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Best Mountain Bikes Under $1,000

Jeff Balton

Best Mountain Bikes under $1,000

If you go to a local bikes shop looking for the best mountain bikes under a $1,000, the salesman will probably wrinkle his face in a dismissive manner and tell you that if you want something good, you’re going to have to pay about twice that amount.

But here’s a catch:

You can make the mistake of believing him and going along with his proposal.

But really, unless you’re riding on very rough roads or in challenging competitions you can get a very good mountain bike for your money.

Best Mountain Bikes Under $1,000

However, those mountain bikes will bring you to the next level on the mountain biking scene!

There are bikes to be found under $1,000, that are reliable, long-lasting and require no more maintenance than any other good bike. Though because these can be time-consuming to search out, I’ve gone through the trouble of picking out the best candidates, evaluating them and putting together reviews for the best of them.

These are the 6 9 best mountain bikes under $1,000 of 2020. Pick your size and enjoy!

 

#1: Cannondale Trail 7 (2020)

Winner! Best 27.5″ and 29″ Bike

Cannondale Trail 7 2020

The Trail 7 2020 Model – 27.5″ for S models; 29″ for bigger.

Whether you are just taking your first steps in mountain biking or you already have some basic experience and skills, Cannondale Trail 7 2020 is a bike that you should consider. This lightweight two-wheeler will be your best friend on the trail and fill you with confidence.

It is nimble, speedy, and responsive so you will have no trouble controlling it during rides and pushing your limits. The Cannondale Trail 7 is an affordable bike with a great money to value ratio, so you will not throw your money down the drain if you decide to buy it.

Trail 7 is a fairly lightweight bike, considering its price since its total weight comes down to just over 32 lbs. This can be credited to the aluminum frame which offers decent stiffness and balance, but also smoothness on rough rides.

On the front, it is equipped with a Suntour XCT DS suspended fork with 100mm of travel. Even though it’s not top of the line, you’ll have fun cruising over bumpy terrain without any problems with this suspension.

Cannondale Trail 7 is a versatile trail bike that would be an excellent first MTB thanks to reliable components and predictable geometry.

As far as components on Cannondale Trail 7 go, they are a combination of Shimano Altus and other Shimano quality groupsets. The main drawback that users point out in reviews online is the Shimano TX800 rear derailleur. It will work and be able to take you out on the trail; however, you might have to adjust it a bit more often than a high-end model.

Suggested: Do You Lock Your Bike? Here Are The Best Bicycle Locks

However, if you keep your chain and drivetrain clean, you shouldn’t experience any big issues. Talking about the drivetrain, Cannondale Trail 7 has 23 speeds in a combination of 3×8. The cassette has a range of 11-34 teeth, while the crankset is a 22/32/42. This provides plenty of range to tackle even the most stubborn hills and finally reach the downhills.

On the downhills, if you need to brake hard, you can trust the quality Tektro M275 hydraulic disc brakes, with Shimano 160mm rotors both on the front and on the back. This is a great choice for Cannondale Trail 7 and it will definitely give you lots of confidence when descending. The tires are WTB Ranger available in 27.5”  and 29” versions and 2.25”.

The bottom point is that the Cannondale Trail 7 2020 model is a great entry-level mountain bike that any beginner or cycling enthusiast will enjoy and never regret buying.

Pick your size and purchase on REI.com

 

#2: Co-Op Cycles DRT 1.2

Runner Up! Best Balance Between Grip and Speed

Co-Op Cycles DRT 1.2

Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2 is a versatile hardtail trail bike that’s a product of REI. It has a pretty affordable price, so it’s intended for recreational riders and those who do not yet have too much experience on the trails. DRT 1.2 boasts numerous qualities, the first one of which is the durable, yet lightweight, Co-op Cycles aluminum frame. It’s available in just one color, Army Cot Green, which fits perfectly in all natural surroundings.

Some additional important aspects of DRT 1.2 include 27.5″ wheels, riser bars, internal cabling, and a weight of just 31 lbs. This bike is classified as a unisex model, even though there is also a women-specific version of it. However, there’s no reason why women could not ride this model as well; you might have to change the seat, but that’s not a big expense at all.

Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2 has gearing that lets you climb fast and descend even faster, with wide tires that offer unprecedented traction when cornering.

Apart from all the positive features that we have already mentioned above, the Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2 has other things that work to its advantage. First of all, it has an SR Suntour XCR Dual Piston fork with remote lockout and an impressive 120 mm of travel. It’s clear that this bike is capable of a lot when the going gets tough on the trails.

By purchasing the DRT 1.2 bike, you will also get a set of Shimano derailleurs and shifters. The rear derailleur is a Deore, whereas the front is an Altus. Moreover, you will also get 27 diverse gears on a 3×9 drivetrain that’s made from an Alivio cassette and an Acera crank. As you can see, the DRT 1.2 is a “Shimano-stein,” but all of these parts work in harmony with each other, as all of them are built by the same company.

Braking on the 1.2 is powerful and efficient, thanks to a set of Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. They behave really well in all conditions, including rain, snow, mud, and loose gravel. To add to that, the it has a pair of trail-specific 2.2″ wide tires and sturdy Co-op Cycles aluminum wheels. Riders who own this bike claim that they offer plenty of traction and grip on rides.

Clearly, the DRT 1.2 is not intended for experienced riders who abuse their bikes on a regular basis. However, it is one of the best options for recreational riders and trail enthusiasts who want a reasonably-priced bike that will justify its worth on moderate trail rides and off-road weekend trips.

Purchase on REI.com
Or see the women version

 

#3: Marin San Quentin 1 (2020)

Editor’s Choice! Best First Trail Bike

Marin San Quentin 1

The Marin San Quentin 1 just begs to be taken out and ridden hard! Are you the kind of guy (or girl) to do that? If you feel that you have “outgrown” your current entry-level mountain bike and that it cannot keep up with your developing skills, it’s time for an upgrade!

The San Quentin 1 is a fantastic mid-range mountain bike that is an exceptionally good value for the $900 that you cash out.

It’s built around a super-lightweight aluminum frame with a 141mm Open Dropout and a 73mm Threaded Bottom Bracket. It’s available in two attractive colors: black and green. This bike also comes with a suspension front fork produced by SR Suntour. It has 120 mm of travel, lockout function, and a Bolt-On Thru Axle.

Marin San Quentin 1 is a remarkable all-mountain hardtail brainstormed by the freeride legend Matt Jones to give you a glimpse of trail riding and dirt jumping at a low price.

The absolute highlight of the San Quentin 1 is the hydraulic disc brakes. That’s a decent deal for the money which all bikes in this price range should offer. The drivetrain offers a total of 9 speeds, with a Shimano Altus rear derailleur and a wide-range 11-36T cassette.

Moreover, it is designed for rugged terrain which is obvious because of its 27.5” tires that bite firmly into the ground whatever the terrain. Feel free to push hard on the pedals because the 2.3” wide Vee Tire, Crown Gem tires will not slide but propel you forward. The frame has enough clearance for 2.6″ tires if you want to go crazy!

Other aspects of the San Quentin 1 worth mentioning are the comfy Marin MTB saddle and the fact that it comes with no pedals. So, if you’re looking for a multi-functional cross-country bike, fit it with pedals of your choice and ride away!

Purchase on JensonUSA

 

 

#4: Salsa Rangefinder Deore 29

Best 29er MTB

Salsa Rangefinder mountain bikeThe wide tires are what makes Salsa Rangefinder very comfortable and the upright riding position just adds to it.

A 29er bike of this caliber is the perfect companion for long off-road tours where you’re going to spend hours in the saddle every day. Your bum and your joints are not going to feel a thing!

29ers are basically tanks on two wheels and Salsa Rangefinder is no different. This fat bike can take you over any terrain thanks to its wheels, tires, and components.

However, the Rangefinder has other things to boast of as well. For example, its aluminum frame and suspended fork are sturdy, durable, flexible, and practical at the same time.

The SR Suntour XCR fork is the best from the XC- range and offers 120 mm of travel.

Salsa Rangefinder costs slightly over $1,000, but it’s definitely worth every single cent.

As far as technicalities go, the Rangefinder has 10 pretty easy gears so it won’t be the fastest bike on the trail. However, it will be the most functional and the most versatile bike for sure.

The groupset is Shimano Deore, which offers the most value for money in Shimano’s MTB hierarchy of classes.

The brakes are Shimano’s hydraulic discs which have proven to be pretty decent. The Salsa Rangefinder also comes with a WTB Volt Sport which is ergonomic and comfortable.

Finally, this is a unisex bike, so no matter if you’re a guy or a girl, and you’re looking for a bike that can support your off-road adventures, you should definitely give the Salsa Rangefinder a try!

Pick your size and purchase on REI.com

 

#5: Trek Marlin 7

Best Cool Factor

Trek Marlin 7This bike doesn’t have many reviews which is a shame. It’s such a nice bike in many aspects!

If you’re looking for a reliable and capable bike of any kind, a model made by Trek is usually a foolproof choice.

Trek has been making bikes since 1975 and their bikes are getting more and more stylish.

Let’s take a closer look at the Trek Marlin 7

The spec list is stunning on this Trek. The frame is made from Alpha Silver Aluminum, like all of Trek bikes in this range. If you find a carbon frame for under $1,000, then I would really consider staying away from it and choosing this instead. This is because I’ve seen many bad reviews about those cheap carbon frames.

Trek Marlin 7 offers excellent features at a low price and shows us how Trek has managed to stay at the top of the cycling industry for so long.

The front fork is a RockShox XC 30 with 100 mm of travel, and lock-out/preload control. However, it doesn’t allow too much adjustment. Although that doesn’t mean that this fork won’t offer you a great performance! It will, and lots of fun too.

Components

The components are mainly Shimano. The front and rear derailleurs and shifters are Shimano Altus, which are high entry-level components.

Will they last?

Yes, if you take care of your bike and don’t push too hard. You can always upgrade the components if you want a lighter and more reliable set. The Marlin 7 has a 2 x 9 drivetrain.

Apart from the main components and the drivetrain, Trek usually uses Bontrager parts which are renowned in the cycling industry.

Rims – It’s a 29er, which means it has 29“ diameter rims. This is a widely spread wheel size nowadays. They are slightly heavier than other sizes, but they offer the most grip and the most capabilities when you hit the trails.

Bottom line

Nice find for the money! It uses quality Shimano components, but on the downside, it rolls on heavy rims. This bike is suitable for riders with medium standards or for riders who are going to upgrade the wheels. By doing this, you’ll get a bike with good components, which will do well for many great years.

Find your size and purchase directly from Trekbikes.com

 

#6: Diamondback Line

Best for Big Climbs

Diamondback LineThis Diamondback Line does have a lightweight alloy frame with a stylishly fancy design. It’s the first thing that you’re going to notice. But If you look closer, you can see that it has pretty decent parts as well.

I usually suggest 29” wheels on my reviews if you’re taller than 5’8”. However when you’re smaller, then 27,5” is a better option for you. Diamondback bikes have good geometry. What makes this bike into the TOP 3 of best hardtail mountain bike under $1,000 is the fact that it has a decent set of components.

It is more popular that bikes that have 1 chain-ring in front because of the higher reliability they add. The less moving parts are the better.

Good Parts

Of course, no need to mention,  it has hydraulic disc brakes. But what is worth mentioning is the 120 mm front suspension. From somewhere around $1,000 mountain bikes begin to have 12 cm front suspension.

Why is the 120mm one better? Can’t say that 100 mm is worse than 120 mm, as the latter one gives you more travel when riding on tarmac. SR Suntor isn’t the best suspension manufacturer but we must keep in mind that good forks start at $500 and our aim is to find the right balance between price and quality.

It has 9 gears thanks to Shimano Acera M3000 derailleur. It means one ring at the front and 9 on the rear. And that’s just enough. I wrote above why it is good.

Diamondback Line’s 1×9 drivetrain is a remarkable choice for climbing steep hills and a rare find in this price range.

NEW! Best Chain Lubes

The Line weighs around 30 lbs.

When talking about the front fork, this bike has 15 mm Thru Axle. It basically means that it goes through the front wheel and provides better security than the Quick Release one that most bikes have. You can check more about that in this Youtube video.

Get From Amazon.com

 

#7: Tommaso Gran Sasso

Best for Long XC Rides

Tommaso Gran Sasso as Best MTB for below $1000 mark

All Tommaso fans who love mountain biking should rejoice. This popular bike company that designs its bikes in Italy finally decided to join the MTB market and Gran Sasso is their entry ticket. Tommaso is famous for its remarkable money-to-value ratio, so we can definitely expect a lot in terms of components for a decent price tag well under $1,000.

Tommaso Gran Sasso is an aluminum hardtail bicycle with 29er wheels and a very attractive matte black design. We can see that the engineers retained the recognizable curved and slim tubing, which is a big plus.

Decent Shimano Components

This bicycle costs $689 and for that money, you’ll get entry-level Shimano derailleurs. We’re talking about Altus and Acera which have become permanent residents in this price range. Therefore, there are no big surprises here. The drivetrain offers 24 gears in total, which is an excellent number for hilly off-road rides.

The tires, as we’ve mentioned, are 29″ in diameter and 2.1″ wide. That’s a good balance between speed, rolling resistance, and riding capabilities on the trails. Twenty-nine-inch wheels are better for descending and tackling more robust obstacles.

Tommaso Gran Sasso should be your go-to choice for completing day-long century rides and meeting new fitness goals.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes

A big highlight on Tommaso Gran Sasso is the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. Mechanical disc brakes are more often seen for this amount of money, which makes this bike a good deal.

The SR Suntour XCM fork offers 100 mm of travel and almost the same performances as Suntour XCR. The difference is that XCM is a bit heavier, but that won’t make a big difference for average riders out there.

Definitely consider Tommaso Gran Sasso if you have limited funds and you want a bike that looks good, is upgradeable and will ride nicely on dirt roads and trails.

Buy from Giantnerd

 

#8: Haro Double Peak 27.5

Best with 27.5+ Tires

Haro Double Peak 27.5 Bike

The 2020 Haro Double Peak is an affordable and fun mountain bike intended for trail adventures and dirt road excursions. The Double Peak costs just shy of $1,000 and comes equipped with some excellent Shimano and FSA parts.

Haro Double Peak is built around a brand-new X6 aluminum frame with internal housing routing and chainstay disc brake mount. It has a specific and recognizable chainstay design and smooth welding joints. The matte charcoal color makes it look very attractive overall.

Super Capable with 27.5+ Tires

Haro’s X6 aluminum frame provides plenty of clearance, so Double Peak rolls on 27.5+ tires. To be precise, they are Kenda Havoc, 2.8″ in diameter. They look massive on the bike and ride really well over rocks, roots, and bumps. They’re also extremely comfy on cross country rides.

Another feature that adds to the comfort is the SR Suntour XCM fork with 100 mm of travel. It has a hydraulic lockout, so you can easily engage it or disengage, depending on the terrain. It’s suitable for 29″ wheels as well if you decide to upgrade later on.

If grip, stability, control, and wow factor is what matters to you, then Haro Double Peak will exceed your wishes.

In terms of components, Haro Double Peak has a Shimano Deore rear derailleur that operates the 1×10 drivetrain. The crankset is the popular FSA Comet with a 30T chainring.

Double Peak brakes with Shimano’s hydraulics using 160 mm rotors. This is one of the areas where Haro could have done a better job — 180 mm rotors would be a much better choice.

All in all, we like what Haro Double Peak has to offer for this amount of money. If you are looking for a dependable trail bike with massive wheels and decent Shimano components, you can certainly put “DP” on your list.

Get Directly from Haro

 

#9: Giant Talon 3

Cheapest on the List

Best MTB under $1000 - Giant TalonGiant Talon 3 is the most affordable model from Giant’s Talon series. Talon 2 and Talon 1 are more capable and more advanced, but this one is an excellent choice as well.

The Talon series is intended for entry-level riders and off-roading enthusiasts so Talon 3 should be considered by beginners and those who just want to have some fun in nature.

Aluminum Frame & Front Suspension

Talon 3 features Giant’s famous ALUXX-grade aluminum which is seen even on much more expensive bicycles. Therefore, even if you outgrow the components on this bike, you have a good basis for future upgrades.

Giant Talon 3 offers the most value and asks for the least amount of money, which makes it a recreational mountain biker’s dream!

This bike is a hardtail model, offering 100 mm of front suspension with the SR Suntour XCT30 fork. This fork has a lockout and preload adjuster, so you can customize it to fit your needs a bit better. However, these are quite basic customizations.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Talon 3 also boasts a 2×8 drivetrain with Shimano Altus components. A 2x setup is practical and lightweight, and 16 gears is plenty, especially with the 12x32T cassette on board.

The best thing about this bike is definitely the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. They offer a lot in terms of stopping power and precision, and it is always a nice surprise when you see them on cheap bikes.

We recommend the Giant Talon 3 to entry-level riders without any second thoughts. It’s a bike that will serve you well for years and a plentitude of miles.

Get From JensonUSA

 

 


MTB Wheel Sizes — Which One to Choose?

MTB tire SizeThere are many important factors that you need to consider when buying a mountain bike. Wheel size is one of these. At the moment, there are three sizes you can choose from: 26″, 27.5″, and 29″ wheels.

None of these is better or worse than the others. All of them have specific characteristics and benefits. You just need to know which one is the best for you. Here’s a quick explanation regarding their strong and weak points.

26 Inch Wheels

Twenty-six-inch wheels are the smallest of the bunch, which means they are usually also the lightest and the stiffest option out there. They have become the cheapest choice as well in recent years. They are a great choice for fast and twisty trails, but not so much for downhills and big obstacles.

27.5 Inch Wheels

These wheels are built as a compromise between 26″ and 29″ versions. They are relatively lightweight and offer decent handling performance and speed. The traction is improved compared to 26″ wheels, so this diameter is good for twistier trails and freerides.

29 Inch Wheels

Lastly, 29ers are the biggest and the heaviest wheels out there. They accelerate a bit slower than the other two, but they offer the most traction. These wheels can roll over bumpy terrain with ease, so they are a great choice for downhill rides, roots, rocks, and ruts.

CONCLUSION

Suggested Mountain BikesIf you’re looking for a multi-functional cross-country bike with great value, the Co-Op DRT 1.2 is the one for you. But if you are looking at the best trail mountain bike for under $1,000, then the Marin San Quentin 1 is also a smart choice. The Cannondale Trail 7 sells pretty well also, so you should consider it. It has 27.5″ and 29″ tires. That’s why it is our top choice.

Fresh model here is the Salsa Rangefinder – Such a nice bike to have!

For mountain bikers who prefer 29” wheels, the Trek Marlin 7 will be the best pick. It has a decent set of components that we think are a stand-out among bikes in this category.

Conversely, if you don’t mind lower-end suspension/components for a cheaper bike price, the Diamondback Line would be the best pick. Another consideration here is the additional suspension travel – 120 mm vs. the typical 100 mm.

In case you are looking for an attractive 29er to tackle some rough terrain, you should look at Tommaso Gran Sasso. If you want the same capabilities from a 27.5 bike, then Haro Double Peak is the way to go, as it has plus-sized wheels.

Finally, if you’re looking for a popular brand and a bike with a quality, upgradeable aluminum frame, Giant Talon 3 is the one to go with.

What about the best full suspension mountain bike under $1,000? Sorry, you can get one but it’s not the “best” you are looking for. You might want to read this review of the best full suspension mountain bikes.

I hope it helped! Enjoy your ride! 

Related: Fix your ride – Silca T-Ratchet & Ti-Torque Kit Review!

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