Best Mountain Bikes in 2019: The Hottest Wheels Uphill

mountain bike

The wind through your hair. The sun on your back. The undeniable speed as you tumble and turn through the rough terrain or simply whip along a paved trail with your family. Whether you're a casual rider or you have dreams of racing your mountain bike, there is no denying the thrill of the ride. Of course, a great ride requires an excellent bike. Check out these top mountain bikes of 2018 to see which one will help you reach your cycling goals.

Mountain Bike FAQs

1. Are Mountain Bikes Hard to Ride?

2. Will Riding a Bike Help Me Lose Weight?

3. What Size Mountain Bike Do I Need?

4. When Is the Best Time to Buy a Mountain Bike?

How We Reviewed These Bikes

When we decided to create a list of the best mountain bikes for 2018, we wanted something that covered everything from the casual bike to the hardcore mountain racer. We sought out opinions from expert and hobbyist bikers alike, comparing reviews and experiences to determine which bikes were good enough for the list. Our comparison included size, ease of use, frame materials, special features, cost and, of course, overall satisfaction from other riders. The result is a high-quality list that we hope has something for every type of cyclist.

Overall Price Range of Mountain Bikes

As you'll see below, the cost of a mountain bike varies greatly. This list has bikes that range from $600 to $10,000. More expensive models are often meant for hardcore competitive mountain bikers who need a bike that can handle the roughest terrains at the highest speeds. Mid-priced models are good for bikers who consider it a serious hobby but may or may not want to compete in the future. Those that fall at the lower end of the price range are good for beginners or people who only ever ride casually and don't navigate any terrain that is too rough. Keep in mind that many mountain bikes require you to build them yourself, and not all manufacturers sell the components as an entire package. Read carefully to be sure you don't need to spend money on pedals or other bike pieces, too.

Top 8 Mountain Bikes of 2018

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Although most reviewers had neutral feelings when they first set eyes on the Kona Process 153 CR/DL 27.5, many went on to say they completely fell in love with it. The bike rides well over a variety of terrain, including both up and downhill, and the bike's suspension platform offers quick power bursts uphill. Riders also appreciated the location of the water bottle in the triangle.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Simple setup and adjustment of the shocks
  • Excellent cornering maneuvers
  • Sleek design

Cons

  • Handlebars are too wide for some riders.

The Kona Process 153 CR/DL 27.5 was created for serious mountain bikers and it's evident in the $6,000 price tag. Still, for those who spend most of their waking hours biking, it's an excellent choice. Find it on the Kona World website.

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A modern bike for the modern rider, the Jamis Komodo 27.5+ Expert is all about letting the rider connect to the trail. Robust frame tubes, 3-inch tires and 5 inches of fork travel create a high-speed ride with traction, stability and big landing abilities.


You can find the Jamis Komodo 27.5+ Expert on the websites for Elite Cycling & Fitness or Jamis Bikes. It is also available in-store and online through Echelon Cycles in New York City. Prices start at $1400.

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One of the most affordable options on the list is the Salsa Timberjack NX1. The modern design includes a 1X11 SRAM drive train, 29-inch wheels and the rugged construction that Salsa has become known for. The modifiable bike allows users to purchase separate attachments, such as a rear rack, or to change out the tires.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Affordable price. 
  • Modifiable build.
  • Smooth, stable ride

Cons

  • Quite complex to assemble separate attachments.

The Salsa Timberjack NX1 starts at $1,099. It is available for purchase on the Salsa Cycles website and at REI.

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After receiving an Editor's Choice Award from Bicycling, the 2018 Trek Fuel EX 7 29 became so popular that it sold out and the company released the 2019 model much earlier than anticipated. This bike features Shimano MT400 brakes, a Bontrager Arvada saddle and tubeless strips. The 130-mm front and rear suspension makes tricky jumps and bumpy trails that much easier to travel.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Excellent tire clearance.
  • Great performance from the RockShox Revelation RL fork
  • Available in seven men's and three women's models

Cons

  • Only available in one color.

The Trek Fuel EX 7 29 starts at $2,500. Find it on the Trek Bicycle Superstore website or at one of the company's physical stores in California or New Mexico.

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Touted as the best all-around trail bike by some experts, the Santa Cruz Hightower C R 2018 has the sturdiness and ease of use a novice requires but all the features an experienced rider wants. The bike, which handles well whether cruising a paved trail or pedaling over rough terrain, includes Virtual Pivot Point suspension and takes sharp turns easily.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Durable frame and components.
  • Lightweight bike is easy to maneuver.
  • Versatile trail options

Cons

  • Angle of the seat tube causes the rider to be slightly slack
  • Components may leave something to be desired for more serious riders

The Santa Cruz Hightower C R 2018 is available on the Santa Cruz Bicycles website. You can also find it on Colorado Cyclist, Mike's Bikes and Competitive Cyclist. Prices start at $2,000.

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The best option for people on a budget, the Cannondale Trail 7 is a lightweight, versatile mountain bike that works well for a novice or somewhat experienced rider, but won't hold up well for a hardcore biker. The 18-speed bicycle creates quite the range and allows riders to speed down hills, easily climb stubborn and bumpy terrain or simply cruise along on a family bike ride.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Great choice for an entry-level rider.
  • Extremely affordable
  • Excellent suspension for the price

Cons

  • May need to adjust the rear derailleur more often than on a more expensive bike.

Find the Cannondale Trail 7 on the Cannondale website, the REI website or in an REI physical location. You can also check small, local bike shops. Prices start at $600.

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A high-octane bike for true competitive mountain bike racers, the Specialized S-Works Epic XX1 Eagle is even better than the 2017 version. The Epic uses a state-of-the-art suspension platform, known as Brain, which is unique to Specialized's bikes. The latest version moves it closer to the rear axle so that it reacts better to bumps and has more consistent performance. The result is a smooth ride, even at the fastest speeds.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Vast improvement from an already-excellent 2017 model
  • High-efficiency components to ensure the best ride for professional mountain bikers
  • Lightest model on this list

Cons

  • Extremely expensive compared to others on the list

The Specialized S-Works Epic XX1 Eagle will cost you about $10,000. You can purchase it on Specialized's website or at small and chain sports and bike stores around the world.

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Offering a modern geometrical design that handles everything from climbs to berms with ease, the Diamondback Line 27.5 is a solid choice for the price. The well-made bike creates a smooth ride with plenty of traction and durability. Riders who enjoy casual mountain biking through a variety of terrains will enjoy this bike.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Hydraulic brakes are excellent. 
  • Light weight.

Cons

  • Pricey

The Diamondback Line 27.5 has a base price of $900. Find it online on the Diamondback website, Amazon or REI. It is also available in bike shops across the country.

Comparison Table

Rider

Frame

Weight

Warranty

Price

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Carbon fiber

3 pounds

1-year limited

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Triple-butted 6061 aluminum

25 pounds

Limited 5-year

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6066-T6 and 6061 aluminums

Unavailable

3-year limited

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Alpha platinum aluminum

3 pounds

Varies depending on the required repair but ranges from 1-year limited to lifetime limited

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Carbon fiber

1 pounds

Lifetime for the original owner (must register on website)

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Trail SmartForm C2 Alloy

31 pounds

Limited

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S-Works FACT 12m carbon fiber

2 pounds

Varies depending on the required repair but ranges from 1-year limited to lifetime

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6061 aluminum

30 pounds

Varies depending on the required repair but ranges from 1-year limited to lifetime

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Our Final Thoughts

Each of the mountain bikes on this list is a great choice for its own reasons, but our favorites are the mid-priced Santa Cruz Hightower C R 2018, the high-end Specialized S-Works Epic XX1 Eagle and the budget Diamondback Line 27.5.

The Hightower provides versatility that works for novice and experienced riders and is a great transition option for those who hope to compete someday. The Epic XX1 may be extremely expensive, but it comes from a manufacturer that continuously improves its product and wins awards nearly every year, making it the best option for a true competitor. Finally, the Diamondback is the best choice for new riders, riders who are on a budget or riders who don't want to spend a lot of time assembling their new mountain bike.

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