How do I find the right trail bike?

What is a trail bike?

A trail bike is a versatile mountain bike that has been specially developed for single trails and demanding off-road riding. It combines the efficiency of a cross-country bike with the stability and suspension travel of an enduro bike. Trail bikes are designed to offer good performance both uphill and downhill and guarantee maximum riding enjoyment. They are ideal for mountain bikers who enjoy riding technical trails but also want to go on longer tours.

What makes a trail bike different?

Trail bikes are characterized by a balanced frame with moderate geometry. They usually have a suspension travel of between 120 and 150 mm, both on the fork and on the rear triangle. This suspension travel offers sufficient reserves for demanding trails without compromising pedaling efficiency. Trail bikes usually have a slacker steering angle than cross-country bikes, which improves stability at higher speeds. The seat angle is slightly steeper to enable more efficient power transfer when riding uphill.

What is the difference between trail and cross-country bikes?

The main difference between a trail bike and a cross-country bike lies in the geometry and suspension travel. Cross-country bikes are designed for speed and efficiency and therefore have a shorter suspension travel (usually 80–100 mm) and a more stretched riding position. They are lighter and more agile, but are less suitable for technically demanding trails. Trail bikes, on the other hand, offer more suspension travel and an upright riding position, which improves comfort and control on rough trails. They are more versatile and offer more safety when tackling obstacles.

What is the difference between trail and enduro bikes?

Enduro bikes are the “big brothers” of trail bikes. They are designed even more for downhill performance and offer more suspension travel (usually 150–180 mm). The geometry is even more extreme, with a slacker steering angle and a longer wheelbase for maximum stability at high speeds. Enduro bikes are heavier and less efficient uphill than trail bikes. They are suitable for very demanding trails and bike park use, while trail bikes are the better choice for tours with mixed requirements.

27.5 or 29er?

The wheel size is an important decision when buying a trail bike. 27.5-inch wheels (also known as 650B) offer a good balance of agility and rollover behavior. They accelerate faster and are more maneuverable than 29ers, especially with smaller frame sizes. 29-inch wheels, on the other hand, offer smoother running and better rollover behavior over obstacles. They provide more traction and are more efficient at higher speeds. The choice of wheel size ultimately depends on personal preference and body size.

Fully or hardtail?

Trail bikes are available both as full-suspension (full suspension) and hardtail (suspension fork only). Fullys offer more comfort and traction as they have suspension at both the front and rear. They are better suited to very demanding trails with lots of obstacles and bumps. Hardtails, on the other hand, are lighter, more efficient and often cheaper. They are well suited to less demanding trails and for riders who prefer a more direct riding experience. Hardtails require a more active riding style and more physical effort to take the weight off the rear wheel.

How much does a trail bike cost?

The prices for trail bikes vary greatly depending on the equipment and frame material. Entry-level models with solid basic equipment are available from around 1,500 euros. Higher-quality models with better components and lighter frames can quickly cost between 3,000 and 5,000 euros. High-end trail bikes with top equipment and carbon frames can be even more expensive. It’s important to set a budget and choose components carefully to get the best value for money.

Aluminum or carbon trail bike? The pros and cons.

Aluminum and carbon are the most commonly used frame materials for trail bikes. Aluminum is cheaper, more robust and easier to repair. It offers a good weight-to-rigidity ratio and is durable. Carbon, on the other hand, is lighter and stiffer, which improves efficiency and precision. It dampens vibrations better and offers a more comfortable ride. However, carbon is more expensive, more sensitive to crashes and more difficult to repair. The choice of frame material depends on personal preference, budget and intended use.

The best trail bikes on the market.

There are many excellent trail bikes on the market, varying in price, equipment and geometry. Some of the most popular models are:

  1. Santa Cruz Tallboy: A versatile 29er trail bike with 120 mm travel and efficient geometry.
  2. Specialized Stumpjumper: An all-rounder with 130–140 mm travel, available as a 27.5 or 29er.
  3. Trek Fuel EX: An agile trail bike with 130 mm travel and the option to choose between 27.5 and 29-inch wheels.
  4. Canyon Spectral: A potent 27.5 trail bike with 150 mm travel and aggressive geometry.
  5. Giant Trance: An affordable and versatile trail bike with 140 mm travel, available as a 27.5 or 29er.

This is just a small selection of the bikes you can compare on, other brands such as Rose, Commencal, Focus, Mondraker, Ibis and many more are waiting to be discovered by you.

It’s worth testing and comparing different models to find the perfect trail bike for your needs.

Compare all trail bikes here on

On our website you will find a comprehensive overview and detailed comparisons of different trail bikes. We offer you a filter function that allows you to sort bikes by suspension travel, wheel size, price and other criteria. For each model, you will find detailed descriptions, technical data and reviews from experts and users. Whether you’re looking for an affordable entry-level model or a high-end carbon fully, you’ll find what you’re looking for here. Compare the bikes, read the tests and find your perfect trail bike on!