What does “affordable” really mean?
Last year after the cycling industry’s annual trade show known as Interbike, I did a write-up on some of the best value mountain bikes for 2015. Now, just as then, the amount of bike you can get for $3000 has never been higher. But using the term “affordable” is always risky – what’s affordable for one person can be way over the budget of another. For the hardcore enthusiast mountain biker, spending $4000-$5000 (or more) is the norm. But for a vast majority of riders out there, $3000 is the absolute upper limit of their bike buying budget. And of course, for others even $3000 is way too much (click here for our 27 best bikes under $1000 guide).
Trends for budget bikes
So, we visited several manufacturers at Interbike and asked them to show us their best value mountain bike near $3000. We told them it could be from any category as long as it was in the price range. Some trends we noticed while researching this article:
- $3000 is a key price point for most brand (more shops will sell $2500-$3000 bikes than $6000+ dream bikes)
- dropper posts are becoming more readily available at this price point
- 1x drivetrains can be found on some models here (thanks mostly to SRAM’s GX line)
- carbon frames still remains exclusive to hardtails at $3k and below
- with the exception of fat bikes, dirt jumpers and some DH rigs – 26ers are truly dead
Out of the 13 bikes featured here, 9 are full suspension bikes and 4 are hardtails. Seven of the bikes roll on 27.5″ wheels, three are 29ers, two are 27.5 Plus and there is one lone 26er in the group. The selection includes two race ready carbon hardtails, two Plus bikes, one electric fat bike and several enduro/trail oriented full boingers (with alloy frames). Shown here in order from the least expensive to most expensive is our round up of 13 best affordable mountain bikes for 2016 around $3000.
Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 710 – $1999.99
The Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 710 is a price point friendly aluminum version of their popular Thunderbolt carbon full suspension rig that is targeted toward the aggressive XC/trail rider. It features 120mm of rear suspension and rolls on 27.5″ wheels.
This bike features Rocky’s Ride-9 adjustable geometry and suspension to help further dial it in just right for the rider’s preference. The fork is a Manitou Marvel LTD with 130mm of suspension. A Manitou Radium Expert XC shock handles rear suspension duties. At this price, the drivetrain isn’t the latest 1x or even 2x, instead it is a Shimano 3×10. Brakes are Shimano hydraulic discs and the Thunderbolt rolls on WTB rims with Maxxis tires.
No matter how you look at it, the Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 710 is a lot of bike for $1999.99. It is available in five sizes (XS, SM, MD, LG, XL) and is the most affordable bike here by a large margin.
Consider this bike if… you’re on a really tight budget but you want full suspension from a brand name you can trust.
To learn more, visit www.bikes.com.
Surface 604 Boar E350 Electric Fat Bike – $2499
Electric mountain bikes are always a hot topic, but if there is one arena where they make sense it is in the fat bike, commuter, adventure bike category. Surface 604 is headquartered in BC, so they know mountain bikes. Featured here is the stealthily mounted (down tube) lithium ion battery that helps keep the center of gravity low while maintaining the aesthetics of a “real” mountain bike.
The Boar has a fat bike specific 350 watt hub motor and the frame has a tapered headtube, custom reinforced battery mounts, internal cable routing and post mount brakes. The Boar is spec’ed with a rigid fork, Tektro hydraulic disc brakes and SRAM 1×10 drivetrain.
The Surface 604 Boar E350 electric fat bike is available in two sizes (small-medium 17.5″, medium-large 19″) and has a retail price of $2499.00.
Consider this bike if… you are into bikepacking and adventure riding and need the extra power to carry all your gear. The Boar E350 can also pull commuter duty.
To learn more about Surface 604, be sure to check out their featured Virtual Trade Show here: https://reviews.mtbr.com/surface-604-interbike-2015.
Scott Scale 710 Plus – $2599.99
Without a doubt, Plus bikes were one of the hottest trends at Interbike this year and Scott is supporting the Plus size movement in a big way. They have a total of eight Plus bike models including 2 hardtails and 6 full suspension models for 2016. Plus mountain bikes use a wide rim and wider than normal tires, usually in the 2.8″ to 3.2″ range.
Featured here is the Scott Scale 710 Plus, an alloy hardtail with a Scott’s custom butted superlight tubing frame with internal cable routing for a dropper post. This bike is spec’ed with a Fox 32 Float Performance fork with 120mm of travel, SRAM GX 1×11 drivetrain, Shimano disc brakes, Syncros cockpit parts, Syncros rims and hubs and Schwalbe Rocket Ron EVO 27.5×2.80″ tires.
The Scott Scale 710 Plus comes in four sizes (SM, MD, LG, XL), has an MSRP of $2599.99 and is available from your local Scott dealer now.
Consider this bike if… you like having a top name brand bike and you’re looking at something to make riding hardtails fun again.
To learn more, visit www.scott-sports.com.
Haro Shift 27.Five Plus – $2609.99
Haro is another brand that is going big with Plus bikes. They have 3 Plus hardtails and the all new Shift 27.Five Plus full suspension in their 2016 lineup. The Shift 27.Five Plus has 130mm of four-bar design rear travel. The spec features a RockShox Reba RL fork with 120mm of travel, a RockShox Monarch RL Solo air rear shock, Shimano XT 1×11 shifter and cassette, WTB Scraper rims and WTB Trailblazer 2.8″ tires.
Consider this bike if… you’re on a tight budget but you’re Plus-size curious and a Plus hardtail just won’t cut it for your demands.
The Haro Shift 27.Five Plus is available in three sizes (16″, 18″, 20.5″) and has an MSRP of $2,609.99.
To learn more, visit www.harobikes.com.
Marin Mount Vision 6 – $2749
The Marin Mount Vision 6 features a hydroformed aluminum alloy frame utilizing their SHOT Tech process for enhanced strength and weight savings. The Mount Vision 6 features 140mm of travel utilizing what Marin calls their IsoTrac suspension system. This is paired with a SR Suntour Auron LO-R fork and RockShox Monarch RL Debonair rear shock. The bike is also spec’ed with SRAM’s GX1 1×11 drivetrain, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, WTB Volt saddle and tubeless-ready 27.5″ rims and tires. Bonus points for the Trans-X dropper post.
The Marin Mount Vision 6 is available in four sizes (SM, MD, LG, XL) and has an MSRP of $2,749.
Consider this bike if… you’re looking for something different with a solid 1x drivetrain and a dropper post included.
To learn more, visit www.marinbikes.com.