The Price Is Right
Prices for new mountain bikes range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Between these
two extremes are bikes listed at a mind-numbing number of price points. So how do
you decide how much to spend? Do you
really need to spend until it hurts? Should a
new rider spend less than an experienced
pro? Let the MBA wrecking crew strip away
the hype and help you get the most miles
for your money.
So what do you get for your money? Here is a rough
$99 to $499: These bikes only look like mountain bikes.
They are too heavy, and the components are not durable
enough for sustained off-road usage. If you want to try
mountain biking, you are better off borrowing a mountain
bike from a friend who is into the sport or renting a good
one from a bike shop. You will not enjoy true mountain
biking on a sub-$500 bike.
$500 to $800: Steer clear of dual-suspension bikes in
this price range, because to deliver rear suspension, the
manufacturer had to cut back somewhere else. Limit your
choices to an aluminum hardtail with a short-travel ( 3.1 to
3. 9 inches of travel) suspension fork. Also, stick to 26-inch
wheels. The 29ers at this price point are going to be heavy.
$800 to $1500: There are dual-suspension trailbikes in
this price range that offer 3 to 4 inches of travel, limited
adjustability and weigh more than 30 pounds. If you stick to
a hardtail, you’ll enjoy a lighter overall weight and slightly
better components. The closer you can go to the high end of
this range, the more we recommend a 29er hardtail.
$2000 to $3000: This is the sweet spot for trailbikes.
Every major brand offers a great performer with solid components within this price range. Because this price range is so
competitive between bike brands, riders get the best value
from this group. You can buy an awesome hardtail in this
price range, and dual-suspension bikes will come in at, or
slightly below, 30 pounds with 4 or 5 inches of suspension
travel. You’ll get more external suspension adjustments too.
What you get for your hard-earned money
Made in America: Although finding bikes made on American
soil—like Foes and Ventana—is getting tougher, it is surprising to
find they are very competitively priced against high-end production bikes from China.
29ers: The more money your budget allows, the more we recommend considering a 29er. That extra dough means lighter
wheels, and that makes a tremendous difference in the bike’s