5 Best Mountain Bikes Under $2000

When it comes to riding, taking on trails on the mountain is one of the most exhilarating and thrilling experiences you can have. Whether you’re tearing downhill or climbing over rough and tumble terrain, having the right mountain bike is crucial if you want to get the most out of your ride.

But why do these bikes have to be so expensive?

If you’re really serious about riding, you may think that you have to drop several grand on a high-quality frame and set of wheels. Fortunately, you can still get the performance you want without having to take out a loan to get it.

Today we’re going to be looking at the best mountain bikes under $2000. While they may not be considered “professional-grade,” they will allow you to tear up the trail with little issue.


How to Choose a Mountain Bike

Before we get into our top picks, we should first cover the essential elements of any mountain bike. If you’re still new to this sport, it’s imperative that you take the time to understand what it takes to get the best riding experience. Here are the features you should pay attention to the most.

 

Material

Strength and durability are necessary when mountain biking. Unlike riding on paved streets, you have to be sure that your ride can handle a spill or two (or three). Even the most seasoned bikers can land face first after hitting a snag they didn’t see. Thus, you want to pick the best material that will still fit within your budget.

 

  • Aluminum: when it comes to these kinds of bikes, you will usually find aluminum mixed with other metals, creating a more durable alloy. The benefit of aluminum is that it’s both lightweight and sturdy. Granted, it will probably dent if you crash pretty hard, but it will be able to withstand a lot of bumps and scrapes and come out on top.
  • Carbon Fiber: for those who want the same lightweight reliability with some extra ruggedness, carbon fiber is a winning pick. Like aluminum, these bikes are going to be relatively easy to carry on your shoulders when necessary, but it will also absorb shock much better. Overall, you can ride harder when you have a carbon fiber frame. However, it can be pricier, so keep that in mind.
  • Steel: most mountain bikes these days are not made out of steel unless it’s part of an alloy. The reason that many riders avoid this metal is that it’s too heavy and cumbersome. However, when it comes to durability, you can’t beat the resilience of steel. If you’re a casual rider and you aren’t concerned about weight, this could be an excellent choice.

 

Weight

We’ve already touched on the fact that riders pay attention to the frame material because of its weight, but the bike as a whole should be looked at as well. Here are some reasons why overall weight is critical when picking out a mountain bike.

 

  • Carrying/Transportation: whether you’re putting it on a bike rack on your car or lifting it over a river, you want your bike to be as light as possible.
  • Speed: it’s simple physics – the heavier you (and your bike) are, the slower you will go. A lighter frame can help you get to your next point faster.
  • Stamina: as with speed, you are going to wear yourself out quicker if you have a massive frame. Because you have to push harder with each pedal, you have to use more energy over the duration of your ride.

 

Wheel Size

If you’re not a mountain bike aficionado, you may wonder if wheel size matters at all. The simple fact is that it does. Larger wheels are easier to ride because you can cover more ground in a single push. Thus, most riders prefer to go as big as possible without overloading their weight. Here are the most common sizes.

 

  • 26”: most new bikes have rejected the old standard of 26 inches, but you can still find a few models that have them. There’s nothing wrong with them, and you probably won’t notice much of a difference between these and the new standard.
  • 27.5”: this is the size that’s replaced the 26-inch wheel, and it’s one of the most common. Again, there isn’t much of a difference unless you’re a hardcore rider. However, you will ultimately have an easier time on the trail, so you might as well go with the bigger size anyway.
  • 29”: most high-performance mountain bikers will prefer to get 29-inch wheels. As we mentioned a larger surface area makes you more efficient, so you can get better speed and cover more ground in less time.

 

Style

When we’re talking about the style of your mountain bike, we’re not referring to things like decals and colors. Instead, we’re discussing the type of riding that the bike is built for – its intended use. While you can technically do any kind of riding with any mountain bike, these styles have specialized design elements to make it easier for their category of biking.

 

  • All-Mountain: If you’re not sure what kind of riding you’re going to be doing, then you’ll want to get an all-mountain bike. These models usually have tougher frames and broader wheels to accommodate all kinds of terrain. They aren’t as fast, but they are versatile.
  • Cross-Country (XC): efficiency is the name of the game with these bikes. They are lighter and built to cover longer distances while reducing the amount of effort you have to put in. Expect larger wheels (i.e., 29 inches) and lighter frames.
  • Downhill: because you have to navigate rough terrain and obstacles while hurtling down the mountain, these bikes have better rear suspension and a sharper angle on the frame. The angle is there to allow you to sit in a balanced position, no matter how steep the slope is.

 

Suspension

The final element of mountain bike selection is also one of the most crucial. Riding on a trail means that you will encounter a lot of different terrains, as well as obstacles like tree roots, rocks, and holes.

 

Because you never know what you may experience out there, you want to get a suspension that can adapt to your needs. Here are the two options you can choose from when making your final selection.

 

  • Full Suspension: in this case, you have two suspension forks – one in the front and one in the back. When comparing models, you want to see how much travel (measured in millimeters) each side has. As a rule, you will need more in the front for uphill and more in the back for downhill, so choose accordingly. If you’re not sure, then get a unit that has the same on both ends.
  • Hardtail: one of the downsides of full suspension is that a lot of the energy you produce is lost due to shock absorption. Hardtail bikes just have a fork on the front, making them an ideal choice for smooth terrain and going uphill. However, on the way back down you may have to stay off the seat to avoid getting hurt.

 

Recommended Mountain Bikes Under $2000

 

DIAMONDBACK Carbon Pro 29

diamondback-carbon-pro-29

ITEM SPECS
Frame metal type DB AMMP XC MTB Carbon Technology, Full Monocoque Construction
Fork make and model Rockshox Reba RL 29”, Solo Air, 100mm, rebound, compression, and lockout
Rear shock make and model none, hardtail
Drivetrain configuration 1 x 11spd SRAM GX 11-speed, X-Horizon
Style/Intended Use XC, Trail
Bike Size(s) Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
Overall Weight Not Provided

 

If you’re serious about getting into mountain biking, then you want to buy something that will enable you to handle any kind of terrain you may encounter. Assuming that you’re not a professional riding on a circuit, you will probably want to explore new areas and trails. Fortunately, taking off in the Carbon Pro 29 is an excellent choice for both newbies and veterans alike.

 

What we like most about this bike is that it handles everything with ease. Whether you’re climbing up a steep hill or coming back down, all of the elements are built to make your efforts go farther and ensure efficiency overall. In fact, everything is so mild that it can be considered a “beginner’s bike.” We say that because professional rides are built with specific needs in mind, whereas this is an all-terrain, all-use bike.

 

The frame is rugged and dependable, thanks to the weapons-grade aluminum. The forks are also incredible and have just enough give to smooth out bumps but not so splashy that you have to struggle to pick up speed. Also, the 29-inch wheels will enable you to work smarter, not harder.

 

Overall, if you love to ride, but you don’t care where the trail takes you, the Carbon Pro 29 is a perfect blend of power and performance that will carry you to the next location with ease.

 

Pros
  • Durable and lightweight frame
  • Soft and reliable full suspension forks
  • Hydraulic disc brakes for better stopping power
  • Smooth shifting for easier riding
  • Ideal for up and downhill
  • 29” wheels
Cons
  • Hardtail, may not be what you’re looking for
  • Only comes in red frame

Niner Air 9 2-STAR 29″ Bike

Niner Air 9 2-STAR 29 Bike 2019

ITEM SPECS
Frame metal type NINER AIR 9 Hydroformed Alloy frame
Fork make and model FOX 34 FLOAT RHYTHM GRIP EVOL
Rear shock make and model N/A
Drivetrain configuration 1×12 SRAM Eagle
Style/Intended Use Cross Country, Trail
Bike Size(s) Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
Overall Weight Not Provided

 

As we mentioned above, most high-performance mountain bikers love to ride on 29-inch wheels. The reason for this is that you can cover more ground in less time and you don’t have to work as hard to get there. Usually, this wheel size is ideal for cross-country riding, but Niner has changed things up a little to make this more of an all-mountain bike.

 

Beginners will love the blend of larger wheels and a hardtail frame. While you will feel bumps and dips (especially when coming downhill), you can get a lot of speed and handling thanks to the blending of these features. Most exploration bikes (all-mountain) are not built with this kind of power in mind, so you will notice a difference compared to your smaller, less efficient models.

 

Overall, this bike is designed to give riders a sense of joy and accomplishment. The reason we say it’s ideal for beginners is that you can go almost anywhere and still enjoy the experience with the Niner Air 9 2-STAR 29. Unlike professional-grade mountain bikes, you don’t have to worry about going off the beaten path. Just enjoy the ride, and the Star will take care of the rest.

 

Pros
  • Hardtail model is faster on straightaways
  • Light frame
  • Extra large 29-inch tires
  • High-efficiency suspension
  • Excellent trail handling
  • Modern 1×12 drivetrain
Cons
  • Not great for downhill
  • Heavier than other options

Orbea Alma M50-EAGLE

Orbea Alma M50-EAGLE

ITEM SPECS
Frame metal type Orbea OMP carbon frame
Fork make and model RockShox Recon TK 100 Air Remote Q15x110 Boost
Rear shock make and model None (hardtail)
Drivetrain configuration 1×12 SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain
Style/Intended Use Cross Country, Trail
Bike Size(s) Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
Overall Weight Not Provided

 

When talking about mountain bike brands, you have to discuss the quality and reliability of Orbea. The company was started by two brothers in Spain, and it’s grown into one of the most respected brands in the world. Why is Orbea held in such high regard? Because their bikes are incredibly well built.

In this case, we have the Alma M50-EAGLE, which is considered a beefy all-mountain bike. It’s not designed for high speeds or long trips, but it can tackle almost any trail with ease. Part of the reason this bike is so good is the care and attention paid to the frame. In 2018 Orbea started shipping bikes with their Orbea OMP carbon frame, which keeps them ultra light while providing great stiffness. In short, you can ride with the utmost confidence on a frame meant for much more expensive bikes.

The other thing that we like about the Alma M50-EAGLE is the handling. You get a highly precise drivetrain from Shimano and exceptional fork suspension from Rockshox. Whether you’re climbing hills or tearing down them, you won’t feel much from the terrain, and you’ll be able to control yourself much better than you might think.

 

Overall, this unit is built to last, and it will outpace almost any other all-mountain bike you can find.

 

Pros
  • Space age carbon fiber frame
  • More precise drivetrain for better handling
  • 1×12 drivetrain
  • Ideal for steep climbs and descents
  • Lightweight and rugged

 

Cons
  • Comes with the Orbea Grips, which are OK, but we greatly prefer aftermarket grips

ORBEA OCCAM AM H20 BIKE

orbea-h20

ITEM SPECS
Frame metal type Orbea Hydroformed Triple Butted Aluminum
Fork make and model Fox 34 Float Performance 140 3-Position QR15x110
Rear shock make and model Fox Float DPS Performance 3-Position custom tune 200x51mm
Drivetrain configuration Shimano XT M8000-B2 26x36t
Style/Intended Use XC, Trail
Bike Size(s) Large
Overall Weight 30.8 lbs

 

When comparing different mountain bikes, you will notice that the H20 and the H50 from Orbea are remarkably similar. Thus, if you want a reliable and resilient all-terrain ride, either one will provide the best experience for the money.

 

As far as differences go, some of the more delicate components were changed for the H50, which one could consider an “upgrade” to the H20. Overall, though, the handling and performance of both bikes are strikingly identical.

 

With the H20, you can take on almost any trail with ease. The suspension will cover up most imperfections on the terrain, and you can get from point A to point B without having to exhaust yourself along the way.

 

The H20 originally sold for over $3000 but a year later this terrific bike can be had right at the $2000 mark. It’s still one of the best for the money. Assuming that you aren’t trying to get the best enduro or XC model, the H20 will provide excellent returns for all other kinds of riding.

 

Pros
  • Rugged triple-butted aluminum frame
  • Precision drivetrain
  • Three-position suspension tuning
  • High-performance handling
  • Rugged tubeless tires
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Lightweight design
Cons
  • Heavier than other models

Santa Cruz Bicycles Chameleon

santa-cruz-bicycles-chameleon-29-d

 

 

ITEM SPECS
Frame metal type Santa Cruz Chameleon, 6000 series aluminum
Fork make and model RockShox Recon RL, 120mm travel, 15 x 110 Boost
Rear shock make and model None (Hardtail)
Drivetrain configuration 1×11, SRAM NX
Style/Intended Use Trail
Bike Size(s) Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
Overall Weight 28.27 lbs

 

 

For the most part, mountain biking is more about exploring the trail rather than packing gear to head to your next destination. However, the Santa Cruz Chameleon is built for long trips and journeys where you will have to bring more than just the clothes on your back.

 

What makes this such a good XC bike is that it is the most versatile bike on our list! It was designed to be the “everything” bike for the mid to advanced rider. No longer will you need to buy a 27.5 and a 29 bike, this one can support both wheel sizes. Nor will you have to decide between single or multi-gear setups, you can do both on this frame.

 

Because it’s a hardtail, you will do best on straightaways and climbing hills. When coming back down, you will want to avoid sitting too hard on the saddle as it can be a bit bouncy and uncomfortable.

 

Overall, if we has $2000 to spend and plan to own only one mountain bike, this is the one we’d get!

 

Pros
  • High levels of strength and stiffness without incurring the cost of fancier carbon frames
  • Super upgradeability employing stealth dropper post routing
  • Threaded bottom bracket (no annoying squeaky noises!)
  • With this frame can use 29-inch wheels or 27.5+ fatties
  • Interchangeable dropouts allow you to swap out the gears for single speed use
  • Lifetime frame warranty
Cons
  • Comes with Maxxis Minion and Crossmark tires, but we greatly prefer Continental Mountain King II tires

Final Verdict

Because we’re not sure what kind of riding you’re going to be doing, it’s tough to say that one bike stands out above the rest. If you prefer an all-mountain bike that will give you a smooth ride no matter where you go, then we highly recommend the Carbon Pro 29 from Diamondback. It has excellent components and will handle anything you experience on the trail.

For more high-performance riders, either Orbea model (the M50-Eagle or H20) will be your best bet. Orbea is one of the top manufacturers in the world, offering both reliability and performance in spades. Both models are similar to each other, but we suggest the M50-Eagle if you want to get the better of the two.

And if you can own only one mountain bike for all types of terrain, without a doubt we’d plop our hard-earned money on the Santa Cruz Chameleon 29 d.


 

 

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