who has been integral to the design and development of the Intense DH bike, the M29.
Intense Cycles makes a range of mountain bikes, not just for the professionals, across several disciplines and budgets, including XC, E-MTB, and more. Their bikes are built to a high standard and are well regarded across the mountain biking industry, and riders alike, making an Intense Cycles MTB a great choice for your next bike.
Sniper T – 29″ – 120mm, 120mm
Sniper XC – 29″ – 100mm, 100mm
Sniper FRO – 29″ – 100mm, 100mm
Tazer – 29″ (f) 27.5 (r) – 160mm, 155mm
Carbine – 29″ – 160mm, 155mm
Tracer – 29″ – 170mm, 165mm
Primer – 29″ – 150mm, 140mm
Primer S – 29″ – 150mm, 140mm
Primer – 27.5″ – 150mm, 140mm
M29 – 29″ 203mm (f), 208mm (r)
10. Juliana Bicycles
Founded: 1999| Founders: Juli Furtado | Headquarters: Santa Cruz, California
Juliana Bicycles is a pioneering brand and the first to produce a women’s specific mountain bike.
Led by former champion mountain bike racer Juli Furtado, they approached Santa Cruz Bicycles who offered the use of their brand/facilities to allow the brand to build its foundations and successfully market its women’s bikes.
Currently, they make several mountain bikes across a range of disciplines, all using the Santa Cruz VPP suspension design, but tailored to the specific needs of female mountain bikers. The brand sponsors a pro team, the Juliana SRAM Pro Team, which includes six riders from across the United States and Canada who compete in races such as the Enduro World Series.
Their bikes are renowned for quality and for being high-performance race-ready machines, so if you’re after a new mountain bike, Juliana Bicycles is a great place to start.
Joplin – 29″ – 130mm, 120mm
Furtado – 27.5″ – 140mm, 130mm
Roubion – 27.5″ – 160mm, 150mm
Maverick – 29″ – 150mm, 140mm
Quincy – 700c
11. Niner Bikes
Founded: 2005 | Founders: Chris Sugai (President and CEO), Steve Domahidy | Headquarters: Fort Collins, Colorado
With a tagline like Pedal Damn It! Niner Bikes are known for their fun and their commitment to dirt.
They’re a company that is engaged with the local mountain biking community, as well as producing high-end bikes. Based out of Fort Collins, Colorado, the brand often tests their new bikes on the trails local to them before releasing them to the market.
Currently, they offer a wide range of performance mountain bikes across several disciplines including XC, trail, enduro, gravel, and E-MTB. Their bikes are on par with industry prices for high-end bikes, but they are still relatively expensive.
RKT 9 RDO RS – 100mm, 90mm
AIR 9 RDO – 29″ – 100mm
AIR 9 – 29″ – 100mm???
SIR 9 – 27.5″ / 29″ – 120mm
RKT 9 RDO – 29″ – 120mm, 90mm
jet 9 RDO – 29″ / 27.5″ – 130mm, 120mm
RIP 9 RDO – 27.5″ – 150mm ,140mm
RIP 9 RDO – 29″ – 170mm, 140mm
MCR 9 RDO – 700c / 650b – 50mm
RLT 9 RDO – 700c / 650b
RLT 9 Steel – 700c / 650b
RLT 9 – 700c / 650b
Rip e9 – 29″ – 160mm, 150mm
WFO e9 – 29″ (f) & 27.5″ (r) mixed – ???mm, 180mm
RLT 9 RDO – 700c & 650b
12. Orange Mountain Bikes
Founded: 1988 | Type of business: Privately Held | Headquarters: Halifax, UK
Orange Bikes is a British MTB brand founded in 1988 in Yorkshire in the north of England.
From their first bike, the Clockwork Orange (named after the film), the brand has since achieved cult status due to the strength and longevity of the bikes they produce. While their bikes were once made in Taiwan, all are now manufactured and assembled in Britain, and in-house in their headquarters in Halifax.
They currently manufacture several bikes across many disciplines including gravel, hardtails, downhill/gravity, enduro/all-mountain to name a few. The bikes are considered an investment, but they will last you a long time and are extremely capable bikes.
327 – 27.5″ – 200mm (front), 200mm (rear)
329 – 29″ – 203mm, 190mm
Charger – 27.5″ – 150mm, 145mm
Surge – 27.5″ – 170mm, 165mm
Surge 29 – 29″ – 160mm, 150mm
Phase – 29″/27.5″ (mullet) – 160mm, 160mm
Stage 6 – 29″ – 160mm, 150mm
Alpine 6 – 27.5″ – 170mm, 165mm
Switch 6 – 29″/27.5″ (mullet) – 160mm, 145mm
Five Evo – 27.5″ – 140mm, 130mm
Stage Evo – 29″ – 130mm, 120mm
Crush – 27.5 – 150mm
Crush 29 – 29″ – 140mm
Crush MX MX – 29″/27.5″ – 140mm
P7 – 27.5″ – 150mm
P7 29 – 29″ – 140mm
Clockwork – 27.5″ – 130mm
Clockwork EVO – 27.5″ – 140mm
Clockwork EVO 29 – 29″ – 130mm
Speedwork – 700C
RX9 – 700C
X9 – 650B
R9 – 700C
Peeler – 12″
Pop – 16″
Zest 20 – 20″ – 50mm (hardtail)
Zest 24 – 24″ – 65mm (hardtail)
Zest – 26″ – 100mm
13. Forbidden Bike CO
Founded: 2019| Founders: Owen Pemberton | Headquarters: Cumberland, BC
An extremely new bike manufacturer, Forbidden Bike Co. was established in 2019 by industry veteran Owen Pemberton.
They began with one single bike, the Druid – a trail bike with cutting-edge design and technology featuring the brand’s own ‘Ziggy Link’ suspension technology. The Ziggy Link allows riders to alter their Druid bikes to accommodate mullet wheel geometry, and replace the rear 29″ wheel with a 27.5″ one to encourage greater maneuverability and agility in the bike.
Currently, the brand manufactures two bikes, the Druid, a trail bike, and the Dreadnought, a powerful 170mm travel bike. Both are on the pricey side, but the bikes are built to be high-performance bikes capable of riding in plenty of conditions and terrains.
Dreadnought – 29″, 170mm, 154mm
Druid – 29″, 150mm, 130mm
14. Eminent Cycles
Founded: 2014| Founders: Jeff Soncrant | Headquarters: San Diego, California
Originally founded in 2014 in San Diego, California, Eminent Cycles was formed by Jeff Soncrant after he couldn’t find his perfect bike on the market.
They released their first bike, the Haste in 2017, which has since been replaced by the Onset. The brand mainly runs direct-to-consumer although there is a small network of approved stockists that sell the bikes.
Their bikes use an Active Float System (AFS) is built to provide reliable traction and control in any circumstance. The brand currently manufactures three bikes, Onset ST, Onset LT, and Onset MT each designed to excel in their respective disciplines.
Onset ST – 29″ – 130mm, 120mm
Onset LT – 29″ – 150mm, 140mm
Onset MT – 29″ – 160mm, 155mm
15. Esker Cycles
Founded: 2018 | Founders: Tim Krueger | Headquarters: Montana, US
Proudly rider-owned, Esker Cycles was founded in 2018 by industry veteran Tim Krueger.
The suspension design was created by Dave Weagle and is called the Orion™ suspension platform. This innovative suspension design stabilizes pedaling response over multiple terrains without the hint of pedal feedback.
Esker Cycles currently produce four bikes, the Rowl, the Elkat, the Japhy, and the Hayduke. They start with a base model frame and you can add component levels on, so it suits any budget. High performance but a relatively new brand, these bikes are ones to watch in the coming years.
Rowl – 29″ – 150mm, 140mm
Elkat – 27.5″ – 160mm, 150mm
TRAIL & ALL MOUNTAIN
Japhy – 29″ – 120mm
Hayduke – 27.5″ – 140mm
Why didn’t we include other large bike brands?
Although brands such as Cannondale, Trek, Specialized, Norco, Giant, etc have a wide variety of all kinds of mountain bikes in their fleet, we wanted to give a shoutout to mountain bike-specific brands only.
Obviously, there are plenty more MTB brands you could suggest in the comments section that we haven’t covered JUST YET!