You don't need to spend thousands of pounds to get a good mountain bike ripe for razzing the trails, under 1k will get you a fairly decent hardtail and even a good full susser or two from some budget brands. Over the winter we have been testing a variety of bikes that all cost less than £1,000, here are the cream of the crop with these top bikes all being scored 3.5 stars or above.
[Updated 18th April 2019]
Calibre Two Cubed
The Calibre Two Cubed manages to pack in a sweet riding frame and cracking spec that really does belie the asking price, though to get it under £500 you'll need a Go Outdoors discount card for a mere fiver. There's very little complain about at this money, with a decent quality Shimano 27spd drivetrain and RockShox fork with 100mm of travel up front. Read the full review of the Calibre Two Cubed here.
The Voodoo Bizango is the totally sorted hardtail that’s ruled the roost for a few seasons at this price point. Over the years, Voodoo has added a smaller 16” size to fit shorter riders, lowered the top tube for more room to move and changed the aluminium frame’s blend for a smoother ride. One thing they’ve never done though is mess with the excellent value and impressive ride quality. The Bizango is a nimble, well-balanced package that’s not only fun, it rides and steers like a proper trail bike on flatter trails. With the basics nailed down, for a tad over £500 this Voodoo is simply a killer deal anyone can enjoy riding. Read the full review here.
Vitus Sentier 29 VR
If you’re after a do-it-all hardtail ready for rough and tumble riding, then the Vitus Sentier 29 VR hits the spot with a solid and well-thought-out spec for the cash and confidence inspiring handling paired to the big wheels. While the aluminium frame isn’t the most comfortable thing out there, budget for a dropper post and you'll have a superb ride. Read the full review here.
Whyte’s affordable 605 hardtail might not break the bank, but when it comes to on-trail performance it blows most rivals out of the water thanks to a frame sporting bang-up-to-date geometry and well-chosen components. All in all the Whyte 605 is hugely impressive for the money. Yes, you can buy bikes at this price point that come with much better bits bolted to them, the bendy coil sprung fork and lightly treaded tyres being the ones you might feel most keenly, the latter especially in the winter. However, if you’re looking at as the bike as a complete package then it’s bloody hard to beat. If you want a bike that’s going to allow you to push your riding onwards, boost your confidence both uphill and down and you aren’t fussed about what’s written on the components then the Whyte is a superb machine - and not just by the standards of ‘budget’ bikes. Read the full review here.
Saracen Mantra Trail
The Mantra is Saracen’s popular front suspension bike designed more for fun trail riding than any punishing training or cross country schedule. The Mantra Trail provides a good balance between getting about quickly and effectively, with enough calmness and composure for faster speeds or if you want to dip your toes into more technical off-piste terrain. The frame is solid and responsive without being too harsh and uncomfortable and the bike’s very easy to get along with from the outset for most kinds of riding. Upgrading to a dropper seatpost, grippier tyres and potentially fitting a slightly shorter stem would significantly broaden the Saracen’s remit if your focus is a bit more hardcore or downhill orientated too. Read the full review of the 2017 bike here
Marin Bobcat Trail 4
The Marin Bobcat Trail 4 is Marin's entry level hardtail offering. Entry level can often mean loud in looks but low in terms of geometry and riding said bike on anything other than a canal tow path. However, Marin has delivered something genuinely fit for purpose in the Bobcat. If you like the idea of commuting to work on fatter tyres, razzing along the toe path with the kids at the weekend or even entering your first cross-country race, the Bobcat is ready for you, and ready for shiny new bits when you wear the originals out. Read the full review here.
Trek X-Caliber 9
If you're looking for a rapid handling cross-country hardtail then the X-Caliber delivers in spades, but it's a bit of a handful when the trail turns downhill thanks to steep geometry and a dated cockpit. The X-Caliber 9 has a lot of potential, if you're willing to make it – and yourself – work very hard, then it'll reward with a responsive, sharp and precise ride character that won't beat you up like cheap aluminium frames often can. On flat, flowing singletrack, it's precise and lively, while covering ground will come with ease. It's a real shame as it could do all this and much more if Trek had calmed down those race roots, relaxed the geometry and butched up the cockpit. With a mild tweak, this could be a seriously rapid hardtail; not just up and along, but also down. Read the full review here.
Calibre Bikes Ladies Bossnut V2
Not strictly under £1000, but use a Go Outdoors discount card and this bike comes in at £900, give or take a penny. The Calibre Ladies Bossnut V2
is the women’s version of the regular Bossnut V2, a 130mm trail bike from Go Outdoors. The full suspension mountain bike brings bounce at both ends to the masses at a very reasonable price and with great performance too. As it is the ladies Bossnut V2 is an ideal bike choice for an introduction to mountain biking; it doesn’t cost the earth, the components are well thought out and reliable and the geometry will suit a majority of riders from beginners to those gaining experience. Read the full review here
And that's all so far folks, we'll be adding more bikes as we ride and test them in the future. If there is anything you particularly want to see tested then let us know in the comments below!
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