Good entry-level full-suspension bikes for proper mountain biking start at around this price point. We've tested loads if them; here's our pick of the best on the market.

The sole purpose of the best cheap full-suspension bike is to provide the highest-performance bike at the most competitive prices. In many ways it’s at the entry-level that design is truly cutting-edge, the constraints of tighter budgets making every component choice that much more critical to ride quality.

Selling direct keeps costs down; whether that’s through high street multiples, in the case of retail-specific brands like Boardman, or by shipping direct to your door, as Vitus does. But it is no coincidence that there aren’t any bikes under £1k that we’d classify as being amongst best full-suspension mountain bike candidates.

Polygon Siskiu T8

Polygon Siskiu T8 builds on the game-changing Calibre Bossnut

1. Polygon Siskiu

Best for snappy, dynamic handling

Wheel size: 29in | Frame sizes: S, M (27.5in), L, XL (29in) | Weight: 15.6kg | Suspension travel: 150mm f/140mm r 27.5in, 140mm f/135mm r 29in | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Progressive sizing and geometry
  • Great value for money

Reasons to avoid:

  • Suspension isn’t quite as effective as the Vitus Mythique

Sold through Go Outdoors, the Siskiu is available with 29in or 27.5in wheels depending on the frame size, with the larger frames using 29in wheels and the small and medium getting 27.5in hoops. The entry-level Siskiu T7 gets a 1×12 wide-range drivetrain, four-piston hydraulic brakes, and a dropper post, while it shares the same frame as the more expensive T8 model, that we awarded 9/10 when we tested it.

Polygon might not be a household name among mountain bikers, but the performance it has packed into the Siskiu means it deserves recognition far and wide. Factor in the price, and it has done a much better job at making an affordable full-suspension bike than most big name brands. It’s not quite as polished as the Vitus Mythique, but it’s still a standout bike that will nurture your riding skills, whatever your level.

Read the full review of the Polygon Siskiu T8

Polygon Siskiu D5

The Polygon Siskiu D5 is the old Calibre Bossnut with a different badge and parts.

2. Polygon Siskiu D7

Best full-suspension bike under £1,000

Wheel size: 27.5in | Suspension travel: 120mm | Frame sizes: S, M, L | Frame: 6061 T6 Aluminium | Weight: 15.43kg (34.02lb) | Rating: N/A

Reasons to buy:

  • Same frame and five star handling as the old Calibre Bossnut
  • Even cheaper too

Reasons to avoid:

  • Some of the parts are not as good
  • Doesn’t get a single-ring 1x drivetrain.

Team Sky Ineos would be proud of Calibre’s ability to aggregate marginal gains. Continual updates to sizing, geometry, shock tune and specification helped make the Bossnut the benchmark entry-level suspension bike. While we await a new Bossnut from Calibre, Polygon (who manufactured the bikes for Calibre) has stepped into the breach with Siskiu model, sold through retailers Blacks and Go Outdoors. It’s the same frame as the old Bossnut with some different parts bolted on. So, if you want a quality full-suspension bike that’s fast, fun and ridiculously good value at under £1k, the Polygon Siskiu is the bike we’d recommend.

Read our full test review of the Calibre Bossnut

Cannondale Habit 4

The Cannondale Habit 4 puts a smile on your face, as well as your bank manager’s

3. Cannondale Habit

Best for bike parks and playing about on jumps

Wheel size: 27.5in (XS) and 29in | Frame sizes: XS (27.5in), S, M, L, XL | Weight: 15.2kg | Suspension travel: 140mm f/130mm r | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Agile and easy to ride, the Habit 4 handles like a much more expensive machine
  • Shock tune feels perfect
  • Fun and flicky ride that keeps rider weight well-balanced on all trail gradients
  • SRAM DB8 brakes feel solid and have a smooth action for a budget brake

Reasons to avoid:

  • Deore drivetrain shifts can be slightly clunky, especially with the KMC chain
  • Maxxis Rekon tyres use harder compound with less wet weather grip
  • RockShox’s Recon RL fork lacks finesse and precise tuning

The new Cannondale Habit offers both carbon and aluminium frames, a broad range of sizes, and even a longer travel option if you’re heading into bigger terrain. But perhaps its key selling point is a focus on creating the same ride and handling across the whole size range, so a 5ft 5in rider should enjoy the same experience as someone who’s 6ft 3in.

When we tested it, we were impressed that it comes standard with a dropper post, so you can get the saddle out of the way easily on descents, and the brakes were smooth and powerful, with a light action. Cannondale has also nailed the rear suspension performance, helping to boost confidence however chunky the terrain. Ultimately we loved how it rode, with really active suspension and dynamic handling. To sum up, we said: “As a pure trail bike, it nails the fundamentals of geometry, suspension and efficiency and has an engaging, responsive ride quality that feels anything but budget”.

Read the full review of the Cannondale Habit 4

Canyon Neuron 6

The Canyon Neuron 6 really impressed us with its versatility and turn of speed

4. Canyon Neuron

Best for pure speed

Wheel size: 27.5in or 29in | Travel: 130mm | Frame sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL | Frame: Aluminium | Weight: 14.63kg (32.25lb) | Rating: N/A

Reasons to buy:

  • Hyper-fast
  • Friendly yet rewarding geometry
  • Excellent value

Reasons to avoid:

  • Seat tube could be a bit shorter
  • Saddle is a bit too racy

The Neuron is Canyon’s back-to-basics trail bike, newly updated for 2023, There are four carbon and four alloy models to choose from, with prices starting from £1,849 for the Neuron 5 and going up to £5,749 for the Neuron CF LTD. There’s also a kids’ Young Hero model with an XS frame and 27.5in wheels for £1,499, and women’s versions of the Neuron 6, Neuron 7 and Neuron CF8 available at no extra cost.

As with the previous bike, all XS and S frames come with 27.5in wheels, while the Medium upwards come with 29in wheels. As with most Canyons, you’ll need to factor in a bike box at £18.99 and delivery at £37.99 to all of the headline prices. Whichever you choose, the latest Neuron is versatile, affordable and a total blast to ride, as happy hitting enduro tracks and sending jumps as racking up the miles on a multi-day ride. The alloy frame has a comfortable, compliant ride that’s never jarring, and the choice of fast-rolling Schwalbe tyres means it rolls along almost effortlessly.

Read our full test review of the Canyon Neuron 6

Marin Rift Zone 1 29 2023

Marin Rift Zone 1 is the entry-level bike in the range

5. Marin Rift Zone

Fun ride and a name steeped in history

Wheel size: 27.5in or 29in | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 15.54kg | Suspension travel: 150mm f/140mm r 27.5in, 140mm f/135mm r 29in | Rating: N/A

Reasons to buy:

  • Exploitable handling, whatever your level
  • A bike that can grow with your skills
  • Fun to ride
  • No gimmicks

Reasons to avoid:

  • Overweight
  • You’ll find better spec from a direct-sales brand
  • No dropper post

Marin’s new Rift Zone captures the essence of agile handling and an engaging ride and slaps on a price tag that doesn’t just appeal to hedge fund managers. Consumers get to choose between three wheel sizes; 27.5in and 29in obviously, but there’s also a 26in JR model for the groms. Build kits start at £1,695 and go up to £2,995 for the XR model.

In a world of sagging scales, bottomless travel and stratospheric price tags, the Rift Zone is as refreshing as plunging your face into a glacier-fed stream. It reminds you that it’s fun, rather than frills, that’s important in a mountain bike. As we said in our first ride: “if you prefer to let your riding do the talking rather than strut about preening your feathers on something that cost the equivalent of a house deposit, then the Rift Zone won’t disappoint”.

Read the full review of the Marin Rift Zone XR (2023)

Boardman MTR 8.8

Boardman MTR 8.8

6. Boardman MTR 8.8

Wheel size: 29in | Travel: 140mm | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Frame: 6061 T6 Aluminium | Weight: 15.23kg | Rating: N/A

Reasons to buy:

  • Good fit and geometry

Reasons to avoid:

  • Lacklustre rear suspension

When we last tested Boardman’s full-suspension platform, in MTR 8.8 guise, we had high hopes, but it didn’t quite deliver. The geometry and sizing were both on the money and it looks stunning, but the rear suspension on the MTR 8.8 felt stodgy and congested, robbing the bike of grip, pop and control. This MTR 8.8 is the new updated model, and it gains bigger wheels and a redesigned frame with more rear wheel travel and different geometry. Much more modern in sizing, components such as the bar and stem have been updated to allow riders to really exploit the more aggressive angles and generous fit. It also came up short on its claimed travel, 131mm instead of the advertised 140mm. If Boardman has woken up the shock tune to give the suspension more grip and the bike a more dynamic ride, then this could be a stone-cold trail bargain. There’s also the MTR 8.6, which saves you a few hundred quid, but lacks a dropper post and misses out on the RockShox suspension fork.

Read our full test review of the Boardman MTR 8.8

calibre bossnut

Calibre’s Bossnut redefined the performance of entry-level suspension bikes.

What to look for in a cheap full-suspension bike?

In our experience, it’s rare to find a good full-suspension bike for less than £1,000, but it is possible. So if you’re in the market for one, then try to budget accordingly. Look to direct-sales brands like Voodoo and Boardman (sold through Halfords), Vitus (sold through Chain Reaction Cycles/Wiggle), Polygon and Calibre (Go Outdoors) and B’Twin (sold through Decathlon) as they can cut margins and bring a decent bike in on budget.

Set up your rear suspension sag first, by sitting on the bike while holding the bars and putting all your weight through the bike. You’re looking for 30% sag in this position.

What frame material should I chose? What about suspension travel?

The frame will almost certainly be made of aluminium and boast between 120mm and 140mm of travel. This is plenty for most trail mountain biking. Ideally you want air-sprung suspension, as this will let you set the bike up to your body weight without needing to buy new springs. All you need is a shock pump and some know-how. For suspension set-up advice check out this article.

There are many different suspension designs, but don’t get hung up on the system used as they all have their pros and cons and it’s just one factor of many that influence the ride and handling of a bike. Check out our detailed reviews for more insight and try and get a test ride if you can.

best cheap full suspension bike testing in the dappled light

Thrashing the best cheap full suspension bike candidates

Which is the best wheel size?

In terms of wheel size, you may find either 27.5in or 29in, but it doesn’t matter too much which you choose. 29ers can roll a bit better, but 27.5in bikes can be more agile – although that’s only a rough rule of thumb. If you’re under 5ft 8in tall, you may feel more comfortable with smaller wheels, while taller riders may enjoy more confidence with larger wheels.

wheel size comparison chart

Wheel size comparison chart

How do I choose the right size?

Frames come in multiple sizes and it’s crucial to pick the right one. You want decent length in the frame so you don’t feel cramped when seated, and have a stable bike when descending, but plenty of clearance over the top tube to inspire confidence in technical sections. For more advice, check out our guide to choosing the right frame size.

SRAM’s NX drivetrain is popular on cheap full-suspension bikes and offers 12 gears with a wide range from low to high.

How many gears do I need?

For components, look for a single-ring drivetrain, with just one chainring up front and between 10 and 12 sprockets at the back. A wide range cassette (10-46t or 10-51t) will make it easier to spin up climbs and help you save energy. Hydraulic disc brakes are a must. These will be powerful and need less maintenance than cable-operated discs.

Brand X Ascend dropper post

Dropper posts, like this Brand X Ascend, transform the ride experience, and can be retro-fitted for around £100-150.

Anything else I need to look for?

Dropper posts let you get the saddle out of the way for descending without having to stop. Simply press the lever on the handlebars and use your body weight to push the post down. They are a genuine game changer, but don’t fret if your chosen bike doesn’t come with one. It’s easy to add one later for around £100 upwards.

Tyres are one of the most important components off-road as they make or break your grip in the dirt. But they are also relatively economical to upgrade, and they will wear out eventually anyway.