Looking for a great value budget mountain bike under £1000 / $1400? Our expert testers have ridden, rated and reviewed a lot of bikes and these are the ones they recommend, from rapid hardtails to full-suspension options.
You don’t have to spend thousands to find a good budget mountain bike. While demand for cheap mountain bikes has soared over the last few years, so have issues like manufacturing costs and supply chain delays. This seems to be coming to an end now, however, so there are plenty of bargains to be had and stock seems to have returned to something approaching normality. There’s probably been no better time to find a great value mountain bike for under £1000 or $1400 that will perform well and give you an enjoyable, capable and comfortable ride.
We’re seeing more progressive geometry on bikes in this category, mirroring premium models further up the the price spectrum. Components such as dropper seatposts are now appearing, along with well chosen cockpits to work with the dialled in geometry and fit.
Of course, if you want to blow the budget, check out our guide to the very best mountain bikes on the market, covering trail, enduro and cross-country options. Or of course there are the best electric mountain bikes; pricy, but a whole load of fun.
Best hardtail mountain bike under £1000
Wheel size: 27.5in | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 14.52kg | Suspension travel: 140mm front | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Modern geometry, dropper seatpost, large-volume tyres
Reasons to avoid: Needs a wider gear range, tall bottom bracket height
The Line T3-27 marks a welcome return for the Calibre brand to the this price category. With progressive trail geometry and large volume 27.5in tyres, there’s been clear inspiration from the Whyte 901 trail bike. Which is no bad thing, given that Whyte has been at the forefront of trail hardtail design for over a decade now.
It’s got all the big decisions right, with progressive geometry, a quality dropper post, and large volume tyres that let you ride further and faster with greater control. The Calibre Line T3-27 is a versatile package you can really shred straight from the box to the trail. And at £999 on the nose, Calibre has hit the bullseye.
Listed retail price for the T3-27 is £1200. However, if you sign up and buy a Go Outdoors membership card for just £5, the bike’s price drops to a great value £999.
Great value 29er hardtail mountain bike
Wheel size: 29in | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 13.25kg (29.2lb) | Suspension travel: 130mm front | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Good geometry and superlative spec choices. Low weight
Reasons to avoid: No dropper seatpost, narrow tyres give a harsh ride
The Voodoo Bizango has smashed pretty much any test it’s ever entered, winning our Hardtail of the Year award multiple times, earning regular podium places on our list of the best hardtail mountain bikes, and impressing everyone who rode it.
If ever there was a true all rounder, it’s the Bizango Pro. It’s the consummate professional, a modest 29er hardtail that’s strong in every department. The ride quality is superb and it has a blinding specification. And with every component part selected for performance and durability, you’ll get more quality ride time and less down time. Yes, fatter tyres would enhance the ride quality of the Bizango Pro further, but not having a dropper post is the real buzz kill here. It’s not enough to knock it down to a single digit rating, but it loses its sub £1000 hardtail crown to the new Calibre Line-T3 27.
Best budget and entry-level hardtail mountain bike
Wheel size: 29in | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 13.1kg | Suspension travel: 120mm front | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: The price, updated geometry, light weight, lower range gears, wider handlebar and improved handling. And did we say the price?
Reasons to avoid: You’ll probably struggle to get hold of one.
The alloy Bizango simple has no competition. It is simply unbeatable for the money. In fact, given the choice we’d probably opt for this bike over many decent £1,000 mountain bikes (saving a couple of components upgrades for the ensuing seasons). Good brakes, good gearing, plenty of standover, decent fork. Shames many bikes at twice the price.
A proper hardcore hardtail that won’t break the bank
Wheel size: 29in | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 13.9kg | Suspension travel: 130mm front | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Smooth ride, rewarding handling, grippy tyres.
Reasons to avoid: Needs a dropper post and wider range of gears.
Vitus as a brand has quickly established itself as the smart choice for anyone looking for affordable mountain bikes that shred hard and don’t cut corners.
Ultimately we want a bike to put a smile on our face every time we ride it, and the Vitus passes this test with flying colours.
The frame is excellent quality and the ride quality is infectious, but much of the credit for the Sentier’s trail manners can be attributed to the tyres rather than the geometry or the suspension. Another great feature of the Sentier is that you can get it in a choice of wheel sizes. The 29in option comes in M, L and XL frame sizes, whereas the 27.5in wheel Sentier is in S, M, L and XL.
Best hardtail mountain bike under £700
Wheel size: 29in | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 14.31kg | Suspension travel: 120mm front | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: A top quality frame with up-to-date geometry
Reasons to avoid: Dated 2×10 drivetrain
The Polygon Xtrada 5 may well sport a dated-looking 2×10 drivetrain but this 29er does have the slackest steering geometry for stability at speed, the lowest top tube and shortest seat tube.
We have highlighted the shortcomings of the drivetrain, but we do not want it to be the defining characteristic of the Xtrada 5. Because from the very first pedal stroke it felt like the best riding bike in its class. With the Maxxis Ikon tyres it carries speed really well, but unlike the Jamis, the frame puts the rider in a more commanding position. Your body takes less of a beating than on the Carrera and with the saddle dropped you can really motor on the Polygon.
It’s the clear winner of the sub £700 category in our 2023 Hardtail of the Year test, even if it misses out on a perfect 10 rating.
A premium quality frame but needs a geometry update
Wheel size: 29in | Frame sizes: S,M, L, XL | Weight: 14.88kg | Suspension travel: 120mm front | Rating: 7/10
Reasons to buy: A smooth, fast ride. Triple-butted aluminium frame
Reasons to avoid: Limited saddle drop. Dated geometry
Jamis bills the Highpoint A2 as a true all rounder and it’s easy to see why. With big 29in wheels to roll over bumps better and a 120mm travel coil-sprung Suntour XCM 32 fork to take the edge of the harshest impacts, it’s designed for speed, but not at the expense of comfort.
With its triple-butted aluminium frame it offers a fast engaging ride without the rider being exposed to every single bump on the trail. Which makes it great for longer rides.
If the Highpoint A2 is to truly deliver on its promise of being a true all rounder though, it’s going to need calmer steering geometry, better standover clearance, a broader range of gears and a wider range of saddle height adjustment.
Once a category leader, now showing its age
Wheel size: 29in | Frame sizes: M, L, XL | Weight: 13.53kg | Suspension travel: 100mm front | Rating: 7/10
Reasons to buy: Choice of 27.5in or 29in wheel sizes. Low weight
Reasons to avoid: Sticky fork performance. Only eight gears
Head over to the Vitus website and you see that Vitus offers the Nucleus with either 27.5in wheels or 29in wheels. Both options are the exact same price and both come with very similar wheel size appropriate build kits, that include different fork travel, different tyre sizes and different gearing.
As a perennial winner of our Hardtail of the Year test we had high hopes for the 29in version of the entry-level Nucleus VR. Sadly, it did not deliver. The congested action of the 100mm travel Suntour fork meant that the ride was harsher than it really should have been.
And being the lightest bike in class, the Nucleus 29 VR should have made light work of the climbs, but again it was hamstrung by the 8-speed Box drivetrain. This often left us spinning a gear that was too easy or grinding in a gear that was too hard.
Well equipped for the price but lacks modern geometry
Wheel size: 27.5in | Frame sizes: S, M, L | Weight: 14.41kg | Suspension travel: 120mm front | Rating: 8/10
Reasons to buy: Great fork, drivetrain and brake specs
Reasons to avoid: Harsh ride quality. Dated frame sizing and fit
Scan the spec sheet of Halford’s Carrera Fury and you’ll see an air-sprung fork, wide-range Shimano Deore 1×10 drivetrain, Shimano brakes and a dropper post yet it’s still below £700.
The Carrera Fury clearly has the best specification in the sub £700 hardtail category, so what’s the catch? Well, it has 27.5in wheels, so they don’t roll over bumps as effectively as 29in wheels, or 27.5in wheels fitted with Plus size (2.8-3.0in width) tyres. This translates to a harsher ride, especially when combined with the Carrera’s relatively skinny 2.25in tyres.
But it’s also the proportions that really hold the Fury back. With a slacker head angle to calm the steering at speed, a lower top tube to make it more chuckable, and fatter tyres to dampen the ride, the Fury could be an absolute ripper. The Fury has excellent components, it just needs a rethink of the frame layout to bring out the best in it.
All the mod cons but compromised control in the rough
Wheel size: 29in | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 14.48kg (31.9lb) | Suspension travel: 130mm front | Rating: 8/10
Reasons to buy: Customisable spec. Dropper seatpost
Reasons to avoid: Upright geometry limits control. Narrow tyres
Right now, the brand offers several complete bike options at under £1,000 but this is On One’s only offering made from aluminium. Before ordering a Scandal you get the chance to upgrade components such as the fork, handlebar, stem, seatpost and tyres. By only paying the price difference at the checkout, you can save a decent amount versus upgrading at a later date.
The lofty, upright riding position feels comfortable and confidence inspiring on tame tracks, but when the difficulty factor ramps up there’s a big disconnect between what we felt through the bike and what was going on beneath the tyres. As such we found it hard to make the right control inputs, and we ended up tip-toeing around tight turns and through technical sections. The narrow, low-profile tyres didn’t help either.
The Scandal SX is a compelling package in isolation. But get it out on the trails against its rivals and a couple of basic mistakes become obvious. Even with an upgrade to fatter tyres the Scandal still won’t be as fast as the Voodoo, or as composed as the Calibre.
Best mountain bike for quality frame and future upgrades
Wheel size: 29in | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 14.6kg | Suspension travel: 120mm front | Rating: N/A
Reasons to buy: Amazing price, great geometry and range of sizes, spot-on cockpit and component choices, and an active fork
Reasons to avoid: The fork tops out with a clunk.
Using the same frame as the multi award-winning Voodoo Bizango (featured below) the Braag saves money in a few areas to bring the price point under £600. So you get the same confident, fun handling and excellent spread of sizes, along with a wide-range yet simple 9-speed drivetrain and a plush coil-sprung suspension fork.
The only fly in the ointment is that the fork can get a bit clunky, but overall this is a killer bike for the money and one you can upgrade as your skills progress.
Best versatile, all-round budget trail bike
Wheel size: 29in | Frame sizes: M, L, XL | Weight: 13.95kg | Suspension travel: 130mm f | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Stellar specification. Compliant ride.
Reasons to avoid: Care needed with sizing. Tall seat tube. Only three frame sizes.
Although it doesn’t boast the most up-to-date sizing and fit, we can’t fault the ride quality of Nukeproof’s Scout. When we last reviewed the Scout it was the smaller wheeled 270 and we praised the compliance of its frame. It’s no different with this 290 Comp either – smooth, comfortable and quiet, allowing your mind to stay focused on the trail ahead. Yes, the XL Scout would certainly benefit from a shorter seat tube and a longer head tube, or at the very least and adjustable stroke dropper to get the best from the frame and as it’s very much at home on the descents.
Best budget mountain bike for cross-country and fast trail riding
Wheel size: 26in (XXS), 27.5in (XS, S), 29in (M, L, XL, XXL) | Frame sizes: XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL | Weight: 13.2kg | Suspension travel: 100mm front | Rating: N/A
Reasons to buy: Bargain entry-level race bike. Massive size range. Quality alloy frame
Reasons to avoid: Old school XC geometry with steep head angle and short reach means it’s a handful on technical terrain.
Trek has been building XC race bikes for over 30 years, and it currently boasts the Olympic XCO women’s champion and world champion on its books, so it knows a thing or two about building a great race bike.
The Marlin 8 is very traditional in its ethos, with a light, efficient alloy frame at its heart and a 100mm suspension fork up front to take the sting out of the trail. There’s a fantastic range of frame sizes, with appropriate diameter wheels throughout, so you won’t have a problem getting the perfect fit.
With conservative geometry, it’s not a bike for tackling the steepest, most technical trails or hitting big jumps, but it will be in its element covering long distances and ripping along fast, flowing singletrack.
13. Polygon Siskiu D5
Best full-suspension mountain bike under £1000
Wheel size: 27.5in | Travel: 120mm | Frame sizes: S, M, L | Frame: 6061 T6 Aluminium | Weight: 15.43kg (34.02lb) | Rating: 10/10
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.
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 Calibre has struggled with supply issues over the last couple of years – and Bossnuts have been off the shopping list as a result – Polygon (who manufactured the bikes for Calibre) still sells the frame as the Siskiu model through retailers Blacks and Go Outdoors. If you want a quality full-suspension bike that’s fast, fun and ridiculously good value, the Polygon Siskiu is a serious contender.
Wheel size: 29in | Travel: 140mm | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Frame: 6061 T6 Aluminium | Weight: 15.23kg (33.58lb) | 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 8.6 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.
How we tested
All the bikes included in this test have been extensively ridden by our expert bike testers on their local familiar trails, so they are able to get a good idea of how the bike performs. This includes climbs, descents, and trail features such as rollers and drops, which allow the testers to check every aspect of a bikes performance.
In the last two years, there has been a massive increase in demand for cheap mountain bikes fuelled by Covid, and alongside this there have been supply chain issues, increases in shipping costs, raw material price rises and additional Brexit costs, which means there are nowhere near as many quality sub $/£1,000 mountain bike options as there used to be.
This guide covers only the bikes that have been tried and tested by us and we’re happy to put our name against, which is why a few of them are now just above the £1000/$1400 threshold.
What to look for in the best budget mountain bikes under £1000 / $1400
Start by looking for a butted aluminium frame with modern geometry. Aluminium is light and strong and cost-effective at this price point. Ideally the overall weight should be sub-30lbs (if a hardtail). The lighter the bike, the easier it will be to accelerate, climb and corner. Make sure you choose the right frame size as this will really affect the bikes handling and how comfortable it is to ride. Most manufacturers will have a size guide on their websites, but it may not always provide the best recommendation.
In terms of suspension, look for an air-sprung fork with a degree of damping adjustment, as this will mean you can set the correct air pressure for your body weight. Air sprung forks are also usually lighter than coil sprung forks. Look for an air valve at the top of one of the legs if you’re not sure which it is. We’d recommend 100-130mm of travel at this price point.
Hydraulic disc brakes from a big brand will give you safe and controllable stopping power. They need less set-up and maintenance than rim brakes or cable-operated disc brakes. Likewise grippy tyres are crucial unless you’re only riding dirt roads and canal towpaths. Look for an aggressive tread with a good compound and the option to convert to tubeless. This will save weight, reduce the chance of punctures and often improve the grip and ride quality.
Dropper posts are rare but worth their weight in gold. Similarly, bolt thru axles are a bonus as they increase frame stiffness.
A single-ring drivetrain with a wide range cassette at the back will cover all your gearing needs while saving weight, reducing complexity and helping keep the chain from derailing on rough terrain. Look for 10 speeds with a cassette range from 10-46t at minimum, better still, 10-51t.
Avoid supermarket bikes, as they will not after-sales backup or spares if or when something goes wrong with them. If you really are on a strict budget you should also consider looking at the best mountain bikes under £500, and spending some of money left over on some kit and/or possibly some instant upgrades at time of purchase (always a good time to haggle!). Another good tip is to take advantage of the Cycle to Work scheme, which will allow you to save up to 42% depending on your income tax bracket.