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Your guide to mountain bikes

Looking to hit the trails, but don’t know where to start? There are a lot of different ways to ride off-road, and we’re here to help you choose the right mountain bike for however and wherever you want to ride.

What type of mountain bike is right for me?

First, think about where and how you want to ride. Do you want to ride easy trails with the kids? Challenge yourself on steep, rocky terrain? Or maybe you want long days on big mountain adventures. Are you an aspiring racer? Do you want to crush the climbs, or are you saving energy for the descent?

Your local terrain and style of riding will determine the type of mountain bike you want.

Cross country mountain bikes

Cross country bikes are built for efficient pedaling and quick handling. They’re lighter than other bikes and have parts chosen for speed, like shorter-travel suspension and faster-rolling tires, making them great for racing or riding light trails.

Downcountry mountain bikes

Downcountry bikes combine snappy XC bike handling with a little extra suspension. They can handle trails that are rougher than what a pure XC race bike can handle comfortably, but they're still more focused on speed than a true trail bike.

Trail mountain bikes

Trail bikes keep you stable and in control on rough terrain. They’re heavier than XC bikes, but the longer-travel suspension and bigger tires deliver more traction and comfort. They're a blast on descents and great on the widest variety of trails.

Fat bikes

Fat bikes, also known as snow bikes, let you ride over loose terrain like snow or sand. Their extra-wide tires make them harder to pedal than bikes with standard tires, but they deliver tank-like traction and stability so you can go almost anywhere.

Downhill mountain bikes

Downhill bikes are built with the most suspension travel for tackling the steepest terrain, gnarliest features, and biggest jumps. They’re not intended to be pedaled uphill—instead you'd use a chair lift or shuttle truck to get to the top.

What kind of mountain bikes are there?

Now that you know what type of riding you want to do, let’s narrow your choices down. The most common types of bikes—trail and cross country—can either be full suspension bikes with both front and rear shocks, or hardtails with no rear shock.

Full suspension mountain bikes

These bikes have both front and rear shocks. That makes them more comfortable and easier to control over rough terrain. Rear suspension helps keep the back wheel tracking the ground, so you get better traction. However, the rear shock and the hardware that goes with it usually make the bike heavier. The additional movement from the shock can often make pedaling less efficient, especially on sprints and smooth climbs. Plus, more moving parts means more maintenance.

Shop full suspension mountain bikes

Hardtail mountain bikes

These bikes usually have front suspension, but no rear shock. That makes them lighter and easier to maintain. They are usually faster to pedal, especially in sprints and on smoother climbs. However, with no rear shock to absorb bumps, it takes more effort to stay in control over rough terrain. It’s also easier to lose traction, especially on rougher climbs. That’s why Trek hardtail trail bikes have wider tires with more grip.

See hardtail mountain bikes
Full suspension vs. hardtail bikes

Are there women’s specific mountain bikes?

Every rider deserves a bike that fits and feels great, no matter their gender, body type, style of riding, or level of experience. Most of our lineup is gender neutral, so we can offer more models in more sizes and colors to ensure that everybody gets more choice. For that reason, we recommend starting your search by checking out types of bikes (cross country, trail, etc.) instead of simply starting with a women’s specific bike.

Learn more about women’s specific mountain bikes

What about electric mountain bikes?

Electric-assist mountain bikes boost your pedaling power with a small electric motor. You pedal them like any other bike but can go farther and explore more places than you could on a regular bike. Whether you’re a cross country or trail rider, an e-MTB will give you more of everything you love about mountain biking.

Shop electric mountain bikes

What wheel size is best for me?

Mountain bike wheel size can seem complicated, but it’s not. Most of our cross country and trail bikes come with 29-inch wheels because they carry more speed and roll over obstacles more easily. The smallest sizes on some models come with more proportional 27.5-inch wheels that give shorter riders a better fit and easier handling. Since smaller wheels are more nimble and easier to throw around, we also use them on Remedy—our trail bike built for playful riding and extra style points on jumps.

Learn more about wheel size

Where do I ride?

Learn how to find your local trails, people to ride with, and basic trail etiquette.

Find places to ride

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