29er Reviews

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
The Jamis Defcon 3 features 160mm of travel, rolls on 27.5" wheels and includes a dropper post.

The Jamis Defcon 3 features 160mm of travel, rolls on 27.5″ wheels and includes a dropper post (click to enlarge).

Jamis Defcon 3 – $2799.

We covered Jamis’s full introduction of the all new Defcon enduro bike a couple of months ago, but we had a chance to see them up-close and personal at Interbike. The Defcon is available in three versions with the Defcon 3 being the most affordable. All three models come with dropper posts. The Defcon is an alloy framed bike that features 160mm of rear travel from what Jamis calls their MP4 progressive suspension.

The parts spec of the Defcon 3 includes X-Fusion fork and shock, Shimano Deore 2×10 drivetrain, Loaded Precision bar and stem, WTB rims, Formula hubs and Vittoria 27.5×2.4″ tires. The frame has a “semi” internal cable routing for the included KS eTen dropper post.

The Jamis Defcon 3 is available in four sizes (15″, 17″, 19″, 21″) and has an MSRP of $2,799.00.

Consider this bike if… you like to go big and you really know how to use all the suspension you’re given.

To learn more, visit www.jamisbikes.com.

In Cannondale's Team green color, the Habit Al 4 is easily mistaken for it's more up market carbon brethren.

In Cannondale’s Team green color, the Habit Al 4 is easily mistaken for it’s more up market carbon brethren (click to enlarge).

Cannondale Habit Al 4 – $2880

Cannondale’s new Habit is one of those bikes that blurs the lines between aggressive XC and All Mountain Trail. We had the chance to ride the carbon version of the Habit recently and we were impressed by how much fun we had on a bike with only 120mm of travel. Like the saying goes, it’s not how much travel you have but how well that travel works.

We haven’t spent time on the Habit Al 4 but we expect it to have a very similar ride quality at a cost savings due to it’s aluminum frame. That frame is Cannondale’s smartformed alloy paired with a Lefty 2.0 alloy OPI fork with trail tune and matching 120mm of travel. The rear shock is a RockShox Monarch RL. The rest of the spec includes a Shimano Deore/SLX 2×10 drivetrain, Shimano Deore disc brakes, Stan’s rims, Lefty/Formula hubs and Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5″ tires.

The Cannondale Habit Al 4 is available in four sizes (SM, MD, LG, XL) and has an MSRP of $2,880.

Consider this bike if… you want the carbon look without the carbon price but with all the same ability. You also respect the Lefty fork for how well it tracks.

To learn more, visit www.cannondale.com.

The SixFifty 5500 features a SRAM GX1 1x11 drivetrain, 140mm of travel front and rear and rolls on 27.5" wheels.

The SixFifty 5500 features a SRAM GX1 1×11 drivetrain, 140mm of travel front and rear and rolls on 27.5″ wheels (click to enlarge).

KHS SixFifty 5500 – $2899

KHS had a ton of bikes on display from their Championship winning DH rigs, to road race bikes to fat bikes and more. Highlighted here is the KHS SixFifty 5500 which has a 6061 aluminum double-butted frame with custom formed top tube and down tube. KHS’s own Flick informed me that they took the design and layout from it’s big brothers (the 7500 and 7200) and down sized it a bit for the shorter travel bike. As such, the SixFifty 5500 features 140mm of travel (KHS calls their design FAST floating arc suspension technology) and rolls on 27.5″ wheels. It has a longer, lower stance and features a longer top tube which seems to be one of the trends for this category of bike for 2016.

The 5500 features a RockShox Sektor Silver fork with 140mm of travel, Rock Shox Monarch RL shock, 1×11 SRAM GX drivetrain (the frame can accomodate a front derailleur if desired), Shimano hydraulic brakes, WTB rims and Maxxis tires. Bonus points for the internally routed KS eTen dropper post.

The KHS SixFifty 5500 is available in four sizes (SM, MD, LG, XL) and has an MSRP of $2,899.

Consider this bike if… you want a 140mm trail bike that leans towards the gnarly stuff from a brand with a proven track record on the gravity scene.

To learn more, visit www.khsbicycles.com.

 The Speedfox 03 has a triple-butted aluminum frame that features 130mm of BMC's APS (Advanced Pivot System) suspension design.


The Speedfox 03 has a triple-butted aluminum frame that features 130mm of BMC’s APS (Advanced Pivot System) suspension design and rolls on 29″ wheels (click to enlarge).

BMC Speedfox 03 – $2999

BMC showed us a selection from their Trail Series, the Speedfox 03. Although the Trail Series may not be as race oriented as most of BMC’s line, the Speedfox line still carries the high performance technology and design as their more expensive bikes, but remains versatile and capable.

The Speedfox 03 has a triple-butted aluminum frame that features 130mm of BMC’s APS (Advanced Pivot System) suspension design. The geometry is the same BWC (Big Wheel Concept) that BMC uses on it’s other 29ers in an effort to keep the handling nimble. Other aspects of the BWC geometry include a long top tube, low stack height (short headtube), more slacked out than traditional, a low bottom bracket height and a short chainstay. The Speedfox 03 is equipped with a Fox 34 Float fork with 130mm of travel, Shimano SLX/XT 2×10 drivetrain, Shimano SLX brakes and Shimano hubs with DT Swiss rims shod with Onza 29″ tires.

The BMC Speedfox 03 is available in five sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL) and has an MSRP of $2999.00.

Consider this bike if… you want a versatile 29er trail bike that rolls through the choppy stuff well, but getting to the top first still means something to you..

To learn more, visit www.bmc-switzerland.com/.

Continue to page 3 for more Round up: 13 great value mountain bikes under $3000 »
About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Olympics, Tour de France, MTB world champs, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and kids Cora and Tommy in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.


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  • Timberline says:

    Hopefully Vee Tires has fully addressed the known issue of the Crown Gem ripping cornering knobs off through the casing. This was a common issue with this tire in the past, but Vee says it’s been addressed. I tried a Crown Gem some time ago with the torn knob issue and Vee customer service bent over backward to be helpful in replacing my tire.

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