Whether you are looking for a great way to exercise, or just for a bit of adventure, nothing really beats riding a mountain bike. This is especially true if you choose to go off the beaten path and onto trails that will take you into the heart of the wilderness.
Cross-country is one of the most common forms of outdoor cycling, so when you’re ready to purchase a new bike, which one should you go with?
In our guide, we will highlight the best cross-country mountain bike models and provide you with some tips to help you choose the right one. Whether you’re headed into the forests of Washington or the deserts of Utah, there is a model and style for everyone in our well-rounded list.
Top 10 Cross-Country Mountain Bikes Comparison Table
Everything You Need to Know to Find the Perfect Bike
If you want to find the best cross-country mountain bike for your needs, you’ll need to be a savvy shopper and keep a couple of key factors in mind during your search.
Bike Size. The size of bike that you get will depend upon your stature. If you are a smaller rider, you’ll want a smaller bike, while a larger rider would need a larger bike. To ensure that you get the best fit possible, we highly recommend that you go into your local bike shop to get measured. Once you have an accurate idea of the bike size you need, finding the perfect bike will be that much easier.
Tire Size. The size of your tires and your wheels is largely dependent on the areas that you intend to ride. If the terrain is relatively smooth, you might be able to get away with a smaller tire height, which could help you to shave off a bit of weight from your bike.
Number of Speeds. For most riders and trails, you’ll most likely want to go with 18 or 21 different speeds. This should provide you with plenty of flexibility for the various ups and downs you’re sure to come across, but won’t be too overly complex and expensive to maintain.
Suspension Systems. All mountain bikes come with a front suspension system that helps to cushion your hands against rough terrain. However, you can also get bikes with rear suspension as well, which is great for large drops and extremely rough trails.
Weight. Since you are looking for a cross-country mountain bike, you’ll want to keep the weight as low as possible. Cross country rides can feature some rough trails, large inclines, and beautiful scenery. The last thing you want is to have to cut your ride short because your bike is too heavy.
The Tokul 3 from Raleigh is quite possibly the best cross-country mountain bike out there. It is built around a lightweight, graceful aluminum frame, which, when combined with its quick shifting drivetrain, make it perfect for climbing large inclines quickly. The 27.5-inch tires provide plenty of traction, even if the trail gets extremely rocky and rough.
Something else that really stood out in our testing was the hydraulic braking system. Even when you’re going down the steepest of hills, this bike will allow you to keep it slow and steady or stop quickly. When you order this bike, you also have the option of selecting various components so that you get exactly what you paid for, which will help you get the most out of your biking experience.
Summary: This is an awesome cross country bike! Its lightweight frame and easy shifting drivetrain make it great for going up hills, and its strong brakes and great tires make it great for coming down them too. When you order your bike, you are also able to select from a variety of different components, giving you a chance at a customized riding experience.
The first thing you’ll notice about this bike is the larger than average 29-inch tires. These wheels make it great for going over rocky trails, and make this the ideal bike for novice riders who are just getting started riding on trails. The front suspension also helps out a lot with this, as it will smooth out the roughest stuff for you, helping you to maintain control even at top speed.
This bike features a 21-speed drive train from Shimano. While not quite as quick shifting as our number one selection, it still should provide you with ample gearing to get you up and over even the steepest inclines.
Summary: The Big Mountain is the perfect bike for someone is just getting started riding cross-country trails. Its large tires and smooth suspension help to compensate for a rider’s lack of experience well, and its 21-speed drivetrain will allow you to get up and over inclines with relative ease.
This offering from Raleigh Bikes features oversized 29-inch tires, much like our number two selection. These larger than average tires make it easy to roll over obstacles and gain traction on rough terrain. This bike also features an extremely lightweight frame, which will allow you to fly over single track trails with relative ease.
The front suspension will provide you with a relatively smooth ride, though it seemed to provide less cushioning than the other bikes that we tested. The hydraulic braking system works really well, even on the steepest of hills, giving you the freedom to really get out there and explore.
Summary: The Tekoa from Raleigh is a great bike if you are no longer a beginner, but not quite an expert. The large tires and lightweight frame make traversing tough trails easy. The suspension, while still good, didn’t provide as smooth a ride as the other bikes that were tested.