Mountain bikes at the $1,000 price point are versatile machines suitable for all types of riding. Since they're more rugged and have a more upright seating position than a road bike, they're a fantastic way to try all sorts of riding; from sampling trails out in nature, to trying some commuting, or simply getting out and about in your neighborhood.
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- Which is faster: hardtail or full-suspension?
Mountain bikes under $1,000 are typically hardtails, (seriously, stay away from cheap full suspension!) meaning they only have impact-absorbing suspension on the front wheel, and some feature no suspension at all. They come primarily in two wheel sizes, 27.5" and 29", although more plus-size, 27+ bikes (with wide 2.8in to 3.0in tires) are certain to show up soon.
You might be thinking, "What about used bikes?" That's another great option, however buying anything used takes a keen eye to notice any flaws or worn out bits. Buying new, especially from a reputable bike shop should guarantee a properly built bike, and will likely include some perks such as free tune-ups, discounted parts or even better, new buddies to show you the trails. Plus buying new negates the chance of obsolete parts or components.
No matter what you choose, these entry-level mountain bikes are a fantastic way to get a taste of riding. Here are seven new contenders definitely worth a look when your bank account says "Whoa!" at around $1,000.
Marin Pine Mountain 1
- Price: $989
- Frame material: Double butted chromoly
- Fork: Chromoly rigid
Marin's Pine Mountain features plus-size 27.5in tires, commonly referred to as 27+, and is fully rigid, meaning no suspension. In layman's terms, the Pine Mountain has big, fat, cushy tires that provide heaps of traction and a smooth ride.
It's also one of the only bikes crafted from chromoly steel, which is brilliant material for a hardtail because steel absorbs bumps and is less stiff than more common aluminum frames. The rigid steel fork is extra tall so if you upgrade to a suspension fork the handling and seating position will feel right.
- Price: $930
- Frame material: Hydroformed 6061 aluminum
- Fork: RockShox Recon Gold TK Solo Air
Airborne is a direct to consumer bike brand. Their Seeker model is an XC-oriented 29er with some rather decent parts for the dollar. Leading the alloy frame is a RockShox Recon Gold TK Solo Air fork; it's a quality fork usually seen on a higher price point. The SRAM X5 drivetrain and Avid hydraulic disc brakes are also a welcome surprise.
The challenge with all this is not being able to try before you buy, and if something were to go wrong, not having local support right there.
- Price: $1,000
- Frame material: Custom butted 6061 aluminum
- Fork: SR Suntour XCR, 120mm
Who says you can't get rowdy on an entry-level bike? Diamondback begs to differ with their Line. This alloy hardtail takes care of business with a modern, low, long and slack frame fronted by a 120mm travel fork. This means the Line wants to be ridden aggressively, cornered hard and likes it when gravity is helping out.
The entire parts package follows the all-mountain trend with Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, 2.35in wide Schwalbe tires, a stubby 45mm stem paired to a 785mm bar, and even a chainguide to make sure the chain doesn't rattle off when you're smashing through technical terrain.
Giant Talon 29er
- Price: $850
- Frame material: ALUXX aluminum
- Fork: SR Suntour XCM HLO, 100mm
It's pretty impressive what $850 can buy in the mountain bike world today. Giant is the biggest bicycle manufacturer on the planet, and their Talon 29er is a singletrack-worthy ride that's ready for trails and so much more. It's mostly due to the sweet alloy frame rolling on bump-smoothing 29in wheels.
The 3x9 drivetrain is pretty far from current, but offers tons of gearing range to get you up even the steepest climbs, and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes have you covered on the way down. If cross country riding sounds fun, take a look at the Talon.
Rocky Mountain Soul 27.5
- Price: $899
- Frame material: Hydroformed 6061 aluminum
- Fork: SR Suntour Raidon LO, coil, 120mm
Steep terrain, wet roots, and talented riders are all hallmarks of Rocky Mountain's home in Vancouver, BC. Rocky Mountain believes (and rightly so) that the frame and its geometry are the foundation to a bike and how it rides. With that in mind, the Soul 27.5 boasts an alloy frame with a refined riding position.
The coil-sprung (rather than air-sprung) fork earmarks this bike for more aggressive riding and longer durability. Other standouts include a full Shimano drivetrain and disc brakes, as well as Maxxis tires.
Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29er
- Price: $850
- Frame material: A1 SL aluminum
- Fork: SR Suntour XCR Air, 100mm
Like the Giant mentioned above, the Rockhopper packs a lot of cross country fun into a small price tag. Specialized bikes has a certain ride quality that's helped their elite-level professional riders to win, and somehow Specialized is able to carry some of that magic down the line.
The Rockhopper Comp has 29in wheels and a mix of Shimano and SRAM on the drivetrain. It's refreshing to see Shimano hubs and hydraulic disc brakes, too, as they're known for durability and easy maintenance.
Trek X-Caliber 7
- Price: $960
- Frame material: Alpha Gold aluminum
- Fork: RockShox 30 Silver, coil, G2 offset, 100mm
Trek works with the grandfather of mountain biking, Gary Fisher, to create some of the fastest cross country bikes around. A lot of the secret is the G2 fork offset found on Trek's 29er bikes. This technology makes the X-Caliber feel comfortable at high speeds, yet still responsive at slow speeds. It sounds like magic, but it actually works!
The X-Caliber 7 has a lightweight alloy frame, RockShox fork, Shimano gearing, and even Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. Like the Giant Talon and Specialized Rockhopper above, this is a quick ticket to cross-country riding fun.