Mountain bikes have come a long way in recent years, with trends like 29-inch wheels—and more recently, 27.5-inch wheels—blazing the trail for bikes that are better and more versatile than ever before. High-end models are still notoriously expensive, but a technology trickle down effect does push some more advanced features down into entry-level models. You can, for example, find a capable 29er from a well-respected manufacturer for under $1,000. 

Below are our mountain biking gear picks, with a focus on complete bikes that are available online (you can also find a varying selection at your local bike shop) as well as important accessories like helmets and shoes. And for those that need to haul their bikes to the trailhead, we've also tested and written about hitch-mounted racks. Enjoy!

Best Mountain Bike Brands of 2022

For many mountain bikers, understanding the background, history, and ethos of a company has a major impact on the purchase of a new rig. However, with so many brands to choose from, it can...

Best Mountain Bike Helmets of 2022

If your mountain biking gear budget has been stretched thin and you’re tempted to skimp on the helmet, don’t. Skip that extra bit of carbon instead. It’s true, mountain bike helmet prices are creeping up...

Best Mountain Bike Shoes of 2022

A quality mountain bike shoe plays a number of important roles. Its solid platform delivers power to the pedals, strong construction keeps your feet protected, and secure fit...

Best Hitch Bike Racks of 2022

If you’re searching for the best way to transport bikes, hitch-mounted bike racks are the way to go. Securely attaching to the receiver hitch of your vehicle, they offer unmatched versatility and ease of use. There...

7 Best Trail Mountain Bikes of 2022

From smooth and flowy post-work rides to rough and rowdy all-day backcountry epics, the trail mountain biking category covers a wide range. And with rapidly changing technology and an ever-growing...

Best Gravel Bikes

Gravel bikes—also known as adventure or all-road bikes—are built to handle terrain ranging from forest service roads to pavement, dirt, and even mellow singletrack. In essence, they are more capable than road bikes yet more efficient than mountain...

Best Mountain Bikes Under $1,000

Not everyone needs a high-end mountain bike that breaks the bank. If you are new to the sport or don’t plan to ride that often, it’s a good idea to buy a relatively inexpensive bike and upgrade...

Best Mountain Bikes Under $2,000

Mountain biking can be a very expensive sport: there are hundreds of excellent bikes available for $4,000 to $6,000, and those aren’t even at the highest end of the price spectrum. Fortunately for those of us not...

Best Kids’ Bikes

Getting a new bike is a big deal no matter your age, but it’s a particularly exciting event for kids. To help navigate the landscape, below we break down our top kids’ bikes, which range from toddler-sized balance bikes to knobby 24-inch models...

Best Bike Lights

Whether you’re a first-time commuter or dedicated mountain biker, riding at night can be an exhilarating experience. But traveling along dark streets or singletrack at any speed requires a quality light (or two) to illuminate the way. Below we break...

How Much Should You Spend on a Mountain Bike?

Although the type of bike you’re looking for—hardtail or full-suspension—will largely dictate your buying decision, it really comes down to how much you’re willing to spend. Those eyeing set-ups under...

27.5 vs. 29er Mountain Bikes

Not long ago, mountain bikers didn’t have a choice when it came to wheel sizes—26 inches was the only option. But once 29- and 27.5-inch wheels hit the market, the debate amongst bikers took off and has continued ever since. 29ers...

Specialized Recon 2.0 Shoe Review

Specialized’s S-Works Recon is a highly technical mountain bike shoe that’s purpose-built for serious riders and dedicated racers, but the minimal cushioning and snug fit limit its comfort and...

Thule T2 Pro XTR Review

Sweden-based Thule is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of car racks and bike accessories, and the T2 Pro XTR is their core hitch-mounted offering. An evolution of the popular T2 Classic, this is a fully featured rack with an easy-to-use...

Yakima HangTight 4 Review

Hanging racks are a popular way to transport bikes without needing to lift them overhead onto the roof of your vehicle, and they typically also offer more capacity out of the box than platform designs. Yakima’s HangTight 4 is a good example: It can...

Thule Helium Platform 2 Review

We’ve been a fan of Thule bike racks for years—their T2 Pro XTR is currently our top-rated model—so we were pretty excited by the release of the premium Helium Platform. This euro-cool design puts an emphasis on everyday simplicity with easy-to-secure...

Specialized Ambush 2 Helmet Review

Specialized might be best known for their quality bikes, but we’ve had good experiences with their helmets and apparel, too. We tested and liked their Ambush helmet last year and were excited to try out this year’s version, the Ambush 2...

Kuat NV 2.0 Bike Rack Review

Sitting atop Kuat’s hitch rack collection is their top-end NV 2.0. With a premium build and price tag to match, this rack is feature-rich, designed to work with a wide variety of bike styles and sizes, and has proven to be durable and reliable even...

Shimano AM903 Bike Shoe Review

Shimano is best known for their quality mountain bike components, but their shoe collection—ranging from lightweight XC models to burly enduro and e-bike designs—is similarly competitive. We’ve been testing the SH-AM903 for the past several months...

POC Kortal Race MIPS Helmet Review

POC has been at the forefront of helmet safety for years, and their Kortal Race MIPS carries the torch. This premium mountain bike lid packs in a host of well-integrated safety features, including...

Cannondale Topstone Review

Taking the place of the unique and innovative Slate gravel bike is Cannondale's latest all-road creation: the Topstone. Released last year, the mid-range Topstone 105 features a sturdy aluminum frame...

Santa Cruz Bronson Review

Santa Cruz is known for making some of the best bikes in the industry, and their attention to detail and quality of craftsmanship are second to none. The Bronson line made its debut all the way back in...

Salsa Timberjack Mountain Bike Review

Of all the bike brands on the market today, Minnesota-based Salsa Cycles conjures up the most thoughts of adventure and getting off the beaten path. I spent the last few months aboard...

Cannondale Trail Mountain Bike Review

Cannondale’s Trail mountain bike lineup is known for its balance of price, build quality, and smart component choices for beginner to intermediate cyclists. We tested the mid-range Trail 6 hardtail...

Salsa Journeyman Review

Salsa Cycles’ adventure-by-bike ethos permeates each and every model in their lineup, and the gravel-focused Journeyman is no exception. We spent most of the spring using and abusing the top-end Apex 1 650 model on gravel roads...

Cannondale Habit Review

Connecticut-based Cannondale has always done things a little differently, but their revamped and surprisingly mainstream 2019 Habit seeks to make them a top contender once again. With its...

Smith Forefront 2 MIPS Helmet Review

Smith’s foray into the world of mountain bike helmets began in 2014 with the release of the lightweight Forefront. Four years later, they introduced the “2” with notable updates, including a lower-profile design, improved ventilation, and wider, more...

Thule Vital 8L Review

Better known for their bike racks and carriers, Thule entered the hydration pack market with the mountain biking-specific Vital lineup in spring 2018. I’ve opted for hip packs the past few years on technical rides to allow my back to breathe...

Shimano ME7 Review

Shimano has made a strong push in the mountain bike shoe world of late, releasing a number of quality and functional designs for clipless and flat pedal riders. Updated for 2019, the ME7 stands at the top of their enduro and trail line-up as...

Yakima Dr.Tray Review

Yakima has been a key player in the bike rack market since 1979, and the Dr.Tray currently sits at the top of their platform hitch offerings. Fully featured and wrapped up in a class-leading lightweight package, the Dr.Tray was an exciting choice...