Getting into mountain biking can be an exhilarating journey, but a pricey one at the same time. Whether you’re a beginner in mountain biking or an experienced rider, it’s important to invest in a good bike because it will ultimately hold up longer and handle better on the trails. But just because it’s important to buy a good mountain bike doesn’t mean it has to empty your wallet either. That’s why these mountain bikes, all under $1,000 are affordable bikes worth springing for. You’ll be thankful for their quality and build when you’re ascending or flying down the backside of a trail.
REI’s Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 Bike is a solid trail mountain bike to start out with and is very competitively priced. The aluminum frame is lightweight yet durable, and all of its components are high-quality. The tires are on the smaller side at 27.5 inches and there are 21 gears you can shift between to make ascents easier. The SR Suntour front suspension system also gives you plenty of space — 100 mm — for impact so your ride is always smooth. The only drawback is that some assembly is required upon receiving the bike if you opt to have it shipped.
The 2021 Cannondale Trail 8 Bike is also available from REI at a similar price point. With many similar advantages such as an aluminum frame and similar tire sizes, though larger sizes of the bike feature 29-inch tires, this Cannondale bike is quite competitive with the REI Co-op bike. Many of the components come from the same vendors and offer a great bike build. The only ways in which the REI Co-op bike wins out over the Cannondale bike is that the Cannondale has slimmer tires that are less suited to gravel, and less travel space in the suspension system. The fork has just 75mm compared to the Co-op bike’s 100mm. So if you take major drops, the ride might not be as smooth. However, if you’re set on a Cannondale bike, this ride will overall be quite similar to REI’s DRT 1.1 bike.
The Giant 2021 ATX mountain bike is ideal for those who just want to dip their toe in the off-road waters. The mountain bike-style ride is equipped with an aluminum frame and 26-inch to 27.5-inch tires depending on the bike size. This bike is great as a commuter though its suspension fork allows you to try light off-road rides on gravel, dirt paths, or easy trails. Integrated mounts for racks and fenders mean you can customize this bike to suit your needs as long as you don’t plan to hit harder trails.
The Giant Talon 29 2 bike is a fast-moving bike that is perfect for cross-country. Newbies to singletrack love this bike because it handles incredibly well and can manage the toughest conditions. Made with a lightweight aluminum frame and Shimano shifters and derailleurs, the Talon 29 2 also features hydraulic disc brakes and an 11×36 Shimano cassette. The suspension fork also has 100 mm of travel too so the ride will be smooth no matter the drops. Ride confidently and fast, especially if you are looking to level up your off-road cycling.
As the almost identical name might suggest, the Giant 2021 model of the Talon 1 is quite similar to the Talon 29 2 with some exceptions as well. The Talon 1 features the same frame and components but has the option to be outfitted with 27.5-inch tires. That means the feel of the ride will be a little different and a little more fun for riders with more experience. This bike is also suited to handle both cross-country terrain like the Talon 29 2 but also has the capability to tackle light trails, too. Another expanded option is the suspension fork which can include 80 to 100mm of travel for a smooth and comfortable ride.
The Giant STP 26 SS is a great mountain bike for catching some air be it on pavement or dirt. The lightweight aluminum frame is durable and handles well thanks to the 26-inch wheels that are incredibly responsive. With a top-notch suspension fork and 14t cassette, you can ride confidently anywhere you go.
The Trek Marlin 5 is an exceptional value because it’s a bike that can do it all. This bike is perfect for anyone who wants a versatile ride that can also handle some mountain biking. The Trek Marlin 5 is built with an aluminum frame, a suspension fork for a smooth ride and a 2×8 drivetrain. Though it can handle the trails, the Marlin 5 also comes with a kickstand mount and a rack mount so you can use it as a commuter that can handle a load, too. At the price point, this is a hard entry-level bike to pass by.
The Trek 2022 Marlin 6 mountain bike has the upgrades you need to take on the trails more seriously — even if you are still using it to commute. The Marlin 6 has thicker rims, upgraded disc brakes and a couple of more gears thanks to the 11×46 cassette. That means you’ll be able to tackle climbs with more ease and fly down the descents. The suspension fork will keep things smooth, too, even if it’s just taking groceries home thanks to the kickstand and rack mounts.
The final Trek Marlin mountain bike in the lineup of picks is the 2021 model 7 which is a pricier choice, but perfect for more advanced mountain bikers. It is also a powerful bike for those who are still learning the ropes though, too. The Marlin 7 is designed to keep up with high-end racing bikes thanks to additionally upgraded components and a RockShox suspension fork. The wide range of gears will enable you to keep up whether you’re hitting big trails or major cross-country rides or races. If on the off-chance you just can’t let go of this bike to swap to a commuter, it’s also outfitted with a rear rack so you can take it anywhere you go.
The Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29 has everything you want in a dream mountain bike and nothing you don’t. From the premium A1 Aluminum frame to the SR SunTour XCM fork, this is a bike built for screaming down singletrack. Outfitted with Shimano hydraulic brakes and a MicroSHIFT 1×9 drivetrain, this bike will handle beautifully and give you everything you need to conquer ascents while confidently riding steep descents.
If you’re unfamiliar with or have never ridden a BMC bike, it’s definitely time you try it out. The Swiss brand makes exceptional bikes that are incredibly lightweight thanks to the aluminum frame outfitted with high-quality components. Besides, no one knows mountain biking better than the tiny country consumed by the Alps. The Blast 27 is no different and is complete with race-ready tires so you can hit the trails right away. The 1×10 drivetrain gives you all the gears you need while keeping things streamlined and simple. The suspension fork and flat handlebar will keep you comfortable for miles.
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