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Mountain Bikes

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Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikes are designed specifically to ride on rough terrain and can handle dirt trails, roots and rocks. They're often built with shock-absorbing features like suspension systems and made of sturdy materials to hold up with harder riding. There are also models specifically designed for women and kids.

The main things to consider when picking which mountain bike to get are: your riding style, key features and fit.

Types of Mountain Bikes

  • Trail bikes: This is arguably the most common mountain biking style because the category isn’t grounded in any specific type of racing. If you’re interested in meeting up with friends at the local trailhead and riding a mixture of climbs and descents, then this is the style for you. Bikes in this category place equal emphasis on fun, efficiency and sensible overall weight.
  • Cross-Country: This style of riding typically implies riding fast, with an emphasis on climbing prowess. Distances vary from just a few miles to 25-plus, and bikes tend to focus on efficiency and low weight. These bikes can be great if you’re considering getting competitive or would like a racier ride for your local trails.
  • Fat Tire Bikes: Oversize tires, from 3.7 in. to 5+ in. wide, give these bikes excellent traction, especially in sand or snow. Fat-tire bikes are great for beginners because the wide tires are reassuringly forgiving as a rider picks a line through rough terrain.
  • All Mountain Bikes: Think of all-mountain riding as trail riding on steroids, with bigger leg-burning climbs, longer, scarier descents and more technical features—both man-made and natural. Bikes for all-mountain riding are designed to perform well on steep descents while also being light and nimble enough to pedal uphill.

Mountain Bike Suspension Styles

You'll also need to consider what type of suspension you want. You can save money with limited suspension, but you'll have a less comfy ride.

  • Rigid: No suspension. It's least expensive but least comfortable.
  • Hardtail: A front suspension fork absorbs some shocks, but there's no rear suspension. These are popular for cross-country riding.
  • Full suspension: Has suspension in front and back making for a gentler ride.

More to Consider

Next, think about what features you'll need. Bikes come with different tire sizes to balance traction and speed depending on your conditions. Your gearing also depends on your type of riding. Disc brakes have become standard for mountain bikers.

Once you've selected your ride, be sure to take a look at mountain bike accessories like helmets, shoes, shorts and tires.

Why Shop at REI

REI carries mountain bikes by top brands like Cannondale, Salsa and our own Co-op Cycles. We're here to help you get the best fit, and our certified bike techs can keep your steed in shape.