The Best Value for Money Mountain Bikes Under $2,000 Picks

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Looking for recommendations for mountain bikes below $2,000?

You’re in luck.

The options you have in mountain bikes begin to expand at this price point. Whereas lower-priced bikes limit you to mostly hardtail models, now you have options that include full suspension mountain bikes and even downhill bikes.

  • What’s the difference, and which one best suits your needs? 
  • What’s more important?

A Quick Glance : Our Favorite Mountain Bikes for Under $2,000

Mountain Bike ModelsFrameGearingType
Santa Cruz ChameleonAluminumSRAM SX Eagle, 1x12Hardtail
Trek Pro Calibre 6AluminumSRAM SX Eagle, 1x12Hardtail
Specialized Chisel ExpertAluminumSRAM NX Eagle, 1x12Hardtail
Niner Air 9AluminumSRAM NX Eagle, 1x12Hardtail
Orbea Laufey H30AluminumShimano SLX, 1x11 Hardtail
Cannondale Cujo 1AluminumSRAM NX Eagle, 1x12Hardtail
Marin Pine Mountain 2SteelShimano XT, 1x12Hardtail
Salsa TimberjackAluminumShimano XT, 1x12Hardtail
Giant Stance 2AluminumSRAM SX Eagle, 1x12Trail, Enduro
GT Sensor SportAluninumSRAM SX Eagle, 1x12Trail, Enduro
Ghost Slamr 29AluminumSRAM SX Eagle, 1x12Trail, Enduro
Salsa MuklukAluminumSRAM SX Eagle, 1x12Fatbike

Santa Cruz Chameleon

Santa Cruz Chameleon
Photo Credit : Santa Cruz
  • Frame Material : Alloy
  • Gearing : SRAM SX Eagle, 1×12 Speed
  • Type : Hardtail

There’s a reason Santa Cruz has named this bike the Chameleon. As the name suggests, the Santa Cruz Chameleon is designed to meet a wide range of demands. 

With frame geometry that finds a happy middle between aggressive and upright comfort (it features a low bottom bracket and relaxed head tube angle), the Santa Cruz Chameleon can take on technical singletrack or be loaded with bags for a weekend of bikepacking.

The Chameleon is unique in that it features interchangeable dropouts. What does that mean?

It means you can swap out the bike’s stock 27.5″ wheels with massive 2.8″ Maxxis Rekon tires for 29ers and even change your drivetrain to a single speed. Not that you’d want to do that now that the Santa Cruz Chameleon has adopted SRAM’s brand new SRAM SX Eagle groupset, which offers a full 12 gears.

Trek Procaliber 6

Trek Pro Caliber 6
Photo Credit : Trek
  • Frame Material : Alloy
  • Gearing : SRAM SX Eagle, 1×12 Speed
  • Type : Hardtail

The Trek Procaliber 6 frame incorporates Trek’s patented IsoSpeed technology, which uses a decoupler at the top tube/seat tube joint for shock absorption at the rear of the bike. 

With its black-on-black paint job and sloping downtube, this bike just looks cool. 

You’ll also be impressed with the components. As with many bikes at this price point, Trek incorporates SRAM’s NX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain into the Trek Procaliber 6 along with high-performance Shimano hydraulic brakes and their proprietary Bontrager mountain bike saddle.

The Trek Procaliber 6 also features a convenient remote lockout feature for the front suspension fork, allowing you to lock out the fork from the handlebars when climbing. Pedals aren’t provided, giving you the flexibility to decide which of the pedals to use.

Specialized Chisel Expert

Specialized Chisel Expert
Photo Credit : Specialized
  • Frame Material : Alloy
  • Gearing : SRAM NX Eagle, 1×12 Speed
  • Type : Hardtail

Think all aluminum mountain bikes are created equal? Specialized wants you to think again. 

The company says its M5 aluminum technology, which eliminates the need for thicker layers of aluminum where cylinders and tubes meet, puts its frames right up there with carbon fiber when it comes to stiffness and weight savings.

With a total weight under 12 kg, it’s hard to argue with them. The Specialized Chisel Expert features Specialized’s SmartWeld aluminum frame, which the company says is stiffer and stronger than conventional aluminum. In addition, Specialized uses its cross country geometry in this frame with a front end head tube angle of 69.8˚and a longer top tube for added stability on downhill terrain.

The frame isn’t all to love about this bike. Its drivetrain is an SRAM 1×12 that goes up to 50T, while brakes are SRAM Level TL hydraulic discs with a Specialized Phenom mountain bike saddle that offers plenty of comforts.

Niner Air 9

Niner Air 9 NX
Photo Credit : Niner
  • Frame Material : Alloy
  • Gearing : SRAM NX Eagle, 1×12 Speed
  • Type : Hardtail

Enter the Niner Air 9, which represents some of the first fruits of massive R&D efforts in recent years. 

One of the most notable features of the Niner Air 9, is its hydroformed aluminum frame, which looks noticeably thinner than other aluminum frames. This lightens the load of this bike.

Niner also incorporates SDG’s unique seat post technology with the Tellis Dropper post which allows the seat to be raised or lowered on the fly from the handlebars to facilitate a better position when climbing.

That’s not all the impressive tech on this bike. The Niner Air 9 also includes SRAM’s NX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain, which features an 11-50T gear range.

Orbea Laufey H30

Orbea Laufey H30
Photo Credit : Orbea
  • Frame Material : Alloy
  • Gearing : Shimano SLX, 1×11 Speed
  • Type : Hardtail

The Orbea Laufey H30 is specifically designed for aggressive trail riding. Just look at its geometry.

Its head tube and seat post are angled at 65.5˚and 75˚respectively and a front fork that offers a full 140 mm of suspension travel. The Orbea Laufey also offers some versatility with the frame capable of handling either 29” or 27.5” wheels.

Components are Shimano M7000 shifters and rear derailleur with an 11-speed 11-46T cogset. The brakes are Shimano MT201 hydraulic. Internal cable routing keeps everything neat and out of the way, making the Orbea Laufey H30 a very neat bike.

Cannondale Cujo 1

Cannondale Cujo 1
Photo Credit : Cannondale
  • Frame Material : Alloy
  • Gearing : SRAM NX Eagle, 1×12 Speed
  • Type : Hardtail

If you’re looking for a quality hardtail bike with 27.5” wheels, then you might want to check out the Cannondale Cujo 1. 

The bike frame features Cannondale’s highly regarded SmartForm C2 alloy. It also has nice features like flat-mount brakes and internal cable routing. The components, which include the SRAM SX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain, are in line with bikes that are at the higher end of this price range.

Cannondale also adds some smart options, including 2.8” wide tires for increased traction and shock absorption. The Cujo 1 is also fitted with tubeless-ready Maxxis Rekon tires and WTB STX i35 rims.

Marin Pine Mountain 2

Marin Pine
Photo Credit : Marin
  • Frame Material : Steel
  • Gearing : Shimano SLX, 1×12 Speed
  • Type : Hardtail

The first thing you’ll notice about the Marin Pine Mountain 2 is its wheels. 

In short, they’re massive at 29” with a 2.6” wide tire set. What does this mean? 

According to Marin, it means amazing roll-over and traction. In addition to its large wheel size, the Marin Pine Mountain 2 is also one of the few bikes you’ll find that features a steel frame. This means this bike offers more give over bumps and off drops. 

It also adds versatility, making it not only a great trail rider but also an excellent option for bike packing. Its focus on carrying gear is evident by the mounting eyelets that riddle the entire frame.  

Salsa Timberjack

Salsa Timberjack 29
Photo Credit : Salsa
  • Frame Material : Alloy
  • Gearing : Shimano XT, 1×12 Speed
  • Type : Hardtail

The Salsa Timberjack is part of a Minnesota-based, Salsa’s line of hardtail mountain bikes. 

Although you may not get a full suspension mountain bike at this price point, you do get plenty of other great features.

Let’s start with the 1×12 full Shimano drivetrain, which features the brand new Shimano XT 12 speed cogset. In case you haven’t heard, the XT 12-speed offers a massive range of 10-51T.

You also get Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and rims. And though you may miss the rear suspension, the Salsa Timberjack does offer a RockShox Sektor RL front fork with 130 mm of travel. The seat post is a nice upgrade as well with a TranzX dropper post.

Giant Stance 2

Giant Stance 2
Photo Credit : Giant
  • Frame Material : Alloy
  • Gearing : SRAM SX Eagle, 1×12 Speed
  • Type : Downhill

Dual-suspension mountain bikes are expensive, but you don’t have to hand over an arm and a leg to get one, and you don’t have to settle for a lesser-known brand name. 

That much is apparent with the Giant Stance 2, a dual-suspension bike from one of the biggest bike manufacturers in the world.

This bike, priced affordably, is something to behold with a dog-legged shaped top tube and black graphics on a gunmetal paint job. And you’ll love what you get with the Giant Stance including an SRAM SX Eagle 1x drivetrain with a 12-speed rear cogset that offers an 11-50T range. 

The Giant Stance 2 is also fitted with tubeless-ready tires and rims. Just remember to use tire sealants for the tubeless setup!

GT Sensor Sport

GT Sensor 29
Photo Credit : GT Bikes
  • Frame Material : Alloy
  • Gearing : SRAM SX Eagle, 1×12 Speed
  • Type : Trail

For a bike that’s at an entry-level price for a dual suspension bike, the GT Sensor offers plenty of value.

When GT decided to redesign its Sensor 29” bike for the 2020 model year, it took a page out of its 1990s playbook by reintroducing a new version of its Horst Link four-bar rear suspension.

The design, which features a pivot point just above the bottom bracket in addition to higher up on the seat tube, enhances the Sensor’s climbing and descending ability. Couple that with an aggressively-angled head tube and 140 mm of travel on the front fork and you have a bike ready for some tough descents.

In addition to its innovative design, the GT Sensor Sport also comes with a dropper seat post, tubeless-ready rims, hydraulic disc brakes, and an SRAM EX Eagle 1×12-speed drivetrain.

Ghost Slamr 29

Ghost Slamr 29
Photo Credit : Ghost
  • Frame Material : Alloy
  • Gearing : SRAM SX Eagle, 1×12 Speed
  • Type : Trail

If you’ve never heard of Germany-based mountain-bike specialists Ghost then you’ve been missing out. 

They’ve been building and designing top-notch mountain bikes since 1993, and their Slamr 29 is one of the most impressive dual-suspension bikes you can find at the sub $2,000 price point.

There’s a lot to like about the Ghost Slamr 29 including a JD dropper seat post, SRAM SX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain, and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with 180 mm rotors. The Slamr’s suspension is also impressive with a front fork that offers 130 mm of travel and a rear suspension that includes the highly regarded RockShox Deluxe Select+.

The Ghost Slamr 29 is fitted for varied terrain with a mixed tire set of specialized Maxxis tires for the front and rear wheels.

Salsa Mukluk

Salsa Mukluk
Photo Credit : Salsa
  • Frame Material : Alloy
  • Gearing : SRAM SX Eagle, 1×12 Speed
  • Type : Fatbike

With a name like Mukluk, you’d expect this bike from mountain bike specialists Salsa to be able to charge through all kinds of terrain, especially snow. After all, they are named after the boots Inuits wear in places like Greenland and Alaska. 

Well, one look at the tires on the Sala Mukluk and you’ll know that that is indeed the case. This fat tire bike is equipped with 4.6” wide 45NRTH Dillinger 5 tires, ensuring that you’ll fly through the white stuff on this bike. 

The tires aren’t the only things keeping you from slipping and sliding in the snow. The Salsa Mukluk’s geometry is designed to place your weight over the back wheel in order to minimize spinouts when you’re accelerating or climbing. 

What to Expect in A Mountain Bike Under $2,000

Buyer's Guide to Mountain Bikes Under $2,000
Buyer's Guide to Mountain Bikes Under $2,000, by The Geeky Cyclist

One of the very common questions I get is,

What features can I expect in a mountain bike for under $2,000?

  • Hardtail Bike. The majority of mountain bikes at this price point are for cross-country (XC) riding.
  • Aluminum Frame. Most of the bikes are of aluminum alloy frame with a few rare exceptions such as the Diamondback Overdrive, which is a full carbon fiber frame.
  • 12-Speed Gearing. SRAM dominates the mountain bike drivetrain market. Expect to have either SRAM’s SX or NX drivetrain.
  • 2.2″ to 2.6″ Wide Tires. Expect tire sizes to range between 2.2″ up to 2.6″ wide and wheel sizes of either 27.5″ or 29-er, depending on the bike size.
  • Bike Weight. Expect the complete bike to weigh between 12 to 14 kg.

Let’s take a deeper look into each one of the items above.

1. Hardtail Mountain Bike for Cross Country (XC) Riding

At just under the $2,000 price tag, you start to see more options when it comes to the types of mountain bikes you can buy.

The majority of mountain bikes at this price point are hardtails where there is only a front suspension. Hardtails are suited for the most common mtb riding style, which is cross-country (XC).

Hardtail bikes such as the Niner Air 9 or Marin Pine Mountain 2 come specced higher-end components.

On some rarer occasions, you can also find dual suspension trail mountain bikes such as the Giant Stance 2 and GT Sensor. These bikes are typically more expensive due to the inclusion of a second suspension system in the rear that absorbs shocks for more technical terrain, jumps, and drops. Hence, there is a slight compromise in the components and drivetrain used.

You can even find a few low-end downhill bikes which feature high-end suspension designs in order to facilitate the impact of high jumps and steep drops cyclists typically encounter on downhill courses.

2. Aluminum Alloy Frame

You’ll still find mostly aluminum alloy at this price point. 

However, expect to see high-grade alloys, as with the Specialized Chisel Expert, and advanced frame construction, as with the Trek Procalibre 6, that is designed to reduce frame weight and improve compliance. 

You might find some carbon frames at this price point if you’re lucky. However, these frames are usually mixed with cheaper components in order to keep the overall price down. 

As with suspension systems, it’s usually better to go with a bike with all-around good parts than sacrifice quality just for a carbon fiber frame.

3. 12-Speed, 1X Drivetrain with up to 50T Cassette

Expect to find components from SRAM as they dominate the mountain bike market. Most of the bikes are specced with SRAM’s mid-tier groupset such as the NX or SX Eagle.

At the $2,000 price point expect to see mostly 1X setups with front chainrings sizes ranging between 32T and 36T. Rear cog sets are typically 12-speed these days, with cassette sizes up to 50T such as the Niner 9 Air or the Giant Stance 2.

Why does this matter? 

Larger cogs in the rear cog set give you lower gears that make climbing easier. A 1X drivetrain facilitates easier and faster gear changes, preventing you from having to make a tougher front chainring gear shift on the fly.

Nearly all bikes at this price level will be fitted with hydraulic disc brakes. Rotor sizes are also generally larger on these bikes, making for stronger and more responsive brakes. 

Expect to find rotor sizes of at least 160 mm in the back and 180 mm in the front.

Read More : A Beginner’s Guide to Bicycle Disc Brakes

4. 2.2" to 2.6" Wide Tires

Mountain Bike Wheel Sizes Compared
Photo Credit : Spokes Bicycles

Tire sizes range from 2.2″ up to 2.6″ wide and usually include tread patterns designed for more intense off-road riding.

Wheel sizes will range from 27.5” to 29” based on frame size. What’s the difference? 

It has to do with the term rollover, which you’ll often hear when referring to the benefits of a 29er.

Larger wheels have a better angle of attack when it comes to rolling over obstacles, meaning they will be less affected by tree roots, logs, rocks, and other obstacles you generally encounter on mountain biking trails. That all adds up to a faster bike. 

That said, those larger wheels are more difficult to navigate through tight twists and turns. This is where the 27.5” wheels win out. And since 29ers are bigger, they also way more, which is negative on climbs. 

Some bikes, including the Santa Cruz Chameleon, allow you to easily switch out wheel sizes. An upgrade here includes wheelsets that are tubeless compatible.

5. Total Weight Between 12 to 14 kg

The use of lighter-weight aluminum alloys and, in some cases, carbon helps to drop the overall weight of the bike. 

Also expect weight decreases from the use of lighter weight components and wheelsets. 

As such, the total weight for bikes will generally range between 12 and 14 kg. For example, the Specialized Chisel Expert weighs only 12 kg.

John Philips

John is a man with many hobbies. He’s been mountain biking for five years, he swims every day and he has an interest in cooking.