This article was updated on 11/12/19
The 2020 model year brings many great introductions in budget-friendly componentry, suspension, and frame improvements. Thinking what $3,000 could get you just one year ago, we are now able to score a bike with 12-speed drivetrains, improved suspension, and now many other small yet important upgrades. Take a look at our updated list and find your next rig to get the most out of your cash.
The best mountain bikes under $3,000
What’s the magic dollar amount for scoring a legit new mountain bike? If you’re buying new, around $3,000 goes a long way. At this price level, a carbon fiber frame is a strong possibility—especially if you’re interested in a hardtail. Or you can opt for an aluminum full suspension model, knowing that you’re getting legitimate bump taming technology. Truth is, weight is really the only thing you’ll be giving up (or getting, in this case). Indeed, the best mountain bikes under $3,000 typically weigh at least a few pounds more than their more expensive siblings.
As always, before pulling out your credit card, make sure your new bike fits you well. If a bike fits you well it’s going to be a whole lot more fun to ride. And while a professional bike fit is expensive, the majority of bike shops will help you get dialed, adjusting saddle height and swapping on the best size stem. Also, because the various bike manufacturers track each other closely on price and component spec, you’re not likely to find huge parts differences from one bike to the next, meaning fit and feel will often be the biggest differentiators when making your buying decision when shopping the best mountain bikes under $3000.
That doesn’t mean that some bikes don’t have better components than others. The key is knowing what to focus on. When it comes to mountain bikes, suspension, wheels, brakes, and drivetrain deserve the most attention. Ideally, you want to buy a bike that’s spec’d with parts from a respected component brand such as Shimano, SRAM, Fox, and RockShox. All these companies make a wide array of products, meaning that their mid-priced options benefit from trickle-down technology. They also have reputations to uphold, so it’s unlikely that they’ll manufacture parts that will need service after just a couple months.
A prime example is SRAM’s Eagle series of drivetrains. While an XX1 group costs more than many budget-priced mountain bikes, SRAM’s Eagle NX and GX groups have brought the technology to lower price points, and again, you’re really just giving up weight savings, as general functionality is essentially the same.
With all that in mind, here in alphabetical order are Mtbr’s picks for some of the best mountain bikes under $3000. Also, be sure to check out our round-ups of the Best Mountain Bikes Under $1000 and Best Mountain Bikes Under $2000.
Canyon Strive CF 6.0
Best deal among this bunch? Hard to argue with the Canyon Strive CF 7.0, which normally sells direct to consumer for $3999, but right now is marked down to $2999. And yes, at last check they had a decent array of available frame sizes, including medium, large, and XL. What you get for your hard earned cash is full carbon frame that features the German bike maker’s Shapeshifter technology, which at the flip of the switch changes the rear travel from 160mm to 135mm. This in turn raises the BB by 19mm and steepens the headtube and seat tube angles from 66 degrees to 67.5 and from 73.5 to 75 respectively. Translation: This 27.5 trail bike can climb with the best of them — and will descend better than most. And as is so often the case with Canyon’s bikes, the build spec is truly impressive, including DT Swiss EX 1700 Spline wheels, RockShox Reverb dropper post, SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, SRAM Guide R brakes, and arguably best of all, an 170mm RockShox Lyric RTC3 fork.
Price: $2999 (marked down from $3999)
More Info: www.canyon.com
Giant Trance 29 2
With 115mm rear travel and 130mm up front, the updated Trance 29 offers a lot of bang for your buck in terms of componentry and technology. The super-versatile trail machine is built on an updated ALUXX SL frameset that blends the latest Maestro suspension technology with a progressive, trail-oriented geometry. Up front, it features a 130mm Fox 34 Float while a Fox Float DPS soaks up the bumps out back. A full Shimano SLX drivetrain provides durable and reliability while Shimano MT-501 brakes offer solid consistent stopping power. Overall geometry has been tuned and developed to maximize its balance of efficiency and technical prowess.
Ibis DV9 GX Eagle
If full-gas cross-country racing is your thing, Ibis has you covered with the recently launched DV9 GX Eagle 29er. As the name indicates, this capable climber comes stock with a wide-range SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, meaning you’ll never run out of gears. Combine that with a lightweight carbon frame, and this bike is truly race ready. But Ibis also injected some fun into the frame design are parts spec, which includes a moderately slack 67.4-degree headtube angle, clearance for up to 2.6 tires, and 780mm wide bars. Combine that with compatibility with 100mm or 120mm suspension forks, and you can truly customize this bike to your needs and riding style. Personally, we love the idea of a playful hardtail, which delivers both efficient power transfer when the trail turns up, and the ability to rally through the rough stuff without fearing for your life.
Kona Process 153 AL
Yet another great option for trail smashing fun, the Kona Process 153 AL features 160mm/153mm of travel front and rear, a wide range SRAM NX/GX Eagle blended drivetrain, and the option to choose between 27.5 and 29er wheels. We’re big fans of the bigger wheel size for their monster truck roll-over capability. But if you ride a lot of tight, techy trails, or just prefer a little more playful ride, the 27.5 model may make more sense. Either way you’ll benefit from a slack 66-degree headtube angle, short 425mm chainstays, and Kona’s proprietary Beamer independent suspension design that’s progressive off the top, which helps the bike stay higher in the travel and recover more quickly from big hits. This bike also comes stock with a dropper post, meaning it’s truly ready to shred straight out of the box.
Niner Air 9 RDO 2-Star SLX
Steel is real, and the SIR 9 is a solid option for riders looking to keep it real. With it’s clean lines and trail demeanor, the SIR 9 is a great do it all hardtail. With its 68-degree head angle, the bike is optimized for 120mm forks and offers plenty of mounting options for carrying gear on bikepack adventures. Spec highlights include traction enhanced Minion DHF and Rekon tires (2.5 front/2.4 rear), a Marzocchi Bomber Z2 fork, SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain and Niner Alloy wheels with boost spacing. If you’re keen on a hardtail, the SIR 9 is a great way to benefit from some of the latest geometry enhancements while keeping things budget friendly.
Norco Fluid FS 1
This playful full suspension trail bike embraces the frame size dictates wheel size ethos, placing smaller riders (XS and S) on 27.5 hoops, while lankier folks (M, L, XL) get 29er wheels. In either case, the Norco Fluid FS 1 has 130mm/120mm travel front and rear, and comes stock with a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain and terrain gobbling 2.6 Maxxis Forecaster tires. Frame geometry measures are fully modernized with (in 29er form) a 66.5-degree head tube angle, 76-degree seat tube angle, and roomy 470mm reach (size large). The 27.5 builds are even slacker at 66 degrees. RockShox gets the nod for suspension duties, with a Revelation RC fork up front and Deluxe R shock in the back. And yes, it comes spec’d with a dropper post.
More Info: www.norco.com
Santa Cruz Hightower D build
One of the most sought after bikes is available from $10500 down to $2900. Sure, there are some big changes in componentry and frame materials, but damn, you can get a solid Hightower setup for less than $3000. Available in a wide variety of builds, including this budget friendly aluminum model, the Hightower boasts 150mm/140mm front and rear travel, a 65.5-degree headtube angle, 76.8-degree seat tube angle, and 433mm chainstays. This bike even has a flip chip should you decide to convert it to 27.5-plus for a little max-traction fun. Spec highlights on this budget build include a SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain, Maxxis tires front and rear, and SRAM Level brakes. This is a solid option if a Santa Cruz is calling your name.
Specialized Stumpjumper ST Comp Alloy 29
One of Specialized most versatile trail bikes, the Stumpjumper is now available in a shorter travel (ST) version featuring 120mm and is also available in a budget friendly aluminum version. Packing all the benefits and features of the high end Stumpjumper into a bike that won’t drain your wallet, the Stumpjumper ST Comp alloy 29 comes with Fox Float suspension front and rear, Shimano SLX 11-speed drivetrain and Shimano MT-501 disc brakes and an X-Fusion dropper post. Packing lots of great features, technology into a budget friendly rig, the Stumpjumper ST Comp Alloy 29 is a great option to get you into all the latest in mountain bike technology.
More Info: www.specialized.com
Trek Stache 7
If you’re a non-conformist that prefers fun above all else, look no further than the Trek Stache 7. This supremely playful 29+ trail hardtail comes stock with traction-enhancing Bontrager XR2 29×3.0 tires and a bump taming 120mm RockShox Yari RL fork. The Stache 7’s lightweight aluminum frame is also dressed with a wide range SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain and Shimano MT500 hydraulic disc brakes. It even comes with a dropper post. But what really sets this bike apart is its geometry. Up front is a relatively slack 68.4-degree headtube angle. In the rear are ridiculously short (in a good way) 420mm chainstays. Together those metrics help deliver a bike that is both exceptionally capable in a straight line, yet surprisingly nimble when the trail gets tight and techy. Think of the Stache 7 as mini monster truck. If you can deliver the pedaling power, it’ll roll up and over just about anything. Yet, thanks to the frame’s stubby rear end, it can cut and carve with sports car precision. This is one fun hardtail!
YT Jeffsy 29 AL Comp
Another high value direct-to-consumer 29er trail bike option, the YT Jeffsy 29 AL Comp serves up 140mm of travel front and rear, and has a flip chip that allows you to toggle between 67 and 67.5-degree headtube angle and 74.5 or 75-degree seat tube angle. Chainstays are 435mm or 440mm depending on frame size, which helps assure the bike performs the same whether you’re a small or tall rider. Spec highlights on this budget friendly build include Maxxis Minion DHRII tires front and rear, Fox 34 140mm fork and Fox Float DPS shock, SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, and an SDG Tellis dropper post.
Price: $2399 (currently marked down to $2299)
More Info: us.yt-industries.com
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