Here are my results after looking for the best mountain bikes for climbing. In order for a bike to be good at climbing it needs to have a few characteristics. It needs to be lightweight, have a short head tube angle, a long chainstay, and slightly wider tires. I found a balanced combination of these attributes below with a full explanation. This selection should help you to choose the best bike for you.
1. Santa Cruz Megatower Mountain Bike
- The Santa Cruz Megatower is great for climbing because it has a pretty steep head tube angle of 64.7 degrees. This makes sure there is enough weight and grip on the front end. The chainstay is 17.1 which gives you a more comfortable ride and increases traction for climbing hills.
- This mountain bike only weighs 33.35 pounds so it is pretty light for going up hills. The tires are 29 inches and the tires are 2.5 inches wide which improves gripping power for steep hills.
- Both front and rear tires are Maxxis Minion DHF. They are 29 inches in diameter, the front tire is 2.5 inches wide and the rear is 2.4 inches wide which puts extra emphasis on the front tire.
- For your support the front fork uses a RockShox Yari RC and has 160mm of travel. So once you get to the top of your climb you can zoom back down. This travel will give you a nice cushion when going over rocks, roots, and small obstacles.
- The Santa Cruz Megatower is lightweight because the frame is made from Carbon C. Carbon is light but also durable. It is also flexible enough to absorb the impacts from the trail.
- When you are climbing various types of hills it is important to get into the right gear. The Megatower gives you 12 speeds from which to choose from. It is equipped with the SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain system.
- The cassette is a SRAM PG1230 and has 11 to 50 teeth for your chain. You’ll be able to shift gears without worrying about your chain slipping or getting stuck.
- Once you pick up speed you will need to slow down sooner or later. Its SRAM Guide RE brakes give you maximum stopping power.
- When you are going up and down hills it is important to set your saddle at the right height. You should raise the seat when going uphill and lower it when going downhill. Making this as easy and quick as possible is Megatower’s Race Face Aeffect dropper seat post. Now you can raise or lower the saddle at the push of a button.
- The handlebars are Race Face Aeffect R model, they will maximize your bike handling ability and keep the bike and yourself stable whether you are going up or downhill. The grips are Santa Cruz Palmdale grips for comfort and power.
- The saddle is a WTB Silverado Race saddle. The saddle positions you upright and comfortable for going uphill quickly.
2. Santa Cruz Bronson 2019
The Santa Cruz Bronson is great for climbing because it is pretty lightweight at 31.51 pounds. Compared to the Megatower the Bronson is a full 2 pounds lighter.
The head tube angle is fairly steep at 65.4 degrees. This angle helps to keep weight on the front end for going uphill. The chainstay is slightly shorter than the Megatower but still long enough to improve your comfort and traction at 16.9 inches.
The Bronson has 27.5 inche tires and they are both Maxxis Minion wheels. The front tire is 2.5 inches wide and the rear is 2.4 inches wide. Wider tires help to increase traction and grip, so you can grab all types of terrain without sliding.
Supporting you is Bronson’s V-10 suspension linkage which has been incorporated in to the frame of the mountain bike. This V-10 design gives you progression which you would only usually get on a downhill bike. Plus you get small bump feather light sensitivity and mid pedal stroke support.
So the way the suspension is linked together the suspension will adjust to even the smallest impact. This gives you the smoothest ride possible.
In addition the seat tube is steep, this angle lets you climb all types of inclines more easily. On the way down you’ll have 150mm of travel on the rear with its RockShox Super Deluxe R. For the front end there is a 160mm of travel with its RockShox Yari MotionControl RC. Both shocks will help you cruise downhill while staying in control and stable.
The Bronson is 2 pounds lighter than the Megatower, this is because the frame is made of Carbon Bronson R. This carbon is strong but not brittle so it can handle serious impacts that you get while going on the trails.
Getting to the right gear for all the various inclines and declines is easy. There are only 12 gears to choose from which keeps things simple. The gears are part of the SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. The cassette is a SRAM PG1230 and has 11 to 50 teeth for the chain to lock on to.
To slow you down with maximum braking power are the SRAM Guide T brakes. You will be able to consistently slow down smoothly without flying over the handlebars.
The handlebars are Race Face Aeffect R for maximum bike handling control and stability. The grips are Santa Cruz Palmdale grips which fit all types of hands big and small.
3. Banshee Darkside Jenson
- The Banshee Darkside Jenson is good for climbing because it has one of the steepest head tube angles I have found at 63.5 degrees. This helps to transfer more of the weight out to the front end of the bike.
- What is unique about the Banshee is there are 3 head tube angles to choose from, 63.5 which is the lowest, neutral is 64.0 and high at 64.5 degrees.
- The chainstay is 17.1 inches which is the longest the Banshee Darkside has. This length improves comfort and increases traction for going uphill.
- The tires are Schwalbe Magic Mary and are 27.5 inches, plus they are 2.35 inches wide. These tires are slightly thinner than the two previous bikes but the head tube is steeper so it balances itself out when comparing head tube angle and tire width.
- The frame of the Banshee Darkside is made of aluminum and provides 180mm of KS-link suspension. This suspension is primarily set up for fun downhill riding and park riding. The KS link pivot system has been designed for optimized suspension kinematics. This means it is set for riding fast, lively and aggressively going uphill and downhill.
- Once you get to the top of a hill even if it is a steep hill you’ll be able to go down it with ease. The front fork is equipped with the RockShox Boxer RC which has 200mm of travel. This will absorb small and big impact as you go downhill. The fork will compress way down to take in the impact then return to the original position smoothly in order to maintain stability.
- Whether booming downhill or climbing up a hill or mountain the right gear will get you there. The Banshee keeps this simple with 7 speeds to pick from. The rear derailleur is a SRAM GX DH 7 speed gear system.
- The cassette is a SRAM PG-720 and has 11 to 25 teeth for your chain to grab onto. Seven gears is pretty easy to sequentially shift thru. You will be able to shift reliably, quickly, and accurately to the right speed for maximum pedaling power and efficiency.
- Slowing you down smoothly, powerfully, and gradually are its Shimano ZEE hydraulic disc brakes. Hydraulic brakes give you the ability to modulate your braking power better than mechanical brakes.
- The handlebars are Race Face Atlas 35 bars. They have a width of 800mm for maximum control and stability. Plus there is a 20mm rise in the handlebars for a more comfortable arm angle and grip.
4. Yeti SB130 Turq 2019 Mountain Bike
The Yeti SB130 Turq makes it easier to climb hills and mountains because the wheels are 29 inches. 29 inch wheels roll forward faster and easier than smaller wheels. So once you get going uphill these wheels will keep your momentum going forward.
Along with being large wheels the tires are wide at 2.5 inches. This will give you a better grip on all types of terrain including climbing as each pedal push will dig into the grounds incline.
When going uphill the front end need to be steep so the wheel is not too light which causes a loss of traction. The SB130 has a head tube angle of 65.5 degrees which keeps the tire closer to the rider and increases the grip when climbing. Also the chainstay is 17 inches which makes your ride more comfortable enabling you to push your pedals harder.
Supporting this geometry is the frame which is made of Turq Carbon. This carbon is light and stiff, but it is not brittle. It is durable and responsive. Its responsiveness enables it to absorb and handle impacts from the trail.
The front tire is a Maxxis Minion DHF and is 2.5 inches wide and the rear tire is a Maxxis Aggressor which is 2.3 inches wide. Both tires have a strong grip and a fast roll over rate.
The Yeti SB130 is supported on the front with 150mm of travel with a Fox Factory 36 fork. The rear has a 130mm of travel from its Fox Factory DPX2 rear shock. Both of these shocks will make your ride smoother. In combination with the larger tires you’ll roll over roots, rocks, and small obstacles with ease.
The rear shock uses special technology. It is known as Yeti’s Switch Infinity suspension platform. It has better kinematics and increased progression. More progression enables the shock to have better small bump sensitivity and suppleness.
This occurs because the further the rear shock gets into the travel the stiffer it gets. So it is able to adapt to the smallest bumps on the trail as well as the biggest.
Getting you to the right gear is the SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain which has 12 speeds to choose from. You’ll be able to shift to the perfect gear no matter what kind of incline or decline you are on.
The crankset is a SRAM X01 Carbon Eagle and has 30 teeth for your chain to bite into. No skipping gears or stuck chains.
The handlebars are a good width at 780mm, they increase control of the mountain bike as well as stability.
5. Evil Following
- The Evil Following is able to maintain fast rolling speeds which help to keep your momentum going forward when climbing. This is because it has E13 Alloy wheels which also improve the bikes ability to roll over obstacles.
- The head tube angle is fairly steep at 66.8 degrees. This keeps the bike’s weight more centered because the front tire is closer in toward the rider. This distributes weight toward the front end increasing grip. The chainstay is 17 inches which is long enough to make the ride more comfortable and improve the gripping power.
- When climbing uphill you need to pump the pedals harder with more force. There will be an imbalance during the full rotation of the pedal stroke. This imbalance can make the bike unstable and move left and right making pedaling less efficient. Wide handlebars will help to offset this.
- The Evil Following has Race Face Aeffect handlebars which are 780mm wide. This width will improve bike handling and stability when pedaling powerfully uphill. There is also a 20mm rise in the handlebars which bring the handlebars closer to the rider improving comfort and increasing grip power.
- The foundation of the bike is the frame which is a molded one-piece carbon fiber frame. This frame uses Evil’s Delta System. The Delta System was created by suspension master Dave Weagle. The geometry of the Following is slack and low, but still steep enough for climbing efficiently. The chainstay is responsive and it has an adjustable bottom bracket height.
- The tires of the Evil Following are 29 inch Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires. These tires have knobs on them which improve traction for all types of terrain as well as for inclines and declines. The tires are 2.35 inches wide which is a little thinner than other tires but the tires have knobs on them so we don’t want the tires to be too wide. Otherwise wide tires with knobs make the tire too sluggish for uphill climbing.
- The front end is equipped with a black fork and uses a RockShox Pike RCT3 with 140mm of travel. The rear shock is a RockShox Monarch RT3 184x42mm. Both shocks act to absorb and cushion the bike and the rider from impacts on the trail.
- For going up and down various inclines and declines there are 12 gears you can use. The drivetrain is a SRAM 12 speed. The cassette has 10 to 50 teeth for the chain.
- No matter how fast you go once you get to the top of the climb you’ll be able to stop smoothly and under control. The Following uses Shimano SLX hydraulic disc brakes for maximum stopping power.
6. Ibis Ripmo GX Eagle
The Ibis Ripmo GX Eagle has a unique design that shortens the head tube angle which improves its climbing ability. It uses a fork offset that is shorter than what is normally used on a 29er. This makes the head tube angle feel like it is 64.5 degrees even though it is really 65.9 degrees.
Also the seat tube angle is 76 degrees. This distributes more weight over the front tire. With more weight on the front tire, this improves traction and grip when climbing.
The chainstay is 17.1 inches which is the distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the rear axle. This length is long enough to increase traction and improve comfort.
The front tire is a Maxxis Minion DHF and the rear tire is a Maxxis Terra. Both are 29 inches in diameter and has a high natural average rolling speed. They are both 2.5 inches wide. The fairly wide width improves traction for all types of terrain and is especially helpful when going up hill.
This bike is very lightweight because it is made from a carbon frame which is less than 6 pounds. Even though it is made of carbon and very light, this carbon is strong, durable, and will absorb impact from the trail.
The front end is supported by a Fox Float 36 Performance fork which provides 160mm of travel. The rear end is supported by a Fox Float DPX2 and offers 145mm of travel. Both shocks allow you to ride over rocks, roots, and small obstacles without taking on the severe impact. The shocks absorb it all leaving you with a smooth ride.
The Ibis Ripmo is equipped with a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain which provides 12 speeds for inclines and declines. The cassette has 10 to 50 teeth for the chain to dig into on the rear.
The cassette is a SRAM XG-1275 and the crankset is a SRAM Descendant and has a 32 tooth chainring. This chainring has enough teeth and gears for getting you to the top of any hill.
Once at the top of the hill you need the right amount of stopping power so you don’t crash or fly over the handlebars. The Ripmo uses Shimano Deore hydraulic disc brakes. It has 180mm rotors on the back and front wheels. Hydraulic disc brakes allow you to stop in a smooth controlled manner.
In order to maximize powerful pedaling and efficiency for inclines and declines you need to raise or lower your seat at will. The Ibis uses a Bike Yoke Revive Dropper Seatpost. Now you can adjust your saddle on the fly while climbing or descending.
7. Niner Rip 9
- The Niner Rip 9 is made using an RDO carbon frame. This frame is very durable and lightweight. Its lightness helps when climbing, but even more helpful is the suspension design. This frame uses Niner’s Constant Varying Arc or CVA. It increases the efficiency of your climb, and enhances the smoothness of your descent.
- The geometry of the frame aids in climbing with a fairly steep angle of 66.5 degrees for the head tube. The chainstay is 17.1 inches in length which increases traction and grip for all types of trails, inclines, and declines.
- Unique to this frame is the fact that you can use two different types of tires on it. You can put on the Niner Rip 29 inch tires that are 2.5 inches wide and 27.5 inch tires which are 3.0 inches wide. Now you have a wider range of traction for a wide range of terrain and trails.
- The tires that come with the bike are Maxxis Minion DHF 29 inch and 2.5 inches wide for the front. The back tire is a Maxxis Minion DHR II 29 inch and 2.4 inches wide. Both can take a beating and keep on rolling.
- The front tire is supported with a Fox 36 Float Factory fork with 160mm of travel. This fork will be able to compress and absorb a lot of heavy impacts on the trail. It also has a FIT4 damper which enables you to adjust the fork anytime with ease.
- The rear end has a Fox Float DPX2 Factory EVOL shock. You can adjust it into 3 different positions using its convenient lever.
- The Niner Rip 9 gives you 12 gears to choose from so you can accurately dial in on the correct speed depending on the incline or decline you are on. It uses a SRAM GX Eagle 12 speed shifter along with a SRAM GX Eagle rear derailleur. The cassette is a SRAM Eagle 1275 and has 10 to 50 teeth. This gives your chain enough teeth to pedal you through all types of terrain, inclines, and declines.
- The wheelset is made by Stan’s NoTubes which also includes ZTR Flow MK3. This is a tubeless ready setup so you can have tubeless tires which you can then run using lower tire pressure for a smoother ride and improved traction.
- When you need to stop or slow down just squeeze the brake levers. This will activate the SRAM Guide R hydraulic disc brakes for maximum stopping power. If you are going around a corner or switchback just feather the brake levers to modulate and more gradually slow down.
- The handlebars are nice and wide at 780mm, and they have a helpful rise of 20mm. These handlebars will provide control and stability along with comfort due to the 20mm rise.
8. Orbea Rallon M10 2019
The Orbea Rallon M10 is equipped with a DT Swiss wheelset. The wheelset is lightweight, rigid, and quick rolling. This is good for climbing because it is light and has natural fast rolling engagement pushing you uphill more efficiently.
The head tube angle is only 65 degrees which is steep enough to make a difference by keeping the weight toward the front end improving traction and control. The chainstay is long enough at 17.1 inches to enhance comfort and stability while making a climb to the top of a hill or mountain.
The frame is made from monocoque carbon fiber. Its lightweight will save you weight compared to other materials like aluminum or steel. Even though it is strong and durable it is not brittle. So it is able to absorb the shocks and bumps on the terrain.
This Rallon is the 5th generation of its kind. The geometry is low and the frame has a nice smooth matte finish. If you like standing out, from a distance you’ll know that this bike is an Orbea because of its lush Orbea color scheme. Its a cool looking mountain bike.
What is unique about the Rallon M10 is that it has two settings for the suspension. They are low and lower. You’ll be able to shred berms, and have maximum control on super rocky chutes and drops.
It is equipped with Fox suspension which provides ultimate performance because there are 3 settings to choose from to adjust the suspension to your liking. The front end uses a Fox 36 Float Performance fork with 160mm of travel. The rear shock is a Fox DPX2 Factory Evol Kashima custom tune and adjustment shock. Both shocks will cushion your ride over all types of terrain.
Making it even easier to go over rough terrain like rocks, roots, and branches are its 29 inch wheels. 29 inch wheels roll over obstacles easier than smaller wheels. These tires are Maxxis Aggressor tires which are 2.5 inches wide which improves grip on inclines and declines.
Providing the speed and power you need is its SRAM GX and X01 Eagle Kit. This system gives you 12 gears to use for climbing and descending. Plus the cassette is a SRAM GX XG-1275 Eagle and has 10 to 50 teeth for your chain to latch on to.
Slowing you down after pedaling and acceleration are its Shimano XT M8020 hydraulic disc brakes. Due to the fluid in the tubes which push the brake pads closed you can more accurately modulate your braking power.
The saddle is a Selle Italia XR trail seat. It is comfortable and includes a Race Face Aeffect kit which has a very responsive dropper seat post for easy adjustments.
9. Marin San Quentin 1 2019
- The Marin San Quentin 1 is a hardtail bike which makes it lighter than full suspension plus it has a head tube angle of 65 degrees. Both of these attributes make it good for climbing as well as for speeding downhill because it has 130mm of travel.
- The chainstay is a bit shorter than we have seen at 16.7 inches but still long enough to enhance riding comfort and increase gripping power.
The tires are 27.5 inches and San Quentin 1 uses the Vee tire which is made with a dual control compound and wire bead. This gives it extra grip and control even though the tires are slightly thinner at 2.3 inches wide.
- The frame is made from aluminum and is a series 2 6061 model. The frame is double butted. Aluminum frames are strong, durable, and relatively lightweight. They are strong enough and flexible enough to absorb shocks from the trail.
- The front end has a SR Suntour XCM32 shock with a 130mm of travel. You can lock out the suspension for a stiffer ride. This is good for climbing up smooth trails with no bumps or small obstacles. It will keep your ride nimble and lively.
- If you want more traction you can switch out the tires and go tubeless. The San Quentin 1 is equipped to use Marin tubeless ready wheels. This will reduce the likihood of getting a flat and it will increase traction. Traction can be increased because with tubeless tires you can run them with a lower psi.
- To go up steep hills you will need the right gears. The Shimano drivetrain provides 9 gears to use. The rear derailleur is a Shimano Altus and has a shadow design. Shimano is reliable and will ensure fast sequential shifting up and down the gears without skipping.
- The crankset is the Marin Forged Alloy made from aluminum and has a 32 tooth chainring. These 32 teeth will keep the KMC X9 chain securely hooked onto the teeth for powerful pedaling.
- Reliable stopping power is important to prevent any accidents from happening. The Marin San Quentin 1 utilizes Tektro M275 hydraulic disc brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes allow for superior modulation of braking power when compared to mechanical brakes. For increased modulation feather the brake levers with your pointer finger when going around corners.
- The San Quentin 1 uses the Marin Mini-Riser handlebars. They are made from double butted aluminum. They are 780mm wide which increase control and stability. Plus they rise 5 degrees up and the bars angle back 9 degrees for better comfort and grip power.
10. Ibis Mojo HD4
The Ibis Mojo HD4 is the 4th generation of Mojo. The geometry has been completely redesigned to make this mountain bike faster and more stable. This is good for climbers because the head tube angle is now steeper at 64.9 degrees.
The chainstay is 16.9 inches which as we have seen before increases riding enjoyment and the grip of both tires.
The frame is made of carbon and its design has been upgraded. They layup of the carbon has been redefined. There is a 30% stiffer upper link, and a 40% increase in the stiffness of the lower link. This results in an overall greater frame stiffness. This stiffness keeps the Ibis Mojo more stable and improves ride quality.
The cables of this bicycle are internally routed in order to protect the cables from rain, snow, and mud. Plus it keeps the frame from looking tangled, allowing it to have a clean, sleek look.
The tires are 27.5 inches in diameter and are 2.6 inches wide. The wide width of these Maxxis Minion tires gives you maximum traction for incline and declines.
An upgrade which will help mountain bike climbing are its all new Descendant cranks. They are stiff and light, saving you weight while still durable. Your pedaling efforts and power will be more effectively shifted to the wheels to push you forward with more power for each pedal stroke.
For maximum acceleration for all types of terrain, inclines, and declines there is a new drivetrain for the HD4. It is the SRAM GX Eagle which equips you with 12 speeds so you can shift into the right gear for maximum pedaling power and efficiency.
The cassette is the SRAM GX Eagle XGlide. It has 10 to 50 teeth for the chain to interlock with. The chain is a SRAM Eagle GX and it includes a power lock feature for improved chain stability so it will not skip, or slip when shifting.
To slow down and stop the Ibis Mojo are it Shimano BL/BR-M615 brakes. The front rotor is 180mm and the rear rotor is 160mm. These Shimano hydraulic disc brakes will slow you down smoothly, gradually, and with accurate control.
You also have control of your saddle height at will and on the fly. There is a KS Levi Si dropper seat post you can use to get the saddle out of the way on technical terrain. Then with the power of a button raise up the saddle for steep climbs to make your pedaling more efficient and powerful. The handlebars are made of 7075 aluminum and are 780mm wide. Plus they have a 20mm rise for comfort and control.