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Best Mountain Bike

Mountain bikes come in a wide variety of sizes, styles, and price ranges. However, you should be aware that there are bikes that are pretenders — they look like mountain bikes but shouldn’t be used the way a true mountain bike should be used. When you make a decision to buy a mountain bike, it is important to buy the right bike for the kind of riding you want to do.

If this is your first mountain bike and you are on a tight budget, check out the great bikes on the budget friendly list. You’ve decided that mountain biking would be a great way to get the kids outside and enjoying the fresh air. Take a look at the best mountain bikes for kids. Whatever your riding style, there is a mountain bike that fits you and your budget. These lists are a way for you to begin your search with the bikes that will get you the most for your money.

Scott Genius LT 700 Mountain Bike

Scott Genius LT 700 Mountain Bike

This year’s iteration of the LT 700 is a high velocity, carbon flyer, decked out with choice components and perfectly balanced geometry. Scott has engineered the frame to its fullest potential and the large size only weighs in the mid-20 pound range for a nimble, responsive feel. The cockpit hosts controls for a dropper post and shock remote, the latter sending commands to the 170mm-capable Fox fork and rear shock. The Genius delivers impressive speed and with quick-click adjustments to the shock via the TwinLoc lever so riders can dial in a perfect trail ride. An agile and speedy bike that responds to your every whim, the Genius is a ready and enthusiastic trail partner.

Giant Reign 27.5 1

Giant Reign 27.5 1

A perennial favorite on best-of lists all o’er the land, the Giant Reign continues to shine with the new 27.5 1. The bike’s subdued lines seem are a far cry from the Erector set look of some dirt-inclined rides out there, but don’t be fooled; the Reign earned its name through years of trail-tested evolution and this year’s model is the best yet. The aluminum Reign rocks top-tier components like a RockShox dropper post, maestro dual-link suspension for recliner-like comfort, and a sweet DT Swiss wheels/Maxxis tire blend so you stay glued to the trail. A tad on the heavy side, the reign won’t blast out of the gate but it is still a responsive, aggressive machine with an affinity for charging corners and rocketing up hills.

Santa Cruz Bronson Mountain Bike

Santa Cruz Bronson Mountain Bike

With super balanced geometry and uber-efficient pedaling setup, the Bronson performs like a champ on all sides of the mountain. Available in both aluminum and carbon builds, this light and stiff bike provides lightning reflex handling on raggedy trails or steep singletracks, and it climbs like an Everest Sherpa. A top tier component kit, Stealth Reverb dropper post, and 150mm of travel (with room for 160mm) comes stock on the Bronson, with plenty of upgrade options. Suspension is race-tuned and stiff for charging into turns, and Indy car-like steering precision keeps the bike agile. Santa Cruz created the perfect blend with the Bronson. Check out the bike builder on the company’s website to bring your dream bike to life.

Yeti SB5c Beti

Yeti SB5c Beti

Juli Furtado, Marla Streb, Jill Kinter, and Tara Llanes are four of the most blazing-fast women racers in mountain biking’s storied history, and they won it all riding Yeti bikes. The Colorado-based company has long been a fixture in the sport, and the Beti is a rig tailor-made for shred-happy women riders. Utilizing the same winning frame geometry, Yeti focused on component choices for a more comfortable fit, and it shows on the trail. A narrower bar, shorter cranks, and smaller diameter grips allow lighter or smaller riders to glean every bit of performance from the bike. The Switch Infinity suspension provides superb efficiency and traction on climbs while a Fox 34 fork makes rock garden forays a blast. The bike is a truly versatile machine for those of you itching to explore all over the mountain, with a Thomson Covert dropper post, DT Swiss wheelset, and finally a sweet coral paint job, the Beti is indeed a thing of beauty.

Specialized Camber Comp Carbon 29

Specialized Camber Comp Carbon 29

Quick, nimble, capable, versatile. Just a few of the words used to describe Specialized’s Camber Comp Carbon 29er. Residing in the center square of the tic-tac-toe grid of Camber models, the Comp Carbon is a confident bike in most any terrain. It’s aggressive enough to handle anything in front of it, and throws down on steeps and technical singletrack. The bike weighs in a little heavy at around 28 pounds, but mid-pack geometry and efficient pedaling platform sends it uphill like a helium balloon. With only 110mm of travel in the FSR suspension, the Camber has a tendency to bottom out on harder hits, but bike customarily shreds conditions seemingly beyond its ability and flows through corners with an ease not typically found in rigs with a long wheelbase.

Diamondback Bicycles 2015 Line Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike

Diamondback’s all-mountain hardtail comes at a price flirting with the top end of this list’s parameters, but it wins the number one spot with the perfect mix of hardtail climbing prowess and cross-country sass. The aluminum-framed Line has every feature highlight of its bigger brother, the Sync’r, including the aggressive, low-slung, all-mountain geometry and similar component spec. The Line sports a Suntour 110mm fork, 9-speed SRAM drivetrain for spot-on shifting, and a chain guide roller up front for reliable single-ring power. Kenda tires grip turns like Stickum, and combined with DB’s SL-7 wheels and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, you can shred with the utmost confidence.

Trek X-Caliber 7 Mountain Bike

Trek X-Caliber 7 Mountain Bike

The Trek X-Caliber 7 is a light and fast, race-ready bike. Built with Trek's Alpha Gold aluminum, the X Cal delivers a supple ride with extras beyond its price point. Riders can choose a specific wheel size (27.5 or 29) to match frame size for optimal performance, and the RockShox 100mm-travel fork with lockout tunes in dialed pedaling efficiency. This is a great bike in a hardtail setup for cross-country riding/racing, extended forest tours, or general shredding.

Bontrager tires keep you glued to the trail with disc brakes that provide reliable braking power when you need it the most. Shifting is smooth and the bike stays stable in tight corners and all but the gnarliest trails. However, some riders aren’t keen on the bike's hard saddle while its nylon pedals are easily damaged on rocks and roots. Weighing in at 31 pounds, X-Caliber's holds back on steep climbs but stays consistent on long, gentler grades.

Felt 7 Eighty W Mountain Bike

Felt 7 Eighty W Mountain Bike

Felt’s 7 Eighty uses a butted 6061 aluminum frame that offers nimble handling in twisty turns and stability in sketchy, technical conditions. The bike is packed with features from a semi-integrated head tube (a nice highlight not typically seen at this price point) to dual bottle cages. A plush Suntour XCT fork serves up 100mm of travel for smoothing out harder hits and choppy trails, while the SRAM 8-speed transmission nails precise shifting every time. The 7 Eighty holds a sweet spot of balance in stiffness and compliance for smooth riding on the flats and playful responsiveness on winding trails. 27.5-inch wheels deliver superb rollover and quickness. At a shade over 30 pounds the bike is no lightweight, but still offers a smooth and reliable ride as it scoots along trails, rolling hills, and even bike paths.

Giant ATX 27.5 2 Mountain Bike

Giant ATX 27.5 2 Mountain Bike

With a solid ALUXX aluminum frame specifically fitted for trail-ready, 27.5 wheels, the ATX glides over the rough stuff while remaining steady in tight turns. The Suntour 100mm-travel fork serves up a comfy ride on the bumps and a respectable Shimano 3x7-speed drivetrain keeps riders rolling up steep inclines with confidence. The ATX shines on twisty singletrack and mild-mannered bumps, with stability and handling matching far more expensive bikes, and it cruises like a dream on gravel paths and fire roads. With a size range from XXS to XL, there's an ATX to fit any rider and at a bargain price to boot. Giant also offers the matching Enchant women’s version of the ATX as well.

Specialized Rockhopper 29

Specialized Rockhopper 29

Just getting stoked for mountain biking? The Rockhopper 29 will sling you headlong into the sport in style. 29er geometry lets bike and rider float along the trail and tackle obstacles with confidence. A Suntour SR fork with damping smooths out medium-technical challenges, although the bike shines best on terrain with slightly less bite. The butted Premium Aluminum frame is light and compliant while remaining long-term durable. Specialized’s Ground Control tires roll fast, with vise-like grip in the turns, and Shimano’s Acera 8-speed system nails precise shifting on the fly. While you can expect a little twitchiness on speedy descents, the Rockhopper nontheless climbs well and performs like a champ.

Niner RIP 9 Carbon 3-Star XT

Niner RIP 9 Carbon 3-Star XT

The Niner brand is built on a fierce passion, and that fire is evident with every bike in their stable. The RIP 9 is a versatile trail bike with a geometry designed to put the rider in an ideal position to glean confidence no matter the trail type, and matched with the CVA Suspension, the RIP is efficient on the climbs and welcomes all manner of challenges on the way down.

Niner utilizes a carbon front triangle and aluminum rear to bring the dreamy feel of a carbon ride to a wider range of riders, with a star-studded cast of components. 140mm of travel on the Rockshox Pike fork absorbs the hits, a super stiff front end holds a superb track through sketchy technical sections, and a Shimano XT component package drives the bike with trail-proven performance.

Killer perks like the Reverb dropper post, carbon bar, and Niner custom saddle come standard on the RIP, rounding out a bike you can count on. The RIP line also includes 1, 2, and 4-Star models with different frame setups and component builds available at corresponding price points.

ASR-C Enduro Complete Mountain Bike - 2015

ASR-C Enduro Complete Mountain Bike - 2015

The Yeti ASRc Enduro is much more than your everyday cross-country bike. Built around a feather-light, 4.2-pound carbon frame, the bike nails a perfect geometric nirvana, enabling it to be a strong climber and loosely confident descender all on the same day. Medium to XL frames are all 29ers, with smaller sizes equipped with 27.5 wheels, a great option so riders of all sizes can experience this sweet bike. The big hoops roll so smoothly they seem to hover over roots, boulders, and other trail impediments.

The Fox Float shock has a generous, 120mm helping of travel and is spot-on for respectable climbs, but the bike isn’t a fan of wall-steep hills or abyss-like downhills. A dropper post is one key missing element we would like to see, but the ASR remains a fun rig even without one. It’s an all-day,rideable bike good for tackling rug-smooth trails as well as rowdy, challenging lines.

Trek Fuel EX 9 29 Mountain Bike

Trek Fuel EX 9 29 Mountain Bike

The Trek Fuel EX 9 29 ramps up to speed in a hurry and the big SRAM hoops wrapped in Bontrager’s trail-sticking tires roll with ease over anything. Mino Link geometry lets you tune in your perfect ride, and a FOX 130mm-travel fork ensures smooth navigation of the bumpy stuff. The aluminum-framed Fuel includes wider dropouts for extra stiffness, with a SRAM drivetrain for precision shifting.

This lively bike simply powers over punchy climbs and sails up long, punishing ascents faster than a soaring interest rate. A lightweight, efficient chassis and suspension gives the Fuel a race-like feel and it descends confidently, with only a touch of flex when plunging hard into turns. The Reverb dropper post is sweet icing on this fat tire cake.

The Fuel loves singletrack trails, the kind which cling to the contour line of a hillside and follows it through every nook and cranny clear to the next mountain range. The bike does everything well, from slicing through technical singletrack with puma-like agility to stable fire road cruising. Not only that, Trek donates a portion of your purchase to IMBA’s tireless efforts to build and preserve mountain biking trails.

Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp EVO 29

Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp EVO 29

Trail Bike of the Year contender for 2015, the FSR Comp EVO is a sub-30 pound, versatile workhorse for riders who love to push it hard and have fun. The M5 aluminum frame goes after the trail with an instinctive lust for adventure, armed with a quiver of features to take you there and back again. The Autosag valve on the FOX Evolution rear shock gives you automatic and three other tune selections for perfect ride control, as well as 140mm of travel on the RockShox fork for comfortable reliability on the bumps.

Deore disc brakes stop on command and the SRAM shifting setup delivers precise gear selection every time. The Specialized Butcher and Slaughter tires join forces with Roval rims for high-performing traction, and with dialed trail geometry, the bike slingshots out of corners and rockets up to speed with just slight mashing of the pedals. A Specialized Command Post rounds out the package on this hardcore trail rider.

Giant Anthem X 29er

Giant Anthem X 29er

The very identity of Giant’s Anthem is built around its lightweight ALUXX frameset, designed specifically for 29-inch wheels and itching for trail time. The Anthem weighs in lighter than a host of its high zoot carbon relatives, with a penchant for being stiff and responsive in the most demanding of terrain conditions. The Anthem’s suspension combination is predictable and otherworldly efficient at propelling through any kind of terrain. From the Shimano 10-speed drivetrain to the 100mm-travel Fox fork, this bike is a dream to ride. Maestro suspension and OverDrive steering deliver a precise feel for the trail, with smooth speed and glue-like traction in the turns. On hammerfest outings or marathon epics, the Anthem is your go-to ride.

Cannondale Scalpel Carbon 2 Mountain Bike

Cannondale Scalpel Carbon 2 Mountain Bike

Cannondale calls the Scalpel the most refined full-suspension cross-country bike on earth. With years of on-the-trail refinement and pro circuit victories behind it, it’s hard to argue with that. Cannondale designs their frames around components to glean the very best balance of weight and stiffness as a complete system, which rewards riders with a bike as lively as it is aggressive. Target a summit and the bike jets up like an eagle in flight or point it downhill and push it hard through the sketchiest lines and marvel as it doesn’t flinch once. The tight frame and short wheelbase slices and dices tight turns and singletrack just like its scalpel namesake.

Zero-pivot seatstays are employed to increase the suspension’s performance, with a ride feel boosted to even higher levels of delight from the 29er race-inspired geometry and perks like a reversible head tube spacer for hard-charging race handling or a more relaxed trail ride. A SRAM XO1 drivetrain highlights the Scalpel’s component package, joined by the Lefty 100mm fork, RockShox Monarch for 4 inches of rear cushioning, and Schwalbe racing tires. This is one of the lightest and performance-honed full-sus XC bikes out there, built for pushing the limits. An alloy version is available, as well as the dreamy (and pricier) top end Carbon Black Inc.

Salsa Cycles Spearfish Carbon 1 Mountain Bike

Salsa Cycles Spearfish Carbon 1 Mountain Bike

Gear up and take the line at a 24-hour race or find the longest trail on the map and go. The Salsa Spearfish Carbon 1 gobbles miles with delight, with geometry designed for stability and long-ride comfort. Highlighted by Salsa’s ingenious Split Pivot rear suspension for critical performance boosts and ride quality, the Spearfish also comes spec’d with a stellar component package. FOX cushions front and rear, with 100mm and 80mm respectively, while a Shimano and SRAM team drives the bikes with infallible precision. Thomson also provides some sweet extra toppings with a quality stem and seat post.

Very short chainstays make this bike quick and light on singletrack, and the carbon front triangle and aluminum back end combine for stiffness and ravenous vibration-eating capability. Agile at speed with consistent and reliable traction in turns and hills, the Spearfish fits as good as a tailored suit. The bike accelerates like a sprinter from the blocks and is especially responsive on climbs, with hardtail-esque qualities and springy forward momentum. The lighter rear half of the bike makes it very maneuverable in tight spots and great for whipping turns or frolicking over obstacles. Salsa built a gem with the Spearfish, a super-efficient endurance and race rig, ready to deliver you far and wide.

Juliana Nevis Mountain Bike

Juliana Nevis Mountain Bike

With design input from such an influential rider as Juli Furtado, women shredders can count on the very best from her namesake bike line. Tailor made for serious riders and racers alike, the Nevis uses the same carbon layup of Juliana’s top shelf CC-build frames, with a slacker head tube than previous iterations, keeping it sprightly on climbs yet remaining stable on crazy fast descents. 100mm of travel from the RockShox fork soaks up bumpy tread, and a lengthier cockpit offers room to stretch out for more comfort on long rides.

Choice components highlight the bike’s exceptional drive. Shimano SLX shifters combine with an XT rear derailleur for clockwork gear selection, Deore brakes provide controlled stopping power, and WTB rims paired with Maxxis Ikons keep the Nevis gripped to the trail. The bike is tuned for easy-going rides in the woods or full-on endurance racing, at affordable price points for all build options.

Felt Edict 3 Mountain Bike

Felt Edict 3 Mountain Bike

Precision handling and confident speed in every condition are the Edict 3’s bragging rights. An elegantly engineered carbon frame focuses power transfer from the synchronous workings of the bike’s rear geometry, coaxing impressive quickness, especially barreling through turns and dancing up climbs. On high-speed descents the Edict’s low-slung frame can get twitchy, but the frame holds stiffness where it counts to keep it holding tough lines and tracking through choppy tread with ease. Felt’s FAST suspension chassis and 100mm of front-end travel from the RockShox Reba fork delivers Energizer bunny endurance through a nimble, trail-hungry machine.

Spec’d with a full Deore and XT drivetrain for razor sharp shifting and always-count-on-it stopping power from Deore hydraulic disc brakes, this rig lights up the dirt for riders who love to get out there and ride everything. All this at a very attractive price point makes the Edict a lock for your next go-to cross-country trail partner.

Trek Superfly 9.7 Mountain Bike

Trek Superfly 9.7 Mountain Bike

The Superfly 9.7 is primed to launch on to the trail, with an infectious lively and competitive personality. Trek uses its OCLV Mountain carbon to keep the frame light and burly, specifically built for the abuse of off-roading. The FOX Evolution fork sports a CTD (Climb, Trail, Descend) damper for easy selections to match whatever topography you encounter. A Shimano SLX/XT drivetrain, with 2x10 crankset for wide gear range, powers the bike with precision, and SLX hydraulic disc brakes offer reliable stopping when you need it.

Trek’s Smart Wheel Size system pairs optimum wheel to frame size (larger frames get 29er wheels) for perfect control, and G2 geometry, highlighted by a custom-offset fork (29er models only), gives the Superfly impeccable handling traits for dicey trail sections. The bike snaps through turns with verve and springs up climbs like a Slinky in reverse. The 9.7 is a very confident, race-ready rig that inspires all-out fun on the trails, superbly designed for extended excursions or toeing a start line at your local throw-down.

Islabikes Beinn 20 Kids Mountain Bike

Islabikes Beinn 20 Kids Mountain Bike

By Islabikes’ own proclamation, their kid-specific bicycles are built with obsessive attention to detail, from mini-sized brake levers to gear ratios selected to fit the age of the rider. The company’s passion to produce a superbly designed bike for children shines in every model, like the large Beinn 20. Lightweight 7005 T6 aluminum is used to build a complete bike weighing less than 18 pounds, with frame geometry engineered specifically to fit the smaller proportions of half-pint pilots. The majority of this bikes aluminum components are actually scaled down versions of adult models to accommodate the shorter reach of kids.

The 7-speed SRAM X4 gear cluster is controlled by an easy to operate twist-grip shifter, and light action brake levers control grippy V brakes so your kid can be safe and stop when they need to. The Beinn sports super light wheels, clinging to the bike with grown-up bike quick release levers, and looped with Kenda hybrid tires suitable for a range of tread conditions. Islabikes frames are designed to be closer to the ground for better handling, and a great-riding bike makes for a happy kid. The Beinn also has a chameleon-like ability to accommodate specific riding styles with just a simple tire change.

Specialized Hotrock 24 XC Kids Mountain Bike

Specialized Hotrock 24 XC Kids Mountain Bike

If your young shredder is equipped with the talent and gleam in his eye for more, look to the Specialized Hotrock to take him there. The A1 Premium aluminum frame is constructed with double-butted top and down tubes for more stiffness and less weight while a Suntour XCT-JR crankset powers the bike and comes with a chainguard. The Hotrock’s drivetrain is made of a SRAM X3 rear derailleur and Shimano MegaRange 7-speed cassette with a 14-34 span for plenty of gear choices to match ability to terrain.

Up front, the 50mm-travel Suntour fork provides control in the bumps and reliable off-road performance wherever the winding path ahead may lead. The double wall aluminum rims roll easily and offer increased strength while remaining light, and the easily operated Tektro brake levers offer powerful speed control. Round off the package with the Specialized Henge saddle and soft grips, this bike is primed for action. Hotrock models range from the 12 Coaster to Hotrock 24 XC Pro in both boys and girls frames.

Kona Shred 24 Kids Mountain Bike

Kona Shred 24 Kids Mountain Bike

The Kona Shred 24 is one tough customer, built to handle as much abuse as your kid can dish out. 6061 and 7005 aluminum alloys are infused into the frame’s construction for durability and lighter weight, as well as a great ride feel on the trails. The bombproof Spinner Grind 65mm fork absorbs the bumps, and the Shred sports Shimano Altus 7-speed shifters and rear derailleur matched with an FSA crankset for spot-on shifts. Schwalbe Table Top tires grip the trail or road like a magnet and your high energy rider can rely on Tektro hydraulic disc brakes to stop when they need to. The Shred is great for easy jumps and all-afternoon cross-country riding, as well as looking too cool with its orange-peel paint job.

Trek Superfly 20 Kids Mountain Bike

Trek Superfly 20 Kids Mountain Bike

The Superfly 20 in its red or purple dress looks awesome which might be more than enough to entice a kid into riding one to a world of adventure. The Superfly has the same race-tuned frame specs as the speedy adult version and constructed with lightweight Alpha Silver Aluminum so the entire rig weighs less than 20 pounds. Trek’s Dialed fit system gives the bike ideal length, stand-over height, and positioning to give your kid the best possible stability and handling when riding.

The adjustable reach brake levers are perfectly fitted for small hands and give kids the confidence to know they can stop when they need to, while Shimano Tourney rear derailleur and shifters let kids nail their gear choices every time. The 14-28 gear range is suited to handle most any terrain a young shredder will take on and the bike’s lightweight nature inspires uphill momentum. The Superfly’s pedals, saddle, handlebar, and stem are all designed with the dialed fit just for kids, making this spry machine smooth, stable, and most importantly, lots of fun!

Scott Scale RC Junior 24 Kids Mountain Bike

Scott Scale RC Junior 24 Kids Mountain Bike

Scott’s long history of winning products is testament to the company’s commitment to its athletes, whether seasoned pros or sprightly kids with an affinity for dirt. The Scott Scale RC junior 24 has a double-butted 6061 aluminum frame which keeps it lightweight, yet stiff, at around 22 pounds. The light weight coupled with a stiff and springy frame makes for a great climbing bike, with on-demand responsiveness and agility when making tight turns.

The Scale’s race-dialed geometry serves up a nimble and comfortable ride feel on any terrain. Shimano runs a precision drivetrain with an XT 27-speed rear derailleur, Alivio Rapid Fire shifters, and a 11-32 cassette for crisp and worry-free gear selection. Scott employs a 65mm-travel Suntour air fork to smooth the bumps for a cushy ride, while your young shredder controls his speed with powerful Tektro disc brakes. There’s also FSA crankset’s 165mm arms which offer the ideal fit for rapidly charging legs. The Scale is a light and fast cross-country ripper, with high performance chops to keep your kid clamoring for adventure.

Specialized Demo 8 I Carbon

Specialized Demo 8 I Carbon

The Demo 8 is an adrenaline-boosting beast and if your rendition of a good time is flying downhill in a blur, this bike delivers. Specialized plugged in a new single-sided seat tube to save a chunk of weight and make for easy shock adjustments. A more compact back end lets the bike float over trail chatter and it responds with merely a twitch. The RockShox fork’s 200mm of travel absorbs hits like an underdog prize fighter and it looks good doing it, with clean lines and an alien “bike from the future” look. SRAM components drive the Demo with clockwork-precision shifting, grippy house brand tires lock to the trail, and the Fox rear shock dampens jarring bumps. This bike is primed for performance on the trail. A price tag flirting with the $6000 mark might sting, but the quality of the Demo 8 makes it hurt so good.

Trek Session 8 Park 26

Trek Session 8 Park 26

Trek's Session lineup is like a beauty pageant where all the contestants look great and their runway happens to be a steep, gnarly trail plummeting down the side of a mountain. Not aimed for crazy fast races against the clock, the Session 8 is a nimble, twitchy machine bred for big air and fun. 26 inch wheels and a shorter rear end make this bike easier to throw into a turn or huck a killer jump than its race-designed brethren. There’s also the exclusive Mino Link feature which allows easy head tube angle tuning for trail-specific performance. Kitted with DT Swiss, Boxxer, and RockShox, the Park is loaded for fun right out of the box, and adept at bombing a hill or strutting a freeride trail. The aluminum model is affordable but if you crave carbon and can spare the extra coin, Trek has you covered with the Park 9.8.

Transition TR 500

Transition TR 500

The TR 500 (succeeding the TR 250 and 450)  is a very intuitive bike to ride, with only a short breaking in period before it feels comfy. You can ride without thinking about the bike as it just senses the trail like fat tire osmosis. The bike navigates obstacle-ridden trails like Magellan but is lively enough for whipping around a bike park circuit. Feeling creative? The 500 will comply with your every downhill whim with its ability to tweak chain stays, head angle, and rear travel to match rider with bike with terrain. Outfitted with Shimano and SRAM components and RockShox suspension, the bikes large size tips the scales at just under a hefty 36 pounds. Some riders have noticed noise from rear end and it being a bit on the heavy side, but the 500 loves the whole trail from jumps to tight and twisty. This bike maintains its poise shooting downhill like a gallant knight with an attitude.

Giant Glory 27.5

Giant Glory 27.5

The Glory 27.5 is this company's top DH dog and it comes primed for action. The aluminum frame's down tube comes in a more rounded, smaller diameter shape for weight savings while retaining stiffness where it counts for a sublime ride. Piloted with a SRAM downhill-specific drive train and Avid hydraulic disc brakes, the Glory charges through the roughest stuff out there but its agility shines when it's time to play a little. It combines 8 inches of travel with its Maestro suspension and a super stiff front end for max confidence on even the sketchiest terrain. Expect your back account to shrink by the mid-$6,000 range for a build with cherry components, but a budget option is available for around half that price point.

Canyon Torque DHX Flashzone

Canyon Torque DHX Flashzone

Canyon's products only seem to be upping their performance with each year. The Torque is a winning ride with highlights typically seen on bikes with double the price tag. Shimano components matched with sweet Mavic wheels top my list of wins, and the Cane Creek rear shock keeps the bike in tune with whatever is under its wheels. The Torque's low weight gives it a lively feel with great handling through obstacle mine fields or bike park laps, and adjustable geometry lets it morph into a DH rocket when you want it. The shock takes some time to dial in the perfect ride but once you're there, the Torque is a solid performer.

Intense Spider 275 Trail Mountain Bike

Intense Spider 275 Trail Mountain Bike

Intense bicycles are handcrafted with a fervent attention to detail matching their fans’ same verve for riding them. A double butted aluminum frame with hydroformed tubes keeps the Spider light and super tough for its intended use on any kind of trail in front of it. Thanks to a pivot point above the bottom bracket, the bike’s compact chainstays make for a snappy, quick ride feel. The RockShox Revelation fork is adjustable to 130mm for absorbing all manner of trail undulations or rock jumps.

A longer front-center area accommodates shorter stem lengths typically used for all-arounder trail bikes. A steep head tube angle helps make the Spider a great climber; it’s quick to accelerate and pogo stick-springy going uphill. The bike comes with often scarce bottle cage mounts inside the front triangle and grease ports on pivots. Cable routing is external for easy changes, but thankfully stays tight and clean looking.

In some situations, the Spider can get a touch unstable at high speed, but overall is agile in tight spots and reliable in turns, intuitively boosting a rider’s confidence to plunge forth into most any challenge. This is a fun bike itching to play hard, with two other available build options with the Foundation being the entry-level build and the Pro build is top of the line, so you can choose what fits you and your checkbook the best.

Pivot Mach 5.7 Carbon Trail Mountain Bike

Pivot Mach 5.7 Carbon Trail Mountain Bike

The Mach 5.7 Carbon is Pivot’s most popular model, with a long list of accolades from dirt-happy riders. Take this bike anywhere and rest assured you’ll have the perfect rig for your trail of choice. Packed with killer features, the Mach is dialed in to deliver podium performance on every ride. The uber stiff and lightweight carbon frame, (a medium weight at 26 pounds) is designed front to back for turning out comfy, all-day rides. The bike looks plain cool with its matte black finish and clean lines, thanks to seamless tube blends and hidden cable routing.

Pivot’s ingenious dw-link anti-squat beats suspension bob on the climbs, keeping the bike stable and springing forward. Get plush rides from the FOX Float shock/Factory fork combination, and obstacle-strewn trails disappear beneath DT rims glued to the dirt with Maxxis Ardent tires. Pivot offers 11 build kit options, all with Shimano drivetrains and components for complete-bike precision. Choose a build suited to your riding style then go shred every trail on the map.

Santa Cruz Nomad Trail Mountain Bike

Santa Cruz Nomad Trail Mountain Bike

A 28-pound bike with 165mm of travel? “Say it ain’t so” might have been a common reply in the recent past, but the Nomad boasts those features and many more with performance oozing out of every pore on this trail-hungry machine. The longer frame thrives at high speed on steep and tricky descents and flies over would-be obstacles with ease, while the Nomad’s frame geometry keep riders perfectly positioned to climb with equal poise. Climb aboard and the bike resonates with a palpable lust to go everywhere and do it fast.

A top end component group drives the Nomad with precision while SRAM’s GX 1x11 derailleur offers a range of gear options for whatever you ride. Need to stop in a hurry? The Shimano SLX disc brakes are rock-steady, powerful and reliable. Cane Creek rocks a cartridge bearing, smooth as silk headset, and the RockShox Monarch fork (with Vivid Air upgrade option), paired with a Pike RC shock takes the sting out of the bumps.

The bike stays gripped to the trail with Maxxis tires and rolls fast on Easton aluminum rims. Santa Cruz upped the bar even further with killer details like carbon fiber-made internal housing guides for a super clean look, maintenance-friendly threaded bottom bracket, and water bottle mounts. The Nomad isn’t lightning quick in slower speed, technical sections, and the stock 175mm crankarms matched with a low bottom bracket can lead to more pedal clips on the ground (swap in 170mm cranks to solve this issue). However, these are just minor blemishes on an otherwise speedy, trail-loving machine.

Scott Genius 910 Mountain Bike

Scott Genius 910 Mountain Bike

A high velocity flyer decked out with choice components and perfectly balanced geometry Scott engineered the Genius 910 frame to its fullest potential. Hovering at the 28 pound mark, the helium-like HMF Carbon frameset delivers impressive speed with a nimble and responsive ride feel. With quick-click adjustment to the FOX Nude shock via the TwinLoc lever, riders can dial in a perfect trail ride. Switch to lockout mode and the bike is a highly efficient and speedy climber. Flip to descend and rocket descents with the same panache as more DH-ready rigs.

The Shimano XT drivetrain delivers effortless shifting every time and the Reverb Stealth dropper is post icing on the cake. Nail big hits with the FOX Float’s 130mm of travel on your way through tight turns with the perfect balance of playfulness and stability. The Genius is especially fond of long rides, where the light, stiff frame channels acceleration and agility to every pedal stroke. Point this bike towards the hills and hang on.

Giant Trance 27.5 2 Trail Mountain Bike

Giant Trance 27.5 2 Trail Mountain Bike

The Giant Trance brings it all in a light and agile machine with stability to vanquish aggressive trails. The precision-welded ALUXX SL aluminum frame springs up hills and bombs descents with chops typically found on bikes in a much higher price range. A FOX Float 140mm fork sports a stiff and safe thru-axle, the slack head tube means high-speed stability and solid cornering prowess. The longer front-center area lets riders sit comfortably and sail up climbs, or sit in for long-hour days on the trail. Maestro twin-link suspension delivers 5.5 inches of cushioning to soak up roller coaster bumps and drops. The bike rolls on Giant’s own XC-2 double wall rims laced with stainless spokes, wrapped in Schwalbe Nobby nics for glue-like traction and cornering confidence.

A Shimano SLX 10-speed drivetrain powers the bike forward and M6 15 hydraulic brakes offer worry-free stopping power. We love the MRP 2X chain guide to prevent wayward chains, but a tight thumb lever and only 100mm of plunge from the dropper post are dings. Rear suspension can be a little soggy and make the bike slow to react on technical trails, but the Trance is a lightweight warrior set up to tackle years worth of trail adventures.

Cycles 951 Evo Dvo Special Edition Freeride Mountain Bike

Cycles 951 Evo Dvo Special Edition Freeride Mountain Bike

Intense bikes are widely regarded as the muscle car of the fat tire world, and the 951 EVO is testament to that reputation. In these days of hyper-adjustable bikes, Intense delivers the 951 with none. This pick is set up for its purpose (charging full steam ahead) from the start so why muddle a good thing with further tweaking, right? Built with a DH-inspired aluminum frame, the 951 absorbs minor trail chatter and big hits with a DVO suspension combo, 200mm Emerald fork and Jade coil shock in back. Its low slung layout gives the bike an instant leap forward with the first pedal stroke and riders can drive hard into whatever lies ahead; the 951 takes it all in and begs for more.

The Intense 951 EVO DVO is also decked out with top tier components from bow to stern. A SRAM drivetrain delivers consistently reliable and precise shifting, Shimano Saint brakes offer speeding locomotive stopping power, while riders perch on a legendarily awesome Thomson post and roam the earth on Maxxis High Rollers. Sure, you could buy a decent used car for less, but the 951 is way more fun.

Kona Stinky Freeride Mountain Bike

Kona Stinky Freeride Mountain Bike

Give a kid a jalopy of a bike and his dreams of glory sputter like misfiring pistons until the bike is simply set aside in a forlorn mask of dust and spider web tangles of what might have been. Hand them the Kona Stinky freeride mountain bike and a grin wide as the handlebars leads the way to a world of freedom and uncharted adventure. Thanks to butted, 7005 aluminum frame construction, this sweet-riding bike retains a supple feel on the back end and a RockShox XC 30 fork gives 100mm of travel to keep the ride comfy on the bumps. Kid-sized levers control spot-on Shimano TX brakes for safe and reliable stopping power. FSA’s 165mm crankarms fit shorter legs perfectly for efficient pedaling, powered by a wide range Shimano Acera 9-speed gear cluster. The Stinky is a nimble and fun bike to ride, with top-shelf design and components to bring anyone the best-of every time on every trail.

Transition Scout 2015 Freeride Mountain Bike

Transition Scout 2015 Freeride Mountain Bike

Transition’s Scout is a no-nonsense bike with a hot rod personality that wants to go full gas all over the land. The Scout dances through technical terrain like a chamois-wearing ballerina, and the bike’s aluminum frame design, with low bottom bracket and short chainstays, allows stability at speed and fast-twitch handling prowess. Tansition’s Giddy Up suspension uses the Monarch DeonAir shock for improved traction and efficiency on climbs with solid control on descents. Combined with a 140mm travel RockShox Pike fork, the Scout is a well-oiled bump-absorbing machine. It excels at choppy, chaotic descents littered with all manner of obstacles and remains unfazed from jarring impacts.

The Scout charges through turns like an Indy car with barely a blip of frame flex. Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires give the Scout all-around reliability in most any tread condition, but can lose a step over wet rocks and roots. Matched with a WTB/DT Swiss wheelset, riders can roll confidently over most anything. At the bike park or over hill and dale, all the world’s a playground on the Scout.

Trek Session 8 Park 26

Trek Session 8 Park 26

Trek's Session lineup is like a beauty pageant where all the contestants look great and their runway happens to be a steep, gnarly trail plummeting down the side of a mountain. Not aimed for crazy fast races against the clock, the Session 8 is a nimble, twitchy machine bred for big air and fun. 26 inch wheels and a shorter rear end make this bike easier to throw into a turn or huck a killer jump than its race-designed brethren. There’s also the exclusive Mino Link feature which allows easy head tube angle tuning for trail-specific performance. Kitted with DT Swiss, Boxxer, and RockShox, the Park is loaded for fun right out of the box, and adept at bombing a hill or strutting a freeride trail. The aluminum model is affordable but if you crave carbon and can spare the extra coin, Trek has you covered with the Park 9.8.

Specialized P.Slope BMX Bike

Specialized P.Slope BMX Bike

Specialized’s P.Slope is the weapon of choice for riders with a flair for showtime tricks from launching over huge jumps to sticking reverse wheelies and backflips. The A1 aluminum chassis utilizes a single-pivot swingarm in tandem with a RockShox Monarch shock to keep the bike stable and responsive on landings and hard-charging bike park antics. With super short chainstays and a low front end, riders get rock solid control while up in the air, and the stiff frame is a rocket under sprint speed with catlike reflexes for the technical stuff.

100mm of travel up front from the RockShox Pike fork takes the edge off trail chatter with sponge-like absorption of tough hits. Specialized employs Hayes Radar hydraulic brakes for instantaneous stopping and a SRAM Descendant crankset to ramp up to speed just as fast. The Slope takes a cue from BMX rigs with compact gearing ideally suited for the dirt, park ramps, and even the street. House brand Renegade Slopestyle tires grip everything in their path for no-worry traction, with double-wall alloy rims for silky rolling and durability.

Steve Johnson
A self-propelled recreation junkie and fan of all things outdoors, I have roamed Out There on a bike, skis, snowshoes, or in hiking boots from the forests and lakes of the upper Midwest to Colorado’s high country and mountains of southern California, detailing those trips with groups like the Nature Valley Grand Prix promotional team, various active sports media guides, and where-to books and articles. I also spent four years as a wrench and sales associate at bike shops in the Mpls-St Paul area. My home base is…..wherever I happen to be. Currently jetsetting between southern MN and southern CA, I live the lifestyle with verve and and write about it from where my heart is, in places like Wisconsin’s woods, Colorado’s mountains, and SoCal. My outlets are active, and I am either on a hiking trail wearing a backpack, or on my bicycle wearing Lycra. If I have a spare hour or five, I am outdoors and in tune with nature's finest.
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