The 11 Best Beginner Mountain Bikes for Men and Women in 2023 + Tips for Beginners

The Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners: A mountain bike with saddle and frame bag in a field when it is partially cloudy

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Here are the best beginner mountain bikes for men and women at a price range between $500 to $1000.

Save your time and take advantage of the know-how I summarized over the years I’ve been biking and monitoring the bike industry.

I also chatted with my MTB friends and bike shop owners about choosing your first mountain bike and getting started to give you helpful tips.

The best mountain bike for beginners is the Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 with 27.5″ wheels. It’s affordable, suitable for men and women, and offers the best price-value ratio of all bikes in this selection. Additionally, it features disc brakes for effective stopping power and a Shimano Tourney groupset with 21 gears that always allow you to find the right gear.

Continue reading to find out more.

What Are the Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners?

The best MTB for beginners are affordable, have a suspended front fork, components from Shimano, and enough gears to tackle various terrains and gradients.

I recommend reading the How to choose a mountain bike section if you are new to mountain biking and don’t know where to start.

Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 Bike

Grey Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 mountain bike with disc brakes and front suspension
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 Bike | Source:

Main Features

  • Suitable for men and women
  • Rapidfire Plus shifters for smooth shifting
  • Hydraulic disc brakes for effective stopping
  • 100 mm fork travel for increased riding comfort
  • Platform pedals included

Technical Specifications

  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 14.35 kg
  • Drivetrain: 21 speed Shimano Tourney with 7-speed cassette and 3X chainring
  • Wheels: 27.5″
  • Tires: 2.1″ Kenda Kandre

The Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 Bike has a unique top tube profile. Thanks to it, it is suitable for men and women.

You get efficient stopping power with the disc brakes in all types of weather. So, you can rely on it on almost any type of terrain.

It will also be easy for you to find the right gear because the 3×7 Shimano drivetrain offers a wide range. Conquer steep sections and ride fast downhill!

The bike will perform great even in mud thanks to 27.5″ wheels with 2.1″ tires that provide enough traction.

It is a very good competitor of Trek 820. DRT 1.1 is a little bit more expensive. But, it offers hydraulic disc brakes, which is an advantage compared to mechanical ones because you don’t have to squeeze the brake levers so hard.

To wrap this up, if you want a good mountain bike with disc brakes for an affordable price, this one is the right for you.

Don’t you have a bike helmet yet? Check out the selection of these cheap mountain bike helmets and increase your safety!

Cannondale Trail 6 & 8

Blue Cannondale Trail 6 mountain bike with disc brakes
Cannondale Trail 6 | Source:
Dark grey Cannondale Trail 6 women mountain bike with disc brakes
Cannondale Trail 8 Women’s Bike | Source:

Main Features

  • Available for men and women
  • Mechanical disc brakes (Trail 8), hydraulic disc brakes (Trail 6)
  • 75 mm fork travel (Trail 8) and 100mm travel (Trail 6) for increased riding comfort
  • Platform pedals included

Technical Specifications

  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 14.9 kg
  • Drivetrain
    • Trail 6: Shimano Altus/Acera 2×8spd
    • Trail 8: Shimano Altus/Acera 2×7spd
  • Wheels: 27.5″ or 29″, depending on the bike size
  • Tires: WTB Ranger Comp, 27.5 or 29 x 2.25 in

The Cannondale Trail line includes multiple bikes. The Trail 8 women’s bike is more affordable but specifically designed for women. The Trail 6 is more advanced and suitable for men.

Another difference is in components and gearing. For example, Trail 6 has hydraulic brakes, and Trail 8 only has mechanical ones. Trail 6 is also about 1 lb lighter.

These bikes have 27.5-inch or 29-inch wheels and tires, depending on the bike size. So, keep this in mind when choosing the bike size.

Trail, as the name suggests, is suitable mainly for trails, dirt, gravel, forest, and other types of roads. Considering its 75mm fork travel (10mm on Trail 8), I don’t recommend it for too difficult terrain. But, of course, you can use it for commuting too.

Thanks to its 2X drivetrain, there is less chance of cross-chaining than with 3X drivetrains, making shifting a little easier and giving you a wider gear range.

You also don’t have to buy pedals separately because they are already included.

Polygon Xtrada 6

Blue Marin Palisades Trail 2 mountain bike with disc brakes
Polygon Xtrada 6 | Source:

Main Features

  • Highly durable double-wall alloy rims
  • 1X Shimano Deore drivetrain for quick and easy shifting
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 120 mm fork travel for increased riding comfort

Technical Specifications

  • Frame material: Aluminum 
  • Drivetrain: Shimano’s Deore (1x11spd)
  • Wheels: Entity XL2 Disc
  • Tires: Entity Spyderbait SA-290, 2.25″
  • Fork: Suntour XCR 32 LO-R with 120mm travel

The Polygon Xtrada 6 offers surprisingly great value for the money.

It follows the trend of 1X drivetrains, where you don’t have to think about cross-chaining. Instead, you simply choose one of the 11 gears that will suit you best.

The 11-51T cassette will provide gears for steep climbs and fast flat sections.

This bike is perfect for climbing thanks to its slack head tube and steep seat tube, allowing you to push into the pedals effectively.

And once you go downhill, you can stop, thanks to the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes effectively.

The Xtrada 6 is the mid-range model from the Xtrada range. You can also check out Xtrada 5 with a 2X drivetrain and entry-level components.

Marin Bobcat Trail 3

Blue Marin Palisades Trail 2 mountain bike with disc brakes
Marin Bobcat Trail 3 | Source:

Main Features

  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 120 mm fork travel for increased riding comfort

Technical Specifications

  • Frame material: Aluminum 
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Altus (2x8spd)
  • Wheels: Marin Aluminum Double Wall, 25mm Inner, Pinned Joint, Disc Specific
  • Tires: MTB, 27.5/29×2.25″
  • Fork: SR Suntour XCM HLO 120mm with 120mm travel

Are you looking for a mountain bike suitable for trails? Look no further because that’s what Marin designed the Bobcat Trail 3 for.

The entry-level MTB from the Bobcat Trail family is suitable for beginners and people on a tight budget.

Bobcat Trail 3 geometry features a slack head tube, low standover, relatively long reach, and steep seat tube angles, making its handling predictable on trails.

It comes with a 2×8spd Shimano Altus drivetrain, so you will have 16 gears to choose from.

You will also get powerful stopping power in all conditions with the Tektro M275 hydraulic disc brakes.

Keep in mind the wheel size differs depending on the bike size. Smaller sizes come with 27.5-inch wheels, while larger sizes with 29-inch wheels.

Trek 820

Black Trek 820 mountain bike with rim brakes and front suspension
Trek 820 | Source:
Blue Trek 820 step-through mountain bike with rim brakes and front suspension
Trek 820 Step-Through | Source:

Main Features

  • Available for men and women
  • Durable steel frame
  • Mounts for accessories
  • 75 mm fork travel
  • Platform pedals included

Technical Specifications

  • Frame material: Steel
  • Weight: 15.28 kg / 33.68 lb [M]
  • Drivetrain: 21-speed Shimano Tourney with 7-speed cassette and 3X chainring
  • Wheels: 26″
  • Tires: 26×2.00″ semi-slick

Trek 820 is the right mountain bike for you if you want to try mountain biking. It is perfect for various surfaces ranging from city streets to forest roads, trails, and singletracks.

Thanks to its steel frame, the bike is durable, so you can rely on it. The bike’s weight is also pretty low (33.68 lb / 15.28 kg).

The 21-speed Shimano drivetrain offers enough gears for various gradients. This means that you will always find the right gear.

The knobby tires will give you enough grip on dirt roads, gravel, and other terrains. But you can ride this bike on paved roads as well. Just remember, it will require a little bit more energy.

Front suspension with 75mm travel absorbs bumps and vibrations, so your ride will be comfortable, and you can relax your hands.

There are also mounts for a rear rack that you can use for attaching bike bags or panniers. This additional cargo space allows you to store spare clothes, food, and other things needed for a long trip.

This bike is available for men and women (step-through). So you can both buy a bike and go on a trip together.

Learn more details in this review of Trek 820.

Trek Marlin 5

Green/yellow Trek Marlin 5 mountain bike for men with disc brakes
Trek Marlin 5 | Source:

Main Features

  • Powerful hydraulic disc brakes
  • Partial internal cable routing
  • Rack and kickstand mounts
  • 720 mm handlebar
  • Platform pedals included

Technical Specifications

  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 13.97 kg / 30.81 lb [M]
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Tourney 3x7spd
  • Wheels: 26″, 27.5″, or 29″ depending on the bike size
  • Tires: Bontrager XR2 Comp

The Marlin 5 by Trek should grab your attention if you have a slightly larger budget. (Unfortunately, the 2022 and 2023 versions don’t include the women-specific models.)

It’s a great mountain bike for beginners, providing a great price-value ratio. In addition, it is versatile, well-equipped, and reliable.

You can use it for trail riding, cross country, bike packing, and long overnight trips because it’s compatible with the rear rack. So you can equip it with panniers to increase its cargo capacity.

This bike has a mid-range drivetrain by Shimano that lasts longer than the low-end drivetrains. Its shifting is quick and precise.

Marlin 5 features partial internal cable routing that creates a premium look. And with the 720 mm wide handlebars, you will feel like a proper mountain biker.

Another benefit is that VP-536 nylon platform pedals are included, so you don’t have to buy them separately.

So, if you are just about to begin mountain biking, Marlin 5 could be your first mountain bike.

Diamondback Hatch 2

Grey/blue Diamondback Hatch 2 mountain bike with disc brakes and front suspension
Diamondback Hatch 2 | Source:

Main Features

  • Highly durable double-wall alloy rims
  • Shimano Tourney drivetrain with gearing that is perfect for hills, trails, or flats
  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • 100 mm fork travel for increased riding comfort

Technical Specifications

  • Frame material: Aluminum 
  • Drivetrain: SunRace, 11-34T & Shimano Tourney Combination (3x7spd)
  • Wheels: Aluminum MTB DDM-2 double wall
  • Tires: MTB 29 x 2.25
  • Fork: SR Suntour XCE suspension with 100mm travel

The Diamondback Hatch 2 is designed for recreational mountain bikers who like to explore local singletracks, bridleways, etc. 

It is made from lightweight yet durable aluminum, paired with a 100mm travel suspension fork and a reliable Shimano drivetrain. This bike is at home on the trails, helping you push your boundaries with every twist and turn. 

With its 29” wheels and 2.25” MTB tires, it gives you the right balance of comfort, traction, and control through any terrain. Ensuring you are confident hitting the trails and cornering at speed without thinking twice.

It is specced with a Shimano Tourney drivetrain, and with the gearing – you’ll be set for the steep hills and long fire roads without leaving you feeling shattered after and needing to call it a day early. The mechanical disc brakes provide excellent stopping power that works well in various conditions and speeds. 

With the double-wall alloy rims, you’ll be able to point and shoot over rocks and bumps confidently. You’ll be at home with a great entry-level bike.

BMC Twostroke AL Five

White BMC Twostroke AL Five mountain bike with disc brakes and front suspension.
BMC Twostroke AL Five | Source:

Main Features

  • Beautiful design
  • SunTour XMC 32 fork with 100mm travel
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Shimano Deore groupset

Technical Specifications

  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Weight: n/a
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore 1x11spd (11x46T cassette)
  • Wheels: 29″
  • Tires: Kenda Booster 27.5 or 29×2.2, wire bead

BMC Twostroke AL Five is among this list’s most beautifully designed MTBs. I would choose it as the best overall if it were a little cheaper.

It’s a modern hardtail mountain bike suitable for those who want to tackle steep climbs but have great stability in descents.

Thanks to the 1X Shimano Deore groupset with super easy and hard gears, you won’t have any issues in any terrain. The 1X groupset also keeps up with the more expensive bikes.

Another feature to highlight is the hydraulic Shimano disc brakes, which give excellent stopping power in all conditions.

The only minor issue could be the white color. In the end, you will get dirty, so you will have to clean this bike often to make it look great!

Giant Talon 2

Black Giant Talon 2 mountain bike with disc brakes and front suspension
Giant Talon 2 | Source:

Main Features

  • Available in 2 colors
  • 80 or 100 mm fork travel (depending on the bike size)
  • Platform pedals included
  • Hydraulic disc brakes

Technical Specifications

  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Weight: n/a
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Altus 2x9spd (11x32T cassette)
  • Wheels: 27.5″ or 29″
  • Tires: Kenda Booster 27.5 or 29×2.2, wire bead

Giant Talon 2 offers great value for the money – it is equipped with light 27.5″ or 29″ (depending on which you choose).

It is suitable not only for beginners but also for experienced riders that need a spare mountain bike.

Of course, it was not designed for the toughest terrains, but it will handle dirt roads, trails, gravel, etc.

You will enjoy your ride’s comfort because the up to 100 mm travel fork will absorb major bumps and vibrations.

Thanks to the Hydraulic disc brakes, you get enough stopping power in any weather conditions so that you can rely on them at any time.

Talon 2 has 2X drivetrain, so you get a wide gear range (18spd). But on the other hand, the bike is easier to maintain, less complex, and simpler.

Feel free to choose from two colors and 5 sizes.

Schwinn High Timber

Black Schwinn High Timber mountain bike with rim brakes and front suspension

Main Features

  • Front suspension
  • GripShift for easy shifting
  • Platform pedals included
  • Durable steel frame

Technical Specifications

Schwinn is one of the most iconic US bicycle brands. Their High Timber mountain bike is a popular choice for many.

It is equipped with 21-speed GripShift shifters that enable easy shifting with just a twist of your hand.

All-terrain knobby tires with light and durable alloy wheels will provide good traction even on rougher and more difficult terrain.

What is also great is the quick-release seat post. You can quickly adjust the saddle height.

Although this bike may require a few tweaks and adjustments once you get it, it is a good entry-level bike.

Upgrade the stock pedals with the best mountain bike flat pedals to improve your riding experience.

My Verdict

Go for Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 if you have a limited budget. This is the best beginner mountain bike because it offers a lot for its price.

You can rely on it, thanks to quality Shimano components. Use it to ride on various terrains, including dirt roads, gravel, forest roads, singletracks, or trails. Its 100mm Suntour fork will absorb the bumps easily.

It has disc brakes that stop you when needed, even in wet conditions. Its only minor disadvantage is the 27.5″ wheels (some riders may prefer the 29″ wheels for their better inertia and more comfy ride).

But overall, this MTB has everything beginners need.

How to Choose a Beginner Mountain Bike?

If you are new to cycling and don’t feel comfortable in the presence of cars, a mountain bike should be the right choice for you.

In the following part, I will explain what to expect from a cheap mountain bike and how to spend your money wisely.

Feel free to watch the following video to get a sneak peek of what to expect from cheap mountain bikes.


When choosing a beginner mountain bike, you have to decide if you want a front-suspension or a full-suspension bike. Beginner mountain bikes are equipped with basic coil or air suspension.

A front-suspension mountain bike icon
A mountain bike with front suspension
A full-suspension mountain bike icon
A full suspension mountain bike

Front-suspension bikes are more affordable, and you get better components for a given budget. Front suspension makes for a more comfortable ride, and your arms won’t get tired from bumps and rough terrain.

Full-suspension bikes are better if you know you will ride in technical terrain and want comfort and help from the rear suspension. However, you have to prepare a larger budget to get the same components as a front-suspension bike.

Hardtail• Lower weight of the bike
• Lack of rear suspension maintenance
• Lower price
• Lower energy loss when pedaling
• Better for climbing
• Right riding technique for rough terrain needed
• Not as comfortable as full suspension bikes
• Doesn't handle rough terrain as well as full suspension bikes
Full suspension• Better comfort in rough terrain
• More versatile (jumps, drops, rock gardens, roots...)
• Easier to ride in more difficult terrain
• Better for downhills
• Higher price
• Higher overall weight of the bike
• More parts that can break
• Rear triangle maintenance
The pros and cons of hardtail vs. full-suspension mountain bikes

If you buy a full-suspension mountain bike, you can choose between coil or air suspension.

  • Coil suspension is used on the cheapest bikes. Unlike cheap air suspension, the coil is great for quick response to minor bumps. You can adjust only the stiffness of the coil exactly for your weight. This means it is not very precise, and you have to guess the right setting by your sag. The right sag will improve bikes’ handling and comfort.
  • Air suspension is used on mid-range to high-end mountain bikes. Thanks to the shock pump with a gauge, you can set your suspension sensitivity with great precision. Usually, you can set the rebound and other advanced features.

Learn more about the sag and rebound in this guide by

Frame Material

Most cheap mountain bikes are made of aluminum thanks to low manufacturing costs and easy processing. However, you can look for carbon, steel, or even titanium bikes if you have a larger budget.

Aluminum frames offer a great weight-to-stiffness ratio and durability for a given price. This means that the manufacturer can spend the money saved on the frame on other important components, such as the drivetrain, wheels, or brakes.

Carbon mountain bikes are lighter, stiffer, and more flexible than aluminum ones. They are great for pro or more demanding riders. Their downside is that they are expensive, so the manufacturer has to cut corners and equip the bike with cheaper components (if we talk about bikes for the same or similar price). The downside of the stiffness and flexibility is that carbon frames are more fragile when crashing. They can break when you fall on a rock or another hard surface.

Usually is better to buy an aluminum frame with better components when you are on a tight budget than a carbon one with worse components. Your bike will last longer, and the overall experience will improve.

The steel and titanium frames are found on more premium bikes. Yes, you can buy a cheap steel bike, but it will probably feature very bad components compared to a bike with an aluminum frame at the same price range.

To learn more, read the article about my bike frame materials’ pros & cons.


The drivetrain is one of the most important things I look for when choosing a bike. It is put to hard work every time I ride my bike.

Beginner mountain bikes are always equipped with the cheapest drivetrains (groupsets). That does not mean that they won’t last. They are just as precise and quick as high-end groupsets and will also wear out faster. Sometimes you have to help the derailer shift by pushing the lever, but after you learn how to use them, they can serve you for many years. Yet, I recommend frequent maintenance.

There are 3 types of chainrings – 1X, 2X, and 3X. 2X and 3X chainrings are great for beginners. Using the front shifter, it is easier to shift from the faster gear to the slower one. So if you are new to the sport, you won’t put the rear derailer to hard work every time the terrain changes. Just make sure you avoid cross-chaining.

Cross-chaining vs. good shifting - illustration of the wrong and right chain positions
Avoid cross-chaining to reduce chain friction and drivetrain damage. Follow good shifting best practices to improve efficiency.

2X and 3X chainrings come with higher weight and are harder to set correctly. 3X chainrings are available only in the cheapest groupsets. So if you want precise shifting, you are “stuck” with 2X or 1X chainrings.

If you decide to go for a 1X, consider a chainring size. A chainring with 30 teeth will allow you to ride faster on downhills, but you may have a problem in steep uphill sections. On the other hand, thanks to the 34 teeth chainring, you will climb very steep hills.

Most 1X chainring bikes I have ridden were equipped with 32 teeth chainring; I did not struggle anywhere, even with a 10 or 11-speed cassette.

An illustration of a 1x chainring
1x chainring
An illustration of a 2x chainring
2x chainring
An illustration of a 3x chainring
3x chainring


Most modern mountain bikes use 27.5″ or 29″ wheels. The older ones used 26″ wheels. 26″ wheels are not very common anymore because the larger diameter wheels are more stable and more comfortable.

A side by side comparison of the 26" vs. 27.5" vs. 29" wheels
Comparison of 26″, 27.5″ and 29″ wheels

26″ were pretty popular; however, they are outdated these days. It is because of all the advantages that the bigger wheels have. They are available on the most affordable mountain bikes thanks to their low price (they are made from affordable materials like aluminum).

29″ wheels are better for speed and stability. Thanks to their size, the inertia is better, and you can maintain your speed more easily. But, on the other hand, the acceleration is slower.

If you ride off-road, they will handle bumps better, and your ride will feel smoother. The bike will also be more stable on downhills. You will also have better traction and brake power thanks to the larger contact area with the surface.

27.5″ wheels are more suitable for shorter people. Because of the smaller size, the bike is more agile and is easier to handle in tight spaces. Since they are bigger than the 26″ wheels, the speed, traction, and stability will still be noticeable.


Beginner mountain bikes are mainly equipped with rim or disc brakes.

  1. Rim brakes are great for their price-to-performance ratio. They are cheap, easy to maintain and work well on most occasions. Because the brake pads are in direct contact with the wheel, road conditions can affect their performance, mainly if you ride through water or mud. Rim brakes are also much cheaper than disc brakes.
  2. Disc brakes give you the best stopping power in almost any condition and are easier to control. Thanks to the different technology and the disc placement, the braking power is usually unaffected, and the brakes are more powerful. But they can get pretty hot on long and steep descents. This can result in a lack of stopping power. Don’t worry. You will be fine if you don’t plan to descend a 10-mile route.
    There are two types of disc brakes – mechanical and hydraulic. Mechanical are cheaper and easier to maintain, but hydraulic brakes are more popular and have better brake control due to the different technology.

Bike Size

Once you choose the mountain bike model you want to buy, it is time to pick its correct size. This is a crucial step because you won’t enjoy your ride with the wrong bike size.

It can be difficult to choose the right size when you can’t try the bike in person and try it out. But, thanks to bike size charts and bike size calculators, it will be a matter of a few minutes.

So, make sure you read my other article, where I explain How to Choose a Bike Size. It also contains a bike size calculator to calculate your mountain bike size.

Additional Tips for Beginner Mountain Bikers

In the following section, you will learn a few beginner mountain bike tips. I gathered them from my experience and friends who have been riding mountain bikes since childhood.

1. Get a Bike Helmet & Bike Accessories

There are many different types of accessories for mountain bikes.

The first and most obvious thing is that you need a helmet. Even a cheap one can save you from severe injuries. Don’t underestimate your safety.

Trust me; I know what I am talking about. My good friend crashed badly on his mountain bike, and the helmet saved him from a concussion and other injuries.

But it is not just about the helmet. If you plan to ride longer trips, you can take advantage of bike accessories.

Make sure you get at least the following ones:

A speedometer is great for those who like to measure the speed and distance of their trip. Yes, you can use your phone, but why drain your battery and risk damaging it?

2. Download Useful Cycling Apps

Mobile apps can help you find the right trails/paths, track your progress, or even help you with first aid.

These are my favorite apps for mountain biking:

  • Trailforks for planning rides
  • Strava for ride tracking
  • Red Cross for first aid

Another useful app is Windy for a weather forecast. It is great if you plan longer trips and want to be sure about the weather. To find more useful apps, check the selection of the best cycling apps.

3. Enjoy It

There is one thing that I repeatedly hear from most of the riders.

It is not about the equipment you have. It is about you and about the moment you are in. And if you are enjoying it, that is all that matters.

Beginner Mountain Bikes FAQ

This post is regularly updated to provide the most up-to-date product tips. If you find a product that is not up to date, please, contact me.

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