Picking the best mountain bike under $2,000

Picking the best mountain bike under $2,000
Picking the best mountain bike under $2,000

Ready to take your mountain biking to the next level? While the price of a quality mountain bike can increase quickly, sometimes getting into the five-figure range, affordable solutions that don’t skimp on handling, speed and fun are out there. To land the best mountain bike under $2,000, it’s important to go into the buying process understanding what your primary needs in a bike are and the type of features you’re looking for.

If you’re in the market for the best mountain bike at an affordable price, Climbers Link can help. Climbers Link offers cash back rebates for trusted retailers like REI, Backcountry and Black Diamond. Just sign up at climberslink.com, go to the online store of your brand of choice and see the savings for yourself. As you get started on your search, be sure to think about the following questions:

What will you be using the bike for?

Before you begin the search process, it’s important to take an honest assessment of what you’re looking to use your new bike for and what kind of terrain you’ll be dealing with. Will this bike be for peaceful rides along river trails? Or are you an adrenaline junkie angling for the next steep descent or piece of technical terrain? Is this bike just going to be tearing up the single track, or also a work commuter?

Equally important is knowing the weather and terrain of your local trails. A prairie area full of packed dirt will require a different kind of bike than a trail system in rocky woodlands. Additionally, if you live in a place with long, snowy winters, you may want to consider a bike with thicker tires that can compress snow, like a “fat” bike. For the most part, however, the biggest way that your bike use and environment will inform your selection is in the kind of suspension system you’ll want.

What kind of suspension system makes sense for you?

Mountain bikes are largely categorized by the kind of suspension system they use. A bike’s suspension is the system of shocks that allow it to handle the hard impacts and variability of the trail. Suspension improves the control you have on difficult terrain and provides greater control. The systems typically connect between the bike’s wheel and frame and allow the wheel to bounce up and down when impacted, mitigating the amount of force that goes into the bike’s frame.

Mountain bikes can have suspension on both the front fork and rear shock, just the front fork, or neither. These categorizations are known as:

  • Full suspension: These are the bikes with suspension shocks on both the front fork and rear shock. In the past, a full suspension bike would typically run you a hefty price tag. Today, thanks to advances in technology, a ready-for-anything used or new dual suspension mountain bike can be yours at a more affordable price point.
  • Hardtail: Hardtail bikes have suspension on only the front fork. Front suspension can provide cushioning on descents, but overall more technical terrain may be a challenge or at least a bit uncomfortable. For many riders, however, hardtail mountain bikes offer a perfect middle point. They’re lighter, and typically more affordable, than full suspension bikes, yet have enough support to handle many trails, including doubletrack and fire roads. If you’re looking for a do-it-all bike that’s as comfortable handling potholes on city streets as downhills on dirt roads, a hardtail bike is probably for you. It’s a true goldilocks bike.
  • Rigid: While not as commonly used, mountain bikes with no suspension, called rigid bikes, could be a good option for you. These bikes are best for smoother trails and pavement and depend on their tires for cushioning. As suspension technology has gotten cheaper, bringing once professional-grade mountain bikes down to a tenable price point, rigid bikes have become a rarer sight on the trail. However, if you don’t plan on taking your bike out on to any technical terrain and speed is an important factor for you, a rigid bike might still be the right choice.

Picking the right suspension option and knowing what kind of terrain you’ll be using your bike on are closely linked and important things to know before you start shopping. However, suspension isn’t the only factor worth taking into account. Frame material and tires can also impact the functionality and price of a bike. Typically, lighter frame materials like carbon fiber will cost more, while heavier ones like aluminum and steel will be found on cheaper models. Thicker tires are better for certain environments, like snowy conditions.

What price point are you looking at?

Finally, once you’ve determined what the right bike for you may look like, it’s time to go shopping and see if you can find a dream bike at a dream price point. In the $1,000 to $2,000 range you can expect to find bikes with top-of-the-line quality and all the basic features of a top mountain bike, even if it doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles of a more expensive model. This is around the price point you’ll want to look if you’re in the market for a full suspension mountain bike. However, if you’re willing to make sacrifices in areas like frame material and possibly quality, a far cheaper model may be out there. With some diligent shopping, the right used or new mountain bike under $2,000 is out there. Happy riding!