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Best Mountain Bikes Under $2,000

Jeff Balton

Best mountain bikes under $2,000

$2,000 is a nice amount of money. We’ll show you how you can spend (read: invest) it on a proper mountain bike!

Depending on your appetite and your budget, mountain biking can become a very expensive sport. You can easily spend more than $5,000 on a bicycle and still not be anywhere near the top of the price range. There are some mouth-watering models that cost close or above $10,000. However, for the majority of us mortals, that is much more than our budgets can handle.

Luckily, advanced cycling technology and higher-end components are now entering the under $2,000 market.  Therefore, there are many excellent mountain bicycles that you can get for less or around that number.

We’re showing you our 10 best mountain bikes under $2,000 below, including hardtail and full-suspension models!

 

#1 – Cannondale Trail 8

Best Hardtail for Beginners

Cannondale Trail 8

Cannondale Trail 8 is our top pick in the entry-level hardtail category with 27.5 or 29 wheels and tires. This is a bike with a pretty balanced geometry that’s excellent for descents, but it does really well when climbing as well, thanks to a steep seat tube angle. Decent travel on the front suspension give you the freedom to ride on and off-road and explore more trails than ever before.

A quick glance:

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Fork: SR Suntour M3030, 75 mm
  • Groupset: Shimano Tourney, 2×7 spd
  • Tire dimension: 29 or 27.5 x 2.25 (depends on the frame size)
  • Brakes: Tektro mechanical disc brakes

 

Cannondale Trail 8 has a durable and lightweight hydroformed aluminum frame, designed especially for this bike. It’s painted in a sleek black color that makes the bike look more expensive than it is.

Full review of Cannondale Trail 8

Trail 8 is made for riders who love to climb and descend, as well as go on day-long. It has a SR Suntour M3030 front suspension, so it can tackle different obstacles on light trails quite easily.

However, keep in mind that this is beginner-friendly suspension, so it’s not advisable to ride this bike on extreme singletracks.

The Shimano Altus/Tourney 14-spd drivetrain is excellent for climbing, whereas the Tektro mechanical disc brakes are there when the time comes to go down. Most cables are internally routed, so you won’t experience any rattle.

The WTB Ranger tires are 2.25″ wide, so you don’t need to worry about traction on loose patches on the trails.

If you’re on a limited budget and a hardtail bike that can do it all is a must for you, then we can safely recommend the Cannondale Trail 8.

Get From REI

 

#2 – Salsa Rustler Carbon SLX

Best Long-Travel Carbon Trail Bike

Salsa Rustler Carbon SLX

Lightweight, stiff, and efficient carbon frames offer a fantastic balance between strength and performance. The Salsa Rustler series is living proof! These are the best carbon bikes you can get for the money if you want to ride trails, do park sessions, climb, and descend.

Apart from the lightweight carbon frame, there are other sweet features that will come in handy when you hit the trails on it.

A quick glance:

  • Frame: Rustler Carbon
  • Fork: RockShox Pike Select
  • Rear Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance
  • Groupset: Shimano SLX, 12-Speed
  • Tire dimension: 27.5 x 2.6″
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX, Hydraulic Discs

Salsa Cycles overview

Salsa Rustler has a lot to offer to mountain biking enthusiasts. It is an excellent choice for riding in extreme conditions, tackling rocky trails, or storming a steep descent. The massive tires can handle it all, along with the other competitive components.

Apart from the light carbon frame, this Salsa model also offers Maxxis Minion 27.5 x 2.6″ tubeless-ready tires. They roll over bumps, rocks, and roots much more efficiently, diminishing any chances of getting a flat.

The RockShox Pike Select fork and the RockShox Float DPS Performance rear shock enhance comfort and pedaling efficiency with 150mm of travel. Rustler models also come with a dropper post, so you can get the saddle out of the way when descending.

One big advantage this bike also offers is the flip-chip technology. This feature allows you to change the geometry of the bike by 0.5°, making it more or less aggressive.

The drivetrain supplies you with 12 speeds and a Shimano SLX rear derailleur, which is a great mid-range option.

If you always wanted to own a capable FS bike with excellent components and you’re ready to pay for it, Salsa Rustler is your ticket into this world.

Get From REI

 

#3 – Mongoose Dolomite

Best Beginner-Friendly Fat Bike

Mongoose Dolomite

Mongoose Dolomite is a confidence-enhancing fun machine with modern geometry, wide tires, steel frame, and a 7-speed drivetrain. When Mongoose was making it, their main goal was to make a fun bike that will make a statement anywhere it appears. We believe they did it, and you can judge by yourself by taking a closer look below.

A quick glance:

  • Frame: Steel
  • Fork: Steel, rigid
  • Rear Shock: None
  • Groupset: 7 speeds
  • Tire dimension: 26″ x 4″
  • Brakes: Mechanical disc brakes

 

Mongoose Dolomite is an affordable rig with a super-stiff and compliant steel frame that features one bottle cage mount, a slack head angle, a high bottom bracket, and a beautiful red finish. The result is a stable, fun, and nimble machine.

Mongoose Dolomite comes in one frame size that fits riders  5′ 6″ to 6′ tall. Therefore, this bike is only suitable for tall riders. If you’re much shorter or much taller than these measures, we suggest you check out some other options on this list.

Dolomite’s massive 4″ tires are ideal if you like riding year-round. They will smoothly roll over rocks, ice, sand, snow, mud, and whatever other challenges you come across.

The simple drivetrain puts 7 speeds at your disposal with a 1x drivetrain that is light, simple, and easy to take care of. The same can be said about the powerful mechanical disc brakes.

If you’re like us and you ride bikes because they’re fun, you’ll probably like Mongoose Dolomite as much as we do.

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#4 – GT Force AL Pro 29

Best Gravity Bike

GT Force AL Pro 29

 

GT Force AL Pro 29 has the best of both worlds — Massive travel and 29″ wheels. It costs a lot more than $2,000, but it’s worth the price. It’s an excellent 29er full-suspension bike for any newly-made or seasoned gravity enthusiasts out there.

A quick glance:

  • Frame: 6061 Aluminum
  • Fork: Fox Float Performance Elite 36, 170mm
  • Rear Shock: Fox Float X2 Performance, 150mm
  • Groupset: SRAM GX Eagle
  • Tire dimension: 29 x 2.5″ / 2.4″
  • Brakes: SRAM G2 RSC

 

GT Force AL Pro is made for big hitters who don’t shy away from the steepest descents. This is indicated with a combination of the front and rear Fox suspension with 170/150mm of travel and the lightweight aluminum frame. The suspension offers plenty of adjustability, such as lockout and rebound, so you can dial it to your weight and preference fairly well.

GT has made a name for itself for supplying all price ranges with excellent choices. The Force AL Pro model is intended for the average MTB enthusiast. It has a SRAM GX Eagle groupset with 12 speeds, which is one of the cheapest entry tickets into the 1x team.

The bike rolls on Maxxis Minion 2.5″ / 2.4″ front and rear tires and Stan’s NoTubes Flow MK3 rims which are a good combination in this price range and will take plenty of beating on the trails. You can feel free to test them on descents with SRAM’s hydraulic brakes in the back of your mind.

Another feature that will help you descend better is the dropper post that quickly lowers and raises the saddle.

GT Force AL Pro has a super-steep head tube angle of 64.6° and a steep seat tube angle of 76.6° so it’s quite capable when it comes to the most extreme riding conditions. It can be yours for $4,700.

Get From JensonUSA

 

#5 – Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1

Cheapest Hardtail Build

Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1

Co-op Cycles is well-known for supplying the MTB market with surprisingly good entry-level and mid-range bikes. The Co-op DRT 1.1 is the best budget hardtail bike with the benefit of a lightweight aluminum frame. This bike also sports 27.5 tires, SR Suntour suspension, and some other hidden gems.

A quick glance:

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Fork: SR Suntour, 100mm
  • Groupset: Shimano Tourney, 21-speeds
  • Tire dimension: 27.5 x 2.1
  • Brakes: Tektro hydraulic discs

Our full review of the DRT series

One surprising feature on the DRT 1.1 is the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. They come with a bike that costs just $599, which is a really nice plus. They will stop you on a dime no matter the conditions.

One of the most recognizable features of this Co-op model is its 2.1″ wide Kenda Kadre tires. They are 27.5″ in diameter, so they are quite nimble and responsive when cornering. Their width will give you all the confidence you need to choose more demanding lines than before.

The SR Suntour fork gives you 100 mm of travel, which is not enough for real trail riding, but it is ideal for light trails and off-road detours. It will greatly improve your comfort.

The groupset on this bike is Shimano’s reliable and affordable Tourney 3×7 which is seen on many bikes in this price range. You get no accessories, but you can fit one water bottle cage, a rear rack, and fenders.

Budget riders on the lookout for hydraulic brakes shouldn’t really have second thoughts about Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1.

Get From REI

 

#6 – Marin Palisades Trail 2

Best Entry-Level Trail Bike

Marin Palisades Trail 2

Any list of the best mountain bikes, no matter the price tag, would not be complete without at least one model from Marin. In this case, we chose to include the Palisades Trail 2 model, which is one of the best aluminum hardtail bikes with 27.5″ wheels. It’s a playful bike that will get the job done for beginners and casual riders.

A quick glance:

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Fork: RockShox Judy Silver TK, 100mm Travel
  • Rear Shock: None
  • Groupset: Shimano Altus/Acera, 9-speed
  • Tire dimension:  27.5 x 2.25 in.
  • Brakes: Tektro M275 hydraulic discs

 

Marin Palisades Trail 2 is a unique bike on this list because it comes with a beautiful bright blue paint job that will take your breath away. This iteration sports 2.25″ wide WTB Trailboss Comp tires, but you can fit wider tires here as well, as there is enough clearance. It’s up to you to decide what your ride requires. But it’s always nice to have a choice.

Palisades Trail 2 has a nicely balanced head tube angle and the entire geometry is beginner-friendly. It’s great for climbing, descending, and long days with loads of pedaling. The RockShox front suspension with 100 mm of travel offers more than enough amortization, which will make your rides more comfortable and improve your grip.

Other components fitted on this capable trail bike are mostly sourced from Shimano. The drivetrain is a tried and true Shimano Altus/Acera combo with 18-speeds and the brakes are Tektro hydraulic discs. Both are precise, reliable, and packed into a lightweight package.

If you want the freedom of choice, a dependable Marin build, and quality entry-level Shimano components, the Palisades Trail 2 model is made for you.

Get From JesnonUSA

 

#7 – Norco Storm 5

Best for Light Trails and Vacations

Norco - Storm 5 Complete Mountain Bike 2021

Let me introduce you to one of the best affordable bikes on this list, especially for those riders who want a capable trail setup at a very low price. Norco Storm 5 is at the top of its game, offering a lightweight aluminum frame, wide tires, and reliable components.

A quick glance:

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Fork: Suntour XCE28, 100mm
  • Rear Shock: None
  • Groupset: Shimano Tourney, 21 gears
  • Tire dimension: 27.5 or 29 x 2.25″
  • Brakes: Shimano Tourney mechanical discs

 

Norco Storm 5 is built around a light and compliant aluminum frame with relaxed and upright geometry, Internal cable routing, and 27.5″ or 29″ wheels, depending on the frame size. It packs some decent travel with entry-level SR Suntour suspension and rolls on double-wall aluminum rims.

Full review of Norco Storm

Norco’s frame has a 68–68.5-degree head tube angle, which is a good balance between slack and steep. Coupled with the 27.5″ or 29″ wheels are trusty WTB Starflight 2.25″ tires that give you some serious edge on the trails. Roots, rocks, and bumps are no match for this hardtail bike.

The SR Suntour XCE28 fork packs 100mm of travel, which is plenty for XC riding. However, this particular fork is quite heavy.

Just like most mountain bikes in this price range, Norco Storm 5 touts the Shimano Tourney 3×7 drivetrain and Tourney mechanical disc brakes, both of which are safe choices that get the job done.

By getting the Norco Storm 5 XC/Trail bike, you’ll save money in the bank, but you’ll earn some profit on the trails.

Get From EVO

 

#8 – Cannondale Trail 7

Compatible with 27.5″ and 29″ Wheels

Cannondale Trail 7 - a mountain bike that costs under $2,000

Do you need a bike that you can use to show your skills on trails and rough descents? If yes, then check out Cannondale Trail 7. This is the best entry-level mountain bike with 27.5″ or 29″ tires that you can get, indicated by its build and components.

It offers a variety of sizes, modern upright geometry, and decent components that you can get for this amount of money. It comes with a very nice paint job as well.

This is not a women-specific bike, but its geometry and graphics are suitable for women as well as for men.

A quick glance:

  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Fork: SR Suntour XCT DS, coil, 100mm
  • Rear Shock: None
  • Groupset: Shimano Altus/Tourney, 16 gears
  • Tire dimension: 27.5″ or 29″ x 2.25″
  • Brakes: Shimano MT200 hydraulic

 

Get More: Best Bikes For Women

Cannondale Trail 7 is the perfect bike for newbie trail riders who want to jump on a hardtail mountain bike or for casual riders who want an affordable and reliable bike for weekend adventures.

It sports an aluminum frame with a 68–68.5° head tube angle and a 73.5° seat tube angle. That’s a well-balanced geometry for all types of terrain.

With its quality set of beginner components, Trail 7 will give any rider the necessary boldness to take a riskier line and come out of it unscathed.

The SR Suntour XCT DS front suspension is an entry-level setup that offers 100 mm of travel and has a 42mm offset with 27.5″ wheels or a 46mm offset with 29″ wheels.

The Shimano Altus/Tourney 2×8 drivetrain can conquer most hills and the mechanical disc brakes guarantee a safe descent from it.

The star of the show is the 2.25″ wide tires, so you’re unlikely to lose traction no matter the terrain.

All in all, Cannondale Trail 7 is a versatile trail bike for different types of terrain with excellent components and a budget-friendly price tag.

Get From REI

 

#9 – Scott Gambler 910

Best DH Bike

Scott - Gambler 910

For aspiring downhill riders who want to send every descent, things don’t get much better than Scott Gambler 910 in this price category. This is a DH bike with 29 wheels, wide tires, and a Carbon frame that’s capable of doing a lot of damage on rough trails. You’re looking at a versatile machine that can win races in the right hands.

A quick glance:

  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Fox 40 Performance, 203mm
  • Rear Shock: Fox DHX2 Coil Performance Elite, 200mm
  • Groupset: SRAM GX DH Short Cage 7-Speed
  • Tire dimension: 29″ x 2.5″
  • Brakes: Shimano XT M8120 4 Piston, 203mm rotors

Best Full Suspension Mountain Bikes

Scott’s advanced carbon frames perform well and weigh very little, which translates to efficient riding. The handling is predictable, stable, and stiff, so you can explore your limits on different sections of the trails and choose the most challenging lines.

Scott Gambler 910 is a DH rider’s dream bike. It has a combination of Fox front and rear suspension with 203/200mm of travel, as well as super powerful Shimano XT brakes with 203mm rotors. These are the most important features on a bike that’s built to go fast while pointing down.

The bike ships with 29″ wheels and Maxxis Assegain 29″ x 2.5″ tires. However, you can easily transform it into a mullet setup or run it as a full 27.5″ bike. The choice is yours.

The drivetrain is a DH-specific SRAM GX 7-speed with a short cage, as you don’t need too many gears to go down fast.

What more can gravity enthusiasts ask for but giving Scott Gambler 910 a run down the gnarliest descents in their area?

Get From EVO

 

#10 – Devinci Wilson A29 GX

Best Aluminum Downhill Bike

Devinci Wilson A29 GX

Devinci Wilson is a capable DH bike that can jump over any stump or other obstacle in your way without a blink of an eye. This bike leaves little to be desired from a downhill rig in this price range as it delivers generously in most areas. It’s a lightweight aluminum 29er with 7 speeds and carbon seat stays that meets the requirements riders of different levels will have.

A quick glance:

  • Frame: Aluminum w/ carbon seat stays
  • Fork: RockShox BoXXer Select RC 29″, 200mm
  • Rear Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate DH, 250x75mm
  • Groupset: SRAM GX DH, 7-speed
  • Tire dimension: 29 x 2.5″ / 2.4″
  • Brakes: SRAM Code R hydraulic

 

The Devinci Wilson frame is known to be stiff in the right places and compliant and comfortable everywhere else. Therefore, it feels comfortable when descending or going fast and responsive when you stomp the pedals to scale a climb.

The RockShox BoXXer Select RC fork provides 200 mm of travel and comes complete with lockout and adjustable rebound damping, whereas the RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate DH rear shock eats any obstacles on the trail beneath you. This travel is suitable for downhill riding and so is the aggressive geometry.

The SRAM GX DH drivetrain supplies you with 7 speeds and SRAM Code R hydraulic disc brakes guarantee all the braking power you need, whenever you need it.

Once the 29 x 2.5″ / 2.4″ tires gain momentum, they’re hard to be hindered by any challenge you’ll encounter on dirt roads and single tracks.

So if you want the best bike with plenty of travel, Devinci’s logo on it, and stellar components, Wilson A29 GX will put a smile on your face when you take it for a ride.

Get From JesnonUSA

 

#11 – Niner Air 9 RDO 3-Star

Best-Equipped Carbon Hardtail

Niner AIR 9 RDO 3-Star

Niner is well-known for building 29er full-suspension and hardtail bikes that set the bar higher for the competition. The newest addition to their lineup is the Niner Air 9 RDO 3-Star hardtail mountain bike

This is a carbon beast with knobby 2.35″ tires, hydraulic disc brakes, a 1×12 drivetrain, and a pretty reasonable price. It’s intended for bikepackers, mountain bikers, and anyone else who wants to have fun or test their skills and technical limits.

A quick glance:

  • Frame: Niner RDO Carbon Fiber
  • Fork: Fox 32 SC Float Factory Evol Fit 4, 100mm
  • Groupset: SRAM GX Eagle, 12 Speed
  • Tire dimension: 29 x 2.35″
  • Brakes: SRAM G2 R

 

The entire RDO series is known for excellent bikes intended for beginner or intermediate cyclists. The Air 9 RDO 3-Star is not an exception to that rule. It’s packed with mid-range components that will satisfy the majority of riders out there, except for those who plan to race.

First things first, this Niner MTB rolls on 29×2.35″ Schwalbe Racing Ray (f) and Racing Ralph (r). They’re huge and feel super grippy and confident-inspiring when riding on any kind of terrain. If you deflate them a bit, you can tackle rock gardens as well.

The groupset is SRAM GX Eagle which will give you 12 speeds on a super-wide drivetrain. The cassette has a 10-52T range and is combined with a 32T ring. You could climb a wall with these cogs and rings.

SRAM’s G2 R hydraulic disc brakes offer some serious stopping power, thanks to 180/160mm rotors front and back.

Bikepackers and adventurers will like Niner Air 9 RDO 3-Star because of enough room for two water bottle cages in the frame or a huge frame bag.

Get this bike if you want the best-equipped carbon hardtail trail bike for the money.

Get From JensonUSA

 

Bottom line

suggestedDon’t get me wrong – all of these bikes are winners. Even though #10 is the last on the list, it is still a winner because it won its place after it was compared to hundreds of quality bikes.

Therefore, whichever model you end up choosing, you’ll get a reliable and durable bike that can handle most XC routes and trails.

Let us know which one you like the most and share your experiences below! Happy riding!

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