The best mountain bikes under £2,000 / $2,500 in 2022 | Top-rated hardtail and full-suspension MTBs

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

Male cyclist in black and gold top riding the Kona Kahuna hardtail 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 2022.

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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.

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 bike should do the trick.

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

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
The Boardman MTR 8.9 has the same geometry as the MTR 9.0.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £1,750 as tested
  • Accelerates quickly and holds speed
  • Supportive suspension
  • 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 Stoic 4

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Canyon Stoic 4 has a modern geometry that provides plenty of control on descents.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £1,639 / $1,799 / AU$2,649 / €1,699 as tested
  • Gravity-capable all-rounder
  • Well considered spec
  • Modern geometry

Canyon says the Stoic 4 is “the best Enduro hardtail”, and it is true that the bike can fly down descents like a full-suspension bike – as long as things don’t get too rough – while retaining that hardtail simplicity.

It achieves this thanks to a solid rear end that can gain speed from every rise and fall in the trail as well as the modern, slack geometry.

The long wheelbase helps spit you out of turns perfectly and you can maintain control over rocks and roots. The dropper post also opens up plenty of room for you to move around.

This aluminium bike might be aimed at descending, but it won’t make getting to the top of a trail a drag because it ascends surprisingly fast considering its burly 14.86kg weight and gnarly tyres.

With a 140mm travel RockShox fork and SRAM groupset, the Stoic has a great spec for the price, although there are also two less costly versions of the Stoic in Canyon’s lineup, starting from £799.

Kona Kahuna

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Kona Kahuna offers a superb ride.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media
  • £1,199 / $1,499 as tested
  • Balanced, intuitive ride
  • Excellent drivetrain and brakes
  • More traditional geometry

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
Merida has chosen some top-performing parts for its spec.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £1,350 / AU$1,849 as tested
  • Impressive going downhill and calm handling
  • Balance of Merida parts and branded parts
  • Make sure you pick the right size

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.

Vitus Mythique 29 VRS

4.5 out of 5 star rating
A Horst-link pivot on the chainstay allows better tuning of how the rear brake influences the suspension action.
Mick Kirkman / Immediate Media
  • £1,450 / $1,800 / AU$2,500 / €1,700 as tested
  • Great, grippy Schwalbe rubber
  • SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain impressed
  • Some geometry updates would be nice to see

If you’ve got your heart set on Vitus’s Mythique, it’s well worth spending the extra cash to upgrade to the VRS model from the VR, which we also reviewed.

It’s decked out in impressive kit, headlined by Schwalbe’s ADDIX Soft compound Magic Mary and Hans Dampf combination. Complementing the tyres is SRAM’s 12-speed SX Eagle drivetrain and Shimano’s top-performing MT-401 brakes.

While we thought the X-Fusion Sweep RC fork could have performed better, it was a marked improvement over the RC32 fitted to the VR version.

YT Jeffsy Base 29

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Jeffsy’s a good looking bike with burly intentions.
Alex Evans
  • £1,999 / $2,299 / €2,299 as tested
  • Impressive downhill demeanour and exceptionally fun to ride
  • East to get the suspension dialled
  • Great performance for the price
  • Some upgrades would drastically improve it

YT’s bikes always strike a great balance between performance and cost, and the Jeffsy’s no exception.

With a RockShox Yari RC fork and Deluxe rear shock, its 150mm of travel tackles tricky terrain with impressive competence.

That confidence is backed up by Maxxis Minion DHF and DHRII tyres that are impressively grippy.

We did struggle to get the gear and dropper levers set up in the correct position, and if we are being really picky, it needs to go on a bit of diet to help improve its climbing performance.

Boardman MTR 9.0

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Boardman’s MTR 9.0 is a confident descender.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £2,000 as tested
  • Shimano SLX drivetrain and brakes
  • Full suspension with RockShox fork and rear shock
  • Rides with confidence and one to consider for gravity riding

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
The Zaskar offers a modern ride with a similar silhouette to its 1990s equivalent.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media
  • £1,350 / $1,700 as tested
  • Suntour Zeron fork works well
  • Good tyre grip
  • Noisy

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.

Marin Rift Zone 29 1

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Rift Zone is a highly capable trail bike.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £1,655 / $1,899 / AU$2,499 / €1,899  as tested
  • Highly capable on descents
  • Great suspension and mix of drivetrain components
  • Could do with some immediate upgrades

The Rift Zone 29 sits on the trail bike end of Marin’s full-suspension range, but its progressive geometry makes it highly capable on descents and more akin to an enduro bike.

The stable riding position makes it possible to attack trails and the bike comes alive at higher speeds. Its downhill performance is helped by the supple front fork, although it can feel noodly on gnarlier trails.

The lack of a dropper post holds the bike back when descending and would be an upgrade worth making.

When it comes to climbing, the bike feels controlled and comfortable but its upright position won’t suit riders looking to race up climbs.

The Vee Tire tyres need instantly upgrading in the eyes of our reviewer. But make this change and add a dropper post and you’ll have a truly great descender.

Radon Cragger 8.0

4.0 out of 5 star rating
For the price, the Cragger’s spec isn’t far off perfect. The DVO Sapphire fork is a boutique offering with 130mm of travel and plenty of adjustment.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £1,847 / €1,950 as tested
  • Fast uphill and downhill
  • Excellent spec throughout
  • Long seat tube reduces the standover height

Radon’s direct-to-consumer model has enabled it to spec the Cragger with components that exceed the bike’s price, including the 12x SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain.

The Cragger has relatively progressive geometry and is a charging descender. It’s not the smoothest downhill, but it’s capable and confident with the 29in wheels rolling quickly over harsh terrain and the DVO Sapphire front fork doing a fantastic job.

The long top and seat tubes give the bike a stretched-out feel that’s great for hard efforts uphill but doesn’t lend itself to more genteel climbing.

The slender aluminium tubing and smoothed welds give the impression the Cragger might be carbon fibre, and cables can be routed internally for maximum neatness.

Saracen Zenith Elite LSL

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Saracen Zenith Elite LSL could do with a few upgrades, but then it would be among the best.
Max Wilman
  • £1,750/ $2,296 / AU$3,350 as tested
  • Good on rough terrain
  • Climbs well
  • Low centre of gravity
  • RockShox front fork

The Saracen Zenith Elite LSL is well suited to any rider looking for a hardtail for easy trail smashing and some more demanding and gnarlier days on rougher terrain.

The bike might feel large, thanks to its 29in wheels and long geometry, but this lends itself to riding through harsh chunder and makes up for not having rear suspension.

Some of the kit is fairly budget, but overall the Zenith punches above its weight and a few tweaks, such as swapping out Saracen’s own-brand finishing kit, would put this bike up there as one of the best hardtails.

Sonder Signal ST NX

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Signal presents a subtle yet purposeful profile.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £1,599/ $2,297 / AU$2,914 / €1,799 as tested
  • Great geometry
  • Short travel dropper
  • SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain
  • Small 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.

Specialized Fuse 27.5 (2021)

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Although it’s supplied with 27.5in plus tyres, the Fuse 27.5 is compatible with 29in wheels and tyres, too.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £1,149/ $1,500 / AU$2,000 as tested
  • Comfortable contact points
  • Impressive RockShox fork
  • Low front end limits descending capability
  • Comes with 27.5in wheels but can be used with 29in

The Specialized Fuse 27.5 combines plus-size tyres, a 1 x11 drivetrain, a dropper post and an aluminium frame with modern geometry.

The generous top tube length gives the Fuse a comfy seated climbing position and the oversize tyres provide plenty of grip. Out of the saddle on steep inclines, the low front end makes climbing difficult, but the large range of gears does compensate for this.

The low front also impacts descending, pitching your weight forward on steeper sections and making it harder to balance. On the other hand, the Fuse feels particularly calm on flowing bike park descents.

The dropper post does help with descending, as does the supple RockShox fork.

Different wheel sizes suit different styles of riding, and on the Fuse you can switch the 27.5in wheels out for larger 29er wheels, which might make sense because this bike is most at home cruising on less technical trails.

Vitus Mythique 29 VRX

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Vitus Mythique 29 VRX has an impressive spec.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £1,800 / $2,200 / AU$3,300 / €2,550 as tested
  • Excellent components
  • Well balanced on most trails
  • Geometry means a compromised ride up and down hill

The Vitus Mythique 29 VRX is a good all-rounder elevated by an impressive spec. It features a mix of Shimano 12-speed Deore components, an air-sprung Marzocchi Bomber Z2 front fork and a RockShox Monarch R shock with 140mm of travel.

Downhill, the suspension provides plenty of support with loads of pop. The bike responds well to quick changes in direction and is a blast to ride as result. It isn’t quite as stable as others on high-speed straights. A longer reach and slacker head angle would help counteract this.

The Mythique’s ride uphill could be improved by adjustments to the geometry, too. The kink in the seat tube means the higher the saddle, the slacker the seat-tube angle. The seated pedalling position is further back than some other bikes and this makes climbing steep climbs tricky.

Despite these setbacks, the bike strikes an impressive balance between weight, stiffness and comfort. It’s a great package for anyone looking to ride around trail centres.

Vitus Sentier 29 VRX

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Sentier is built from double-butted 6061-T6 aluminium tubes with smooth lines and a sophisticated paint job.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £1,600 / $2,000 / AU$3,000 / €1,800 as tested
  • XC-orientated hardtail
  • Fluid descender
  • Top-spec parts for the price

Vitus is owned by retail giants, Chain Reaction Cycles/Wiggle, and thanks to its massive buying power, the Sentier is kitted out with some top-end components.

The aluminium frame is covered in Shimano XT and SLX parts that work faultlessly. Up front there is a Fox Rhythm 34 fork and the 29in wheels are WTB rims on Vitus hubs that come set up tubeless.

The relatively short top tube gives the Sentier a comfortable climbing position and over rougher terrain it works well to smooth out bumps.

Occasionally, sharp edges kicked the rear wheel up but this compliance doesn’t translate to a feeling of vagueness when hurtling along.

On descents, the Sentier is forgiving but a longer reach and a slacker head angle would bring some extra stability and help with steeper drops.

Overall, the geometry could be tweaked but the ride and the bargain price make it hard to fault this bike.


Also consider…

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

Ragley Piglet

3.5 out of 5 star rating
The Piglet is a do-it-all trail bike that’s happy over most terrain. This latest iteration has some important updates including more modern geometry.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Trek Roscoe 7

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

Vitus Mythique VR

3.5 out of 5 star rating
The budget Vitus Mythique VR is an impressive bike for the price.
Steve Behr

Norco Fluid FS 3

3.0 out of 5 star rating
At the rear, you get a ‘proper’ four-bar linkage with a chainstay pivot.
Mick KIrkman / Immediate Media
  • £1,395 / $1,799 / AU$2,299 / €1,799 as tested
  • A well-proportioned frame
  • Suspension that resists pedal bob
  • Impressive SRAM Eagle drivetrain
  • Could do with a fork upgrade and feels a bit sluggish to get up to speed
  • Read the full Norco Fluid FS 3 trail bike review

Sonder Frontier NX Eagle

3.0 out of 5 star rating
The Sonder Frontier is well-suited to expeditions.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media

Canyon Spectral AL 5.0

This is a first ride review and is currently un-scored.

The ‘bike in a box’ approach is easy to get behind when the kit’s this good.
Russell Burton
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