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Five Best Mountain Bikes Under $1000 | 2015 Top Picks

Updated on February 2, 2015
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Finding a Good Mountain Bike for Below $1000 | My 5 Reviews

Riding a mountain bike is a great activity for a number of reasons. It's fun, fast, and a great exercise. These bikes can be suitable for commuting, trail-riding, recreation or as part of a hike or greater trip. With bicycles, like most things in life, you get what you pay for, and finding a good mountain bike under $1000 can be a challenge sometimes. There are a lot of competing brands and options to choose from in that price point, so it can get a little confusing. Do yourself a favor and research well before putting some money down.

This article is all about finding the best mountain bikes for under $1000, and how to find one that suits your particular needs. I'll be looking at five of the best bikes in that price range, and making some recommendations about what features you might want to look for, and what you might want to avoid. Before I get to the specific reviews, I will give a brief description of what features you should expect to get for that kind of money.

Let's get started!

What to Expect on a Mountain Bike Below $1000

Features you should expect to find

If you're anxious to read some reviews, feel free to skip past this section to get to the bikes

  1. If you're looking at bikes with a price range of between $500 and $1000, you should be getting a pretty good ride for your money, and as such you should expect decent components and a manageable weight. Most mountain bikes in this price range will have aluminum frames (oversized tubing for strength and looks), but it's not unheard of to see a chromoly frame in this category either. Exotic frame materials like carbon fibre or titanium are too pricey for this range, so don't expect that.
  2. Mountain bikes for less than $1000 sometimes have adjustable front shocks. This means that you can specify the amount of travel they will offer, so you can adjust the ride quality depending on how and where you're riding. This is a really nice feature to have if you tend to have a mixed riding experience, and it's usually only found on more expensive rides.
  3. Typical drivetrain components will be a matched set, sometimes SRAM or Shimano. Brakes will either be mechanical (pulled with a wire) or hydraulic, depending on the particular brand (hydraulic brakes are typically more expensive and require a bit more maintenance to keep them running well). Both will stop you pretty well, though the advantage definitely goes to hydraulic. The brakes themselves will usually be disc brakes, though don't be surprised if you see a good set of linear pull in this range (their stopping power is pretty decent).
  4. Some of the best mountain bikes under $1000 will include extra features such as 29er wheels, hardtail and / or dual suspension, and light, double walled aluminum wheels. They're not a requirement, and it definitely depends on your riding style whether these extras will work for you. Just because it comes with tons of bells and whistles doesn't mean you'll need or use them.

Diamondback Recoil: A great 29'er mountain bike for well under $1000

The Diamondback Recoil is a fantastic ride in its own right, and the fact that this one adds 29 inch wheels to the mix is just icing on the cake. The bigger wheels mean that it's better for off-road riding, and it has greater clearance and is a bit easier to roll over tough terrain. You'll definitely notice the difference over a 26 inch wheeled comparison. The double-walled Weinmann rims are really strong, and it carries the same Tektro Novella disc brakes that make the Recoil stop very well.

The frame on this bike is 6061 aluminum with huge oversized tubing. It's pretty light overall, and the front fork offers 100mm of travel. It includes a rear Tuff Shock too. The shifters are Shimano with rapidfire downshifting, a great features for trails riding. I'd describe it as a great all-around ride for most circumstances, not overly specialized in any particular way. Definitely my top choice for a mountain bike below $1000.

BAMF Sucker Punch 29er Mountain Bike , Black, 18"
BAMF Sucker Punch 29er Mountain Bike , Black, 18"

Avid Elixer hydraulic brakes, 29er wheels, SRAM shifters and derailleurs.

 

BAMF Sucker Punch: A good mountain bike under $1000 with hydraulic brakes

A super fun mountain bike with hydraulic brakes

If you're wanting your money to go the farthest, consider looking for something in the upper range of this price limit. This is a great example. BAMF brand bikes tend to be very expensive and well made. This excellent mountain bike is under $1000, reviews well, and it has some awesome stuff. It's built with trail geometry, and the combination of the Rockshox front fork with 80mm of travel, the rugged 29 inch wheels, and the hardtail construction make it a dynamic and versatile ride.

This bike also comes with Avid hydraulic brakes, meaning it will stop on a dime and give you a lot more stopping power overall. The brakes themselves are Tektro and feature 160mm rotors. The SRAM X.7 9 speed shifters work very well and give a wide range of gearing options. With sealed cartridge bottom bracket and hubs, everything about this bike is refined and ready to roll.

It's right at the edge of the budget, but this is probably the best mountain bike under $1000 in this range.

Diamondback Overdrive: A hardtail mountain bike below $1000, great reviews

A front suspension mountain bicycle with hydraulic brakes, very affordable

I've always been impressed with Diamondback, and this bike is no exception. With a butted 6061 aluminum alloy frame, high quality SL-7 double-walled rims, and hydraulic disc brakes with fantastic stopping power, it's a solid platform for all-around riding and trails.

One of the nicest features this bike boasts is a front fork with 100mm of travel. Coupled with those 29 inch wheels, you can ride over just about anything with this rig. It comes with Shimano M395 hydraulic disc brakes for extra stopping power. This bike is loaded up with quality components and it's a great starter frame to built upon.

It's a top quality mountain bike that's below the $1000 limit, and I recommend taking a hard look at it.

K2 Zed: A good, highly affordable hardtail mountain bike

K2 is a less well-known brand because it doesn't have great distribution in North America just yet. I'd place them on par with massive brands like Trek or Giant. K2 produces a good series of bikes for a great price point.

The K2 Zed is an awesome mountain bike for far less than $1000 that has some nice brand name features. The Hayes mechanical pull disc brakes stop pretty well (and the huge 6 inch rotors give the calipers a lot of surface to clamp against), the Rock Shox Dart front fork has a good amount of travel at around 100mm, and the aluminum frame is nice and light.

It's not a full suspension frame, but that shouldn't be considered a bad thing. Front suspension bikes are very stable and they're perfect if you tend to ride on pavement every now and then. In truth, I ride my hardtail bike far more often.

Montague Paratrooper 18in - Cammy Green - High Quality Folding Bicycle Frame
Montague Paratrooper 18in - Cammy Green - High Quality Folding Bicycle Frame

A full foldable full-sized mountain bike for under $1000.

 

Montague Paratrooper: A portable, folding mountain bike for well under $1000

A fantastic, Durable, Full-sized Mountain Bicycle... and it folds up!

I realize that this bike looks a bit different from the others featured here, but you should know it rides with the best of them. I want to highlight this excellent Montague folding mountain bicycle. For under $1000, it offers a solid, full-sized frame and great riding features along with a portability that none of the others listed here can match.

This bike, along with most of Montague's lineup, is unique because it offers all of the features of a full sized mountain bike while being foldable and very portable. This bike easily fits into the trunk of a car, a hall closet, or it can even be worn on your back (as the paratroopers do!). 24 speeds, mechanical disc brakes, and a patented CLIX system that makes it easy to fold in under 20 seconds, this bike is convenient, portable and attractive, and there are no real quality compromises that I can see.

Recommendations and Things To Avoid:

Suggestions for your mountain bike search

Here are a few suggestions to help you weed out the many mountain bike brands under $1000.

  • A dual suspension system is nice, but not always necessary. Some pretty good mountain bikes are hardtails (no suspension in the rear). You'll realistically notice very little difference between the two at this cost range, so it's not really worth fretting over. I've listed a few decent hardtail mountain bikes under $1000 n this article, and there are many more capable rides out there too.
  • Consider getting a 29er mountain bike. This means that the wheels are larger than normal for a bike at around 29 inches. The extra size gives you greater clearance, a higher top speed, and makes it easier to climb over bumps and rocks in the trail. They are increasingly popular, and they look great. Again, I have listed a few of my favorite 29er mountain bikes under $1000, so read on and check them out.

What do you think of mountain bikes in this price range?

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