8 of the best dirt jump, pump track and slopestyle mountain bikes for 2021
© Boris Beyer / Red Bull Content Pool
Whether you see yourself as the next slopestyle superstar, or you're simply looking for a great bike to send it at the local skatepark, these are the rides for you.
Looking for a new mountain bike?
9 e-mountain bikes you should know about in 2021
The best mountain bikes for £1,000 and under
The best mountain bikes you can buy for under £500
7 great turn-shredding, climb-crunching trail mountain bikes for 2021
Five of the best all-out cross country mountain bikes you can buy in 2021
The most exciting downhill bikes of 2021
10 of the best women’s mountain bikes, whatever your budget
7 of the best enduro mountain bikes you can buy in 2021
8 of the best hardtail mountain bikes for hardcore trail riding
Finding a purpose-built mountain bike for pump tracks, dirt jumps and slopestyle biking is a worthwhile investment. For these forms of aggressive riding, you need to be able to throw the bike into turns, jumps and tricks, which means it should be compact, low-slung and robust enough to handle the odd crash or two.
When it comes to the world of mountain bike dirt jump and pump track riding, on first glance it might appear that all bikes are the same – small, burly hardtail frames with minimal gears and one brake.
But look a bit closer and it turns out that there are a few areas of the bike to consider before buying a dirt jumper:
- Is the frame aluminium or steel? The former will be lighter, the latter more forgiving.
- Does it have MTB or BMX cranks? Steel BMX cranks will be bombproof (and allow smaller chainrings), but the MTB alternatives are still pretty strong and often lighter.
- Does it have a big-brand dirt-specific fork? You’ll need one, as a standard MTB fork or a cheap alternative might be too long and won’t take the big hits of those massive jumps you aren’t always going to get right.
- Are there sizing options? Most brands only offer a ‘one size fits all’, but shop around and there are frames available for taller riders.
Of course, it’s always worth evaluating the full bike spec too, but most dirt bikes are pretty much indestructible and spare parts are reasonably cheap anyway, so don’t sweat too much over the build. Here are the best dirt jump mountain bikes you can buy in 2021.
1. Airdrop Fade
Airdrop Bikes is a small British company run by riders from Sheffield. It produces a popular line of mountain bikes, made in batches, that generally sell out shortly after hitting the shelves. For good reason too: frames like the Fade hardtail, which is made for ripping around pump tracks and boosting big jumps, are beautifully produced and feature spot-on geometry. Keep your eye on the Airdrop Instagram account to be in with a chance of getting one of these great-looking releases.
2. Santa Cruz Jackal
If you are looking to rip around the pump track and know every millisecond counts, the Jackal could be the bike you need.
Santa Cruz’s dirt bike has been in the Californian brand’s line-up for a long time, and it's easy to see why. It is a luxury, super-fast, solid frame with a super short chainstay for a snappy riding characteristic.
3. NS Bikes Metropolis 3
NS makes a range of well-priced mountain bikes, including a number of hardtail and full suspension dirt jump and slopestyle frames and completes. The Metropolis 3 is a fantastic starter bike that NS says has had input from its pro riders to ensure solid geometry.
If you are looking to get into pump track riding and jumps, it offers a robust 4130 chromoly frame with decent components list including BMX cranks. You won’t find many cheaper alternatives.
4. DMR Sect
British company DMR pretty much invented mountain bike dirt jumping – or, at the very least, the brand has been around since its earliest moments. And it’s no surprise that it’s still going strong – the Sect is one of the most popular frames for dirt riders.
The frame features a short rear end for easier spins and flips but its hydroformed chainstays for maximum clearance help ensure you can still fit a decent width tyre. Its super-low-slung top tube makes it ideal for tricks and tailwhips where the bike needs to be as compact and out of the way as possible. Meanwhile, an array of own-brand and carefully selected components adorn the bike (seeing as DMR is essentially the authority on mountain bike dirt jumping, this is a good thing) and the package is rounded off with its almost unbeatable price tag.
5. Commencal Absolut
Commencal’s great-looking Absolut is fast becoming one of the most popular complete dirt bikes available, and for good reason. Solid components and an unbeatable price make it hard to look elsewhere.
The 2021 Absolut’s 6061 alloy frame is adorned with a super range of components for the price: Manitou Expert Circus fork, three-piece BMX crankset, SRAM Level brake, Novatec hubs on Alex rims, Schwalbe dirt-specific tyres and a splattering of Commencal in-house brand finishing parts. And, if you’re a younger rider who sits between 135-155cm in height, the Andorran brand does the Absolut 24 – a slightly smaller edition featuring 24-inch wheels, a wheel-specific Manitou Circus Junit Expert fork, shorter crank arms and narrower handlebars.
6. Scott Voltage YZ 0.1
Scott’s Voltage dirt frame is great-looking, bombproof and a nippy ride for pumptracks as well as dirt jumps. It's the bike that makes Brendan Fairclough so steezy at the trails. Or is it the other way around?
The Voltage YZ 0.1 is a little pricier than some similarly equipped completes, but you are buying quality and assured customer support with Scott selling both online and in-store. It comes as a singlespeed with two brakes, three-piece cranks and Kenda dirt tyres so it’s ready to hit the jumps, BMX track or street straight from the box.
7. Marin Alcatraz
If you liked what you saw in Matt Jones’ Frames of Mind video (and if you haven’t seen it, get out from under that rock), then the bike you’ll need in order to replicate the flips, spins and, er, ridiculous camerawork is Marin’s Alcatraz. The Californian brand’s complete is a great-looking hardtail built for the biggest tricks.
Frames of Mind
With the Alcatraz, you are getting a competition-proven bike that Jones has piloted at many-a slopestyle event which is as happy boosting massive jumps as it is sprinting around a BMX track or pumping through a rhythm section.
8. Canyon Stitched 720
For a little extra comfort at the trails or slopestyle course, Canyon’s full suspension Stitched 720 is a solid, reasonably priced (for its level of quality) option. Ridden by Thomas Genon and backed by a six-year guarantee, you’re safe in the knowledge that it’s a solid investment for going big – but there’s no assurance you’ll ever be able to match the Belgian rider’s skills and style.
The Stitched 720 is one of very few full-suspension dirt/slope bikes available as complete builds, but despite the lack of competition Canyon has still managed to put together a great package with a relatively modest price tag. It features a slightly beefier front tyre than you’ll find on most of the complete hardtails, alluding to the bike’s intentions: big jumps, high speeds, enormous tricks. Is that you?