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 25th June 2019)
Sonder Transmitter NX1 Revelation
The Sonder Transmitter in this NX1 Revelation spec is an aluminium trail hardtail with impressive geometry and some good looks, with some obvious thought put into the frame. It is beaten by other bigger brands when it comes to value though, leaving us to make a decision between aggressive geometry or better parts.
Specialized Chisel Comp X1
Specialized's Chisel Comp X1 is a cross-country racing machine that delivers a solid spec for the money. On paper, it might struggle to match direct-sales rivals, but it makes up for that with a truly impressive ride quality and sorted, if old-school handling for anyone that wants to cover ground, quickly.
Vitus Sentier 27 VRS
Not long launched, we’ve had a new 2019 Vitus Sentier 27 VRS for test as the first of a long list of winter hardtails to review. This one proved to be a fun trail bike at a very reasonable price, it’s not the most aggressive bike you’ll ever sit on but it's an entertaining ride and the spec updates for this year are great upgrades.
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.
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.
Nukeproof Scout 275 and 290 Race
The alloy Scout is available in both 27.5 and 29er guises, its the former we have here, opting to test the base model bike, the 275 Comp, coming in at £999.99. For 2019 the geometry stays the same as the 2018 bikes but there are spec updated across the range. 2019 bikes Rockshox forks all-round (this bike got a Suntour fork last year) and the smaller wheeled bikes, such as our test bike get larger 2.6" tyres. Also in the range and under £1,500 is the Scout Race (also in 27.5 and 29) which is priced at £1,349 and gets a dropper post, a RockShox Sektor RL fork and 11 speed added to the spec list. We have a Nukeproof Scout 275 Sport in for review.
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