The best mountain bikes under £2,000 / $2,500 in 2023 | Top-rated hardtail and full-suspension MTBs

Our pick of the best mountain bikes between £1,000 / $1,500 and £2,000 / $2,500

Canyon Neuron 5 full suspension mountain bike

There’s a staggering array of great mountain bikes available under £2,000. Luckily, BikeRadar has done the heavy lifting for you and put together the very best mountain bikes under £2,000 (that’s around $2,500) in 2023.

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Between £1,000 and £2,000 is the point that full-suspension mountain bikes begin to make more sense, with decent builds that have few compromises.

If you’re looking to buy a hardtail in this price range, you’ll also have a hard time buying a bad one. This price bracket is a popular one for enthusiast cyclists, which has made for an incredibly competitive market, forcing brands to spec bikes with increasingly high-quality builds, including more expensive mountain bike groupsets.

The best mountain bikes under £2,000 / $2,500, as rated by our expert testers

Boardman MTR 8.9

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Angled pack shot of the Boardman MTR 8.9 full suspension mountain bike
The Boardman MTR 8.9 has the same geometry as the MTR 9.0.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £1,750 as tested
  • Pros: Rapid acceleration; supportive suspension
  • Cons: Extreme riding exposes the bike’s limits

The Boardman MTR 8.9 is the less expensive version of the MTR 9.0. It has the same alloy frame, geometry and suspension as its pricier sibling but with a more affordable SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain.

The bike is comfortable and has a relaxed riding position. However, the seat-tube angle does feel too relaxed when climbing steep gradients.

The rear suspension doesn’t bob too much under pedalling, rewarding your input with quick acceleration. It still has enough give, absorbing small bumps. The RockShox 35 Gold RL front fork also does a good job at absorbing bumps, even on steep climbs.

Despite only having an 11-50t cassette and 32t front chainring, the bike doesn’t feel lacking in gears, thanks to its low weight and snappy suspension.

The inclusion of a dropper post enhances the bike’s ride and improves flow on trail centre loops, for which it is well-suited.

On descents, the SRAM Guide T brakes can feel wooden and the bike is a little noisy. But despite these issues, the MTR 8.9 is a fun bike to ride. It’s ripe for upgrades and we’d choose to turn it into a light and fast mile-munching machine.

Canyon Neuron 5

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Canyon Neuron 5 full suspension mountain bike
Canyon has hit the nail on the head for a rapid and composed-feeling trail bike.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media
  • £1,849 / $2,099 / €1,899 / AU$2,949 as tested
  • Pros: Carries speed well on flatter trails; good composure; enough grip in most conditions
  • Cons: Lacks support on steeper terrain

Canyon’s Neuron 5 is fast-rolling on mellow trails, while remaining comfortable on rougher terrain thanks to supple suspension characteristics. However, this made the bike feel a little too active on steeper and more technical descents.

The Neuron feels nimble and is eager to blast trail centre singletrack with the Schwalbe Nobby Nic and Wicked Will tyre combo providing grip in all but the dankest of conditions.

We felt the RockShox Recon fork was slightly out of step with the rear suspension, which added to the lack of support on steeper descents.

Kona Kahuna

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the Kona Kahuna hardtail mountain bike
The Kona Kahuna offers a superb ride.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media
  • £1,199 / $1,499 as tested
  • Pros: Balanced, intuitive ride; excellent drivetrain and brakes
  • Cons: Traditional geometry limits downhill capability

The Kona Kahuna hardtail mountain bike has been around for decades, with the brand continually refining the bike.

The latest version sees Kona move toward cross-country and trail bike efficiency with superb ride quality. The shape of the bike means you can still take on rough terrain with the aluminium frame smoothing out bumps.

But be warned – experienced riders may find the Kahuna’s limits fairly quickly and it’s not particularly suited to aggressive downhill riding.

The spec is admirable considering the price. The 12-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain performs almost as well as the brand’s XT groupset found on bikes costing up to £10,000. The Shimano MT410 brakes have loads of power and the long levers give plenty of hand positions.

The 100mm RockShox Recon Silver RL front fork does, though, move through its travel quickly, and it would be nice to see a dropper post fitted to the bike.

Merida Big. Trail 500

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the Merida Big.Trail 500 hardtail mountain bike
Merida has chosen some top-performing parts for its spec.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £1,350 / AU$1,849 as tested
  • Pros: Impressive going downhill and calm handling; excellent downhill capability
  • Cons: Make sure you pick the right size; noisy on rough trails

Compared to bikes at the leading edge of the sport, the Merida Big. Trail 500’s geometry is relatively short. This means on paper it doesn’t have the stability of bikes with a longer wheelbase.

But the Merida has a shorter seat tube than many other bikes, allowing riders to size up without worrying about standover height, unlocking a longer reach and a more stable wheelbase.

With this in mind, the Big. Trail 500 is a comfortable climber. The longer reach in testing meant there was plenty of room to move around and the steep seat tube improved comfort, made pedalling easier and reduced front wheel lift.

When it comes to descents, the Recon fork has plenty of mid-stroke and low-speed compression helping you go fast and amplifying the aluminium frame’s calm feel.

The mix of Merida’s own-brand kit, including a dropper post, and branded kit from Shimano keeps the bike’s price down but this doesn’t stop it from being one of the most capable bikes for under £2,000.

Boardman MTR 8.6

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the Boardman MTR 8.6 full suspension mountain bike
The MTR 8.6 retails for £1,150.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media
  • £1,150 as tested
  • Pros: Good geometry; grip from suspension and tyres help you ride fast
  • Cons: Shock could do with a tune

At £1,150, the full-suspension Boardman MTR 8.6 is great value for money. In fact, it’s possibly the best-value full-suspension bike currently available.

The bike has 140mm of travel in the fork and 145 of rear travel controlled by an air-sprung RockShox damper. Elsewhere it has Maxxis Minion tyres and an up-to-date 1x drivetrain.

The MTR is a weighty bike which means it can take some time to reach speed on the flat. Despite its weight, the bike does well on all but the steepest climbs. Point the bike downhill and it feels calm. You may wish the Suntour brakes had a little more power, though.

Boardman MTR 9.0

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Boardman MTR 9.0
Boardman’s MTR 9.0 is a confident descender.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £2,000 as tested
  • Pros: Well specced with RockShox fork and rear shock; confidence-inspiring ride
  • Cons: Saddle and grips aren’t the comfiest

The MTR 9.0 is the flagship bike in Boardman’s MTR series, with a 6066 alloy frame that has smoothed welds, RockShox suspension front and back and a groupset that is mostly Shimano SLX.

The full-suspension bike has four-pot brakes that help its overall feeling of stability on descents, and the tyres provide plenty of grip.

Despite its emphasis on descending it climbs reasonably well, aided by the 10-51t cassette and steep seat-tube angle.

The bike has a dropper seat post, which is welcome on a bike like this, but one small annoyance is that the lever isn’t particularly good.

Overall, the bike rides with more confidence than you would expect from the price. There are small niggles – like that dropper lever – but none that would cost much to change.

GT Zaskar LT Elite

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the GT Zaskar LT Elite hardtail mountain bike
The Zaskar offers a modern ride with a similar silhouette to its 1990s equivalent.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media
  • £1,350 / $1,700 as tested
  • Pros: Suntour Zeron fork works well; good grip in most conditions
  • Cons: Noisy on rough descents

The GT Zaskar was the go-to hardtail for aggressive riding in the 1990s and this new version has the same silhouette as its ’90s counterpart.

However, the new Zaskar comes with bigger wheels than its predecessor, a stretched-out frame and a relaxed head angle, creating a bang-up-to-date ride feel and smooth handling.

As a result, the Zaskar is extremely fun to ride and it ticks off hard trails and steep sections with confidence.

The WTB Trail Boss tyres and SR Suntour fork help with its downhill performance and the inclusion of a dropper post enables you to take on tricky trails.

The Zaskar would have scored higher if it wasn’t for a couple of minor gripes. The frame is noisy due to chain slap and the internal cable routing. It is also 2kg heavier than some competitors.

Orbea Onna 10

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Orbea Onna 10 hardtail mountain bike
The Orbea Onna 10 performs well off-road and would also make a good commuter bike.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media
  • £1,099 / €1,099 as tested
  • Pros: Great geometry with a cross-country focus; impressive spec for the price; versatile
  • Cons: Quick-release fork

The Orbea Onna 10 has a silhouette similar to the best cross-country bikes but costs far less. Intended for urban and light trail use, the Onna 10 is a versatile machine that feels more responsive than other bikes at this price point.

The bike’s steep seat tube angle makes it great for climbing and while it’s not designed for gnarly descents, the bike composes itself well when pointed down a trail. It’s worth noting, however, that the RockShox Judy fork does limit the bike’s descending performance.

You can add a rack to the Onna 10 making it a good commuter bike.

Sonder Signal ST NX

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the Sonder Signal ST NX hardtail mountain bike
The Signal presents a subtle yet purposeful profile.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £1,599/ $2,297 / AU$2,914 / €1,799 as tested
  • Pros: Great geometry; well-specced for the money
  • Cons: Short-travel dropper; Small brake rotors hold it back

The Sonder Signal ST NX sticks to the British brand’s goal of delivering good value for money, high performing steel bikes.

The steel frame gives the bike a weighty feel but once you’re riding, the Signal has a comfy climbing position, spinning up fire trails and over steep, technical sections. It’s not the fastest up climbs, but a bike like this is never really intended to be.

Once you point the bike downhill, the geometry and tyres come together to form a highly competent trail machine that gets over rough terrain with ease and urges you to go faster.

Sonder has clearly prioritised certain aspects of the bike to give the optimal ride for the money, with a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain and a RockShox fork.

It would be good though if it had been specced with larger rotors to really unlock the bike’s descending prowess.

Also consider…

The following bikes scored fewer than four out of five stars but are also solid performers and worthy of consideration.

Trek Roscoe 7

3.5 out of 5 star rating
Pack shot of the Trek Roscoe 7 hardtail mountain bike
The Roscoe 7 is available in lots of sizes.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £1,400 / $1,730 / AU$2,200 / €1,549 as tested
  • Pros: Shimano Deore works well; lots of frame sizes
  • Cons: Weak brakes and vague-feeling wide tyres
  • Read our full Trek Roscoe 7 review

Sonder Frontier NX Eagle

3.0 out of 5 star rating
Sonder Frontier NX Eagle hardtail mountain bike
The Sonder Frontier is well-suited to expeditions.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media
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Other budgets

If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, be sure to check out our guides to the best mountain bikes under £1,000, £750 and £500.

If you’re feeling a little more flush, our guides to the best mountain bikes under £3,000 and the best trail bikes should do the trick.

Lastly, for a more overall guide, check out our guide on how to choose the right mountain bike for you.