Perhaps the number one question we get on social media, via email, and on the Singletracks forums is this one: Which bike should I buy? Choosing a new mountain bike is a big decision, so we’ve dedicated this entire episode to sharing our personal recommendations for mountain bikes in the following categories:

  • Hardtail
  • XC Race
  • Trail 27.5
  • Trail 29er
  • Enduro
  • DH
  • Bikes above $4,000
  • Bikes under $1,500

For the first six categories, we each choose bikes that retail for less than $4,000 (and in some cases, much less.) We also provide our recommendations for ultra-expensive bikes and budget bikes in the final two categories.

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# Comments

  • Plusbike Nerd

    Here are my picks. (I consider 2.6″ or wider tires as Plus.)
    Hardtails – 29+ Trek Stache
    XC Race – 29 Specialized Epic S-Works (No Plus XC Race bikes currently available.)
    Trail 27.5 – 27+ Pivot Mach 5.5 or 27+ Ibis Mojo 3 or 27+ Trek Fuel EX
    Trail 29 – 29+ Salsa Deadwood (The only 29+, 3″ wide tire, full-suspension bike available from a major
    manufacturer. I wish there were more!) or 29+ Ibis Ripley
    Enduro – 29+ Scott Genius or 27+ Ibis Mojo HD4
    DH – No clue!

  • Joel DH

    My picks:
    Hardtail: Whyte 905 27.5 x 2.5 XL
    XC Race: Specialized Epic 29
    Trail 27.5: Specialized stumpjumper 27.5 x 2.5
    Trail 29er:Specialized stumpjumper 29 x 2.3
    Enduro: Specialized Enduro 27.5 x 2.5 (absolute no brainer)
    DH: Demo 8 alloy (agian, absolute no brainer)

    • Jeff Barber

      So clearly you recommend Specialized mountain bikes. 🙂

    • Joel DH

      Is it that obvious?
      The only bike I own on this list is my Enduro. I race Cat 1 DH with it and it is awesome.

  • Jokeson

    Love the podcast! Great show. Surprised to hear so many fatbikes in the hardtail category, but i guess it’s that time of year. I want one too. Salsa Timberjack was also on my short list in the Value category but was narrowly beaten out as well. Hard to pick just one in each category but here goes.
    Hardtail – Santa Cruz Chameleon – 27+ or 29 your choice. This Hardtail can do anything. $1699
    XC Race – No idea here but my 11 year old daughter has a Trek Procaliber. It cheap,light and fast. She loves it!
    Trail 27.5 – Salsa Bucksaw $2699 – A bit of a cheater pick. 26×4 full suspension. Where can’t this bike go?
    Trail 29er- YT Jeffsey AL1 On sale $2249. Bargain of the year. Pike fork, guide brakes. Best value by far!
    Enduro – Santa Cruz Nomad $3599 – Who doesn’t want a Nomad. Great bike
    DH – No Interest in owning one. Perhaps a vintage GT downhill bike just for fun.
    Bikes above $4,000 Specialized Turbo Levo Comp $5500 . For extra long rides and summer commuter to work.
    Bikes under $1,500 Marin Hawk Hill $1500 – Nice value Full Squish 120mm travel.

  • sam.lounsbury@gmail.com

    Curious about the Trek Fuel 9.7 pick versus the Fuel 8. It sounded like you were saying you didn’t particularly care (or know) if it was Carbon or Aluminum, and unless I’m missing something the Fuel 8 is actually better component-wise for a similar price, only difference being aluminum frame.

    • Jeff Barber

      Whoops! Busted for not doing my homework. 🙂

      I chose the Fuel 9.7 because I tested the 2017 Fuel 9.8 last year and loved it. However, the Fuel 9.8 retails for more than $5,000 which made it off limits as a recommendation. So, I chose the next level lower, the Fuel 9.7, to get under the cap by a penny. So, my personal recommendation remains the Fuel 9.7, at least given the constraints of the podcast.

      Now, it’s interesting to note that the Fuel 8 is actually one of the most popular mountain bikes among Singletracks readers, year in and year out, based on the quantity and quality of reviews. Clearly it’s a great choice as well, just slightly more removed from the Fuel I have experience with.


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