Whether you’re looking for a hardtail, full suspension, fatbike or something in between, these 10 bikes are a great way to have fun and get into the sport on a budget.
Bulls Wild Cup 2$1,499 1 of 11
It's difficult to find a quality, full-suspension mountain bike for under $1,500. The Wild Cup model from German-based Bulls is one of the rare exceptions, providing one of the best bang-for-your-buck bikes in the industry. Featuring a 7005 aluminum frame, RockShox Sektor Gold front fork and a reliable Shimano SLX groupset, the Wild Cup is the perfect option for anyone looking to upgrade to a bike that can handle aggressive trail riding at a reasonable price and overall weight.
Jamis Dakar XC$1,299 2 of 11
While not the lightest (32.5 pounds) or equipped with the best overall components (Shimano Avilo) on this list, the Jamis Dakar XC is a solid entry-level trail bike that is durable and will hold up to plenty of abuse. The RockShox Monarch rear suspension will provide adequate shock absorption to tackle tough downhill sections, and the WTB rims and Vittoria Peyote tires are well-known performers that excel on the trail. Overall, the Dakar XC is a full-suspension option that offers a lot of value in the frame and components.
Giant Stance 27.5 2$1,470 3 of 11
Of the full-suspension bikes on our list, we liked the Giant Stance 2 the most. The OverDrive tapered steerer tube and PowerCore bottom bracket make the bike handle especially well over rough terrain. The geometry of the ALUXX aluminum frame, when combined with the 27.5-inch wheels, improve maneuverability and make it surprisingly fast for a full suspension bike. What we like best about the Stance is that the quality of the frame is worthy of an upgrade should you outgrow the performance levels the stock components provide. While it isn't a race option for moderate to serious racers, if you're a beginner looking for a solid, affordable trail bike that you could also race on, the Stance is a winner.
Diamondback El Oso De Acero Camo$1,100 4 of 11
If you have yet to ride a fatbike, you don't know what you're missing. Whether you're looking to cruise on the beach, in the snow or on the occasional dirt trail, fatbikes can do it all—and they're a lot of fun, too. The El Oso De Acero is an excellent introduction to fatbikes because it's reasonably priced, well built and has a pretty cool-looking paint job. The 3 x 9 drivetrain is also something a little different that you won't see on a lot of other fatbikes, which makes finding the perfect gear for any terrain you decide to conquer that much easier.
Specialized Fuse Comp 6Fattie$1,500 5 of 11
What makes the Specialized Fuse one of our favorites is that it falls somewhere between a fatbike and a hardtail trail bike—which means it can do absolutely everything, and it's surprisingly fast to boot. While you can get away with sand and snow riding, the Fuse Comp is best suited for the trail, where its geometry and wide tires make it one of the most exciting bikes we've ever ridden. There's almost no wrong line you can take, which makes bombing downhills with confidence a worriless adventure. The Manitou front fork, Stout 650b rims, 6Fattie Ground Control tires, and a mix of SRAM components all deliver excellent value for just $1,500.
Trek X-Caliber 9$1,299 6 of 11
From singletrack to enduros, the Trek X-Caliber is a pretty fast entry-level race bike. While the Alpha Gold Aluminum frame and RockShox Recon Sliver front forks were a few of our favorite features, the Bontrager Mustang Elite tubeless wheels are what make this ride roll. While the Shimano/SRAM mix of components are good enough in terms of performance, an upgrade could really make this bike race ready. And the Bontrager handlebar, seatpost, saddle and headset are a step above most other stock options at this price.
GT Verb Expert$1,500 7 of 11
While full-suspension mountain bikes excel going downhill, those uphill slogs can be a real challenge. The I-Drive rear suspension of the Verb Expert from GT isolates rear axle travel by taking input from how hard you're pedaling—which makes it just as capable a climber as it is a descender. The 6061 aluminum chassis is durable, and the Shimano Deore components, Maxxis tires and WTB rims are all solid performers on the trail and make the Verb Expert rival bikes above its price point.
Charge Cooker 0$1,099 8 of 11
If simple, tough and fast is what you're after, the Cooker 0 from UK-based Charge will give you all you can handle. The Cooker's 27.5-inch tires, Chromoly-steel frame and single gearing make it easy to use, extremely comfortable and grants it the ability to roll all obstacles. While the Cooker isn't ideal for venturing, this affordable rig is perfect for flat trails, gravel roads and the occasional zip around the city.
Schwinn Rocket 1$1,100 9 of 11
The double-butted aluminum used on the frame of the Schwinn Rocket 1 is stiff and light, and the tapered headtube make it tailor made for fast cross-country riding. While not known for its climbing prowess, the Rocket is serviceable and can really fly on technical downhills. The tubeless tires, Shimano XT rear derailleur and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes were all pleasant surprises on a bike at this price, making the Rocket 1 one of the better buys, dollar-for-dollar, of the bunch.
Trek Stache 5$1,499 10 of 11
If three-inch tires on 29+ wheels sounds like a monster truck on the trail, think again. The Stache 5 is a plus-size mountain bike that's nimble, fast and worth every penny. Set for release in 2017, the short rear end is said to make the bike accelerate quickly, and because of its wide tires, comfort won't be an issue over rough terrain—even without rear suspension. The 1 x 9 gearing does keep things simple and reduces overall weight, but the bike is still on the heavy side—which is a compromise you'll have to deal with in place of superb handling and a plush ride.