It’s certainly true that not all brands offer the same quality when it comes to mountain bikes. If you just started looking for a new mountain bike it isn’t just about the brand. I was recently wondering if unknown brands are decent or not. I decided to do some research and find.
Are there mountain bike brands to avoid? Avoid unknown mountain bike brands from superstores because they offer inferior components and often are the wrong size. These brands won’t last long and replacing parts is expensive.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s look at what you should pay attention to. Brands have different bikes (frames) in all kind of price ranges. It’s safe to say that anything under $600 is less durable than above. Here are some tips to get great quality without spending a leg and arm.
Avoid Non Specialized Bike Stores
Avoid the superstores like Walmart, Kmart, Dicks or any store that isn’t specialized, you risk buying something inferior and these bikes don’t last long. Taking them out on a trail might even be risky as parts may break causing you to eat dirt. You get what you pay for, derailleurs get stuck, breaks fail, gears won’t shift etc.
Chains and bolts will rust a lot faster compared to their high-end alternatives and shifters break easily. Save for a couple of months, get yourself familiar with the bikes and made an educated decision when you finally get your new bike.
Big retailers buy bikes in bulk orders, use cheap components and aren’t assembled by professionals. Though these bikes are getting better than they used to it’s still a gamble when it comes to durability, safety and performance. Of course, if you really don’t have the budget you might consider it, but what’s the harm in waiting and saving up a little.
If you do decide to buy a cheap mountain bike have it checked by your local bike shop.
Another issue is that due to mass production, these bikes only come in one or two sizes at most. They won’t fit which will impact your performance and can get frustrating if you’re going for longer rides. In the end, you won’t enjoy yourself, become frustrated and give up which would be a shame. To sum things up here’s why to avoid unknown brands and superstores.
- Low-quality components that break down much faster.
- Not assembled by trained mechanics, they come 90% assembled out of the factory.
- Less safety because the important parts aren’t inspected by a professional.
Avoid Anything Over Your Budget
I know, all these bikes it’s pretty confusing. I’m a sucker for design and get that buying fever whenever I’m looking at new mountain bikes. I admit it took me years to finally get a new mtb but saving money and the build-up was worth it. It’s better to save for another year and ride that crappy bike than to buy something you’ll regret.
Make sure you have a budget between $400-600 to buy an entry level mountain bike. It’s a great place to start without spending too much but often they aren’t suited for big jumps and rough terrain. It is, however, a good way to get familiar with the sport and learn the basics.
If you have a bigger budget anything between $800-$1100 will get you a really good bike with high-quality components. Shop smart and make sure to get the most out of it, check out this post for a few tips to get discounts. These bikes can take a beating and are more suited for rough rides.
To save you some money or get a better bike at the same budget consider buying a bike offseason. Usually, at the end of the summer new models are introduced and you can get a discount on a previous model. Often there isn’t a huge difference between an ‘old’ and its successor but the price difference can be huge. Make sure to buy one that fits properly!
- A budget between $400-$600 gets you entry-level mtb.
- Spending between $800-$1100 gets you high-quality components and a really good bike.
- Check for sales at the end of the summer/fall, new models replace the old ones and you can get a huge discount.
Check for Components
This is crucial to getting a quality mountain bike, components make all the difference. Brands like Cannondale, Cube, Specialized, and trek sometimes have lower grade components at lower prices. Brands like Diamondback and Giant sometimes offer lower prices for higher-grade components compared to other brands.
This all depends on the model and isn’t always the case, just make sure to compare the components of different bikes that fit your budget. Make a list of components that you need to be top grade and components that fir your style. Maybe you don’t need a full suspension and a hardtail is just fine, there’s a big price difference.
Brands to Consider When Buying a Mountain Bike
There are many brands that offer great mountain bikes at a reasonable price. Despite all the websites pushing you to buy them online, I recommend not ever doing that. You need to feel a bike and a local shop can tell you exactly what you need. You get extra service and try sending a bike back if you don’t like it. It’s horrible.
Not everyone has the luxury of a local specialized shop I still would go to a shop if it’s an hour (or two) drive. Just make sure to do your research to spend your time and money wisely.
All brands offer a wide range of mountain bikes for different purposes. Cross-country, trail, enduro, downhill etc so make sure to pick a bike that suits your style. There are differences between the brands which mainly comes to the components they make and the design of the frames. Often they offer the same components and buy them from the same company (Shimano for example).
Some brands offer models that fit certain rider better depending on body type, so make sure to try before you buy. Of course, there’s much more to it but that’s the gist of it. Once you get to the more expensive high-end models the difference often has to do with engineering.
Trek is the most popular mountain bike brand when it comes to Google searches, and for good reasons. They offer quality mtb’s without having to spend a huge amount of money. Of course, buying a Trek bike isn’t cheap but their bikes and components are top notch. They sell bikes in a couple of ranges, I suggest when you’re a beginner to look for something in the $500-$1000 range.
One of the most known brands that have been around for some time. Giant offers high-quality mountain bikes in various price ranges. Like Trek, Giant bikes are expensive but you get what you pay for. Same advice here, as a beginner look at the bikes in the $500-$1000 range, stick with your budget or of you really want the bike that’s just out of range, wait a couple of months.
Scott was founded in 1958 by Ed Scott and expanded to Europe in 1978. Scott is responsible for one of the most significant innovations in cycling. Like the other brands, Scott offers a wide range of high-quality mountain bikes at various prices. Look for a mid-range mountain bike to get the most out of your budget.
Cannondale was founded in 1971 by Joe Montgomery but only started manufacturing bicycle frames in 1983. They made quite a name for themselves and are a reputable brand. They offer great bikes and components in various price ranges but have a reputation of selling the more expensive bikes. Their mountain bikes (in general) are great for absorbing shocks.
Marketed for more advanced riders but they also offer great entry level bikes. They offer great quality frames and their cheapest bike starts at $500.
Founded in 1977 in Washington and their focus was on BMX bikes. Diamondback is known for their price quality and offer reliable bikes that last for years if maintained properly. The difference with the other brands is that they only sell online, keeping the prices competitive. Make sure you do your research before you decide to buy online!