Mountain bikes at this price will mostly be hardtails, with a rigid frame. While you might be able to get a cheap full-suspension mountain bike from a supermarket, we’d urge you to steer clear because, quite simply, it won’t be much cop. A hardtail frame provides the manufacturer with more budget to stick some quality parts onto the frame, such as a good suspension fork, decent tyres, brakes and finishing kit, parts like the handlebar and saddle.
Look for a lightweight aluminium frame, disc brakes (preferably hydraulic), and a really good suspension fork. Those are the parts that are going to most heavily influence the quality and performance of the ride. You’ll pay more for a good frame and suspension fork, but they are really important parts of the bike so that’s what we would look for rather than some glitzy components that will eventually wear out anyway.
The geometry of the bike dictates how it rides and behaves, and how well it fits. The bigger the size range a manufacturer offers, the more likely you are to get one that fits you. Geometry is also a measure of how the bike will ride, and longer and slacker generally means a bike that is more playful and capable on the fun trails when the speed is high and smiles broad.
While a more expensive model might be your goal in the long term, you should realize that you don’t have to spend above a thousand dollars right away. That is especially true if you are entirely new to cycling but also true even if you are simply transitioning to mountain biking. You don’t need a high-end bike to go riding on a trail snaking around the woods, which is what you will probably begin with anyway. So, you should go for high-quality mountain bikes that possess hydraulic disc brakes rather than cables. Generally speaking, cross-country bikes and all-mountain bikes with wide tires are best.
Hardtail mountain bikes are the type that constitutes the overwhelming majority of mountain bikes that you can buy for less than $2000. The term “Hardtail” is used to refer to the absence of the bump and shock-absorbing suspension on the back wheel. Sure enough, you are bound to come across some full suspension bikes when shopping for bikes in the aforementioned price range. The problem is they are almost always not as durable as either their more expensive counterparts or the hardtail mountain bikes.
Diamondback Overdrive Complete 29ER Hardtail Mountain Bike
The bike is built on a slender Overdrive 29” butted 6061-T6-aluminum alloy frame. This is a hardtail bike and so it features only the Rockshox Recon Silver 29” fork and 32 mm Stanchion on the front wheel. This, when assembled along with Shimano Hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano 2×10 speed rapidfire drivetrain gears, gives you the ultimate hardtail mountain bike experience. For a bike with a wheel size of 29 inches, it is reasonably light with a weight of 32.9 pounds. You can’t go wrong with this bike.
Trek Marlin 6
The Trek mountain bike range starts at USD 506 but we’ve picked the USD 601 Marlin 6 because it looks a great bike. Like many bikes at this price, the Marlin takes its inspiration from cross-country bikes and Trek has tried to replicate that in the geometry and the build, which centres around an aluminium frame and 29er wheels. You get a Suntour100mm fork with coil spring internals, Shimano Altus gearing and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes.
Polygon Xtrada 6
All four options rock the same frame, which is nicely finished and has some sleek manipulation and tube profiling to save weight and add stiffness. On the trail it’s really reactive to rider inputs and is one of the quickest bikes uphill, encouraging you to get out of the saddle and go for it.
Schwinn High Timber Men’s 27.5” Mountain Bike
This bike is first on this list for that reason and more. It is immediately noticeable that the designers conceived this bike with a view to meeting the minimum requirements of professionals and beginners alike. Let us consider the features that led us to that conclusion.
For starters, it has a sleek frame that is 18 inches in measurement. Additionally the frame is crafted from alloyed materials, which increases durability and comfort. The adjustable seat also goes a long way in ensuring comfort. Then, of course, the bike possesses 27.5-inch wheels, which is the industry standard, and is designed to give more control and precision along with Alloy V brakes, a front suspension fork, and SRAM gripped gears.
Marin San Quentin
The San Quentin was developed with Marin freeride athlete Matt Jones. It’s not the bike for sweaty XC ascents. It’s a bike that’s content with chillin’ on the side for a minute while you help shape the lip of a double to get it just right.
A 65-degree head angle and 75-degree seat angle give it modern geometry necessary to climb when called on, and party on the way down.
The build kit is quite amazing as well. It’s an aluminum frame with a threaded bottom bracket to start. It’s dressed with a 130mm Rock Shox Revelation fork, an X-Fusion dropper post – with 150mm of travel on sizes M-XL, a 35mm stem, and 780mm wide handlebars.
Calibre Two Cubed
The Two³ is the updated version of the Two2, with not just a new spec but also a new geometry and bigger wheels too. It’s half a degree slacker at 67.5. Specwise the alloy Two³ looks to be as equally good value as the previous bike with 100mm Rockshox XC30 forks, a Shimano 9 Speed Altus 3x drivetrain, Shimano MT100 brakes, Schwalbe tyres.
Marin Rift Zone 2
The Marin Rift Zone 2, with its go-anywhere, ride-anything pairing of 120 millimeters of front-and-rear suspension and 29-inch wheels. It gets a SRAM NX 11-speed drivetrain with some SunRace and FSA bits thrown in to keep the price down. That includes the TranzX dropper post that maxes out at 120-millimeters on medium thru XL sizes, but it’s one of few functional compromises you’ll make on a bike that’s got some solid fundamentals like Boost spacing, a threaded bottom bracket, and 29-millimeter-internal width rims.
Travel (R/F): 120/120mm
Headtube Angle: 67.5°
Canyon Dude CF 8.0
German direct-to-consumer seller Canyon has great deals on bikes across the board, including the Dude CF 8.0 fat bike. Highlights include a full carbon frame (a rarity in this price range), quality DT Swiss wheels, and capable Schwalbe Jumbo Jim 4.0 tires that are perfect for churning through snow, but can also hold their own when the trails are dry. The drivetrain is a blend of SRAM NX 11-speed paired with a Shimano 11-42 SLX cassette, which is ample gear spread for most fat bike excursions, when you don’t need the exceptionally low gearing found on wider range set-ups. Head tube angle is a reasonable 68.5 degrees, which is steep enough to keep steering quick without being overly twitchy. And at just 27 pounds, you’ll be able to maintain momentum even when the trail (or ski slope) turns skyward.
Diamondback Catch 1
The Diamondback Catch 1 is a full suspension 27.5+ rock crawler with 130mm travel front and rear, and superb traction thanks to Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR II 2.8 tires that can be run at low air pressure for better trail grip. Drivetrain is Shimano Deore 10-speed, which while not overly sexy, is sure to be reliable and durable. Same goes for the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, and X-fusion 02 shock and SR Suntour Aion fork.
Our advice if you pull the trigger on this bike is to spend a few hundred dollars more and upgrade to a dropper post. There are some great budget priced options out there from the likes of e*thirteen and OneUp among others.
Vitus Nucleus VR
In mountain bike development standing still is akin to going backwards, so it’s great to see Vitus swimming against a tide of average hardtails and progressing. With a brand new frame and some subtle tweaks to the build kit, the 2019 Nucleus VR is better than ever and it’s still the 635 USD bike to beat. Lighter, faster and more fun than anything else in its class, nothing comes close to matching its performance. In fact, mountain bikers have never had to so good and the Vitus Nucleus VR is the tide that’s lifting all boats in the sub 635 USD harbour.
Niner Air 9 2-Star
Today, that premonition has proven correct, as wagon wheel-sized bikes dominant the two-wheeled landscape. The Niner Air 9 2-star build is a speedy aluminum XC-oriented hardtail spec’d with SRAM’s wide range NX Eagle drivetrain, meaning you’ll never run out of gears no matter how steep the climb. Other features include a low bottom bracket and short rear end, which together conspire to make the bike nimble and quick. It also has compatibility for up to 29×2.4 tires or 27.5×3.0 for maximum traction in loose conditions. Add it all up and this is the perfect first bike for an aspiring young racer — or anyone who wants to add a little more shredding to their life.
Kona Honzo DL
The Honzo DL tics right under two-thousand dollars, and for that money, buyers get a very functional and impressive entry-level build.
Kona is of course known for its aggressive trail handling capabilities and this is seen throughout the bike. A Rock Shox Sektor RL Debonair 120mm fork sits up front, controlling the squish. A responsive 35mm stem and wide handlebars steer the ship, and a SRAM NX 11-speed drivetrain keep it moving on wide WTB i29 rims.
The reach is long, there’s a 75-degree seat angle and a 68-degree head angle. This means geometry looks to be centered for climbing and relaxed enough to be a good time on the descents.