Best Mountain Bikes Under $1000

Sam Millers
Sam Millers

If you think that you need to bring a bag full of cash when you head out to buy your next mountain bike, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Cycling can be an expensive hobby, but it certainly does not have to be.

There are many quality mountain bikes out there that are fun, reliable, durable, capable — and cost less than $1,000 

In this review, we’ll be showing you the 10 best mountain bikes under $1,000 that you can shred trails with for miles and years to come. They can easily be upgraded or ridden as is. 

Cannondale Trail 5

Best First Trail Bike

Cannondale Trail 5

Cannondale Trail 5 is the epitome of a straightforward trail bike perfect for beginners and casual off-road riders. It’s a bike that does well on aggressive XC rides, moderate downhills, and also climbs well. All that thanks to its versatile geometry and clever design solutions.

Main Features:

  • Aluminum frame
  • 2×9 Shimano drivetrain
  • 27.5″/29″ wheels
  • 100 mm fork travel
  • 68.0°/ 68.5° head tube angle

Cannondale Trail 5 is on the top of our list not because it is much better than all the other bikes shown here, but because it is a tried and true choice. Cannondale’s Trail line has been around for a while and has been pretty much perfected to smash XC routes and trails.

Hydraulic Braking & Shimano Components

First of all, Trail 5 bounces on a 100 mm SR Suntour XCM-RL fork with a coil and hydraulic lockout.

The head tube angle is 68.0° on the S frame and 68.5° on larger frames, which is slack enough to let you approach obstacles more aggressively.

However, a longer stem will still center you over the bike and give you a good overview of the trail ahead.

Trail 5 brakes with Shimano’s hydraulic disc brakes and 160 mm rotors and shifts its 18 gears with Shimano Altus and Acera derailleurs. Nothing to be too excited about, but definitely reliable choices.

The wheels are 27.5″ on the S frame and 29″ on larger frames, which guarantees a good fit and a confident ride no matter how you’re built. Tires are 2.25″ wide on all versions.

If you’re in the market for your first XC or Trail bike and you want an affordable option, Cannondale Trail 5 is a safe choice.

Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2

Best XC Race Model

Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2

Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2 is one of the best choices from the numerous DRT family of trail bikes. Its affordability is just one of the reasons why we opted to include it in our top 10 roster.

DRT 1.2 offers possibly the most bang for the buck in several areas, such as components, tires, and the overall design.

Main Features:

  • Aluminum frame
  • 2×9 Shimano drivetrain
  • 27.5″/29″ wheels
  • 120 mm fork travel
  • 69° head tube angle

Thanks to its longer travel and wide-range gearing, this bike will enable you to ramp up the speed on the flats and climb efficiently as well. It does not have a dropper post, but it can be easily fitted with one.

Lots of Travel and Even More Grip

One of the highlights on the DRT 1.2 is its capable WTB Trail Boss tires. They are 2.4″ wide which gives you plenty of grip when tackling tight bends and loose surfaces. The wheels are 27.5″ on sizes XS through M, and 29″ on larger frames.

Next is the dual-piston SR Suntour XCR front suspension with 120 mm of travel. That’s the best option from this Suntour’s line.

All cables are internally routed so DRT 1.2 has pretty clean lines.

Shifting is relegated to Shimano Altus and Alivio groupsets and braking is enforced by Tektro hydraulic discs. There are 18 gears on disposal, which is an excellent range for all terrains.

DRT 1.2 is a remarkable choice for performance-oriented riders who are getting back into the trail racing game or are just taking their first steps.

Best All-Mountain Hardtail

Marin San Quentin 1

If you have money for only one bike and you want to put your foot in different disciplines and see where you fit the best, then Marin San Quentin 1 is the right tool for the job. This is an all-mountain bike with slack geometry and upgradeable design.

Main Features:

  • Aluminum frame
  • 1×9 Shimano drivetrain
  • 27.5″ wheels
  • 120 mm fork travel
  • 65° head tube angle

Marin San Quentin was designed as a collaboration between Marin and the freeride legend Matt Jones. It is the perfect blend of a dirt jump and a trail hardtail bike.

Slack Geometry and Plenty of Clearance

Marin San Quentin 1 is a seriously capable bicycle with a seriously low price. The frame has a 65° head tube angle which is almost as slack as you can go on trail bikes. In combination with the 120 mm SR Suntour XCM fork, you can attack obstacles from a much better angle.

This bike comes with Vee Tire Crown Gem tires that are 2.3″ wide and 27.5″ in diameter. That guarantees traction and nimble handling. The frame has enough clearance for up to 2.6″ wide tires, so you can go crazy on the trails.

San Quentin 1 has a 1×9 drivetrain with Marin’s crankset and a SunRace cassette. The derailleur is Shimano Altus, which is to be expected.

This bike brakes with Tektro’s M275 hydraulic discs, which get decent reviews on MTB forums and sites.

So if you need just one cheap MTB to rule them all, Marin San Quentin 1 will give you the most versatility and immesurable fun.

Diamondback Overdrive 29 2

Best Classic 29er Hardtail

Diamondback Overdrive 29 2

Overdrive 29 2 is a member of Diamondback’s stable with a long tradition and an equally long list of quality components. It will pleasantly surprise you in terms of suspension, braking, geometry, and rubber.

Main Features:

  • Aluminum frame
  • 2×9 Shimano drivetrain
  • 29″ wheels
  • 100 mm fork travel
  • 71° head tube angle

Overdrive 29 2 is built around Diamondback’s butted 6061-T6 aluminum frame that has a tapered head tube and forged dropouts with a replaceable hanger.

It has everything you need to become confident enough to tackle the steepest of climbs and attack the rowdiest of trails. All excuse stop here.

Adjustable RockShox Suspension for More Fun

Diamondback Overdrive 29 2 would not be such a good affordable mountain bike if it weren’t for the Rockshox Judy Silver fork. This is an air fork with 100 mm of travel, a lockout, and rebound adjust. Therefore, it offers the most adjustability of all models so far. It induces confidence and increases your margin for error.

The 29″ wheels are clad in WTB Nineline 2.25″ tires which offer a good balance between speed and brute force.

The Shimano hydraulic disc brakes are precise, powerful, and a very common sight in this price range. These are coupled with 160 mm rotors, so you can definitely stop on a dime.

Another thing we appreciate is the Shimano Alivio/Acera components with 18 gears and a 36T x 36T granny gear for challenging hills.

If you want a foolproof 29er with responsive handling and capable components, Diamondback Overdrive 29 2 is the best choice.

Rocky Mountains Growler

Best Affordable 1x Bike

Rocky Mountain Growler 20

Check this out: 29″ wheels, super-wide tires, long travel, 1x drivetrain… What more could you ask for? Rocky Mountains Growler packs all of these features and a lot more. It’s a fantastic trail bike that will dominate technical climbs and wreak havoc on uneven ground.

Main Features:

  • Aluminum frame
  • 1×9 Shimano drivetrain
  • 29″ wheels
  • 130 mm fork travel
  • 64° head tube angle

Rocky Mountain Growler is a perfectly fitting name for this bike as the Canadian Rocky Mountains have little to offer against it.

It has a seriously slack geometry and the highest amount of front travel that you can get in this price range.

Confidence-Inducing Extra Wide Tires

The Growler is built on a rock-solid 6061 aluminum frame with a threaded bottom bracket and a tapered head tube. Therefore, it can be easily upgraded in the future. It is also dropper post compatible if you want to take your downhill skills to another level.

WTB Trail Boss tires are 2.6″ wide, so you can approach berms with speed and cruise over rocks.

We think the star of the show is the Suntour XCM34 DS fork with 130 mm of travel which is excellent for rough descending and fast times on bumpy flats.

Shimano Altus rear derailleur operates a 1×9 drivetrain and supplies you with enough gears for slow stubborn hills and fast accelerations when the terrain evens out.

Shimano’s dual-piston MT201 hydraulic disc brakes do not need much introduction. They get the job done without nagging or bragging.

Rocky Mountain Growler is a fast downhill crusher and an excellent choice for under $1,000.

Giant Talon 3

The Cheapest on the List

Giant Talon 3

Giant Talon 3 is among the cheapest choices you can get on our list. That’s why it is an excellent option for beginner riders who are just learning the ropes about mountain biking. Don’t let the price fool you. Cheapest does not automatically mean the worst — all bikes on this list are reliable and will ride well for years.

Main Features:

  • Aluminum frame
  • 2×8 Shimano drivetrain
  • 27.5″ wheels
  • 100 mm fork travel
  • 68° head tube angle

Giant Talon is a line of three versatile and capable trail bikes. Talon 3 is the most affordable of the three with a price of just $550. For that money, you get a nice combination of a quality ALUXX-grade aluminum frame, Shimano and Tektro components, and a nice paint job.

Beginner’s Best Friend

Apart from the features we mentioned above, Giant Talon 3 packs several other nice surprises. The first one is the SR Suntour XCT30 fork with 100 mm of travel. It provides you with a lockout and preload adjuster functions, so you can dial it to your liking.

The highlight is the high-quality, 2.2″ wide Maxxis Ikon tires that perform excellently on loose gravel paths, fire roads, and hard-packed singletracks.

You’ll also appreciate the 2×8 drivetrain with a total of 16 gears operated with a Shimano Acera rear derailleur. The cassette has a 12-32T range which is not ideal for very steep hills, but it will be enough on most. When you finish the climb, feel free to attack the descent thanks to hydraulic disc brakes. 

We can only recommend the Giant Talon 3 to anyone who wants a versatile and affordable trail bike to have fun on and learn the basics of mountain biking.

Liv Tempt 3

Best Entry-Level Value for Money

Liv Tempt 3

Liv Tempt 3 is definitely a bike that deserves to make it on our list due to the plethora of decent features it packs at a very low price. You most certainly won’t win the DH Championship with it, but you will win all of the challenges against your trail friends.

Main Features:

  • Aluminum frame
  • 2×8 Shimano drivetrain
  • 27.5″ wheels
  • 100 mm fork travel
  • 68° head tube angle

The Aluxx-grade aluminum frame that Liv Tempt 3 is built upon can be seen on much more expensive bikes because it offers the perfect balance between strength and low weight.

A good frame is the prerequisite of a good trail bike as it allows you to upgrade the bike in the future. That way, you can extend its life span significantly.

A Bike with a Place in Everyone’s Stable

One of the reasons why Liv Tempt 3 would find a place in everyone’s garage is because it is simple, affordable, and very fun. It has an SR Suntour XCT30 fork with 100 mm of travel, so you can ride it on trails, XC tours, and singletracks.

The Maxxis Ikon tires are 27.5″ in diameter and 2.2″ in width. These are dimensions that offer nimble and responsive steering, as well as fast and grippy cornering. Hydraulic disc brakes will help in this area as well.

The 2×8 drivetrain is not too fancy or flashy, but you get 16 wide-range gears to ride like a granny or stomp the pedals.

If you have just $550 to spare and you’re requirements are fantastic looks, high-quality frame, and reliable components, you’ll be happy with Liv Tempt 3 no matter if you are a beginner or an enthusiast.

Felt Dispatch 9/80

Best for XC Touring

Felt Dispatch 9/80

Dispatch 9/80 is Felt’s most affordable 29er bike you can get. It’s a fast-rolling bicycle on hard-packed trails and tracks, which makes it excellent for cross-country riding. However, it’s still more than capable of some serious mountain biking in the woods and on mountains.

Main Features:

  • Aluminum frame
  • 1×8 drivetrain
  • 29″ wheels
  • 100 mm fork travel
  • 69° head tube angle

We decided to include Felt Dispatch 9/80 on our list because it is such a versatile bike. It’s made with Felt’s lightweight F-Lite aluminum frame that has a replaceable derailleur hanger and IS disc mounts.

But there’s more that you’ll get if you choose to buy it.

Fast and Rowdy on Demand

Dispatch 9/80 has a strange name, but it has a common suspended fork — the SR Suntour XCT-HLO. You see it often because it is an excellent choice for the money. It provides 100 mm of travel, preload, and hydraulic lockout.

This is a surprisingly lightweight bike due to the 1×8 drivetrain that sheds weight and leaves enough range for arduous climbs, fast singletracks and rail-trails.

Felt Dispatch rolls on Kenda Kadre tires that are 2.1″ in width. That’s another feature that adds to this bike’s speed and sharpness.

Other features worthy of notice are the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, which are simply unnegotiable on 29er trail crushers. They have mad stopping power and are much easier to maintain than all other types.

The main takeaway is that Felt Dispatch 9/80 is one of the best 29ers money can buy on this list. It’s a high-performing and high-quality bike that’s easy to upgrade in the future.

Trek X-Caliber 8

Best Components on the List

Trek X-Caliber 8

Trek is one of the most popular bike companies in the world. They supply all price points with high-quality bikes chosen by professionals and amateurs alike. 

Trek X-Caliber 8 has a comfortable geometry and a list of reliable components that make it ideal for long days on the trail.

Main Features:

  • Aluminum frame
  • 2×10 Shimano drivetrain
  • 29″ wheels
  • 100 mm fork travel
  • 69.2° head tube angle

X-Caliber 8 is Trek’s successful attempt at meeting the demands of cross-country and trail enthusiasts whose main goal is to have fun, do fast laps, and spend the entire day in the woods.

Shimano Deore/XT 2×10 Makes a Difference

Trek X-Caliber 8 is right at the top of the $1,000 price point, so it offers some pretty sweet features and components. First of all, there’s the RockShox 30 Silver air fork with 100 mm of travel and plenty of options for adjustability.

The thing that put a smile on our face was the Shimano Deore and Deore XT 2×10 drivetrain which leaves nothing to be desired. It’s lightweight, efficient, reliable, and durable.

The same thing can be said for Shimano’s hydraulic disc brakes which are ideal for wet and muddy conditions — mountain bikers’ favorite.

The Bontrager XR2, 29 x 2.20˝ are wrapped around tubeless ready
Bontrager Kovee rims, so you can ditch the tubes and enjoy the benefits.

All in all, Trek X-Caliber 8 is the most expensive but the most advanced bike on this list as well.

It’s the perfect choice for enthusiasts who have already fallen in love with trails and with to get better at looping them!

Tommaso Gran Sasso

Best-Looking of the Bunch

Tommaso Gran Sasso Tommaso Gran Sasso is the “pretty boy” on our list of the best mountain bikes under $1,000. But the fact that it’s pretty, does not mean that it’s bad at its job — quite the contrary. 
Tommaso does not have a lot of experience in the mountain biking niche, but Gran Sasso is proof that their expertise extends beyond road cycling.

Main Features:

  • Aluminum frame
  • 3×8 Shimano drivetrain
  • 29″ wheels
  • 100 mm fork travel
  • 71° head tube angle
Tommaso Gran Sasso is a sassy-looking trail bike with an aggressive all-black paint job, curvy tubing, and massive 29″ wheels. Therefore, it will leave a lasting impression both on the person riding it and other riders on the trail.

Recognizable Italian Design & Shimano Components

Gran Sasso is Tommaso’s first attempt at making a mountain bike. So far it seems that it is a very successful one. They researched what riders in this price range want and included all of the features that came up. One of these is the SR Suntour XCM fork with 100 mm of travel which provides enough vibration dampening for long cross-country rides. The other one is the reliable Shimano Altus and Acera derailleurs and a 3×8 drivetrain that offers more than enough gears for any setting. Shimano hydraulic brakes also made it to the list, so Gran Sasso definitely does not lack braking power and precision. Last but not least are the shoes — Kenda’s 29 x 2.1″ tires that are fast, responsive, and grippy on loose surfaces. If you are a fan of Tommaso’s recognizable style or a fan of affordable and playful 29ers, Gran Sasso is an excellent choice.

To Sum Up...

We’ve shown you what we think are the 10 best mountain bikes under $1,000 that you can get out there. We did the research and wrote the reviews, so we finished the most difficult part of the job for you. Now you just need to choose. 

The main takeaway is that you won’t go wrong whichever bike you end up choosing. All of them are made with quality in mind, have similar components, and will be a source of fun times for years to come.