Video: Best $1,000 mountain bike shootout

We test 10 mountain bikes that won't break the bank

As technology advances, the cost of many mountain bikes has gone through the roof. Is it even possible to get a good mountain bike for $US1,000 or less? Yes!

For riders just getting started — or those looking to get a new mountain bike without breaking the break — there are a few good options. We recently trail-tested 10 mountain bikes that cost $1,000 or less, and came away with some surprising finds. We'll be posting the full results of the test later this week but for now, here's a taste of what we've been up to.

If it's been five years or more since you last bought a mountain bike, you probably have a bike with 26-inch wheels. The trend these days is 'bigger is better' — and nearly all the models tested have 29-inch wheels. For those of you new to mountain biking — welcome! The benefits of 29-inch wheels are plentiful: you can roll over obstacles more easily, you have more suspension in your tires with the larger volume of air, and you can get better traction than with a 26-inch wheel.

BikeRadar sent out a five-man test crew over the course of a few days to test ride 10 bikes over and over on a 3-mile loop. Special attention was given to each bike's elements of control — the brakes, the suspension and the tires.

At this pricepoint, bike companies are limited in what types of parts, suspension forks and wheels they can use. But, as BikeRadar technical editor James Huang likes to point out, geometry is free. Geometry means the angles of the bike's tubes, which have a huge impact on how the bike handles.

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We tested the following 10 bikes:

  • Trek Mamba, $959
  • Diamondback Overdrive Comp 29dr
  • Specialized Rockhopper 29
  • Redline D610
  • Jamis Exile Sport
  • GT Karakoram 2.0
  • Giant Talon 29er 1
  • Cannondale Trail SL3
  • Scott Scale 29 Comp
  • Felt Nine Sport

Check BikeRadar next week for the complete results of the test.

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team, Trek Boone 5, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4, Marinoni fixed gear, Santa Cruz Roadster TT bike
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA
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