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.

  1. Quality of the frame
  2. Quality of the components
  3. 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.

BrandModelRear ShockRear TravelFront ForkFront TravelFrame MaterialCranksetFront DerRear DerCassetteChainShiftersBrakesPrice
DiamondbackRecoil Comp 29erRockShox Monarch R100mmSR Suntour XCR RL-29 coil spring100mmAluminum 6061 T-6Shimano Alivio 8spd 22/32/42Shimano AltusShimano Alivio 8spdShimano HG31 8spd, 11-32Shimano SL-M310 8spdHayes HMX-5 mechanical disc brakes$799.99
DiamondbackOverdrive Sport 29erSR Suntour XCR LO-29 coil spring100mmAluminum Butted 6061-T6Sram S600, 3 ring, 42/32/22Shimano AceraShimano Acera 8spdSram PG-820 8spd, 11-32Shimano SL-M310 8spdShimano M395 hydraulic disc brakes$549.99
TrekX-Caliber 7SR Suntour XCR coil spring100mmAluminum Alpha GoldShimano Acera M391, 3 ring, 44/32/22Shimano AltusShimano Acera M390Shimano HG20 11-34, 9 speedShimano Acera M390 9 speedShimano M395 hydraulic disc brakes$879.99
SpecializedRockhopper 29SR Suntour XCM LO-29 coil spring100mmAluminum A1 PremiumSR Suntour XCR 9spdShimano AceraShimano Alivio, 9spdShimano, 9spd, 11-34Shimano Acera, 9 spdTektro hydraulic disc brakes$880
GiantRevel 29SR Suntour XCT V4, 80mm travel80mm travelAluminum ALUXX-gradeSR Suntour NEX, 24/34/42Shimano M191Shimano AlivioSRAM PG830 11x32, 8-speedKMC Z8Shimano Acera, Rapid FireTektro Novela, mechanical disc, 160mm$550
GiantTalon 29er 2SR Suntour XCM HLO, w/lockout, 100mm travelAluminum ALUXX-gradeShimano Acera, 22/32/44Shimano AlivioShimano AlivioShimano HG20 11x34, 9-speedKMC X9Shimano Acera, Rapid FireTektro HDC300, hydraulic disc, 160mm$890
JamisDurango 29 CompRST Omega 29 TNL, coil spring with Turn-n-Lock lock-out, magnesium lowers, external preload adjustor, 32mm stanchions, 100mm travelAluminum 6061Shimano M371 crank arms, 44/32/22T ringsShimano Acera M390Shimano Acera M390Shimano HG-20, 9-speed, 11-34TKMC HG53Shimano Acera, Rapid FireTektro HDC 300 hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors$730
JamisNemesis 650 SportRST Blaze 650B TNL, MCU/coil spring with Turn-n-Lock lock-out and external preload adjustor, 30mm stanchions, 100mm travelAluminumShimano M311, alloy crank arms, 42/32/22T ringsShimano Alivio M190Shimano Alivio M410SRAM PG-820, 8-speed, 11-32KMC Z72Shimano Acera, Rapid FireTektro HDC-300 hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors$790
FujiNevada 1.3SUNTOUR XCM-RL 29 coil spring100mm travelAluminumShimano Alivio M4308 44/32/22tShimano Altus M370Shimano Deore, M592 SGS Shadow, 9spdShimano HG20, 11-34t 9spdKMC X9, 9spdShimano Alivio, M430 Rapid Fire, 9spdPromax Decipher, Hydraulic Disc, 180mm front, 160mm rear$880
ScottScale 970Suntour XCR RL-29 coil spring100mm travelAluminumShimano FC-M522 44/32/22tShimano Deore FC-M610Shimano Deore RD-M610 Shadow 10spdShimano CS-HG62, 10spdKMC x10Shimano Deore SL-M610 rapd fire plusShimano BR-M395 Hydraulic Disc Brakes 180mm front, 160mm rear$990
CannondaleTrail 29er 4Suntour XCR-LO 2980mm travelAluminumShimano FC-M391-8 44/32/22tShimano AceraShimano AlivioSunrace M96, 11-34 9spdShimano HG53Shimano AceraCannondale Helix 6 Hydraulic Disc Brakes, 180mm front, 160mm rear$1000
MarinBobcat TrailSuntour XCR-LO 29100mm travelAluminumShimano Acera 44/32/22tShimano AceraShimano Deore ShadowShimano HG50, 11-34 9spdShimano HG53Shimano AceraShimano M395 Hydraulic Disc Brakes$999
FeltNine 60Rockshox XC30100mm travelAluminumSuntour XCR 42/32/22tShimano AceraShimano Deore Shadow 9spdSram 9spd 11-34tKMC 9spdShimano Acera Rapid-Fire 9spdTektro HDC hydraulic disc with 180mm rotors$1049
GTKarakoram CompSuntour XCM HLO-29100mm travelAluminumSuntour XCM-T414 44/32/22tShimano Deore RD-M592Sunrace CS-M98, 11-36t 9spdKMC Z99Shimano Alivio SLM430 rapid firePromax 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%.

best mountain bike under 1000

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