Best Mountain Bike for Novice

As a cycling enthusiast I would recommend to anyone that Is looking to start cycling a hard tail or a full suspension mountain bike.  But bikes vary in price from $300 all the way up to $1500. 

However, as a novice I would recommend opting for the cheaper end of the scale for your first bike to get the hang of cycling before you go and splash some cash on a performance mountain bike.

In terms of the hard tail vs full suspension mountain bike debate you’re probably having when deciding the best mountain bike for novice.  Hard tails are cheaper than full suspension for the obvious reason of not having the added cost of the suspension.

However, you can get some hard tail mountain bikes that focus on providing the user with higher quality parts from the frame, to the gearsets and wheels.  Rather than offer you entry level parts but throw in a full suspension frame.

From personal experience you can’t really find a good full suspension mountain bike that offers really good suspension unless you’re willing to spend closer to the $1000 range. 

And you’ll find with cheaper full suspension options that the suspension will be hard, and at that point it’s probably better off going with a hard tail mountain bike.  Unless you really want a full suspension system.

Why novices should go for the cheaper end of the scale?

Before we get into the components you should be looking for.  Let me tell you from a once cycling novice what you want from your first mountain bike.

First off, I believe you’re better off going for a cheaper option because if you end up deciding cycling isn’t for you then you’re better off being $500 out of pocket than $1000. 

Plus if you decide you only want to cycle casually to the local shops and run errands then a $500 mountain bike would be perfect for the job.

It’d last for a few years and help keep you fit and active.

enduro mountain bike for heavy riders

Which brands to look for?

With the cost of bicycle parts coming down in price over the past 5 years, this has opened up competition for new companies to start to build bikes and sell them for a relatively good mark up fee. 

However, it’s also meant that the major bicycle brands such as Schwinn and Raleigh have had to lower their prices whilst still maintaining the same quality. 

This is happened a lot more with road bikes but it’s also taken place with mountain bikes.  So to sum that up what’s happened is the prices have come down whilst still maintaining the same quality that brands used to charge at the higher prices.

Sum it up even more?  Basically you’re getting more bang for your buck.

But let’s look at the actual brands I’d recommend when looking for the best mountain bike for a novice.

Personally I’d still stick with the main brands of Schwinn or Raleigh.  Both have some really good entry level bikes around the $500 price range. 

With these brands you know that quality is going to be next to none.  And you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing they have really good customer service if anything was to go wrong.

What to expect?

As a beginner I’d look for the following specs.  Most of these specs will be more than accessible below the $1000.  With majority of the specifications rounding to bike around the $400 to $600 price range.


As for the frame I’d look for a lightweight aluminium frame.  Aluminium makes the frame strong and durable but light enough so you can carry the bike over obstacles and on to bike racks without breaking your back.

You’ll not be able to get a fully carbon frame unless you’re willing to go over the $1000 range.  Carbon frames although really light.  For a novice unless you have the cash then It’s probably not worth the investment until you’ve started cycling and enjoy it that much that you’re taking it up as a hobby.


Most bikes within the $400 to $600 price range will come with a shimano entry level gearset.  And you’ll be looking at either a 21 or 24 gears. 

21 gears is more than enough to provide the rider with a wide range of gear ratio’s whether you’re going to be tackling a steep incline or wanting to get to high speeds on flat terrain.

Unfortunately you’ll not be able to get a Shimano enthusiast level shifter unless you’re looking at the price range of $1000+.


You’ll be choosing between a 26 and 29 inch wheel.  If you’re planning on going on more dirt filled trails where you’ll be riding over rocks and roots then I’d recommend the 29 inch wheels as you’ll be able to tackle them easier.  As the 29 inch wheel will be by far more stable going over rocks and roots.

Whereas the 26 inch wheel may feel a bit twitchy and you’ll find it more difficult to control the bike over those types of terrains.

If you just plan on taking the bike on light trails, gravel road, paved surfaces.  Then it doesn’t really matter whether you choose a 26 or 29 inch wheel.

Maybe for a bit of future thinking you’d be best off going with a 29 inch wheel in case you end up liking mountain biking and want to take it up as a hobby.  That way you’ll have a bike that can do the job without having to buy another one so soon. 

Eventually if you do take cycling up as a hobby you’ll probably end up buying a more performance based mountain bike anyway.


At this price point there is a possibility that some of the bikes will include front and rear disc brakes.  Disc brakes are known to be better than the standard cable pull brakes that you’ll find on most other mountain bikes.

Disc brakes provide a far greater amount of stopping power giving you shorter stopping differences. 

However, if you cannot afford the disc brake bike models then most standard cable pull brakes in the modern age provide a good enough amount of stopping power to keep you safe.

At the end of the day do you thing top brands like Schwinn and Raleigh would sell cable operated brakes if they didn’t provide the recommended stopping power? 

Why trust our recommendations?

As a cycling enthusiast, I’ve been a novice.  So thinking back through my experience I can honestly say that the best thing I did was purchase a relatively budget friendly but not to budget friendly that the bike was plain trash.

Therefore with the recent prices declines over the past few years, I believe the $400 to $600 price range is a really good price point for any novice riders looking to get a mountain bike.

At this price range you get the strong and lightweight aluminum frame.  You get a high quality entry level shimano shifter.  And you get the roughly 2 inch wide wheels with knobbly tires so you can get grip on almost any terrain you end up tackling.

The 21 speed shifter provides a large enough range of gears to the point where you’ll find it quite easy to get up the steeper inclines without destroying you’re legs and when you’re on the flat you’ll be able to push the bike into a higher gear to enjoy the higher speeds.

 All the bikes we’ve looked at we’ve not personally tested them but we’ve been to look at see the quality of the bikes in person therefore we ruled out any bikes that didn’t look up to scratch within this price range.

Furthermore, you can be rest assured that all the bikes have a high number of positive reviews across multiple retail sites.  So there’s hundreds of people purchased them and given positive reviews.

And to finalize this section all the bikes we recommend are from some of the best cycling manufactures in the US.  The likes of Schwinn and Raleigh who are known for providing excellent quality and customer service.

Who are these mountain bikes for?

Well if you don’t know by this point then have you read the article?  The mountain bikes we’ve recommended are best for entry level cyclists who are looking to purchase a new bike. 

Maybe you’re not too sure if you’ll enjoy it or you’re looking for a bike to get started.  These bikes are for you.

If you fall into one of these categories two then the bikes are for you:

  • New cyclist looking to purchase their first mountain bike
  • Looking for a budget friendly mountain bike that’s top quality

It’s worth just mentioning that if you are a more heavy rider then I’d recommend looking at getting bike with at least 32 spokes so the wheels are a lot stronger and can hold more weight.

Our Pick

DiamondBack Overdrive

DiamondBack Overdrive

✅ SR Suntour Suspension Fork
✅ Disc Brakes
✅ 24 Speed Shimano Shifter

The Diamond Back overdrive comes with 29 inch wheels so you’ll be able to tackle trails with roots and rocks far easier than 26 inch mountain bikes.

Front and rear disc brakes provide excellent stopping power.

For the price it’s unbelievable that they’ve given you a 24 speed Shimano Acera Derailleur.

Four different frame sizes make the bike support riders from 5’4″ all the way to 6’4″.

The bike also comes 95% assembled meaning you can be up and running very quickly.

Also Great

Schwinn Bonafide

Schwinn Bonafide

✅ Aluminium Frame
✅ Disc Brakes
✅ 24 Speed Shimano Shifter

Wow, the Schwinn Bonafide is one awesome bike.  Perfect for both beginners and more experienced riders wanting to take the bike through rougher terrains. 

This bike can handle it all.  The combined aluminum frame and powerful forked suspension soak up all the bumps you’ll come across when riding on both even and rough terrain.

The most improved technical component is the alloy cranks.  They allow for extremely smooth gear changes but also require less maintenance. 

Along with the double walled alloy rims for added strength making this bike worth it’s higher price tag.  You’ll be assured that you won’t be let down be lower quality components on the Schwinn Bonafide.

Schwinn ship the bike with a 5 year limited warranty, adding extra reassurance that you shouldn’t come across any issues.

What USAALL Love:

  • ✅Double Walled Alloy Wheels
  • ✅Forked Suspension
  • ✅Extra durable cranks
  • ✅Super smooth gear changes

What Could Be Improved:

  • Better cushioned seat.

Also Great

Gravity FSX V

2020 Gravity FSX

✅ Aluminium Frame
✅ Disc Brakes
✅ 24 Speed Shimano Shifter

  • 24 Speed Shimano shifter
  • Aluminium Frame
  • Front and Rear disc brakes
  • Adjustable suspension
  • Four frame sizes supports riders from 5’4″ to 6’4″

The 2020 Gravity FSX is an alternate brand from the main three.

Although we recommended buying a bike from the top brands such as Schwinn, Raleigh and Diamond back if you’re a novice.  We couldn’t not include this mountain bike as it offers really good specifications for the price point.

As well as having a lot of positive 4 and 5 star reviews.

James Dawson

After learning how to ride a bicycle much later than all the other kids, James Dawson hasn't looked back. The author now actively rides a bicycle as a part of the community cycling group and competes regularly in local competitions. Aside from that, he loves technology and always keeps up to date with the latest cycling tech.