Best Mountain Bikes Under 1000 Dollars – Reviews and Buying Guide

Last updated: May 29th 2017.

Mountain bikes are a great opportunity to get outdoors and point yourself in the direction your heart desires. Their ability to go ‘just about anywhere’ without having to worry about terrain lets you do just that. As a bonus, you get to develop some ‘rad skills and fitness along the way.

As we’ve mentioned in our road bike guide, there are quite a few advantages to buying a bike online. Primary amongst them is the fact that you often get a better deal by bypassing the logistics and branding costs that have to be borne by physical stores which are passed down to the customer.

Best mountain bikes under 1000


The Schwinn High Timber

Top-End Pick: The Schwinn High Timber

The High Timber is a great starter bike for anyone looking to get into mountain biking and having their first trail experiences. It also makes a great choice for someone who wants a simple, no-nonsense mountain bike that just works.

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The Diamondback Overdrive

Low-Budget Pick – Diamondback Overdrive

Diamondback Overdrive is a bike that punches way above its price class. It would not be an overstatement to say that it is one of the best value hardtail bikes out there. At the core of the bike is a hand-built 6061-T6 aluminum alloy frame.

Buy on Amazon

We think it’s a great idea to support your local bike shop but that can also be done via spares, parts and service. Whatever you do though, don’t try a bike out in a store and then buy it online. That’s just plain wrong!

We will list some bikes that have a unique value proposition towards the end of the article. We try to stick to links from Amazon.com as they provide nationwide coverage, including some considerably remote areas. It’s also nice to have an added layer of protection for your purchase. That being said, In the event that we want to recommend something not carried by Amazon, well do just that.

Best Mountain Bikes – Our Top Picks



Mountain bike basics that will help you select the right bike :-

Frame Size

Mountain bikes aren’t as sensitive to sizing as road bikes. However, it is still important to get into the correct ballpark if you want to get the most out of them. The following chart will help you get there: –

types-of-mountain-bikes

There really shouldn’t be any difference in a women specific frame except that those are usually easier to step through. If the size is right, gender should not matter. As it tends to be, the sizes will vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer. If you find yourself between sizes, choose the slightly smaller frame and you should be good.

Types of mountain bikes

While there are specific bikes for different mountain biking disciplines such as Enduro, Cross-country, Freeride, Downhill etc., were primarily going to cover the two classes of bikes, namely Hardtail and Dual-suspension.

Hardtail

Hardtails are bikes that have only have front-suspension and therefore a hard-tail or rear. In other words, only the front wheel is suspended via shock absorbers in the fork. These bikes tend to be faster and more efficient over moderately uneven terrain as opposed to full-on off-roading, where they might be less so. They may also end up being lighter than dual-suspension bikes of the same price. When buying an entry to mid-level bike, it’s a good idea to stick to hardtails as they offer better value. We’re big fans of how they feel and that will be reflected in our recommendations.

Full Suspension

Full or dual suspension bikes, as the name suggests have both wheels suspended. While this adds complexity weight and cost, it can have a number of performance benefits. Consider these when buying a high end bike or if you plan on racing.

Wheel Size

If you’re unfamiliar with Mountain bikes, you may be surprised to know that they come with different wheel sizes. We’ll list the 3 most common options available with a brief description so that you can make an informed choice: –

29 inch

29-ers are the most popular wheels currently on the market despite the fact that they are a fairly new wheel size for MTBs. The bigger wheels mean that they can carry more momentum and are therefore more efficient. They can also be a good choice if you are going to want to roll over big obstacles while off-roading. They are compatible with many hybrid tires giving you a bit of flexibility if you want to convert the bike to more on-road use. Choose these if you want speed or out-and-out performance.

26 inch

26-ers are the traditional Mountain bike wheel size. This relatively small sized wheel has been the industry standard for a long time. These wheels are stronger than the similar wheels of a larger size due to a shorter spoke length. The smaller size also lets you change directions quickly and as such they are suited for more technical off-roading with lots of turns and twists. For obvious reasons, they are also lighter.

27.5 inch

27.5 inch or 650b is the latest wheel size and one that tries to offer the best of both worlds, combining the benefits of 26 & 29-ers without going too far in either direction.

We will specify the type of bike and wheel size in our recommendations and also provide options wherever possible to help you choose.

Materials

Carbon fiber and aluminum are the most popular choices for Mountain bike frames and parts alike. Carbon parts are lighter, stronger (in areas designed to bear load/impact) and more expensive. Aluminum provides better value & a satisfactory balance between lightness, durability and stiffness. A word to the wise, buy parts that you could easily replace if needed. What we’re trying to say is that while carbon parts may have bling value and performance, replacing a broken handlebar or stem should not become a strain on your wallet. This is particularly true for a sport like mountain biking where falls and impact are part of the game. All of cycling is more about the rider and less about the machine. That being said, go with carbon if you desire the very best but keep in mind that aluminum won’t hold you back either.

Steel is an interesting choice for an MTB frame because while it is by far the heaviest, it is a very absorbent material. Steel bikes offer superior comfort and are extremely cost effective. A steel frame makes for a great entry-level/recreation bike and so if you aren’t too concerned with weight and want a strong, reliable bike, it is a material worth considering.

Groupset/Drivetrain

The mechanical parts of the bike are collectively known as the groupset. These include the brakes, crankset, front and rear mech., chain, brakes and gear shifters. These parts may need to be replaced over time as there Is wear and tear involved. They can also be upgraded, either partially or as a set, for better parts as needed. Shimano and SRAM are by far the most popular manufacturers. The following is a handy chart that will help you understand their hierarchy: –

mechanical-parts-of-mountain-bikes

As with road groupsets, improvements in performance are insignificant once you go past the mid-range to enthusiast tiers. What does keep going down is the overall weight, something that might be worthwhile if you plan on entering competitions.
1x or ‘one-by’ groupsets do away with the front derailleur/chainrings, eliminating chain slap/slack, reducing weight and improving shifting performance.

Because Mountain bikes are exposed to conditions harsher than most other bicycles, it is important to keep the drive parts of your bike clean. A well maintained drivetrain not only works better, it also feels better. Take care of your equipment and your bike will thank you for it. This should also help you considerably lengthen the lifespan of the parts.

Forks

The fork is the part of the bicycle that holds the front wheel. It also houses the most important suspension springs on a Mountain bike, the front shocks. Forks come with varying levels of ‘travel’. Travel simply refers to the distance that the fork can move up or down to stabilize the bike and absorb shock. A fork with a lot of travel will have great ability to soak up the bumps but will also make the steering less direct and generally make the bike trickier to handle. A longer fork also means more material and therefore more weight.

While the ideal amount of travel in the fork would depend on the kind of riding you wish to do, most people would benefit from being somewhere in the middle. That’s what we are going to aim for with our recommendations. If you intend to ride your Mountain bike on paved roads, it might be a good idea to get a fork that has a ‘lock-out’, which lets you make the fork rigid and improve efficiency when the road is smooth.

If you’d like to know more about forks, here’s a detailed article to help you out: – http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/article/mountain-bike-suspension-forks-a-buyers-guide-55/

Tires

Because mountain bikes are often ridden over loose and uneven surfaces, the tires are wider, more puncture resistant and ‘knobby’. This type of tread improves the bike’s traction over such surfaces. Tubeless tires can nearly eliminate punctures and are available as an option depending on the type of wheel.

Our top recommendations for the best mountain bikes:


Here are the best mountain bikes under 1000 reviewed by Fitnesstep1’s experts team. Let’s take a look at individual bike model.

The Schwinn High Timber – An easy entry into mountain biking

Schwinn High Timber Men's 18 Mountain Bike

The High Timber is a great starter bike for anyone looking to get into mountain biking and having their first trail experiences. It also makes a great choice for someone who wants a simple, no-nonsense mountain bike that just works. The Steel frame is sturdy and absorbs small bumps and vibrations with ease, making this a relatively comfortable hardtail. The front suspension does its job and takes the edge off larger bumps. Despite the bike’s having an under-$200 price tag, the rear derailleur is a Shimano, as are the grip shifters. This is a lot of bike for the money. There’s even a women’s specific 26-inch wheel version and for a few extra dollars, you have the option of getting a 29-inch version of the bike.
This truly is a bike that anyone can get up and start riding and Schwinn’s lifetime warranty sweetens the deal even further.

The Diamondback Overdrive – Perfect blend of price & performance

The Diamondback Overdrive

The 2017

Diamondback Overdrive is a bike that punches way above its price class. It would not be an overstatement to say that it is one of the best value hardtail bikes out there. At the core of the bike is a hand-built 6061-T6 aluminum alloy frame. The frame lets you power through stones, gravel and mud by making the most of aluminum’s natural stiffness. This stiffness is offset by the plush, 4 inch SR Suntour XCT fork. The 24 speed gears tackle all sorts of grades with ease and the big tires provide grip for days, keeping you rooted to the ground even when the surface is loose. Tektro’s mechanical disc brakes provide plenty of stopping power. The red color really catches the eye. This is a capable and fun bike that’s worth much more than the sum of its parts. There’s also the choice of a 29-inch version.

The BEIOU CB005/CB020 Carbon Fiber – Ultra-light race machine

The BEIOU CB005:CB020 Carbon Fiber

Discovering this bike was like finding a diamond in the rough. Conventional wisdom might have you staying away from a virtually unknown East-Asian brand but take our word for it, this Is a serious bike with serious performance. The carbon used here is the same grade as you would find on much more expensive carbon bikes from Trek/Giant. The handlebars and seat post are made from the same high-grade carbon fiber. The bike is kitted with Shimano gears and brakes The excellent 30-speed Deore system will let you spin up walls and the M355 Hydraulic disk brakes will let you stop as if you’ve hit one. The bike is nimble and changes direction superbly. There’s also a 27.5-inch version with internal cabling for you to choose from. Both sizes of wheels come with carbon fiber hubs and It even has a lock-out option for the suspension fork. Incredible value for an all-carbon bike.

The Diamondback Mission 2 – Uncompromising performance

Diamondback Bicycles 2016 Mission 2

It’s probably no secret that we’re fans of Diamondback. Their bikes represent a price to performance ratio that’s really hard to match and this remains true even at the higher end of the scale. The 2017 Diamondback Mission 2 is a dual suspension bike that was designed to ride as many trail miles as you possibly can and then some more. From top to bottom, no compromises have been made while designing this bike. The frame is made out of weapons grade hydro-formed aluminum. The suspension components are some of the best you can buy and the bike actually feels like a hardtail until the rear shock is needed. It comes standard with a KS Lev Integra dropper seatpost that lets you lower the saddle instantly at the push of a button. This helps you quickly switch between an aggressive standing position and an efficient seated positon. SRAM’s 1×11 drivetrain and DB5 hydraulic brakes work flawlessly. The Easton ARC27 wheels are compatible with tubeless tires, should you require the option. From the magnesium lowers in the forks, to the chromoly steel used for the saddle rails, every part of the bike screams quality.

BikeTypePrice RangeBuy Now
The Diamondback Overdrive SportAluminum frame hardtailBudgetCheck Lowest Price
Diamondback Recoil Full Suspension Mountain BikeAluminum frame hardtailPremiumCheck Lowest Price
Mongoose Impasse Dual Full Suspension Bicycle (29-Inch)Aluminum frame hardtailBudgetCheck Lowest Price
The Schwinn High TimberAluminum frame hardtailPremiumCheck Lowest Price
The BEIOU CB005 Carbon FiberAluminum frame hardtailPremiumCheck Lowest Price
The Diamondback Mission 2Aluminum frame hardtailBudgetCheck Lowest Price

Closing thoughts


Mountain biking is about nailing your technique and smoothly transitioning from one skill to another. Take time to hone your skills, learn how to move your body weight around and soon you’ll be flowing though the trails. Remember that the rider matters more than the bike.

20 comments

  • Paul Hackett

    What bike should I buy?

  • Micheal Willson

    Technically, you would want a bike that can withstand long hard rides, a few rocks, and scary downhills. There are two types of bikes that can cope with the cross country riding without easily getting damaged which are the hard tail and the full suspension bike.
    The full suspension bike is the best because it has improved control and higher downhill speed, it is undeniably more fun, it is safe on the bailout line and when you use it especially for long hard rides, you experience less fatigue. The setbacks are; it has more weight, it needs more maintenance and due to the increased weight you will go slower when climbing.

    On the other hand, we have the hard trail that is perfect for you if you are on a low budget and do not need the extra expense of regular maintenance. This bike is lighter and can almost do everything a full suspension bike does but if you want to win your races every time you go mountain climbing then the full suspension bike should be your obvious choice as it is more effective.

  • Bernard McDougal

    How many gears should my bike have? Are more gears better?

  • Micheal Willson

    If you are using your bike for general use, extra gears are useless. The whole point of gears is to give you an easy time going uphill and to enable you to move at high speed on level ground. Your bike should have the important gears as opposed to many useless gears. For going up tough hills, you need low gears while when you are going down gentle inclines, high gears will do the trick.

    As a matter of fact, if the area you are cycling on is relatively flat then gears may be unnecessary. So, the bottom line is, if you live in a place full of terrains, then consider having more than two gears. For places that are relatively flat, one or two gears will do.

  • Gregory Estrella

    How long should a mountain bike last?

  • Micheal Willson

    Mountain bikes, especially the newer bikes have a more aggressive geometry that is specifically designed to handle more technical riding styles. They can last up to 5 years if they are well maintained. You can try easy maintenance tips such as constantly keeping the chain clean and lubricating it, checking the tire pressure occasionally, replacing brake pads, tires and cogs when necessary and keeping the bike indoors away from dust as many times as you can.

  • Ramon Stach

    Should I buy an aluminum, steel or titanium bike?

  • Micheal Willson

    Steel bikes are normally an alloy of chromium, steel, and molybdenum. They are generally tough and are heavier than aluminum bikes. These bikes normally absorb vibrations of riding on rough trails.

    Aluminum bikes are more common and are relatively light. They bend more easily than the steel bikes and when they crack, they need special equipment to weld them. When buying an aluminum bike, make sure that it comes with a warranty, preferably a lifetime warranty to get your bike covered.

    Titanium bikes, on the other hand, are incredible as they combine the lightness of the aluminum and the durability and plushness of the steel bike. They are difficult to bond and have become cheaper over time.

  • Daniel Black

    What brand is the most recommended?

  • Micheal Willson

    If you try looking across all local bike shop you will notice that most of them have very reputable brands. The components are all the same but the difference comes in when it comes to the type of frame. Since mountain bikes is a low-margin business, it is important that you find a brand that has a lifetime warranty on the frame and buy from a manufacturer who is less likely to close the business and make it hard for you to replace your frame when need be.

    Also, consider reading other users comments online before committing. This will give you an idea of what you are getting into.

  • Anthony Womack

    Approximately how much money should I spend buying a mountain bike?

  • Micheal Willson

    For a first-time mountain bike buyer, you want to make a solid investment that will serve you for a relatively long time. The more costly bikes are generally lighter and this makes climbing hilly places or mountains more feasible. Buying a cheap bike means you spend a considerably large amount of money on repairs.

    Spending between $300 and $1000 on a mountain bike is good enough to give you a few years of service. A cheap bike is bound to perform poorly and can be very limiting in terms of where you can ride and this can be very frustrating and honestly a little dangerous.

  • William McCrary

    What else do I need when I go mountain biking?

  • Micheal Willson

    For safety reasons, you will definitely need a helmet. If you live in a place that’s very hot, go for a helmet with venting. Just do ride (especially in rocky areas) without a helmet. You need gloves to protect your hands in case you fall and to also save you from numbness and pain since they absorb shock and vibration from the road. In addition to these, you will need tools for fixing a flat in case you get one and some water for hydration.

  • Mark Ojeda

    What should I wear when riding a bike?

  • Micheal Willson

    Comfort should be your number one goal when choosing a perfect outfit for cycling. T-shirts can be worn but the only downside is that they will get soaked in your sweat. You should also get some modern baggy bike shorts that have padding inside to soak up your sweat and save you the trouble of constantly sticking on the seat. If you’ve had problems finding outfits, check at your local bike shop, they will definitely have something for you.

  • Adam Settle

    Should I get a GPS? Is it worth the money?

  • Micheal Willson

    When you are out riding in some unknown place it is safe to have a GPS. It will come in handy when mapping does not seem to help you figure out where you are or where you are headed. Basically, all you need to do is to mark the start point. The GPS will always track the way back provided you marked your starting point. Just be ready to part with some extra coins for GPS technology.

  • Zachary Stoll

    What size should I get?

  • Micheal Willson

    This is majorly about personal preferences and taste really. Bikes vary and can have different geometrics. It is very crucial that you find one that is comfortable and feels good. Some bikes normally sit more upright than others and are less stretched out. This is ideal for you if you have shoulder or neck problems. If you don’t have any physical issues, a long top tube will be perfect because it results to a more stretched out position that may be faster and better for handling. Get a motorbike that is easily adjustable in that you can raise the seat post, move the seat an inch or so and one that will enable to get you to get a longer/shorter stem. Pay keen attention to the fit since poor fit can lead to neck and back pains and ultimately a waste of money.

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