What is the Best Entry Level Mountain Bike? – 2017 Edition (UPDATED)
Falling in love with mountain biking at a pretty young age, I was overexcited to get a mountain bike of my dream as soon as possible. To be honest, I did make some premature decisions at the time, which cost me a great deal of money without many benefits in return.
Even though choosing a suitable entry level bicycle looks not that difficult, I personally believe that it can be easily messed up by any inexperienced mountain biking newbie.
Realizing that the guide written in the past (best mountain bikes under 1000, best mountain bikes under 500) was not very helpful for newbies, I create this guide to share my knowledge with any mountain biking beginner who are still struggle to find a bicycle to start off.
I wish it may help you avoid critical mistakes I have made, know which factors you should consider when selecting a bike and ultimately find your best entry level mountain bike.
How to Choose the Best Entry Level Mountain Bike?
First step: make a list of what you should consider before choosing your first mountain bike
Before buying anything you have little knowledge about, always remember to deliberately make a list of the most important features that your optimal choice must have. In this case, I can tell from my own experience that what a new mountain biker needs the most is an inexpensive durable bicycle.
The reason for that is because mountain biking is not a simple and easy-to-play sport; as a matter of fact, we all suck at mountain biking at the first try, to be frank. You will probably fall a lot; your bike will get crashed multiple times; and that is exactly how you might break your brand new deluxe mountain bike.
Therefore, your best bet is to invest in a budget mountain bicycle which is also steady enough to not break while you are learning the sport and gaining more skills. After passing beginner skill level, you can freely upgrade your bike or simply purchase a better one.
In addition, although it is not as important as price or solidity, your bike’s simplicity should also be considered due to the fact that your inexperience may make it difficult for you to utilize or maintain and repair your bike’s complicated components. In other words, the simpler your bike is, the fewer things you have to worry about.
Now you have learnt which requirements your mountain bike must meet. Using the criteria above, we will find out which kind of mountain bike fit you the best in the next section.
Second step: figure out the best kinds of bicycle for beginner level
Mountain bicycles are separated into 3 categories regarding their suspension type.
Rigid: bikes without any kind of suspension.
These days, there are very few people still ride rigid bikes to go on trails because this kind of bicycle may hurt rider’s upper body. I would say these bikes are obsolete in mountain biking and only suitable for flat terrain.
Hardtail: these bike have a front suspension fork and a rigid rear wheel.
For the most part, hardtails are probably the best entry level mountain bikes due to reasonable prices and their simplicity.
Besides, no rear suspension means a reduction in the bike’s weight, leading to an increase in pedaling power compared to full suspension type. In short, when selecting your first mountain bike, you should contemplate this option.
Full suspension: bikes which have a dual suspension system attached to the front and the rear.
Be careful if you want to buy a full suspension bike! Firstly, this kind of bike is usually costly, which is a shortcoming for newbies. Secondly, it tends to be more technical complicated than a hardtail, meaning it is harder to comprehend.
To conclude, the best kind of mountain bike for entry level is hardtail. But I want to add that full suspension type also has their own advantage, and you can consider choosing a full suspension bike if you can accept a large deal of investment.
Final step: decide to purchase your bike
Remember the 4 mountain bikes I recommended earlier in the guide? Coming to this section, perhaps you have understood why they might be the best entry level mountain bikes for you.
To be more specific, I believe they are all inexpensive, durable mountain bicycles. Nonetheless, these bikes still diversify in term of suspension type, prices and quality.
The question is how to know which one will fit you the most. To help you decide better, I will provide you more information from my own experience and other user’s review.
To begin with, let’s take a look at several options that I consider the best mountain bike brands for mountain biking beginners. Information about these bicycle will be shown in the table below. After that, I will explain to you the reason for this recommendation in the later sections.
Now let’s find out why these option is ideal for mountain biking beginners. Here is a list of steps to do when you want to purchase a mountain bike the first time.
For Low Budget
This is a hardtail bike exclusively made for beginners. The only weakness is that it is not too great in term of speed and you may feel a little heavy while riding. Other than that, there are not many things you can complain on this bike.
In fact, the frame is quite sturdy to endure impacts as long as you don’t go over extremely rigorous terrain. Moreover, the linear pull brakes and the suspension fork function appropriately.
With this bike you can take the first step to train your skill by going out of urban areas to get familiar with off-road environment. And trust me, the bike will last long enough for you to pass beginner skill level.
In the field of budget mountain bikes, this bicycle has almost no rival. Its enormous advantage over other competitors is the extraordinarily inexpensive price. It is currently sold at a price equal to 1/10 the price of a midrange full suspension bicycle.
Even though the bike’s quality is just at okay level; in my opinion, it is too good for the price. In case you still don’t believe, you can even be given 2 additional years of protection for a few extra dollars.
In short, if you have a low budget or simply don’t want to invest too much to learn mountain biking, then this bike is probably your optimal choice.
For Medium Budget
This is another hardtail bike that you should take a look at. I gave it to my friend as a present for his birthday and maybe that is when his love with mountain biking started.
I selected this bike because I thought that it is a great bike for a beginner having almost no knowledge about mountain biking skills and technical stuffs.
Simple and easy to handle, the bike is also strong and agile at the same time because of the medium-weight aluminum frame. Large size wheels are designed to role over bigger obstacles and allow the bike to travel on rough terrain.
If I remember correctly, it has been 8 months since my friend’s birthday; however, he still seems to be having fun with the bike at the moment. Now, he is much better as a mountain biker but he has no plan to buy a new bicycle.
The price for this bike is also higher than that of Roadmaster granite; therefore, think thoroughly before deciding. However, in my opinion, the bike is totally worth the money.
For High Budget
I consider this bike one of the best entry level mountain bike for what it offers. Similar to 2 aforementioned bikes, this bicycle is designed simply with linear pull brakes and a front suspension fork.
However, this bike is built in a small size of 16, which is more suitable for women or teenagers.
The most unique feature of the bike is a very solid but surprisingly light frame. With good care, the bike can travel thousands of miles without any technical glitch.
It might be a perfect present for your wife and daughters as long as they are really into non-competitive mountain biking.
To be frank, the price is not cheap for an entry level mountain bike. Nevertheless, the bike will still worth the investment if you are truly devoted to mountain biking because the bike is durable enough to ride for years.
Usually I don’t recommend newbies to start learning mountain biking with a full suspension bike; nevertheless, I think there is an excellent option for you if you are really commited top this sport that a larger investment for a bike is acceptable.
Mongoose Impasse is a full suspension mountain bike that can provide rider convenience and an increase in speed while riding on rigorous trails.
Although I mentioned above that full suspension bikes might be too costly for beginners, Mongoose Impasse is actually pretty inexpensive compared to other bicycles of its kind.
That does not mean its quality is inadequate; by contrast, it offers everything a medium full suspension bike can provide you, which are durability, powerful disc brakes and efficient dual suspension system to tackler impacts.
That is everything I want to share with you. I hope you can find your best entry level mountain bike after reading this guide. Please keep up your passion and you will eventually find the beauty of mountain biking!
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