So you’re looking for a new mountain bike, but don’t want to break the bank to buy a good one. You’ve come to the right place!
Over the summer we took a look at the best full suspension mountain bikes under $3,000 and there were some AWESOME bikes in that price range and we got some great feedback from people who were helped by that list of bikes. Today we are going to look at the entry level price point for everyone that is looking to find the best mountain bike under $1000.
First up, lets look over the qualifications that we want to use for this comparison. As a starting point we want to use price, components and warranty. Check out this post about how you can tell the good mountain bike brands based off the following criteria.
- Quality of the frame
- Quality of the components
- Integrity of the warranty
Every bike that may be considered among the best mountain bikes under 1000 is going to have all three of those criteria met.
Best Mountain Bike Under $1000
Before we get into the actual list we are going to address something. There are essentially 2 different tiers of bikes available under $1000, they are what I will call the entry level tier and the enthusiast tier.
The entry level tier goes up to about $600, bikes that you find under this price point are geared toward people that are buying their first bike and are smart enough to avoid the department store bikes. These bikes will usually have v-brakes (rim brakes) or rarely a set of mechanical disc brakes and the front fork will always be a very basic coil or spring fork. We are going to avoid this level and jump to enthusiast tier for this comparison.
With the enthusiast tier, you will find most of these bikes around the $900 range (that way you can buy a helmet too and get out the shop under $1000). They will have upgraded hydraulic disc brakes and a fork that has a little more adjustability with lockouts and rebound settings. Overall though the drivetrain will remain roughly the same with Shimano Acera, Alivio and Sram X3 or X5.
Here is a list of some of the best mountain bikes under $1000 so that you can compare them yourself.
|Brand||Model||Rear Shock||Rear Travel||Front Fork||Front Travel||Frame Material||Crankset||Front Der||Rear Der||Cassette||Chain||Shifters||Brakes||Price|
|Diamondback||Recoil Comp 29er||RockShox Monarch R||100mm||SR Suntour XCR RL-29 coil spring||100mm||Aluminum 6061 T-6||Shimano Alivio 8spd 22/32/42||Shimano Altus||Shimano Alivio 8spd||Shimano HG31 8spd, 11-32||Shimano SL-M310 8spd||Hayes HMX-5 mechanical disc brakes||$799.99|
|Diamondback||Overdrive Sport 29er||SR Suntour XCR LO-29 coil spring||100mm||Aluminum Butted 6061-T6||Sram S600, 3 ring, 42/32/22||Shimano Acera||Shimano Acera 8spd||Sram PG-820 8spd, 11-32||Shimano SL-M310 8spd||Shimano M395 hydraulic disc brakes||$549.99|
|Trek||X-Caliber 7||SR Suntour XCR coil spring||100mm||Aluminum Alpha Gold||Shimano Acera M391, 3 ring, 44/32/22||Shimano Altus||Shimano Acera M390||Shimano HG20 11-34, 9 speed||Shimano Acera M390 9 speed||Shimano M395 hydraulic disc brakes||$879.99|
|Specialized||Rockhopper 29||SR Suntour XCM LO-29 coil spring||100mm||Aluminum A1 Premium||SR Suntour XCR 9spd||Shimano Acera||Shimano Alivio, 9spd||Shimano, 9spd, 11-34||Shimano Acera, 9 spd||Tektro hydraulic disc brakes||$880|
|Giant||Revel 29||SR Suntour XCT V4, 80mm travel||80mm travel||Aluminum ALUXX-grade||SR Suntour NEX, 24/34/42||Shimano M191||Shimano Alivio||SRAM PG830 11x32, 8-speed||KMC Z8||Shimano Acera, Rapid Fire||Tektro Novela, mechanical disc, 160mm||$550|
|Giant||Talon 29er 2||SR Suntour XCM HLO, w/lockout,||100mm travel||Aluminum ALUXX-grade||Shimano Acera, 22/32/44||Shimano Alivio||Shimano Alivio||Shimano HG20 11x34, 9-speed||KMC X9||Shimano Acera, Rapid Fire||Tektro HDC300, hydraulic disc, 160mm||$890|
|Jamis||Durango 29 Comp||RST Omega 29 TNL, coil spring with Turn-n-Lock lock-out, magnesium lowers, external preload adjustor, 32mm stanchions,||100mm travel||Aluminum 6061||Shimano M371 crank arms, 44/32/22T rings||Shimano Acera M390||Shimano Acera M390||Shimano HG-20, 9-speed, 11-34T||KMC HG53||Shimano Acera, Rapid Fire||Tektro HDC 300 hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors||$730|
|Jamis||Nemesis 650 Sport||RST Blaze 650B TNL, MCU/coil spring with Turn-n-Lock lock-out and external preload adjustor, 30mm stanchions,||100mm travel||Aluminum||Shimano M311, alloy crank arms, 42/32/22T rings||Shimano Alivio M190||Shimano Alivio M410||SRAM PG-820, 8-speed, 11-32||KMC Z72||Shimano Acera, Rapid Fire||Tektro HDC-300 hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors||$790|
|Orbea||MX29 10||SUNTOUR XCR 29 LO REMOTE||100mm travel||Aluminum||SHIMANO FC-M522 24X32X42||SHIMANO DEORE||SHIMANO DEORE||SHIMANO HG50 11-36 10S||SHIMANO HG54||SHIMANO DEORE||SHIMANO BR-M395 DISC hydraulic disc||$949|
|Fuji||Nevada 1.3||SUNTOUR XCM-RL 29 coil spring||100mm travel||Aluminum||Shimano Alivio M4308 44/32/22t||Shimano Altus M370||Shimano Deore, M592 SGS Shadow, 9spd||Shimano HG20, 11-34t 9spd||KMC X9, 9spd||Shimano Alivio, M430 Rapid Fire, 9spd||Promax Decipher, Hydraulic Disc, 180mm front, 160mm rear||$880|
|Scott||Scale 970||Suntour XCR RL-29 coil spring||100mm travel||Aluminum||Shimano FC-M522 44/32/22t||Shimano Deore FC-M610||Shimano Deore RD-M610 Shadow 10spd||Shimano CS-HG62, 10spd||KMC x10||Shimano Deore SL-M610 rapd fire plus||Shimano BR-M395 Hydraulic Disc Brakes 180mm front, 160mm rear||$990|
|Cannondale||Trail 29er 4||Suntour XCR-LO 29||80mm travel||Aluminum||Shimano FC-M391-8 44/32/22t||Shimano Acera||Shimano Alivio||Sunrace M96, 11-34 9spd||Shimano HG53||Shimano Acera||Cannondale Helix 6 Hydraulic Disc Brakes, 180mm front, 160mm rear||$1000|
|Marin||Bobcat Trail||Suntour XCR-LO 29||100mm travel||Aluminum||Shimano Acera 44/32/22t||Shimano Acera||Shimano Deore Shadow||Shimano HG50, 11-34 9spd||Shimano HG53||Shimano Acera||Shimano M395 Hydraulic Disc Brakes||$999|
|Felt||Nine 60||Rockshox XC30||100mm travel||Aluminum||Suntour XCR 42/32/22t||Shimano Acera||Shimano Deore Shadow 9spd||Sram 9spd 11-34t||KMC 9spd||Shimano Acera Rapid-Fire 9spd||Tektro HDC hydraulic disc with 180mm rotors||$1049|
|GT||Karakoram Comp||Suntour XCM HLO-29||100mm travel||Aluminum||Suntour XCM-T414 44/32/22t||Shimano Deore RD-M592||Sunrace CS-M98, 11-36t 9spd||KMC Z99||Shimano Alivio SLM430 rapid fire||Promax Decipher Hydraulic Disc||$820|
Final Thoughts On The Best Mountain Bikes Under $1000
As you can tell from this list, a lot of these bikes are very similar to each other. There is not a huge amount of difference in components like cranksets, derailleurs, brakes, forks, frame material or even warranty between all brands. In essence if you are paying more, you are paying for their brand name or a very subtle difference between the brands. Things like the shape of the frame or a slight upgrade to the front derailleur.
For the most part, a bike from Brand A that costs $910 will be the same as a bike that costs $890 from Brand B. There really isn’t a bike in this price range that one would consider “best” because they are all so similar in component spec, warranty, frame and price.
So find a bike that you are happy with at a price point you like. Unfortunately, the bike industry has a good bit of “bike snobbery” built in, something that we all fall victim to. But in reality, a Specialized bike and a Marin or Diamondback bike at the same price point is going to be roughly the same. So don’t worry too much about what others say, just worry about whether you enjoy it or not.
Upgrading Your Entry Level Bike
A somewhat related topic:
One of the things that a lot of people do when they purchase a new bike is they assume that they will replace or upgrade parts on the bike over time. At this $1000 price point, this isn’t a great idea and I’ll explain why. Let’s take two of the most common upgrades, wheels and the front fork.
A good set of wheels like Stan’s Arch Ex’s will cost you roughly $450+. These wheels will be one of the biggest upgrades you can make. They will save you weight, provide more stability and stiffness, less rolling resistance and overall less maintenance because they are so well built.
A fork upgrade at this level will most likely move you from a standard coil or spring fork into an air fork like a Rockshox Recon or Reba. These forks will give you more adjustability in how you setup your dampening and rebound (how fast and slow your fork compresses and decompresses), it will also give you more predictability in how the fork reacts to rocks, roots etc. To upgrade to one of these forks you will probably be looking at around $350.
So if you upgrade both your fork and your wheels you have now invested another $800 into a bike that only cost $1000 to begin with. While your wheels and fork are excellent, your drivetrain and brakes will still be entry level gear. Despite having spent double the money your bike has only improved by maybe 25%.
Here’s my advice. Leave the bike as it is. It is a $1000 bike for a reason. Ride the heck out of it, ride it until it falls apart or until you’re ready to spend the money for a bigger upgrade. But don’t upgrade parts. Once you’re ready for that new bike in the $2000 or $3000 price point sell your $1000 bike on craigslist for $500 and let another person enjoy it. You will be overall better off by doing this and you will save more money than trying to upgrade that $1000 bike.
What’s your thoughts on the best mountain bikes under 1000?
This is a topic that there is plenty of discussion around, leave your thoughts in the comments below