Types of Mountain Bikes:
Choose the Best One for You

With all the different types of mountain bikes on the market, are you feeling overwhelmed with where to start in choosing a mountain bike? For example, are you wondering how much suspension you need, whether you should get a hardtail or full suspension, or the difference between a cross country and all mountain bike? If you have questions similar to these, I know exactly how you feel because I had them too, which is why I created this page.


When I bought my first mountain bike, I didn't do very good research on the different types of mountain bikes that were available. I just knew I wanted a bike and impulsively bought one of the first bikes I saw.

I did not compare mountain bikes to see what type was the best fit for me. Needless to say, I regretted that decision later.

I definitely did my research before purchasing my next mountain bike and I was so much happier with my decision!

The following are descriptions of different types of mountain bikes to help you figure out which type of bike is best for your riding needs.

Hardtail vs. Full Suspension

Cross Country Mountain Bikes

All Mountain Bikes

Downhill Mountain Bikes

Freeride Mountain Bikes

Singlespeed Mountain Bikes

29er Mountain Bikes

Womens Mountain Bikes

Folding Mountain Bikes

Hardtail vs. Full-Suspension

Mountain bikes have shocks only in the front, in the front and rear, or no shocks at all.

The hardtail mountain bike has suspension only in the front fork. Hardtail mountain bikes are often designed for either racing or recreational riding.

The full suspension mountain bike has suspension both in the front and back. There are several different categories of full suspension mountain bikes, each designed with a different riding purpose in mind.

Rigid mountain bikes are also a type of cross country mountain bike. Rigid mountain bikes are basically mountain bikes with no shocks. Although they were once considered old school, they have made a comeback. The new generation of rigid mountain bikes are very light and efficient.

Cross Country Mountain Bikes

Cross country or XC mountain bikes are the most common types of mountain bikes because they are versatile and relatively lightweight.

Most mountain bike companies further divide cross country mountain bikes into two categories and offer some version of a lightweight racing cross country bike and a more versatile trail cross country mountain bike designed for longer rides.

  • Race XC: These types of mountain bikes are very lightweight and built for speed. The shocks are usually around 100 mm. Bikes in this category may be either full suspension or hardtail.

  • Trail/Marathon XC: These bikes are usually a little heavier then race/xc bikes, but are still pretty lightweight. They are built for epic rides and have a little more suspension than race/xc bikes, often around 120 mm. They are usually full suspension bikes.

Learn more about cross country bikes.

All Mountain Bikes

An all mountain bike or enduro mountain bike is similar to a cross country mountain bike in that it can be ridden uphill and downhill, but it has more suspension in the front and back, usually around 140-160 mm of travel, to handle harder and more technical obstacles. Bikes in the all mountain category are generally heavier than cross country bikes, typically weighing between 25 and 35 pounds.

Downhill Mountain Bikes

The downhill mountain bike is used for riding downhill quickly and is designed with this specific purpose in mind.

Downhill mountain bikes are heavy and are not made for climbing. They often have around 180-220 mm of suspension. These types of mountain bikes are usually hauled up a chairlift or in a vehicle and then ridden downhill. Learn more about downhill bikes.

Freeride Mountain Bikes

The freeride mountain bike is similar to the downhill mountain bike; however, it is more easily maneuvered and is often lighter than a downhill bike. Freeride types of mountain bikes are built for jumping and other technical stunts. They often have around 160-180 mm of suspension.

Single Speed Mountain Bikes

Single speed mountain bikes have only one gear. These bicycles are more cost efficient, low maintenance, lighter, and quieter than their geared counterpart. Because there is only one gear, mountain bikers who ride these types of bikes are usually in relatively good physical shape. Single speed mountain bikes are usually either hardtail or rigid.

29er Mountain Bikes

29er mountain bikes are increasingly becoming more popular. The typical mountain bike has wheels that are approximately 26 inches in diameter when the tire is included. The 29 inch mountain bike has larger wheels that are approximately 29 inches in diameter, including the tire.

The reason for the larger wheels is because they roll over obstacles more easily than the 26-inch wheels. These types of mountain bikes may be full suspension, hardtail, or rigid. Learn more about 29ers.

Women's Mountain Bike

Women's mountain bikes are designed to fit the average body type of a female rider. Women are often smaller, lighter, and have shorter torsos and arms than males. If you are a woman who has this body type, a women's mountain bike is an option you may want to consider.

Folding Mountain Bike

The folding mountain bike is versatile, lightweight, and very portable. These types of mountain bikes can be folded to fit into a suitcase, so they can be taken on a plane, train, bus or boat.

A folding bicycle can also be conveniently stashed in the trunk of your car so you don't need a bike rack. The folding mountain bike is a good option for you if you are limited on space and like to travel with your bicycle.

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"How to Mountain Bike" Ebook

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