Best Mountain Bikes Under $1,000: Our Full List and What to Consider

In recent years, the outdoors scene has seen an enormous influx of popularity. Increasing numbers of people are itching to not only get outside but also to get sweaty and work hard while doing so. Picnics in the park aren’t enough. People want real, raw adventures.

Luckily, technology has been on our side, and the cost of entry to these awesome sports keeps becoming more affordable. Before, growing skilled at mountain biking was an opportunity only reserved for those with significant disposable incomes. Now, most people can afford a great bike.

However, the number of models available with different characteristics can be quite overwhelming. How do you know what’s a good deal and what’s going to fall apart after a few hours in the mountains?

We’ve done all of the work for you. We’ve compiled our list of the top 10 mountain bikes (sometimes abbreviated MTB) available for less than $1,000. Not only that, but we’ve also let you know what to expect, what to look for, and how to determine which is the best for you.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to make the best possible value bike for you so that you can comfortably, confidently join the movement and get riding.

bike wheels

What can you get for less than a grand?

Gone are the days that you must spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to purchase a decent bike to hit the trails. Thanks to advances in technology and production, you can get an amazing bike at a great value.

Today, mountain bikes under $1,000 are just as reliable and long-lasting as more expensive models. They will be comfortable on most trails and will grow with you as your skills improve. These bikes are not flimsy or poorly made.

Additionally, the bikes that made our list require no more regular maintenance than other, more costly versions. In the past, cheaper bikes needed lots of tweaking upkeep to stay ready for anything. With these bikes, you will be good to go with standard bike care.

Most bikes that made our top 10 list fit into similar categories. All have front suspension and aluminum frames. Our favorites include 27.5- or 29-inch wheels, but that’s it. For full or rear suspension, different tire sizes, or lighter frames, you will have to spend more money.

For most riders looking to rip the single track and adventure on their bike, these bargain models are fantastic, doing everything they desire and more.

Why would you want a more expensive version?

For most hobby riders and weekend warriors, a thousand dollar mountain bike can handle everything they put it through. They’re durable and agile. Really, there are only two reasons we can think of that you shouldn’t consider one the bikes on our list.

mondraker mtb

First, if you’re training to race. While all of the bikes on this list are fantastic, they cannot compete on the trail with bikes that have all the bells and whistles. Someone racing a bike with full suspension, a lighter weight frame, or high tech components would have an edge that’s hard to beat.

Similarly, if you’re going to be riding extremely rough roads or over intense obstacles, these bikes might not be for you. We’re talking trails that you see on crazy internet videos, not anything you’d find on a typical ride challenging. If you’re riding this hard, you are not a beginner anymore, and it might be time to upgrade your bike accordingly.

What should you look for?

When it comes time to purchase a new bike, there are a few critical factors to consider. Knowing what you want before you go searching for your new bike will help ensure you are happy with your purchase for years to come. Everyone’s preferences and needs in a bike are different.

Work your way through this section and then you’ll not only be ready to devour our list of the top 10 bikes under $1,000, but you’ll also know which one is the best fit for you.

Riding Surface

mountain biking surface

It’s no secret that trails are different depending on where you live. Wooded forest trails have unique conditions when compared with desert or high mountain tracks. Sandy areas and swampy regions bring their own challenges as well. It makes sense that each of these areas would require different characteristics for the ideal mountain bike.

Areas with long, defined trails require less suspension and agility in your bike. Rocky paths become uncomfortably quickly if you are traveling without a lot of cushion. Before purchasing your next bike, take some time to familiarize yourself with the areas you will ride most often. Your future self will thank you.

Suspension

Suspension refers to the amount of shock absorption a bike includes. Suspension travel, or the distance that the fork can compress, is how suspension is measured. Further travel implies more suspension which creates more comfortable landings after big drops or technical terrain.

Most options available under $1,000 – and every bike that made our list – include front suspension only. Full suspension bikes – when there’s cushion on both the back and the front – tend to cost more. If you’ll be riding super rough trails, it might be worth increasing your budget to be more comfortable in the long run.

bike suspension

The catch with suspension is that it adds a lot of weight to the bike. Before you make your purchase, weigh your personal needs and if the comfort or weight is more important to you.

Weight

How much your bike weighs matters for a few different reasons. Again, like every aspect of your bike, the perfect weight depends entirely on you and the adventures you’re planning to take.

Lighter bikes are easier to negotiate around tight obstacles and over technical surfaces. Additionally, the lighter your bike, the less weight you have to work to move up hills.

The catch? Lighter bikes require lighter components which are often much more expensive. Most of the bikes on our list fall within a few pounds of each other. A general rule of thumb is that the less-expensive the bike, the heavier it will be. How much that weight or lack thereof is worth, depends on you.

Gears

bike gears

Gears help you control the amount of power that you’re putting into and getting out of your bike. So, it’s easy to assume that more speeds allows you more control and therefore is preferable. As with much of cycling equipment, what seems logical is not always true.

More gears are sometimes less intuitive to use. When you’re working hard and are in the zone, the last thing you want is to be tripped up trying to figure out where you need to shift. Often, a more straightforward process is preferable.

Also, gears can become heavy fast. Fewer gears will keep your bike lightweight, nimble, and up for anything. Even if you can’t control quite as much, the difference in the heaviness of your bike could be worth it.

Tire size

The MTB’s on our list have either 27.5-inch, 29-inch, or both tire size options. These sizes have become the industry standard and are comfortable for most individuals.

Bikes with 29-inch wheels, sometimes called 29er’s, offer the most traction and stability. It provides the ideal characteristics to work through both uphill and downhill paths. Particularly for taller riders, a 29er is the most commonly preferred option.

Shorter riders and those concerned with their bike’s weight, are more comfortable on the 27.5-inch designs. However, the size of the bike frame matters more than the wheels, and the right fit can make tires of any size comfortable for almost any rider.

different bike tires

Our 10 favorite budget-friendly choices

We understand how overwhelming finding the perfect bike can be. There are so many options available today with only slight differences that end up greatly affecting your rides. So, we’ve done the work for you and put together our top 10 list of the best rated MTB’s under $1,000.

For each bike, we’ve listed the suspension, tire size, number of gears, and weight to make it easy for you to compare. Remember, the perfect bike is the one that meets your needs and that it’s different for everyone.

Co-Op Cycles DRT 1.2

Suspension: Front suspension 120mm
Tires: 27.5 x 2.2 in
Gears: 3×9
Weight: 31 pounds

This bike, made and sold by REI, is arguably the most solid mountain bike you can find under a thousand dollars.

It is well-built and suitable for all conditions or terrains. Plus, it comes with an REI warranty, so you’re covered if something does happen.

The number one benefit to the DRT 1.2 is the way it is set up to grow with you as you become more involved in the sport and begin to tackle harder trails. However, it will probably be a while before you feel the need to start updating components. The 120mm fork ensures a comfortable ride even over the biggest bumps, roots, or drops. There’s also a remote fork lockout if you’ll be covering smoother ground for a bit.

The stock model of this bike may not include some of the high-end components found on others on the list, but the whole package and the fact that it comes from one of the most respected brands in the outdoor industry makes it a no-brainer good choice. You can’t go wrong with the DRT 1.2.

Cannondale Trail 7

Suspension: Front suspension 100mm
Tires: 29 or 27.5
Gears: 2×9
Weight: 31 pounds

If you’ll be spending your time on fast, technical trails, this might be the best bike for you. The Trail 7 is agile, responsive, and ready to make quick changes.

It won’t slow you down waiting for the bike to keep up. For additional confidence, the brakes are top of the line for this price point.

The components used on the Trail 7 sometimes require more upkeep maintenance than other bikes on our list, but if you stay on top of everything, it will ride well for years to come. Pay particular attention to keeping the chain and drivetrain clean.  

No entry-level rider will regret owning this bike. This Cannondale model will work with you as you ride through (almost) anything.  

Diamondback Line

Suspension: Front suspension 120mm
Tires: 29 or 27.5
Gears: 1×9
Weight: 30

Diamondback brand bikes just look nice. They’re stylish, sleek, and balanced. If you care about setting up the perfect Instagram shot to document your adventure, the Line might be for you.

This bike is more than great aesthetics. The components are decent and reliable as well. The single chain-ring setup for the 9 gears increases the reliability of the rig. Furthermore, the front fork has a Thru Axle, compared to the quick release option of our first two bikes. This MTB won’t have you constantly tweaking or maintaining parts.

Overall, this is a beautiful bike that is reliable and durable — a major win in our book.

Kona Mahuna

Suspension: Front suspension 100mm
Tires: 29
Gears: 1×10
Weight: Unknown

If you’ve been riding MTBs for awhile or want an investment that will remain enjoyable for years to come, consider the Mahuna.

Kona brand is known for producing fun bikes that are applicable for riders of all skill levels. Even advanced riders will enjoy taking this one out.

Another benefit of purchasing a Kona bike is the lifetime frame warranty. This increases the confidence that you’re spending your money on a product that will last. The bike components are of a technology and quality you can rely on as well.

The one downside to the Mahuna is its lack of sizing options. This bike only comes in the 29-inch wheel option. If you’re shorter than 5’8”, finding either a women’s or men’s 27.5-inch wheeled bike might be more comfortable.

Orbea MX 10

Suspension: Front suspension 100mm
Tires: 29
Gears: 2×10
Weight: Light

Are you tired of all of the affordable bikes being entry-level? We hear you. That’s why we included the MX 10 on our list.
If you’ve outgrown your beginner bike and want something that rides even harder, this is the best choice for you.

High-quality components and a super-lightweight aluminum frame work together to create this bike ready for anything. The 2×10 drivetrain prepares you for rigged terrain and big hill climbs. This setup won’t slip while you’re working hard.

One negative to the MX 10 is the fact that it does not come with pedals. These must be purchased and installed separately.

Giant Talon 29

Suspension: Front suspension 100mm
Tires: 29
Gears: 2×9
Weight: On the heavier side

Giant is a classic brand in the cycling world. The Talon 29 is no exception with quality components at an extremely low price point.

If you’re a new rider on a tight budget, this is a solid option for a first mountain bike.

In general, everything about the components and features of the Talon 29 is what you should be searching for in a new MTB. However, much of the design is outdated and leaves a lot to be desired.

It is less adjustable and customizable than the other bikes on our list. The Talon 29 follows a “one size fits most” philosophy, instead of the infinite adjustability found in most modern bikes. Furthermore, the geometry is slightly off.

If you’re an average-sized rider looking for an introduction to the sport that won’t break the bank, the Talon 29 will work as an excellent option for you.

Trek Marlin 5

Suspension: Front suspension 100mm
Tires: 29
Gears: 3×7
Weight: 32 pounds

Not everyone is looking for a mountain bike to tackle technical trails. Sometimes, you just want a bike that will smoothly go from paved paths to gravel to smooth dirt and back again.

If that’s you, the Marlin 5 is an excellent choice for mixed-use riders. As an added bonus – it has rear rack mounts for bike touring or commuting.

It’s not the most modern of bikes, but it can handle most of what you put it through. If you’re looking for something to get you from point A to point B, the Marlin will get you there. However, if you’re hoping for more technical trails, this might not be the best fit.

Raleigh Tekoa Comp

Suspension: Front suspension 100mm
Tires: 29
Gears: 11
Weight: Heavy

Raleigh has been making bikes since 1885! As a company that’s been around, you can trust them to produce great products.

The aluminum frame is stylish and solid. It provides an excellent foundation for you to upgrade the components as you grow as a rider. The included parts will last for a while – if you’re not riding too hard and keep them clean and well-maintained. However, the greatest benefit of the Tekoa Comp as a low price starting point to improve upon as your skills develop and your budget has room.

This is the best choice for people who want to hit the trails ASAP, but end up with a fully customized, self-built bike in the future.

Cannondale Catalyst 3

Suspension: 75 mm
Tires: 27.5
Gears: 3×7
Weight: Heavy

Have you been going through our list and still questioning if you should stretch your budget to purchase a bike with lots of fancy features you might not need?

If so, consider the Catalyst 3. It costs less than $500, yet remains a dependable bike for casual or new riders.

Because of the lower price point, the components are not as lightweight or sleek as some of the other bikes on this list. However, they get the job done. Even if the bike might be slower overall, the variety of size options and low cost make it an excellent choice for those for whom a reliable bike is enough.

Specialized Rockhopper Sport

Suspension: Front suspension 80, 90, or 100 mm
Tires: 29
Gears: 3×8
Weight: Unknown

The biggest value of the Rockhopper Sport comes from the brand name.

Specialized is a very well-known brand that riders have grown to know and trust. This budget option, however, leaves a lot to be desired.

The components are a step down from many of the others on our list without the price reflecting the difference. That said, this is still a fun bike, with a great range of sizes and clean aesthetic.

If you’re willing to pay a bit more for the Specialized name and the confidence it instills, but don’t quite have the budget for one of their other models, then this will be a great bike for you.

Mountain Bike Comparison Table

BIKESUSPENSIONTIRESGEARSWEIGHT
Co-Op Cycles DRT 1.2120 mm (front)27.5 x 2.2 in 3 x 931 lb
Cannondale Trail 7100 mm (front)29 or 27.5 in2 x 931 lb
Diamondback Line120 mm (front)29 or 27.5 in1 x 930 lb
Kona Mahuna100 mm (front)29 in1 x 10Unknown
Orbea MX 10100 mm (front)29 in2 x 10Light
Giant Talon 29100 mm (front)29 in2 x 9Heavy
Trek Marlin 5100 mm (front)29 in3 x 732 lb
Raleigh Tekoa Comp100 mm (front)29 in11Heavy
Cannondale Catalyst 375 mm27.5 in3 x 7Heavy
Specialized Rockhopper Sport80, 90, or 100 mm (front)29 in3 x 8Unknown

What’s holding you back?

You’ve taken the time to understand the primary parts of a MTB and to determine which elements are important to you based on your goals and home base. You’ve also browsed through a list of ten different, high-quality bike models that fit your budget. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get riding!