12 best mountain bikes for around $1000

Great fat (and plus) tires options for the rider on a tight budget

27.5 29er All Mountain Trail Cross Country Interbike Plus

Interbike Mtbr

11 interesting options spotted at Interbike.

Let’s face it, when buying a new bike price is always a factor. This is even more true for the beginner looking to upgrade from their “starter” bike. The hardcore enthusiast may complain about the never ending cycle of new technologies that seem to come out every other month, but one benefit is this innovation trickles down, meaning beginners get more bang for their buck.

The $1000 price point is key for bike shops, manufacturers, and buyers. Generally at this price you can expect to get an aluminum hardtail, though many manufacturers are using plus size tires to breathe new life into the category. That said, there are only two full suspension bikes listed below.

It’s also important to remember that the used bike market can offer incredible value in the $1000 range as long as you know what to look. If you prefer to buy new, year end model closeouts are another avenue to explore. This period typically runs from September to February, so now is a great time to start shopping. Many bike shops will offer current year models at a significant discount to make room for incoming inventory.

Finally, know that this compilation is not meant to be an exhaustive end all/be all. So, if we missed one of your favorites, let us know in the comments below.

German brand Bulls Bikes starts things off with the most affordable bike here, the King Boa 27.5 with a price tag of $849.

Germany’s Bulls Bikes provides the most affordable bike here, the King Boa 27.5 at $849.

Bulls Bikes King Boa 27.5 ($849)

Bulls Bikes is a German brand that is going direct-to-consumer in the U.S. They have several models of bikes including mountain, road, cross, and e-bikes. For the bargain hunter, Bulls offers the King Boa, an alloy hardtail with 27.5” wheels, SR Suntour XCR 32 RL fork with 100mm of travel, Tektro disc brakes, and a Shimano SLX 3×10 drivetrain. While there are no standout components on this bike, the King Boa is the most affordable bike of the group.

  • Frame: 7005 double-butted aluminum
  • Fork: SR Suntour XCR 32 RL 100mm with remote lockout
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore/SLX 3×10
  • Brakes: Tektro Draco 2 hydraulic
  • Wheel size: 27.5″
  • Sizing: S, M, L, XL

To learn more, visit www.bullsbikesusa.com.

Haro provides an inexpensive way to sample what the Plus size craze is all about. Bonus points for the 1x10 drivetrain and WTB cockpit parts.

Haro provides an inexpensive way to sample what the plus size craze is all about. Bonus points for the 1×10 drivetrain and WTB cockpit.

Haro Double Peak Comp Plus ($869)

Haro’s new Double Peak Comp Plus provides an affordable way for the beginner to try out the plus size craze. Rolling on Kenda Havoc 27.5×2.8” tires, the increased traction will be a huge benefit for beginners. Throw in the Shimano 1×10 drivetrain and this bike will provide a solid building block for riders to grow their skills. The HL Vaxa fork is not as sexy as offerings from Fox, RockShox or X-Fusion, but costs have to be cut somewhere.

  • Frame: 6000 series aluminum
  • Fork: 2017 HL Vaxa 866 HLO 27.5 Plus fork 120mm travel, hydraulic lockout, Boost compatible
  • Drivetrain: FSA cranks, Sunrace 11-40T 10-speed cassette, Shimano Deore 1×10
  • Brakes: Tektro Auriga HD-M285 hydraulic brakes
  • Wheel size: 27.5″+
  • Sizing: 14.5”, 16”, 18”, 20”

To learn more, visit www.harobikes.com.

KHS has been building 27.5” wheeled bikes for a long time and this year they provide a 27.5 Plus bike for both men and women.

KHS has been building 27.5” wheeled bikes for a long time and this year they provide a 27.5+ bike for men and women.

KHS SixFifty 500+ ($869)

KHS has a lot of experience with 27.5” wheels and their SixFifty line is one of their mainstays. New for 2017 is the 500+ in both men’s and women’s models. The ladies version comes in purple and provides an XS size that is not available for men. This bike is designed for the intermediate rider who wants to roll on 2.8” tires. Bonus points for the inexpensive but functional included pedals.

  • Frame: 6061 double-butted alloy
  • Fork: SR Suntour fork
  • Drivetrain: SRAM X5 rear derailleur and shifters, 2×9
  • Brakes: Shimano BR-M315 hydraulic disc brakes
  • Wheel size: 27.5+
  • Colors: Men’s – Black, Women’s – Purple
  • Sizing: Men (S/15, M/17, L/19, XL/21) – Women (XS/13, S/15)

To learn more, visit www.khsbicycles.com.

New for 2017, the Fuji Outland 29 1.5 is a lot of mountain bike for the price. Highlights include the SR Suntour fork and Manitou rear shock.

New for 2017, the Fuji Outland 29 1.5 is a lot of mountain bike for the price. Highlights include the SR Suntour fork and Manitou rear shock.

Fuji Outland 29 1.5 ($949)

That Fuji has produced a full suspension bike for under $1000 is amazing. The Outland 29 1.5 has 120mm of rear travel and rolls on 29” wheels. It is targeted at the beginner XC/trail rider and uses a simple, but effective single pivot design. Although it doesn’t come with a dropper post, it does have routing options for a dropper. The A2-SL double-butted frame should withstand most of the abuse that its rider can dish out. SR Suntour fork and Manitou rear shock are solid values at this price. The mechanical disc brakes and 3×8 drivetrain aren’t cutting edge, but can be upgraded down the road.

  • Frame: A2-SL double butted alloy, 120mm rear travel
  • Fork: SR Suntour SF15-XCR-LO-R-29 w/ hydraulic lockout, tapered alloy steerer, 15mm thru axle, 120mm travel
  • Rear Shock: Manitou Radium Comp
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Altus/Acera 3×8
  • Brakes: Tektro M280 mechanical disc
  • Wheel size: 29″
  • Sizing: S, M, L, XL

To learn more, visit www.fujibikes.com.

Norco provides an XC race-ready bike for the beginner in their choice of wheel size: 27.5” or 29”.

Norco provides an XC race-ready bike for the beginner in either 27.5 or 29er.

Norco Charger 7.2 27.5 / Charger 9.2 29 ($949)

For the sub-$1000 buyer, Norco has two versions of their Charger. Both retail for $949 and you can choose between 27.5 and 29er wheels. Both are cross country oriented bikes with aluminum frames, RockShox Recon Silver fork, SRAM 1×10 drivetrain, and Shimano disc brakes. Bonus points for the included Wellgo alloy pedals. If you’re a beginner with an itch towards trying a XC race, the Norco Charger is a solid choice.

  • Frame: double-butted alloy
  • Fork: Rock Shox Recon Silver Solo Air RL fork, 100mm
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX 1×10
  • Brakes: Shimano Acera M425 hydraulic disc brakes
  • Wheel size: 29 or 27.5
  • Sizing: S, M, L, XL

To learn more, visit www.norco.com.

Marin offers their alloy hardtail in two wheels sizes, but give it a more trail-oriented geometry and purpose.

Marin offers their alloy hardtail in two wheels sizes, but give it a more trail-oriented geometry and purpose.

Marin Bobcat Trail 5 29 / Bobcat Trail 5 27.5 ($989)

Like Norco, Marin offers their budget bike in both 27.5 or 29er wheel sizes. The Bobcat Trail 5 was redesigned for 2017 with a bit more of a trail rider focus than XC racer. This means that the geometry features a low bottom bracket, slack head angle, and longer reach. The Marin also feature better brakes than the Norco. And if you are looking for a plus hardtail option, check out the Pine Mountain.

  • Frame: 6061 double-butted aluminum
  • Fork: RockShox Recon Silver 100mm (80mm on size S)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore 1×10
  • Brakes: Shimano M365 hydraulic
  • Wheel size: 27.5 or 29
  • Sizing: 29 (M, L, XL, XXL), 27.5 (XS, S, M)

To learn more, visit www.marinbikes.com.

Motobecane continues to impress with components spec that are usually found in much more expensive bikes.

Motobecane continues to impress with component spec that are usually found in much more expensive bikes.

Motobecane Fantom29 Elite ($999)

“Give the rider more for their money”, is the Bikesdirect mantra and it holds true for this Motobecane model. SLX and XT component spec is not often found in this price point and the SRAM Guide brakes is an ever rarer commodity. It doesn’t stop there as Ritchey, WTB, FSA, KMC finish off the package well. It’s also good to know that Mtbr has tried a few Motobecane mtb and road bikes and the frames and builds are worthy as well.

  • Frame: Kinesis aluminum
  • Fork: RockShox Recon Silver 100mm (80mm on size S)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano SLX and XT 3×10
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide R hydraulic discs
  • Wheel size: 29
  • Sizing: 29 (13, 15.5, 17.5, 19, 21)

To learn more, visit Motobecane Fantom Elite.

Continue to page 2 for more of the best mountain bikes for around $1000 »

About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.


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  • loll says:

    You guys should google the GT verb review online. Someone actually said the pivots creak and squeak really bad after 10 rides and requires constant relubricating and tear down, only with that condition coming back after a few rides.

    At this price point, the likely owner is a weekend warrior who wants to spent time riding more than they do tearing down the bike after 10 rides. Sure, some level of maintenance is a good thing to keep a bike working properly. But 10 rides, and then every three rides after is just way too frequent.

    During the late 90s, I owned a Proflex 655 that was $999. The pivot creaked so much that it took all the fun out of enjoyment of riding the bike. After taking the pivots apart and heavily regreasing it, I usually get about one quiet ride in.

    Fast forward 20 years to date, a squeaking/creaking full suspension bike at one grand should not be doing that.

    Buyer beware…

  • singletrackmack says:

    Got to call you out loll, because proflex only had two types of pivots up to 1995, which is the year you claim you bought your proflex. It was either the same pivot that came on the top of the line +$3k 1994 proflex or the same as the top of the line 1995 model. There were no budget pivots for proflex. And as far as you owning a profile 655, uh, well no, you did not own a proflex 655 and anyone can prove that easily.

  • loll says:

    yes, was thinking this out last night. It was actually a proflex 657 (not 655)…Is been too long. But the same comments applied, the pivot creak so much that I hated riding that bike.

    I was contemplating a GT Verb as a cheap second bike since I only have a hardtail these days, but after reading people’s review and the pivot, it remind me of exactly why i dont own the proflex 657 anymore.

  • Todd Frankman says:

    Every one of those bikes has a really bad fork that would limit riding enjoyment. Better to buy a used bike in good shape with a decent fork than one of these. You would get much more bike.

    • sofakinold says:

      Calling the RS Recon Silver and the Manitou Radium “Bad” forks is a bit much. Probably Todd is riding a fork that cost as much as or more than any of the bikes in this category. These bikes are specifically built for riders who aren’t going drop $4000+ on a ride. Which is the majority of buyers in the market place.

      Having said that, I must say that after getting into the business of providing the best bike for the buck to folks on a budget or just weekend warriors, I’ve had to drop the sanctimonial Single track snobbery.

      Forks that work well and can get riders into the back country with confidence under $300 and are few and both the Recon and Radium can do it.

  • seanG says:

    Has to be the Boardman Pro 29er

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