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Great Bikes Under $2000

A beginner's guide for finding the best mountain bike for your buck

You don't have to spend big bucks to find a great mountain bike. This guide is dedicated to riders on a budget who want the best trail riding bang for their hard earned buck. Check out the page below where we've grouped the bikes in three price groups: $600, $1,000, and $2,000.  We'll also give an outline of the different types of riders who'd best fit each price point.

This guide is for you if:

  • You're looking to get into mountain biking for the very first time
  • You've already been bitten by the trail bug and you need a better bike
  • You're a seasoned rider who's looking for the best upgrade at the best price


What to Look For

  • Wheel size: Bikes with 26" wheels are usually the most affordable, but if you want to really enjoy yourself out on the trail, 27.5" and 29" wheels are much better suited to tough terrain

  • Drivetrain: You can only climb hills as easily as your gears will allow. A simple 3x drivetrain will likely do the job on mellow trails, but if you want to take on bigger terrain, you'll likely appreciate having a bigger rear cassette and a simpler 2x or 1x drivetrain.
     
  • Brakes: The hierarchy of brakes go from rim brakes to mechanical disc brakes to hydraulic disc brakes. Better brakes mean you can control your speed more easily and with less hand fatigue.

  • Frame material: An aluminum frame is the perfect place to start for beginners or those looking to save some money. But if your riding aspirations are high, you can't beat the lightweight performance of a carbon frame.

  • Suspension: Take a look at the fork on each bike you're considering. A higher quality fork with more travel will go a long way in making your bike easier to control as you ride tougher trails.

  • Additional features: There may be some other factors that help you decide that a bike is perfect for your intensions. Does it have mounts for a rear rack so you can use it as a commuter? Does it have a dropper post that will give you better maneuverability on the downhills? Little things can make a huge difference!

Best Mountain Bikes Around $600


Beginner mountain biker

Beginners

These bikes are for beginner riders who would like to dabble in off-road riding but aren't ready for a big financial commitment.

Beginners are usually looking for a bike they can enjoy on and off the trails, so comfort and versatility are key. These models are perfect for after work joy rides, weekend trail explorations, and weekday commutes on the bike path. 

Mountain bikes near this price point have quality components and will last a long time, but it's still important to understand the bike's limits. For the best performance, ride these bikes on pavement, city paths, gravel roads, ATV trails, and smooth single-track.  While tough enough to ride off-road, these are not designed for technical trail use or jumping.  

Trek 820 mountain bike

Trek 820 - $499.99

The Trek 820 is a great choice for riders who want the versatility of having a comfortable, casual neighborhood bike that's capable of dirt road and easy trail riding. The 820 positions the rider more upright than any other model on the list, and it'll serve as a great stepping stone to a more active lifestyle. It's a great bike for those who want to start riding more often.  Its chromoly steel frame is dependable but heavier than aluminum options.

Trek Marlin 4 - $629.99

The Marlin 4 kicks off the incredibly popular Trek Marlin lineup with a great value in a highly capable mountain bike. The Marlin 4 features really big improvements over the 820.  For starters, it drops over four pounds in weight!  The aluminum frame gets sleek upgrades like modern XC geometry and internal cable routing. You'll fall in love with the efficiency of bigger, faster-rolling wheels.  Cable-pull disc brakes add noticeable braking power.  If you're looking for an affordable quality mountain bike to break into the mountain biking scene, you can't go wrong with the Marlin 4.

Best Mountain Bikes Around $1000

Budget Bikers

$1000 can buy you a seriously fun trail bike.  While these bikes can't boast some of the bells and whistles of their higher-end cousins, they still have a ton to offer. You'll immediately appreciate upgrades like suspension lockouts and hydraulic disc brakes.  But one of the best improvements is the simple 1X drivetrain with a single front chainring paired with a mega-range cassette.  Shifting has never been simpler.

You'll fit into this group if:

  • You're a beginner who wants to invest in a better bike that'll keep up with you as your abilities improve over time
  • You already enjoy mountain biking and just need a little more capability to improve your skills and ride harder trails

Trek Marlin 6 - $849.99

Possibly the most revolutionary upgrade in mountain biking in the past decade has been the introduction of the 1X drivetrain.  Get rid of the front shifter and derailleur and drop two chainrings.  Loose weight.  Improve shifting.  Simplify. Less is definitely more with a Shimano Deore 1X group which comes stock on the Marlin 6.  Add an improved Suntour fork for better off-road control, and you have a very capable package.

Trek Marlin 7 - $1029.99

Marlin 7 moves you one step closer to trail riding bliss.  The RockShox Judy fork upgrade is an impressive step up over Suntour. Your upper body will thank you, and you'll find yourself staying out longer and pedaling farther than you used to. Tubeless-ready Bontrager Kovee wheels can be easily converted to run tubeless with a TLR tire upgrade.  You can only gain from less rotational weight, better traction, and fewer flats.  

Best Mountain Bikes Around $2000

Avid Trail Riders

You've got this.  You've been riding for a few years, and each year gets better than the last.  You're loving it, and you're ready for a bike that won't hold you back.  You need higher performing components like a 1X12 drivetrain, better brakes, more capable suspension, stronger but lighter wheels, and a frame that doesn't cramp your style.

These bikes are tougher, lighter, and feel more stable at higher speeds.  The suspension forks get big upgrades with air springs, hydraulic dampers, beefier stanchion tubes, and thru axles.  All of these upgrades make the bike a better choice for the rigors of single-track trail riding.  

Trek X-Caliber 8 - $1699.99

X-Caliber is a super fast mountain bike for singletrack.  It's fully capable of taking on races, marathons, and competitive pace-pushing group rides. It's built with special attention to value and the parts that make the biggest difference in performance.  It has the price of a more basic hardtail, but the parts and performance of a more expensive one.  Plus, the frame is fully compatible with higher-end upgrades, like race wheels and an internally-routed dropper post.

Trek Roscoe

Hardtail trail bikes are coming back!  The Roscoe has a longer wheelbase, slacker head tube, shorter rear end, and 140mm of capable suspension so you can absolutely rip.  

Roscoe is serious fun in the dirt. It's a real-deal technical trail clobbering machine.  29er wheels, grippy 2.6" tires, and a 140mm suspension fork make it a blast on every trail, from packed singletrack to the loose stuff. It's a laid-back trail mountain bike dressed in a high-quality spec that's ready to party.

Trek Procaliber 9.5 - $2449.99

NICA racers, take note:  The Trek Procaliber 9.5 is a race-ready, ultra fast cross country mountain bike that has all the features you could ask for in a model designed for top speed. The carbon frame, 1x12 Shimano drivetrain, and trail-smoothing IsoSpeed decoupler combine to give riders an astonishingly capable ride at a price point that can't be beat.