MOUNTAIN bikes can range from £100 to £10,000, but we’ve scoured the internet to find the best cheap mountain bike for you.
Although it’s possible to pick up an inexpensive mountain bike with your shopping at the supermarket, it’s probably best to avoid doing that if you're expecting a bike that will last more than one heavy fall.
What should I look for in a mountain bike?
Around the £500-£1,000 price mark, most bikes are hardtails (meaning they only have front suspension) and have an aluminium frame, but you will get hydraulic disc brakes for your money.
Other things to look out for include the number of gears – more isn’t always better and a 1x set-up, where you only have one front chainring, can often leave you with a lighter, more efficient drivetrain.
Also, the inclusion of dropper post routing is great if you plan to have the bike for the long haul and upgrade as you progress.
The below is a selection of cheap mountain bikes, but just because they’re low-cost doesn’t mean they’re not great bikes for you to consider.
1. Pinnacle Kapur 2
- Pinnacle Kapur Mountain Bike, £475 from Evans Cycles – buy here
Evans Cycles’ in-house bike brand has a few different mountain ranges, and the Kapur is its entry-level offering.
The bike shares a lot of similarities with Pinnacle’s award-winning Iroko, but in a slightly cheaper package.
Available in three different builds, the Kapur 2 is something of a middle ground and benefits from slightly better components than its Kapur 1 sibling.
The bike’s Suntour fork retails for just shy of £80 by itself and its 120mm of travel will keep things feeling smooth even if the terrain is far from it.
It also benefits from a 27-speed Shimano drivetrain and hydraulic brakes, while WTB Ranger tyres complete the package, making it a fantastic beginner’s option.
2. Voodoo Bizango 29er
- Voodoo Bizango 29er Men's Mountain Bike, £650 from Cycle Republic – buy here
At £650, the Bizango 29er by Voodoo is towards the upper limits of what can be considered a cheap mountain bike, but you can see where the extra money goes.
The Bizango also has a 6061 alloy frame and the same Shimano hydraulic brakes as Pinnacle’s Kapur 2, but that’s where the similarities end.
The Suntour fork and its 120mm of travel will smooth out bumps and burms even more, while the wide-ranging 1x 11-speed SRAM gearing translates as reliable shifting and minimal maintenance – perfect for hitting the trails, while it’ll cope with the ride there and back too.
It’s also a smart investment because it can be upgraded if your enthusiasm for mountain biking grows, with features such as frame routing for a dropper post.
3. Cannondale Trail 4
- Cannondale Trail 4 Mountain Bike, £700 from Evans Cycles – buy here
Trail by name, trail by nature – this range by Cannondale is an ideal companion for riding single track and fire roads.
The design of the frame gives the bike a low centre of gravity, making it perfect for navigating twisting and turning trails, while its RockShox fork with 100mm of travel and a specially designed flex in the frame’s rear triangle should be able to absorb anything you throw at it.
The frame’s internal cable routing helps keep the bike looking clean while protecting gear and brake cables from the elements and any mishaps you might have when hitting the trails.
The most expensive in this list, it’s perfect for those looking to take their mountain biking up a gear.
4. Specialized Pitch Sport 650B
- Specialized Pitch Sport 650B Mountain Bike, £475 from Evans Cycles – buy here
The Pitch is Specialized’s entry-level mountain bike, but your money is paying for more than a big brand name.
The aluminium frame is lightweight and durable, which makes it one for riding uphill as well as down, while 16-speed Shimano gearing will mean you can get back to the top of a trail without having to jump off and push.
A notable feature are the 650b wheels, which are slightly smaller than the 29” sets you see on most cheap mountain bikes.
These give the bike a more nimble feel while still retaining the ruggedness of a bigger set. Throw in a set of 2.3” tyres, and you’re left with a comfortable ride with bags of control.
5. Canyon Grand Canyon AL 4.0
- Grand Canyon AL 4.0, £649 from Canyon – buy here
The German manufacturer-to-consumer brand is renowned for being able to offer up amazing value thanks to cutting out the middleman.
Canyon’s entry-level hardtail offering is the Grand Canyon AL 4.0, but there’s nothing basic about this bike.
A robust aluminium frame is paired with components that only the more expensive Cannondale Trail can match on this list.
It benefits from a full second-tier set of Shimano gears and brakes, while the inclusion of a SR Suntour XCR fork is a rarity on a cheap mountain bike.
The ride is finished off with a set of Schwalbe Tough Tom tyres, which will keep you gripped on the trail, whatever the conditions.
Available in five different sizes (XS-to-XL), the bike also comes in a female-specific design, the Grand Canyon WMN AL 4.0, which includes a 2XS option for those under 152cm tall.
6. Trek X-Caliber 7
- Trek X-Caliber 7 hardtail mountain bike, £700 from AJ Cycles – buy here
Like the Cannondale Trail above, the X-Caliber from American brand Trek is right on the limit of what can be considered a 'cheap mountain bike', but it's definitely an investment with longevity in mind.
The saying goes that buy cheap, buy twice, but this won't be an issue with the X-Caliber 7. Not only is it a clear step-up from the brand's entry-level Marlin range (which tops out at the £550 Marlin 7), but the inclusion of dropper post compatibility make it a bike that can be upgraded as you advance.
The aluminium frame includes a tapered headtube for increased handling, while the geometry has been designed to allow a maximum of 2.8"-wide tyres (or 2.4" if you have 29" wheels) for those days when you need all the grip you can get.
A Rockshox 30 Silver fork provides 100mm of dampening up front and a mixture of Shimano Acera and Alivio components make up the 18-speed drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes.
The rest of the bike is finished in kit from Trek's sister brand Bontrager, including an innovative stem that can be customised to add integrated mounts for everything from lights to action cameras.
7. Marin Bobcat Trail 5
- Marin Bobcat Trail 5 mountain bike, £875 from Cycle Solutions – buy here
The Californian brand Marin refines its bikes on the Sunshine State's legendary singletrack trails and its hardtail Bobcat Trail range is the ideal partner for those who enjoy the thrill of blasting around the tight, twisting network of routes found in your local woods.
The Bobcat Trail 5 is the top-of-the-range model, but the whole line is built around a lightweight and solid aluminium frame and 120mm travel suspension fork.
The bike's design is refined for confidence-inspiring control – whether that's the frame's relaxed head tube angle or the use of wide handlebars – and feels great both on steep climbs or when whizzing down the other side.
A 1x 11-speed drivetrain has enough range for even the most challenging terrain and Shimano hydraulic brakes are sharp even in the depths of winter (and the muddy conditions that come with it).
One nice touch is the varying wheelsize (27.5" with XS, S, M or 29" with M, L, XL, XXL) which ensures that, whatever size you choose, you're left with a bike that fits perfectly.
8. Saracen Zenith Pro 29er
- Saracen Zenith Pro 29er mountain bike, £749.99 from Cycle Solutions – buy here
The Zenith Pro range by Saracen is a solid starting point for those looking for a bike that can handle anything you throw at it.
The drivetrain (an 18-speed Shimano Alivo/Altus combination) and hydraulic disc brakes (Tektro) are the same as others featured on this list, so the main differentiator here is the bike's base. And what a base it is.
It's as comfortable on the rocks and roots as it is on smoother sections of singletrack thanks to a 120mm travel suspension fork and an aluminium frame that has a bit of give in it.
So whether you're planning a long day of cross country or a quick blast sessioning your local spot, the Zenith Pro is a solid option to consider.
9. Rockrider XC 500
- Rockrider XC 500 mountain bike, £999.99 from Decathlon – buy here
As well as being great for trail riding, hardtails are the bike of choice for all but the most serious XC (cross country) racing enthusiasts.
XC racing bikes tend to have slightly more aggressive angles than a trail-specific bike, making them perfect for laying down the power and sprinting past your fellow competitors.
The Rockrider is Decathlon's in-house mountain bike brand, and the XC 500 can be considered something of a steal.
You get an awful lot of bike for 1p under £1,000, including a Rockshox Reba XL fork with 100mm of travel and a 1x 12-speed SRAM Eagle GX drivetrain.
A lifetime warranty on the frame should leave you with peace of mind and compatibility with three different wheel sizes (27.5", 27.5"-plus and 29") gives you a seriously adaptable bit of kit.
10. Calibre Bossnut
- Calibre Bossnut full-suspension mountain bike, £1,100 from Go Outdoors – buy here
While this bike doesn't fall under the £1,000 bracket, the fact that it's currently available with a £400 discount means it has to be included.
Made by the British brand Calibre – which focuses on designing amazingly specced mountain bikes for less – the Bossnut offers up a full-suspension set up for a fraction of the cost of the big name brands.
There's nothing cheap about the bike, either. An alloy frame is paired with a 130mm travel Rock Shox Recon RL fork and Rock Shox Monarch rear shock to create a trail-ready rig. SRAM is in charge of the drivetrain and brakes, while WTB tubeless-ready rims and tyres will keep you puncture-free for longer.
If looking for a bike park- and trail centre-ready bike that can handle even the most technical black runs, they don't come much cheaper than the Bossnut.
How much does a decent mountain bike cost?
Spending between £450-£700 will get you something that is not only good value, but will help you to develop your skills as a mountain biker. The quality of the main components (frame, fork, drivetrain, brakes) improve the closer you get to the £1,000 marker, providing you with a solid skeleton that can be upgraded as your riding improves.
This price range means that all will qualify for the cycle-to-work scheme allowance too, with mountain bikes making a comfortable choice for a short or scenic commute.
Can a mountain bike be used on the road?
There’s nothing stopping you using a mountain bike on the road, and many who don’t have the luxury of owning different bikes for different types of riding will use a mountain bike for all sorts – be it commuting, getting from A-to-B or longer distance touring.
If you’re only going to be riding on the road though, a hybrid or road bike might be better suited to your needs as they will generally be faster on tarmac than a mountain bike thanks to tyres with better rolling resistance and road-specific gearing.
What size mountain bike is right for me?
To make sure you get the right-size bike for you, you've got to measure yourself using a tape measure and, ideally, a spirit level and apply that data to a sizing chart.
Tredz has a very useful sizing guide which you can use to make sure you get the perfect fit.
How can I improve my cheap mountain bike?
While all of the above bikes are a solid starting point, there is a reason why they are the price they are. Brands will generally focus on the big-ticket items (frame, fork, wheels, drivetrain) and keep the cost down by finishing the bike with lower-spec or own-brand kit.
The first thing to change that will make the biggest difference is the bike's tyres. If sold as tubeless-ready, that could be as simple as setting them up as tubeless with a conversion kit, which allows you to run lower tyre pressures, improving grip and reducing the risk of punctures in the process.
Other cost-effective ways of instantly improving your stock mountain bike include replacing the grips, installing a set of clipless pedals and getting your suspension tuned and serviced, while slightly more expensive changes include new handlebars, saddle and even installing a dropper seat post.
Enjoyed our roundup of the best cheap mountain bikes? Then you may also like our selection of the best cheap hybrid bikes. Or, if you've got some more money to spend, how about our picks of the best mountain bikes?
We've created Sun Selects so you could find the best items when shopping around the web.
If you want to check more of our sport-related recommendations, visit Sun Selects' health and fitness page.
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