Read our beginner’s guide to mountain biking? You’ll be looking for a new bike.
But with so many mountain bike brands to choose from, which one is right for you?
We’ve put together a list of the best mountain bike brands in 2021 to help you make your decision.
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This Year’s Best Mountain Bike Brands
Below are our picks for the best mountain bike brands this year.
We limited our selection to 5 brands, with options for all budgets.
The mountain bike brand that’s right for you is going to come down to how much you’re looking to spend, and your personal taste.
But if you buy a MTB from one of these brands, you won’t go wrong.
Got a bit of budget to play with and looking for a top of the range mountain bike? A bike from Diamondback is a great choice.
Diamondback started out as a BMX brand back in 1977, but have been manufacturing top quality mountain bikes since the early 90s.
They became well known for their excellent “Knuckle box” suspension system, which makes for a comfortable ride on even on the roughest of trails. And they’ve recently upped the game again with the patent-pending “Level Link” system.
Their are a ton of great Diamondback bikes to choose from (from a few hundred, to a few thousand dollars), but our top pick for a balance of quality and affordability is the Diamondback Hardtail.
Looking for an affordable mountain bike?
Schwinn are a well known US brand who have been making bikes for well over a hundred years. Although since 1992 the company has been a sub-brand of Pacific Cycle.
Their bikes are pretty ubiquitous. You’ll see them in Walmart, Costco, and other retailers.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not a good choice.
If you just want to get out there and start mountain biking, then a Schwinn bike will do the trick nicely. They’re reasonably comfortable and well built, with an attractive price point. Due to their popularity it’s also easy to get replacement parts and spares.
Our #1 bike from Schwinn this year is the Scwinn Mesa 3, which has 21 gears and 27.5 inch wheels.
Another affordable brand, Mongoose also made it onto our list of the best BMX brands in 2020.
Their MTB bikes are pretty no-frills, but again they are well constructed, look the part, and are a great choice to “get you out there”.
We like the Mongoose Impasse, which has 21 gears and extra-large 35 inch tires. If you’re just starting out you’ll appreciate the extra grip on rough trails.
4. Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is very much a premium mountain bike brand.
They have a few affordable bikes (such as the Jackal), but most of their MTB bikes will set you back a couple of thousand dollars at a minimum. And if you’re going for the best of the best, you’ll generally be looking in the $3-$4K price bracket. In fact, their top of the line Heckler bike will set you back a cool $7,399.
But of course, you get what you pay for. And when you opt for Santa Cruz as your mountain bike brand of choice, you’re going to get one heck of a bike.
These are pro level bikes, but if you’re a serious mountain biker, then your bike is an investment, and Santa Cruz is a great choice. You’ll get maximum comfort and stability, and with proper care and maintenance a Santa Cruz bike will last years.
Our favorite bike from this year’s Santa Cruz line up is the Santa Cruz Bronson.
Finally, an honorable mention for one of the world’s most famous bike brands: Raleigh.
They may not be the most fashionable brand, but one thing’s for sure, they know how to make a good bike.
Most of Raleigh’s mountain bikes fall into the beginner to intermediate category, but they do also have a few premium options.
We like the mid-range Raleigh Talus, which features a custom-formed aluminium frame, and 100mm of coil-sprung suspension to smooth out your ride.
Affordable Is Good, Cheap Is Not
While they all have different price points, all of the mountain bike brands on our list make high quality, and most importantly, safe mountain bikes.
While there are cheaper bike brands available, we’d caution against going for anything under the $200 level. To make a bike for that cheap, they have to be skimping on something, and generally that’s going to mean a compromise on safety.
Brands such as Schwinn and Mongoose make well built, affordable bikes that will keep you protected while riding.
Guide: Mountain Bike Sizing
How To Measure A Mountain Bike Frame
If you’re buying second hand, there’s a good chance the owner doesn’t know the exact frame size. In fact, even newer bikes are sometimes labelled in sizes that don’t relate to a specific size in inches (i.e. medium).
So, you’re going to need to know how to measure a mountain bike frame.
Grab yourself tape measure and take the measurement from the top of the seat tube, to the center of the bottom bracket (the bottom bracket is what your crank arms connect to).
Mountain Bike Frame Size Chart
Now you’ve got this measurement, you’re ready to pick out the right size frame.
|Height||Frame Size||Frame Size In Inches|
|5ft – 5ft 2”||13” – 14”||Extra Small|
|5ft 3” – 5ft 5”||15” – 16”||Small|
|5ft 6” – 5ft 9”||17” – 18”||Medium|
|5ft 10” – 6ft 1”||19” – 20”||Large|
|6ft 2” – 6ft 4”||21” – 22”||Extra Large|
|6ft 5” and above||23” – 24”||Extra Extra Large|
That size chart is a guideline, and it’s always worth referring to manufacturers own frame sizing charts.
Some will vary slightly (i.e. an extra small might be 13.5-14.5”) and some manufacturers measure differently (i.e. from the center of the BB to the bottom of the seat tube, rather than the top).
In-Seam MTB Frame Sizing
To be 100% sure on bike sizing, you’ll need to go and test some out.
One person that’s 5ft might have an in-seam of 25” whereas another might be 27”. And that’s going to completely change up the frame size you’ll need.
You’ll need to go one size up on the frame size, but potentially use a shorter handlebar stem so you’re not overstretching when you’re on the trails.
What Happens If Your Mountain Bike Frame Is Too Small?
If you get a MTB frame that’s sized too small, you’ll get:
- Cramp in your knees
- Back and neck pain
- Bruises on your knees from hitting them off the handlebars
- Lack of stability at higher speeds
What Happens If Your Mountain Bike Frame Is Too Big?
On the flip-side, you definitely don’t want a frame size that’s too big. Frames that are too big will lead to:
- Excess frame weight for no reason
- Lack of stability at lower speeds
- Back pain from overstretching to reach the bars and control the bike
Essentially, it’s better to have a frame at the larger end of the spectrum, than the small end.
However, you want your MTB to have the perfect frame size – this is especially important if you want to improve quickly, or are planning long XC rides or trails.
Ready To Hit The Trails?
That’s it for our list of the best mountain bike brands in 2021.
Buy a bike from one of these brands and you’ll be all set to get out on the trails.
And head over to our MTB section for more mountain biking tips and gear guides.