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Where to buy a mountain bike – expert advice on buying in-person or online

Trek Rail 9.9 first ride
(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

For a long time, the answer to 'where to buy a mountain bike' was simple: you went to the bike shop in your local city or town and your choice was limited to the number of bikes the store had in stock. However today, there are increasingly more options on where you can buy a bike. Traditional brick-and-mortar shops are still key, but online retailers now provide an abundance of choice, and many manufacturers themselves now sell direct via their own websites. There's also a huge second-hand market, long-term bike leasing schemes and more. 

Mountain biking has been increasing in popularity over the years and, like all forms of cycling, that growth became exponential with the COVID-19 pandemic. More and more locations around the world are realizing the value of mountain bike trails in their community, and youth cycling programs are making it easier to get into the sport. Pair all of that with the lockdowns in recent years, where millions of people were furloughed and for many, the only legitimate reason to leave the house was for exercise, and you get a booming demand for bikes and bike parts. 

That boom has been a good thing for brands in the bike business, but it has also caused headaches, supply chain issues and stock shortages, so it's more important than ever to know where you can find a bike. Even when stock issues, yes they are still on-going, become a remnant of the past, knowing your options could help you get a better deal or buying experience. 

Continue reading for our guidance on where to find a mountain bike, no matter if you're still on the journey of working out how to start mountain biking, or you've been riding for decades. Or if you would like help with choosing a bike, you might like to check out our guides to the best budget mountain bikes and the best trail bikes.

Online

Endless choice from the comfort of your home

Reasons to buy

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Lots of different places to shop
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Home delivery
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Convenience 

Reasons to avoid

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Can't test ride the bike
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Need some assembly and maintenance knowledge 
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Too much choice may create decision fatigue

As with everything nowadays, there is a huge selection of websites where you can buy a mountain bike, e-MTB, or gravel bike. These online shops make it easy to browse a wide variety of bikes from the comfort of your own home. You can easily see information and specifications about the bikes, too. 

There is the possibility of decision fatigue though, where so much choice makes it hard to decide what you actually want. In a traditional bike shop, there are employees to help you find the right bike for your individual needs, but these don't exist on retail sites. Of course, that's where we can help with our comprehensive mountain bike reviews and buyers guides. 

Another thing to think about is actually assembling the bike once it arrives at your home. You should know how to assemble a bike and make sure that it's safe to ride if you're going to be ordering one online. Or be ready to pay your local bike shop a fee to do it for you. 

In the list below, we've rounded up our pick of the mainstream retailers that sell bikes, along with clothing, components, accessories, and more. 

Where to buy a mountain bike online

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Competitive Cyclist (opens in new tab) is one of the largest cycling retailers in the US, and despite the worldwide bike shortage, they've still got bikes in stock, across mountain, e-MTB, and gravel. 

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Jenson USA (opens in new tab) is another USA-based retailer that has mountain as well as gravel bikes. Currently, they stock e-MTBs from Devinci and Marin. Jenson also offers exclusive builds that you can't find elsewhere. 

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REI (opens in new tab) is a general outdoors retailer based in the USA. Since they aren't solely focused on bikes, their stock isn't as comprehensive as other websites, but they do carry brands like Cannondale and Salsa. 

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Wiggle (opens in new tab) is a well-renowned retailer that covers most of the globe. If you're looking for a bike from Vitus, Cube, or GT, Wiggle is a great place to look. 

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Backcountry (opens in new tab) is connected to Competitive Cyclist, so many of the same products are on offer across both sites, but it's always worth checking both sites as there are occasionally site-wide discounts that can help you save money. 

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Chain Reaction Cycles (opens in new tab) is connected to Wiggle, so you'll often find the same bikes on both sites, but we recommend checking both sites since you might find differing prices. 

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Cyclestore (opens in new tab) is a small UK retailer featuring loads of reputable brands like Specialized, Cannondale, Kona and more. 

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Evans cycles (opens in new tab) is one of the longest-serving bike retailers in the UK with stores around the country. It has a reputation to uphold, and will do so with high levels of customer service, therefore, should your bike ever have an issue, you can be sure they'll look after you. 

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Tredz (opens in new tab) is a UK retailer offering bikes from the likes of Cube, Orbea, and Lapierre. 

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Rutland Cycling (opens in new tab) is one of the best-stocked bike retailers in the UK, featuring bike brands like Specialized, Giant, and Scott. With stores around the UK and a long-serving reputation, you can be sure to trust the bike and the customer service will be solid. 

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Hargroves Cycles (opens in new tab) is well stocked with bikes and has options covering all disciplines, from mountain biking to gravel. 

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Leisure Lakes (opens in new tab) is another UK retailer with plenty of stock. 

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Pure Electric (opens in new tab) is based in the UK, but it has stores elsewhere across Europe. They are dedicated to electric bikes, so if you're looking for an e-MTB or e-gravel bike, they may have something for you. 

Your local bike shop

In-person advice, test rides, and a bike built by a pro

Reasons to buy

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Helpful advice
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See and test bikes in person
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Professional bike build
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Possible discount on accessories bought at the same time
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Best place for beginners to buy a bike

Reasons to avoid

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Comparative lack of choice
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Less convenient than browsing online

Many riders value the ability to get expert buying advice from their local bike shop. Purchasing a bike is of course a big financial commitment, so speaking with a sales representative at the bike shop can ensure that you are truly buying the right bike for you. 

Some shops will also operate a website, which could enable you to virtually browse the store without ever stepping foot inside, and even hold your order for you to pick up at the shop. Or conversely, many stores will offer to deliver your bike to your home, making it convenient if you only own a small car. 

The obvious downside to all this is that you don't quite get the convenience of shopping from your armchair at home. Also, rarely does a bike shop stock all available brands, so your amount of choice is usually limited to what the store has in stock or can get from its suppliers. 

However, other benefits to buying in person include the relationships you can build with the staff at your local bike shop. They are likely keen cyclists themselves with years of experience. There will no doubt be mountain bikers, road racers, bikepackers, and others who simply enjoy the convenience of two wheels. So when you inevitably have a question about good routes to ride or what the best mountain bike helmet is likely to be for your style of riding, they'll have an answer, and they might even throw the helmet in as part of the purchase. 

Canyon Stoic

From click to corner, manufacturer direct provides hard to beat value for money (Image credit: Canyon)

Manufacturer direct

Great if you have your eye on a specific brand

Reasons to buy

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Most will offer pick up via a bike shop
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Access to a brand’s full lineup
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First access to available stock

Reasons to avoid

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No ability to test ride
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Discounts are rare

If you have your heart set on a specific brand or model of bike, a great way to shop is to go direct to the brand that makes it. The exact process will differ depending on the brand in question. Some will offer delivery direct to your door, while others will mandate delivery to your local bike shop so that it can be built up by a professional mechanic. 

The benefits of buying directly from the manufacturer are that they typically have stock before shops or online retailers. However, the downside is that previous-model-year bikes and discounts are almost impossible to find, as their usual tactic is to sell those onto retail stores in bulk, so they can focus on the current crop. 

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Trek Bikes (opens in new tab) is a worldwide bicycle manufacturer catering to everyone from first-time amateurs to WorldTour professionals. Their website allows bikes to be ordered direct, and they'll happily deliver it to your local Trek dealer where it can be built up by a professional. 

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Specialized (opens in new tab) is another one of the big bike brands that now offer online shopping on its website. Browse a huge variety of mountain bikes, e-MTBs, gravel bikes, plus an entire range of clothing, tires, accessories and more. 

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Canyon (opens in new tab) is one of the biggest direct-to-consumer brands and arguably paved the way for many other brands to follow. The German bike manufacturer caters to all riders from downhill racers to urban e-bikes for commuters.

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YT Industries (opens in new tab) is a brand that specializes in selling directly to the consumer through the internet, rather than through shops. They offer a wide range of top-notch mountain bikes and are known for offering great value builds as well. 

Second hand

Often cheaper, but a potential minefield if you're new to cycling

Reasons to buy

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Lowest prices
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Potential for great value

Reasons to avoid

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Limited or no warranty/protection
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Real risk of scams
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Harder to find the correct size/model
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You need to know what to look for in terms of wear and damage to the bike

The list of potential places to buy second-hand goods online is enormous, from popular outlets such as eBay and Facebook Marketplace to lesser-known cycling-specific outlets like The Pro's Closet. However, with the enormity of the opportunity comes an increase in risk.  

If you know what you're looking for, buying used can lead to a great value for money purchase. You can find better bikes with better components for less money than if you were buying new, however, if you're buying from an individual rather than a company, beware of the risks. 

The biggest concern in any online marketplace is criminals and scammers, and if you're not careful with how you pay, you could quickly fall victim to a scam. Our best advice is to use your gut instinct when dealing with sellers. If something feels off, don't go through with the purchase. 

Most sellers are legit, but the most common issue when shopping secondhand is the unknown quality of the product you are buying, and the lack of any warranty support if things go wrong. You need to really know what to look out for in terms of wear and tear or even potential damage to the bike. It's also important to factor into your budget any maintenance or upgrades that may need to be done. The bike will have been used, so for example, new drivetrain components may be needed in the near future. 

Also look out for catastrophic failures such as cracks to the frame, damaged welds or even crash damage. A bike's warranty will only cover the original owner, so keep that in mind when weighing whether to buy used or new. 

So if you're going to shop second-hand, ensure you do your research and your due diligence, only pay using a protected method, and if you find a deal that looks too good to be true, it probably is. Also, never meet a stranger with thousands of dollars in your pocket unless you're 100 percent confident they're legitimate, and even then, meet somewhere public and take a friend.

However, with those red flags out of the way, there are ways to buy second-hand without risk. 

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The Pro's Closet (opens in new tab) is an online bike marketplace in the USA that does things a little differently. By acting as the intermediary between sellers and buyers, The Pro's Closet ensures that all second-hand bikes are inspected, serviced, and then sold at a fair price, removing all concerns about the bike's condition as well as any concern about scammers. 

It covers bikes of all disciplines for all ages at the full spectrum of budgets, and will even allow you to trade in your old bike. 

Check out our deals roundups

Whether you're shopping for a bike, jersey, helmet, tires, or a spare derailleur, there are tons of online deals to be found. Here are a number of lists that we have curated after searching the internet for the best products at the best prices. 

Josh is the former eCommerce manager of the Bike Shed Devon. After dabbling in cross-country as a juvenile he quickly turned to road cycling. Josh regularly competes in the road - he's a  mid-pack 1st cat racer he’ll often be found at the local criterium waiting for the sprint. Recently he's taken up gravel cycling but also dabbles in fair-weather cyclocross. Oh, he also writes about all the latest tech developments and deals for Cyclingnews and Bike Perfect


Rides: Trek Emonda ALR, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL6 Disc, Specialized Crux 'cross bike