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Best Mountain Bikes For The Money – Under $1,000

Although the thousand dollar mark is considered as a mid-entry among seasoned cyclists, there is still plenty of good quality yet affordable bikes on the market. Many of us, recreational cyclists, are looking for a new bike in 2020, and this is the amount to be paid.       Today, at the end of 2020, the selection of bikes and components has increased drastically over the past years, and down here you’ll find a selection of the best entry-level mountain bikes for just under a thousand dollars!

What $1,000 gets you?

  • 27.5″ or 29″ wheels – Depending on frame size & bike model
  • Coil fork suspension – Generally 100mm travel
  • Double or a single front chainring
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Aluminum frame
  • Clean design

This list of components wasn’t common just five years ago!



 

1) Cannondale – Trail 5 ‘2021 🏆

cannondale trail 5 red mountain bike

MSRP $875 REI.com

Cannondale Trail 7 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. Although this is far cheaper than you’d normally go for – it still does a great job for the price!

  • SmartForm C3 Alloy frame
  • 10-speed microSHIFT Advent X drivetrain
  • 27.5″ / 29″ wheels
  • 100 mm fork travel
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 68.0° 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.

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 160mm rotors and shifts its 10 gears with the brand new microSHIFT derailleurs. Tires are 2.25″ wide on all versions, while the wheel size varies from XS, S – 27.5″ and 29″ for M, L, and XL frame sizes. 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 by a huge bike brand!

Check Availability – REI


 

2) Co-op Cycles – DRT 1.2

Best XC Race Model

Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2

MSRP $949 REI.com

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 rosters.

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

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 of 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.

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

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.

Check Availability – REI


 

3) Rocky Mountain – Fusion 30 ‘2021

2021 Rocky Mountain hardtail mountain bikes start as low as $749

rocky mounts mtb

MSRP $899 JensonUSA

Here we have the newest addition to the selection – the Fusion 30 for 2021. The bike is perfectly suited for recreational cyclists who are looking for a reliable mountain bike with the latest technologies.

 

  • Shimano Deore 1x10speed
  • Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes
  • 100mm Suntour XCR32 Lor, Air-sprung forks
  • 6061 Aluminum frame
  • 29″ x 2.4″ tubeless-ready tires

Well suited for those who want a bike that’s capable of tackling light trails with comfort, while having the capacity for demanding trails – the Fusion 30 is specced for anything. Although we’d say that a trail-ready hardtail race bikes start from around $1,500, the Fusion is equipped with everything you need.

For $899, it sure is a steal – especially at times right now where most bikes have been sold out! Tubeless-ready wheels and tires, 1×10 drivetrain by Deore, and 100mm air-suspension is something to rely on this deal to be among the top competitors.

Availability – JensonUSA


 

4) Tommaso – Gran Sasso

Tommaso Gran Sasso features a set of components that are above the entry-level range while having a low ‘off-the-shelf’ price. Another great news is that you don’t have to do pretty much any assembly to get you going!

tommaso mountain bike

MSRP $775 GiantNerd.com

How much to pay for a mountain bike in 2020? Well, you are looking at a bike that’s for sale by GiantNerd who offers the best value Tommaso bikes online! Plus, they ship their bikes ready to ride, there’s basically no installation needed. The Gran Sasso is an ideal mountain bike for beginner/intermediate cyclists who are looking for a bike that’s not among the cheapest bikes.

Is it Mountain-ready?

Besides the bad-ass looks, the Gran Sasso is equipped with everything to get you from A to B through the rough terrains! It’s got the essential mountain bike components these days such as the 29″ wheels, 100mm travel SR Suntour front fork, and Shimano Acera/Altus derailleurs! If you haven’t ridden a ’29er’ before, you’ll be amazed by how easily It can tackle the trail!

Wheels & Brakes

Shimano M315 hydraulic disc brakes are not among the entry-level set of brakes, so be careful of their persistence and agility! The aluminum frame is coupled with a set of alloy Mingda DP20 wheelset for a lightweight rolling quality!

The aspect of comfort for everyday riding

Whether you are looking for an all-rounder bicycle or simply a ‘tool’ to get you through the rougher surface, Tommasso Gran Sasso is well equipped for a great multi-purpose use! Mountain bikes are among the most comfortable rides when you have a tendency to prefer trails over roads! 24-speeds and a comfortable yet mountain-ready geometry speak well for the overall quality of the ride!

Availability – Giantnerd


 

5) Ghost Bikes – Lanao 4.7

Ghost Lanao 4.7 is the perfect blend of a dirt jump and a trail hardtail bike. It’s ideal for beginner women riders.

Ghost Lanao 4.7

MSRP: $850 REI.com

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 Ghost Lanao 4.7 is the right tool for the job. This is a women’s all-mountain bike with nimble geometry and an upgradeable design.

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

Nimble Geometry and Plenty of Clearance

Ghost Lanao 4.7 is a seriously capable bicycle with a seriously low price. The frame has a 69° head tube angle which will give you excellent control in tight corners. In combination with the 100 mm SR Suntour XCM fork, you can attack obstacles from a much better angle. This bike comes with Continental X-King SL tires that are 2.2″ wide and 27.5″ in diameter. That guarantees traction and responsive handling. The frame has enough clearance for even wider tires, so you can go crazy on the trails. Lanao 4.7 has a 2×9 drivetrain with Shimano’s crankset and cassette. The derailleurs are Shimano Acera and Deore, which is a pretty good mid-range choice.

This bike brakes with Shimano’s hydraulic discs, which get decent reviews on MTB forums and sites. So if you need just one cheap women’s MTB to rule them all, Ghost Lanao 4.7 will give you the most versatility and immeasurable fun.

Best Women’s all-mountain hardtail in our opinion

Check Availability – REI


 

6) Diamondback – Overdrive 29 2

Diamondback Overdrive 29 2 yellow bike

MSRP: $1,000 Diamondback

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.

  • 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 Nine line 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.

Check Availability – Diamondback.com


 

7) Rocky Mountain – Growler

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.

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.

Main Features:

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

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.

Get From Bikes.com


 

8) Giant – Talon 3

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.

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 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.

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

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.

Check Availability – JensonUSA


 

9) Trek – Marlin 7

Trek Marlin 7

MSRP: $800 Trekbikes

Trek Marlin 7 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 might win all of the challenges against your trail friends.

 

The Alpha Silver Aluminum frame that Trek Marlin 7 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 Garage

One of the reasons why Trek Marlin 7 would find a place in everyone’s garage is because it is simple, affordable, and very fun. It has a RockShox XC 30 fork with 100 mm of travel, so you can ride it on trails, XC tours, and singletracks. The Bontrager XR2 Comp tires are 27.5″ or 29″ in diameter, depending on the frame size, 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.

  • Aluminum frame
  • 2×9 Shimano drivetrain
  • 27.5/29 wheels
  • 100 mm fork travel
  • 69.5° head tube angle

The 2×9 drivetrain with Shimano Altus/Acera groupsets gives you 18 wide-range gears to ride like a granny or stomp the pedals. If you have just $800 to spare and your requirements are fantastic looks, high-quality frames, and reliable components, you’ll be happy with Trek Marlin 7 no matter if you are a beginner or an enthusiast.

Check Availability – Trek


 

10) Felt – Dispatch 9/80

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.

  • 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.

  • Aluminum frame
  • 2×9 Shimano drivetrain
  • 27.5/29 wheels
  • 100 mm fork travel
  • 69.5° head tube angle

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.

Availability – Felt


 

11) Trek – X-Caliber 7

Trek X-Caliber 7

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 7 has a comfortable geometry and a list of reliable components that make it ideal for long days on the trail.

X-Caliber 7 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.

Quality Shimano Components Make a Difference

Trek X-Caliber 7 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.

  • Aluminum frame
  • 2×9 Shimano drivetrain
  • 27.5″ or 29″ wheels
  • 100 mm fork travel
  • 69.5° head tube angle

The thing that put a smile on our face was the Shimano Alivio 2×9 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 Bontrager Connection rims, which are double-walled, have 32 spokes, and Presta valves. All in all, Trek X-Caliber 7 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 want to get better at looping them!

Check Availability – Trek


 

To Sum Up

Sum UpWhen choosing a new mountain bike, make sure to adequately process your needs and skills. A thousand dollars is a large sum of money that gets you a nice bike for years, so take your time to choose the one that suits your needs best.

The process of buying a new bike should be:

  1. Know your skills & limits
  2. Evaluate your budget
  3. Study the market – see what can you get for the budget, and what’s hot
  4. Seek out a bike and do a research
  5. Commit to a one
  6. Make sure to get the right size by looking up each bikes size chart

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