10 Best Beginner Mountain Bikes – Affordable Picks For Starters!
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10 Best Beginner Mountain Bikes – Affordable Picks For Starters! 20 min read

September 7, 2022 13 min read
Reading Time: 13 minutes

Mountain bikes are not just fun to ride but also great for health. With the rise in the trend of cycling, more and more people are taking an interest in this field. Not all folks want to just buy a normal road bike. Some of them also want a bike that’s ideal for off-road terrains. So, we all know mountain bikes are ideal for such terrains. 

Find out more about road bikes vs mountain bikes here.

There are different brands of mountain bikes available out there. In addition, most of these brands have different types of mountain bikes available. So, with so many options out there, it becomes difficult for anyone to choose the best mountain under 300. 

But don’t worry; we understand the hassle involved in searching for the best mountain bike for women. This detailed guide is all you need to know to find some of the best mountain bikes for beginners. So, let us get into it! 

Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners – Our Top Picks 

  1. Ragley Marley 1.02 
  2. Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29 
  3. Cannondale Trail SE 4 
  4. Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 
  5. Giant Talon 29.2 
  6. Marin Rift Zone 1 
  7. BMC Blast 27 
  8. Trek Marlin 4 29 
  9. Giant Stance 
  10. Marin Bolinas Ridge 1 

1: Ragley Marley 1.02 

Before we start reviewing the products, we should say that the competition has become really tough. So, it is not that easy to simply come up with a list of the best beginner mountain bikes. Anyhow, we really liked the Ragley Marley 1.02. Ragley is a brand name that is well-known in the industry. So, we were quite happy to see a quality brand name taking care of the needs of beginners. 

The bike is pretty well made and has some impressive set of features too. There is a performance-oriented 11-speed gear system on board. So that you don’t have to face any issues while going uphill on downhills, its fork is also great and performs very well while you are riding it on off-road terrains. The Ragley Marley 1.02 is available in various sizes. So, we recommend this mountain bike to those who want to buy a branded mountain bike without breaking the bank. 

The suspension system of this bike is also great. As a result, you won’t have issues riding it on some tough terrains. So, according to our review, the Ragley Marley 1.02 is the best entry-level bike for beginners. However, it may not have 29-inch wheels, but it has an excellent fork, great suspension and reliable drive train. That’s what you want from an affordable mountain bike that doesn’t break your bank. 

Pros
  • Great Drive train
  • Quality Fork
  • Decent Suspension
Cons
  • Wide Wheels (29 Inches) Are Missing

2: Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29 

Next up, we have an offering from the Specialized brand. This brand is not really known for some affordable bikes. However, their Rockhopper series is beginner-level oriented. The budget-friendly mountain bike series, it’s their flagship model. Here you get a good front suspension system with 100mm travel. This suspension system won’t let you feel uncomfortable during any ride. Moving forward, we found that the fork of this bike wasn’t anything great to talk about.  

Its quality could have been a bit improved. But, anyhow, it’s still not a deal-breaking aspect. Further, you get a good set of hydraulic disc brakes. Usually, we see manufacturers skipping such important elements in entry-level bikes for some cost savings. 

Thankfully, here you won’t be disappointed by the brakes of this bike. Rest the drive train also performed well in our testing. So, to sum up, the Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29 didn’t disappoint us with its performance. If you want a reliable mountain bike on a budget, this bike could serve its purpose.  

Pros
  • 100mm Suspension Travel
  • Best in Class Disc Brakes Set-Up
  • Good Ride Quality
Cons
  • Pretty Average Fork

3: Cannondale Trail SE 4

The Cannondale Trail SE 4 is an exciting entry level mountain bike for men. That’s because Cannondale is a brand name that people can trust. Initially, when we were doing our research, we wanted to include those mountain bikes that top brands were offering. Further, we also wanted a good feature-packed bike for our riders. Thankfully, brands like Cannondale didn’t disappoint us in this regard. 

The Cannondale Trail SE 4 is a very good mountain bike. It has disc brakes instead of mechanical ones. The disc brakes offer great stopping power. Further, you also get a reliable suspension system. The suspension travel here is 120mm. We don’t think that this suspension would hurt any beginner. In fact, it would help them ride on mountains and steep hills with ease. 

Moving forward, the wheelbase here is also pretty decent for beginners. The wheels are 29-inch. Usually, we get 27.5-inch wheels in most of the mountain bikes for beginners. However, this bike comes with 29-inch wheels, so that is also a plus point. So, with reasonable, in fact, a good specifications sheet, the Cannondale Trail SE 4 is one of the best entry mountain bike for men. 

Pros
  • 10-Speed Gear System
  • Bigger Wheel Size
  • 120mm Suspension Travel
Cons
  • Front Suspension Could Have Been A Bit Better

4: Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 

This particular mountain may not impress anyone. But the price and the premium touch it offers made us add it to our list. The DRT 1.1 is a very interesting mountain bike on this list. It is affordable pricing really made us include it in our list. First, it has modest specifications, which are just perfect for beginners. It is easy to assemble and also has a durable aluminum frame. 

For an affordable price, you are getting a Shimano drivetrain. This particular drivetrain is very smooth and also easy to use. Next up, you get a wide handle which helps you easily ride the bike on all types of terrains. Furthermore, there is also an SR Suntour suspension to support your weight on off-road terrains. In addition, you also get disc brakes here. So, given the specs sheet, we think it is one quality bike for beginners. 

Lastly, the looks of these bikes are quite unique too. Usually, beginners want to go for a mountain bike with best-in-class looks. But they cannot afford that high price. So, in this case, the manufacturer has also paid attention to the design aspect. In addition, you get pretty much all the basic features to kick start your journey in mountain biking. 

Pros
  • Aluminum frame
  • SR Suntour suspension
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Quality of Pedal Isn’t That Good

5: Giant Talon 29.2 

The Giant Talon 29.2 won our hearts because of its great specifications and performance. This is Cleary one ideal mountain bike for beginners. Also, it is the best cheap mountain bike you can buy right now. We are saying this all because it was a tough call for us to find such a great mountain bike that rarely compromises on any aspect.   

The design of this mountain bike is great. But, you can also go with this option if you want a bike that is good for racing too. That’s because this bike comes with a 2*3 drivetrain. Now, this drivetrain really impressed us. It is not easy to find such a quality drivetrain on a budget. 

It basically comes with a Shimano drivetrain which delivers great performance. Now, let us talk about the suspension system of this bike. Its shocks have 100mm travel which we think is enough for s a bike of this category. But, moving forward, we find one thing very rare. 

Thankfully, Giant has included that feature here as well. Despite the affordable price tag, the Giant Talon 29.2 comes with tubeless tires. Now, how good is that for a cheap mountain bike? An absolute value-added addition. The tubeless tires offer great traction. 

Further, such a combination of tires, suspension system, and drivetrain enhance the riding experience. So, with all these features and specifications, the Giant Talon 29.2 is one solid and reliable mountain bike. Moreover, it is quite easy and nimble to use on tough tracks and alongside mountains. 

Its Shimano drivetrain, 100mm suspension travel, and tubeless tires are enough to justify its affordable price tag. 

Pros
  • Shimano Drivetrain
  • 100mm Suspension Travel
  • Solid Frame
  • Value for Money
Cons
  • Nothing to Complain

6: Marin Rift Zone 1 

The Marin Rift Zone 1 is another mountain bike to brag about. Actually, the best mountain bike brands offer so much value that it is not easy to pick the best one from the lot. For instance, take a look at the Marin Rift Zone 1. At first, we planned to consider it as the best cheap mountain bike. 

However, later on, we included some other mountain bikes as well. Anyhow, let us talk about the actual mountain bike and its features. The geometry and design are great. The brand has made this mountain bike with the right focus in mind. That’s because it was designed for beginners. 

So, the design is quite clean and sleek, something we appreciate. In addition, the seating posture is a bit uplifted. We found this seating posture to be quiet. Therefore, the ride quality of this bike is also great. The suspension system here is also great. 

Especially the front shocks are quite good when it comes to real-world performance. The pedals are nice and soft to operate. However, on a bumpy track, you may experience a bit of bump on the pedals. However, it doesn’t remain there and can be experienced on some of the toughest tracks. 

All in all, the Marin Rift Zone is definitely one quality bike offered by a great brand name. Its features and overall ride are great. 

Pros
  • Pretty Nimble
  • Reliable Frame
  • Good-Quality Shocks
  • Quality Suspension System  
Cons
  • Average Quality Tires

7: BMC Blast 27

The BMC blast 27 is an exciting mountain bike from the brand name. It promises a lot for the price, which we really like. In our testing and review period, it performs great. It is not easy to find quality bikes under such a price tag. Further, it is a proper trail bike for beginners. 

Now, some of its features may not work for professionals. But, again, we have to keep the intended purpose in mind. Also, the bike has been designed for beginner-level users. So, starting from the frame, it comes with an aluminum frame which is lightweight yet durable. 

So, this could be the right pick if you are looking for a lightweight bike. If we talk about the drivetrain, it’s from Shimano, so it has got your back covered in this regard. The wheels are good here. Though you may not get the best in class wheel size, their performance is pretty much up to the mark. 

In short, the BMC Blast 27 is not a bad bike at all. You get some quality features for the price. So, if you are a beginner, you can consider this mountain bike. 

Pros
  • Durable Frame
  • Easy Handling
  • Ideal For Beginners
Cons
  • Pretty Average Specifications  

8: Trek Marlin 4 29 

The Trek Marlin 4 29 is also a mountain bike for beginners that we can recommend. Probably, you would know about the Trek brand name. If not, check out our article regarding the best mountain bike brands. Anyhow, Trek is a brand with a good reputation for mountain biking and all. They aren’t a relatively new brand.   

So, this means we can rely on their offerings. Anyhow, the Trek Marlin 4 29 has a specification sheet that made us include it in our review. The Trek Marlin 4 29 comes with an aluminum frame which is a great addition. The aluminum frame here is lightweight and also durable. 

The suspension system here is also quite good. However, the bike only comes with a front suspension system. Anyhow, we think that’s not that bad for the price point. The front shocks with 100mm travel do a great job of offering some great comfort. 

Furthermore, you get the best in the class braking system. Basically, it’s a mechanical disc brake setup. However, in the real world, use age. Its performance was pretty good. You can stop this mountain bike right in time now, as the bike comes in various sizes, so the wheel sizes are also different here. 

Therefore you get either 27.5 inches wheels or 29 inches wheels with the larger sizes. Both wheels offer good enough performance for the price point. So, in short, the Trek Marlin 4 29 is a solid option for beginners looking for a cheap yet reliable mountain bike. 

Pros
  • Reliable Drive Train
  • Lightweight Frame
  • Various Wheel Sizes
Cons
  • No Full Suspension System

9: Giant Stance

We have another fun and easy-to-ride mountain bike from the Giant brand name at the number nine spot. Yes, the Giant Stance is a quality mountain bike from the brand name that many love and recognize. This bike has a lot of good features to offer for an affordable price tag. Starting with its suspension system, it’s basically a full suspension system ideal for such bikes. 

Now getting a full suspension system at this price point is definitely something to brag about. Anyhow, the performance of its front and back shocks is great. Apart from the suspension, there is even more to the specs sheet. The geometry of this mountain bike is also something to talk about. Despite the affordable price tag, you get hydraulic disc brakes. 

Now, we usually see mechanical disc brakes in such bikes. So, the addition of hydraulic disc brakes is a good thing here. In addition, there is also a durable 1*12 drivetrain. So, we think the Giant Stance with 29-inch wheels is a great mountain bike for beginners. 

Pros
  • Full Suspension System
  • Durable Frame
  • Hydraulic Disc brakes
Cons
  • None

10: Marin Bolinas Ridge 1 

The Marin Bolinas Ridge 1 sits at the bottom of our list of the best mountain bikes for beginners. However, despite its position, it holds some impressive specs that are ideal for starters. First, it’s affordable. Yes, this particular mountain bike won’t break your bank. Second, it comes in multiple wheel sizes. Usually, you get 27.5 inches of wheels with it. 

However, for larger sizes, it comes with 29 inches of wheels. Furthermore, there is an aluminum frame. This frame is pretty lightweight and also offers the strength and durability a mountain bike requires. 

Look-wise, the bike is decent. We can’t say that it’s a very sporty or a modern trail bike. But, again, we have to consider the price factor as well. Surprisingly, there are many areas that you can easily upgrade. So, the brand here has kept the cost low but also provided enough room for future upgrades. So, we think this bike is great for beginners as it won’t break their bank. 

Pros
  • Best Affordable Mountain Bike
  • Lightweight Frame
  • Perfect For Beginners
Cons
  • Lacks Some Advanced Features

What to Look For In the Best Mountain Bike For Beginners? 

There are many types of mountain bikes available on the internet. Also, the ones we reviewed are also the best beginner mountain bikes for both men and women. Anyhow, despite the detailed review, some users can get confused. Basically, people don’t really have an idea about some areas. So, our brief buying guide will help people understand what to look for in these bikes. So, let us find out.  

1: Brand Name 

The first and foremost aspect to look for is the brand name. That’s because you don’t want to buy a bike from a brand name that has no defined history. Further, XYZ brands aren’t reliable in this regard. We have also reviewed the best brands for mountain bikes. You can check out these brands to get an idea about them. These brands’ names have a defined history and also offer quality mountain bikes. 

Anyhow, the point here is that you should also go with the mountain bike that a reputable brand offers. Your hard-earned money deserves a quality bike. So, don’t go after fancy new names. Your main goal should be to buy a quality bike within your budget range. 

2: Go With Modest Specifications 

These bikes usually have a very beefy specification. For instance, from their geometry to their tire size, there are so many numbers and figures listed on the specs sheet. So, this all can confuse you easily. Therefore, we recommend that you should check out those beginner mountain bikes that have modest specs. Now, by modest specs, we don’t mean that you should buy any cheap quality bike. 

The idea here is to go with the mountain bike that has got some decent features and specifications. Quality front shock absorbers, disc brakes, and wide tires (Ideally 29-Inch) are what you should aim at. At the start, you don’t really need a mountain bike with big fat tires or a full suspension system. So, we recommend that you opt for a mountain bike with such features. 

In case you are an enthusiastic rider and have the budget, you may opt for some expensive models. 

3: Don’t Go After Looks Only 

A person who isn’t into this sport may prefer looks over the actual performance. Unfortunately, this trend has become quite common among beginners. However, looks aren’t something that is going to help you ride safely in hilly areas. Therefore, don’t go after looks only. 

We recommend looking for modest features. Also, you should never compromise on the brand name. Now, you can even buy affordable mountain bikes from reputable brand names. So, don’t go after cheap manufacturers to save some costs. 

As we mentioned, disc brakes, a decent suspension system, and a solid frame are some aspects to look for in a beginner-level mountain bike. 

4: Buy Within Your Budget 

At last, we have the budget factor to consider. In this regard, we’d say that nowadays, you can get a good affordable mountain bike within a budget. For example, the models we have shared are worth checking out. In addition, you should have a defined budget. For instance, if you have $300, you can look for the best mountain bikes for under $300. Anyhow, don’t spend too much at the start. 

It also depends on your skill level. For example, if you are new to mountain biking but have some experience in bicycling, you may also opt for an expensive model. Further, don’t expect any miracle, as a quality bike has a cost. 

Final Thoughts! 

So, these were the best mountain bikes for beginners. We reviewed the top 10 picks for the ease of our readers. All of these mountain bikes are great in their own way. However, we really liked the Ragley Marley 1.02. Ragley is a brand name that is well-known in the industry. So, we were quite happy to see a quality brand name taking care of the needs of beginners. 

Anyhow, we also included a detailed buying guide for those who don’t know much about mountain bikes. So, this guide is all you need to know about the best starter mountain bikes available for beginners. The bike is pretty well made and has some impressive set of features too. 

Frequently Asked Questions  

1: What Type of Mountain Bike Is Best For Beginners? 

There are many quality bikes available for beginners. However, we really liked the Ragley Marley 1.02. Ragley is a brand name that is well-known in the industry. So, we were happy to see a quality brand name taking care of the needs of beginners. 

2: What Is the Difference Between A Mountain Bike And A Hardtail Bike? 

A hardtail bike is also a mountain bike but only has a front suspension fork. On the other hand, a mountain bike usually comes with a complete suspension system.  

3: What Does a Beginner Mountain Biker Need? 

A beginner mountain biker needs an easy-to-ride mountain bike. The ideal beginner mountain bike should have a decent suspension system, durable frame and at least a set of mechanical disc brakes.  

4: Which MTB Bike Is Best? 

As we said, we found the Ragley Marley 1.02 to be an excellent MTB. So, we recommend this bike to all beginners and amateur riders. 

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