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Best Mountain Bikes of 2024

Cross-Country BikesTrail BikesEnduro BikesFAQRelated Content

Best Mountain Bikes Of 2024

For Cross-Country, Trail & Enduro

Published June 3, 2024 

 From the fastest racers to the long-travel brawlers, mountain bikes come in an array of frame designs and capability ranges. We’ve done our research and after many exciting new bike releases and updates, we compiled a list of the best cross-country, trail, and enduro bikes. Check out the Herd’s selection on the Best Mountain Bikes of 2024 below.


Best Mountain Bikes For Cross-Country (XC) Riding

Characterized by lightweight builds, efficient suspension systems, and race-inspired geometry, cross-country bikes were designed to cover ground quickly while preserving our energy. From lightweight race machines to downcountry rippers, we picked the best cross-country bikes that excel all over the trails.


Yeti ASR T3 X0 Transmission Mountain Bike

Yeti ASR T3 X0 Transmission Mountain Bike

Best XC Race Bike

 Yeti’s new XC race bike builds upon a past favorite and features many improvements to bring us race-ready performance. With updated flex-stay suspension, modern geometry, and ultra lightweight size-specific carbon profiles, the ASR was reborn to dominate the XC race scene. Yeti pulled out all the stops with the ASR to bring us the lightest full suspension bike they have ever produced. A 66.5-degree head tube angle paired with a 75.5-degree seat tube angle gives us an efficient climbing position and a stable descending platform.


The ASR has many build options, even with a new ultra-premium T5 build, but we think the T3 X0 Transmission build is the perfect middle ground of premium components and value. Equipped with Yeti’s TURQ carbon frame, Fox Factory suspension, and SRAM’s X0 Transmission electronic drivetrain, we are ready for race day from the start.

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Santa Cruz Blur Trail CC X0 Eagle Transmission

Santa Cruz Blur Trail CC X0 Eagle Transmission

Reserve Mountain Bike

Most Reliable XC Bike

 The Blur Trail is the rowdier sibling of the Blur brothers and is Santa Cruz’s response to more aggressive XC courses. The Blur Trail is a prime choice for aggressive XC riding and has the best balance between cross-country efficiency and trail-worthy ability. 115mm of Santa Cruz’s Superlight suspension system transfers our energy into forward momentum for optimal efficiency, while the 120mm fork combined with a 67.1-degree head tube angle puts us in a much better position to point the wheels downhill and over chunky terrain than most other XC bikes.


The Herd named the Blur Trail the most reliable XC bike due to Santa Cruz’s reputation for durable carbon fiber frames, its reliable VPP suspension system, and quality component spec. We picked the X0 Transmission Reserve build for its combination of premium components and value, giving us flawless electronic shifting, lightweight carbon rims, and Fox Factory suspension so we are ready to go right out of the box.


Pivot Mach 4 SL Pro XT/XTR Carbon Wheel Mountain Bike

Pivot Mach 4 SL Pro XT/XTR Carbon Wheel Mountain Bike

Best Quiver-Killer XC Bike

 From racing to shredding singletrack, if we could only have one XC bike, it would be the Pivot Mach 4 SL. Earning its name as the best quiver-killer XC bike, the Pivot Mach 4 SL is a versatile cross-country bike that features race-focused geometry and adjustable rear travel to give us basically two bikes in one.


With 106mm or 115mm of travel, the Mach 4 SL can be adjusted with the flip chip on the shock link to give us a more progressive leverage rate and more travel for tougher trails. Pivot’s XC-tuned DW-Link suspension is exceptionally efficient with balanced performance both up and downhill, ensuring the Mach 4 SL excels all over the mountain.


The XT/XTR carbon wheel build of the Mach 4 SL combines premium Shimano shifting and braking, Fox Factory suspension, and Reynolds carbon wheels for a quality component spec to excel on the trails.


Santa Cruz Tallboy CC XX SL Eagle TransmissionReserve Mountain Bike

Santa Cruz Tallboy CC XX SL Eagle Transmission

Reserve Mountain Bike

Best Dream XC Build

 With trail bike geometry and a lightweight, compact cross-country chassis, there is a reason the Tallboy is coined the downhillers XC bike. With slack geometry combined with suspension kinematics borrowed from its bigger siblings, the Tallboy is the definition of hitting outside of its weight class and can handle trails its travel numbers suggest it can't.


This build of the Tallboy earns our vote as the best dream XC build, outfitting us with some of the most advanced components on the market. SRAM’s top-of-the line XX SL Transmission drivetrain paired with Fox Factory suspension, Reserve’s 30 SL carbon rims, and I9 Hydra hubs bring us an ultra-lightweight, top-tier component spec.


The Tallboy is Santa Cruz’s shortest-travel, full-suspension bike to receive their Glovebox internal frame storage, and comes loaded with integrated frame protection, adjustable geometry, and SRAM’s UDH interface.


Yeti SB120 T3 X0 Eagle Transmission Mountain Bike

Yeti SB120 T3 X0 Eagle Transmission Mountain Bike

Best Downcountry Bike

 Singletrack prowess in an efficient, yet aggressive package, the SB120 is a rowdy cross-country bike some would call the best downcountry bike. The SB120 took the SB115’s chassis and expanded upon it, increasing travel and slackening geometry to give us a bike that is better suited to excel in a broader range of terrain. The SB120 features a revised frame shape and downtube clearance, updated suspension kinematics, and a new micro-Wishbone shock extender, giving the SB120 more clearance, support, and capability.


Yeti’s T3 build ensures top-tier components across the board, equipping us with Yeti’s premium TURQ carbon frame, SRAM’s X0 Transmission electronic drivetrain, and Fox Factory suspension for elite-level performance.


Best Mountain Bikes For Trail Riding

 With an ideal amount of travel for most terrain, trail bikes combine all-over capability with balanced geometry and versatile frame designs to cement themselves as the most popular type of mountain bike. Check out our top picks for the 2024 season.


Santa Cruz Hightower C GX Eagle Transmission Mountain Bike

Santa Cruz Hightower C GX Eagle Transmission Mountain Bike

Best For Heavy-Hitting Days

 Aggressive trail bike or light-duty enduro bike? With the Hightower the choice is yours. 29-inch wheels combined with 145mm of VPP suspension and slack, long, and low geometry gives us a brawler on the trail that seems to always have some left in the tank.


For 2024, the Hightower received the longer, lower, and slacker treatment for confidence on a broader range of trails. On top of that, proportional geometry through size-specific chainstays and seat tube angles ensure every rider on the Hightower has a balanced platform regardless of their frame size.


The C-series carbon frame and GX Transmission build is perfect for budgetoriented riders who still demand quality components and performance. Plus, intuitive features like Glovebox internal frame storage and High/Low Flip Chip adjustable geometry are just icing on the cake.


Yeti SB140 T3 X0 Eagle Transmission 29in Mountain Bike

Yeti SB140 T3 X0 Eagle Transmission 29in Mountain Bike

Best Climbing Trail Bike

 The SB140 is a capable trail bike that has the perfect balance of efficiency and a playful attitude. With 140mm of Switch Infinity suspension, 29-inch wheels, and progressive geometry, the SB140 is the go-to for trail rides filled with massive gains and losses in elevation. For 2024, Yeti updated their Switch Infinity system, fitting us with a cleaner, more durable design, updated suspension kinematics and revised their wishbone link to bring us a smoother, more durable, and more efficient bike than ever.


The Herd agrees, the SB140 wins the best climbing trail bike due to its Switch Infinity rear linkage pairing predictable traction on technical climbs with its ability to be an efficient pedaling bike all over the mountain. An already stellar chassis is accompanied by an elite build spec, giving us Yeti’s top-end TURQ carbon frame, SRAM’s X0 Transmission electronic drivetrain for precise shifting, and Fox Factory suspension for top-tier suspension performance.


Pivot Trail 429 Pro XT/XTR Mountain Bike

Pivot Trail 429 Pro XT/XTR Mountain Bike

Best Short-Travel Trail Bike

 Part cross-country bike and part trail bike, the Pivot Trail 429 is a weapon when we prioritize speed and efficiency but still need capability for rowdier trails. The Trail 429 is a short-travel trail bike with 120mm of travel, but its progressive geometry and renowned DW-Link suspension system have us hitting trails only longer-travel bikes are seen on.


The Trail 429’s all-mountain prowess combined with its featherweight chassis earns the name of best short-travel trail bike. We believe the Pro XT/XTR build is the optimal mid to high-level component set that brings us the most for our money.


Santa Cruz 5010 CC X0 Eagle Transmission Mountain Bike

Santa Cruz 5010 CC X0 Eagle Transmission Mountain Bike

Best For Aggressive Trail Riding

 From jump lines to rowdy trail rides, when we are on the Santa Cruz 5010 every trail becomes a playground. Mixed wheels, short, size-specific chainstays, and 130mm of VPP suspension have us shredding through berms and throwing whips at every chance we get, which is the reason why we named it best for aggressive riding. This bike is designed to be ridden hard to achieve its full potential and rewards the rider with a spritely, playful attitude when a little effort is applied.


To go along with its head-first attitude, the X0 Transmision build features SRAM’s near-bombproof electronic drivetrain for flawless shifting, and RockShox Ultimate suspension for top-tier capability. The usual Santa Cruz finishing touches include their Glovebox internal frame storage, integrated frame protection, and Flip Chip adjustable geometry.


Rocky Mountain Instinct C50 XT Mountain Bike

Rocky Mountain Instinct C50 XT Mountain Bike

Best All-Arounder

 One of the first among Rocky Mountain’s 2024 updates, the Instinct is back and way more capable than before. The new Instinct has slacker geometry, an updated Ride-4 geometry adjustment system, and size-specific tunes to bring us enhanced performance.


This year the Instinct’s 140mm of Smoothlink suspension received revised suspension kinematics to ride higher in its travel and to climb more efficiently. The Ride-4 adjustment system allows us to change our geometry with simpler, more intuitive adjustments, and a 2-position independent chainstay adjustment lengthens our bike for more stability in steeper terrain.


Due to its exceptional adjustability and all-mountain prowess, we can confidently label the Instinct as the best all-around trail bike on our list. The C50 build of the Instinct has quality components, a precise Shimano XT drivetrain, and Rocky Mountain’s carbon frame to ensure we excel on the trails.


Best Mountain Bikes For Enduro Riding

Due to their downhill-optimized capability coupled with their ability to climb back up and do it over again, enduro bikes are a favorite in steeper, mountainous terrain. Whether they are bred to race or just crush the steepest lines around, here is our list of our favorite long-travel steeds.


Rocky Mountain Altitude A50 SLX/XT Mountain Bike

Rocky Mountain Altitude A50 SLX/XT Mountain Bike

Best Adjustability & Versatility

 Back and better than ever, Rocky Mountain’s updated Altitude harnesses multiple improvements in capability and adjustability to take our performance to new heights. The Altitude is fitted with a new low-pivot LC2R suspension system for enhanced rear wheel traction and sensitivity. 165mm of LC2R suspension grips the ground relentlessly, and has a more progressive curve than the previous iteration of the Altitude for better support and sensitivity in rowdier terrain.


The Altitude won the best adjustments and versatility of the enduro bike section due to Rocky Mountain’s recent updates in their Ride adjustment system. The new and improved Ride-4 adjustment system simplifies the adjustments while giving us a broader range of geometry change. An included reach adjust headset allows us to tailor in our perfect fit with 5mm adjustments in either direction. Plus, aggressive riders who want more clearance will be stoked to know the Altitude is MX-compatible thanks to the Flip Chip in the rear shock link.


The A50 SLX/XT build of the Altitude is right in line with its tough attitude, featuring a stout FORM aluminum frame and Shimano’s mixed SLX/XT drivetrain, giving us an exceptionally reliable and durable build spec. The Altitude is finished off with Rocky Mountain’s new Penalty Box 2.0 internal frame storage so we can store extra tools and snacks inside the frame.


Ibis HD6 GX Eagle AXS Transmission Mountain Bike

Ibis HD6 GX Eagle AXS Transmission Mountain Bike

Best Mixed-Wheel Race Bike

The Ibis HD6 is a greatly appreciated addition to Ibis’s lineup, becoming their first dedicated mixed-wheel bike as well as their longest-travel bike. Building upon the Ripmo and their HD models from the past, the HD6 brings a brand-new style to Ibis that we are hoping is a catching trend. 165mm of DW-Link suspension, mixed wheels, and race-inspired design brings us an enduro bike that rips and is sure to be a popular bike seen on the trails. The 180mm fork paired with a 64.5-degree head tube angle compliments the HD6’s rowdy nature, while the steep seat tube angle and supportive DW-Link platform means going for another lap isn't a big deal.


What you see is what you get with the HD6. There is no fancy frame storage or adjustable geometry, but what it lacks in rider conveniences it more than makes up for in sheer all-mountain prowess. This build of the HD6 features SRAM’s GX Transmission electronic drivetrain for flawless shifting that doesn’t come at the same arm and leg price tag as the flashier Transmission models. Plus, all models of the HD6 come with the same quality carbon fiber frame and Fox Factory suspension for top-tier performance.


Pivot Firebird Race XT Mountain Bike

Pivot Firebird Race XT Mountain Bike

Most Reliable Enduro Bike

If you are looking for proven performance, the Pivot Firebird is a one-stop shop. The Pivot Firebird is the product of Pivot’s extensive knowledge in the race scene and is a thoroughbred 29’er race machine with multiple podiums under its belt. Pivot’s renowned carbon fiber frame, 165mm of race-tuned DW-Link suspension, and 29-inch wheels pair together to bring us confidence both bombing down chunky trails at race speed and climbing back to the top.


The combination of Pivot’s premium carbon frames, the Firebird’s proven track record, and the quality spec cement the Firebird as the most reliable enduro bike.


Shimano’s XT build equips us with precise shifting and braking while Fox Performance suspension soaks up trail chatter for a smooth ride. The finishing touches to the Firebird include Flip chip adjustable geometry to slacken out our bike for steeper days, integrated frame protection to keep our paint looking new, and Pivot’s Tool Dock system for versatile mounting options.


Yeti SB160 T3 X0 Eagle Transmission Mountain Bike

Yeti SB160 T3 X0 Eagle Transmission Mountain Bike

Best Dream Enduro Build

Taking over the enduro race spot the SB150 held onto so dearly, the SB160 ramps up the travel to give us a race-bred performance with more capability. The most recent iteration of the SB160 received Yeti’s newly updated Switch Infinity, a revised downtube shape for more clearance, and an updated progression curve to bring us an even faster bike when the race is one the line.


The SB160 is fitted with—you guessed it—160mm of rear-wheel travel sprung by their renowned Switch Infinity platform. Sporting unrivalled anti-squat characteristics paired with enhanced support through the mid-stroke, the SB160 has an optimal balance of pedaling efficiency and big-hit bottom-out support.


The premium race-focused design is complimented by SRAM’s X0 Transmission drivetrain and Fox Factory suspension, giving us fast and precise electronic shifting and a quality suspension set for a race-ready dream build.


Santa Cruz Nomad CC X0 Eagle Transmission Mountain Bike

Santa Cruz Nomad CC X0 Eagle Transmission Mountain Bike

Best Heavy-Hitting Enduro Bike

Whether it's bike park days or sending steep and rocky trails in the mountains, as the name suggests, the Nomad goes wherever, and it never disappoints. Slack geometry, mixed wheels, and 170mm of VPP suspension has any aggressive rider’s attention. We love the Nomad for its ability to smash down the gnarliest trails around and still be able to climb back to the top and do it over again, which is why it's been named the best enduro bike for heavy-hitting trails.


The Nomad features new size-specific frame stiffnesses and chainstay lengths for proportional geometry and an optimal ride quality across all frame sizes. Santa Cruz also updated the suspension kinematics, reducing progression for better traction and efficiency through the entire travel range.


Here we have yet another build with SRAM’s X0 Transmission drivetrain, but it's for good reason. Due to its user-friendly design, flawless shifting experience, and durable construction, it's hard to ignore, especially on a bike like the Nomad. On top of that, we get a RockShox’s Zeb Ultimate fork paired with a Fox Factory Float X2 rear shock to bring us technical downhill suspension performance. Of course, we can't forget about Santa Cruz’s Glovebox frame storage, adjustable geometry, or the top-tier Carbon CC frame.


Choosing A Bike At Backcountry

 Whether you’re after one of the bikes on the list or need help finding the right bike for you, reach out to one of our Gearhead® Experts for knowledge on all things bike over the phone at 1 800-409-4502 or using our chat feature. If you want a closer look at a specific bike, or need service on your current bike, many of our retail locations have demo bikes available to rent and bike service centers offering tune-ups and repairs. And if you’ve got a bike in the box or you’re waiting for it to ship? Check out this assembly video to get rolling right away.


FAQs About Mountain Bikes

Q: What is the best mountain bike for beginners?   

A: Arguably the best mountain bike for a beginner would be a hardtail. Hardtails are an excellent starting point due to their simplistic nature, less maintenance, and lower cost. Hardtails help to teach the rider line choices and the mechanics of mountain biking without adding in the extra learning curve of a heavier, more expensive, and more technical full suspension bike. Once a rider has got the basics down on a hardtail, the skills they acquire on a hardtail will help them become a better rider on a full-suspension bike.   


Q: What are the four types of mountain bikes?

A: The four main types of mountain bikes are cross-country bikes, trail bikes, enduro bikes, and downhill bikes. However, with improvements to geometry and capability more bikes are fitting into the in-between categories of the distinct four. Aggressive cross-country bikes that harness more travel and have slacker geometry than traditional XC bikes, as well as progressive trail bikes that have the ability to dip their toes into enduro waters are just a few examples seen in this list.


Q: What’s the best mountain bike wheel size?   

A: Wheel size has changed significantly over the years. Gone are the days when 26-inch wheels are found on modern adult bikes, even 27.5-inch wheels are way less prevalent than only a couple years ago. The majority of bikes available or seen on the trails are fitted with dual 29-inch wheels or a mixed wheel setup with a 29-inch wheel up front and a 27.5-inch wheel in the rear. 29-inch wheels rollover trail obstacles better, carry our speed more efficiently, and provide more traction with the dirt than smaller-diameter wheels.


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