Our expert testers have ridden, rated and reviewed a hundreds of bikes under £1k, 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. 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 also the best budget electric mountain bikes; more expensive, but a whole load of fun.

Calibre Line T3-27

The Calibre Line T3-27 is the best starter mountain bike we’ve ridden at £1,000

1. Calibre Line T3-27

Best hardtail mountain bike under £1,000

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

Calibre made its name with the game-changing Bossnut budget full-suspension bike, until the brand went into hiding a few years ago. Well, now it’s back, and focussed on the affordable hardtail market. One thing that hasn’t changed in the interim is Calibre’s know-how and bang-for-buck.

The Line T3-27 boasts progressive trail geometry and large volume 27.5in tyres that iron out bumps the rigid frame can’t. So you can go further and faster in more comfort and with more control. The spec is on the money too, with a quality dropper post, effective suspension fork, and a single-ring drivetrain that’s simple and secure.  

 Read our full Calibre Line T3-27 review

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.

Voodoo Bizango Pro

Voodoo Bizango Pro is perfect for starting XC racing or covering long distances off-road, but can also shred hard

2. Voodoo Bizango Pro

Best XC hardtail mountain bike under £1,000

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 scored a perfect rating every time we’ve tested it, 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 at mbr who rode it.

This Pro version gets a higher spec, with stiffer RockShox suspension fork and smooth Shimano drivetrain. It breezes along smooth trails with a pace that would rival an XC bike at twice the price, but it can still shred on technical singletrack thanks to its progressive geometry, broad handlebar and short, snappy stem.  Yes, fatter tyres would enhance the ride quality of the Bizango Pro further, and it’s crying out for a dropper post to really unlock the handling potential, but these are problems easily solved. 

Read the full Voodoo Bizango Pro review

Voodoo Bizango

The Voodoo Bizango looks the part, and rides the part too

3. Voodoo Bizango

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
  • Improved handling

Reasons to avoid:

  • 29in wheels only

The evergreen alloy Bizango still has no competition. It is simply unbeatable for the (modest) money. The main differences compared to the Bizango Pro are a Suntour suspension fork and cheaper Shimano brakes. But it’s still an air-sprung fork that’s easy to set-up, with enough travel for proper mountain biking, and the brakes are light action and smooth.

Importantly the frame is identical, so you get the same great sizing and handling, it still covers ground athletically, and can be ridden surprisingly hard. An iconic entry-level bike that is highly recommended.

Read our full review of the Voodoo Bizango

Polygon Xtrada 5

The Polygon Xtrada 5 has a modern frame but a dated drivetrain

4. Polygon Xtrada 5

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 with a front derailleur, but this 29er has thoroughly modern sizing and geometry, so it’s to be dismissed at your peril. By modern geometry, we mean it has the slackest steering geometry for stability at speed, the lowest top tube for leaning over in corners, and the shortest seat tube for getting off the back on steep drops. 

Yes, the 2×10 drivetrain is heavier, clunkier, and more prone to dropped chains, but it can always be upgraded to a single-ring system later, or when it wears out. Until then, revel in the top quality frame, and the exciting handling, that really lets you maximise your confidence and develop your skills.

Read our full review of the Polygon Xtrada 5

Carrera Fury

The Carrera Fury boasts a brilliant spec, but could do with fatter tyres and fresh geometry

5. Carrera Fury

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
  • Comes with a dropper post

Reasons to avoid:

  • Harsh ride quality
  • Dated frame sizing and fit

Halfords’ Carrera Fury comes with an astonishing spec. There’s an air-sprung fork that lets you get the right set-up whatever your weight, a wide-range Shimano Deore 1×10 drivetrain for crawling up steep ascents, Shimano brakes for reassuring stopping power, and a dropper post that lets you get your saddle out of the way on descents. But it costs less than £700. That’s remarkable.

Sadly it also has small 27.5in wheels, that clatter over the bumps uncomfortably. And that harsh ride makes it harder to control at speed and more tiring over long distances. Then there’s the outdated geometry, that makes the bike feel ungainly on technical trails. With a few tweaks to the frame, the Fury could be amazing. Right now it’s an amazing set of parts hung on a mediocre frame.

Read our full review of the Carrera Fury

On One Scandal SX

On One Scandal SX: Customisable spec is a cool option

6. On One Scandal SX

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

If you like your coffee with almond milk, two shots, and no foam, then you’ll love On One’s custom ordering system. While buying a Scandal online, you can upgrade components such as the fork, handlebar, stem, seatpost and tyres. Which means you only paying the difference in price, saving you money.

And the base spec is pretty good already, with a distinctive alloy frame, wide-range SRAM drivetrain, excellent RockShox fork, and a dropper post for under £1k. But the ride quality can’t compete with the Calibre or the Voodoo, as the tall front end and short reach feels tipsy on technical trails, and the narrow tyres made for a harsh ride.

As we said in the review, “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.”

Read our full review of the On One Scandal SX

Voodoo's Braag is a cracking entry level mountain bike

Voodoo’s Braag is a cracking entry level mountain bike

7. Voodoo Braag

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
  • Active fork

Reasons to avoid:

  • The fork tops out with a clunk

Using the same frame as the multi award-winning Voodoo Bizango (featured above) 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

Trek Marlin 8

The Trek Marlin 8 is a popular bike, but there are better choices for the money

8. Trek Marlin

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. But with conservative geometry, it’s not a bike for tackling the steepest, most technical trails or hitting big jumps. Stick to covering long distances and ripping along fast, flowing singletrack and it will be in its element.

Read our full review of the Trek Marlin 6

Polygon Siskiu D5

Full-sus for less than a grand? The Polygon Siskiu D5 might not be perfect, but it brings a host of benefits to the ride experience

9. Polygon Siskiu D5

Best full-suspension mountain bike under £1,000

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

We’re firm believers in the benefits of rear suspension when it comes to proper mountain biking. You wouldn’t go green-laning in a Land Rover without any shocks, so why do the same on a bike? Price mostly, as full-suspension bikes typically don’t dip below the £1,000 mark. But the Polygon Siskiu is a rare beast in that it’s under £1k, and it’s actually a great mountain bike.

The frame is basically the old Calibre Bossnut – a bike that redefined the performance of the budget full-suspension category – with a different sticker and parts. Sure, some of those parts are a downgrade, such as the double chainset, and Suntour shock, but it’ll still run rings around most hardtails when the trail is not billiard table-smooth. Think of it as an amazing frame to upgrade as budget allows, and you’ll not look back.

Read our full test review of the Calibre Bossnut / Polygon Siskiu D5

Boardman MTR 8.6

Boardman’s MTR 8.6 is a decent option that could be great with a lighter shock tune

10. Boardman MTR 8.6

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. But considering the amazing price, we feel like it’s worth adding here as an option.

This MTR 8.6 is the 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.

Read our full test review of the Boardman MTR 8.8

Hardtail of the Year 2022

Our Hardtail of the Year 2022 test put the latest sub-£1,000 bikes through their paces

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.

MTBers shredding singletrack happily

Best hardtail mountain bike testing session

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.

Voodoo Bizango Pro

Hydraulic disc brakes, like these from Shimano, are reliable and powerful

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.

Single-ring cranks use special chainrings that help prevent the chain from bouncing off

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.