Expert reviews of the very best mountain bikes under £1000/$1400 right here from our expert testers. From rapid hardtails through to burly hardcore bikes.
What to look for on the best mountain bike models under a grand? Start with butted aluminium frame with modern geometry. Ideally the overall weight should be sub 30lbs (if a hardtail) An air-sprung fork with a degree of damping adjustment will ensure it can be adjusted to your body weight. Hydraulic disc brakes from a big brand for safe and controllable stopping power. 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 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 derailling on rough terrain.
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 £/$1,000 threshold.
Also, avoid supermarket bikes (no after-sales backup or spares when they go wrong). 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!)
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Quality alloy frame with modern geometry that makes a great platform for future upgrades
Wheel size: 29in | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 14.6kg | Suspension travel: 120mm front | Rating: N/A
Pros: Amazing price, great geometry and range of sizes, spot-on cockpit and component choices, and an active fork. Cons: 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.
Read our full review of the Voodoo Braag
Simply astounding spec and performance for the price
Wheel size: 27.5in | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 14.38kg | Suspension travel: 120mm front | Rating: 10/10
Pros: Ride quality and build kit belie its price tag Cons: Demand always outstrips supply, so be quick!
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-£750 class of our Hardtail of the Year test. Sadly, as is the case with so many bikes recently, the price has gone up and availability is scarce. However, if you see the Nucleus come into stock, don’t hesitate to snap it up, even at £599, as it’s still a bargain and by far the best hardtail mountain bike at this price.
The bike that rewrote the definition of entry-level hardtail performance
Wheel size: 29in | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 13.1kg | Suspension travel: 120mm front | Rating: 10/10
Pros: The price, updated geometry, light weight, lower range gears, wider handlebar and improved handling. And did we say the price? Cons: 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: 27.5in | Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 12.94kg | Suspension travel: 140mm front | Rating: 10/10
Pros: Great spec, fast, massively versatile and impressively light. Cons: Needs better frame protection. Resin-only rotors make upgrading to sintered brake pads more expensive than it should be.
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. The Sentier is classic Vitus: light, versatile and fast with a spec choice that clearly shows a company run by genuine mountain bike enthusiasts. We gave the 2019 VR version our coveted Editor’s Choice award, and as the frame hasn’t really changed, we’re confident that it’s just as good now as it ever was. Vitus also makes a 29in wheel version that would be better for taller riders and covering longer distances.
Fast yet frugal option for racers on a budget
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
Pros: Bargain entry-level race bike. Massive size range. Quality alloy frame. Cons: 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.
Polygon Siskiu D5
The remarkable Calibre Bossnut with a different head badge
Wheel size: 27.5in | Travel: 120mm | Frame sizes: S, M, L | Frame: 6061 T6 Aluminium | Weight: 15.43kg (34.02lb) | Rating: N/A
Pros: Same frame and five star handling as the old Calibre Bossnut. Even cheaper too. Cons: 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.
Best mountain bikes under £1000, or $1400
There you have it. The best options if you have anywhere between £500/$750 and £1000/$1400 to spend on a serious mountain bike. Keep checking back to the site, we’re adding bike reviews each and every week.
What are the key things to look out for when hunting around for the best mountain bikes under £1000/$1400? Number one, is decent trail bike geometry. You cannot change your bike’s geometry. You’re stuck with it. If the geometry is poor, no amount of higher spec kit is going to cure. Other than that, make sure the expensive essentials are acceptable: suspension fork and wheels are the two biggie considerations here. Both are expensive to upgrade. Everything else on the bike – yep, including things like hydraulic disc brake and even dropper posts – can be had affordably in the sales if you know where and when to look.
Make sure the frame is the correct size, with capable geometry, the suspension fork is decent (with service and spares back-up) and the wheels are okay for a couple of seasons at least.