Mountain bikers are a unique bunch of people; they’re passionate about their sport, and the majority of them are loyal to a brand for years or even a lifetime.
So learning some basic knowledge and researching brands helps mountain bikers make informed decisions on the bike they want to purchase and the company behind it.
Let’s take a brief look at the top 20 mountain bikes in the US.
Top 20 Mountain Bike Brands
- Company Headquarters: Waterloo, Wisconsin USA
- Most Popular Models: The Supercaliber 9.9 & the Slash
- Pros: Trek has been around for years, their bikes are high-quality, and they are known for excellent customer service.
The most recognizable bike brand on the market today, Trek bikes, has been the pack leader for more than 30 years. Coming to fame in the 90s with the rise of and success of Lance Armstrong, Trek went from a relatively unknown bike maker to a world-class company. Trek is primarily known for its road bikes, but their mountain bikes have been at the top of the heap for years now.
- Company Headquarters: Connecticut USA
- Most Popular Models: Trail and the Habit
- Pros: Much like Trek, For years, Cannondale has built a reputation for producing quality bikes at affordable prices; by choosing a Cannondale, you can’t go wrong.
Cannondale has been around for what seems an eternity, and they aren’t going anywhere soon. Their mountain bikes keep getting better, and with their focus on innovation, the company is only getting stronger. Their first bike came out way back in 1983 and has evolved to the point where they even sell an E-bike.
- Company Headquarters: Taiwan
- Most Popular Models: Anthem, Trance, and Stance
- Pros: Giant develops and manufactures their in-house tech, which cuts costs but ensures sky-high quality.
Giant is the Toyota of the bike world; they are the most prominent manufacturer of road and mountain bikes globally. The company is based in Taiwan and was founded back in 1972. Giant is known for employing cutting-edge technology and manufacturing all of its tech and gadgetry in-house. Giant produces high-quality mountain bikes across all price ranges.
- Company Headquarters: Koblenz, Germany
- Most Popular Models: Neuron CF8 and the Lux Trail
- Pros: The bikes are made to order and produced using the highest quality materials combined with world-class German engineering.
Canyon is a company known mainly for its road and time trial bikes, but in recent years, they’ve shown they can produce mountain bikes that keep up with the best of them. The company is based out of Germany, and the bikes are made to order. Canyon offers everything from hardtail to full-suspension, 29s and 27.5s, and even Electric mountain bikes.
- Company Headquarters: Rancho Santa Margarita, California
- Most Popular Models: Broam and Breed
- Pros: We love that all the design is undertaken and completed right here in the USA using local talent.
Felt Racing was founded in Irvine, California, back in 1991 by its CEO Jim Felt. The company manufactures bikes across all categories, with their gravel and road bikes being the picks of the bunch. The Felt Racing brand designs its bikes and tech in the USA and produces bikes in Asia.
- Company Headquarters: Morgan Hill, California
- Most Popular Models: S-works Turbo and S-Works Epic
- Pros: The name says it all; Specialized make “specialized” bikes, especially for the mountain bike category.
It could be said that Specialized is the one brand that took mountain biking from an unknown sport to one of the most popular pastimes in the world. Specialized mountain bikes are made for hardcore riders who don’t mind paying extra for high-end build quality and the latest tech. Their famous “Stumpjumper” model literally transformed the sport.
- Company Headquarters: California, USA
- Most Popular Model: Wolf Ridge, Pine Mountain, and San Quentin
- Pros: Marin Bikes, much like Specialized, focus their research and development on making the best mountain bikes in the world.
Marin makes bikes specifically in the mountain bike category, and in recent years their bikes have garnered a cult following. Marin Bikes was founded in 1986 in Marin County, California, by Bob Buckley. An interesting fact is most of the bike names are named after locations in and around Marin County.
- Company Headquarters: Pacific Northwest, Canada
- Most Popular Models: Process, Honzo, and Big Honzo
- Pros: You can’t go wrong with Kona as they concentrate their time and money building some of the best bikes on the market.
Kona was founded by Dan Gerhard and Jacob Heilbron in 1988 and is based in the Pacific Northwest. The company’s mountain bikes are amongst some of the best globally, with many professional riders believing Kona is the best.
- Company Headquarters: Santa Ana, California
- Most Popular Models: Force Comp, Force Carbon Pro, Sensor Comp
- Pros: GT bicycles have been manufacturing high-quality mountain bikes for more than 40 years; this experience and dedication to the industry shines through in all of their bikes.
GT Bicycles are known for two categories in particular; BMX and Mountain Bikes. The company has been around since 1972 and has full backing from a conglomerate out of Canada. The company also falls under the umbrella of other famous bike manufacturers such as Mongoose, Schwinn, and Cannondale. GT Bikes are manufactured in Asia.
- Company Headquarters: Santa Cruz, California
- Most Popular Models: V10 and Hightower
- Pros: If you’re looking for a bike that’s rare and sometimes unique, then Santa Cruz is for you; A phenomenal ride quality with a cool vibe.
Santa Cruz was founded in 1984, and unlike many other brands that pump out bike after bike, Santa Cruz goes the different route and manufactures a limited number of super high-quality mountain bikes. Santa Cruz riders have been loyal for years, and often, many of them have never ridden another brand and never will.
- Company Headquarters: USA
- Most Popular Models: Portal, Dragon, And Trail
- Pros: Although a household name, Jamis does have an excellent reputation among experienced riders.
Jamis Bicycles has been around since the early 90s, and although not a well-known maker, the bike does have a trustworthy reputation within the mountain biking community. Jamis bikes are fully designed in the US while being produced in China.
- Company Headquarters: Tennessee, USA
- Most Popular Models: Titanium Nolichucky, Titanium Pinhoti III
- Pros: Litespeed is not afraid to push the boundaries and is known for using titanium materials to give the ultimate feel.
Litespeed was founded in 1986 in Ooltewah, Tennessee, USA. They specialize in mountain bikes and are known for using frames that are made from titanium. These titanium frames offer the rider unparalleled comfort and ride quality. The company is owned by the American Bicycle Group.
- Company Headquarters: USA
- Most Popular Models: Ranger and Rascal
- Pros: I love that it was founded by Adam Miller, who has had bikes in his blood ever since childhood. Great story!
This little-known bike company has been taking the mountain biking scene by storm. Founded by Adam Miller, the self-proclaimed “bike nerd” who grew up buying and fixing bikes. He purchased his first bike when he was just 11yo, and his passion for bikes has only grown stronger. The company has an ever-growing community of loyal customers.
- Company Headquarters: Lyons, Colorado
- Most Popular Models: SQWEEB and DONKADONK
- Pros: I must say there’s something charming about having a bike built by local makers dedicated to their craft and the broader mountain bike community
This local bike maker has an interesting story. REEB Bikes was Founded in 2011 by Dale Katechis and Chad Melis after Dale’s mountain bike was stolen from the back of their vehicle. The entire process from design to manufacturing is done right in the same building, giving these bikes an individual hand-made touch.
- Company Headquarters: Cumberland, British Columbia, Canada
- Most Popular Models: Druid and Dreadnought
- Pros: As with REEB, companies like Forbidden are dedicated and passionate about mountain biking; Forbidden bikes leave nothing to chance
The Forbidden name gets its inspiration from the Forbidden Plateau located on Vancouver Island. The company was founded only three years back in 2019 but has quickly grown to become known for making mountain bikes that are quite simply awe-inspiring.
- Company Headquarters: Port Coquitlam, Canada
- Most Popular Models: Fluid and Slight
- Pros: Norco has been highly trusted and respected amongst avid mountain bikers for more than 50 years
The Norco bike company has been around for more than 50 years and was first founded by Bert Lewis in 1964. Based out of British Columbia, known for its mountain biking scene, Norco has continued to produce high-quality bikes.
- Company Headquarters: Andorra
- Most Popular Models: Supreme Dh and Clash
- Pros: Commencal is a small bike company made by passionate entrepreneurs who live and breathe cycling.
Commencal is a small bike company specializing in mountain bikes. The company is based out of Andorra. Commencal Bikes interestingly shares the same industrial estate with other bikes brands Yet and Spot.
- Company Headquarters: Colorado, USA
- Most Popular Models: Race and Rip
- Pros: If you want a bike made by dedicated professionals, then Yeti is for you.
Yeti is a bike manufacturer located in Golden, Colorado, and was first founded by John Parker in 1985. Yeti bikes are a small manufacturer and are made up of riders who are dedicated to the sport of mountain biking. Yeti bikes have also won some of the most prestigious bike races in the world.
- Company Headquarters: San Diego, USA
- Most Popular Models: Onset ST and Onset LT
- Pros: Eminent bikes are expensive but worth every penny; if you’re a fan of cutting-edge engineering and the latest tech, you won’t be disappointed.
The Eminent Cycles company is a small boutique manufacturer based in San Diego. They are known for using only the best Shimano componentry and AFS suspension systems.
- Company Headquarters: Southern California, USA
- Most Popular Models: Tracer, Carbine, and Primer
- Pros: In a world where big manufacturers have all moved production to Asia, it’s refreshing to see Intense bikes still being made here at home.
First founded in 1993, Intense Cycles was seen as an innovator and game-changer for mountain bike frames and tech. Based in Southern California, the company to this day still manufactures bikes right here in the USA.
Main Types of Mountain Bikes
There are numerous types of mountain bikes to choose from. Before purchasing the bike of your dreams, you need to consider several different factors. How often will you be riding, what is your budget, and most importantly, where will you be riding?
Here are the four main types:
- Enduro and
Let’s take a quick look at each.
If you’re a rider who loves to cycle long distances, then the cross-country category is the bike you should be targeting. These bikes are built to last long distances, are durable and efficient. Their frames have a similar resemblance to road bikes and are incredibly lightweight.
The trail bike is the most traditional mountain bike on the market. These bikes can literally do everything and are known as great all-rounders. Trail bikes descend well and yet also are competent when it comes to climbing. Want to pedal long distances? Then it can suit that purpose too.
Like the above trail category, these bikes are excellent all-rounders who can climb hills and descend like a beast. These bikes, however, really come into their own when descending; they are lightweight, which is why they are generally preferred on the pro tour.
The name says it all; the downhill category is perfect for those riders who love to take risks and go fast. Don’t even dare think about pedaling uphill with these bikes, as they are specifically designed for limited pedaling and razor-like descending.
Types of Mountain Bike Frame Materials
One of the most important factors to consider, if not the most, is the material your bike is made from.
Carbon fiber and aluminum materials lead the way for several different reasons, including production price, accessibility, and durability. The different materials affect things like ride quality, durability, weight, comfort, and of course, price.
Types Of Mountain Bike Suspension
When considering a mountain bike, the suspension plays a huge role in the selection factor. Generally, the more you pay, the better the suspension.
The more expensive suspension systems offer a silky-smooth ride along you to ride over rocky terrain and crush the downhill sections. There are four primary suspension systems to choose from:
Whether you choose single pivot or twin-link or any of the other systems on the market, you are sure to get a comfortable ride with the tech out there today.
Our Verdict / Conclusion
In summary, you can’t go wrong with any of the bikes we’ve mentioned here. Technology these days is cutting edge, and as I’ve stated, mountain bike manufacturers take their craft very seriously.