Ten trailblazing best mountain bikes for under £3000, two categories, two outstanding winners - the most important bike test of the year

We bring you the rundown of the 10 best mountain bikes under £3000. Trail bikes In both 27.5in and 29in wheel sizes. One price range, ten bikes, two wheel sizes and no duplication makes this test one of the most competitive to date.

Read more: Best mountain bike 2021 – don’t buy the wrong bike!

There are 10 bikes in the test, evenly divided between 27.5in and 29in wheels. And we’ve managed to get last year’s winners back to defend their titles; the Scott Genius now in 29er guise going head to head with Vitus Escarpe 29.

We’ve got plenty of new 29ers too. The latest carbon YT Jeffy (a previous winner in 2017), the new Commencal Meta TR 29  – the 27.5in version winning its category two years ago – and the new Specialized Stumpjumper Evo with its super progressive geometry.

In the 27.5in class the Canyon Spectral has gone up in travel and down in tyre size, but it looks every bit as good as the bike that won last year. It’s not going to be plain sailing for Canyon though, as it’s by far the cheapest bike in test and has stiff competition for the likes of Sonder, the new Sonder Evol 140mm bike coming equipped with tasty Cane Creek suspension. Then there’s the new Whyte T-130 S that looks totally dialled. The Kona Hei Hei Trail brings a more pumped up XC attitude to trail riding, while the Trek Remedy is at the opposite end of the spectrum with its 160mm-travel RockShox Lyrik fork.

10 best mountain bikes under £3000

  • Canyon Spectral AL 6.0
  • YT Jeffsy 29 CF Comp
  • Kona Hei Hei Trail
  • Sonder Evol GX Helm
  • Trek Remedy 8
  • Whyte T-130 S
  • Scott Genius 940
  • Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX
  • Commencal Meta TR British Edition*
  • Specialized Stumpjumper Evo Comp Alloy*

*yep, these two bikes are over £3k but it’s worth looking at what you can get for another few hundred quid and/or in the sales.

Looking for great deals? Check out Chain Reaction Cycles’ latest clearance offers

‘View Deal’ links

You will notice that beneath each mountain bikes under £3000 product summary is a ‘View Deal’ link. If you click on one of these links then mbr may receive a small amount of money from the retailer should you go to purchase the product from them. Don’t worry, this does not affect the amount you pay.

This year’s best full-suspension mountain bike winners

best mountain bikes under 3000

Canyon Spectral AL 6.0

Best 27.5in mountain bike under £3000

Pound for pound, there is no better 27.5in trail bike that the Canyon Spectral AL 6.0. It pedals with aplomb, it feels light and agile on flatter trails and when it’s time rumble, the extra travel and dialled geometry means it’s every bit as comfortable going 12 rounds as delivering a knockout blow. The MaxxGrip front tyre is overkill for UK riding but it is the only speccing flaw. Even accounting for shipping, you could buy a faster rolling MaxxTerra front tyre and still have plenty of change from £2,500.

Read the full review

best mountain bikes under 3000

YT Jeffsy 29 CF Comp

Best 29in mountain bike under £3000

The YT Jeffsy remains a great-value bike. The Commencal Meta TR 29 British Edition and Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX both have similar builds, but as a trail bike the new Jeffsy is a more balanced package and is that much lighter too. There are a couple of things we’d don’t like – the fixed-position seatpost, clunky shifting and fork flex – but the Jeffsy wins our 29er test because it’s the most versatile bike here with the most comprehensive sizing. It’s light enough to ride all day, but solid enough to smash a load of descents in a bike park.

Read the full review

All eight runners-up

27.5in


Kona Hei Hei Trail, 6/10

Get the Kona into more challenging terrain however and it quickly comes unstuck. The short wheelbase, steep head angle and elevated BB height make it more of a white-knuckle ride to be endured, rather than enjoyed. Thankfully the budget Shimano brakes are some of the best available, allowing us to nurse the Hei Hei Trail home in one piece.


Sonder Evol GX Helm, 8/10

You can have too much of a good thing. And that seems to be the case with the Cane Creek DBair IL shock on the Sonder. In the right hands, the 4-way adjustable damping can be manipulated to make the 140mm rear end spring to life. Alternatively, the stock setting provide a bike that squats down when climbing and rattles your eyeballs out on every descent. And for the rider that’s looking for the level control the Cane Creek shock and fork provide, they will also be looking at the geometry and thinking the size L Sonder Evol needs to be longer and lower.


Trek Remedy 8, 8/10

All of the changes to the 2019 Remedy 8 are positive. The steeper seat angle helps with climbing, the 2.6in tyres increase traction and the lower shock position and 150mm dropper improve standover clearance and fit. Trek is still a touch too conservative with it sizing though. Yes, there are five sizes on offers but biggest option available only has a 475mm reach measurement….Hardly XL proportions. In fact, it’s sizing that’s the only thing holding the Remedy back as all other aspects of the bike are sorted. It even looks top dollar.


Whyte T-130 S, 9/10

Fast and direct, the latest Whyte T-130 S is an amazing trail bike. It’s packed with cutting-edge tech too, like the super short offset fork and single-ring frame design. Yes, it’s the shortest travel bike here, but the T-130 uses every millimetre of its travel optimally. It never feels overly soft or too active under power, but hammer into a rough section of trail the red o-ring on the shock will indicate full travel, without a hint of a harsh bottom out. Whyte can’t quite compete with Canyon’s keen pricing though, so the T-130 S will have to settle for second place.


29in


Commencal Meta TR British Edition, 7/10

Fast and direct, the latest Whyte T-130 S is an amazing trail bike. It’s packed with cutting-edge tech too, like the super short offset fork and single-ring frame design. Yes, it’s the shortest travel bike here, but the T-130 uses every millimetre of its travel optimally. It never feels overly soft or too active under power, but hammer into a rough section of trail the red o-ring on the shock will indicate full travel, without a hint of a harsh bottom out. Whyte can’t quite compete with Canyon’s keen pricing though, so the T-130 S will have to settle for second place.


Scott Genius 940, 8/10

It’s clear that the Scott Genius 920 doesn’t quite tick all the modern trail bike boxes. Testing bikes isn’t simply an exercise in box ticking however. From the very first pedal stroke, the 150mm travel Genius impressed us with its turn of speed. It’s light, fast, reactive and capable, the TwinLoc remote allowing for a plusher suspension response without compromising climbing efficiency. Yes, it’s easy to mock the web of cabling and the spindly Fox 34 fork, but in doing so you’ll underestimate a great trail bike.


Specialized Stumpjumper Evo Comp Alloy 29, 8/10

The Stumpy Evo definitely encourages you to ride hard and fast, but the problem you’re going to have with this sort of bad behaviour is it’s going to put a lot of stress on the frame, parts and wheels. With the Stumpjumper EVO Comp Alloy, we reckon you’re going to really test the limits of every single part of this bike. Even the tyres are not up to the task, and we wouldn’t recommend leaving the shop with them fitted. So the Stumpy Evo could be a vision of the future, but right now this particular model is trying write cheques the build kit simply can’t cash.


Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX, 7/10

On paper, the Escarpe 29 VRS is every bit as good value as the three other bikes in the direct-sales category. It has an excellent Fox 36 fork and the grippiest tyres in the test. And even with the slower rubber, on flat, smooth trails the Escarpe 29 VRS feels rapid, efficient and responsive. Get the Vitus on steeper terrain, however, and you really start to notice the elevated 
ride height of the BB and how the longer chainstays push more of your weight over the front of the bike. So if Vitus really wants to reverse its current ratings trend, it’s going to have to update the geometry on the Escarpe 29 VRS.


best mountain bikes under 3000

Tale of the test

Even though our test is split evenly by wheel size and price, we used the same locations and trails for testing both groups of bikes. After multiple shakedown rides in the Surrey Hills to get the brakes bedded in and the suspension set up correctly, we ventured further afield in search of more demanding terrain.

First stop, the Forest of Dean for some rapid back-to-back testing with the assistance of FlyUpDownhill’s uplift service. If you’ve not uplifted with your trail bike we highly recommend it, as it is as great way to get a ton of riding in without generating a ton of fatigue. Next, we headed to the Valleys of South Wales in search of increased gradient and trails that would really push these bikes to the very limit, and in some cases beyond.