Top Mountain Bikes Below $1000: Reviewed List (2022).

(Last modified May 11, 2022).

Are you looking to improve your mountain biking skills on the trails? Mountain bikes below $1000 are a great way to get started on hard-hitting trails, but not all models will be worth it. I’ve hand-picked the crème de la crème featuring quality suspension forks, mountain-specific groupsets, grippy tires, and more.

Read through this comprehensive buyer’s guide to learn about the best mountain bikes under $1000.

How to Choose the Right Mountain Bike: Buyer’s Guide

Size of the Wheel

Mountain bikes are available in many different sizes than road bikes. Riders must choose the one that suits their needs. 26” was a common MTB wheel size back in the day, but modern bikes come with either 27.5” or 29” rims.

27.5” are the smaller option and are lighter and more maneuverable in technical terrain or tight curves. This option is best for MTB riders who are smaller or prefer agility over stability.

29er wheels Because of their speed and ability to roll over difficult terrain, they are the most popular choice for cross-country racing and downhill. However, they are also a favorite in many other disciplines. Because of their larger diameter, it is easier to overcome bigger obstacles and provides more traction. If you enjoy high speeds and serious jumps and bumps, 29” wheels are a sure bet.

Brakes: Rim. Mechanical Disc. Or Hydraulic.

Mountain biking can be down to the Type of brakes. Mountain bikes with a budget below $1,000 come with mechanical disc brakes. However, some models have less powerful rim brakes and more capable hydraulic disc brakes.

For recreational riding, rim brakes work well. However, disc brakes are more reliable once you’re on the trails. Disc brakes outperform rim brakes in wet weather, and on long descents when brakes are subject to heavy strain.

Mechanical disc brakes operate via a steel cable. They are easier to service and cheaper. Hydraulic brakes can be actuated using brake fluid (typically mineral oils) and are more reliable, but are also more expensive.

Drivetrains: 1x, 2x?

Mountain bikes below $1,000 can be purchased either 1x, or 2x. Drivetrains. A 2x setup features a pair of chainrings up front to double your gear options, but it’s more susceptible to dropped chains over rough terrain. Some bikes on this list have 2×9-speed groupsets for a total of 18 gears— a wider range of gears can make for easier climbing and faster flat-out speed.

Mountain bikes with higher end features come with a 1x system and a single front link. This system allows for smooth shifting and reduces the chance of your chain getting dropped. The rear cassette typically has a wider range than normal, so you won’t be missing out on appropriate gears.

Front Fork Travel… And Full Suspension?

Mountain bikes that are not hardtail models are usually equipped with front suspension, but no rear shock. This helps to keep costs down and gives you the comfort we expect from an entry level mountain bike.

Bike prices below $1,000 include between 80 and 100mm of fork travel. As your skills improve, you’ll want to hit bigger trails, so we suggest purchasing a bike with the most fork travel that your budget can afford. Many forks have a lockout option, which makes them more rigid and efficient on smooth surfaces such as pavement or dirt trails.

Full-suspension bicycles are expensive at this price. While there are other options, these bikes are usually very heavy and made from cheaper components. They will slow you down on all terrains except those with steep hills. If the original mountain bikers of the 80s and 90s did all of their crazy tricks on hardtails (and fully rigid frames), then it’s good enough for us!

Learn More

Best Mountain Bikes under $500
9 Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners
The Best Mountain Bike Brands

How I Choosed the Best Mountain Bikes Below $1,000

This list features the top models from a highly competitive range of mountain bikes. Almost every mountain bike brand offers an affordable entry-level bike for around  $1,000 for consumers looking to start mountain biking. There are so many choices available, how can we decide which bikes are worth our money?

I conducted extensive research into the manufacturer specifications of top MTB brands, user feedback, and expert opinions in order to narrow down my list of the best bikes for 2022. I chose well-known brands and bikes that are readily available both online as well as in local shops, taking into account the current bicycle shortage caused by the pandemic.

I took into account specific criteria when making my final choice and wanted to ensure that every bike on the list was a quality selection.

  • Utility: Mountain bikes must be able to withstand intense use on trails, as well as perform on steep climbs and descents. This bike is capable of handling difficult and technical terrain.
  • Ride feel: Mountain bikes should be responsive and easy to maneuver, even in difficult terrain. Mountain riders can feel confident on the mountain if they have the right balance of stability and comfort.
  • Durability: The manufacturer selects high-quality components that can withstand harsh conditions on the trail. You can get a reliable groupset and powerful disc brakes for just $1,000
  • Price: The top price for the entry-level category mountain bikes is $1,000. Everybody appreciates a bargain, and these bikes offer plenty of bang-for-your-buck.

Compare the Top Mountain Bikes under $1,000

Model Summary Front suspension Size of the wheel Prices Gearing Rating
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2   Mountain Bike of the Year 120mm 27.5” $999   2×9 9/10
Giant Talon 1 All-Rounder Mountain Bike 80mm/100mm 27.5” $980 1×10 8.5/10
Cannondale Trail 5 Best Frame Design 100mm 27.5”/29” $950 1×10 8/10
Companion to Specialized Rockhoppers Best 29er 100mm   29” $1,000 1×9 9/10
Marin Bobcat Trail 4 Ideal for Downhill Riding 120mm 27.5”/29” $919 2×9 9/10
Kona Blast Best 1×11-Speed Mountain Bike 100mm 27.5” $1,049 1×11 9.5/10
BMC Blast 27   Mountain bikes that are budget-friendly 100mm 27.5” $799 1×10 9.5/10
Trek Marlin 7   The Best Mountain Bike Overall 100mm 27.5”/29” $1,029 1×10 9.5/10

The Best Mountain Bikes under $1,000

Mountain Bike of the Year

Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2

Rating: 9/10

REI’s in-house bike brand continues to deliver serious performance at a competitive price with the all-mountain DRT 1.2. Perfect for beginners starting on singletrack or veterans getting back into trail riding, the hardtail aluminum bike has 120mm of front travel and 27.5” wheels.

Integrated cabling is a luxurious touch on the otherwise standard 2×9-speed Shimano Altus groupset. I would like to see a 1x drivetrain at this price, knocking the rating down slightly, but the hydraulic disc brakes and knobby WTB Trail Boss 2.4” wide tires recuperate the bike’s trail capabilities.

Pros

  •  Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Great value
  • REI Warranty
  • Long 120mm fork travel

Cons

  • Outdated 2x drivetrain design

Price: $999

Best Mountain Bike for All-Rounders

Giant Talon 1

Rating: 8.5/10

Giant Talon 1 is a powerful bike brand that allows you to take on singletracks with ease. The largest bike manufacturer knows a thing or two about producing a fast-rolling bike at an affordable price and offers this hardtail with either 27.5” or 29” wheels.

The lightweight ALUXX aluminum frame pairs with a cushy front suspension fork and mountain-specific Shimano Deore 1×10-speed groupset for smooth shifting. The relatively small fork travel docks a point from my rating, but the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes and grippy Maxxis Rekon 2.4” tires boost confidence on the trails.

Pros

  • Shimano Deore 1×10-speed groupset
  • ALUXX aluminum frame
  • Hydraulic disc brakes

Cons

  • The travel distance of the little fork is 80mm or 100mm, depending upon the size of your frame.

Price: $980

Mountain Bike with the Best Frame Design

Cannondale Trail 5

Rating: 8/10

Cannondale Trail 5’s lightweight, durable SmartForm C3 alloy frame gives it excellent handling on both gravel roads and light trails. It’s a perfect upgrade from an entry-level mountain bike to take your skills to the next level. The Suntour XCM fork offers 100mm of travel, and Cannondale’s SAVE micro-suspension technology adds extra flex for a controlled ride.

Similar to the Trek Marlin 7, smaller frame sizes come with 27.5” wheels, and larger models have 29ers to achieve the best fit for any rider. The slack 68° headtube angle provides excellently stable handing on steep descents.

The Trail 5 has mountain-specific 1×10-speed gearing, but while the microSHIFT Advent X groupset works fine, I would’ve liked to see Shimano Deore. Reliable Tektro hydraulic round out the bike’s componentry, making this model a sure bet for amateur mountain bikers.

Pros

  • Material and geometry for the frame
  • 29” wheels on larger frame sizes

Price: $950

Best 29er Mountain Bike

Specialized Rockhopper Com

Rating: 9/10

Specialized Rockhopper Comp, a purebred 29er bike designed for fast singletrack and hard-hitting adventure. While other models on this list only pair 29” wheels on the larger frame sizes, this bike is purpose-built to rock the big rims. The Rockhopper Comp comes in at a reasonable price and features a Suntour XCM Fork and Shimano MT200 hydraulic brakes.

The aluminum hardtail Premium A1 aluminum frame is stylish and looks great. Although the microSHIFT Advent drivetrain has only nine gears to choose from, the 11/42t cassette provides an extremely wide range of cogs that allow for both efficient climbing and speedy flat-out speeds. At this price, the average groupset is the price you have to pay for the extra performance of the 29” wheels. If 29er is what you want, you can’t go wrong with this trail machine from one of the best mountain bike brands on the market.

Pros

  • 29” wheels
  • Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes
  • There are many great color options and looks to choose from

Price: $1,000

The Best Mountain Bike to Ride Downhill

Marin Bobcat Trail 4

Rating: 9/10

Marin Bobcat 4 is a hardtail mountain bike that can handle aggressive downhills. The slack 67° headtube angle and 120mm front fork travel give it superpowers on steep descents, terrain normally beyond the limits of most affordable mountain bikes.

This model comes with a few upgrades over the entry-level Bobcat Trail 3, including a Shimano Altus 2×9 drivetrain and Suntour XCM HLO DS fork. Co-op DRT 1.2 is the only bike with this much front suspension travel. Although the 2x groupset may be a little outdated, the specs more than make up for it.

The Bobcat Trail 4 purebred cross-country bicycle is an excellent choice for singletrack trails or backwoods paths. The larger frame sizes come with 29” wheels and the smaller sizes run agile 27.5” rims. WTB Trail Boss Comp 2.25” tires feature a great tread pattern and tan sidewall. The Bobcat Trail 4 won’t break the bank and is the perfect upgrade to take your downhill skills to the next level.

Pros

  • 120mm front suspension
  • 29” wheels on M-XL frames
  • Aggressive geometry

Price: $919

Mountain Bike with 11 Speed

Kona Blast

Rating: 9.5/10

Kona, the legendary mountain-specific bike brand, created the Blast to be an all-rounder hardtail trail mountain bike. The component spec level is second to none for the price— enjoy the RockShox Judy Silver 100mm fork and mountain-specific Shimano Deore 1×11-speed drivetrain.

The nimble 27.5” WTB wheels come with grippy Maxxis Forekaster 2.35” tires to handle any backwoods terrain. Name-brand parts include the high quality Shimano MT201 hydraulic disk brakes. Although this bike is $49 more than budget, it is still a great deal.

Pros

  • RockShox Judy Silver TK Solo Air 100mm fork
  • Shimano Deore 1×11-speed
  • Shimano hydraulic disc brakes

Price: $1,049

Mountain bikes that are budget-friendly

BMC Blast 27

Rating: 9.5/10

Here we have another rockstar mountain bike named “Blast”, this time from Swiss manufacturer BMC and at a more affordable price than the Kona Blast. The budget-friendly cross-country hardtail features a 100mm Suntour fork and Shimano Deore 1×10-speed drivetrain.

The Maxxis Ardent Race 2.2” are slightly skinner than other models on this list, but they perform well on XC circuits and lighter terrain. This bike has Shimano hydraulic brakes that round out the mountain-specific parts. It is one of the most expensive bikes on the market.

Pros

  • Shimano Deore 1×10-speed
  • Amazing price
  • Colors to match your style

Cons

  • 2.2” tires for lighter trails

Price: $799

The Best Mountain Bike Overall

Trek Marlin 7

Rating: 9.5/10

At the upper end of the Marlin range, the Trek Marlin 7 is a race-worthy hardtail mountain bike rocking a long-cage Shimano Deore 1×10 drivetrain and RockShox Judy 100mm fork. Sizes XS and S come with 27.5” wheels and the larger frames have fast-rolling 29” wheels. The curved top tube on smaller frames allows for a lower standover height and makes it easier to mount the bike.

For a sleek look, the aluminum frame has internal cable routing. You can also mount racks and kickstands to make the Marlin 7 your daily rider. A 11-speed groupset would have been a nice addition, but you can browse the entire Marlin range to find the right bike for your needs.

Pros

  • RockShox Judy fork
  • 29” wheels on larger frame sizes
  • Shimano Deore drivetrain

Price: $1,029

Mountain Bike Size Chart

Height (ft/in). Height in cm Leg inseam (inches) Leg inseam (cm) Suggested Frame Size in Inches Suggested wheel size
4’10 – 5’3″ 147-160cm 25 – 28″ 62-70 cm 13 – 14″ 26″
5’4 “- 5’7” 160 – 170cm 25 – 30″ 63 – 76 cm 15 – 16″ 26″
5’5″ – 5’9″ 165 – 175cm 26 – 31″ 66 – 78 cm 16 – 17″ 27.5″
5’9″ – 6’0″ 175 – 183cm 27 – 32″ 68 – 81 cm 17 – 18″ 27.5″
6’0″ – 6’3″ 183 – 190cm 28 – 33″ 71 – 83 cm 18 – 19″ 29″
6’1″ – 6’6″ 190 – 200cm 29 – 34″ 73 – 86 cm 19″ + 29″

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

What mountain bike is best for you?

I’ve rated the Trek Marlin 7 as the best overall mountain bike, but if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, the Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2 model is a great value with 120mm suspension and hydraulic disc brakes. For people on a tighter budget, the BMC Blast 27 is one of my favorite bikes that looks great and features a top-spec 1×10 Shimano Deore groupset.

Is it possible to buy a quality mountain bike starting at $1000?

A $1,000 mountain bike is a great entry-level model that can help you improve your skills and have fun on the trails. These bikes are more expensive than budget models and usually include 100mm of front travel, mechanical disc brakes, and upgraded groupsets.

What size mountainbike do I need?

To determine the right frame size, take a measurement of your height. You can also choose from different wheel sizes depending upon your riding style and height. Most adults choose between nimble 27.5” wheels or large, faster-rolling 29” rims.

What bike is like Marlin 6?

Riders can still afford the Trek Marlin 7 for a little less than $1,000 by purchasing the upgraded Trek Marlin 7. There are several Marlin options to choose from, but I appreciate the RockShox Judy fork and 1×10-speed Shimano Deore groupset on the Marlin 7. For the same price, the Giant Talon 1 mountain bike is comparable.

Which is better Marlin, or Talon?

Both the Trek Marlin mountain bikes and Giant Talon mountain bike made it onto this list due to their outstanding performance for the price. Both models feature the MTB-specific 1×10-speed Shimano Deore groupset and come with large 29” wheels on the bigger frame sizes. The Marlin has a higher quality RockShox Judy fork, while the Talon’s ALUXX aluminum frame is a bit better.

Is Trek better then Giant?

Giant and Trek are two of the most popular bike brands in the world. However, it’s up to the individual to decide which brand is their favorite. Both companies offer mountain bikes for every budget. The Giant Talon 1 and Trek Marlin 7 are two of the most sought-after models at around $1,000.

Leave a Comment