Pound-for-pound performers that are hard to beat
Do you have more than £1500 to spend? These are the best mountain bikes under £2000. Decent parts mated to good handling geometry.
Our best mountain bikes under £2000
- Whyte 905 V2, £1699 – Hardtail
- Specialized Fuse Expert 29, £1649 – Hardtail
- Orange Clockwork Eco 29 S, £1700 – Hardtail
- Nukeproof Scout 275 Comp, £1699 – Hardtail
- Ragley Blue Pig, £1699 – Hardtail
- Trek Fuel EX 5, £1845 – Full Suspension
- Vitus Mythique 27 VRX, £1999 – Full Suspension
- Calibre Sentry, £1999 – Full Suspension
- Canyon Spectral AL 5.0, £1,949 – Full Suspension
- Giant Trance 3, £2099* – Full Suspension
Are you wanting to wash away those old/no bike blues by treating yourself to a new bike? Well, if so you’re looking at the right price point because we’ve got a theory at mbr that the sub £2,000 full-suspension category is where it’s at these days.
The reason is simple: the frames on mountain bikes under £2,000 are often identical to the more expensive flagship models. Frame geometry and suspension play the biggest part in differentiating machines, so if these are dialed then everything else should fall into place.
Spend more and you’ll gain benefits in weight but you’re unlikely to find huge leaps in overall performance.
Full suspension or hardtail?
Almost certainly most folk will at least be eyeing up full suspension at this price level (£1500 to £2000), as well they might. The rise in particular of direct sales brands and own brand marques from the bigger retailers mean you can have your cake and eat it ie. you can have full suspension for £2k and not suffer too many compromises.
If you want to check out what you can get in the front-suspended world, go check out our Hardtail of the Year test as well as the bikes here in this round-up.
The term ‘trail bike’ is as generic as mountain biking itself. It is synonymous with singletrack shredding, but with as many styles of bike as there are varieties of terrain; it’s easy to see how you could drown in a sea of choice. And that’s without even considering all of the different wheel sizes on offer.
One category that has always hit the trail bike sweet-spot, at least in terms of suspension, are 120-140mm travel full-suspension bikes. With a broad spectrum of freshly designed or updated models to choose from, the good news for riders is that performance is better than ever.
You can expect well-damped shocks and suspension forks that can easily be adjusted to different rider weights and riding styles. It’s also the price at which components become light enough that they can be used to make longer-travel bikes viable as all-day companions.
The best hardtail mountain bikes under £2000
Whyte 905 VR, £1699
Whyte has never been afraid to follow the path less travelled. And while it’s not the first brand to go down the Plus size hardtail route, it’s one of the only bands to implement the more extreme geometry that make hardcore hardtails so much fun to ride. The combination of the chunky 2.8in Maxxis tyres, custom offset RockShox Revelation fork and dialled geometry made the new 905 an instant hit. Whyte claims that this is the best 905 it’s ever built and we wholeheartedly agree. It also the best hardtail we’ve ridden period and easily deserving of a perfect 10 rating.
Nukeproof Scout 275, £1699
After taking it on the chin for two years straight, the 2018 Nukeproof Scout has come out swinging. The completely revised frame design and fatter 2.6in Maxxis tyres totally transforming the bike. Gone is the eyeball-rattling ride of old, replaced instead by a smooth, reactive, playfully bike that still punches hard out of every turn. And with a full Shimano SLX groupset in its corner, the Scout easily stood toe to toe with the Whyte 905. And much as we were rooting for the underdog, Whyte’s polished performance left nothing to chance.
Ragley Blue Pig, £1799
One of the most progressively geometry bikes available – in either hardtail or full-suspension. The Blue Pig is unique in its uncompromising fun-first, gravity-fed aspirations. Not the comfiest of rides but this is a bike is like a rally car mixed with a wrecking ball.
Orange Clockwork Evo 29 S, £1700
With the Clockwork Evo 29 S, Orange has nailed all of the fundamentals. The geometry and sizing are bang up-to-date and, more importantly, the ride quality of the 6061 alloy frame is second to none. As such, Orange has delivered a 29er that’s easy and fun to ride. It’s also fast and engaging, without feeling painfully harsh. Which makes it doubly frustrating that Orange hasn’t quite delivered on the finishing kit. All of the contact points need addressing and Orange needs to decide if it’s going down the quick release route or Allen key bolts for both wheels and the seat post clamp.
Specialized Fuse 29 Expert, £1649
The Fuse Expert 29 is a fast, fun and efficient alloy hardtail, but best of all it doesn’t shake the life out of you on rougher trails. But rather than simply making up the numbers in the trail hardtail category, Specialized could tweak them and lead the way. With a slacker head angle, lower BB height and extra length in the front end, the Fuse would have the attitude to match the ride quality of its superbly engineered frame. Maybe Specialized needs to roll out a Fuse Evo, just like it did with the Stumpy.
The best full suspension mountain bikes under £2000
Now it’s the time of the full susser shortlist. Any of these five sub-£2k full suspension bikes will be a blast to ride if your terrain or riding style is better suited to full sussers.
Calibre Sentry, £1999
It’s the ride quality of the Sentry that’s going to make it an instant hit, though. We’ve already mentioned how it has a very neutral riding position for climbing and feels comfortable in the saddle, but it’s on the descents that the Sentry really shines. It’s just so easy to ride fast. We spent less than five minutes setting it up and with ballpark settings on the fork and shock, the Sentry felt like it had been custom tuned for us.
Vitus Mythique 27 VRX, £1599
We did a first ride review of the 29er version of this bike (link below) and the bike didn’t match our expectations, but all is not lost. The more compact frame design and smaller wheels on this 27.5in version should make it markedly stiffer and looking at the geometry chart on the Vius website it’s 10mm lower too, so w’re convinced that’s the one to go for.
Giant Trance 3, £2099*
*yes, we know that’s more than £2000 but you need to be aware of this excellent bike
And here’s something not from a small brand or a brand you can only buy online or from a specific retailer. You can get Giants in loads of places. And for a big (huge) bike brand Giant are cracking out some amazing bikes these days. Sure you’ll need to get the bar and stem swapped at time of purchase but that’s not a big problem. A fabulous modern trail bike.
Canyon Spectral AL 5.0, £1,949
There’s lively zip and energy once it’s up to speed, and it maintains momentum well over a variety of pitches on both loamy and rocky surfaces. Pedalling creates some up and down movement on steeper climbs or sprinting hard out of the saddle, and aggressive riders might find the suspension a bit ‘floaty’ and too eager to use all of the travel too often when riding hard. All testers rated the Spectral’s trait of encouraging you to play and interact with the trail, aided by the frame feeling stiff and precise and the geometry placing rider weight down low in the frame.
Trek Fuel EX 5, £1845
All of the changes Trek has made to the Fuel EX platform are positive. The tweaked suspension makes it more capable, while the revised geometry and sizing are both bang up-to-date. It’s a bonus, too, that you can actually change the geometry via the Mino-Link. Unlike preivous years’ Fuel EXs, it no longer needs spec upgrades from the get-go (ie. a wider bar or a clutch rear mech upgrade) and the 2.6in Bontrager tyres are versatile enough for most riding.
Shopping for mountain bikes under £2000
We’re more than happy to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. The real question is: should YOU have to? We don’t think so, which is why a lot of the bikes that scored low could be improved with a bit of tinkering, especially where suspension is concerned.
Bikes that are easy to set up are easy to ride and even easier to love.
Let’s not pretend that looks aren’t important. Sure, a cool looking bike that rides like a dog is a no-no but if you’re drawn to the styling of one particular bike even if it scores the same as – or even a point lower than – another bike, we reckon you should go for the bike you actually want to ride.
Try not to be overly put off by the weight of a bike if it appears to be a pound or two heavier than a rival. Chances are the weight won’t translate to much on the trail and all it may take is a couple of choice component changes further down the line (in a year or so basically) to hack some weight off it.
Sure, you can study the geometry charts and go through the specs with a fine-tooth comb, but even experienced testers can’t predict how a bike is going to ride.
A trained eye can possibly spot a dud a mile off, but you can never tell how a bike will perform until you actually ride it. Yes it’s our job, but it’s also big part of why we all ride.