9 Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners Starting Out in 2023

Best Mountain Bike for Beginners in 2021

Decline Magazine is supported by its readers. We may receive a commission if you buy products using our links.

Just starting with mountain biking and don’t know which one to get? Don’t worry, we have all been there.

So to make your decision easier, our experts tested out 25+ of the best mountain bikes for beginners across various brands like Specialized, Giant, Trek, Vitus, etc. for comfort, durability, after-sales, warranty, and cost-effectiveness so you get the best bang for your buck.

Here’s what our tests revealed.

Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners

1. Diamondback Catch 1

Diamondback Catch 1

Image Credits: JensonUSA

Key Specifications:

  • Dual Suspension
  • Wheel Size: 27.5” Tubeless Ready
  • SRAM Eagle SX Groupset
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • MTB Type: Full Suspension

The Diamondback Catch One is an incredible value-for-money bike, and we can’t recommend it highly enough. Diamondback have been in the mountain biking industry for years, and you can see they have put a lot of time into this bike.

Let’s start with the frame; it’s hydroformed Aluminum, and not only is this going to give you race stiffness and quick responsiveness, but it is also going to be strong, and if you do drop it, it’s going to be able to take a hit. The suspension is excellent, and upfront, you have the SR Suntour Aion with 130mm travel, and on the rear, a Suntour Edge R with 100mm of suspension. This is an excellent setup and will give the bike such a smooth ride, even over tree trunks.

The Groupset is the legendary SRAM Eagle SX. It has a 32T single chainring on the front and an 11-50T on the rear. It’s going to make getting up hills very easy and also going to give you plenty of options for cross-country riding too. It also has hydraulic brakes which give you incredible stopping power on a trail and also lots of reliability. 

The Wheelset is Diamondback’s own and is double-wall aluminum in a 27.5″. This is going to be excellent for control and technical trails. The Catch comes with some excellent WTB tires, and they are massive. It’s rare to see bikes like this with 2.8″ tires, that’s some serious grip.

Diamondback has made an excellent bike here, and it’s incredible value for money. It is incredibly capable, and they haven’t cut any corners when bringing this all together. It’s excellent for beginners because it will make technical riding much simpler.

2. Nukeproof Scout 290 Race Bike

Nukeproof Scout 290 Race Bike

Image Credits: Chain Reaction

Key Specifications:

  • Fork: 130 mm Travel
  • Wheel Size: 29”
  • Frame Size: S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • MTB Type: Hardtail XC Bike

Nukeproof is an excellent brand and specializes in off-road bikes. They make an excellent product, and it’s not rare to see them on a podium at a race, that’s for sure. The Scout is a bike Nukeproof has been producing for a while, and the new update is excellent.

The Frame is Aluminum and has been made with excellent geometry. This is a bike that you are going to be able to ride all day and not feel too uncomfortable on a very rocky trail. It is a hardtail, so it only has suspension on the front. The suspension they provide is the Rockshox Recon RL with 130mm travel and a 42mm offset. This bike will feel fast, agile, and will be very capable.

The Groupset is the Shimano Deore 10 speed. Shimano makes an excellent groupset, and not only is it super reliable, but it’s cheap to maintain, and the shifting is silky smooth. The Deore Groupset range has been going for many years, and although this one is the only 10 speed, it’s still terrific. You have a 30T on the front and 11-46T on the rear, so plenty of gearing for steep climbs. The brakes are the Shimano MT4100 hydraulic disk brakes and will be able to stop you on a pin. They are that powerful.

The wheelset is Nukeproofs own Neuron V2 hubs with WTB Rims, which are tubeless compatible. It comes in 29″ and has the boost rear spacing so you can fit super large tires on, and they will sit well. Talking of tires, the Nukeproof Scout has twin Maxxis tires with a 2.4″ and a 2.5″ tire setup giving you excellent control.

The Nukeproof is an excellent bike for beginners because it just has essential high-quality components. It will be a perfect introduction bike for beginners and also an ideal bike for experienced mountain bikers. Nukeproof has made something exceptional here.

3. Specialized Chisel Comp

Image Credits: Serious Cycling

Key Specifications:

  • Fork: 100 mm Travel
  • Wheel Size: 29”
  • Frame Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • MTB Type: Hardtail XC Bike
Check Price

Specialized has a large base of fans who adore their high-quality bikes. If you plan to get yourself an S-Works bike in the future, it’s advisable to start from the bottom with a Specialized MTB.

The Specialized Chisel Comp is part of the Chisel range of bikes, and it has all the great features of a beginner’s cross-country bike with mid-range components.

Chisel was my third hardtail bike to buy, and I enjoyed every moment with it. The bike features a light alloy frame which Specialized has mentioned a couple of times that it’s the lightest aluminum bike they have.

Chisel Comp would be a great bike to settle with if you are okay with a light alloy frame over the carbon fiber frame option. The bike also receives love from Specialized with its brand kit scattered all over it, from the wheels to the bars, stem, and seat.

Chisel comes with 100 mm RockShox forks and Shimano Deore components. It’s the perfect bike to hit average trails with, and you can also push it to the limit on the cross-country track.

It’s also an excellent bike for city riding and commuting. It’s one of the most versatile bikes I know.

4. Norco Sight A3 29″

Norco Sight A3 29 2021

Image Credits: JensonUSA

Key Specifications:

  • Full Suspension 160mm/150mm
  • Wheel Size: 29”
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Shimano Deore Groupset
  • MTB Type: Full Suspension Trail Bike

The Norco Sight, you might have been lucky enough to see it on a trail near you or even hear about it amongst mountain biking friends if you haven’t let me tell you now it’s fantastic. This full-suspension bike is just excellent, but that’s what we have come to expect from Norco now.

Like many others on this list is Aluminum. The Norco has ride-aligned technology which helps create a better balance while riding, and also, it looks fantastic in gleaming silver. This is paired up with some amazing suspension. You have the Rockshox Yari with motion control on the front giving you 160mm travel. On the rear, you have a Rockshox deluxe XR that provides 150mm. This is an incredible setup, and with travel like that, you will be able to handle technical courses with ease.

The Groupset is the legendary Shimano Deore M6100; this is the 12-speed version of the groupset, which has a huge 10-51T cassette on the rear. That’s an incredible range to choose from, and the shifting will be great. The Brakes also are the Deore set, but these are the uprated four-piston version and will have crazy stopping power.

The wheelset is a 29″ WTB STi 29 set of rims and Shimano Boost hubs. They are tubeless ready as come on the bike with a twin Maxxis tire setup of a 2.4″ and a 2.5″. On this bike, you are also lucky enough to have a dropper post which is going to make those steep hills much easier too.

5. Liv Tempt 1

Image Credits: Spoke

Key Specifications:

  • Fork: 100 mm Travel
  • Wheel Size:27. 5”
  • Frame Size: XS, S, M, L
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • MTB Type: Hardtail XC Bike
Check Price

Our sisters-in-cycling are well covered with the Liv Tempt 1. Liv, a subsidiary of Giant Bikes International, is a brand known for designing and manufacturing lady-specific models.

Liv Tempt 1 is a quality bike with 27.5” wheels that your lady will enjoy every moment of it on top. Going for just over $1000, the female-specific Tempt 1 is packed with top components that make it a good deal.

It gets an SR Suntour XCR air shock with 100 mm of travel and a 1×11 SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain, making it a great climber. The bike also features the superb Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, which perform greatly to stop you instantly, even on a drop.

The all-around MTB is excellent for women who want to ride more and perfect their cross-country and trail riding skills.

It’s also a great bike to ride around town and for adventure riding. If you are looking for a bike gift for your lady, or you are a mom that wants to hit the outdoors, this is the bike for you.

Also Read: 10 Best Mountain Bikes for 2023

6. Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2

Image Credits: REI

Key Specifications:

  • Fork: 120 mm
  • Wheel Size: 27.5”/29”
  • Frame Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • MTB Type: Hardtail XC Bike
Check Price

If you have never heard of Co-op, you might be thinking it’s a new Chinese bike maker in the market, but it’s not. The bike company has been around for some time now and specializes in building and selling budget bikes. The Co-op DRT 1.2 is one of the best mountain bikes under $1000.

DTR 1.2 is one of the most popular models and a fantastic beginner hardtail mountain bike. I got to ride the bike, and I absolutely loved it. Even though the bike features a curved top tube, just like most women-specific models, the bike is suitable for men also.

The market target of this bike is adults who are trying to find their way into mountain biking. It features a Suntour Raidon Air fork with lockout for a smoother trail ride, and it also comes with a powerful hydraulic disc brake system.

It also features a 3×9 Shimano Deore drivetrain with a hollow tech crank system.

The DRT is the perfect bike for anyone looking for a cheaper bike and not sure whether they should take dirt jumping, trail, cross country, or downhill as their favorite discipline.

The rider can find where their strength lies as they experience the bike. It’s also an excellent bike for soft trail riding and a gifted climber. Also, it’s the perfect bike for a bike tour.

7. Marin San Quentin 3

Marin San Quentin 3

Image Credits: JensonUSA

Key Specifications:

  • Fork: 130 mm Travel
  • Wheel Size: 27.5”
  • Groupset Shimano Deore
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • MTB Type: Hard Tail

I am a huge fan of Marin and highly rate the quality they put into their bikes for such a low cost. Marin has a vast mountain bike pedigree, and you know when getting a Marin, you get the great kit at a great price. 

The frame is Aluminum, and it comes in a beautiful bright orange which helps you stand out from the crowd. It has internally routed cables and a modern tight trail geometry to help you while ripping up some dirt. I love that they have gone with a more dirt jumpstyle, and this fills me with confidence if I plan to get some air while riding this bike. The suspension they have equipped this bike with is the Rockshox Revelation 130mm travel, and at this price, I didn’t expect a high-quality fork on a bike of this price.

The groupset is the Shimano Deore, but not just any Shimano Deore, the all-singing and all-dancing 12-speed with the massive 10-51T cassette on the rear. The brakes also are uprated, and the four-piston Shimano MT420. As far as gearing goes, this bike is well-equipped.

The wheelset is Marin’s own, and now comes Tubeless Ready, which is amazing. It comes in a 27.5″, which is going to make the bike more capable and agile than the 29″ at lower speeds. It is paired with Maxxis Assegai 2.5″ tires which are huge, but they tie in well with the rest of the bike. You also are lucky enough to have a dropper post on this bike too, which is a lovely touch from Marin.

This is one of the best value-for-money bikes on this list, and it is going to be excellent for a beginner getting used to the sport of mountain biking. It comes highly recommended, and you can expect this still to be part of your collection in years to come.

8. Cannondale Trail 5

Image Credits: JustDial

Key Specifications:

  • Fork: 100 mm Travel
  • Wheel Size: 29”
  • Frame Size: S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • MTB Type: Hardtail Trail/XC Bike
Check Price

Cannondale has been a trailblazer in both road bikes and MTBs. The Cannondale Trail series is specifically for those avid riders who are getting into mountain biking, and all they want is 29ers with front suspension.

Cannondale understands its fans’ needs and has a budget bike with those features tailored towards beginners and fun riders who don’t ride bikes more frequently.

The Cannondale Trail 5 features a featherweight alloy frame and a Suntour coil-sprung fork with 100mm of travel for an enjoyable ride on dusty roads into the woods.

The bike also features SAVE micro-suspension, which absorbs minor vibrations that occur during a ride. Other specs to consider include the Shimano hydraulic brakes and a 10-speed microSHIFT drivetrain.

The Trail 5 is your ideal bike if you love exploring the natural surroundings of your town. It’s a great climber that will get you to the top of the hill even though your heartbeat rate will increase.

Though it comes with budget components, the bike is pretty much capable and awesome and great to ride and commute around town.

9. Niner WFO RDO 2-Star

Niner WFO RDO 2-STAR 2021

Image Credits: JensonUSA

Key Specifications:

  • Full Suspension
  • Wheel Size: 27.5”
  • SRAM SX Eagle Groupset
  • Frame Material: Carbon Fiber
  • MTB Type: Full Suspension Enduro Bike

If you are looking for a bike that is ready to take on serious terrain straight away and you have a large budget, then you need this Niner in your life. Niner makes an incredible bike, but the WFO RDO is next-level stuff.

The frame is made of Carbon Fiber, which is incredibly lightweight and stiff. It is going to be incredible at ripping down a trail fast, but you want to be careful and do your best not to drop it. The suspension it is paired with is Fox 38 Float Performance with an incredible 180mm travel on the front and the Fox Float X2 performance on the rear with 170mm travel. This bike is going to be able to take on some insane rough terrain, and it is going to make it look good.

The groupset is the legendary SRAM Eagle SX, and there are very few off-road groupsets that can step up to this. It has a 32T on the front and 11-50T on the rear. Plenty of gears for muddy fun. The brakes are the SRAM G2 R, and these are paired with big disks to stop you quickly and avoid overheating.

The wheelset is the Niner alloy, and it has the boost spacing for wider tires. The bike has an interesting tire setup with a Schwable Magic Mary 2.6″ on the front and a Hans Dampf Evo 2.6″ on the rear. It’s going to be extremely grippy, but laggy on the road. Of course, you’re equipped with a dropper here and a massive set of 780mm handlebars.

The Niner is an excellent bike, but it isn’t cheap. This is a bike that can take you all the way from being a beginner to an expert without ever having to change your setup. It’s an incredible machine.

Choosing a Mountain Bike as a Beginner

How much should a beginner spend on a Mountain Bike?

It comes down to a few things, and the answer will be different for everyone. The first is budget. Try not to overspend. The second thing I always say is to go for a basic cheaper model to start to see if you enjoy mountain biking and find yourself doing it often, then upgrade as your ability does.

Full Suspension or Hardtail for beginner

Personally, I would start with a Hardtail and then upgrade to a Full Suspension later if required. I say this because it takes a bit of experience going on light trails with a more basic bike before you’re going to be ready for heavy trails on a more capable bike. 

How to get started with Mountain Biking

I would start by just going out and exploring some trails to get used to the way the bike feels. Then as your confidence grows, start going to the bike parks and challenging yourself further. A lot of Mountain Biking comes down to confidence and experience.

Final Thoughts

I believe you are now set! Perhaps we haven’t mentioned the beginner mtb you thought of starting with. If that’s the case, we can offer personal guidance, so send us an email with your query.

That said, I’m hoping you’ll make the right decision with your first bike. Need help? We are always just an email away!

Photo of author

Written By

From riding to school since the age of 13, attending BMX races and events with his dad to himself conquering 50+ trails across the globe. For Rob, his Giant Stance 29 2 2020 is the friend that makes everything better. He is also a proud member of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

1 thought on “9 Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners Starting Out in 2023”

  1. Hello, I am just starting into the mountain bike scene, I’m looking for a nice budget starter bike, I have been doing alittle research and I’m between the 2022 rockhopper comp or the 2022 roscoe 6, any advice would be great as my knowledge of bikes are limited


Leave a Comment

Related Post