There's nothing that should stop you getting out on the trails on a budget
Find the best cheap mountain bikes for you. These are the bikes that will hook you into a new sport and a whole new way of life.
What is a cheap mountain bike?
Capable bikes get cheaper all the time but for us the minimum budget is around £400. Sure you can pick up something called a ‘mountain bike’ in a supermarket for £50 but good luck paying the subsequent dental bills. A controllable bike that grips well and stops effectively currently costs £400.
The best cheap mountain bikes in 2019
Here our are current favourite best cheap mountain bikes. See the links to full reviews down the page.
- Vitus Nucleus VR, £499
- Voodoo Bantu, £450
- Pinnacle Kapur 2, £475
- Voodoo Bizango , £650
- Whyte 605, £699
- Calibre Line 10, £749
- Sonder Transmitter NX12 Recon, £999
- Vitus Sentier VR+, £999
- Ragley Marley, £999
- Calibre Bossnut Evo, £999
What to look for with a £400-£700 MTB
- A weight of 30-32lbs or less
- A modern, aluminium frame that fits you well
- A decent, coil-sprung, budget fork or budget air-sprung fork with a lockout. The fork makes or breaks a budget bike.
- Hydraulic disc brakes
- Larger volume tyres with teeth that bite into loose dirt and mud
- A modern aluminium frame that fits you well
- Kevlar beaded tyres
Voodoo has once again developed a bike that is an absolute pleasure to ride and feels properly at home on proper off-road trails. The build kit is exemplary with the double chainset going someway to simplify the drivetrain – something we think is great for new riders. At £450 the Bantu is a hell of a bike but we’ve noticed that it’s currently priced at just £350, making it potentially the steal of the century.
Pinnacle Kapur 2
The £475 Pinnacle Kapur 2 hardtail takes its inspiration and features from its more expensive Iroko sibling. One of the best sub-£500 hardtails out there. New kid on the sub £500 block is the Kapur 2 and boy does it show. With progressive geometry and a great cockpit layout that sees a stubby 45mm stem and 760mm wide handlebar, it’s streets ahead of the similarly priced Specialized Pitch Sport and Diamondback Sync 3.0.
Vitus Nucleus VR
By bestowing the same level of detail on the Nucleus VR that most other brands reserve for their flagship models, Vitus has had amazing success with its entry-level hardtail. Every year without fail, Vitus has tweaked the Nucleus VR to ensure that it stays ahead of the competition. And by a couple of steps, it’s often superior to most of the bikes in the sub-£50 class of our Hardtail of the Year test.
The latest Bizango is slightly longer and slacker, and gets a shorter stem to reflect the slight shift in attitude. Voodoo has also added a 22in size option, so that even more riders can enjoy this amazing bike. A lot has changed in the last few years, but one thing remains the same, this bike is an absolute joy to ride. It feels fast and efficient when the trails are dull, but springs to life as soon as you engage with the bike and you’re environment. So weather you racking up the miles for fitness or smashing turns for fun, the Voodoo Bizango 29 will leave you spellbound.
In 2017 the Whyte 605 was our Hardtail of the Year in the £750 category, but it isn’t quite 10/10 perfect. There are a couple of iffy component choices, like the square-taper crankset, none-branded hubs and summer only WTB tyres, but what stops the 605 getting a perfect 10 is the fact that Whyte’s award-winning 800 and 900 bikes are totally dialled. If Whyte could trickle down the geometry and handling, and fit a proper front tyre and a wider bar, the 605 would be on a completely different level to any other bike in the category.
What to look for with a £700-£1,000 MTB
- A sub 30lbs overall weight (if a hardtail)
- A butted aluminium frame with modern geometry
- An air-sprung fork with a degree of damping adjustment
- Hydraulic disc brakes from a big brand
- Grippy tyres with a good compound and tubeless capabilities
- Dropper posts are rare but worth their weight in gold
- Similarly, bolt thru axles are a bonus
- A single-ring drivetrain with a wide range of gearing
Calibre Line 10
The Calibre Line 10 is the only hardtail in the £700+ category to get a dropper post. It’s externally routed, so the cable flaps about a bit, but it has 120mm of drop and it means you can lower the saddle quickly without having to muck about with a quick release collar.
Sonder Transmitter NX1 Recon
The entry-level Sonder comes fitted with bombproof SRAM Level disc brakes and SRAM NX gearing, both of which give no frills high performance right where you need it most. Love Mud, the own-brand componentry, handling the bulk of what’s left, including the wide handlebar and super short stem that combines perfectly with the aggressive geometry.
Vitus Sentier VR+
Couple the Sentier’s impressive sizing and weight to its aggressive geometry, then add in the perfect selection of components and the 2.6in Maxxis tyres and you’ve got a mind-blowing hardtail for £1,000. And it looks like Vitus has made it even better for 2019, so we’re confident that it will still the bike to beat in our Hardtail of the Year test.
Even if a little short in the reach compared to some rival bikes, the Marley maintains its incredible trail prowess, thanks to a low bottom bracket and slack head angle. When the terrain gets rowdy, it never feels fazed, and its ability to rail corners is simply unrivalled in this category.
Calibre Bossnut EVO
What sets this bike apart is that the geometry and attitude of the Bossnut has never been dumbed down. As such, the Bossnut Evo isn’t hamstrung by some preconceived notion about what the entry-level customer wants or needs. In fact, they want what every rider wants, and that’s the best bike for the money. The end result is that you get a bike that’s designed to make mountain biking easier and more fun. So whether you’re new to the sport and just learning the joys of carving corners on a blue trail, or you’re a seasoned veteran smashing down natural trails, the Bossnut Evo will leave you buzzing after every ride.
That should be all the information you need to go and purchase your mountain bike with confidence.
Of course, you can spend more but you start to get into diminishing returns – the more you spend the less you get for your money. Making £500-£1,000 a focussed but varied spectrum for your first proper mountain bike.