Are you looking for a highly affordable mountain bike for the summer? Want a bike that will allow you to leave huge clouds of dust behind you as you tear up the local trails? Then look no further as we have created a guide with the 7 best mountain bikes under $1000 for 2021.
All of these bikes will leave you with a smile that goes from ear to ear. They are all the best at their respective price points, and we know you’ll have a lot of fun on them. The 7 bikes we’ve picked are all great value. To help you make an informed choice, we have included a little guide on what you need to know after the bikes.
Editor’s Note: The article was last updated in January 2021. Many of the bikes on the list are out of stock as the demand for bikes skyrocketed in recent months. We’ll keep looking for alternatives and updating this post
Top 13 Mountain Bikes Under $1000
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2 or 1.2W
This bike is available in two versions, one for men and another one for women. The “W” in the Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2 W stands for women. The DRT 1.2 W is a 650b low slung female specific trail bike. A great first step for a woman who wants to start getting serious about riding offroad.
The 1.2W bike comes with a slightly shorter top tube than the male bike, a narrower handlebar, and a female-specific saddle.
To keep the front tire in contact with the ground, you’ll see a Suntour XCR 120mm fork. The fork also has a lockout to make climbing a little bit easier and to help save you some energy for the downhill sections.
To help slow you down on the downhill sections Co-op Cycles have equipped the bike with Tektro HD-M290 hydraulic brakes.
For changing into any of the 27 gears available the bike comes with a mix of Shimano Altus and Deore parts. You get the Deore Shadow rear derailleur. The derailleur has a low profile shape that helps to stop it getting snagged on stuff when you’re out riding on the trails.
Cannondale Trail 6 (or Trail 5)
The Cannondale Trail 6 has a nice feature that shows the designers have thought about the consumers of the bike. The Trail 6 comes with 27.5”/650b in small sizes and comes with 29” wheels in the bigger sizes. Doing so means that you get a big that is great fun to ride and rail down your local trails.
As can imagine coming from Cannondale this bike has an impressively light aluminum frame. When other companies moved away from aluminum, Cannondale carried on investing in the material. When you get a Cannondale aluminum bike, it is probably a step above their competitors.
The Trail 6 comes with a slack headtube angle, 68°, this makes the bike a demon descender. A few runs on this bike, and you’ll start to ride more aggressively than you ever have.
It is a great confidence booster. Thankfully the bike comes with Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes in case you get too carried away and need to come to a halt pretty quickly.
Ghost Kato 5.9
The Ghost Kato 5.9 is a 29er mountain bike with a price point that belies what a quality trail machine it is. With a lightweight aluminum frame and a 100mm travel RockShox 30 Silver fork, you’d probably place it in the XC whippet sector of mountain biking.
Sure if you lock out the fork, you have a fantastic climbing platform, but with a sensible geometry, the Kato loves going downhill as well. Its 29” wheels will roll over anything you put in front of it and with Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc you can be sure of stopping for any unseen hazards.
The Continental X-King 2.2 tires will make sure you can get a bit into various trail conditions and being 2.2” wide means that you’ll not be carrying excess weight to get all the grip that you need.
With an SRAM NX 1×11 groupset, you’ll have the gears you need for conquering hills and also having enough speed on flat. It helps to make the bike look that cleaner as well. There is no front mech to spoil the lines of the frame or get clogged up with dirt on a particularly wet day.
The Kato 5.9 is one of those bikes that you’ll want to ride, even if you have more expensive brethren sitting in the garage.
Diamondback Mason 1
The Diamondback Mason 1 is right up to date with modern geometry. Its low stance and slack head angle are similar to what you find on much more expensive bikes, making it a capable mountain bike for under $1,000.
Diamondback has opted for 27.5”+ wheels, rather than the more fashionable 29” wheels. The result of this is that you have a good balance between agile handling and the ability to roll over bumps in the trail.
As this bike has 27.5”+ wheels rather than the regular 27.5” size, it is fitted with wide tires that give extra grip, and their increased volume helps smooth out the ride.
Bumps are also taken care of with the SR Suntour XCR34 fork with 120mm of travel. Therefore, it won’t be great on big-hitting enduro or downhill routes, but it is suitable for trail and light cross-country riding, reducing fatigue on your arms and hands.
The 6061-T6 Weapons Grade Aluminum frame looks great and has a double-butted formed top tube, down tube, seat stays, and a tapered head tube. All this gives the Mason 1 strength, stiffness, and durability.
You get good control and braking power from the Tektro Aries Mechanical Disc brakes. The front rotor is 180mm, while the rear is 160mm, which will help you to control your speed when cornering and descending.
Sava Deck 300
The Sava Deck is constructed from Toray T800 carbon fiber. T800 is a high modulus carbon fiber that causes bike weight to drop off a cliff but still stay stiff enough that they’re great fun to pedal.
You’ll then find the new Shimano Deore M6000 3 X 10 groupset on the bike. Using a triple might not be the coolest anymore, but it certainly gives you a wide range of gears for any scenario. So you’ll not be able to push your bike uphill and blame the lack of gear range.
Where they Sava Deck have saved money is that they have fitted the bike with an entry level SR Suntour fork. You will be able to upgrade the fork at a later point, and you’ll still have a 650b carbon mountain bike frame.
Trek Marlin 6
The Trek Marlin 6 is a quality entry-level hardtail mountain bike. It is an ideal bike for kids, commuters, and those relatively new to mountain biking. At this price range, the Trek Marlin 6 is rare because it has proper mountain bike geometry.
This makes it stand out from similarly priced bikes, as you can actually ride it on the trails and have fun. If you are looking for a fun bike to take on relatively mellow trails, cross country rides, or gravel tracks, the Trek Marlin is definitely up to the job.
TheTrek Marlin 6 has the Alpha Silver Aluminium frame. This lightweight material brings the Marlin quite close to the X-Caliber, which is Trek’s cross country race bike. It has internal cable routing to protect the cables and to give it a nice and tidy look.
Fitted with an SR Suntour XCT 30, coil spring with 100mm of travel, the Marlin 6 allows you to ride longer before your hands and arms feel fatigued, which is a good thing, as the 2X8 Shimano drivetrain is efficient enough to keep you riding all day.
The Tektro HD-M276 hydraulic disc brakes give you lots of stopping power and modulation for controlling your speed.
If you are looking to buy your first mountain bike for having fun on long rides, the Trek Marlin 6 is well worth considering.
Marin San Quentin 1
As mountain bikes under $1,000 go they tend to be very similar. But the Marin San Quentin 1 is a little different, thanks to its geometry. The aggressive geometry of this bike makes it super fun to ride, especially for descending steep terrain. Combine this with its wide rims and tires, you get a very capable hardtail mountain bike.
The 6061 alloy frame’s geometry hits the sweet spot for riders that want a fast and fun bike. Marin have fitted the San Quentin 1 with the MicroShift Advent 1 x 9 Drivetrain, this setup is simple and robust, meaning your chain should stay put even on the most bumpy rides. But, the SR Suntour XCM32 Boost fork helps smooth the ride out, with its 120mm of suspension travel.
As this bike is a dab hand at smashing downhill trails, it needs powerful brakes. Therefore stopping power comes from Tektro M275 Hydraulic disc brakes. These give you lots of control as they are easy to modulate.
For an extremely fun hardtail mountain bike that will leave you grinning from ear to ear, the Marin San Quentin 1 should be a serious consideration, especially at this price point.
The Salsa Timberjack is an excellent choice if you are looking for a race-ready bike to hit the trails with. Versatile and sporty, this bike will be able to go wherever you set your mind- bikepacking in the Southwest or pounding the single-track.
The Timberjack features a Shimano Deore 10-speed 1X drivetrain. This is an excellent selection of components, especially when they are on a bike at this price level.
It is worth it to consider purchasing this bike for the groupset alone, as that can be very expensive to upgrade if you find yourself with a bike that does not have high-quality drivetrain components.
Aggressive WTB tires give this bike a mean look that would intimidate people on the starting line, but even if you aren’t planning on racing you will still benefit from these nice tires since they will provide additional traction when you are riding in mud or in otherwise wet conditions.
The Shimano MT201 hydraulic disc brakes will help you slow things down and should provide plenty of grip with the 180mm rotor in the front and 160mm in the back.
Salsa really set this bike up to be a great entry into some serious riding- they even include a dropper seat post for when the trails get technical.
At an even $1,100, the Salsa Timberjack is a good deal for the rider ready to step their game up, or for somebody who is looking for a nicer bike for riding around town or on bike paths. Maybe a bikepacking trip is in your future? You can check it out by following this link to REI.
Trek X-Caliber 8
The Trek X-Caliber 8 is a hardtail mountain bike that is going to be great for the rider who is looking to hone their skills and explore everything that comes their way.
The X-Caliber’s sturdy frame is made out of aluminum and comes in a cool “gravel” colorway that looks great clean and even better when the bike is dirty (which it is going to be after hitting some sweet trails).
Whether you are the type of rider who is going to be pounding the dirt and ripping up the trails, or you are just looking for something to get around town with, the X-Caliber 8 is a great option for you.
A Shimano Deore drivetrain propels this bike with a compact double upfront and a 10-speed cassette in the back, making it easy to find the perfect gearing for whatever the trails throw your way.
29” wheels give the Trek X-Caliber 8 some serious clearance; you will have no issue riding over even the biggest obstacles in your way. The Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes give you plenty of stopping power, even on intense downhill sections of trail, or a steep hill on a bike path.
Finally, a RockShox suspension fork with 100mm of travel will make every ride a comfortable one, whether you are bouncing over roots and rocks, or just soaking up the bumps from potholes on your ride to class.
At $1,000, the Trek X-Caliber 8 represents a really nice value for the rider who is looking to expand their horizons and hit the trail some more, while still performing well doing everyday tasks such as commuting to school/work or running a quick errand. Check it out today on Trek’s website by following this link.
Raleigh Tokul 2
The Raleigh Tokul 2 is a mountain bike that wants to get out in play. It is a bike that wants you to ride it like you’re a hooligan. It wants you to fire it round berms and take it off drops. It’s a bike that wants you to remember what it’s like to be a kid again.
It also comes with tires with one of the best part names in the industry. It comes with the 2.2″ wide Kenda Honey Badger tires. Tires that help to sum up the nature of the bike, it isn’t afraid, and it wants to get out and get dirty.
Spec wise you’ll find the same SR Suntour XCR 120mm 650b fork that is on the DRT 1.2. You’ll again see a set of Tektro hydraulic brakes, but this time it will be their Auriga model.
You’ll again find Shimano taking care of the gears, but this time it will be a mix of Altus and Alivio. You won’t find a front mech though as it been left off to give you a clean, modern look and it suits the playful trails bike feel of the Raleigh.
The Diamondback Hook is a true cross-country mountain bike that is well suited for riders looking to go on longer rides down some double track or getting across town for a quick bite. With high-quality SRAM components and 27.5” wheels, there is a lot of bikes here for the money that will keep you satisfied for years to come.
The Diamondback Hook also features a Suntour suspension fork with 120mm of travel. This fork is going to be key to ensuring you have a pleasant and smooth ride. Even if you are just planning on riding some rail trails, you will be glad you have a suspension fork because it will keep your wrists from getting fatigued.
27.5” wheels are found on the Hook, and many riders agree that this is the optimal mountain bike tire size. Any bigger, and you sacrifice the playfulness that draws us to mountain biking in general.
Any smaller, and sometimes you find yourself limited by your bikes clearance and are unable to cross an obstacle. The 27.5” wheels are truly the sweet spot that offers good clearance, while still being nimble enough to keep things exciting.
SRAM components are found throughout the bike, and the X4 derailleur will provide you with crisp shifting and many miles of maintenance-free riding. Tektro Aries mechanical disc brakes provide plenty of stopping power even in adverse conditions such as muddy trails or sloppy, rainy weather.
For just $$ many riders would be very happy with the Diamondback Hook, and it should serve them well as a great everyday bike. You can find out more about it by following this link.
Ghost Lanao 4.7 Women’s
The Ghost Lanao 4.7 is a women’s 27.5” (650b) hardtail mountain bike. It was designed for women by women and will serve you well on the trails and on the streets.
The Ghost Lanao features quality components at an affordable price. The drivetrain is Shimano, and the bike is set up as a 2×9, for 18 different gearing possibilities. With this many choices, you should always be able to find a good gearing for going both uphill and down, in the city and in the woods.
The 27.5” wheels come with Continental X-King tires that will provide great traction off the pavement, even when it gets a little muddy. Connected to the wheels are the disc brakes, which are hydraulic and will offer awesome stopping power and modulation to maintain your traction even on the toughest trails.
One thing that is really nice about the Ghost Lanao 4.7 is that it is dropper-post compatible, so in the future if you find yourself doing a lot of aggressive riding that might be a worthwhile upgrade. The bike also comes with a Suntour XCM suspension fork that has a lockout so you don’t waste energy compressing the fork when you are climbing.
Selling for $850, the Ghost Lanao 4.7 is a great option for women who are looking to start hitting the trails more often. It has quality components and should enable you to tear it up with the best of them. Check it out at REI’s website by following the link here.
Fuji Nevada 29 1.5
The Fuji Nevada 29 1.5 is an entry-level mountain bike that is suitable for the novice rider, looking for something to hone their skills on.
Its A2-SL double-butted aluminum frame is lightweight and durable, with modern geometry. The geometry gives the Fuji Nevada 29 1.5 a long reach, giving you a comfortable riding position, especially if you are quite tall.
You can choose between 27.5” and 29” wheels when you buy a Fuji Nevada. The 27.5” option will give you more lively handling, as it allows you to change direction easily, while the 29” wheels have a smoother ride over bumps on the trail and a higher top speed.
The SR Suntour SF15-XCM-HLO-DS-29 fork with 100mm of travel smoothes out bumps when riding trails and light cross country routes. It features a hydraulic lockout, which means you can lock the fork to make pedaling more efficient and unlock it when the trail starts to get rougher.
The Shimano 3×9-speed drivetrain with Deore rear derailleur gives beginner riders or commuters a decent range of gears to get around, while M200 hydraulic disc brakes have a 180mm rotor on the front and a 160mm rotor on the rear. These deliver superb stopping power in all conditions and give you great control.
Vitus Nucleus 275 VR
The Vitus Nucleus 275 VR takes the nature of the Raleigh and makes it even more fun on the downhill sections. The ability to do this has meant that the Vitus Nucleus has won the best hardtail of the year category in countless magazines and has had a few repeat victories as well. So you know this bike will stand you in good stead.
Why has it won? It is partly because it features the long, low, and slack geometry you’ll find on higher-end mountain bikes. It is a bike the will inspire you to ride downhill stupidly fast, to make it easier you’ll see that Vitus have now added routing for a dropper post, that could be your first upgrade.
Like the Raleigh and the Co-op, the Vitus has an SR Suntour XCR fork and uses Tektro hydraulic brakes to bring you to a standstill. There is a secret to the success of the Vitus here though. It doesn’t use the coil version of the XCR that the other bikes use. It uses the air spring version.
An air sprung fork means that you can easily tune the fork to your weight and riding style. The ability to do this means you’ll be able to get the most from your suspension and your riding will improve naturally because of it. It will also help to make your new bike a little lighter.
The second Vitus in our bike reviews is the Vitus Sentier. The Vitus Sentier is the big brother of the Nucleus VR, and it comes in just under our $1000 budget. It takes the Nucleus frame and sticks to the winning template but it features a new feature, it comes in Boost spacing.
Boost spacing means you’re running wider hub axles front and rear. The wider hub spacing allowed manufacturers to make their hub flanges wider apart and this changed spoke angles for bigger wheels. The short story here is this has made wheels stiffer and stronger, noticeably so as well.
You’ll also find this means the Sentier is the only bike on test with a rear thru axle. A thru axle is thicker than your traditional QR axle. It is easier to fit.
The wheel will self-center and again helps to build a stiffer wheel. Stiffer wheels mean that when you’re climbing, you’ll not be losing power as your wheel will not flex side to side.
To go with the wider Boost standard, you’ll find wider tires. In this case, you’ll find the Maxxis Minion 2.6” tires on the bike. These tires are the go-to tire for many people in mountain biking just now, quite simply because they work. The 2.6” width means you’ll have an unparalleled grip, great if you’re new to mountain biking.
What should I look for in a $1000 mountain bike?
The number 1 thing you’ll want is reliability. Out on the trail, you want a bike that will last and not leave you miles from home with a mechanical. That is why if you’re looking at the $1000 mark you should look at hardtails and not full suspension bikes.
A hardtail has less to go wrong and will help you become a rider, and if you go full suspension in the future, you’ll be able to use all that extra suspension fully. Some people might tell you to buy a second-hand full suspension bike to get value and under $1000.
The question here is can you tell the difference between a good full sus at a bargain price and a bad/broken full sus that the owner just wants rid of?
There are a few other things to look for, and all the models here have those features.
- Hydraulic disc brakes. Easier to set up and virtually no maintenance, these are the brakes to go for great power and a fit and forget factor.
- Tapered headtube. If you fancy upgrading your fork in the future you’ll want a tapered headtube to make this easier.
- Fun. Why buy a mountain bike that is not fun?
I’ve spent way more time in the bike trade than anyone should reasonably want to. In that time I’ve wanted to make cycling jargon and marketing easier to cut through to help people get the bike of their dreams.
When I’m not writing about bikes, I can be seen out bikepacking on single speed bikes or teaching kids how to ride.