It doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor to get into the world of trail riding, more than ever we are seeing mountain bikes that are strong, reliable, capable, and fun, as well as being affordable. Most companies do have bikes that are a cheaper alternative to the rest of their models, a lot coming under $1000.
Finding a hardtail mountain is easy, and would probably be harder to find a bad version than good at a budget price, but when it comes to full suspension it is a lot more difficult to find something that is cheap but also a good spec. When it comes to these full-suspension mountain bikes you truly get what you pay for, if you are looking to spending anything under $500 you are going to be disappointed in the level of craft and engineering you are going to receive.
In our list, you are going to find mountain bikes with full-suspension all below $2000, we will discuss their strengths and weaknesses and show what limits an entry-level full-suspension mountain bike can be pushed. When it comes to dual-suspension mountain bikes even spending $100 more can provide you with a big jump in specifications and features, and our list will arm you with the comprehensive knowledge you will need in order to make the best decision for you and your needs, whether its a sport you are just getting in to, or you are in the market for an upgrade at a lower price.
What Kind of Gearing Should I Expect?
The majority of the bikes that are found in today’s market have single chainring on the crank, meaning they are equipped with 1 drivetrain. Using a drivetrain like this is a more simple mechanism that is less likely to drop tension, is quieter, and requires less maintenance. At the rear, most mountain bikes have 10 speeds minimum, and some go up to 12 which offers a higher range and tighter jumps between each gear.
Funnily enough, it will cost you more money to have a single drivetrain rather than the more complicated 2 and 3x drivetrains.
All of the other bikes that we are going to speak about feature a 2x or 3x drivetrain alongside 8, 9, or 10-speed cassettes. To make the rear gears less, two or three chainrings are added at the front, this can increase your entire range, although the use of a 1x is to get rid of gear overlapping.
The downside to having these extra drivetrains is the added weight, more chances of something to break, decreased clearance, and less reliable gear shifts due to your chain having to move more rings on the front to move on.
If you are looking for a bike that is in the 4 figure price range then you are not going to have any problems finding a gearing mechanism that suits you and your style of riding.
Can I Get Suspension at This Price?
The simple answer is yes, as every bike on our list comes with the minimum of at least having suspension forks, but there are even some high-quality full suspension bikes available for an affordable price. If you look at something such as the Diamond Atroz 2, it offers full suspension for $900 which is less than some of the hardtail bikes.
There are two kinds of suspension forks, coil- or air-sprung, with the coil style providing loads more regarding the tuning options which alter the resistance level. The use of air forks are a little more expensive but are really good as they can be altered to match the rider’s weight and style of riding.
Overall you are looking. at similar prices when it comes to full suspension, and hardtail bikes. The hardtails will have better parts featured and will be much lighter in weight, although a full suspension bike will offer more regarding the control and comfort you have riding it.
Full Suspension Mountain Bikes Under $1,000
1. Rocky Mountain Growler 20 Mountain bikes
The Rocky Mountain Growler 20 is one of our most inexpensive full-suspension mountain bikes with a price under $1000. It isn’t particularly flashy, light, or even fast but offers a lot and is an amazing choice for an entry-level mountain bike.
This 2020 model comes with a few upgrades including more travel with the 29-inch wheels and the 130mm Suntour forks. The drivetrain is a 1×9 Shimano drivetrain that ensures the bike performs way above its price bracket. The best budget full-suspension mountain bike under $1000 we have found.
2. Diamondback Recoil Full Suspension Mountain Bike
When it comes to mountain bikes sales a full-suspension model under $600 is available, but that doesn’t always mean you should buy one. There are definitely going to be some performance drawbacks but the Recoil from Diamondback is trying to change that, with an SR Suntour XCT 100mm-travel fork system, Kindshock coil rear shock with oil dampening, Tektro Aires mechanical disc brakes, and Shimano Altus/Acera drivetrain with multiple systems of 3×8.
The wheels have been upgraded from its predecessor sporting a 29-inch wheel rather than the previous 27.5-inch size used the year before. This recoil model can also be bought with some extra upgrades taking it to around the $1000 price tag which really adds loads regarding the performance features.
The mountain bike full suspension now comes with a RockShox Monarch R air spring rear shock that has a rebound adjustment setting within it, an SR Suntour XCR-LO 100mmm fork, Shimano BR-M355 hydraulic brakes and a few more key upgraded features.
Best full suspension mountain bike under $1500
1. Specialized Rockhopper Expert Mountain Bike
The Specialized rockhopper expert mountain bike has that expert name for a reason, including three main components that rank it so highly, tubeless-ready wheels and tires, a 1×12 speed drivetrain, and air spring forks which are really rare in this category setting it apart from other bikes in the same price range.
When you consider the drivetrain and the wheel with all these other features you really have an amazing bike in front of you. It can handle rough and rocky terrains, and also very technical trails with ease, but these surfaces are not the Rockhoppers forte.
It is most comfortable on flow trails and pretty technical terrain, tackling anything like this with comfort, but still has the ability to get you through some of the roughest of terrains, which really is the beauty of this full-suspension bike.
2. Diamondback Atroz Full Suspension Mountain Bikes
Diamondback is a really good company when it comes to building and performance that is why this is the second full suspension mountain bikes they produce on our list. This model is called the Atroz sport suspension bike, it offers 1200mm of single-pivot rear travel, 120mm of front travel, and 27.5-inch wheels.
The forks that this bike comes with as stock are the SR Suntour XCM forks which are great for absorbing any shock giving your wrists and arms a break taking on some harder terrains. The SR Suntour Raidon-R rear shock system has air adjustment ability giving more comfort, and for that extra safety when talking high speeds given from the SRAM X5 9-speed drivetrain there is Tektro Auriga hydraulic disc brakes on the front and rear wheels of this trial bike.
The Atroz full suspension mountain bike does have a lot of upgrades compared to the more budget-priced recoil bike, and that is why the high price closer to $1,500 is justified, but it can come with many components that are high-quality than the stock bought model. These upgrades include Tektro Gemini hydraulic disc brakes which are a little more responsive in different weather conditions than the Auriga version, SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain which is a little heavier but does give you closer gearing changes for more fluidity.
For that extra comfort, there has also been RockShox Recon Silver coil fork with lockout, and RockShox Monarch R rear shock with air adjustment added to this amazing machine. With all this being said you won’t be disappointed with any of the versions
3. Fuji Reveal 1.5 D Mountain Bike
Just as the Diamondback Artoz sport suspension bike, the Fiji Reveal 1.5 D mountain bike has the same style single-pivot rear suspension, but Fuji has given the Reveal more travel at 140mm in the front and the rear. Having more travel helps in more trial based environments providing a more comfortable riding experience.
There are 3 models that are available in the Reveal with the standard base model being the Reveal 1.5. This mountain bike comes with a Shimano Altus/Acera 3×8 drivetrain, which offers good speeds but does add extra weight to the bike than if it had a 1x chain wheel.
This extra speed though is made that bit safer with the Tektro M280 mechanical disc brakes that are really effective on the 27.5-inch Vera Terra DPD16 rims as they are a great size. For full comfort, this bike comes with an SR Suntour Epixon fork with air spring and a Manitou Radium Comp rear shock that has air adjustment which is great for if multiple riders are using this bike with different weights, and also fo someone who likes to do different kinds of mountain biking.
The 3 versions of this bike all get a little better in the components that are featured but the 1.1 is the best of all the Reveal products. The ones that are available are the Reveal 1.5, the Reveal 1.3, and the 1.1 all getting upgrades to the previous model.
4. Jamis Dakar XC Sport Mountain Bike
Jamis is a brand that has always produced amazing quality bikes at a lower price although they do have more expensive bikes in their catalog. They have now produced the Jamis Daker XC Sport mountain bike that has a lot of features for the price tag it owns.
The Dakar XC has 27.5-inch wheels and an aluminum frame, this frame is strong being able to handle some of the more rough trails, but it is also lightweight making it great for riding. There is 90mm of rear travel due to the RockShox Monarch air shock rear suspension and the front forks have an impressive 100mm of front travel thanks to the RockShox 30 Silver TK coil spring forks with lockout.
Lockout is a small switch that is placed on the top of your front suspension fork. When it is in use the low-speed compression rate of the front forks decreases, being adjusted so that it can be fully rigid. Overall it improves the comfort of your ride.
For extra pace, the speed drivetrain has been equipped with a 2×10 Shimano Deore drivetrain, which is a little heavier than the 1x version but the gear changing is much more fluid through changes. The brakes features are Shimano M365 hydraulic brakes. The use of Shimano products is always a sure sign of good quality hardware that is going to be strong and durable.
Full Suspension Mountain Bikes Under $2,000
1. Rift Zone 2 Full Suspension Mountain Bikes
The Rift Zone 2 best budget full suspension mountain bikes are great for tackling rocky surfaces and adding stability at higher speeds. This is done by the larger wheel size of 29-inches that Marin have featured on this bike. This trail bike also features 125mm of travel making it great for trail rides, especially when navigating more technical riding surfaces, and can also handle some light duty racing.
The Rift Zone 2 is made more lightweight with the 1x drivetrain that has been used, it also includes a dropper seat post great for if you are changing your riding style, hydraulic disc brakes on the front and rear that are much more efficient in lots of different weather conditions. The wheels that have been used on this bike are the tubeless-ready 29er wheels that really make the Rift Zone 2 stand out from the crowd as very few bikes at this price range include all of these features.
The geometry of the bike is also amazing, it allows you to sit perfectly on top with even weight distribution especially with this use of added size in the wheels. RockShox recon suspension has been used on the front forks and the rear of the bike use the RockShox Deluxe air compression suspension. If you’re looking for a budget mountain bike with a lot of specs then the Fift Zone 2 is one of the best
2. Giant Stance 29 2 Full suspension Mountain Bikes
The Stance has always been one of the best mountain bikes you can buy, and that was when they used the 27.5-inch wheels, but now Giant has produced the Stance 2 and it has had a little upgrade with the wheels. becoming 29-inches in size, that paired with the full suspension this bike is a smooth-rolling machine out in the trails.
The frame’s geometry has been updated and optimized for the larger wheels, and the frame itself is still made from the durable and lightweight Aluxx aluminum. A FlexPoint rear suspension system is used absorbing any shock you may have on more extreme riding surfaces.
This amazing mountain bike has some of the best features you could want for tits riding purpose including a 120mm shock, a 130mm fork suspension, a 1×12 drivetrain has been designed for speed in rougher climates, and a tubeless-ready 2.35-inch set of tires that can roll quick gaining lots of speed, but offer grip at the moments you need it the most.
With the price range, this bike comes at it is one of the best in its class with no other bikes on the market at this price offering all these components. The bike’s suspension is great, making bumpy and rocky roads feel smooth to ride on, and the whole body of the bike is extremely light with a size small frame only weighing 30 pounds in total.
Get the right size
Above everything you want to get the size of your frame right, but this can be a little confusing. Most companies will opt for the small, medium, large measurements but there are no accurate numbers as there isn't a standard sizing that constitutes being large, as one companies medium bike could be another company's small bike sizing.
With all this being said you still want to find the right fit for you. The distance from the saddle to the handlebars (or the reach) is a great thing to measure, and the stack of the bike, which is the distance between the center of the crank to the mid-head tube. These kinds of measurements are fine on a mountain bike to be longer than what you would usually look for in a road bike.
If your bike has a long front triangle, this will help you grip the bike without skidding or hitting the first impact and flying straight over the handlebars. The feature of a longer front triangle will also make climbing hills much easier as it helps keep your front wheel planted firmly into the ground. Just try not to go as long so that you don't have any standover clearance.
The use of a short seat tube will give you a good standover and more room for better maneuvering, but it is vital that you still get full pedaling height without lengthening the seat post too much.
Choose A Wheel Size
Wheel size diameters on any mountain bike sales have been settled with easy measurements that help with different styles of riding. 27.5in is great for more aggressive trail or downhill riding, and the 29in is perfect for XC and trail. However, wide-rimmed plus-sized wheels are becoming more popular in the 29in downhill style wheels which are changing things around a little.
At the moment the 29ers are not as common as other wheel options, although they are strong, stiff, and light for their size so it is expected that they will be more favorable in the future. As for now, the sizing voice is pretty much the same whatever company you choose, with bigger hoops being better for big miles and smaller hoops being a lot stronger, a lot better for trail riding.
The use of a plus-size wheel can really work with hardtail bikes, but these larger sizes make them more sensitive to tire pressure, and some people are questioning whether they are going to be in the market for a long time at all.
Don’t Obsess About Weight
The weight of your bike is something to think about, but the strength of your bike is much more important. If your bike is weak or a little fragile then rocks, roots, and branches that are usual obstacles while trail riding will become a problem, which will then affect your steering accuracy, confidence, and cornering which all relate to your speed which will then be affected.
It is much better to carry that extra weight knowing that your bike will be strong and reliable giving you that extra confidence when you are out riding, and also keeping your bike out of the workshop when it needs fixing... again.
What Is The Best Hardtail For You?
When it comes to hardtail bikes you have lots of different choices to choose from, some designs are great for specific jobs excelling in that area, but there are a few all-rounders hat are great for pretty much everything. People's specific needs will change what they need in their bikes, so the geometry, suspension, strength, travel, and components all vary for the job they are intended for. Frames even adhere to this being made specifically to handle the needs that certain sports demand.
You are most likely going to find an aluminum frame on a budget bike or mid-ranged hardtail mountain bikes. They are strong and lightweight which makes them perfect for a lot of styles of cycling. Carbon fiber is lightweight and strong too but is more expensive so is usually found on the higher end bikes, but a light of bike manufacturers are offering steel and titanium frames that seem to appeal to a lot of different riders.
Hardtails can suit everyone with any kind of budget, from rough and tough dirt and street models to short-travel and lightweight cross-country models there really is a hardtail that will suit anyone and everyone. These bikes are even available in beginner-friendly budget full suspension mountain bike styles.
Is A Full Suspension Mountain Bike Worth It?
In general, the worth of a full-suspension mountain bike is really down to the person and what they are going to use it for, they have. pros and cons but if the right job is being done for these high-quality products then they can really make themselves worth every penny. Here a few things think about:
Weight - Most of the time these bikes are going to be heavier than the likes of a hardtail version which is pretty obvious with the added rear shock and extra tubes and pivots that will obviously add weight. If you spend more you can find a bike that is just as, or even lighter than some hardtails but a general rule of thumb is the more you pay the lighter your bike is probably going to be.
Riding fun - People who ride full-suspension bikes will always tell you that riding the more more extreme terrains is always made a little more fun with the added comfort of front and rear suspension. The added traction gives you that little extra confidence when it comes to this kind of terrain, but overall it depends completely on your riding style as if you prefer smoother off-road riding then a hardtail could be your preferred choice.
Mechanicals - When it comes to the mechanical side of things it is basically the fewer components probably the less time you are going to need maintenance on your bike, a full suspension clean is always going to be more hassle.
The terrain - Both mountain bike options offer lots of advantages to the certain type of terrain they have been built for. There is an argument that says the hardtail mountain bike is technically better than its competitors but a full suspension will provide more comfortable riding even on the most extreme riding surfaces.
Handling - Suspension overall acts just like the tires giving the bike better traction on trails, this makes it easier to take sharp corners, steep climbs, and descents. Control in bad weather conditions is also made easier with these kinds of bikes, so overall much easier than a hardtail to handle.
Speed - Speed isn't always everyone's idea of fun, but different terrains call for different kinds of bikes. On a full-suspension bike, you can push the limits of speed more, especially when riding downhill as the front and rear suspension will absorb any bumps and cornering.
Looks and design - Everyone has different tastes and some people just prefer the look of a suspension bike over a hardtail giving more of an aggressive finish, this is simply down to taste.
Which Is Faster? A Hardtail Or Full Suspension?
The most common answer is probably going to be the hardtail mountain bike, they are simple, lightweight, and suit to less technical trails. Well, that is probably the answer if you were looking at bikes 10 years ago. In those times there was a few full-suspension bikes but they were big heavy products that compromised on pedal efficiency and were not the most advanced.
Fast forward to today's market and the technology of these full-suspension bikes has come on leaps and bounds with manufacturers closing the gap between a hardtail and full-suspension mountain bikes. This leaves cyclists of all abilities in a bit of a dilemma about what kind of bike they should purchase.
In a flat-out race climbing, nothing will beat the efficiency of a hardtail but courses have lots of technical sections built in them where these bikes will suffer and the full suspension will reign supreme. Both bikes have their pros and cons but it's deciding on if you want a lightweight, agile hardtail, or a slightly heavier but more comfortable full suspension bike.
These rougher terrains are where the full suspension machine really takes over, happily coping with any rocks, roots, heavy descents, and drops making the extra weight and slight loss of pedal efficiency becomes worthwhile.
There is no true answer to what is the faster bike, it all depends on your own needs and your own style of riding. If you prefer less technical trails then the hardtail is going to be the one for you with its better climbing ability at a faster pace. If you prefer more advanced tracks that are going to need something that can tackle obstacles then the full suspension is going to be the best thing for you especially with modern technologies making them not much heavier than hardtails as they were before.
Do I Really Need Full Suspension?
The need for full suspension all comes down to what you are going to use your mountain bike for, if its mainly climbing and the terrain or course isn't the most technical then a hardtail could be your best option, they are more lightweight and faster with better pedal efficiency. If hilly slopes, big descents, and rocky grounds are more your kinds of thing then a full suspension bike is for sure the right choice for you. they offer more in terms of comfort with the ability to absorb more shock and pressure in different key areas of the bike, there is a wide range of choice when it comes to full suspension so there is definitely a model that is perfect for you.
What Is The Best Cheapest Full Suspension Mountain Bike?
The best affordable full suspension mountain bike you can buy is the Recoil from Diamondback it offers a lot in terms of spec with an SR Suntour XCT 100mm-travel fork system, Kindshock coil rear shock with oil dampening, Tektro Aires mechanical disc brakes, and Shimano Altus/Acera drivetrain with multiple systems of 3x8, this bike is an amazing performer for the price tag it comes at. Wheel size is also another great perk to this bike, the extra size of 29-inches allowing more grip and speed when our on the trails.