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12 Unusual Mountain Bikes You Can Buy

By Sam Millers   /  Last updated - May 3, 2024   /  Full-Suspension Mountain Bikes, Mountain Bikes, Reviews

Not all bikes are built the same, some are built from bamboo, and some have internal gearboxes and they are what we call unusual mountain bikes.

We have selected the mountain bikes that stand out due to their odd yet interesting quirks and features. Not everyone likes to try different things, but most of us like a bit of variety, right? The bikes listed below are trail-ready and fit for purpose, but with an unusual edge.

Why get one out of the ordinary?

If you want to catch eyes and ride a bike that stands out in its own right, then we’d recommend one of the following mountain bikes. Life’s too short to live a boring life anyway, right?

Viral Bikes – Skeptic

  • Gates Belt-drive
  • Pinion gearbox (Founded by Porsche engineers)
  • Triple-butted titanium tubset
  • 150-160mm travel compatible
  • Clearance for 27.5 x 3.0″ / 29″
  • Gearbox maintenance – fluid change every 6000miles or once a year.

Buy from Viral Bikes

Jones Bikes – Spaceframe

A single piece titanium frame and fork rigid mountain bike

jonesbike mtb

MSRP: $4,550

Jones Bikes Spaceframe is a single pieced frame designed for singletrack and riding around the city.

It’s unusual looks of this titanium framed mountain bike come from the single piece design which Jones Bikes claim was inspired by riding the technical trains in southern Oregon. The lower tubes are kept chunky for extra torsional stiffness, while the upper tubes are kept thin to allow for compliance in the frame, giving the rider a smooth yet agile ride across a number of terrains.

Optimized for 29″ wheels, the Spaceframe is bound to catch many an eye whether you’re on the trails or riding through the city.

  • Titanium
  • Rigid forks and single piece frame
  • 29″ wheels

Buy from Jones Bikes

Salsa – Timberjack Single-speed

A single-speed hardtail MTB

Salsa Timberjack

The Salsa Timberjack Singlespeed is, as it says, a single-speed mountain bike.

With 130mm travel up front, the aluminum frame can accommodate both 27.5″ and 29″ wheels. But that’s not what’s unusual about this bike, the fact you can use it as a single-speed mountain bike makes it slightly out there. Singlespeed is typically reserved for city bike or bike with bull horn bars for riding round the city, so to have a single gear on a mountain bike is creative!

If you decide you no longer want a single-speed drivetrain you can use the adjustable dropouts to fit a multi-gear groupset to your bike. Happy shredding!

  • Aluminum
  • Singlespeed drivetrain
  • 27.5″ or 29″ wheel options

Buy from Salsa Bikes

Tanglefoot Cycles – Bull Thistle USA Custom

A super tough bike

One of only two drop-bar bikes on this list, the Tanglefoot Cycles Bull Thistle USA Custom bike is certainly unusual at first glance.

Designed to be a ‘road bike but for a different kind of road’, the Bull Thistle USA Custom is designed to be tough enough for even the harshest winter conditions roads might face in the US. A one-by drivetrain gives riders a wide gear ratio on the cassette, making it perfect for riding on undulating terrain.

With fat bike tires and an impressive geometry which features a lowered bottom bracket, this bike can take on any conditions you put it through.

  • Steel
  • 1x drivetrain
  • Fat bike tires for harsh conditions

Buy from Analog Cycles

Cannondale Topstone Lefty

Cannondale Topstone and Lefty Topstone Bikes - Gravel Bike

MSRP: $4,250

  • Ballistec carbon frame
  • Lefty Oliver fork
    30mm travel
  • 11-speed Shimano GRX800/600
  • Brakes – GRX 400 hydraulic
cannondale lefty oliver fork

30mm travel

Buy from Gravity Coalition

Knolly – Warden

An expensive aluminum frame full-suspension MTB

knolly warden mountain bike

MSRP: $5,399

Best for enduro mountain biking, the Warden stands out due to its expensive aluminum frame as usually bikes at this price range are built on a carbon frame. Don’t get us wrong, we’re definitely not against aluminum frames – there are many mountain bikers who prefer an aluminum frame over the carbon, and even the top mountain bike brands have introduced aluminum versions to their long-standing high-end carbon full-sus MTBs.

The Knolly Warden mountain bike is equipped with a solid set of components – SRAM GX Eagle, RockShox, Spank Rims, Race Face Aeffect and Chromag. Airs, aggressive trail riding – the 170/168mm travel range with top-line components can take it all.

  • Aluminum frame, Fourby4 suspension & flip-chip geometry
  • SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain
  • SRAM Code R hydro brakes
  • TLR wheels & tires
  • Fork: 170mm, RockShox Lyrik
  • Shock: 168mm, RockShox Super Deluxe
  • Tires: 27.5″ x 2.5″ Maxxis Assegai & 27.5″ x 2.4″ Maxxis Minion DHRII
  • Dropper seat post: 200mm, RockShox Reverb

Buy from Jenson USA

Marin – Pine Mountain

Just look at the number of eyelet mounts!

marin pine trail

MSRP $2,369

Sure, the Marin Pine Mountain looks like a regular hardtail mountain bike, but wait until you see all the mounting points and luggage possibilities this bike has!

Built to be a bikepacking dream as well as a hardcore hardtail, this steel-framed beat offers full fender, rack, and luggage mounting points across the bike frame making it rather distinguishable. The trail focused geometry of this bike keeps it agile and comfortable for both short shreds at the bike park and long days bikepacking.

With 120mm of front suspension in addition to the many eyelets for luggage mounting, you’ll be able to travel far and fast with this steel-framed wonder.

  • 12-Speed Shimano SLX
  • 29×2.6″
  • RockShox FS 35, 120mm
  • Shimano MT500 hydro disc brakes

Buy from Jenson USA

Priority – 600X Adventure

Belt-drive mountain bike with an internal gearbox

The Priority 600X Adventure is unique in that it uses an internal pinion gearbox rather than a regular mechanical drivetrain.

Situated at the bottom of the frame near the bottom bracket, the enclosed Pinion C1.12 gearbox uses a carbon fiber reinforced Gates carbon drive belt and is grease-free meaning your bike’s mechanics are protected from the elements. This internal system also reduces the amount of maintenance and cleaning you will need to do on your bike, which for us is always a bonus!

Built with both trekking and off-road riding in mind, the 600X Adventure is perfect for sandy conditions or for those who just don’t enjoy the chore of cleaning their bike after a muddy ride.

  • Aluminum
  • 29×2.25″
  • Internal pinion gearbox

Buy from Priority Bicycles

Forbidden Bikes – Dreadnought

A 3-point drivetrain

Forbidden Bikes - Dreadnought

This one doesn’t really need pointing out, does it?

Dreadnought (Pictured) and Druid are the only models for sale by Forbidden bikes.

The Forbidden Bikes Dreadnought is truly unusual in that it uses a three-point drivetrain system. Using a Trifecta high pivot suspension system, the chain follows the chainring and instead of lining up straight to the cassette, it rises to meet another pulley, giving the chain line a somewhat square-ish shape. Forbidden Bikes claim this eliminates unwanted drivetrain forces and allows the bike to deliver a consistent ride across sizes.

Although we can’t comment on the ride quality and feel, it is definitely one of the most eye-catching solutions to chain slapping that we’ve ever seen.

  • Carbon fiber
  • 29″ wheels
  • Trifecta high pivot suspension system

Buy from Forbidden Bikes

Sage Titanium – Optimator

A mountain bike frame made of titanium

sage titanium optimator

Another titanium framed mountain bike on our list is the Sage Titanium Optimator.

Designed to be an XC race bike for the World Cup level athlete, Sage Titanium has been inspired by the current selection of World Cup courses and based its geometry around a 100mm suspension fork. Additionally, a 69.5° head angle keeps the bike nimble and agile so you can focus on getting through the technical sections.

Titanium is a pretty wondrous material as it’s lightweight and strong, and can soak up more lumps and bumps than their aluminum or carbon fiber counterparts.

Related: Bicycle Frame Materials Guide

  • Titanium
  • 29″ wheels
  • 100mm fork

Buy from Sage Bikes

Marin – Palisades

marin palisades

MSRP: $1,399

Originally a model from the 1990s, the Marin Palisades is a bike that might not look too out of the ordinary, but this gem does have some unusual qualities for a mountain bike.

Is it a dirt jump bike? Or is it a hardtail? Maybe it is the lowered saddle combined with the overall look, but the slack head angle and 140mm travel make it quite an interesting pick.

With wide tires and 27.5” wheels, this hardtail is perfect for the trails and will definitely help you stand out amongst your friends.

  • 27.5×2.6″
  • 125mm dropper seat post
  • SRAM NX 11-speed drivetrain
  • RockShox Recon Silver RL, 140mm
marin el roy

El Roy by Marin Head Tube: 63° | Seat Tube 78°

Buy from Jenson USA

Booomers – Tano

Bamboo-frame hardtail MTB

Designed to withstand the toughest of terrains, this unusual mountain bike certainly catches the eye, whether you’re on the road or the trail. The bamboo fibers increase shock absorption for a comfortable ride, and the included hydraulic brakes will stop you on a dime.

Although it certainly looks unusual, bamboo can be a decent frame material and withstand harsher terrain than you think!

  • Frame – Bamboo
  • Fork – RockShox Recon
    Air, 100mm travel
  • 12-speed Shimano Deore
  • Tires – 27.5″
    Schwalbe Smart Sam

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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