Looking for an Entry-Level Mountain Bike?

The wind in your hair, the rocky trail beneath you…there really are few hobbies that can provide that accessible rush of excitement like mountain biking. From the challenging uphill treks to the invigorating slaloms through deep forest valleys, the mountain biking experience is certainly worth sharing. But how are you supposed to share your favorite activity with your friends and children if they lack the proper equipment?

List & Comparison of Entry-Level Mountain Bikes:

PhotoProductGearsWheelsDetails
Merax Falcon Full Suspension Mountain BikeMerax Falcon Full Suspension Mountain Bike2126inMore Information
Diamondback Overdrive Hardtail Mountain BikeDiamondback Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike2429inMore Information
Akonza Cobra 26” Mountain BicycleAkonza Cobra 26” Mountain Bicycle2126inMore Information
Vilano 26Vilano 26” Mountain Bike Ridge 2.02126inMore Information
Outroad Road BikeOutroad Road Bike2126inMore Information

In all, this information (combined with the full reviews below) will start you on the path towards selecting a good entry level mountain bike that’ll last for many trail tips to come.

Review of the Best Entry-Level Mountain Bikes:

1. Merax Falcon Full Suspension Mountain Bike – Best Entry Level Mountain Bike Under $300

Features

  • Frame material – 6061 heat-treated metal alloy
  • Brake type – VB-968SK linear pull brakes
  • Derailleur (gear shift) type – Shimano ARDTZ50GSBT
  • Shifter type/Drivetrain – Shimano ASLRS35LNBC & Shimano ASLRS35R7ET
  • Wheel dimensions – 26”

The Merax Falcon Full Suspension Mountain Bike is an excellent model for nearly every type of entry level mountain biker, owing largely to its reliable portfolio of well-regarded parts. Starting at the heat-treated metal alloy frame, this model is one of the only entry level models to receive a CPSC stamp of approval for its full suspension fork architecture.

Every component of this model’s main operation has been fine-tuned to operate in tandem, largely because nearly every core component is Shimano-made. Both shifters and the derailleur are all top-of-the-line Shimano models, indicating that this bike’s manufacturers care deeply for only using the best in name brand bike components.

In order to get you out on the trail faster, the Merax Falcon also comes 85% assembled. Rather than risking mis-attaching this model’s linear pull brakes, you’ll only need to attach the pedals, front wheel, and handlebars. The Merax Falcon even comes with the tools you’ll need to accomplish this task, making a sweat-free entry point into mountain biking overall.

Pros

  • CPSC approved full suspension fork architecture
  • Unified Shimano shifter and derailleur system
  • Comes 85% assembled

Cons

  • Mostly designed for adult-sized entry level riders

2. Diamondback Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike – Best Specialized Entry Level Mountain Bike

Features

  • Frame material – Butted 6061-T6 aluminum alloy
  • Brake type – Tektro Aries mechanical disc
  • Derailleur (gear shift) type – Shimano Tourney TX800 (front), Shimano Acera M360 (rear)
  • Shifter type – Shimano EF-500 EZ-Fire
  • Wheel dimensions – 18”

What’s in a name? More often than not, reliability is a marked benefit of name brand cycling equipment. If you’re the type of cyclist who won’t settle for off-brand bike components, then you’ll find the Diamondback Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike’s portfolio of purpose-built features to your full liking.

Starting with core components, the Diamondback Overdrive features Shimano brand derailleurs on both the front and rear wheels (the Tourney TX800 and the Acera M360, respectively). The Shimano HG31 Cassette cog set and Tektro Aries mechanical disc brakes continue this name brand trend, allowing you to fully appreciate how reliably this model performs overall.

Also, of note, the Diamondback Overdrive come standard with Vee Rubber Crown F-REE tires. While these can be challenging to replace, they certainly outlast most other store brand tires in terms of grip and flexibility. With a durable butted 6061-T6 aluminum alloy frame holding it all together, you’ll surely appreciate this pricier mountain bike as you hit the trail for the first time.

Pros

  • Broad portfolio of name brand components
  • Front and rear derailleurs, both from Shimano
  • Tektro Aries mechanical disc brake for rapid deceleration

Cons

  • Tires need refilling often

3. Akonza Cobra 26” Mountain Bicycle – Best Entry Level Mountain Bike for your Money

Features

  • Frame material – steel alloy
  • Brake type – linear pull brake (rear) & disc brake (front)
  • Derailleur (gear shift) type – Shimano ARDTZ500GSB
  • Shifter type – Shimano ASLRS35LNBC & Shimano ASLRS35R7ET
  • Wheel dimensions – 26”

Out of the many entry level mountain bikes available today, the Akonza Cobra provides one of the smoothest and most controlled rides while remaining broadly affordable. Much of this balance performance starts from the Akonza Cobra’s steel alloy suspension frame in tandem with its Element front suspension fork.

The Akonza Cobra also incorporates a unique micro-shifting system in order to make uphill and downhill gear changes a breeze. Using the built-in Shimano ARDTZ500GSB derailleur and the twin Shimano gear shifters, this model is able to gently flip between gears without risking accidental gear drops when riding over large obstacles.

Even though some other entry level mountain bikes come partially assembled, only the Akonza Cobra comes 90% assembled. Using the manual and tools that come packed in with the bike properly, you can easily finish the last bits of assembly before strapping on your helmet and taking it out for test ride in the local woods.

Pros

  • Controlled suspension system shock absorber and Element suspension fork
  • Unique microshifting system for skip-less gear changes
  • Includes manual for completing last 10% of assembly

Cons

  • Some damage may occur during shipping

4. Vilano 26” Mountain Bike Ridge 2.0 – Most Durable Entry Level Mountain Bike

Features

  • Frame material – Double Butted 6061 aluminum alloy
  • Brake type – mechanical disc
  • Derailleur (gear shift) type – Shimano Tourney TZ50 (rear) & Shimano TZ30 (front)
  • Shifter type – Shimano EF-51 Easyfire
  • Wheel dimensions – 26”

Cyclists who spot the Vilano 2.0 will immediately notice its unusual spoke architecture, that is, there are only three broad spokes rather than 30+ wire thin spokes. This design choice draws from competitive mountain bikes and allows this model’s mag wheels to better hold up against lateral impacts.

To this end, the Vilano 2.0 can take a hit and bounce back, which is certainly useful for someone who is just learning the ropes of mountain biking and is prone to crash as a result. Just as you’re able to bounce back up after your helmet takes a hit, this model’s double butted 6061 aluminum alloy frame allows it to resist hard impacts without tarnishing its exterior.

Like all Vilano models, this model’s assembly instructions are easily accessible on Vilano’s online knowledgebase at any time. You can even find maintenance tips there, ensuring that you’ll be able to keep your first mountain bike in quality condition for many rides to come.

Pros

  • Extra durability in double butted 6061 aluminum alloy frame
  • 3-spoke mag wheels based on pro-tier models
  • Useful online knowledgebase from Vilano

Cons

  • Some “waviness” in brake performance

5. Outroad Road Bike – Best Entry Level Mountain Bike with 6-Spoke Wheels

Features

  • Frame material – aluminum alloy
  • Brake type – disc brake (front and rear)
  • Derailleur (gear shift) type – Shimano
  • Shifter type – Shimano 21 speed
  • Wheel dimensions – 26”

As far as entry level mountain bikes are concerned, the Outroad Road Bike is a bit more of a mixed bag. On the positive side, this model is wholly unique in its ability to fold in half and transport in half the amount of space of a normal mountain bike. Also, this model’s 6-spoke “fashion” rims are both eye-catching and stable beyond the regular capabilities of wire spoke wheels.

That being said, this model requires full assembly. This may be a major drawback for entry level mountain bikers without much assembling experience. Also, this full assembly process requires the proper attachment of crucial components such as the dual disc brakes. If these are attached improperly, an inexperienced first-timer may be put at considerable risk.

As such, the Outroad Road Bike should only be bought by mountain bikers with a wealth of pre-existing bike assembly knowledge.

Pros

  • Unique 6-spoke “fashion” rims
  • Folding axel at center for easy transportation and storage
  • Quick release disc brakes on both front and rear wheels

Cons

  • Requires full assembly

FAQ

While a helmet is an absolute given for any mountain bike outing, you won’t even need to strap on a helmet if you don’t have a mountain bike to ride upon. While you might offer your own mountain bike for them to practice upon, such specialized models can be tricky to handle and manipulate without proper experience. As such, you have every reason to provide some entry level mountain bike recommendations.

Of course, this leads immediately to the question, “what makes an entry level mountain bike good or different?” Simply put, these entry-level models are better suited to new mountain bikers due to their more balanced performance and refined attention to comforting detail. While riding an entry level mountain bike, your new riding companion will rarely ever be jostled by the rocky terrain that you’ve grown accustomed to.

Once you’re committed to purchasing one of these purpose-built machines, you might be quick to ask about how to pick an entry level mountain bike. While there are likely a few models available at your local big box store, you shouldn’t just grab the first mountain bike you see and call it a day. Instead, you’re going to need to complete a bit of research in order to find the best model to fit your new rider’s size and skill level (not to mention your budget).

Traditionally, this research would have found you trekking from a bike shop to a bike shop. But instead, I’ve found a way to save you that time and effort – this guide to the top 5 best entry level mountain bikes of 2019. Drawn from industry research and the experience of real cyclists like you, this guide will provide you every piece of information you’ll need before selecting an entry level mountain bike.

This guide is made up of reviews, each of which covers key specifications including frame material, brake type, shifter type, wheel dimensions, and more. Moreover, these reviews dig into each model’s special features in order to highlight each bike’s unique qualities. Finally, each review includes a succinct pro-con list to help fast-paced shoppers find what they are looking for while reading.

Whether you’re helping to introduce a friend to mountain biking or are looking to dive into the sport yourself, your search for a high-performing entry level mountain bike is the key to unlocking everything mountain biking has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a certain brand or a certain brake type, you’ll find your next potential-unlocking mountain bike on this researched list.

In order to start your research off on the right foot, this chart contains quick summaries of each of the top performing entry level mountain bikes. In addition to quick product summaries, this chart also includes some quick comparisons between much sought after specifications.

About the author

Derek Wilcox