Choosing a full suspension mountain bike is an investment, both personally and financially. You commit money to a great all-round trail mountain bike in exchange for endless recreational fun and physical activity. Some use mountain bikes competitively to compete against other professionals in various settings.
At the same time, there seem to be infinite options when it comes to full suspension mountain bikes and all the features they offer. To help with this, we have compiled a list of some of the best full suspension mountain bikes under $3000 – offering something for every budget and recreational style. We aim to give a detailed comparison and a buying guide for readers, listing all the best full suspension mountain bikes for 2019.
What is a full suspension mountain bike?
There are actually a few interpretations on what types of bikes these are – but we define them in terms of the place you will use it the most – on the trail. A full suspension bike is ideal for trails, whether that is through the local wood or on a mountain. The full suspension allows it to withstand the bumpy and unpredictable nature of the trail for the best ride.
A full-suspension mountain bike frame is able to balance geometry, weight, and practicality adjust on uphill climbs, downhill races, and flat stretches. They are versatile to any type of terrain. And of course, they have both fork (front) and shock (back) suspension which separates them from normal hardtail MTB’s which only have a front suspension.
Ready to dive in and learn about the best full suspension MTB on the market? Let’s go!
Focus Jam Elite 27
Suspension: 150 mm front/rear suspension
Brakes: Shimano Deore XT
The Focus Jam Elite comes from the same manufacturer as the ever-popular Santa Cruz bike. The brand recently revitalized to include more budget-friendly options without compromising quality. The Focus Jam Elite model has 34 Rhythm fork and Float Performance shock to absorb everything on all terrains. The brakes are the reputable Shimano Deore XT brakes to keep safety at the forefront. Riders can react quickly to the unexpected nature of a trail.
The Focus Jam Elite has a F.O.L.D. chassis, which is designed to meet the demands of all-terrain riding. This means it is sensitive but progressive enough to avoid bottoming out. F.O.L.D. is one of a kind patented design that stands for Focus Optimized Linkage Design, which is a multi-link rear-end design with a guide link and the main link offering new benefits. Mainly, it shifts the center of gravity to improve weight distribution.
Additionally, the closed triangle chainstay also has a damper to protect from dirt, allowing you to take on even the muddiest of trails. Overall, the bike is low maintenance and easy to care for.
Marin’s Rift Zone 3
Suspension: 120 mm front and rear
Gears: Multirac Suspension Technology
The range of the Marin has increased exponentially over the past few years and it shows in the Right Zone 3. This bike packs value and aesthetics in one package while handling even the toughest of trails with ease. Zone 3 is designed for speed with the MultiTrac suspension while still maintaining roll-over capabilities.
There are currently three models on the market with this one being the priciest. If you are in need of an entry-level bike, consider Rift Zone 1 or Rift Zone 3. Plan on hitting the trail hard and often, look no further than Zone 3.
Specialized Stumpjumper ST Comp Carbon
Suspension: 130 mm front and 120 mm rear
Gears: Shimano SLX, 11-speed
The Specialized Stumpjumper is a classic that has seen new iterations since the company’s founding in the 1980s. As the name implies, it thrives on trails and works hard for you. The 2019 version is a practical model with internal cable touring with tubes, SWAT storage section in the frame, and threaded BB. It is an ideal example of a specialized full suspension mountain bike.
Even though the suspension may seem a little less than others on this list, the specialized design allows for steeper angles with less suspension. While the suspension is less, you still maintain climbing ability and descending power.
If you are looking for his and hers set, this one comes in both men and women’s versions. The women’s version is regarded as one of the best women’s full suspension mountain bikes.
Santa Cruz Tallboy C01 Carbon
Suspension: 130 mm front and 120 mm rear
Weight: 28.3 pounds
This bike is a bit of a financial commitment – and over that $3000 price point mentioned earlier – but it is too good to leave off. A Santa Cruz mountain bike brings peace of mind that comes with a reputable brand known for delivering high-quality products. The Tallboy is regarded as a do-all mountain bike with top quality design and results.
The Tallboy is a trail/XC bike crossed with the geometry of a prime downhill bike. Riders have the ability to adjust chainstay length between 430 mm or 440m so the manufacturers leave room for flexibility. For professional mountain biking enthusiasts, the Tallboy is playful, fast, and aesthetically pleasing, worthy of the investment.
Orbea Occam H20 Eagle
Suspension: 140 mm front and rear suspension
Chain: SRAM NX Eagle 12 Speed
Weight: 5 pounds (frame only)
The Orbea mountain bike comes from the Basque company, which is based near some of the best mountain biking areas in Europe. This firsthand knowledge of trails shows in the bike design. Recent manufacturing overhauls have created the new Occam look that is ideally designed for any type of trail. The new design features the Orbea Monocoque Race frames that combine modulus fibers and high strength fibers. This is accomplished with hours of molding to ensure a compact, race-ready frame utilizing minimum carbon.
The H20 Eagle is considered mid-range, but it is just one of several Occam types. If you are looking for something midrange in terms of budget and performance, the H20 Eagle might cover everything you need. The bike has great stability in the slacker head angle and a longer wheelbase to offer stability at high speeds. For something even more detailed, check out the other Occams, including the ‘My O’ custom program.
Canyon Spectral CF 9.0
Suspension: 160 mm front and 150 mm rear
Gears: SRAM X01 Eagle Trigger 12s
Weight: 29 pounds
The Canyon Spectral is suitable for more than just canyons. In fact, the manufacturers have labeled it an “all mountain trail bike” and it certainly lives up to its name. The Canyon Spectral can handles downhill sprints and uphill pushes with ease. This is accomplished with Triple Phase Kinematics allowing for control and traction to handle any trail at any angle. This specific model comes at a great price point, but there are six other models to consider as well.
YT Jeffsy 29 CF Pro
Suspension: 140 mm front and rear suspension
Gears: Shimano XTR
This hard-hitting full suspension MTB can handle all types of trail with the 140-mm suspension and carbon fiber frame. Jeffsy invested in the YT to develop a built kit pitch for rough trail riding. The components are available at a low price, making this a popular option. Maintenance is complicated when parts are hard to come by, so this is something to consider.
The frame is designed to consider gravity while taking on the ups and downs of trail riding. It is compact with aggressive headtube angles that cannot be found on other mountain bikes currently.
What Should You Look For?
Before committing to one of the stellar options on this list, keep in mind the personal factors behind the scenes of this choice. Knowing the features and specs that suit your needs will help you when you go looking, whether that is for something new or for a used full suspension mountain bike. This will help keep you happy for years to come.
Yes, we talked about hitting the trails, but there is a lot of variation on the types of trails you might be looking to cruise. Where you live or plan to ride might play a role in the type of full suspension MTB you need. For example, consider the differences between desert or mountain tracks versus wooded forest trails. Other riders might be fighting through swampy regions or sandy areas too. Each surface demands something different from the bike.
A well-defined trail requires less agility and suspension from the bike. However, a rocky path can get uncomfortable quickly without a sufficient amount of cushion. So, before committing, think about where you plan on riding the most and how to make that experience comfortable.
What is a good review of mountain bikes without talking about suspension? Suspension is the amount of shock absorption a bike can handle. Suspension travel, or the distance a fork compresses, is how suspension is measured. The more it can compress, the more comfortable landings and the overall ride will be.
Full suspension bikes have suspension on both the back and front. This is great if you plan on traversing some rough trails. Full suspension bikes can be pricey, but it is often worth it in favor of a comfortable ride. Suspension also adds weight to the bike, which is another factor to consider.
Weight matters for a bike and depends entirely on your preferences. The lighter a bike is, the easier it is to maneuver through technical surfaces and tight obstacles. Plus, less weight makes it easier to move uphill. Components of light bikes are often more expensive though.
Also, consider what you plan on using the bike for. Are you going on an extended biking trip? You might find yourself carrying the bike at some point if the trail becomes too narrow or rough. Can you handle it? Deciding between a lighter and heavier weight depends on you!
Gears aid in controlling the power you put in and get out of your bike. Many assume more speed enables more control, but when it comes to gears, that is not always true. More gears can make it harder to flip between speeds when you are in the zone. It can make one trip up and lose focus on the trail. Gears also add weight to the bike. These reasons lead people to opt for less gears on mountain bikes. There is no ideal gear number for full suspension mountain bikes, but it is common to see twelve gears or less.
Many mountain bikes range between 27.5 inch or 29-inch tire size options. These are standard in the industry and comfortable for many people.
29-inch wheels, or 29er’s, bring more stability and traction. This enables easy downhill and uphill climbs and works well for taller riders. You will find that these are the most common tire sizes on the mountain bike market.
On the other hand, shorter riders or those concerned about the weight opt for 27.5-inch designs. The bike is a little smaller and sometimes less stable but still gets the job done. Overall, the bike frame size is more important than the tires so either size can work and be adapted to make the rider comfortable.
Given the price tag on most of these bikes, you will undoubtedly be putting care and maintenance into whichever one you choose. This is why maintenance is an important factor.
Where does the bike originate from? An overseas manufacturer might require expensive shipping and international deliveries when repairs are needed. What about your local bike shop? Are they well-versed in the bike you are looking at? It will be helpful if they are in order to ensure you have an expert to consult when needed!
Overall, you need to make sure you can get replacement parts in a timely and efficient manner without breaking the bank every time.
The last factor is sometimes the most important. How much are you able and willing to spend? This will go a long way in determining which bike you ultimately decide on. Many of the bikes on this list have other models available that come at a cheaper price tag. They are designed as entry level full suspension mountain bikes but still get the job done.
You can also take the time to peruse used full suspension mountain bikes in order to find the best full suspension mountain bike for the money. We suggest knowing your limits before looking at anything in person. You certainly would not want to attach to a bike and then find it is more than you can afford!
So, What’s Next?
If you have made it this far into these reviews, you are probably itching to commit to a full suspension mountain bike. With this knowledge of full suspension mountain bikes and their features, you are well-equipped to make a choice. These models are just a start, even if they are the best options out there.
We encourage you to look through other reviews to ensure you get the best bike for your needs. So, what’s next? Are you ready to get a bike and hit the trails? We’ll see you out there!