The 17 Best Mountain Bike BrandsPublished on 05/11/2023 · 10 min readWe’ve pulled together the 17 best mountain bike brands on the market today. From niche brands to the big players, each company brings something new to mountain biking.
Photo by Jan Kopřiva
When mountain biking was born in the 1970s the options we had to shred down dirt were limited, to say the least. Today, the options are nearly endless—from short-travel bikes tuned to climb like a dream to hard-core downhill rigs that seem to float down terrain you couldn’t even walk down. With so many brands adding their own unique flavor to the mountain bike market, it can be overwhelming to find the right one to purchase that fits you and your riding style.
We’ve pulled together the best mountain bike brands we see out in the market today. From niche brands to the big players, each brand brings something unique to mountain bikes. Here’s our highlight list to help you narrow down which of these awesome brands will be the best fit for what adventure you’re looking for so you can take your riding to the next level.
A niche and somewhat less-known bike brand based on “The Shore,” the mountain bike heaven of the North Shore in Vancouver, Banshee builds mountain bike frames that are basically bombproof and made for descents. This alloy-only brand has a durable lineup geared toward the rowdy rider, from their dirt jump bike, the Amp, to their downhill race bike, the Legend. Banshee bikes almost always come as just a frameset, and working with your local shop to build out your bike offers a lot of customization opportunities to choose your components.
Cannondale is one of the very first bike brands to jump headfirst into carbon and aluminum frame manufacturing as steel began to fade from mountain bike production. A Connecticut-based bike powerhouse, Cannondale offers a wide range of mountain bikes, from ultra-lite cross country bikes featuring their signature single stanchion fork to the Jekyll, their versatile all-mountain bike. With a comprehensive range of builds spanning the entry-level to the pro level, Cannondale has every rider’s budget covered. Cannondale’s Factory Racing team features cross country giants Simon Andreassen and Henrique Acanvivi in addition to sponsoring Swedish slopestyle rider Max Fredriksson.
Founded in 2000 by Max Commencal and based in Andorra, Commencal dominates the gravity mountain bike market. With exclusively aluminum frame bikes, the Commencal lineup is crowned with their downhill race machine, the Supreme, and backed with their freeride platform, the Furious. Touting a dominant presence on the UCI World Cup stage with riders like 2021 UCI World Champ Myriam Nicole, 2020 UCI World Champ Cami Balanche, Amaury Pierron, Thibaut Daprela, and more. Commencal also supports riders such as Red Bull Rampage legend, Kyle Strait. In 2022, they also hired BMX racer Sylvain Andre, so we may see some BMX bikes in their future as well. With aggressive downhill-driven geometry, alloy-only frames, and a direct-to-customer sales model, Commencal has not only been shutting out the competition on the race podium but also offers the best-priced mountain bike for the gravity-driven rider on the market and has quickly become one of the best mountain bike brands.
Based in Bellingham, Washington, Evil Bikes brings out the devil in the details with a unique rear suspension linkage in their Delta System. Born from the coastal trails of the Pacific Northwest, Evil offers primarily carbon trail and enduro bikes but has recently expanded their line into the gravel bike arena with the all-new Chamois Hagar. The rest of their bikes push gravity-driven geometry, with the Wreckoning sitting as the long slack and fast cornerstone of their lineup.
Founded in 1981 in Mendocino, California, Ibis Bikes are true to their avian namesake: light and capable of flight. Ibis offers a relatively small lineup of both carbon and alloy builds, from gravel to enduro bikes, and recently added the highly anticipated Exie cross country carbon build—one of less than a handful of brands manufacturing carbon bikes in North America. Ibis Bikes offer a great balance of build and price, which is why this is one of the most common bike brands that you’ll see out on your local dirt.
The women’s-specific offshoot from the founders of Santa Cruz Bicycles, Juliana bikes are tailor-made for women. The brand is passionate about getting more women on mountain bikes. The first Juliana, made in 1999, launched the brand and carried the name of Juli Furtado, one of the best women’s mountain bikers of all time. Today, Juliana Bicycles’ lineup mirrors the Santa Cruz line, with a few small differences geared toward smaller and lighter riders. Juliana also sponsors a huge lineup of rad female riders who help welcome more women into the sport.
Named after the Marin Headlands, arguably one of the birthplaces of mountain bikes, Marin Bikes was founded in 1986 and is still based in Petaluma, California. While they also make a variety of urban and commuter bikes, the Marin mountain bike lineup offers great variety, from their entry-level price point hardtails to full-suspension bikes at approachable prices, all the way up to carbon enduro race bikes. Featuring modern geometry and reasonable component sets with hydraulic disc brakes, Marin is probably one of the most beginner-friendly brands on the market, with bikes that can be easily upgraded as your ability grows, without losing out on versatile, trail-ready geometry and suspension design.
Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, Niner Bikes is a hometown favorite. With a mountain bike lineup that covers gravel to enduro, Niner’s bikes are made for the climb, and with a slogan like “Pedal, damn it!” you best bet they climb well! While their higher-end bikes are primarily carbon constructions, they also have some great affordable hardtail offerings in aluminum and steel. Niner’s athlete lineup holds true to their hometown vibe, with riders like Kyle Warner who, more than striving just to place on podiums, really shares the stoke of bikes to riders learning and growing in the sport.
Born in the loamy bike backcountry of British Columbia, Norco started as the Northern Cycle Industries in 1964. While their lineup of bikes includes a few gravel and road bikes, Norco is best known for their full selection of mountain bikes, from cross-country bikes to downhill and freeride slashers. With gravity-driven geometry, a full spectrum of pricing, and builds in alloy and carbon, Norco has a bike for any rider, from beginners to pro. Sponsoring a wide range of athletes from cross country and enduro riders to coaches and trail builders, Norco’s most decorated athlete is Jill Kintner, 3x Queen of Crankworx and accomplished downhill, enduro, BMX, and dual slalom racer, she is a do-it-all mountain bike powerhouse.
Based in the desert-riding mountain bike heaven of Tempe, Arizona, Pivot Cycles offers a cutting-edge lineup of mountain bikes. Founded in 2007 by Chris Cocalis, Pivot offers some of the best bikes in the trail and all-mountain categories, including the Switchblade and the Firebird in all-carbon constructions. A brand that really takes family to heart, Pivot sponsors a variety of free agent riders and athletes, including 3x Red Bull Hardline Champ Bernard Kerr.
Shredding the North Shore since 1981, Rocky Mountain is as Canadian as maple syrup. With a rowdy lineup of carbon and alloy bikes, Rocky Mountain is best known for their enduro and trail bikes, like the Altitude and Instinct. They also make freeride, cross country, and children’s bikes. Best known for their world-class enduro team, with the likes of Andreane Nadeau and Remi Gauvin, Rocky Mountain’s biggest up-and-coming star is Veae Verbeeck, who, beyond being a rad downhill racer, has pushed boundaries on the world stage of women’s freeride at Red Bull Formation this year.
Since 1994, Santa Cruz Bicycles has pushed innovation within mountain bikes. Founded by skateboard legend Rob Roskopp with a cutting-edge, full-suspension bike that pushed contemporary bike standards in a garage in Santa Cruz, the mountain bike brand now offers a premier lineup in alloy and carbon frames that spans gravel bikes and hardtails to downhill bikes. With super popular platforms in their trail bike and enduro, including the Bronson, Nomad, and Hightower, you're almost guaranteed to see one out on your local trails. Best known for their downhill racing team, the Santa Cruz Syndicate, with powerhouse 2021 UCI World Champ Greg Minnaar and Luca Shaw, Santa Cruz also supports free agent athletes and cross country racers such as Greta Seiwald, Martina Berta, and Luca Braidot.
Is there nothing Scott doesn’t do? Well known for their winter sports lineup, Scott also has a world-class mountain bike inventory, from high-end innovative new bikes, like the Scott Spark with its hidden in-frame shock, to the tried and true Scott Gambler that is often on the UCI World Cup DH Podium. Founded in 1958 as a ski brand, Scott entered the mountain bike arena in 1991 with their Unishock suspension fork and eventually in 2003 with the Scott Genius bike. With a wide range of bike builds and frames, Scott covers both the entry-level rider and the pro racer.
The king of kings, Specialized is a name you can’t ignore if you’re into anything bikes—road, mountain, or urban, they do it all! Specialized was founded in 1974 at the beginning of mountain biking in San Jose, California, laying the groundwork with the Stumpjumper, still one of the dominant mountain bikes on the market today. With models spanning road, gravel, cross country, trail, enduro, downhill, dirt jumpers, and even a huge line of kids' bikes in what feels like endless combinations of alloy and carbon frames and a variety of build specs, Specialized has a bike for you, and the gear to match. You're likely to find the Specialized brand at a local bike shop anywhere in the United States. With countless world-class athletes across a huge spectrum of disciplines, Specialized is definitely still a rider-driven brand.
Based in Waterloo, Wisconsin, Trek is still as committed to their mission as they were in 1976. Trek is a heavy-weight player in the mountain bike game as they have a bike shop in almost every state and a lifetime warranty on their frames. From the Session, their signature downhill rig, to the Supercaliber, a racer-driven cross country 'soft-tail,’ Trek has continually been on the forefront of mountain bike innovation and a world leader in bike technology. Formerly a division of Trek, Gary Fisher, is known for creating the first mountain bike with 29-inch wheels, which is now one of the most popular wheel options out there. They sponsor a legendary lineup of athletes, including up-and-coming downhill racer Vali Hoell, legendary slopestyle rider Emil Johansson, and free rider and 5x Red Bull Joyride winner Brandon Semenuk.
Colorado Proud, Yeti Cycles was founded in 1985 and is currently headquartered in Golden, Colorado, home to some of the best mountain biking in the country. A high-quality carbon fiber-only, mountain bike-specific brand, their lineup spans lightweight cross country bikes to enduro bikes. Continuing to be innovative in their bike manufacturing, and keeping them at the top of the competition as one of the best mountain bike brands, Yeti released their SB 160 in 2022 bringing better race geometry and a stiffer frame to 29inch wheels and outfitting all but the base model with a SRAM Eagle drivetrain. They are most known for their racer-driven engineering, supporting top enduro racers like 2x EWS Champ Richie Rude and Shawn Neer amongst their stacked team. Sporting their distinct Yeti turquoise (although they have expanded to other colors), you’re likely to see more than a handful of people ripping a local trail here in Colorado on one of their full-suspension mountain bikes.
Founded in 2007 by a couple of kids who couldn’t afford a decent bike, YT is a mountain bike-specific brand driven to open doors to everyone who wants to get stoked on bikes. Based in California, YT offers a variety of gravity-driven trail, enduro, and downhill bikes in both alloy and carbon frames. YT’s lineup features affordable, quality bikes with a little side of rebel. With the new YT Capra dropping this year in a mixed-wheel mullet construction with your choice of SRAM drivetrain, YT continues to shake up the mountain bike industry and is gaining traction as a direct-to-consumer company. While primarily driven to build bikes for everyday riding, YT also supports a lineup of up-and-coming downhill and freeride athletes, including 2021 US National DH champ Dakota Norton.