Interested in mountain biking? Good news, MTBs under $1,000 are both capable and versatile machines ready to tackle all types of riding. Being both tough and reliable lets the knobby tired bikes go everywhere; from sampling singletrack in the woods to commuting around town, or plainly getting out of the house and just cruising around your neighborhood.
- Best Bike: what type of bike should I buy?
- Best bike helmets: a buyer's guide
- Which is faster: hardtail or full-suspension?
Most mountain bikes under $1,000 have bump-absorbing suspension on the front wheel, and bikes like this are called hardtails. While there are some bikes with front and rear suspension in this price bracket, we'd strongly recommended avoiding them as they tend to be very low quality.
Bikes without suspension also proliferate this price zone. In this category it's advisable to look for plus-size (with wide 2.6in to 3.0in tires) or even fat (3.8in or wider) tires. You'll likely find two wheel sizes, 27.5" and 29", although most of the bigger, cushier, fat bike tires still roll on 26" wheels.
Another option is buying a used bike. Of course, buying anything pre-owned involves a bit of a risk as it takes lots of knowledge to accurately assess a bike's condition. Buying new, especially from a reputable bike shop, has some advantages.
Buying new from a bike shop should mean a properly built bike and will often include some bonuses such as free tune-ups, deals on parts or even better, new riding friends to show you the trails. Buying new also keeps your bike up to date and lessens the chance of obsolete parts or components.
These entry-level mountain bikes are a fantastic way to get a taste of off-road riding. Here are six new worth checking out when your wallet is fixed tight around the $1,000 mark.
Pinnacle Ramin 3 Plus
- Price: $867
- 6061 double-butted aluminum frame
- Chromoly rigid fork
Pinnacle comes from British bike retailer Evans Cycles but can be shipped over the pond to the US.
It's fully rigid, meaning there's no suspension other than the give in the tires. What the Ramin does have is versatility, with an adjustable, eccentric bottom bracket that makes going singlespeed quite easy. There's also room on both ends should you want to slip some 29-inch wheels in as well.
Lastly, the frame and fork are replete with mounts on the frame and fork, which make the Ramin a can-do bikepacking rig.
B'Twin Rockrider 900
- Price: estimated $840
- Aluminum frame
- Manitou M30, 100mm fork
B'Twin is the bike arm of sporting goods retailer Decathlon, which plans on offering online shopping in the US soon.
The B'Twin Rockrider is a pure cross-country hardtail built for taking on smooth, fast, curvaceous singletrack. Its 27.5-inch Mavic Crossride wheels are shod with Hutchinson rubber, an 11-speed SRAM NX drivetrain provides the shifting and Tektro disc brakes reel it all in.
If you like the thought of XC or marathon racing where speed and distance outweigh steep and technical riding, the peculiarly named Rockrider 900 could be the ticket.
- Price: $849
- Custom butted 6061 aluminum frame
- SR Suntour XCR, 120mm fork
Want to take on some challenging trails aboard an entry-level bike? Diamondback's Line is an alloy hardtail that takes care of business with a modern, low, long and slack frame fronted by a 120mm travel fork. How's this play out on the dirt? It means the Line is confident when the terrain is technical and steep, and is more in tune riding downhill than up.
The components follow the all-mountain ethos with Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, 2.35in wide Schwalbe tires, and even a chainguide to make sure the chain stays locked onto the SRAM drivetrain when you're using this bike as it's meant to be ridden.
Giant Fathom 29 2
- Price: $920
- ALUXX aluminum frame
- SR Suntour Raidon XC LO-R, 100mm fork
Cross country and non-technical trail riding bikes are arguably the most common and accessible forms of mountain bike, and Giant's line of Fathom bikes fit the bill to a T.
Giant's Fathom 29 2 has the looks and the spec of a pure cross-country bike. Its 29-inch wheels are wrapped in the XC-stalwart Maxxis Ikon tires and the 18-speed FSA/Shimano Deore drivetrain has the gears for leg-testing climbs and mach-speed descents.
Specialized Rockhopper Sport 29
- Price: $825
- A1 Premium aluminum frame
- SR Suntour XCM Coil, 80/100mm fork
Bicycling technology is always evolving, but there's a good reason hardtail mountain bikes are one of the sport's few constants, it's because they work.
The Rockhopper Sport has 29in wheels and a healthy helping of Shimano on the drivetrain. It's also inspiring to see Shimano hubs as well as the widely loved hydraulic disc brakes too, as they're known for durability and easy maintenance.
Trek X-Caliber 7
- Price: $899
- Alpha Gold aluminum frame
- RockShox 30 Silver, coil, G2 offset, 100mm fork
Mountain bikes like Trek's X-Caliber 7 are a fine way to get hooked on biking. This cross-country style 29er hits the trails with a lot of technology borrowed from its much-spendier stablemates.
The G2 geometry makes the steering accurate yet stable and the wheel size correlates to the frame size: larger frames rock 29-inch wheels while smaller bikes get better fitting 27.5-inch wheels.
The X-Caliber 7 gets the job done with a lightweight alloy frame, RockShox fork, Shimano drivetrain, and even Shimano hydro disc brakes. Like the Giant Fathom and Specialized Rockhopper listed before, if rolling up to an XC start line seems like a possibility, the X-Caliber is exceptional starting point.