Ready to take your mountain biking to the next level? While the price of a quality mountain bike can increase quickly, sometimes getting into the five-figure range, affordable solutions that don’t skimp on handling, speed and fun are out there. To find the best mountain bikes under $2,000, it’s important to go into the buying process understanding what your primary needs in a bike are and the type of features you’re looking for.
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Trail riding is all about having fun. Trail bikes are designed to climb efficiently and descend with ease. The Marin Rift Zone 1 27.5″ Bike is a speed-oriented bike that is created for the rider looking for a playful ride that loves to catch a bit of air and always looking for an alternate line. It has a Series 3 6061 aluminum frame that has 120mm of travel on the rear and 130mm of travel on the front. The frame features Boost spacing, has ISCG05 tabs, and has internal cable routing.
The Rift Zone 1 comes with a Shimano Deore 11-speed drivetrain that includes a cassette that has a hill-crushing 11-51T gear range that makes climbing and riding in rough terrain a breeze. Shimano BR-MT200 hydraulic disc brakes provide excellent stopping power so you can descend under control. Marin aluminum double-wall rims are paired with Vee Tire Crown Gem tires that can be set up tubeless so you can ditch the tubes and drop the tire pressure for a smoother ride, better traction, and fewer flats.
- Series 3 6061 aluminum frame with MultiTrac Suspension, Boost spacing, and ISCG05 tabs
- Shimano Deore drivetrain performs well in demanding terrain
- Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes provide confidence-inspiring stopping power
- Tubeless-ready rims and tires for a smoother ride, better traction, and fewer flats
- Internal cable routing for a rattle-free and clean cable set up
Take on more trails with 27.5+ tires that give you full control to make quick choices at speed, while the Co-op Cycles DRT 2.2 bike’s X-Fusion Manic dropper seatpost lets you rip down hills with ease.
- 27.5+ tires provide lots of traction, improving handling and offering a smoother ride on even the roughest of terrain
- X-Fusion Manic dropper seatpost with remote and 125mm of travel delivers quick, smooth ups and downs so you’re ready to handle whatever the trail throws at you
- Front suspension features 120mm of travel on XS–S and 140mm on M–XL
- 1×12 SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain eliminates the front derailleur to enable swift, streamlined shifting and reduce overall weight
- SRAM NX Eagle clutch-style rear derailleur offers smooth pedaling and quiet, consistent shifting
- Wheels are ready for a tubeless tire setup
- Shimano hydraulic disc brakes deliver reliable stopping power on or off-road and in variable weather conditions
- Front and rear thru axles provide added rigidity
- Bicycle weight limit is 300 lbs. total, including rider + all gear carried on the bike and on the rider’s body
- Pedals not included; specs and images are subject to change
THE PLUS-SIZED TRAIL BIKE
Plus-sized mountain bikes are a great way to conquer the trails. With wider tires, you’ll have the sure-footed traction you need to ride anywhere. The Diamondback Catch 1 Bike is designed with Level Link Suspension, modern geometry, and wide, plus-sized tires. The hydroformed aluminum frame is lightweight and durable, uses 130mm of travel on the front and rear, and features ISCG-05 tabs and Boost spacing.
The Catch 1 comes with a SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. This includes a cassette that has a hill-crushing 11-50T gear range that makes climbing and pedaling through rough terrain a breeze. TRP Slate X2 hydraulic disc brakes provide confidence-inspiring stopping power so you can descend under control. Diamondback Blanchard 38R rims can be set up tubeless for a smoother ride, better traction, and fewer flats. With the KS EXA Form 900i Dropper, you’ll be able to quickly lift and lower your saddle with the press of a lever.
- Hydroformed aluminum frame with ISCG-05 tabs, Boost spacing, and wide tire clearance
- SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain provides crisp and reliable shifting
- TRP Slate X2 hydraulic disc brakes for reliable stopping power
- Tubeless-ready rims for a smoother ride, better traction, and fewer flats
- KS EXA Form 900i Dropper quickly lifts and lowers your saddle with the press of a lever
What will you be using the bike for?
Before you begin the search process, it’s important to take an honest assessment of what you’re looking to use your new bike for and what kind of terrain you’ll be dealing with. Will this bike be for peaceful rides along river trails? Or are you an adrenaline junkie angling for the next steep descent or piece of technical terrain? Is this bike just going to be tearing up the single track, or also a work commuter?
Equally important is knowing the weather and terrain of your local trails. A prairie area full of packed dirt will require a different kind of bike than a trail system in rocky woodlands. Additionally, if you live in a place with long, snowy winters, you may want to consider a bike with thicker tires that can compress snow, like a “fat” bike. For the most part, however, the biggest way that your bike use and environment will inform your selection is in the kind of suspension system you’ll want.
What kind of suspension system makes sense for you?
Mountain bikes are largely categorized by the kind of suspension system they use. A bike’s suspension is the system of shocks that allow it to handle the hard impacts and variability of the trail. Suspension improves the control you have on difficult terrain and provides greater control. The systems typically connect between the bike’s wheel and frame and allow the wheel to bounce up and down when impacted, mitigating the amount of force that goes into the bike’s frame allowing you to go faster by absorbing the bumps.
Mountain bikes can have suspension on both the front fork and rear shock, just the front fork, or neither. These categorizations are known as:
- Full suspension: These are the bikes with suspension shocks on both the front fork and rear shock. In the past, a full suspension bike would typically run you a hefty price tag. Today, thanks to advances in technology, a ready-for-anything used or new dual suspension mountain bike can be yours at a more affordable price point.
- Hardtail: Hardtail bikes have suspension on only the front fork. Front suspension can provide cushioning on descents, but overall more technical terrain may be a challenge or at least a bit uncomfortable. For many riders, however, hardtail mountain bikes offer a perfect middle point. They’re lighter, and typically more affordable, than full suspension bikes, yet have enough support to handle many trails, including doubletrack and fire roads. If you’re looking for a do-it-all bike that’s as comfortable handling potholes on city streets as downhills on dirt roads, a hardtail bike is probably for you. It’s a true goldilocks bike.
- Rigid: While not as commonly used, mountain bikes with no suspension, called rigid bikes, could be a good option for you. These bikes are best for smoother trails and pavement and depend on their tires for cushioning. As suspension technology has gotten cheaper, bringing once professional-grade mountain bikes down to a tenable price point, rigid bikes have become a rarer sight on the trail. However, if you don’t plan on taking your bike out on to any technical terrain and speed is an important factor for you, a rigid bike might still be the right choice.
Picking the right suspension option and knowing what kind of terrain you’ll be using your bike on are closely linked and important things to know before you start shopping. However, suspension isn’t the only factor worth taking into account. Frame material and tires can also impact the functionality and price of a bike. Typically, lighter frame materials like carbon fiber will cost more, while heavier ones like aluminum and steel will be found on cheaper models. Thicker tires are better for certain environments, like snowy or sandy conditions.
What price point are you looking at?
Finally, once you’ve determined what the right bike for you may look like, it’s time to go shopping and see if you can find a dream bike at a dream price point. In the $1,000 to $2,000 range you can expect to find bikes with top-of-the-line quality and all the basic features of a top mountain bike, even if it doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles of a more expensive model. This is around the price point you’ll want to look if you’re in the market for a full suspension mountain bike. However, if you’re willing to make sacrifices in areas like frame material, a far cheaper model may be out there. With some diligent shopping, the right used or new mountain bike under $2,000 is out there. Happy riding!