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Best Mountain Bikes in 2024: Top Choices for XC, Trail, Enduro, and DH Riding

By Sam Millers   /  Last updated - February 2, 2024   /  Act As Post

best mountain bikes

When choosing the best mountain bike, you’re making a significant investment that’s likely to last 5 to 10 years. That’s why you need to choose wisely!

If you’ve decided on a mountain bike as your next two-wheeled companion—whether as an upgrade or your introductory venture on the trails—our article will provide you with a carefully selected range of the latest and best mountain bikes available.

Navigating through the diverse range of mountain bike disciplines can be overwhelming, which is why our guide simplifies this decision, ensuring you choose the perfect bike to match your riding style and ambitions.


Best Mountain Bikes of 2024


1. Niner Air 9 2-Star

niner air 2-star

MSRP: $1,999

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Suspension Travel: 120 mm
  • Brakes: Hydraulic discs
  • Gearing: SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed
  • Tire Size: 29″ x 2.6″

Niner Bikes is a renowned mountain bike brand specializing in producing high-performance mountain bikes. The Niner Air 9 2-Star is a good hardtail example.

Niner Air 9 is an aluminum hardtail mountain bike with a 120 mm suspension fork, a 12-speed drivetrain, and 29×2.6″ tires.

The 2-Star model boasts a SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain, Marzocchi Bomber Z2 Rail fork, a Niner Custom saddle, and SRAM Level hydraulic disc brakes.

Sadly, this build doesn’t come with a dropper post, but you can easily fit one. If you plan to do so, you should check out our recommendation of the best dropper seat posts.

Depending on how hard you shred, the Niner Air 9 range has quite a large variety of set-ups to choose from, while the geometry of the bike is suitable for top-class riding on intermediate and advanced trails.

Buy on JensonUSA.com


2. Santa Cruz Bicycles Chameleon AL D R

Santa Cruz Bicycles Chameleon AL D R

MSRP: $2,600

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Suspension Travel: 130 mm
  • Brakes: Hydraulic discs
  • Gearing: SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed
  • Tire Size: 29″ x 2.5″

The latest Chameleon model from Santa Cruz Bicycles is designed to excel in a variety of terrains, just as its name suggests.

The Chameleon AL D R that we’re reviewing here boasts a lightweight aluminum frame paired with a FOX Rhythm 34 Float fork with 130 mm of travel. That makes it suitable for hitting light trails and rough singletracks. 

The SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain puts 12 speeds at your disposal and the SRAM G2 R hydraulic disc brakes will give you all the control you need to hit technical descents. A dropper seat post will help in this area as well. 

In addition to that, the Santa Cruz Chameleon has 29″ x 2.5″ tires that seem massive and guarantee enough grip on a variety of surfaces. 

All things considered, the Chameleon is a high-end option from a reliable brand that can fit the needs of a large variety of riders.

Buy from MikesBikes.com


3. Salsa Rangefinder

salsa rangefinder mountain bike

MSRP: $1,399

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Suspension Travel: 120 mm
  • Brakes: Hydraulic discs
  • Gearing: Shimano Deore 12-speed
  • Tire Size: 27.5″ x 2.8″

The Salsa Rangefinder has been one of the best mountain bikes in the entry-level category for years now. It offers an exceptional value for the money for beginners and intermediate riders.

With a 120 mm SR Suntour XCR34 air front suspension and an aluminum frame, the Rangefinder is capable of proper mountain biking on rough trails. 

This build also sports a Shimano Deore 12-speed derailleur and shifters, WTB ST i30 wheels, and plus-size 2.8″ Maxxis Rekon tires. The package also includes basic Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes that have plenty of stopping power, but not as much modulation as more expensive brakes.

The Salsa Rangefinder also comes with a TranzX dropper post, which is not a common find in this price range. We also love the numerous mounting points scattered around the frame, which also makes the Rangefinder one of the top MTBs for bikepacking.

Buy on REI.com


4. Cannondale Trail 8

cannondale trail 8

MSRP: $535

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Suspension Travel: 75 mm
  • Brakes: Mechanical discs
  • Gearing: Shimano Tourney 2×7-speed
  • Tire Size: 27.5″ or 29″ x 2.25″

The Trail series by Cannondale offers eight affordable mountain bikes, with the Trail 8 offering the best value for the money considering that it retails for just $535. 

The Cannondale Trail 8 is a great mountain bike for recreational and beginner cyclists as it has all the right components you expect to see in this price range.

The geometry of this bike is upright and relaxed, which is ideal for beginners, and it’s also a perfect all-rounder mountain bike due to the 75 mm travel fork on the front.

What stands out most about the bike is the 2×7-speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain and Tektro mechanical disc brakes, which is a low-tier combination of components, but solid for a bike that costs around $500.

Shorter riders will also appreciate the size-specific wheels, as the Trail 8 comes with 27.5″ wheels in XS and S frame sizes and 29″ wheels in larger frame sizes. This ensures a good fit across the 4’6″ – 6’3″ recommended rider height range.

Buy on REI.com


5. Salsa Beargrease

salsa beargrease fat bike

MSRP: $2,899

  • Frame: Carbon
  • Suspension Travel: Rigid (None)
  • Brakes: Hydraulic discs
  • Gearing: Shimano Cues 11-speed
  • Tire Size: 27.5″ x 4.0″

The Salsa Beargrease is a fat tire mountain bike with a full carbon fiber frameset and a rigid fork.

This impressive Salsa carbon frame is stiff, responsive, and incredibly lightweight, giving this bike a premium feel. The huge 4.0″ 45NRTH Vanhelga fat tires ensure comfort, traction, and durability on almost any terrain you encounter. 

Of course, this bike is slightly limited on chunky downhill terrain without suspension, but the wider tires mean you can ride on snow, sand, and mud without any issues.

The groupset comprises a Shimano Cues 11-speed drivetrain with an 11-50t cassette and reliable Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. 

All things considered, if you’re in the market for one of the best fat tire mountain bikes, you won’t get much better than the Salsa Beargrease in the sub $3,000 price range. 

Buy on REI.com


6. Alchemy Argos 

Alchemy Argos mountain bike

MSRP: from $6,499

  • Frame: Titanium
  • Suspension Travel: 130 mm
  • Brakes: Hydraulic discs
  • Gearing: SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed
  • Tire Size: 29″ x 2.4″

When it comes to ultra-durable, stylish, and well-thought-out mountain bikes, you can surely count on Alchemy. The Argos hardtail is equipped with the latest technologies that are ideal for the best hardtail mountain bike experience.

This truly is a hardtail trail mountain bike to consider when you are looking for a performance race companion.

The Argos is built around a lightweight and comfortable titanium frame that comes equipped with a 130 mm front suspension fork. 

The cheapest build features a SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed groupset, but you can also get a Shimano XT, SRAM X0, Shimano XTR, and SRAM XX groups. 

All builds roll on Maxxis 29″ x 2.4″ tires and come with Industry Nine Enduro S aluminum or carbon wheels, depending on the build. 

Titanium mountain bikes are not common on the market, which really makes the Alchemy Argos stand out, through the price tag will not fit everyone’s budget.

Buy on Alchemybikes.com


7. Rocky Mountain Growler 40

Rocky Mountain Growler 40 hardtail mountain bike

MSRP: $1,899

  • Frame: 6061 Aluminum
  • Suspension Travel: 140 mm
  • Brakes: Hydraulic discs
  • Gearing: Shimano Deore 12-speed
  • Tire Size: 29″ x 2.6″

If you’re looking for one of the best mountain bikes to kickstart your mountain biking adventures, we recommend looking no further than the Rocky Mountain Growler 40. This is a high-travel mid-range hardtail that will help you improve your trail skills and build confidence.

The 29er Rocky Mountain Growler 40 is the brand’s middle-of-the-line aluminum hardtail with a massive 140mm fork on the front. The rather slack geometry is best for all-mountain blasting, while the 29-inch wheels suit the riders who like to go fast.

We believe that hardtail MTBs are a much better choice in this price range than any similarly priced full-suspension mountain bike because of the overall value for the money you get.

The Growler 40 comes with a Shimano Deore 12-speed groupset, hydraulic disc brakes, WTB ST i30 wheels, and tried and true WTB Vigilante tires. 

Buy on Jenson USA


8. Marin San Quentin 2

Marin San Quentin 2 trail mountain bike

MSRP: $1,399

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Suspension Travel: 140 mm
  • Brakes: Hydraulic discs
  • Gearing: Shimano Deore 11-speed
  • Tire Size: 27.5″ x 2.6″

The Marin San Quentin 2 is as tough as it looks. Equipped with solid components, a durable frame, and a long-travel RockShox FS35 Silver 140mm fork in the front gives you a ton of freedom when it comes to choosing the most challenging line on the trails!

The 1×11 Shimano Deore drivetrain is known for being light, reliable, and easy to maintain. Whereas Shimano MT201 2-piston hydraulic brakes and Vee Tire Co. Flow Snap 2.6″ tires inspire confidence by providing enough grip and braking control in tricky situations.

Marin San Quentin 2 has some fantastic surprises when it comes to the components fitted to it. It even comes with a TranzX dropper seat post, which is a rare find on entry-level MTBs.

When we saw the price and analyzed the parts, we had no second thoughts about including it on our ‘best mountain bikes’ list.

Buy on Jenson USA


9. Specialized Chisel

Specialized Chisel hardtail mountain bike

MSRP: $1,800

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Suspension Travel: 100 mm
  • Brakes: Hydraulic discs
  • Gearing: SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed
  • Tire Size: 29″ x 2.35″

The Chisel is one of the best Specialized mountain bikes the brand has to offer. This bike is ideal for riders who want to enjoy a range of terrains off-road, including long climbs and technical descents.

With all of its high-tech features, starting with the hydroformed aluminum frame and RockShox Judy Silver 100mm (80mm on XS frame) fork suspension, it is hard not to include the Chisel on this list.

Moreover, it comes with 29-inch wheels and 2.35″ tires which make for more stability and faster rolling speeds. Sadly the Specialized Chisel does not include a dropper post, but it justifies its price tag with a few other high-value components.

The SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain can handle hard riding and the SRAM Level T hydraulic disc brakes will give you control when you need to navigate tricky sections of the trail. 

Buy from Specialized.com


10. Ibis Ripmo AF NGX

Ibis Ripmo full suspension mountain bike

MSRP: $3,599

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Suspension Travel: 160 mm
  • Brakes: Hydraulic discs
  • Gearing: SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed
  • Tire Size: 29″ x 2.5″

The Ibis Ripmo is a high-end aluminum all-mountain bike with an aggressive frame geometry that combines longer reach with a steep, 76-degree seat tube angle.

This places the rider more centrally over the pedals for better control on steep, tricky descents. In addition, the slacker 64.9-degree headtube angle makes climbing less twitchy, resulting in an excellent all-around trail bike.

The front fork is a Marzocchi Bomber Z1 Coil with 160mm of travel and the rear suspension features a Marzocchi Bomber Air shock.

For downhill riding, you also get a dropper post, aluminum rims, and Maxxis Assegai 29×2.5″ tires. 

All in all, the Ibis Ripmo AF is a well-rounded full-suspension mountain bike perfect for enduro and all-mountain trails and suitable for all levels of riding.

Buy on JensonUSA.com


11. Trek Top Fuel 8 GX AXS

red Trek Top Fuel mountain bike

MSRP: $4,800

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Suspension Travel: 130 mm
  • Brakes: Hydraulic discs
  • Gearing: SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed
  • Tire Size: 29″ x 2.5″

The Trek Top Fuel 8 is a premium full-suspension mountain bike made by one of the biggest brands in the industry.

The 130mm of travel in the front and the rear categorizes this bike as a cross-country MTB but gives it all the capabilities of a full-suspension trail mountain bike.

The Top Fuel 8 features a 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, lightweight aluminum frame, and 2.5-inch Bontrager tires.

The RockShox Pike suspension fork and RockShox Deluxe Ultimate RCT rear shock will give you the necessary control on rugged trails, while the Bontrager dropper post is a necessity for technical descents. 

We also love the dark red finish, though you can get the Trek Top Fuel 8 in all-black as well. 

Buy from Trekbikes.com


12. Cannondale Habit 4

Cannondale Habit 4

MSRP: $2,300

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Suspension Travel: 140 mm
  • Brakes: Hydraulic discs
  • Gearing: Shimano Deore 12-speed
  • Tire Size: 29″ x 2.4″ (27.5″ on XS)

Cannondale never fails to surprise us with the bang for the buck its mountain bikes offer. The Cannondale Habit 4 is an entry-level full-suspension mountain bike with trail-focused geometry. It boasts solid features packed into an affordable price tag.

The new Cannondale Habit 4 is built for trail enthusiasts who wish to start amateur racing or check out some popular descents in their area.

It comes with a lightweight SmartForm C1 alloy frame that offers nimble and responsive handling, especially on tricky descents. The SmartForm C1 alloy is the perfect alternative to much pricier carbon frames seen in that price range.

In addition to that, the combination of a RockShox Recon RL 140 mm front suspension and a RockShox Deluxe Select 130mm rear suspension makes light of any jumps and rock gardens you encounter on the trail.

Finally, the 12-speed Shimano Deore derailleur is among the best you can get in this price range, and the same can be said for the Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes.

If you want one of the most affordable mountain bikes with full suspension that is actually worth buying, we recommend shortlisting the Cannondale Habit 4.

Buy on REI.com


13. Yeti SB135 C-Series

Yeti SB135 C-Series

MSRP: $6,900

  • Frame: Carbon
  • Suspension Travel: 160 mm
  • Brakes: Hydraulic discs
  • Gearing: SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed
  • Tire Size: 27.5″ x 2.5″ / 2.4″

The Yeti SB135 is a line of high-end carbon trail bikes with the best components for performance riders. Yeti mountain bikes are perfect for professional trail riders who want to start winning races, therefore the bike might be too much for a casual cyclist.

The SB135 is a premium line of bikes coming from Yeti, featuring a light, stiff, and responsive carbon frame, that can win any Enduro podium!

Fox Performance 36 fork and Fox Performance Float 150mm rear shock will allow you to start practicing on terrains unimaginable to you before.

For the $6,900 that you’d need to pay for this build, you will get one of the top trail bikes with a SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed rear derailleur, which is the best you can find on the market right now on mid-range mountain bikes.

Maxxis Assegai and Minion 27.5 x 2.5″ tires are a combo that will make you fast on hardpacked flat sections and offer perfectly optimized grip in tight turns.

Simply put, the Yeti SB135 speaks for itself—It’s one of the best mountain bikes you’ll fall in love with and finally start winning some races.

Buy from Jenson USA


14. Niner WFO RDO 2-Star

niner wfo rdo 2-star mountain bike

MSRP: $5,449

  • Frame: Carbon
  • Suspension Travel: 180 mm
  • Brakes: Hydraulic discs
  • Gearing: SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed
  • Tire Size: 29″ x 2.6″

The Niner WFO RDO 2-Star is an all-terrain machine that can both climb hills efficiently and tackle fast flats and downhill. This Niner bike is built around RDO Carbon technology, which makes it amazingly lightweight, stiff, and resilient.

The frame is made complete with the Fox 38 Float Performance GRIP EVOL fork with 180mm of travel and the Fox Float X2 Performance rear suspension linked with Niner’s CVA suspension system. These components make this bike a true Enduro machine but give it some downhill traits as well. This frame has fully internal cable routing and a flip chip which we love as it allows you to change geometry while riding. 

When it comes to gearing, the Niner WFO RDO features a lightweight and quick 12-speed SRAM SX/X1 Eagle drivetrain. Hydraulic disc brakes are a must on a bike of this caliber, so the SRAM G2 R 200mm-rotor hydraulic brakes provide more than ample braking.

The Niner WFO RDO 2-Star is an incredibly capable and plush 29er enduro bike designed for the harshest downhill terrain and surprisingly efficient climbing. 

Buy on JensonUSA.com 


What to Consider When Buying the Best Mountain Bike?


Price Category Must-Haves

mountain bike price comparison

Front Suspension with Lockout

A good MTB should have a lock-out feature on the suspension fork, with plenty of adjustments to be made according to the trail and rider.

Internal Cable Routing

Internal cable routing is obviously another must these days, alongside with

1x Chainring

1x front chainring with 11- or 12 speed rear cassette.

Tubeless-Ready Wheels and Tires

Also, the majority of mountain bikers have turned to tubeless-ready wheels and tires.

SRAM and Shimano Components

SRAM has been dominating the MTB industry, while higher-end Shimano components are present on many bikes.

mtb components

Dropper seat post with a switch, locking & adjustable fork, single front chainring with 11/12 speed cassette

Popular Wheel Sizes

29″ vs 27.5″ vs 26″ mountain bike wheels, 27.5″ or 29″ wheels are basically a must these days.

29″ Wheels: XC, Trail, All-Mountain, Enduro

  • Best for going fast on straight lines
  • Great rollover capabilities
  • Preferred by taller riders

27.5″ (650b) Wheels: XC, Trail, All-Mountain, Enduro, Downhill

  • Better on technical sections
  • Allows to fit plus-sized tires 2.4-2.8″ wide
  • Faster acceleration

26″ Wheels: Park, Trail, XS frame sizes

  • Often seen on older mountain bikes
  • Available in XS, S frames

Prices & What To Expect

Suspension Travel

Short, mid vs long-travel

Short suspension travel is anything less than 100-120mm and is best for all-around performance, as well as for smoother trails and uphill rides. Long suspension travel is between 120-200mm and is best for high-speed descents on rough terrain. The larger the travel, the more suitable the bike is for descending.

Mountain Biking for Beginners — 19 Tips to Improve Your Skills

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We can also combine these traits in mid-suspension travel bikes, but we lose some of the advantages of both worlds this way.

Gears

How many gears are enough on a bicycle?

Gears are generally not a problem on today’s mountain bikes. These days mountain bikes usually have between 9 and 27 gears on 1x, 2x, or 3x cranksets. All of these setups will provide you with plenty of gearing. The only time you might need to get off your bike is up to some extremely steep hills.

  • 1x chainrings = Option among mid/high-end bikes.
  • 2x chainrings = Mid-range bikes
  • 3x chainrings = Often used on cheaper or gravel bikes.

Head Tube Angle

The head tube angle is important because it affects handling.

  • XC – Cross Country bikes have steeper head angles (69-71 degrees) which makes the fork more upright and provides sharper handling.
  • Aggressive enduro and trail bikes have sharper head tube angles (65-68 degrees), which makes the fork more parallel to the ground. This provides more stability, but it affects handling
  • Downhill bikes have slacker head angle (62 degrees and up)

Women’s Mountain bikes vs Men’s Mountain bikes?

The main difference in women’s mountain bike geometry is the shorter top tube, which also has a lower angle for easier on- and off. It is also the aesthetics, obviously.

Related: Best Women’s Mountain Bikes

What are the best mountain bike brands?

Bike brands that are specialized in the mountain bikes scene are – Ibis, Santa Cruz Bicycles, Yeti, Orbea, Evil. Many other popular mountain bike brands are Giant, Trek, Mongoose, Cannondale, Diamondback, GT Bicycles, Rocky Mountain, Scott, and many others.

Read more from our Best Bike Brands article to find out more!


To Wrap It Up

Before buying a mountain bike, you need to ask yourself what you want to do with it and how serious you are going to be about it. Are you planning to go for relaxed forest rides on trails, ride long cross-country rides, or do downhill descents? All of these categories require a different bike. After that, determine your budget and you can finally pick your perfect bike! This way, you’ll ensure that you’ll end with the best mountain bike for your needs!

About the Author

Sam Millers

Sam Millers is the guy behind Bikexchange.com. From the early days of three wheels to conquering challenging mountain trails, Sam's love for cycling knows no bounds. With a background in web development, Sam seamlessly combined two of his greatest passions – cycling and technology. As the creative force behind Bikexchange.com, he shares insightful stories, expert tips, and engaging content for fellow cycling enthusiasts. When he's not exploring new biking routes or tweaking website codes, Alex enjoys sipping on a post-ride espresso and planning his next cycling adventure. 

2 thoughts on “Best Mountain Bikes in 2024: Top Choices for XC, Trail, Enduro, and DH Riding

  1. Matt says:

    In your section on the Diamondback Atroz 2 you write “The SR Suntour Raidon-R rear air shock will help you with this. It has a rebound adjust, so it won’t feel like a pogo stick, like many other entry-level forks.”
    The Radion-R is a rear shock, this much you got right. You then go on to note that “it won’t feel like a pogo stick, like many other entry-level forks”.
    Why on earth are you comparing the feel of the rear shock to that of an entry level fork? Forks exist exclusively on the FRONT of a bike. Find a bike with a rear fork and I”ll be extremely impressed. If you want to compare the rear shock to something, let that something be another rear shock as opposed to a completely different component at the opposite end of the bike.

    Also the writing here is just bad. Lets say that that it was somehow appropriate to compare the Raidon-R to entry-level forks. If you were trying to make a point that the Raidon-R was better than the entry level forks you would say “The SR Suntour Raidon-R rear air shock will help you with this. It has a rebound adjust, so it won’t feel like a pogo stick, *unlike* many other entry-level forks.”
    When you use “like” as opposed to “unlike” you are essentially saying that the Raidon-R doesn’t feel like a pogo stick and neither do the entry level forks you are comparing it to

    In the next paragraph you say “I especially liked the 9-speed drivetrain, which keeps shifting simple and effective. The rear derailleur is a Shimano Acera, which is expected on best mountain bikes.”

    The Acera line is never expected on anything other than entry level bikes. The reason? Acera is Shimanos absolute lowest entry level complete Groupset. This is why you can buy and brand new Shimano Acera rear derailleur brand new in the box from Walmart for $24.99.
    “….expected on best mountain bikes.”
    Come on man…..

    I could go on like this all the way down your entire article. Bottom line is that given your overwhelming lack of knowledge on the subject of all things “Mountain bike” its downright inappropriate and extremely uncool of you to write an article intended to offer guidance to others on the subject. I get that it may make you feel helpful but the fact of the matter is that its never helpful to speak with authority on a subject which you have very little knowledge of. People who put their trust in your words will ultimately be mislead and potentially let down, disappointed or god forbid even injured when they made decisions based upon the poor information you’ve given them. Please consider taking this article down or editing it after having it reviewed by someone who knows what their talking about.

    1. Melissa Rae says:

      Hi Matt, thanks for pointing those mistakes out. They were simply slips of tongue and they are now corrected. 🙂 Happy riding!

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About the Author

Sam Millers

Sam Millers is the guy behind Bikexchange.com. From the early days of three wheels to conquering challenging mountain trails, Sam's love for cycling knows no bounds. With a background in web development, Sam seamlessly combined two of his greatest passions – cycling and technology. As the creative force behind Bikexchange.com, he shares insightful stories, expert tips, and engaging content for fellow cycling enthusiasts. When he's not exploring new biking routes or tweaking website codes, Alex enjoys sipping on a post-ride espresso and planning his next cycling adventure. 
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