A few weeks back, we ran through 10 great mountain bike options that cost $2000 or less. But what if even two large is outside your current disposable income window — but you still want a mountain bike? Well, you’re in luck. While not overly sexy (or light) there are plenty of decent entry-level type MTBs that sell for around $1000. Keep reading to hear our picks for best mountain bikes under $1000 (or close to it).
But before you head out to your nearest bike shop or online bike seller, there are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for the best mountain bikes under $1000. No. 1, just as with our last budget bike round-up, is no matter what bike you buy or how much it costs, make sure it fits you well. Because if a bike fits it’s going to be a whole lot more fun to ride, and will be less likely to end up collecting dust in the back of your garage. And while pro-level bike fits are pricey, any decent local bike shop should be willing to help get your position dialed, adjusting saddle height and swapping on the best length stem.
The second thing you should know when searching for the best mountain bikes under $1000 is that you are going to want to opt for a hardtail. Sure there are some budget-priced full suspension options out there, but unless you happen to catch a super sale, odds are that at this price point you’re going to get a bike with inferior components that may not work very well or last very long. That’s why we suggest you stick with a hardtail, and make the jump to a dualie down the road when you have a little more budget to work worth.
The other big advantage of choosing a hardtail, especially for beginners, is that they can help you become a better rider because they force you to develop your skills and make better line choices instead of just being a passenger and plowing through things. And once you’ve mastered the basics (and saved a little more money) your second bike can be a full-suspension model.
The other option, if you really want a full suspension bike but only have $1000 to spend, is to shop the used bike market. Online re-sellers such as the Pro’s Closet have a huge inventory of bikes, but you’ll need to keep an eye on their ever-changing inventory and hope the right bike in the right size turns up. Craigslist, ebay, and the various bike website forums are other good places to peruse. Just make sure you know exactly what you’re getting before turning over your credit card info or sending a check.
As for buying new, aside from fit, if possible opt for a bike that’s spec’d with parts from respected component brands such as Shimano, SRAM, Fox, and RockShox. All these companies make a wide array of products, meaning that their lower-priced options typically benefit from trickle down technology. They also have reputations to uphold, so it’s unlikely that they’ll put out parts that are going to fall apart in a couple months.
Now that you have some basics shopping strategies, here in alphabetical order is a list of the best mountain bikes under $1000 (or very close to it).
Airborne Griffin 27.5+
The most versatile bike in the Airborne lineup, the Griffin 27.5+ rolls up, down, and over anything in its path. Never mind the husky profile, this bike is light, nimble, and easy to ride — anywhere you want to explore. A SRAM 1×11 drivetrain transfers the power to the whopper 27.5×3.0 rear tire, while an even larger 27.5×3.25 front tire keeps you afloat in the soft stuff and tracking through the turns. The frameset features the same 6061 aluminum construction as the rest of the Airborne frames, while a Manitou Magnum Comp fork provides 120mm of suspension travel, and 15mm thru axles (front and rear) keep your wheels firmly in place and makes it easy to take them on and off. Bottom line, the Airborne Griffin 27.5+ is like a monster-sized BMX bike and it’s a blast to ride.
Bulls King Boa 27.5
Aspiring cross-country racers, or anyone who appreciates a fast efficient ride, will like the Bulls King Boa 27.5. As the name indicates, this bike rolls on 27.5 wheels, which help keep weight in check and add a little playfulness to its overall ride character. The frame is constructed from durable double butted 7005 aluminum, where the butting process involves reducing excess materials on the inner tubes to further help reduce weight without sacrificing stiffness. The drivetrain is an old school 3×10 set up, meaning you will have plenty of gears to tackle any climb. And the bike comes spec’d with reliable Shimano SLX shifters and derailleurs, Tektro Gemini hydraulic disc brakes, and a Suntour XRC-32 RL 100mm travel fork with a lock out.
More info: www.bullsbikesusa.com
Cannondale Trail 4
With a 68.5-degree headtube angle in 29er form (or 68 even for 27.5), the Cannondale Trail 4 strikes a nice balance between sharp steering and stability in the rough stuff. That means you could race the local XC race one day, and rip your backyard trails the next. Spec highlights include tubeless WTB wheels and tires, a 100mm RockShox 30 Silver suspension fork, and Shimano SLX 11-speed drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes. It also comes in two frame colors (the pictured sage grey or a very bright volt yellow) and seven total sizes: XS, S, M (27.5), and M, L, XL, XXL (29er).
Diamondback Lux 3
The Diamondback Lux 3 is a women’s specific 27.5 hardtail that’s designed to scamper up climbs, yet still be nimble and fun when gravity takes over. The 6061 aluminum frame features extra standover clearance to make maneuvering the Lux in technical terrain easier. Spec highlights include a bump-taming 120mm RockShox Judy Silver TK fork, Schwalbe Tough Tom 27.5×2.25 tires, trail bike-worthy 760mm Race Face Aeffect handlebars, and SRAM’s highly regarded GX 11-speed single-ring drivetrain, which provides simplicity and shifting precision.
Fezzari Wasatch Peak 27.5
Utah-based direct-to-consumer bike seller Fezzari offers some of the best deals around, and the Wasatch Peak 27.5 is no exception. For under a grand, you get a trail ready rig spec’d a Shimano Deore 1×10 wide range drivetrain with 30t chainring and 11-42 cassette, 100mm RockShox 30 Silver fork, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, WTB wheels, and tubeless ready 2.25 Maxxis Ardent tires. Pair all that with a capable Fezzari Racing Design F275A alloy frame and you have a 27.5 hardtail that’s up for anything. No wonder the Wasatch Peak is one of Fezzari’s most popular cross country bikes.
More info: www.fezzari.com
Giant Fathom 29 2
When you’re the world’s largest bike maker, you have economies of scale others simply don’t. And that often means better bang for buck for the consumer. In the case of the Giant Fathom 29 2, you get a similar build spec to other bikes in this price range, except this trail shredder comes with a Giant Contact Switch dropper post, allowing you to get the saddle out of the way when the trail turns techy and steep. Other spec highlights include tubeless ready Maxxis Ikon 2.2 tires, an 100mm Suntour Raidon fork, and reliable Shimano Deore 1×10 drivetrain with 30t chainring and 11-42 cassette. As for intended purpose, with its steep and precise 69-degree headtube angle and lightweight ALUXX SL aluminum frame, the Giant Fathom 29 2 is a perfect cross-country race rig.
More info: www.giant-bicycles.com
Yet another solid all-arounder 27.5 hardtail, the Kona Blast offers superb climbing gear range thanks to its pairing of 28t FSA Alpha Drive chainring/cranks with an 11-42 Shimano Deore 10-speed cassette. Up front suspension is the capable 100mm RockShock Silver. Brakes are the ever reliable Shimano hydraulic disc, that smartly include an 180mm front rotor for max modulation and stopping power. It all spins on a set of WTB ST i29 TCS wheels shod with WTB 27.5×2.25 tires. And we absolutely love the matte desert tan frame color with charcoal and brick decals. This is a truly great looking bike.
More info: www.konaworld.com
Salsa Timberjack NX1 29
Salsa has a well-earned reputation for creating adventure-ready bikes and the Timberjack NX1 29 is no exception. Indeed, it’s equally at home pushing the limits on singletrack or on multi-day bikepacking excursions deep into the backcountry. The Timberjack features modern trail bike geometry with a 68-degree headtube angle and roomy but not outrageous 458mm reach (size large). There’s also accommodation for 27.5+ wheels and tires if you prefer the plushness of a plus bike ride over the efficiency of a 29er. Short chainstays give the bike its nimble character, and parts spec is highlighted by a 120mm Manitou Markhor fork, SRAM NX1 drivetrain with 11-42 cassette and 30t chainring, and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes and rotors.
More info: www.salsacycles.com
Specialized Fuse 6Fattie/29
The Specialized hook for its Fuse 6Fattie bike: “If you show us a trail rider that says they couldn’t use more traction, we’ll show the trail rider that’s never ridden our Fuse.” And max traction is exactly what you get when rolling around on Specialized Ground Control tubeless ready 27.5×3.0 tires. The bike’s frame features the California company’s A1 premium aluminum construction that’s designed to provide a blend of efficiency and durability. Spec highlights include a SR Suntour XCM32 100mm fork, SRAM’s GX 10-speed rear derailleur that guides the chain up and down a wide range Sunrace 10-42 cassette that’s paired with a climbing friendly 28t cassette.
More info: www.specialized.com
Trek X-Caliber 7
Trek bills the X-Caliber 7 as the perfect entry point to cross-country riding and racing. The 29” hardtail with sleek internal cable routing has a lightweight and durable alloy frame, 100mm RockShox 30 Silver fork, Bontrager XR2 29×2.20 tires, 2×9 Shimano Acera/Alivio drivetrain, and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. There’s even compatibility to install a dropper post if you want to up the bike’s rowdy factor a touch.
More info: www.trekbikes.com
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