The Best Mountain Bike for Trails

Mountain biking on the trails is undoubtedly fun, enjoyable, and memorable. It’s a great time to connect with nature and get rid of stress while going as fast as you can down offroads.

However, you need to use the right bike to make the most out of the trail. Comfort and safety are the top considerations to make when choosing one, especially that the trails are unpredictable.

You just can’t use any kind of mountain bike and blast off the trails whenever you want. Instead, you should invest a lot of money into it and choose the right brands and components so you don’t end up with broken bones.

So, what is the best mountain bike fit for the trails? And what are the things to consider when choosing one?

That’s what we’ll talk about in this article, as we’ll show you the best bike brands that’ll surely put a smile on your face when you’re out in the trails.

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Nukeproof Mega 290 Elite

Nukeproof is one of the best picks if you’re looking for a proper mountain bike brand that has an Enduro World Series caliber.

Introducing the Nukeproof Mega, the brand’s premium enduro bike that’s race-ready and can help you conquer extreme downhills with ease while providing you access to easy uphills. This bike has won numerous EWS championships along with Nukeproof elite rider, Sam Hill.

It’s a great choice if you want to race and at the same time enjoy the great outdoors while trail riding. This is a 29er bike with a Fox 36 fork and Fox X2 shock that are built for maximum enduro shredding.

It is coupled with a Shimano SLX 1×12 drivetrain, SLX brakes, a Nukeproof cockpit, and a DT Swiss E1900 Spline wheelset wrapped with Michelin Wild Enduro tires that are already tubeless-ready. It also has a Brand X dropper post so you can easily bring the saddle up or down whenever you want.

Pros

  • This is built for enduro and downhill riding thanks to its aggressive geometry. You can go down steep sections with ease.
  • This is a race-proven bike that has won multiple championships in the Enduro World Series thanks to Nukeproof rider Sam Hill.
  • The design looks very stylish and futuristic-looking, along with its shiny gray colorway and modern carbon fiber frame design.

Cons

  • It is a bit heavy as it weighs around 14 kgs.

Mongoose Status

Mongoose is a well-known brand when it comes to budget mountain bikes, with the Status being one of the most popular trail bike variants from the brand.

This is a mountain bike that is ideal for beginners and those who just want to stroll around the city or on very light trails. Its frame is made from aluminum alloy with common hydroformed tubing. It also has a stock fork with little travel and can fit 26er wheels.

This also has a 3×7 drivetrain with v-brakes for its front and rear. The rims are also made from alloy and measure 26 inches, with 2.1-inch tires wrapped.

It is a great choice if you are short on budget and you want to try out mountain biking in the rawest way possible. It’s also a nice bike to have if you want to have a feel of the ruggedness of the terrain so you can build up your balance and maneuvering skills.

Pros

  • It is very affordable. Its price is even comparable to the handlebar of an enduro racing mountain bike.
  • It is very portable thanks to its small size. You can easily maneuver this around tight corners.

Cons

  • The fork and rear shock hardly move. It’s like riding a rigid bike.
  • Its 3×7 drivetrain is unreliable and it doesn’t shift immediately. There’s also a chance that your chains are going to be derailed.

Santa Cruz Megatower

Santa Cruz is a premium mountain bike brand that manufactures one of the best quality bikes in the market. Their bikes are reserved for the elites, or for whoever wants to experience what elite mountain biking is, along with other top brands like Nukeproof and Specialized.

The Santa Cruz Megatower is the modern incarnation of its legendary Nomad lineup. This is an enduro bike that speaks of elegance and class while maintaining its capability to conquer extreme downhill trails and climb uphills fairly well.

Its frame is made from carbon and follows the VPP suspension linkage system common among Santa Cruz bikes.

It comes with a Fox 36 Float fork upfront with 160 mm of travel, along with a RockShox Super Deluxe Select shock at the back. It’s powered by an SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain and SRAM Code R brakes

The cockpit is from Burgtec, the rims are from RaceFace, and the tires are Maxxis Assegai and Maxxis Minion DHR II at the front and rear respectively.

You’ll also find a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post with a WTB Silverado Pro saddle. Get this one if you’re brand conscious and you want that classy Santa Cruz name along with you.

Pros

  • There is no questioning Santa Cruz’s name when it comes to top-of-the-line bikes. Just mention it and you know what it means.
  • This is one of the most stable bikes in the market thanks to its exclusive VPP linkage system that keeps it firmly planted on the ground.
  • The Megatower speaks of aesthetic elegance. From its chainstay protector, to paint finish, and frame structure and design, you’ll surely be impressed.

Cons

  • Everything about this bike comes at a pricey price point, of course.

Schwinn S29

Schwinn is another mountain bike brand that caters to the budget-friendly market, hence its budget-friendly trail mountain bike, the Schwinn S29.

It is a full-suspension frame made to absorb minimal bumps from pavements and very light trails. The frame measures 18 inches that go well with its 29-inch wheelset. The brakes are mechanical disc brakes and it has a stock 3×7 drivetrain.

This suspension bike is a bit lose and can derail if you go on rough roads, so be careful with it. The cranks are also made from alloy. It might not be the best trail bike out there, but you can surely save tons of cash from this one. Not to mention that you can still enjoy Mother Nature on two wheels!

Pros

  • The 29-inch tires allow you to go over large rocks and roots without slowing down.
  • Spend less cash on this one!

Cons

  • The shifting is inaccurate. Also, check your chain regularly because this can go loose when riding offroads.
  • The fork and rear shock don’t move that much. The rim diameter is too thin and the seat angles are just too steep.

Specialized S-Works Enduro

Specialized is another top brand when it comes to premium mountain bikes, with the Enduro as their top-of-the-line enduro bike.

This variant, however, is on the uppermost end of the spectrum as its frame is made from the brand’s top-tier carbon material, hence, it’s called S-Works. This is what you need if you are into enduro races or want to tackle big jumps and drops on the trails.

It is a race-ready bike that brings the iconic brand to the modern era of mountain biking. It comes with a Fox 38 fork and a Fox X2 shock with Specialized’s stock Roval wheelsets coupled with DT Competition Race spokes.

It is powered by a SRAM XX1 AXS 1×12 wireless drivetrain for reliable shifting wherever and whenever without the need for wires!

You can even just charge it once its battery is low. You’ll also have SRAM’s enduro-caliber brakes, the Code RSC, and Specialized Butcher tires wrapped around the 29er wheels.

Pros

  • It’s named enduro for a purpose, and that’s because it is made for enduro racing.
  • It is an enduro trail bike that feels like a downhill bike because of its stable geometry.
  • It is a bit heavy compared to its counterparts.

Cons

  • You’ll feel minor pedal bobs on this one especially on flat sections and uphills.

Schwinn Traxion

Here comes another budget bike, the Schwinn Traxion. It is a worthy pick if you prefer an affordable bike you can ride on pavement and very light trails.

Just make sure you don’t go overboard its capabilities so you don’t end up on the ground. Nonetheless, it’s a nice choice if you want to start in the sport and you want to feel what it’s like to have a full-sus bike.

It has a stock fork upfront and at the rear with minimal travel. It also has a 3×8 drivetrain from Shimano’s budget lineup. It’s not the smoothest one, but it does its job.

The stock brakes are already mechanical and come with disc rotors. You’ll also find double-wall alloy rims that measure 2.25 inches in width. Plus, there are Schwinn aluminum cranks that can handle minimal trail abuse.

Pros

  • There are a lot of gear options to choose from with its 3×8 setup.
  • It gives you a feel of full-suspension bikes.

Cons

  • The fork and shock hardly move! It’s still very bumpy.
  • It is very heavy because of its stock fork and rear shock.
  • You’ll have a hard time riding this through offroads as the chain can get loose and get derailed.

Canyon Strive CF 9

The Canyon Strive 9 is another worthy contender to the best mountain bikes for trails. It is designed specifically for enduro racing, so this one’s a great pick if you’re into serious adrenaline action. It can even be considered as one of the best trail bikes.

The Strive CF 9 is best known for its sleek looks and ultra-stylish components locked up in a top-of-the-line premium frame that can take a lot of serious beating in the trails. It has a RockShox Lyrik Ultimate up front and a RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate RCT at the rear.

It has a SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, which is SRAM’s enduro-specific drivetrain made from very durable carbon fiber. The brakes also pack a serious punch like an e MTB as these are SRAM Code RSC.

The wheels are DT Swiss EXC 1501 XD, the cockpit is from Oneup Components, and the saddle is an Ergon SM10. The headtube angle is also slack enough for enduro.

But what makes this bike stand out is Canyon’s all rights reserved Shapeshifter technology which allows you to change your bike’s geometry from XC to downhill or vice versa with a flip of a switch.

Pros

  • The aesthetic value of this one is exemplary thanks to its sleek shape and stylish edges.
  • The components are made for enduro racing that can take a lot of beating even if you crash it. You are assured these won’t get damaged easily.
  • Canyon’s Shapeshifter technology lets you change your bike’s ride mode from XC to downhill or vice versa, depending on your preference.

Cons

  • It’s a bit hard to buy this bike because of its limited quantity and retailers.

Hiland Mountain Bike

The Hiland Mountain Bike is another option you might want to try if you’re a bit short of budget, but don’t want to compromise the mountain biking experience.

This 26er aluminum alloy bike is a great choice if you want a playful ride on pavements and in trails. This also makes it ideal for ladies or smaller men because of its small size. It comes with a double-disc brake and a 3×8 drivetrain.

The wheels are 26ers. And although they might seem dated, that doesn’t mean you can’t use them! This makes the bike one of the most playful choices on the list because you can easily maneuver this even in tight corners.

The drivetrain is from LTWOO, a Chinese brand known for its budget-friendly components for beginner mountain bikers.

Pros

  • You can easily maneuver this down the trails because it’s small and has a short wheelbase.
  • This bike won’t break your bank!

Cons

  • LTWOO components aren’t known for competitive mountain biking use. They can break if you go beyond their level of usage.
  • 26ers are already phased out. You won’t find them on new bikes.
  • The components produce a lot of noise when riding through offroads.

GT Force

GT Force is another worthy contender to the best trail bikes thanks to its specifically designed race-ready geometry.

It is one of the best suspension bikes because its components are all assumed to be capable of conquering the roughest of trails. This includes a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain which is already 1×12, paired with SRAM G2 RSC hydraulic quad-piston brakes.

You’ll find a KS Lev Si dropper post on this bike with 150 mm of suspension travel. These dropper posts are known for their reliability despite their low price. The suspension comes from Fox, as it has a Fox 38 upfront and a Fox X2 at the rear.

The wheels of this bike are Stan’s NoTubes Flow MK3 and are already 29ers for easy rollover on huge rocks and roots. These are then wrapped with Maxxis Minion DHF up front and DHR II at the back of the bike.

It’s a nice bike choice if you want to have a race-caliber bike. And take note, this one’s dominating the Enduro World Series, as this is the official bike of GT’s elite rider Martin Maes.

Pros

  • The suspension is very smooth and efficient in absorbing huge bumps.
  • The 29-inch wheels provide maximum capability to easily go over huge rocks, roots, and whatnots.
  • Its 29-inch wheels complement its long wheelbase which makes it one of the most stable suspension bikes at high speeds. However, it is still playful because of its short chainstay.

Cons

  • There are many other top trail bikes out there that have a better and sleeker design.

Nukeproof Giga

Nukeproof has another EWS-caliber bike up to its sleeves, and it’s the Nukeproof Giga. This bike has just been released this year and is the brand’s super enduro bike.

It functions like their iconic Mega, but this one’s more capable of harsher terrains thanks to its beefier build and longer travel suspension. This has 180 mm of travel up front and at the rear, made possible by a Fox 38 and Fox X2 shock.

The great Sam Hill also used this bike for the first at the recently held Enduro World Series at the Dolomites, Italy a month ago. So if you’re up to getting this bike just to get a feel of the world’s greatest mountain biker’s bike, then this one’s a good choice.

It has a DT Swiss E1700 Spline 27.5 inch wheels wrapped with Michelin Wild Enduro tires. This is powered by a Shimano XT 12-speed drivetrain with Shimano XT brakes. This has a Brand X Ascend dropper and a Nukeproof Horizon cockpit and saddle.

Pros

  • This is a super enduro bike. This means that it’s more capable than the regular enduro bike.
  • It was used by Sam Hill for the first time in the Enduro World Series. That fact speaks for itself.
  • It feels like a downhill bike because of its long suspension travel. This means it is very plush and smooth even in the roughest of trails.

Cons

  • It is unsurprisingly heavier than the regular enduro trail bike.

Schwinn High Timber

Get the Schwinn High Timber if you want a beginner bike that won’t break your bank. This is one of the most affordable trail mountain bikes on this list because of its stock parts. But don’t take this lightly because this is made for the trails.

Just don’t go too overboard on this one and ride it on aggressive downhill trails. Nonetheless, this also serves as a service bike for pavements. Its frame is made from aluminum alloy, along with its cranks.

It also has twist shifters which is a bit unique for mountain bikes. You simply twist the shifters that are wrapped around the sides of the grips if you want to shift gears on any riding position.

You do this instead of pushing the trigger shifters using your thumb. It also has stock knobby tires from Schwinn, as well as a quick-release seat post that makes it easy for you to adjust the saddle height.

Pros

  • It is versatile because you can use it nicely whether in the trails or on paved roads.
  • It is very cheap, it even costs just like the saddle or pedal of the Nukeproof Giga.

Cons

  • It has an awkward shifting position because of its twist-shift design.
  • Don’t use this on aggressive trails if you don’t want to get hurt.

Trek Slash 9.9

Trek is another top brand worth considering. And their Trek Slash 9.9 is a good pick for those wanting top-of-the-line enduro trail bikes.

This one is known for its beefy top and down tube which is just what you need if you are into racing and serious trail thrashing.

The frame is made from OCLV carbon, along with its chainstay. It also has an internal routing which they call the Control Freak. The fork has a 170 mm travel from its RockShock Zeb fork paired with a RockShox Ultimate at the rear with 160 mm of travel.

This has Bontrager wheels which is the stock brand of Trek. It is then wrapped with Bontrager Team Issue tires measuring 29 x 2.6 inches, making it one of the fastest-rolling enduro bikes in this list.

The drivetrain cogs and chain is SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed, while the rear derailleur is SRAM’s higher-end X01 Eagle.

Pros

  • The frame structure is very thick, even much thicker than regular enduro trail bikes. This makes it very durable.
  • It is a bike that’s made for top-of-the-line racing.
  • Although it’s not that budget-friendly because of its premium components, it still is cheaper compared to its enduro bikes counterparts from Santa Cruz and Nukeproof.

Cons

  • Trek is a very common bike brand that many already own.

Royce Union

Royce Union is unlike any other previously mentioned in this list. It’s because it is a budget bike but with trail-ready components.

This makes it a great choice for beginners who don’t want to compromise quality for the sake of cost-efficiency. This is a trail bike made with an alloy frame.

It comes with WTB Trail II tires, a WTB Volt saddle, and an SLX 2×11 drivetrain, making this capable for uphills and downhill performance. The cogs also have an 11×42 tooth number.

It has a Suntour XCT fork upfront with just 100 mm of travel. This means that it can easily go rocky uphills with ease because of its cross-country bikes design and build.

It doesn’t have any rear shock, though, so prepare to absorb a lot of bumps. Good thing that this has dual-piston hydraulic brakes.

Pros

  • It is one of the lightest options on this list because of its hardtail XC bike’s build structure. You can even treat this as an XC bike or XC race bike.
  • It is affordable even if it comes with mid-range trail components for off-road.

Cons

  • This is considered as one of the cross country bikes that have steep head angles and are made for uphills and long-distance riding. It’s not for aggressive downhill or enduro trails.
  • The mountain bike design is a bit outdated.

Specialized Stumpjumper Pro

Here comes another Specialized bike, the Specialized Stumpjumper Pro. We have talked about the Enduro earlier. But this one’s a bit different because it’s more on the playful side.

The Stumpjumper Pro is Specialized’s trail bike that caters to those who want to have fun and poppy rides out in the trails. But many consider this as also one of the best enduro bikes. And although it might not be an enduro bike, you can still race with this thing because of its updated geometry which has become more aggressive over the years.

It has a Fox 34 fork up front and a Fox Float DPS shock at the rear. This is coupled with the Roval cockpit for its stem and handlebar. It is then powered by SRAM’s top-of-the-line drivetrain, the wireless X01 Eagle AXS with very long battery life.

You won’t find any shifter cables on this one! Meanwhile, it has DT Swiss 350 wheelset which includes its rims and hubs. These are then wrapped with SPecialized Purgatory tires upfront and at the back. Get this one if you’d like a lighter and more casual version of the Enduro.

Pros

  • It is considerably lighter compared to the other enduro trail bikes in this list.
  • It has a shorter wheelbase and chainstay which makes it easier to do tricks on the off-road rails.
  • The structure and suspension designs of this bike are just too unique and elegant, which complements its rear suspension, wheel size, and build kit.

Cons

  • Its playful and aesthetic vibe comes at a huge price point.

Conclusion

Choose any of the best mountain bikes for trails mentioned above and you’ll surely have a fun time trail riding with your buddies, or if you’d like to go solo with just yourself.

Know your preferred riding discipline, gauge your budget, and weigh things out to get the perfect trail bike for you. Just always remember that mountain biking is an expensive sport, so expect to shell out loads of cash if you want to ensure safety and make the most of it.

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AUTHOR
Jomar Teves
A writer by day, a tech enthusiast by night, and a mountain biker at the weekends. After four years in business school and working for multinational clients, Jomar believes he can improve the world through his writings. Jomar has six years of experience as a writer and has a degree in entrepreneurial marketing. Some of his works have been published on Blokt, Clutch Points, and iTech.