The halfway point between £500 and £1,000 is a very competitive price bracket if you’re looking to buy a mountain bike. This buyer’s guide is our round-up of the best mountain bikes currently available between £500 and £750, as tested by BikeRadar.
Budget is prioritised above all else when you’re sticking below £500, while breaking the £1,000 mark gives manufacturers a little more wiggle room to tailor frames to specific purposes and spec higher-quality components.
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At £750, you’re caught between managing your budget and keeping your expectations realistic. You’ll be coming across some nicer kit on the bikes in this price range, but there may be only one or two standout components among a spec list that’s predominantly made up of basic parts.
Don’t worry too much about compromising though, because the manufacturers realise this is a price point that’s largely governed by budget.
As such, they tend to focus their attention on producing a decent frame and pick components that will keep the costs down, on the assumption that you’ll gradually upgrade them as they wear out over time.
The Vitus Nucleus 29 VR is a fantastic bike for the money. Russell Burton
The trick, therefore, is to seek out a bike with the frame that’s best for you and use that as a platform on which to build.
It’s easy to get fixated on finding the best fork, gears, brakes or wheel and tyre combination, but you also need to consider the sort of abuse the weather and landscape can inflict on them in a relatively short space of time – especially during winter.
So, if you’re limited to £750, prioritise the chassis over the fancy baubles hanging off it. With that in mind, these are the best mountain bikes under £750.
Best mountain bikes under £750, as rated by our expert testers
Vitus Nucleus 29 VR (2020): £549.99
Marin Bobcat Trail 3: £525
Pinnacle Kapur 3: £625
Vitus Nucleus 29 VR (2020)
The Nucleus 29 is trail-ready straight out of the box and wants for nothing. Russell Burton
Decked out with top-performing kit, the Vitus Nucleus 29 is ready to tackle the trails straight out of the box – which is exactly how you’ll receive it because Vitus is a direct-to-consumer brand owned by Chain Reaction Cycles.
This does mean that there’s no local bike shop after-sales support, which could be a consideration for you.
The frame’s specced with good geometry, featuring a 450mm reach and 67-degree head angle (for the size large) and the kit bolted to the chassis is mostly branded, featuring Suntour forks, WTB rims and tyres, and a Shimano 2×9 drivetrain.
During testing, the Vitus really shined on the descents, taking rough trails in its stride. This was thanks to the soft compound tyres and voluminous sidewalls that didn’t fold or roll on the rims even when pushed hard through turns. The fork impressed too, offering plenty of control.
Marin Bobcat Trail 3
Tektro’s M25 brakes have a powerful feel, with reasonable modulation. Russell Burton
Marin’s Bobcat Trail 3 is a seriously fun-to-ride bike, and thanks to its decent geometry and size-specific wheels it can handle a real range of trails.
On the large and extra-large bikes you get 29in wheels, while medium frames have the option of either 25.7in or 29in wheels. The smallest sizes are specced with 27.5in wheels only.
The tan wall tyres really stand out, complementing the overall look of the bike. The rest of the kit is fairly standard for the bike’s price point and although it performs well, isn’t exceptional.
Overall, the Bobcat Trail 3’s spec and geometry make the bike well-suited to long days in the saddle with a focus on miles covered rather than metres descended on aggressive trails. A few key spec changes – such as the fork and tyres – would unlock more potential from the frame.
Pinnacle Kapur 3
With its trail-friendly geometry, RockShox fork and Shimano brakes, the Kapur certainly looks the part. Steve Behr
Decked out with a RockShox fork, Shimano brakes and solid trail-focused geometry, the Kapur 3 would be a great first mountain bike because it’s an absolute hoot to ride.
Although the frame’s quite basic – think no internally-routed cables, no port for a dropper post or fancy-shaped tubes – it does have two bottle cage mounts and great geometry for newbies to the sport.
Its spec really stands out, though. With a RockShox Recon RL fork and Shimano brakes and gears, it’s unlikely you’ll be looking to upgrade parts right away.
This all translates to a fun ride with a nimble feel. However, the tyres aren’t mind-blowing and don’t grip amazingly well in soft terrain.