Best Mountain Bike for Beginners – Entry-Level Starter Bikes in 2022

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+ bikes 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 Bike for Beginners in 2022

1. Giant Talon 2

Giant Talon 2


  • Fork: 100 mm Travel
  • Wheel Size: 27.5”/29”
  • Frame Size: S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • MTB Type: Hardtail XC Bike

Giant tops the list of popular bike brands, just like Toyota in the auto industry. One of the benefits of a popular bike maker is that they can produce affordable bikes with quality components.

Giant Talon line has been producing budget alloy bikes for years now, and there’s always a bike for everyone, depending on how much they want to spend.

Giant Talon 2 is one of the best bikes under $1000 bikes to buy. This hardtail features a lightweight frame and a RockShox suspension fork with 100mm of travel.

For the wheels, the Talon 2 comes with 27.5-inch or 29-inch wheels, depending on what you prefer.

It offers excellent traction, comfort, stability, versatility, and control without having to spend thousands of dollars.

All Talon bikes come with either Altus or Deore 3×8 to 1×12 drivetrain, depending on how deep you get in your pocket.

Coupled with the Tektro or Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, the bike is the closest to a luxurious singletrack race bike.

The Giant Talon 2 is the MTB to ride around town, hit the trails, and take your off-road adventures a notch higher.

It’s a great climber, better than entry-level bikes, and it performs well on descents.

This is definitely a great bike to start with it, as you find where your heart belongs in the mountain biking world.

2. Trek Marlin 4

Trek Marlin 4


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

Trek features on the top of bike manufacturers. Even though they have some of the most expensive mountain bikes on the market, they also build some of the strongest alloy frames.

The Trek Marlin comes with a high-quality alloy frame, regardless of the level of the bike. In fact, the level of the bike depends on the components, but you still get the top-quality parts from Bontrager and Trek.

The Trek Marlin 4 costs just around $500, which is quite affordable for what you get. That price for a 29er is one of the best offers in cycling history.

However, the Marlin 4 is built with entry-level components and parts.

For instance, it’s equipped with mechanical disc brakes instead of hydraulic disc brakes, though they are far better than rim brakes.

The Marlin 4 also features an SR Suntour 100 mm travel fork with coil spring and no lockout. The bike also gets an Altus drivetrain.

The essentials are just perfect for beginners, but it’s a bike for less needy cyclists. This is the bike to buy if you want to cycle around town, commute, ride on soft terrain, and generally do light rides.

3. Specialized Chisel Comp

Specialized Chisel Comp
Image: Reddit


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

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. Vitus Mythique VR

Vitus Mythique VR


  • Fork: 130/140 mm Travel
  • Shock: 130/140 mm Travel
  • Wheel Size: 27.5”/29”
  • Frame Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • MTB Type: Full Suspension Trail Bike

Vitus Mythique VR is the most affordable full-suspension bike I know. You can still rock the boat with a full suspension if you are a beginner.

It’s all adapting to the challenges that come with a full suspension. Some mountain bikers start with full Susser, and it’s okay if you do that too.

The Vitus Mythique VR is the bike that will gauge your trail riding skills and take you to the next level.

The benefit of Vitus Mythique is that you can get it with either 27.5” or 29” wheels and Schwalbe tires depending on your taste and needs.

If you intend to grow your trail and XC riding skills and become an athlete later on, then this is the bike to start with.

The Vitus is equipped with an X-Fusion fork and shock, which you can upgrade to RockShox or FOX suspension systems.

The Mythique also comes with a 1×11 Shimano Deore Drivetrain. The Shimano hydraulic disc brakes on this bike provide the best stopping power.

Looking for a great bike on climbs and descents? The Vitus Mythique is the perfect bike to ride even on rough trails. It’s also chaotic at the bike park.

5. Liv Tempt 1

Liv Tempt 1
Image: Reddit


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

All women are beautiful, but ladies who wear helmets and ride bikes are sexier.

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 as great 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 2022

6. Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2

Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2


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

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 specialize in building and selling budget bike, mostly under $500.

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. Vitus Escarpe 29 CR

Vitus Escarpe 29 CR


  • Fork: 150 mm Travel
  • Shock: 140 mm Travel
  • Wheel Size: 29”
  • Frame Size: S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Carbon/Aluminum
  • MTB Type: Full Suspension Enduro Bike

Vitus Escarpe is the second bike to grace the listing. The Escarpe is an incredible superstar on the enduro tracks but at a budget.

Enduro bikes are not known to come cheap, but Vitus decided to build a bike that would give you the same enduro thrill without costing you much.

The bike also comes with a carbon front triangle and an alloy rear triangle.

The front and rear suspension are either RockShox or Marzocchi, depending on your budget, but with 150 mm rear and 140 mm front travel.

The bike also features a 1×11 Shimano Deore drivetrain and an enduro-specific geometry to offer outstanding trail and enduro performance. With 29” wheels, the bike is capable of running over obstacles better.

Vitus Escarpe is a great climber and even better on the descends. The Marzocchi option costs just $2,000, while you may have to add about $700 for the RockShox option.

This is the bike for beginners and bike nerds who have discovered that rocky trails and enduro riding is their thing.

It’s also a great headliner at the bike park, and you should try showing your biking buddies how it’s done.

8. Cannondale Trail 5

Cannondale Trail 5


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

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 the 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 on 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. Norco Fluid FS3

Norco Fluid FS3


  • Fork: 130 mm Travel
  • Shock: 120 mm Travel
  • Wheel Size: 27.5”
  • Frame Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • MTB Type: Full Suspension XC Bike

Looking for a playful bike that’s manageable even by a newbie in the game? Well! Norco Fluid FS3 is the bike that will make you love mountain biking your whole life.

Immediately you sit on the saddle, and the wheels start rolling, you get some unexplainable spark of excitement.

In fact, some fear manifests when you are about to run over an obstacle, but the bike reassures you all is fine when it rolls over it.

The Norco Fluid comes with a free TranzX dropper post and 12 gears with the SRAM SX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain. You get a 130mm of squish for the forks, while in the rear, you get a 120mm of travel.

The bike comes with 27.5” wheels which perform great in handling. The bike’s geometry is slacker than ever before.

This is the bike to gift yourself if you are confident with yourself and can control a full suspension bike regardless of the technicality of the terrain.

It’s the perfect bike for you if you like XC or trail riding and loves to spend your day-offs and weekends bonding with nature.

Final Thoughts

I believe you are now set! Perhaps we haven’t mentioned the bike 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!

From riding to school since the age of 13, attending BMX races and events with his dad to himself conquering 10+ 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).

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