If you are looking to spend a grand and a half on a brand spanking new mountain bike, we check out just what you get for your money. As a rule of thumb, in the £1,500 and under category we reckon you might better off buy a better-specced hardtail rather than a cheaper full suspension bike but, of course, there are some notable exceptions to the rule and we list them here. Read on for the best mountain bikes you can buy for under £1,500.
(Updated 20th November 2018)
Rose Count Solo 3
If you want a light and fast hardtail for getting into mountain biking that can handle everything from just riding to cross-country racing, and don’t want to spend an absolute fortune, the Rose Count Solo 3 is a very appealing choice. It’s also, in our opinion, a very good looking bike with a cracking paint job. The Rose Count Solo delivers a very impressive performance for the price but it’s not exactly very progressive when it comes to geometry. If you’re in the market for a hardtail for cross-country and gravel riding and not railing descents, there’s a lot to like. If you want more aggro there are more suitable choices. If you are feeling flush, the Count Solo 4 (£1,269.69) gets an upgraded Shimano XT groupset, and propping up the range is the cheapest Count Solo (£725.15) with Shimano Deore, all using the same underlying frame and key features.
Canyon Grand Canyon AL SL 7.0
The Canyon Grand Cayon range has been updated for 2018 and we have just reviewed the Grand Canyon AL SL 7.0. It's a cross-country racer with winning intentions that will be easier on your wallet than its competitors and can provide you with just as much speed. If you are set on pushing your limits on the cross country course then the Grand Canyon will be a good partner. It’s not radically different from other XC bikes on the market and it doesn’t break the mould in terms of geometry, but with the help of the 110mm fork on the Grand Canyon, its slacker than other XC hardtails which I think can only be a good thing and with the release of the Canyon Lux it appears the brand is thinking in terms of more progressive geometry. As ever with Canyon, though, the spec list and price is the thing that will make it stand out from the crowd.
Trek Roscoe 9
We reviewed the Trek Roscoe 9 a couple of months ago and thought Trek had hit the mark with a quality frame, balanced handling and a well thought out spec, plus a fun and lively ride. The Roscoe 9 marries an aluminium frame with trail riding orientated geometry to chubby 2.8" Plus tyres on 27.5" rims. While it doesn't jam in as much value as direct sales rivals, it more than makes up for that with a fun, refined ride and coherent kit list. There are three versions of the unisex Roscoe available ranging from £800 to £1,200, there are also two women's models available and a couple for the kids too.
Genesis Core 30
Genesis' top-tier Core 30 trail hardtail showed some real potential and got our tester excited to push its limits, with progressive geometry and a stiff but not cumbersome frame that eggs the rider on. The Core hardtail range is Genesis’ recreational trail offering, with 120mm of travel up front paired with straightforward aluminium frames. A quick glance at the geometry chart is encouraging too, the head angle is a pleasingly slack (for this type of bike), its 68º meaning descents are confidence inspiring and tight corners aren’t as intimidating. The 73º seat angle is slightly on the slack side but its comparable to other mainstream hardtails. The sub-optimal spec for the money can’t be overlooked, however. You can also buy the Genesis Core 20 for £849.
Marin Hawk Hill
The 120mm full suspension Marin Hawk Hill model's start at a low price of £1,350 for the Hawk Hill 1. The bottom of the range bike gets a RockShox Recon RL fork, an X-Fusion O2 Pro R, Shimano Deore kit (1x10 spd) and Marin 29mm wide rims shod with Schwalbe tyres. We have just received one of these Hawk Hill's for test - we've got the £2,100 Hawk Hill 3 which is the range-topping model in the lineup. Marin's more affordable full suspension range has seen something of a renaissance in recent years, with the Hawk Hill at the forefront of that. Our 2019 Hawk Hill 3 from first impressions is looking good - and not just because we like a subtle fade paint job. Take a gander at the 'first look' here.
Trek Stache 5
The Trek Stache is a pretty unique mountain bike, pairing 29er x 3" tyres with front suspension and trail bike esque geometry. This one costs just £1300 for an alloy frame with 120m Manitou Machete 32 Comp forks, a 1x Shimano Deore drivetrain and Shimano M315 brakes. You can also spend a lot more and get a carbon version or, if you like things fully rigid, you can take a look a the very similar 1120. It looks like Trek are low on stock on the Stache at the moment though......
Canyon Grand Canyon AL SL 7.0
We took a look at the much cheaper Grand Canyon AL 3.9 last year and thought it was "Great value entry level bike for those that want a classic cross-country machine". The more expensive AL SL 7.0 looks to follow in these footsteps, for your £1,200 you get the same geometry as the cheaper (and more expensive) bikes, with Rockshox Reba RL forks, a 2x Shimano SLX drivetrain, Shimano M500 brakes and Mavic wheels. Like the cheaper bike we tested, the remit of this bike appears to start and end in cross country riding but if that's the kind of thing you are after, this bike looks to be great value. As ever with Canyon there are plenty of options in the model range for you to choose from.
Calibre Bikes Bossnut V2
This is a photo of the women's Calibre Bossnut V2
but, no matter, as both the men's and the women's versions are identical aside from the paint job, grips, saddle and a lighter shock tune on the women's bike. Specwise the two get a Shimano Deore 2 x 10 speed drivetrain with a SunRace cassette and Shimano Deore hydraulic disc brakes with 180mm/160mm rotors. The wheels are comprised of WTB i25 rims and Formula hubs, shod with WTB tyres; a nice and grippy 2.3" Vigilante at the front and a faster rolling 2.2" Bee Line at the rear. There is a 15mm bolt thru axle up front and a QR at rear plus Ritchey bars, Calibre stem and FSA headset. The list price is £1,300 but you can buy this for £900 with a Go Outdoors discount card. We've got a ladies Bossnut V2 and a men's Bossnut Evo in for test so will keep you updated with the results soon!
The Whyte 629 looks to be a great little trail 29er hardtail! The head angle is pretty relaxed at 66.5 degrees and the seat angle is steep enough too (76.5 degrees on a medium), figures that mean this bike should be a more than capable descender and climber. Elsewhere there is a 1x SRAM NX drivetrain and Rockshox Recon forks but unfortunately no dropper post. This bike costs £1,150 and there's a cheaper version too - the lower spec 529 is available with the same geometry for £950.
Vitus Sentier VRS+
We included the Vitus Sentier 29 VR in our 'best bikes for under £1000' roundup and now its time for the Sentier VRS+ to take centre stage. This bike is the 27.5" version, designed to be used with a 140mm fork and is specced with 2.6" tyres (you can fit up to 2.8" tyres on 30mm internal diameter rims). The Sentier VRS+ is pretty slack with a 66 degree head angle but the reach and wheelbase figures are shorter than the Whyte 629, and the effective seat angle is slacker too. With the Vitus, though you get Reba forks rather than the Recon's fitted the Whyte 629, a full SLX drivetrain, gripper Maxxis rubber and crucially a dropper post.....
The 2019 bikes are now in stock and we took a 'first look' at the VR 29 and the VRS here. We are just about to review the 27.5" VRS so keep an eye out for that soon.
Cube Reaction C:62
The Cube Range of bikes can seem wide-ranging and, if we are honest, a little confusing. The Reaction C:62 is a bike that err's more on the cross country side of things and is available in a fair few spec levels too. If you think the 'Reaction' name sounds familiar there is also the Reaction TM line of bikes which are 650B and have longer travel (130mm compared to 100mm), designed for use as a trail bike rather than an XC race weapon, we just reviewed one of those and you can read that here. The Reaction C:62 is a carbon framed 29er that in this spec features Rockshox Recon Silver forks, a Shimano SLX drivetrain, Shimano BR-M315 brakes, all for £1,400.
Nukeproof Scout 275 and 290 Race
The Nukeproof Scout comes in 27.5 and 29er wheel sizes both with identical build kits. The 'Race' version is the middle of the range model, coming in at £1,099. It's an alloy frame fitted out with 140mm Rockshox Recon RL forks, SRAM NX drivetrain and Shimano Deore M6000 brakes making for a package not too dissimilar to the Whyte 629. The 29er Nukeproof has a slacker head angle though at 65 degrees, a slacker effective seat tube angle and a shorter reach than the Whtye but with a longer wheelbase. The 27.5" bike has pretty similar geometry to its 29er brother too and you can get the smaller wheeled bike in a size small too.
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