Best Budget Mountain Bikes

By: Mason Arnold

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A GT Aggressor Expert 29 Hardtail bike in black and dark blue
GT Aggressor Expert 29 Hardtail Bike (2021)
A close-up photo of a shinny gray Trek mountain bike
Marlin 4
A close-up photo of a classic blue Co-op mountain bike
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.0 Bike

We all want a bike that can tackle the exciting but unpredictable nature of the trials but, do you really have to be spending thousands in order to get a quality mountain bike?

Of course, you don’t.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Coming across a great quality bike under a budget can be a bit of a challenge, as many cheap manufacturers cut too many corners to get the most out of you but only deliver passable quality.

But no need to worry I’m here to help get past this and get into the best budget mountain bicycle that won’t break your bank, getting you on the trails in no time.

Whether you’re looking to be getting back into cycling, or just don’t want to spend a fortune on a new mountain bike, I’ve got you covered. 

I’ve looked into 27 different budget mountain bikes ready for shredding the trail, looking at control, grip, and most importantly comfort. I will help you find your comfiest and best fit within your budget. 

That’s enough for now, let’s dive into my top choices that offer the smoothest rides when sending it. 

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Best Budget Mountain Bike

GT Aggressor Expert 29 Hardtail Bike (2021)

A GT Aggressor Expert 29 Hardtail bike in black and dark blue

What better way to start my list than with one of the very best at one of the lowest prices.The GT is ready for treacherous trail descents and long, unrivaled fun rides in the mountains.

This is a definite go-getter for the price point. Its tough and light aluminum frame is combined with reliable MicroShift gears and Tektro disc brakes will get you up the hills in no time. 

This bike also has a lockout feature for more efficient climbing, providing a versatile performance output that’s suited to riding anywhere on the mountainside.

This is an all-around brilliant mountain bike for the price point- go check it out.

  • Smooth riding 
  • Fast-rolling performance
  • Performance
  • Strong frame
  • None so far
Latest deal: GT Aggressor Expert 29 Hardtail Bike

Marlin 4

best low budget mountain bikes
A close-up photo of a shinny gray Trek mountain bike

Marlin 4 is the perfect gateway to trail riding. This is ideal for newer riders or riders looking about getting back into cycling this is a great starting point.

If you want an introductory mountain bike at an incredible price, this is the one for you.

With disc brakes, front suspension, 21 speeds, and mounts for a rack and fenders making this a great bike for tackling a new trail or taking the edge off bumps and rough terrain.

This bike provides a comfortable and confident riding experience- making the best budget mountain bikes with hydraulic brakes.

The lightweight aluminum frame with internal shift cable and brake hose routing protects your cables and adds to the bike’s sleek look. Also with 21 speeds and a wide range of gearing so you always have the right gear for your terrain, so you’re ready to tackle anything.

This makes this bike super high quality for such a great price point, making the best budget mountain bikes for beginners. With all the glowing reviews you can’t go wrong.

  • Fast gearing 
  • Internal shift cable
  • Protection of the cable
  • Lightweight
  • Uncomfortable seat
Latest deal: Marlin 4

Co-op Cycles DRT 1.0 Bike

A close-up photo of a classic blue Co-op mountain bike

Coming in at number 3 is a personal favorite of mine; it was made for smaller riders ready to shred the singletrack; co-op Cycles 1.0 is a super versatile mountain bike that provides superior stopping power and confidence when hittin’ the trail. 

Where to begin? Well, for starters, the Shimano 3×7 drivetrain provides a whopping 21 gears ready to conquer anything the mountain throws at you. This, paired with 26-inch wheels that make steering quick and responsive, makes mountain biking feel like a dream.

In terms of the frame, the bike is made with affordable aluminum with an SR Suntour suspension fork; this makes this bike brilliant for tackling rough terrain and provides excellent shock absorption of all the bumps and humps you may come across. 

But wait, here’s more!

There is no need to worry about not stopping ever again; the DRT 1.0 is equipped with Tektro hydraulic disc brakes that deliver smooth and reliable stopping power no matter the terrain– you can ride with complete confidence. 

This bike is a real confidence booster and a must-have if you’re a beginner! It is a super stable frame that provides excellent control and comfort down the trails. You’ll be looking and feeling like a pro in no time. 

  • Smooth ride
  • Superior design
  • Comfortable ride
  • Pedal efficiency
  • None so far
Latest deal: Co-op Cycles DRT 1.0 Bike

Fuel EX 5

best budget full suspension mountain bikes
A close-up photo of a Trek mountain bike

Now I know what you’re thinking, there are so many full-suspension mountain bikes out there but you always need to pay a fortune to get one. But not to worry with Fuel Ex 5, it is a brilliant full suspension mountain bike while still remaining under $2500. 

With so many glowing 5 star reviews you can’t go wrong. 

Fuel EX 5 is one of the best budget full-suspension trail bikes. With trail-taming front and back suspension, a 12 drivetrain, and dropper posts for getting low on descents this is one of the very best. 

If you want a versatile trail bike at a great value this is the one for you.

The hydraulic disc brakes make the Fuel EX 5 a high-value, high-performance mountain bike with exceptional versatility. The lightweight aluminum frame with a Straight Shot down tube will give you that extra stiffness in the rough, rocky terrains.

Here’s the kicker:

You’ll get a high-end ride at an exceptional value and this bike will give you confidence and room to grow and upgrade parts. This is an all-around number one for the price point, one of the cheapest and best full suspension mountain bike. 

  • Comes assembled
  • Smooth-shifting
  • Great control
  • Smooth gearing
  • Cassette wobble
Latest deal: Fuel EX 5

Cannondale Trail 5 Bike

A close-up photo of a hot red Cannondale Trail 5 mountain bike

Take charge on those hardcore singletrack thrills and daring descents with a hardtail mountain bike that was built for reliability, performance, and confidence– all while being on an honorable budget.

Cue the Cannondale Trail 5!

A durable SmartForm C3 alloy frame delivers an exceptionally lightweight, efficient, and smooth ride when shredding even the most technical of trails. This is paired with an SR Suntour fork which offers 100mm of travel for vibration dampening. 

Plus, the SAVE micro-suspension offers a smoother, more controlled ride with the strategically engineered flex zones build into the frame’s rear triangle. Those bumps, rocks, tree roots, and uneven surfaces will never feel so smooth. 

But that’s not even the best bit!

This bike comes with a slack 68º head angle creates exceptionally stable handling so you can charge down those descents with complete confidence. Plus, with ten gears,  you’ll have the right gear for every mountainous terrain. 

To top it all off, this bike comes with reliable Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, which provide superior stopping power and control, plus rolling over WTB Ranger Comp Wheels, which rip around every turn with ultimate grip. 

For the price tag, this bike sounds pretty impressive. 

  • SmartForm C3 alloy aluminum frame
  • Offers front suspension
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Grippy tires
  • None
Latest deal: Cannondale Trail 5 Bike

Cube Aim Race 29 Hardtail Bike (2021)

best cheap mens mountain bike
A black Cube mountain bike

Ready to turn up the heat and tackle rock gardens, tree roots, and debris on the trials with this beauty? I definitely am. Cube is a hardtail mountain bike with SR Suntour forks, which provide fantastic shock absorption perfect for the hills. 

This beast is ready for adventure, the hardtail is kitted out with a Shimano drivetrain to provide quick acceleration with smooth shifting performance while weaving in and out of the mountain trails.

That’s not all though the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes will ensure you have complete control when darting around corners and tackling tricky descents. 

This mountain bike is built for speed and smooth-rolling riding, complete with Schwalbe Smart Sam tires, so you can enjoy superior grip, speed, and consistency on your off-road adventures.

This bike is a giver, go check it out. 

  • SR Suntour folks
  • Shock absorption technology
  • Shimano hydraulic disc brakes
  • Reliable
  • None so far
Latest deal: Cube Aim Race 29 Hardtail Bike (2021)

Ribble HT 725 – SX Eagle

A gray and black-colored Ribble mountain bike

Looking for a bike that’ll have all the heads turning? Looking for a bike that is both durable and will provide a plush and predictable ride? The Ribble Ht 725 is top-class. 

This bike offers an introduction to the lightweight and durable Eagle 12 speed family. There are easy to use shifts and gear changes along with a double drivetrain so you’ll never run out of gears.

This is a stunning, head-turning bike while still remaining below $2000

These wheels are tubeless-ready allowing the tires to sit lower on the rim allowing better grip, comfort, and rolling resistance, providing impressive traction no matter what condition you’re riding on.

The aggressive geometry will be exactly what you are after for tackling the trails.

  • Internal cable routing 
  • Tough frame
  • Comfortable riding 
  • Control 
  • None so far
Latest deal: Ribble HT 725 – SX Eagle

Outroad Mountain Bike Sand Bike Double Disc

best front fork on budget mountain bikes
A closeup photo of a white Outroad mountain bike with fat tires

If you’re looking for a fashion supersized all-terrain knobby tires, that are durable, have a strong grip, and non-slip the Outroad mountain bike is one of the best. You’ll be riding comfortably ride in snow, mud, or dirt with this bike.

Given the way it rides you wouldn’t believe that this bike weighs less than 450lbs!

Designed with a high carbon steel frame, thickened with a front fork gives this bike amazing shock absorption, making it suitable for a variety of trails or terrains while giving both quality and performance. 

You’ll be riding in no time with all the tools being in the package that you’ll need for building and maintaining your bicycle. 

But what does this mean for you?

You can be showing off your best skills down the trails with these grippy tires, speed around those corners, and whiz down those rocky hills knowing you’ll be covered with this bike. 

  • Confident riding
  • Carbon steel frame
  • Grippy tires
  • Lightweight
  • Assembly issues
Latest deal: Outroad Mountain Bike 

Nukeproof Scout 275 Race Bike 2021

A closeup photo of a sky-blue Nukeproof mountain bike

Looking for an agile, versatile, and fun bike that’ll get you up and down the mountains in a speedy shift? The Nukeproof Scout 275 Race Bike will give you that exceptional stability, pace, and comfort whatever trail calls your name. 

The Scout is built for all-mountain explorations and fast descent.

It features a custom triple-butted alloy frame, RockShox suspension, built with Shimano Deore 10-Speed drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes so you’ll be stopping in a heartbeat, even on those gritty trails. 

Versatility is the name of the game for this bike.

The low bottom bracket, slack head angle, and stiff frame means that the Scout is ready to take on anything you come across on your ride. Whether you want to explore the neverending single trail or the hilliest of terrains. 

You’re in the right hands here.

While remaining robust and versatile, this bike provides the ultimate comfort for the longest of rides, but confidence-boosting enough to tackle the steepest and roughest trails, no questions asked.  This is an all-around quality bike for under $1500.

  • Confident style
  • Stable ride
  • Great efficiency
  • High quality
  • None so far
Latest deal: Nukeproof Scout 275 Race Bike 2021

Schwinn Mesa Adult Mountain Bike

best cheap women’s mountain bike
A closeup photo of a black Schwinn mountain bike

This bike is ideal for smaller riders who want to take their biking to the next level. Schwinn Mesa is built with a mountain-tuned aluminum frame and aluminum suspension forks that are ready to tackle dirt trails and gravel paths.

This is a definite go-getter for the hills.

With a 21-speed drivetrain and Shimano EZ-FIRE shifters, you’ll be shifting through the gears in a fast sweep.  Along with aluminum mechanical disc brakes that deliver crisp stopping power in every c0ndition.

But that’s not all,

The MTB 27. 5” wheels and tires will provide the traction and stability needed on the rockiest of trails. This is an awesome ride with nice hand grips, so you can tackle your favorite mountain trails and paths.

This is the best bike for you if you fit in the height range of 5’2 to 5’6 and struggling to find a quality bike range under a budget. 

  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • Lightweight aluminum frame and suspension forks
  • 21-drivetrain
  • Suitable for 5’2 to 5’6
  • Had issues with assembly
Latest deal: Schwinn Mesa Adult Mountain Bike

Vitus Sentier 29 VRS Mountain Bike 2021

best cheap 29-inch mountain bike
A closeup photo of a hot red Vitus Nucleus mountain bike

This hardcore trek bike is ready for anything that the fun-packed day down the trials will bring you. Vitus Sentier 29 gives you that perfect balance between speed, skill, and extreme control no anywhere on the mountainside.

Built with a strong and lightweight aluminum frame that technically engineered with modern geometry. With Fox 34 float suspensions, a 12-speed drivetrain, and hydraulic disc brakes mean you’ll have total control even on the rockiest of hills. 

But wait, here’s the best bit

The 2021 Vitus Sentier is ready to tackle the most fierce hardtails that we all know and love. This bike will give you the feel of total control while rewarding confidence knowing that this bike will attack anything the trail hits you with.

It is also fully capable to climb the mountain ahead and come alive when faced with a downward trail. The agile and playful character of this bike will keep you flowing and owning the trail.

 Overall this bike has a brilliant spec so you’ll be ready to tackle the fun-packed trails in no time, the glowing reviews will definitely speak for themselves, this mountain bike is a real hidden gem for the price.

  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 12-speed drivetrain
  • Confidence boosting
  • Smooth riding
  • Very popular so stock goes quick
Latest deal: Ghost Kato 1.6 Hardtail Bike (2020)

Best Budget Mountain Bikes Buyers Guide:

If you want to buy a top available product on the market, you will have to look for different factors. One should be the features, cost, reviews, and ratings. If you want to buy the best budget mountain bike, the first factor that will matter is the cost, as you first have to select the products that will lie in your price range.

After that, you’ll see other factors to get the top product out of these products. Many other things will help you buy a good mountain bike, such as material, forks, suspension systems, and other features.

When buying yourself a mountain bike, no one should have to spend an arm and a leg to hit the trails; you can still shred the trails with a cheap mountain bike, as long as you’re pretty savvy with what to look for.

This is what I’m here for; I’m here to break down all the confusing features so you can sit back, relax because after reading this guide, you can buy your budget-friendly mountain bike with complete confidence that you’re getting the very best product for the price, you can guarantee that.

Here are some factors one should think of to buy a top budget mountain bike:

Cost: The cost is the main factor if one wants to buy a budget mountain bike to go for those products while lying in the range. After selecting the products lying in the price range, one can select the best one.

Aluminum frames with a carbon fork are probably your best bet; you will get all the features and almost the same feel of a carbon mountain bike but at a quarter of the price.

Ratings and Reviews:  These are important factors as it defines what type of product is. If the rating and reviews are good, that shows that the product is good. So, ratings and reviews provide a great way to judge the quality of the product.

But take all reviews with a pinch of salt; if you see 10 reviews, then 1 bad review saying not to buy the product, it will most likely be an anomaly, and it doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. I would look for consistency in the reviews to gauge an idea of what the product is like.

Durability: Durability is one of the most important features to consider when buying any mountain bike; if you think about it, this mountain bike will go through a fair amount of abuse down the trails, from riding over rocks, roots, shredding tight corners, and much more.

Aluminum frames are super durable and lightweight too, despite being less durable than steel frames, they are 3x lighter and less prone to rusting, adding to the bike’s longevity.

You should also look for features such as the frame’s durability, wheels, pedals, tires, and saddle. Mountain bikes are designed to withstand harsh environments and take a good bit of battering from the mountains, but you should look for ways to add durability.

Shock absorption:  Now, I know you may not be able to get the best shock absorbing carbon frames on the market because they’re not very budget-friendly; however, when I’m looking for high-quality shock absorption at a cheap price point, I always go for aluminum frames with a carbon fork.

Having a carbon fork is much more affordable than going for a full carbon frame, plus they do pretty well when it comes down to absorbing shocks, damping vibrations, and making the ride much more comfortable.

It also helps combat hand problems and hand fatigue as your less exposed to shocks and bumps from the trails.

Gears: Any mountain bike will offer a wide range of gears to help tackle rough terrain with confidence, lower gears help with treacherous climbs, and higher gears provide smoother riding on flat trails– ideal for beginners.

You want to find a mountain bike with a wide range of gears to help you tackle all kinds of terrains; as you well know, the mountains are very unpredictable, so you’ll want the wide gear range up for the challenge.

Wheel Size: There are different types of wheel sizes you’ll find in mountain bikes: 26, 27.5, and 29 inches. Those with 26-inch wheels will provide more control, making them ideal for newer riders. 27.5-inch wheels allow more versatility on the trails without jeopardizing control.

29-inch wheels are for more advanced mountain bikers, they tackle obstacles better than any other, but they maintain momentum; it’s ideal if you’re quite an aggressive rider.

Brakes: Brakes are not something to be compromised in mountain biking especially, you are dealing with the most dangerous terrain, and if your brakes fail, you can imagine the panic as you’re picking up momentum on the descent.

If the bike you buy has poor brakes, that is the first thing to upgrade; safety cannot be negotiated. However, you will find mountain bikes have disc or rim brakes. Disc brakes give superior stopping power in all conditions.

Rim brakes offer a solid grip, but if you find that your bike comes with these sorts of brakes, I will change them ASAP so you can ride through the treacherous descents with confidence.

Material: While buying a budget mountain bike, one wouldn’t think of going for the best as it would cost much more and be out of budget. If you want to buy a budget mountain bike, then the bike’s material would be of less quality.

There can be different types of materials, such as carbon steel, aluminum, and others. Aluminum and steel frames are more of a budget-friendly option. I would recommend going for an aluminum frame over steel as steel is more prone to rust. 

Aluminum mountain bike frames tend to come with a carbon fork to help with shock absorption, keeping the weight low, and keep the price budget-friendly.

Tires: The tires of the mountain bikes should be such that they can provide a smooth riding experience. They provide good control and powerful stopping in all weather conditions.

Most of the mountain bikes mentioned above in the article will lie in your budget and provide a smooth riding experience. They provide good control and good stopping power.

Different types of mountain bikes:

It can be quite daunting for a beginner to buy a mountain bike; there are so many to choose from and so many different types. I’m here to break them down in more detail, so you know which one is best for you.

Hardtail:  Hardtail is a mountain bike with the suspension at the front but has a rigid, unsuspended mainframe and rear wheel. They generally are lighter, don’t wear out as fast as the full-suspension bikes, and are often much cheaper as there aren’t as many parts. 

Hardtail mountain bikes are super versatile and ideal for all kinds of terrain; they have no rear shock and are equipped with rigid forks. They’re ideal for entry-level riders and pro riders, and they’re a super fun ride. 

Full Suspension Mountain Bike: Full suspension mountain bikes feature both a suspension fork up front and a rear shock, whereas a hardtail bike has only a suspension fork.

They often include better handling due to their rear suspension and absorb more shock on the trails. They also offer more control, traction, and comfort while riding down the trail. Full suspension mountain bikes are a real confidence booster.

The only issue with full-suspension mountain bikes is the stupendous price tag; they tend to be the most expensive mountain bike on the market; if you’re a pro rider, this may be brilliant for you, but a beginner on a budget, not so much.

If you’re interested in giving a full suspension mountain bike a go, check out my guide for the best full suspension mountain bike under $2000. Or if you’re looking for a side-by-side comparison of hardtail vs full-suspension mountain bikes to find the right match for you I also made a separate article.

Downhill/Enduro Mountain Bike Downhill bikes are mainly for experienced riders who love the taste of danger; these can tackle even the toughest terrains. They have more technical features built to withstand this environment.

Downhill mountain bikes are full suspension mountain bikes designed for downhill cycling on tricky, steep, and technological terrains. The durability and stability are much higher, and it’s designed for serious riders.

Fat Bike: Fat bikes come with large and wide tires; they absorb vibrations and shocks while offering a good amount of traction. These bikes are ideal for beginners or riders that aren’t quite confident with the mountainous terrain.

Tail Mountain Bikes:  You will find trail mountain bikes are very popular for climbs; they’re very casual and perfect for those who love the mountainous terrains without racing.

Cross country bikes are built more for speed; their climbing power is unrivaled and ideal for more confident riders.

Which one would I recommend for beginners? Full-suspension bikes are probably the best choice for beginners; their capability and versatility make them extremely popular among a range of riders. However, if you’re looking for a cheaper option, it is best to go for a hardtail.

Frequently asked Questions

The following are the questions that most people ask about this product:

How much should I spend on my first mountain bike?
If you want a high-quality, intro-level bike, the price will lie from $2,000 to $2,500. The range of the price depends on the components and features. There would be different prices for different bikes depending on the riding experience they provide.

But don’t panic my list provides you with brilliant bike options below the price of $2000 so you don’t have to spend a fortune to get into cycling or get back into cycling after a break.

You can easily get a bike in your budget with good components and features. But while buying a budget mountain bike, you should do some research to get the best product in the price range.

Is it cheaper to build a bike from parts?
It will be more costly for you to build a bike yourself. If you made a comparison, you would get to know that most of the pre-assembled bikes are cheaper than the DIY build bikes. When you build a bike yourself, you have to buy the groupset or components separately while being 30-40% more expensive than the same groupset installed in an assembled bike.

Does wheel size matter when it comes to mountain biking?

In some ways yes, the bigger the mountain bike wheel, the better it is at tackling the uphill and remaining in a straight line over the rough terrain. The smaller wheels are often more nimble and have more suspension.

Wheel size can impact everything from the quality of your ride to how your bike is handled etc.  The most popular mountain wheel size is between 26 and 29 inches as they provide the best stability and agility.

On the other hand, if the tire is a bit larger, some riders find it more difficult to maneuver in higher areas or when making tight turns. Overall the best wheel for mountain bikes would probably be 27.5 inches. 

There are many choices available for mountain bikes in the market, but every product differs in different features and components. If you want to buy the best budget mountain bike, you would first have to separate the products based on cost and choose the best one out of the selected one.

Many other factors differentiate a good bike from a bad one.

The features or factors for mountain bikes include material, suspension system, fork, brakes, etc. If you’re buying a budget mountain bike, then aluminum will be the best material for the frame of your bike. It is not expensive and makes the bike lightweight, strong and reliable.

The suspension system and forks are responsible for the smooth shifting of gears and smooth riding experience. If the forks are of good quality, it makes the ride smooth by absorbing the road’s bumps and vibrations. The brakes and tires of the bike are responsible for providing powerful stopping and control for making the ride safer.

I have spent time considering and researching the best budget-friendly mountain bikes that still offer high-quality features that you’d expect out of a mountain bike 3x the price. Choose any of the options I have selected for you today; you won’t be disappointed.