Few of us are lucky enough to be able to splash a grand on our first bike. Instead, this tends to be the price range for people who’ve already spent some time on a mountain bike and have decided they want something a little more serious to take their riding to the next level.
While budget is still a priority, the bikes in this price bracket are a little more trail-focused. So you can expect to find suspension that’s a bit more heavy-duty and equipment that’s better at handling the rigours of off-road riding.
This price range is dominated by hardtails, but you can get a good full-suspension bike if you’re prepared to spend close to the £1,000 mark, and it’s not unheard of to see some full-sus bikes under £1,000 among the best trail mountain bikes.
Hardtails tend to be lighter and easier to maintain, but the benefit of having both front and rear suspension is that it’ll give you more confidence and traction on steep descents.
At this price point, dropper posts are becoming more common, introducing extra versatility to a bike and consequently opening up a far wider range of riding.
Hydraulic disc brakes are also almost standard at this price. We’d nearly go as far as to say avoid bikes that don’t have them because they offer better and more confidence-inspiring performance than cable brakes.
A good tip is to look for a bike at this price point that uses the Boost mountain bike axle standard. Upgrading wheels is an easy way to improve the performance of a bike and this standard will open up a whole plethora of lighter and stronger mountain bike wheels to you.
Every machine here can be happily pushed into service at any trail centre, most types of cross-country races and any sort of general off-road exploration.
No matter which bike you choose in this price bracket, it is going to help get more out of you and your riding – which, after all, is why we ride a bike.
Best mountain bikes for around £1,000 in 2022, as rated by our expert testers
Boardman MHT 8.9
- £1,000 as tested
- A ride that punches far beyond what the price would suggest
- Great kit makes the most of the sorted frame
- Versatile frame means it can switch to commuting duties
If you’ve got £1,000 to spend on a quick trail hardtail then this absolutely has to be on your shortlist because its ride is capable of outclassing nearly everything else in its category.
As a rework of Boardman’s fast trail 29er, the MHT is more evolution than revolution. It’s blisteringly fast, with a lot of that pace coming directly from the Boardman’s lack of overall weight. Pop it on the scales and you’d see it actually comes in at around 2kg lighter than most similarly priced bikes.
Its understated alloy frame is paired with a very capable RockShox Reba RL fork, while a sorted Shimano SLX 1x drivetrain with 46t crawler cog should see you up the steepest of inclines.
The MHT can even lend itself to commuting duties thanks to its rack mounts, low overall weight and hardwearing tyres.
It’s a different proposition from the full-suspension bikes you’ll find in this list, but if you like going quickly and don’t suffer from a bad back then it could be the smarter choice.
Latest deals for the Boardman MHT 8.9
- £750 as tested
- Sorted geometry and good choice of components
- Could do with a dropper post
The Voodoo Bizango offers fantastic performance for its £750 price tag. It’s a sorted trail bike ideal for beginners or a second bike for more seasoned riders.
The aluminium frame is specced with a Shimano drivetrain and disc brakes, which offer impressive modulation and stopping power.
Heading downhill, the Bizango’s large wheels roll over small bumps easily and the slack head angle makes for a fast ride. The Suntour Raidon front fork with 120mm of travel has a big part to play in how good this bike feels.
While fantastic in the dry, the Ardent tyres do struggle on muddy descents.
Its downhill performance doesn’t stop the Bizango from feeling sluggish on the climbs, with the short chainstays keeping the feel of the bike snappy.
The Bizango would be better with a dropper post, but really that’s splitting hairs.
Calibre Bossnut (2020)
- £1,100 as tested
- Amazing component choices
- A sorted trail bike straight out of the box
- Still the best full-suspension bike for £1,100 (£1,500 without a Go Outdoors card, which is £5)
Okay, so this bike is technically £100 over budget (after you’ve bought the discount card from Go Outdoors) but it’s such an incredible bike for the money it would be a shame not to try and stretch that little further beyond the £1,000 budget to get your hands on it.
The 2020 version of the Bossnut has 130mm of travel, two bottle cage bosses under the down tube, external cable routing and a port for an internally-hosed dropper post on the seat tube.
The geometry is on the money for a trail bike, too. The size large has 460mm reach, a 66-degree head angle (1 degree slacker than the outgoing bike) and a 74.5-degree seat tube angle.
The 130mm travel is damped by a RockShox Monarch R air-spring rear shock that’s paired with a 130mm-travel RockShox Recon RL fork.
Elsewhere, you get SRAM’s 12-speed SX Eagle drivetrain and SRAM Level T brakes. There are also WTB-branded rims and tyres.
The kit on this bike is amazingly sorted for the cash, and the places where Calibre has saved money will give you a clear path to upgrade this into an even better machine.
Out on the trail, the Bossnut left us wondering whether, for the money, any other bikes can even compete. Granted, it’s not perfect, but it’s about as close as you’ll find for the cash.
Calibre Line 29
- £905 as tested
- Stable geometry inspires confidence on tough terrain
- Great spec list includes a dropper post
- Short seat tube might not be suitable for tallest riders
Building on Calibre’s fantastic success thanks to its top-value and high-performing Rake, Line 10, Bossnut and Sentry models, the Line 29 takes the brand’s well-known formula for success and applies modern, progressive geometry to the mix.
Unsurprisingly, the utilitarian but highly functional frame is loaded with fantastic kit including SRAM’s NX 11-speed drivetrain, Guide T brakes and a 122m travel dropper post from KS. It’s also specced with RockShox’ Recon RL fork with Motion Control damper.
On the trail, the great geometry combines with the generous spec to form a bike that feels confident and composed on techy descents, riding predictably and demonstrating that a circa £900 bike needn’t be ridden conservatively.
A few spec changes, such as the tyres, and the Line 29 will be just as handy riding XC as it is on the descents. For the money, it’s a truly impressive performer.
Voodoo Bizango Carbon
- £1,000 as tested
- Superb XC performance and good weight for the price
- Modern geometry makes it trail-capable
- Good choice of top components
The carbon-framed Bizango looks like a much more expensive rig thanks to its internally routed cables, modern geometry and sleek, uninterrupted lines. It’s 1x specific – so no front derailleur – and this helps improve its stiffness.
The great-looking frame is specced with top-choice parts, too. Shimano’s MT-400 brakes, SRAM’s 12-speed XS Eagle drivetrain and a RockShox Judy fork combine to propel the Bizango beyond cross-country-only rides.
It gives more expensive XC bikes a run for their money and leaves its rider with few excuses for not keeping up.
The geometry helps it descend confidently, but the carbon frame lacks comfort when riding. Although, for the price, there’s very little that rivals the Bizango Carbon.
Cannondale Trail SE 4
- £900 as tested
- Potential to upgrade
- Smooth climbing and descending
- Shimano Deore groupset
Designed for low-impact trials, the Cannondale Trail SE 4 still has potential for bigger things thanks to Boost spacing and dropper-post compatibility.
The Boost spacing means you can upgrade the wheels down the line and the tapered head tube makes the Trail SE 4 compatible with lots of forks.
But built as it is, the bike still delivers a smooth ride. Part of the smoothness results from the dropped seatstays, but the coil-sprung Suntour front fork also feels supple.
The bike has an XC-inspired geometry. It is fairly low and aggressive when seated, but you feel much more upright out of the saddle. It takes a lot for the front wheel to lose traction on ascents and downhill it’s easy to control.
Shimano Deore gives the bike a good range of gears and the Shimano Alivio brakes do a good job of helping this bike achieve its easy ride feel.
Carrera Titan X
- £850 as tested
- Better equipped than virtually anything else at this price
- Rear suspension is good for the money
- Offers a genuine advantage over hardtails on rough terrain.
When Halfords originally developed this bike, the goal was to make a full-suspension mountain bike with a 12-speed drivetrain and a dropper post for less than £1,000.
Needless to say, we were left scratching our heads as to how the brand would do it. Even more astonishingly then, it not only achieved that goal, but for £850.
How exactly has Halfords achieved it? Well, it’s certainly not the most refined-looking package, but this doesn’t affect performance on the trail, so we think that’s one compromise worth making.
The geometry might not be as progressive as pricier options, but it’s by no means a throwback and it impresses on both climbs and descents.
The dropper post is a big performance gain too, and while the handling over technical terrain isn’t the best available, there’s no getting past how good the kit is on this bike for the price.
Our only major concern is that the three-size range won’t accommodate the smallest or tallest riders out there. But for people around the middle of the curve, this won’t be an issue.
Specialized Fuse 27.5in (2021)
- £1,149 / $1,500 / AU$2,000 as tested
- Comfortable contact points and a dropper post
- Low front end limits descending potential
The Specialized Fuse 27.5in is the most affordable Fuse in Specialized’s range, but it still features chunky 650b tyres, 1×11 gearing, a dropper post and a sleek aluminium frame.
While the geometry is pretty up to date, the short stack height means the bike can struggle on steep descents, but it is calm and proved fun to ride on mellower downhill sections.
When climbing, the bike is comfortable, but it feels a bit cramped when you’re standing out of the saddle. The generous gearing makes it easy to get up steep climbs.
The finishing kit makes the bike comfortable and the RockShox fork is supple.
The bike is a good companion for cruising pace. If you want something a bit more capable, there’s a 29in wheel version, but it does cost a bit more.
Vitus Sentier 27
- £900 / $1,100 / AU$2,250 / €1,300 as tested
- Smooth ride with plenty of grip
- Impressively specced
- Geometry might not suit everyone
The Vitus Sentier 27 has a look and overall spec that would be at home on a significantly more expensive bike.
You might only get 10 gears, but the generous gear range will get you up most climbs. Wide, 27.5×2.6in Schwalbe tyres work in tandem with the 130mm X-Fusion RC32 fork to provide a comfortable and grippy ride. The Tektro brakes lack power though.
The short reach does make standing on the pedals while climbing a little less stable than some other bikes and twitchier at high speeds or on steep descents, too. But on flatter, lower-speed trails, this bike is still a hoot to ride.
The long seat tube made it difficult to get the saddle out of the way. Adding a dropper post to the bike would mitigate this for some riders, but those with short legs might struggle.
It’s hard to argue with the Vitus Sentier 27’s value and performance, with its good looks and decent spec. Just make sure the geometry suits you.
Vitus Sentier 29
- £850 as tested
- Great-performing, well-chosen spec for the price
- Good geometry and plenty of space make the bike comfortable on a wide range of terrain
- The fork might need upgrading as your abilities improve
Although the frame is fairly basic and doesn’t have full-length outer gear cable routing – the inner gear cable is exposed under the top tube and seatstay – it does have internal dropper post cable routing for future upgrades.
With a 10-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain that uses a SunRace cassette, Tektro brakes and WTB tubeless-ready wheels wrapped in Schwalbe tyres, it’s easy to forgive the Sentier for its lack of dropper post.
The X-Fusion RC32 fork performs okay once it’s into its travel, but struggles with off-the-top suppleness. However, the headline 13.26kg weight makes this one of the lightest bikes in the sub-£1,000 category.
The geometry isn’t as progressive as Calibre’s Line 29 but still looks pretty good for a trail bike and the ride confirms this with snappy handling making it fun to take sharp turns or just ride mellower trails.
Going for a slightly larger size than recommended should improve handling if you’re looking to shred, but the Sentier is better-suited to tamer trails.
Have you found what you’re looking for?
If £1,000 is a bit too much money, the best mountain bikes under £750 and the best mountain bikes under £500 still offer great performance and are ideal if you’re just starting out or buying for someone who is.
Otherwise, if this list has whetted your appetite and you think you could stretch your budget a little further, check out our list of the best mountain bikes under £2,000 and the best mountain bikes under £3,000.
Still need a bit more info to help you decide? Make sure to check out our guide on how to choose the right mountain bike for you, with tips on what to look for in a mountain bike, from suspension and gears to different types of riding.