Are Mountain Bikes Good For Hills? – Let’s Find Out

Do you face an impossibly hilly commute to and from work every day? Or maybe you’re keen on hitting your local hillside for some good old trail biking. Whatever your situation, we’re here to help you figure out how mountain bikes can contribute.

Mountain bikes are good for climbing hills because of their design and functionalities. Its frames are designed for optimal balance and weight distribution, even on uneven terrain. Suspensions help improve ride comfort, while the gears allow riders to adjust pedal resistance. The wheels on these bicycles are also very grippy and strong.

Are mountain bikes the ideal weapon for tackling steep terrain? How does one learn to ride one in the hills? What are some of the best gradient-defying iterations out there today? All of the answers to these questions await you below.

Can you ride uphill on Mountain Bikes?

As the name suggests, “mountain bikes” are designed and engineered to tackle steep terrain in urban metropolises or country backwoods. Their frames, suspensions, gears, and wheels are oriented towards traversing uneven and unpredictable terrain.

To combat steep gradients, mountain bikes tend to feature head tubes that are steeply angled. This makes it much easier for a rider to apply pressure to the front wheel, a necessity for climbing uphill.

Arguably the most popular part of the bicycle that helps with tackling hills is the gear system. Traditionally, most mountain bikes feature two derailleur gear units:  the front derailleur on the crankset, near the pedals, and a rear derailleur that is attached to the rear wheel hub. Kindly note that a few modern bikes do not have a front derailleur. This gear system, also known as a drivetrain, is adjustable via a shifter, or shifters, located on the handlebar. Higher gears increase the resistance of the pedals, while lower gears make pedaling easier. 

Mountain bikes tend to have wider tires than road or commute bikes. While that may be a slight speed disadvantage on paved climbs and descents, wide tires more than make up for this on dirt trails in the great wilderness with their added traction and strength. 

Most mountain bikes have suspension systems that improve overall ride quality, especially on bumpy and uneven surfaces.

How do you ride a mountain bike uphill?

Riding uphill may seem pretty daunting at first but, with practice and determination, you will soon be devouring any hill you come across.

The main consideration is body position. Weight distribution is central to maintaining balance on a bicycle, and the same rings true for mountain biking. When cycling on a flat surface, the bulk of your body mass is centered over the bike’s lower bracket to achieve a weight distribution that is as close to 50-50 as possible. 

When cycling uphill though, the situation is a little different. To maintain this even distribution, you must lean your body FORWARDS (get your chest over the handlebars) to add weight to your front tire. This will help the tire maintain its grip on the road so you don’t perform any unwanted wheelies! The steeper the climb, the more you lean forward. However, while leaning, try to keep your chin above the bike’s stem. Going beyond this point could skew weight distribution away from the rear tire, causing it to lose traction on the ground. 

You should also shift your hips forward in your saddle when cycling uphill. Again, not too much, just in accordance with the gradient you are facing. Keep your head up at all times and try not to overly fixate your eyes on your front tire. When cycling, especially up or downhill, you want to give yourself as much reaction time as possible, so keep your eyes facing forward at all times.

Pedaling and steering are the other considerations when cycling uphill. When you approach a hill, you might want to engage a low gear ratio to make pedaling easier for yourself. This is especially true if you are a beginner or a little out of shape. If the hill is especially steep, you might have to engage low gear ratios on both the front and rear derailleurs. Once you set off, try to maintain a steady pedal rate or “cadence” because uphill cycling leaves little room for coasting. A good trick is to synchronize your pedaling with your breathing. When it comes to steering the bike, you must keep a tight grip on the handlebars. However, keep your arms as relaxed as possible, and try not to pull on the handlebars because this might cause the front wheel to wobble.

What are the best mountain bikes for climbing hills?

There are many iterations of the modern mountain bike that are available on the market. Regardless of your age, gender, experience, or fitness level, you have limitless options to consider.

Best overall – Diamondback Release 2

The best uphill mountain bike currently available on the market is the Diamondback Release 2, a born champion from the impressive stables of Diamondback Bicycles. This beautiful suspension mountain bike is absolutely perfect for climbing thanks to its short-chain and seat stays, not to mention the awesome Shimano SLX M7100 drivetrain that is capable of 12 speeds. 

Diamondback Release 2

The 27.5-inch wheeled Release 2 also features a high-grade aluminum frame and a Fox Rhythm 34 fork that allows for 150mm of travel. The rear suspension is a Fox Float DPS that provides top-tier ride quality.

Superlatives abound with this bad-boy, as is befitting the king of the hill.

Best budget – Schwinn High Timber

Generally speaking, mountain biking is a pretty expensive hobby. However, the High Timber may have missed that particular memo. 

The ultimate budget climber, this hard-tail trail bike features a 21-speed Shimano drivetrain and an incline-ready aluminum frame. This baby is also perfect for both city and trail cycling thanks to its durable all-terrain wheels. 

We love this bike. And your wallet will too.

Best for beginners – Eurobike X1

If you want an affordable entry-level hill-destroyer before committing to one of the big boys, look no further than the lovely Eurobike X1.

This bike features 27.5-inch wheels and a Shimano 21-speed drive train that features front and rear derailleurs. The lightweight frame is made from High carbon steel, and straight handlebars with relatively wide tires gives you a superior ride performance while making the handling an absolute dream.

The ultimate practice bike for your journey to the top.