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The 8 Best Beginner Mountain Bikes of 2022

By: Jon Kennedy: Bike Buyer | June 10, 2022
 

Shopping for a beginner mountain bike is one of the most exciting things one can do. The only thing better than New Bike Day is a first ever New Bike Day. Whether you’re looking for a bike for yourself, or for someone else, finding that perfect first mountain bike is thrilling. But on the flipside, it can be a little overwhelming too, especially as you sort through geometry, travel, and build kits. That’s why we've done our best to simplify that process with this list of the best beginner mountain bikes. Any one of these bikes will offer a great introduction to the sport, assist you in learning how to mountain bike, and will stay fun and useful for years to come. Just pick the bike with the right amount of travel for your home trails and get riding.

New This Year:

And this year, these beginner mountain bikes offer better value than ever before. Many of them feature 12-speed drivetrains, a feature that was only present on premium bikes just a few years ago. And they all sport intelligent  combinations of brakes, suspension, and other components to help give you the most bang for your buck. So what are you waiting for? Grab one of these bikes, and be prepared to be sucked into the wonderful world of mountain bike culture.

Marin San Quentin 2

Marin San Quentin 2

The Marin San Quentin 2 Complete Mountain Bike is an absolute ripper. This 27.5" funbike is shaped with mean trail geometry inspired by Marin's top of the line dirt jumpers. It pedals like a dream and crushes downhill, and comes with a very reasonable price tag to boot. Get it in the air, thrash it down your local trails (passing full squishers everywhere), pedal back to town. It's a full-on shred, rinse, repeat situation! The San Quentin might just be the best value beginner bike out there. It’s affordable, durable, and so versatile.  

Drive TrainRear TravelOriginal Price
Shimano 1x11Hard Tail$1599.00

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Marin Rift Zone 1 29

Marin Rift Zone 1 29

As a more affordable bike that's been wowing reviewers at every look, the Marin Rift Zone 1 29 Complete Mountain Bike is no slouch when it comes to on-trail performance. This is a trail bike that's composed through steeps and rough terrain, but has a pedaling platform that'll fly back up for another lap. It's well-built, with stats and a parts spec that puts dependable function first, a great collection of components on a frame that really leaves nothing to be desired. Get a Rift Zone and join the club of riders who know enough to know this bike is more than enough. The Rift Zone is a great starting platform for new riders, and if you want to upgrade parts down the road, the frame is a worthy steed to hang new components on.

Drive TrainRear TravelOriginal Price
Shimano 1x11125mm$1899.00

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Santa Cruz Chameleon AD

Santa Cruz Chameleon AD

You're free to choose with your Santa Cruz Bicycles Chameleon A D Complete Mountain Bike. Strap some stuff to it and become an overlanding bikepacker for the weekend, drop the seatpost and try and keep up with the big bikes on downhill, line up for a local XC race. The Chameleon is up for anything, truly. Known for its versatility and customization options, this is a bike that will continually surprise you with its skill set. The fun hardtail from Santa Cruz that just won't quit, the Chameleon is classic mountain biking through and through. The Chameleon is a great beginner bike that you’ll be tempted to keep for the rest of your life. It’s just so simple, functional, and fun.  

Drive TrainRear TravelOriginal Price
SRAM SX EagleHard Tail$2599.00

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Marin Alpine Trail 7

Marin Alpine Trail 7

Boasting a bomber Series 4 Aluminum Frame and the acclaimed MultiTrac suspension system, the Marin Alpine Trail 7 Complete Mountain Bike offers incredible value without sacrificing an ounce of trail-ready performance. The geometry is dialed for the all day enduro rider with a slack head tube angle, steep seat tube and long reach keeping it plenty efficient for climbing while giving you more confidence than ever on burly downhill sections. Whether you're threading the needle on techy steeps or getting loose on the jumps, the Marin Alpine Trail 7 Complete Mountain Bike is ideal for the trail rider hell bent on having a good time. The Alpine Trail 7 is a great beginner bike, but it’s just as capable as much more expensive options, making it a great choice for long-term value.

Drive TrainRear TravelOriginal Price
Shimano Deore 12 Speed150mm$2999.00

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Devinci Django 29 Deore

Devinci Django A 29 Deore

If you're into easy climbs and ripping, afterburner descents, get on the Devinci Django A 29 Deore 12s Complete Mountain Bike, pronto. Lively, fast, and surprisingly nimble, this mid travel 29er Speed is built with Devinci's lightweight Aluminum 6061-T6 frame and the ingenious Geo Adjust Flip Chip for on-the-go customization. Flip it and rip it, lap after lap. The Django is a versatile trail bike that both beginner and experienced riders will enjoy.
you’ll be tempted to keep for the rest of your life. It’s just so simple, functional, and fun.  

Drive TrainRear TravelOriginal Price
Shimano Deore 12 Speed140mm$3429.00

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Santa Cruz Tallboy AD

Santa Cruz Tallboy AD

A budget bike that blows away many bikes that have another digit on their price tags, the Santa Cruz Bicycles Tallboy A D Complete Mountain Bike takes a proven trail killer and makes it as accessible as possible. There's no electronic shifting or marginally better carbon parts here, Santa Cruz left the more expensive stuff in the corner and made a bike that'll go all in - right dang now. Hemming and hawing over high-end parts and supercomposite construction can be exhausting. Grab one of these and use your energy on the trails! The Tallboy is one of those bikes that’s more than the sum of its parts. It’s more capable than its geometry and travel would suggest, which makes it a great all-rounder.

Drive TrainRear TravelOriginal Price
SRAM NX 12 Speed120mm$3599.00

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Juliana Joplin AD

Juliana Joplin AD - Women's

The Juliana Joplin A D Complete Mountain Bike doesn't respond well to being pigeonholed. Sure, you can pedal all day on the winding trail to nowhere in particular, but this short travel 29er is much more than a one dimensional XC specialist - it's a kaleidoscopic multiverse of gravity assisted trail capability. The slack front end, VPP suspension, and light but tough Aluminum frame turn the Joplin into a rocket ship heading up or down - a versatile, confident whip that will prove itself on trails near, far, and gnar. Kitted out with SRAM NX Eagle™ componentry and a smooth, easily adjustable Fox suspension system, this is the wild child you've been waiting for. The Joplin does it all, in style, perfect for beginner riders.

Drive TrainRear TravelOriginal Price
SRAM NX 12 Speed 120mm$3599.00

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Santa Cruz Hightower AD

Santa Cruz Hightower AD

Of all the things that make mountain biking great, it's got to be the turns that are the best. Or actually, it's skipping through a rock garden. Or completing a multi-trail epic, starting at dawn and collapsing back where you started as the sun goes down, bruised, battered, and buzzing. And laying off the brakes as you jam towards the lip of a jump, determined to finally clear a gap. The Santa Cruz Bicycles Hightower A D Complete Mountain Bike knows that all of these things are great at any given time, and does more than any other bike out there to excel at every single aspect of aggressive trail riding. The Hightower is just a purebred mountain bike, there’s no trail where it doesn’t feel at home.

Drive TrainRear TravelOriginal Price
SRAM NX 12 Speed145mm$3799.00

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The Selection Process:

Our bike buyer has an endless amount of knowledge on all things bike stemming from years of experience in the bike industry in tandem with their countless hours out on the dirt, gravel, and tarmac. evo's buyers assess all products coming to market, lean into this knowledge, and put together this selection of the best products. They have a unique perspective as they truly see everything offered across the category.

Jon Kennedy

Jon is a Bike Buyer and joined evo in 2015 to help launch the category. He has a long tenure in the bike industry bringing over 20 years of experience.

Jon was formerly the Marketing Manager for Diamondback bikes and was the Executive Director for the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance prior to that. His broad experience in the bike industry from the brand, advocacy and retail side has contributed to a well-rounded understanding of trends, needs and opportunities.

Jon grew up in the Seattle area and currently resides there with his wife Ilana, kids Erez and Lilah, and his Boston Terrier Marley. He is a daily rider packing countless miles in every year, loves all disciplines, and simply considers himself a cyclist… a title he embraces with great passion.