Round up: 13 affordable mountain bikes under $3000

Check out our collection of some of the hottest new mountain bikes for riders on a budget

27.5 29er All Mountain Trail Buyer's Guides Fat Bike Interbike Plus
The GT Zaskar Carbon Expert features a carbon frame, 100mm front fork and 27.5" tires.

The GT Zaskar Carbon Expert features a carbon frame, 100mm front fork and 27.5″ tires (click to enlarge).

GT Zaskar Carbon Expert – $2999

We got a look at GT’s special 25th Anniversary Edition Zaskar Carbon earlier this year. For the buyer on a budget, they can still get the same F.O.C. carbon frame but at with a build that bring it in at the $3k price range.

The Zaskar has been around a long time and this carbon iteration provides a platform that the rider can use for aggressive XC riding and trail riding and it can even pull part-time double duty for the occasional XC race.

The Zaskar Carbon Expert is spec’ed with a RockShox Recon Gold RL 27.5 fork (100mm travel), Shimano Deore/XT 2×11 drivetrain, Shimano SLX disc brakes, FSA bar and stem, Stan’s rims and Schwalbe 27.5×2.25″ Racing Ralph tires.

The GT Zaskar Carbon Expert is available in five sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL) and has a retail price of $2999.00.

Consider this bike if… you are and old guy that remembers the original Zaskar with fondness and you want a simple bike for those weekend warrior rides.

To learn more, visit

The Norco Revolver 9.2 HT is a no-holds-barred, high modulus carbon race bike.

The Norco Revolver 9.2 HT is a no-holds-barred, high modulus carbon 29er race bike (click to enlarge).

Norco Revolver 9.2 HT or Revolver 7.2 HT – $3075

The Revolver is a new XC specific line from Norco that features two different versions in two different wheel sizes. They make a full suspension Revolver and a hardtail Revolver. For our purposes, the carbon hardtail Revolver 9.2 HT is featured here.

Unlike the GT carbon hardtail above, the Norco Revolver HT is a pure, lightweight XC race rig. It’s high modulus frame is designed for stiffness and lightness. Make no mistake, it’s a purpose built machine. The spec features a RockShox Sid RL 29 with 100mm of travel, Shimano XT 1×11 drivetrain, Shimano XT disc brakes, DT Swiss X1900 Spline TR Wheelset and Schwalbe Racing Ralph Performance Folding 29×2.1″ tires. If you prefer your carbon hardtails to roll on 27.5″ wheels, then the Norco Revolver 7.2 HT is the model you are looking for.

The Norco Revolver 9.2 HT is available in four sizes (SM, MD, LG, XL) and has a retail price of $3075. The Revolver 7.2 HT is available in five sizes (XS, SM, MD, LG, Xl) and has the same $3075 price tag.

Be sure to check out more new bikes in Norco’s Virtual Trade Show Booth right here on Mtbr:

Consider this bike if… you are taking your XC racing to the next level and you want something that can win.

To learn more, visit

The Breezer Repack Expert has 160mm of MLink travel and rolls on 27.5" wheels.

The Breezer Repack Expert has 160mm of MLink travel and rolls on 27.5″ wheels (click to enlarge).

Breezer Repack 27.5 Expert – $3149

Even though the Breezer Repack 27.5 Expert lists for a bit more than $3000, we’ve included it because we feel that it is a solid value. We reviewed the current year’s Repack and we found it to be a worthy alternative to some of the more well known brands out there. Despite it’s weight (which has been lightened up just a bit this year), this bike climbs better than you’d think and the MLink suspension has great small bump compliance.

The Breezer Repack uses a hydroformed custom butted 6066 aluminum frame with Breezer’s own MLink suspension design yielding 160mm of travel. New for 2016, the fork has been bumped up to a Fox 36 Float to provide a more burly front end for those bigger jumps and drops. The 2×10 drivetrain is a Shimano Deore/SLX blend and Shimano disc brakes slow your roll. The wheels are Shimano Deore hubs and WTB Speed Disc i25 rims rolling on WTB Breakout/Riddler tires.

The Breezer Repack 27.5 Expert is available in four sizes (17″, 18.5″, 19.5″,21″) and has an MSRP of $3149.

Consider this bike if… you are looking for something different that climbs well, can handle the rought stuff and if small bump compliance is important to you.

To learn more, visit

The Fuji Rakan is pushing the upper limits of our price range at $3150 but is still a great value.

The Fuji Rakan is pushing the upper limits of our price range at $3150 but is still a great value (click to enlarge).

Fuji Rakan 1.5 29er – $3150 $2749

Fuji had a couple of brand new models at Interbike this year and we took a look at the all new Fuji Auric and Rakan a couple of weeks ago. Highlighted here is the most affordable model, the Rakan 1.5.

The Rakan is an alloy framed 29er with 120mm of travel provided by the MLink suspension developed by Fuji’s sister company Breezer. Similar to the Breezer Supercell, the Rakan provides a more cost conscious parts spec. The frame is Fuji’s A6-SL custom-butted alloy tubing with hydroformed top tube, tapered 1 1/8″ – 1.5″ head tube, press fit bottom bracket and sealed cartridge bearing pivots.

The build of the 1.5 includes a Fox 32 FLOAT 29 fork with 120mm of travel, Fox Float shock, Shimano Deore/XT 2×10 drivetrain, Oval Concepts bar and stem, Oval Concepts 600 CL disc wheelset and Schwalbe Rocket Ron Performance, 29×2.25″ tires.

The Fuji Rakan 1.5 is available in four sizes (S-15″, M-17″, L-19″, XL-21″) and has an MSRP of $3150 $2749.

UPDATE 11/18/15: Fuji has just lowered the price across the board for their Rakan and Auric models. The Rakan 1.5 featured here has gone from $3150 to $2749. Now, you can get the more upscale Rakan 1.3 for $3149 that features a Rock Shox Reba RL Solo Air 29 fork, Rock Shox Monarch RT3 shock and Shimano XT 2×11 drivetrain.

Consider this bike if… you are looking for a versatile bike that can climb well and can handle moderate levels of rowdiness.

To learn more, visit


So there you have it. Don’t forget that this list is comprised of the brand we saw at Interbike, so bikes from Trek, Specialized and Giant aren’t represented here. With today’s economy, price is a factor more than ever when buying a mountain bike.

One of the biggest critiques that we at Mtbr hear over and over again, is that the bikes we feature in our reviews are too expensive. It is a fact of the bike industry, that new features and technologies are always developed on the top-of-the-line models first. But that doesn’t mean that those on a stricter budget can’t benefit. Eventually, the technology trickles down the line-up making things more affordable for almost everyone. True, you still won’t find dropper posts as standard equipment on bikes under $2000, but things like disc brakes and tubeless ready tires can be considered standard now.

Let’s not forget that for the average bike shop, sales of $2500 to $3000 bikes will outnumber the $6000 high zoot rig by a large margin.

Do you have a favorite bike or brand that you bought new for under $3k? Let us know in the comments below.

This article is part of Mtbr’s coverage of the 2015 Interbike trade show in Las Vegas. For more from Interbike CLICK HERE.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

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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  • Tony Lapinskas says:

    The critiques are valid. Next time you test an $8000.00 pivot, test the $3500.00 one right next to it, we don’t mind. Test your $469.00 dropper post but test the E-ten too. More balance is needed with all you bike mags. But, at least you aren’t as bad as those eliteist snobs at MB action. They have tested 48 full size bikes this year and only 8 were below $3000.00. The rest averaged $5472.27. Lead the way.

  • Jeff says:

    I’m with Tony on this one. MTBR is always reviewing and talking about how balanced this and that bike is. Well lets be balanced about the price, quality and what’s stands up against higher vs lesser priced bikes. There are far more (budget) minded riders then high end riders, who enjoy there pauper bikes as much as the high end bikers.

  • WasatchEnduro says:

    So many insane 2016 agressive trail bikes for under $3k: Devinci Troy RS $2999, Stumpjumper Comp (27.5 & 29) $2900, Process 134 $2900, Bronson A RAM $2900 (April), Intense Tracer/Spider Foundation $3k, and Transition has base models of the Scout & Smuggler for $3k now! It’s a good time to be shopping!

    • Bracken says:

      And all of the bikes you listed are more interesting to me than any of those featured in this article.

    • MikeB says:

      I just checked Santa Cruz website and there is no mention of aluminum frame bronson or 5010? I thought those were rolling out in April?

  • Rob says:

    Maybe I’m cheap, but I would say that affordable to many would not be $3000.

  • Ian says:

    Process 134 is the best of the group.

  • Mark says:

    Should have added the new Trek Farley 9 (aluminum hard-tail frame, Bluto fork, 27.5 x 3.8″ tires) to this list. This bike rolls well and handles well on dirt single track. It weighs about 28 lbs when set up tubeless which is about the same as the other $3000 bikes. In addition, you get a winter snow Fat bike. I just bought one and a I intend to use it as my year round mountain bike. Check it out!

  • Dan says:

    Can only find the 27.5 speedfox on the BMC site.

  • Jim says:

    I can’t afford a $3k bike so I bought an S-Works 26″ cf hardtail frame for $100 and fitted it up with 27.5 wheels and a Fox 26″ TALAS fork. There’s enough clearance front and rear. Works fine for me on technical singletrack up and down. I have several hundred miles on it so far.

  • James says:

    Really, not even a single Salsa in the lineup? I’d pick my Split-Pivot Spearfish over any of those on any day and it didn’t break my checking account.

  • SC Fan says:

    I been mountain biking for 27 years now, and the I’ve only bought one “off the showroom floor” bike in that time, and that was the first mountain bike I owned. Back in the 90′s it was common to by a frame and then chose the parts that you liked for building it up. Anytime I went to a new frame, I would take some parts (stem, seat, cranks and wheels) from my old bike, and with a mix of new parts would have a new bike that was made to order. I’ve been doing that every since. The magazines will tell you that you’ll spend more doing it this way, but I’ve yet to spend anywhere near 5K (okay, maybe 4K) on any of the 10 mountain bikes I’ve had through the years, and I currently have a very nice custom built single speed, and a very light and beautiful Santa Cruz suspension bike. I prefer picking my own parts as opposed to a product manager who’s looking to hit a price point doing it for me. I also love the custom look of the finished bike, instead of the run of the mill look that everyone else on the trail has. The deals are out there, you just have to go and find them.

    • Deb says:

      Your strategy of building/mixing parts is definitely the best, but you’ve invested 27 years into learning what works or doesn’t. That alone is worth a ton! If you were a noob who wanted to jump in and save himself all the research time, buying a well reviewed pre-built model is the second best option, IMO.

      What are your thoughts about the Santa Cruz Bronson R1x vs S? Is the $1,000 difference justified in parts upgrade in your opinion?

  • JJVance says:

    Solid article. I bought a 2016 Stumpjumper on sale for $2016. Then ordered Spank Oozy wheel set, shimano 1×11, XT brakes, shifted, BB, and cranks for $620 from Jensens sale. Now it is a $4,000 bike but paid a tad under $3,000. I like buying last years bikes on sale (if you can find), with a build up.

  • Mike says:

    Or go with a bmx bike

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