The history of mountain biking has been a short one, since the late 1970’s and early 80’s, and many bike brands began by repurposing road bikes to be used on mountainous trails. Some of the very best mountain bike brands today have been around since then, such as Trek and GT Bicycles, establishing the standard for all mountain bikes to come. While younger brands such as Santa Cruz and Pivot, have added technological innovations designed to tame the rough terrains.
The Different Types Of Mountain Bike Brands Sell
There is a lot that goes into the development of mountain bikes and because the environment they are used in contains diverse and sometimes unpredictable obstacles, there are three different types of mountain bikes that will help you overcome them safely and enhance your performance.
Cross country mountain bikes are built for pedalling performance, especially against those spirit-crushing hill climbs. A trail bike is a great all-rounder that comes with more suspension and chunkier tires for better stability and traction. Finally, you’ve got the enduro bikes that have a geometry that favours downhill descents and are commonly used during races.
Thanks to modern technology, most mountain bike brands have been developing a new type in the form of the electric bike, or e-mtb. They use rechargeable batteries to power electronic drive units that assist riders anywhere from adjusting power to the wheels, to changing gears without taking your hands off the pedals.
Features Of All Modern Mountain Bikes
Compared to road bikes, mountain bikes have an almost overwhelming amount of features, and it can be difficult to pin down which are the most important ones. The majority of mountain bike brands focus their attention on suspension which is the system connected to both wheels that absorbs impact, improving traction and overall comfort. The variety of suspensions you will find are full, dual, and single-pivot suspension.
Another major feature that you’ll come across is the drivetrain. This is a term that compiles a large group of features under one term and is essentially the engine of a mountain bike. A drivetrain includes the crankset, chain, and brakes among many others. Mountain bike brands will often advertise the drivetrain as one whole system.
You May Also Like:
Price: From $740
Born out of a riding trip between father and son, Trek was founded by Dick Burke and Bevil Hogg after the former bought mountain bikes from the latter’s shop to use. The two eventually went into business together and established the brand in 1975, getting their start in a Wisconsin barn developing hand-crafted frames.
Eventually growing into a world leader in bike technology, the brand’s range of bikes include innovations that are not just limited to the highest-end models. If you are looking for the best, the ‘E-Caliber 9.9 XX1 AXS’ mountain bike is light and fast with a carbon frame that is built to ride like a cross country bike but includes race-worthy suspension technology.
Price: From $2,649
Founded in 1987 by two engineering students who built a bicycle brand for their university project and called it Da Vinci. To avoid a centuries-old copyright claim, they rebranded as Devinci and partnered with entrepreneur Felix Gauthier. They engineered frames using a heat-treatment process, which by 1993, helped them to become one of the biggest mountain bike brands.
If you are looking for features that will give you confidence on the trail, no matter how long your ride is, then Devinci’s range offers that and more. With the ‘AC GX1 E-Bike’, you’ll find technology meets engineering, thanks to an 11-speed GX drivetrain and their patented ‘Aluminum Optimum’ constructed frame with modern enduro geometry.
Price: From $600
With roots that date as far back as the 1930’s as a steel-tubing manufacturer in France, Vitus became an official brand in the 1970’s, developing high-end race frames. They played a pioneering role in the development of aluminium and carbon fibre frames that have been used by some of the very best cyclists.
Designed to overcome any obstacles you come across out on the trail, their range includes endurance for rough terrain and even bikes optimised for downhill. The ‘Dominer Downhill’ mountain bike offers agile suspension with a lightweight alloy frame and Maxxis tyres that ensure maximum grip, even down those slippery slopes.
Price: From $700
Founded in 1979 by Gary Turner and Richard Long, GT Bicycles were prominent in developing the very first BMX bikes and even developed a carbon fibre ‘superbike’ for the 1996 Olympic Games. They even innovated mountain bikes with their ‘triple-triangle’ design, where the seats are parallel to the downtube to reduce vibration.
If the mountain trails are your riding destination of choice, then GT Bicycles range of mountain bikes will provide stability and improved rollover across uneven terrain. The ‘GT Avalanche’ is the best on offer and features an aluminium triple triangle frame and hydraulic disk brakes.
Price: From $248
Mongoose founder Skip Hess was working out of his garage of his Simi Valley home in 1974, when he developed the very first U.S-made cast magnesium alloy wheel for BMX bikes. It wasn’t until 1985 that the brand launched their first mountain bike, the ‘ATB Pro’, and transitioned from racing BMX bikes to racing mountain bikes.
The brand has always been a part of extreme sports and their mountain bikes have been developed by people who understand what you will come across out on the trails. With the ‘Dolomite’ mountain bike, you’ll find that no terrain is too much thanks to its oversized tyres that can handle any bumps and obstacles in your way.
Price: From $2,400
In 1894, the Orbea brothers opened a small workshop in Eibar, Spain, where they manufactured steel products that would include bicycle frames. As one of Europe’s oldest cycling brands, they have a deep history of crafting the very best materials to innovate their mountain bikes so that each one that leaves their factories is as good as the last.
Each bike in their range has been given a meticulous level of attention and the technical artistry of the sleek and rounded frames reflects their history. The ‘Occam M30’ also brings the functionality of a modern mountain bike, with EVOL rear shock absorbers and top of the line Shimano hydraulic disk brakes.
Price: From $2,599
Established in 1994, Santa Cruz was founded by skateboarding legend Rob Roskopp who sought to disrupt the sensibilities of the time when it came to the design of mountain bikes. Most conventional bikes were full-suspension without any rear suspension, so Rob decided to create Santa Cruz’s first bike, which is considered the first dual-suspension mountain bike.
Ever since then the brand has continued to craft bikes that help riders go further and faster, and their range of mountain bikes will perform for any trail enthusiast. The ‘Nomad Carbon X01’ bike features an aggressive and slack geometry that will keep you confident down steep terrain, and suspension built for performance and adjustability, even on the move.
Price: From $5,800
While other mountain biking brands were in their infancy during the 1980’s, Yeti was already there to produce the kind of bikes that would help the hobby become an industry. Getting their start in developing frames designed for racing, the brand quickly became home to one of the most widely recognised racing teams and would help many of it’s riders become legendary within the sport.
With a pedigree like that, you can be sure that Yeti’s range of mountain bikes will support you on the trails, no matter how fast you are going. To prove it, they’ve engineered the ‘Turq T2 X01 Eagle’, which features 27 inch wheels that can roll over even the most unexpected trail marks, and a 65 degree head tube that will give you confidence down the steepest slopes.
Price: From $4,999
One of the youngest brands in cycling,though Pivot are no stranger to bar-setting innovation when they were among the very first to develop their bikes with the new DW-Link suspension, for a smoother ride. Founded in 2007 by Chris Cocalis, the brand has already established their identity around technical innovation and high performance.
The range of their mountain bikes is the result of such rapid progression in the industry and they show no signs of slowing down. With the ‘Switchblade Pro XT’, you’ll find a sturdy carbon fibre frame and a masterful suspension platform that will give you greater responsiveness and enhanced rear-wheel traction.
Price: From $298
Ignaz Schwinn moved to the United States in 1891 to pursue the American Dream, where he would work for several bicycle companies before meeting Adolf Arnold in 1895. Together they would found World Bicycles, which would be the early trade name for what is now known today as Schwinn Bicycles, one of the best mountain bike brands.
Even though they came out in the 1980’s, Schwinn’s range of mountain bikes are among their latest iteration of bicycles. The ‘Axum DP’ mountain bike is the result of centuries of experience and features an aluminum frame with a 100mm suspension fork that absorbs bumps on the trails.
Price: From $250
With the slogan ‘Forever Forward’, Hiland have made it their purpose to bring you a mountain bike that fits with whatever goals you might have. Whether it’s winning a race, casually riding a trail, or embarking on a new adventure, they have something for every kind of rider.
Their range of mountain bikes are constructed around this idea, and no matter your budget or what kind of ride you are undertaking, they will meet your expectations of quality and performance. The ‘27 inch, 27-speed’ mountain bike is the best on offer with an aluminum frame and a responsive lock-out suspension fork.
Price: From $645
Beginning in 1971, Cannondale recognised that while the world was changing in terms of digital invention, the world of cycling remained traditional and conventional. From their small Connecticut workshop, they were among the very first mountain bike brands to use carbon fibre for their frames while the industry continued to use steel.
They’ve continued their devotion to innovation with their range of mountain bikes that include e-bikes and bikes with full and dual-suspension. Among the very best on offer is the ‘Topstone Neo 2021’ electric bike that features a carbon frame and a maximum sustained speed of 20 miles per hour.
Price: From $1,399
The Rocky Mountain Development Centre is found at the foot of Vancouver’s North Shore mountains and is home to some of the world’s most diverse and rugged terrain. They have been developing their mountain bikes there since 1981 and have been at the forefront of Canadian mountain biking and now, the world.
With a backyard like that, you can trust that these bikes have been tested the right way, on the trails they were designed for. The ‘Altitude Carbon 70’ mountain bike is the perfect companion for those difficult ascents, with it’s adjustable geometry, 12-speed drivetrain and a hill-crushing gear range.
Price: From $3,499
Scot Nichol opened a bicycle shop in Mendocino, California on April Fools Day, 1981. There was no money and no plan, but he was not joking around, and Ibis was founded out of this little shop to become a reputable mountain bike manufacturer designed exclusively for, like Scot himself, the trail enthusiast.
The range is focused on quality over quantity, with only a handful of models that have been given the expert treatment in engineering and design. With the ‘Ripmo V2’ model, you’ll find a 76-degree seat tube angle that places riders centrally over the pedals, and rear suspension that features extra-light, hush-speed compression.
Price: From $599
Norco began as Northern Cycle Industries in 1964 out of a repurposed chicken coop before start-ups were even a thing. It’s these kinds of grassroots that have helped them to evolve and push harder towards always innovating.
Mountain biking is their pride and joy, and all of their bikes have been tested in the rugged landscapes of British Columbia, Canada. The ‘Aurum HSP C1 2021’ bike is among the most advanced in their range, with a single pivot suspension, downhill optimised kinematics and an idler pulley to ensure the suspension absorbs every obstacle between you and your destination.
Price: From $599
Starting out as a BMX brand, Diamondback was founded in 1977 and has since grown their range to include mountain and trail bikes. With over 40 years of experience, the brand has maintained a high level of quality and always remaining at affordable prices, so that any level of rider can enjoy the trails.
With the ‘Atroz 2’ mountain bike, you’ll find full-suspension for riders who like a little more cushion against those rough terrains. Featuring reliable braking and shifting, and an air-sprung rear suspension that smoothes out those bumpy patches, making it a perfect first bike for beginners.
Price: From $499
Adding to the range of sporting goods manufacturers, Decathlon’s bicycles are the Rock Rider brand of mountain bikes. They are specially designed for cross country riding or racing and every type of ride in between.
If you are a mountain biker looking to start out on the trails but are intimidated by the amount of information that goes into choosing the right one, Rock Rider has you covered. With the ‘XC500’, you’ll find a great all-rounder that includes efficient geometry, lightweight feel and shock absorbing brakes.
Price: From $1,999
Niner’s penchant for making big-wheeled bikes goes deeper than geometry, traction and momentum. It’s a part of their identity and they want to make their mountain bikes recognisable whether you are on a local singletrack or on a journey into the mountainous trails.
The range of mountain bikes available are perfect for cross country riding and can withstand the impact of a dirt jump, keeping you stable and secure the whole time. With the ‘RIP 9 RDO’ mountain bike, you’ll find their massive 29-inch wheels and a carbon fibre frame complete with CVA suspension.
Price: From $1,499
Made by riders for riders, Specialized were founded in 1974 and have always changed their approach to design based on the demands of their customers and the industry itself. When riders wanted to go faster, they set about building their very own wind tunnel and when people began riding in the dirt, they began developing mountain bikes.
They live and breath cycling, and the range of mountain bikes includes something for the trail, cross country and even enduro bikes for those high-speed descents. With suspension that delivers on control and bump absorption, that is imbued with their all-new Brain technology that adjusts the suspension between firm and plush while on the go. Check out the ‘Stumpjumper’ series for the very best on offer.