Best Mountain Bikes Under $1000

If you enjoy mountain biking, you know full well how expensive the hobby can be.  If you’re thinking about starting, the idea of spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a bicycle can seem a bit daunting to say the least.  However, when it comes to mountain bikes, expensive doesn’t always mean the best.  In fact, there are quite a few gems that are well under $1000 on the market today.  So we’ve taken a good long look at them and found a few of our favorites that are worth sharing.

Last Updated: June 29, 2018
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By Mackenzie Jervis:

We've recently updated our list to give you some even better options for mountain bikes that won't break the bank.

Raleigh Tokul 3
  • Raleigh Tokul 3
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Lightweight
  • Disc brakes
  • Price: See Here
Diamondback El Oso
  • Diamondback El Oso
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durable frame
  • Versatile
  • Price: See Here
Titan Trail 21
  • Titan Trail 21
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Easily adjustable
  • Great shock absorption
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Mountain Bikes Under $1000

 

 

Raleigh Tolkul 3

At just under $1000, this mountain bike from Raleigh bikes truly measures up to what an affordable and high-quality mountain bike should be. Featuring construction that allows for superior support and control, this is one mountain bike that is a great value at any price.
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Bike Style
This mountain bike for under $1000 is a versatile trail mountain bike. It offers a hardtail styling that allows for easy peddling overall and the ability to easily conquer the steeper trails and boulder strewn paths.

Wheel & Tire Size
This mountain bike features Weinmann u50 27.5 inch rims and 27.5x 2.8 inch tires that allow for a decent leveling out of even the roughest terrain.

Frame Materials
The frame of the Tokul 3 is fashioned out of strong, yet lightweight aluminum chassis. This allows the mountain bike to have great manageability and overall responsiveness that is rarely seen in heavier bikes.

Gearing
This mountain bike features a Shimano Deore SL-M160 shifter mechanism as well as a ten speed Shimano Cog set. The shifting is relatively smooth and easy to manage, even on the more difficult trails

Overall Fit and Comfort
Generally speaking this mountain bike is a joy to ride. The wider fork and bike stance make for a wider, more comfortable ride overall. The handlebars and fork is responsive and allows for good shock absorption and comfort while riding. The hardtail on the back end also allows for quick changes in responses when necessary. The only minor complaint we saw was that expert assembly is more or less required due to the complicated nature of the gearing set up and braking.

Summary
If you want to find versatility, dependability and a lightweight strength for just shy of $1000 in your next mountain bike, this is one that should make your short list. While the recommendation for the bike to be assembled by a professional can be a pain, overall the minor inconvenience is outshined by the quality of the bike and the ride.
Pros
  • Safe and responsive on the trail
  • Lightweight aluminum frame
  • Disc brakes provide great stopping power
Cons
  • Professional assembly is highly recommended.
 

Diamond Bicycles El Oso De Acero

If you’re interested in a mountain bike that features extra wide rims and tires that are designed to allow you to roll through or over just about anything, the El Oso De Acero Fat Mountain Bike by Diamondback Bicycles may just be what you need.
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Bike Style
This is a downhill style mountain bike that features extra wide tires. It’s perfect for rougher terrain and having to navigate both trails and areas where even the goats fear to tread.

Wheel & Tire Size
The wheel diameters of these tires are pretty standard overall – just about 26 inches. However, the widths of the tires are much wider than is normally seen – they’re about four inches compared to the usual one to two inch width. While it may look strange, the wider tires not only offer more surface area for better traction, they also offer better shock absorption as well.

Frame Materials
The frame is made from a heat treated steel material that is very durable and strong. It doesn’t allow for much play in the fork area of the bike, and that can cause some mild fatigue over the long haul, but it’s nothing that most people need to worry about.

Gearing
This mountain bike features Shimano Alivio 9 speed group set. The shifting mechanism is known to be fairly smooth and easy to operate overall.

Overall Fit and Comfort
Once the bike is properly fitted to the rider, this particular brand is known to be quite comfortable. The trick, of course is finding that sweet spot when it comes to the proper sizing and adjustment. Most people find that it is usually best to have a professional help them tweak their ride as necessary.

Summary
Based on their overall comfort, durability and the ability to simply roll over practically anything, mountain bikes for under a $1000 that feature fat tires are becoming more and more popular. While this is a great example of such a bike, it’s important to remember that expert fine tuning is essential for a more comfortable ride.
Pros
  • Works in a wide range of terrain and riding situations
  • Durable steel frame
  • Comfortable once adjusted properly
Cons
  • Can be difficult to adjust
  • Steel frame and forks don’t offer a lot of give while riding
 

Titan Trail 21 Speed

If you need a fantastic all around hardtail mountain bike that is designed to work well in nearly every mountain environment, it’s hard to go wrong with the Titan Trail 21 Speed Suspension Mountain Bike
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Bike Style
This is a general trail mountain bike that features a hardtail style body that allows for extra maneuverability overall as you head down the mountain.

Wheel & Tire Size
The wheels stand about 26 inches in diameter, and have a width of approximately 2 inches. When inflated properly they offer a good deal of shock absorption and traction when navigating the various trails and inclines in a mountainous area.

Frame Materials
This frame is made from a high tensile steel material and features an anti-shock front suspension fork for added comfort and control while traveling through the rougher terrain.

Gearing
Changing gears is relatively easy with this mountain bike. It features a 21 speed Tourney TX gearing set by Shimano that is known for its smooth operation overall. It should be said however, that the dial like nature of the actual shifting mechanism does take a bit of getting used to.

Overall Fit and Comfort
Generally speaking most people found this ride very comfortable and the bike easy to operate while moving down the mountain. The fully adjustable seat, coiled suspension for the seat, and the shock absorption fork make for a durable and comfortable ride overall.

Summary
If you’re looking for a versatile ride that can both keep you safe and comfortable while traveling down the mountain, the Titan Trail 21 Speed Suspension Mountain Bike is worth considering. While we didn’t really like the placement and style of the gear shifters, overall this is a very dependable mountain bike for under $1000.
Pros
  • Very comfortable ride
  • Easily adjustable
  • Offers great shock absorption
Cons
  • Shifting mechanism may be awkward to use at first.
 

Mongoose Switchback

Mongoose Switchback
The Mongoose Switchback Mountain Bike offers a unique spin on the classic trail mountain bike by providing a mountain bike that can almost double for a road bike if necessary. If you’re looking for a mountain bike under $1000 that can also easily be used on the streets leading to your trail, this is one to consider.
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Bike Style
This is a trail mountain bike with a hardtail style construction. It’s fairly versatile in nature, and can easily handle a wide range of trail types including paved roads and muddy trails.

Wheel & Tire Size
The wheels are 26 inches in diameter and are approximately one inch in width overall. For the most part they offer adequate traction and shock absorption when needed.

Frame Materials
This bike features a strong and a surprisingly heavy aluminum frame that some may find a bit cumbersome especially on the longer trails with more inclines or changes in terrain.

Gearing
This mountain bike features an eight-speed Shimano transmission that is fairly easy to use and offers a quick change between gears when needed on the trail.

Overall Fit and Comfort
Despite its overall weight, this bike is a nice balance between ease of use, comfort, and responsiveness while on the trail. The one drawback besides its weight that we saw was that the front end fork could be of a higher quality. It was often seen to wobble slightly when going through rougher terrains and trails.

Summary
The Mongoose Switchback Mountain Bike is a great, affordable option for those who have just recently been bitten by the mountain biking bug. While we were disappointed in the overall weight and front fork issues, if you’re looking for a fairly comfortable trail bike, this one is hard to beat.
Pros
  • Fairly comfortable design
  • Responsive gearing and brakes
  • Great choice for a novice rider
Cons
  • Features a fairly heavy frame
  • Front end fork could use better quality control.

Diamondback Overdrive 29 Hardtail

Diamondback Overdrive 29 Hardtail
The Overdrive 29 Hardtail Mountain Bike from Diamondback Bicycles offers the novice rider a great overall first time experience when it comes to an all mountain bike. If you’re looking for a general purpose ride, this is definitely one to consider.
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Bike Style
The Overdrive 29 hardtail is considered a general purpose mountain bike that can be used both on trial and off.

Wheel & Tire Size
The wheels on this particular mountain bike are larger in diameter than most; they are 29 inches compared to the 26 standard. While it doesn’t sound like much, those extra three inches do provide somewhat better handling and more versatility when it comes to rougher terrain.

Frame Materials
The frame is constructed of a 6061-T6 aluminum material that is fairly strong and relatively lightweight. The design is simple enough, and holds together nicely while riding. One complaint that we saw, however was that the frame was sometimes a bit too fancy for mountain biking.

Gearing
This mountain bike features a 24 speed Shimano drivetrain that allows for relatively smooth operation and quick changes when needed.

Overall Fit and Comfort
The great thing overall about this particular bike is the versatility that it offers on the trail. While the larger tires do make for a somewhat larger straddling height that must be accounted for, most riders found this bike to be a comfortable choice overall in a wide range of trail types and riding situations.

Summary
While certainly not for everyone, or even every novice rider, the Overdrive 29 with the larger wheel base does offer great versatility and dependability when on the trail.
Pros
  • Larger diameter wheelbase offers better control and traction
  • Versatile bike for a wide range of situations
  • Lightweight aluminum construction
Cons
  • .Height difference with 29 inch diameter tires need to be taken into account
  • Overall frame may be a bit too fancy for some tastes

Vilano Blackjack 3.0

Vilano Blackjack 3.0
If you’re looking for a solidly built mountain bike that features 29 inch rims that won’t break your bank, or your back while on the trails, the Vilano BlackJack 3.0 29ER is certainly an option to consider.
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Bike Style
This mountain bike can be considered a general use or all-mountain bike based on the geometry of the frame. It can work just as well on the trail as well as off.

Wheel & Tire Size
As indicated, this bike features a slightly larger than average wheel diameter of 29 inches. This provides the rider with more overall control, and the ability to navigate a more varied terrain.

Frame Materials
The frame materials are constructed from lightweight aluminum materials that have been designed to be both lightweight and strong. This is one bike that most likely won’t slow you down due to heavy frame issues.

Gearing
This mountain bike from Vilano features an 8 speed drive train and an integrated EF-51 shifter and brake lever. .While the integrated brake/shifter lever does take some getting used to, overall there aren’t too many problems with the drive train or shifting mechanisms

Overall Fit and Comfort
For the most part this is a solid and dependable mountain bike that offers great handling and responsiveness.

Summary
The Vilano BlackJack 3.0 29ER Mountain Bike offers a clear and versatile choice for most people who are interested in branching out into using a 29 inch diameter tire. It is fairly comfortable to ride, and the only real drawback that we saw was that the integrated shifter and brake may take some getting used to.
Pros
  • Versatile
  • Relatively easy to put together
  • Solid and Dependable
Cons
  • Integrated brake and shifting system may take some getting used to.

Gravity FSX 1.0 Dual

Gravity FSX 1.0 Dual
If you desire a mountain bike that features full suspension in its design, one option is to take a closer look at the Gravity FSX 1.0. Designed to make sure you have a comfortable ride no matter where your travels take you, this is a solid and affordable mountain bike that offers a great overall value.
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Bike Style
This bike features an all-mountain style with suspension features on both the front and back wheel.

Wheel & Tire Size
The wheel rims are the standard 26 inches in diameter, and the tires measure approximately 2.1 inches in width. Although the tires themselves are more than serviceable, quite a few reviewers found that they wore out more quickly than expected with normal use. It was suggested that the tires that come with the mountain bike be exchanged for a newer pair upon arrival.

Frame Materials
The frame is made from a lightweight aluminum, and is hydro-formed for extra strength. The mountain bike also features a Sun tour adjustable fork, and adjustable seat and handlebars for a more customized ride.

Gearing
This bike features a 24 speed Shimano EF51 shifter, and an 8 speed range cassette. Most riders found the shifting to be easy and smooth, with the exception of some of the higher gears, and 23 or 24.

Overall Fit and Comfort
One of the nice things about this particular mountain bike is that it comes in a fairly large range of sizes. Unlike most bikes that only offer a small medium and large, this bike also offers an extra small and extra-large as well. These sizes can fit adults under 5’6” and over 6’1” respectively. In addition, the cushioned seat and suspensions offered comfort overall. However, it should be noted that many found that the rear suspension was somewhat lacking in overall support and shock absorption.

Summary
If riding a hardtail bike isn’t your cup of tea, then looking at a full suspension bike like the Gravity FSX 1.0 is a great choice to make. This bike offers great overall performance, as well as a fairly comfortable ride. The only drawback we saw was slightly sluggish shifting in the higher gears and a rear suspension system that was somewhat lacking.
Pros
  • Comfortable Ride
  • Light weight
  • Durable construction
Cons
  • Slightly sluggish shifting in the higher gears
  • Rear suspension could be improved overall

Vilano Ridge 1.0

Vilano Ridge 1.0
The Vilano Brand makes another appearance on our list with the Ridge 1.0 Mountain Bike and with good reason. This affordable mountain bike is not only well within the budget of most people, but the solid construction and ease of use make for a great ride, regardless of the price.
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Bike Style
This mountain bike can be considered an entry-level trail mountain bike. It’s a great choice for those novice mountain bike riders who are eager to hit the more challenging trails

Wheel & Tire Size
The wheel rims are 26 inches in diameter, and feature tires that are approximately 2.1 inches in width.

Frame Materials
The frame is constructed out of a 6061 Aluminum material that is relatively strong, and lightweight. It can easily handle the weight of most people, but is still light enough to carry easily over rougher terrain if needed.

Gearing
This bike features a 21 speed Shimano EF-51 Easy Fire shifter, and both front and back derailleurs. Most people found the shifting to be relatively smooth. It is suggested though, by the manufacturer that fine tuning be done by a trained professional.

Overall Fit and Comfort
Overall this bike is a great choice for easier trails with few areas where jumps or tricks are necessary. It offers a great overall fit for most people, and once adjustments are made the seat and handlebars allow for a fairly comfortable riding posture.

Summary
This bike offers a fantastic choice for a beginner mountain biker who is just starting out on riding easier trails. While it’s not really suited for more advanced users, the easy to use shifter, lightweight frame and suspension front fork make it a great introduction to the sport of trail riding.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and strong
  • Easy and dependable shifting
  • Great for novice mountain bikers
Cons
  • Professional assembly is strongly recommended.

Merax Finiss 26 Aluminum

Merax Finiss 26 Aluminum
The ninth spot in our list is taken by the Merax Finiss 26” Aluminum Mountain Bike. This bike is well suited for the beginner to intermediate mountain cyclist that is yearning to take those trails that are a little more difficult, but not yet ready for the advanced tricks.
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Bike Style
This bike can be considered an all mountain bike, with a hardtail design. It is perfectly suited for both trail and downhill use, and is meant for riders of the beginner or intermediate levels of expertise.

Wheel & Tire Size
The wheel rim diameter measures approximately 26 inches and features an aluminum double wall construction for added strength and durability. The tires measure 2.1 inches in thickness, and provide fairly good stability and traction while on the trail. It should be noted however, that quite a few customers experience issues with the inner tube either being a wrong size overall or having faulty workmanship.

Frame Materials
The frame is made from a lightweight aluminum material that has been heat treated for added strength and durability.

Gearing
This bike features a Shimano 21 speed derailleurs and shifters. Most found the actual gearing mechanism to be relatively smooth in operation, but the placement of the gear shifts to be a bit problematic, especially if you have shorter hands.

Overall Fit and Comfort
For the most part, people who rode this particular mountain bike found it to be adequate in the sense of shock absorption and overall handling and control. However, there were quite a few that found that the front tire fork and the back tire square offered a bit too much play for their liking when it came to the tires.

Summary
If you’re looking for an affordable mountain bike that is a great choice for those trails or downhill runs that are a little more difficult, the Merax Finiss 21 Speed Mountain Bike is a good overall choice. The only real problems we found was that the gear shift location was a bit cumbersome for some, and the front fork and back square allowed for slightly more play than desired.
Pros
  • Fairly easy to put together
  • Relatively strong and lightweight
  • Smooth shifting operation
Cons
  • Gear shift position is somewhat awkward
  • Front fork and back square may provide too much give or play for some riders

Schwinn Protocol 1.0

Schwinn Protocol 1.0
The last entry on our list is by no means a slouch. The Schwinn brand of bicycles is well known for the quality, durability and road worthiness, and this example from their mountain bike collection is no exception to that rule.
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Bike Style
This bike can be considered a downhill mountain bike that is suitable for downhill and easy to moderate trails. The double suspension frame makes for a fairly comfortable ride in regards to impact and shock absorption, but it’s clearly meant for the occasional rider, not for the enthusiastic mountain cyclist.

Wheel & Tire Size
The wheel rims are 26 inches in diameter, and feature tires that are approximately two inches in width. Overall the alloy rims are strong and durable, but the tires themselves will probably be replaced rather quickly with a moderate amount of riding.

Frame Materials
The frame materials consist of aluminum material that is relatively lightweight and very durable. However, because of the double suspension, this mountain bike is heavier than some of the other options available. At an overall weight of 43 pounds, the mountain bike weight can become a hindrance, especially on trails with more moderate to severe inclines.

Gearing
The Schwinn Protocol Mountain Bike features a twenty-four speed Shimano Altus drivetrain with an EF-50 shifting system. Most riders found the shifting to be a breeze to operate overall, and the mechanism was very smooth, even in the higher or the transitional gears.

Overall Fit and Comfort
There is no denying that this is one comfortable ride. On gentle slopes or easy trails, this bike is one that can certainly hold its own in regards to comfort and stability. However, on more moderate trails, or steeper inclines, this mountain bike begins to show the tell-tale signs of potential wear points and areas of weakness, especially in the back fork area, and the brakes. The brakes themselves consist of a front disc system with a mechanical linear pull on the back wheel. This can sometimes lead to uneven wear and tear, so the brakes should be checked with greater frequency then normal.

Summary
Overall this bike provides a good, comfortable ride down the mountain, and on more forgiving trails. The frame is extremely strong and sturdy, but still is relatively lightweight. The only complaint that we had was that the bike begins to break down more rapidly with us on more moderate to advance rides.
Pros
  • Very comfortable to ride
  • Easy to assemble
  • Gearing system is top notch
Cons
  • Bike may be a bit heavy for some
  • Not suitable for advanced trails or riders

Criteria Used For The Evaluation

Bike Style

Generally speaking, there are five different types or styles of mountain bikes.  Each, of course, can be used in a wide range of situations and different environments, but they are each best suited for a specific type of riding style.  For example, cross country, or “XC” mountain bikes are designed to be lightweight and built for overall speed and maneuverability.  They are also sometimes referred to as “general use”.  Those mountain bikes that are referred to as “All Mountain” or “endure” mountain bikes can probably be considered the workhorses of the mountain biking world, and feature partial or full suspensions, a slightly heavier frame, and is best suited for going up the mountains and back down again with or without the use of trails.  Downhill mountain bikes, as the name implies are designed to do one thing, and do it very, very well: travel downhill. They’re designed to handle steep descents at a rapid pace, and feature gears that allow for rapid pedaling and tires and a frame that holds up to the increased pressure of moving at such a rapid pace.  Freeride mountain bikes are somewhat similar to the downhill racers mentioned before, but with one strong difference.  Where the downhill mountain bikes are built for speed, the freeride mountain bikes feature increased maneuverability and dexterity.  Essentially their focus is not only getting down the hill but doing it in style.  And finally, if you want a bike that allows you to do tricks and jumps with relative ease while traveling through the mountainous terrain, you’ll want to consider getting a dirt jump mountain bike due to their specialized frame and single gearing.

Wheel & Tire Size

Generally speaking, there are three sizes when it comes to the diameter of the mountain bike wheel.  The standard twenty-six-inch diameter is still the most common and provides for a great generalized level of control and shock absorption.  Recently though, tires with a larger diameter, such as 27.5 and 29 inch have started to become more popular due to their ability to more easily absorb the impacts from larger stones or trail debris.  While a large diameter tire often means better shock absorption and efficiency, it also means a decrease in overall maneuverability.

Frame Materials

When it comes to mountain bikes, there are a few different materials that are used.  The first, and most common, of course, is aluminum.  Aluminum frames are often fairly lightweight and strong and have the ability to be easily treated to either add strength or durability.  Most cross-country mountain bikes have aluminum frames.  Steel frames are more common in downhill or endure mountain bikes.  They are often slightly heavier than aluminum frame bikes and do offer a bit more durability and strength at the cost of the added weight.  And finally, some of the more specialized mountain bikes feature frames made of things such as carbon fiber or titanium, each of which has their own special advantages and disadvantages such as a lighter overall weight and a slight reduction in strength.

Gearing

Depending on the style of mountain bikes under $1000 that you plan on buying, the gearing system which includes such things as the drivetrain, shifters, cassettes and derailleur gears can vary quite a bit.  For the most part, though, mountain bikes under $1000 dollars often feature gear systems that have between 21 and 27 speeds and feature both a front and rear derailleurs.  The shifting mechanisms are often smooth overall, and the best examples allow for easy shifting without much concentration.

Overall Fit and Comfort

The overall fit and comfort of a mountain bike is perhaps one of the most important, and yet elusive things to consider when it comes to making a purchase.  How the bike handles while on the trail, what level of shock or impact it absorbs, and how comfortable it is to ride overall can play a huge role in how frequently the bike is used, and whether or not the rides are an enjoyable experience.

More to think about when choosing your next mountain bike under $1000

Full Suspension versus Hardtail versus Ridged

In addition to the different styles of mountain bikes listed above, the frames of those bikes can vary widely based on the needs and desires of the rider.  For the most part, however, there are three basic frame styles.  The first is often referred to as full suspension, and as the name implies features suspension brackets on both the front and rear tires.  Full suspension mountain bikes are often seen on downhill and all-mountain styles and are designed to increase to overall comfort of the rider and help with stability and control.  Hardtail, or sometimes called front suspension only mountain bikes don’t have suspension mechanisms on the rear tire and a suspension fork on the front tire, and potentially additional suspension devices as well.  A hardtail design is often seen on cross-country or trail mountain bikes and is better suited for acceleration and control while maneuvering on the incline.  Rigid frame mountain bikes are those that offer no suspension at all.  It’s just you, the frame, gears and the tires.

 

What type of mountain biking do you enjoy?

For every mountain biker, there is a different way of riding.  However, depending on what type of riding you enjoy, the type of mountain bike that you will purchase for under $1000 can change quite a bit.  For example, if you enjoy trail riding and dealing with a wide range of different terrains, a cross-country style mountain bike is probably more your speed.  If however, you feel the need to race downhill at insane speeds, a weightier downhill mountain bike may be what you need.

 

FAQs

Q:   Which size wheel or tire should I use?

There are a few criteria that you need to consider when choosing the size of the wheel rim and tire width when it comes to mountain biking.  The first, of course, is the style of mountain biking you prefer.  Each style has different needs when it comes to things such as maneuverability, control, suspension, and stability.  Then there is your own personal preference – what feels best to you overall?

As a general rule, wheel rims with a larger diameter offer more stability and more cushioning from an impact.  They simply roll over the obstacle in most cases.  Add to that a thicker tire, and you come very close to having a wonderfully smooth and comfortable ride.  However, you do give up a measure of maneuverability and control with larger tires.

Smaller diameter tires, however, often don’t provide a lot of support or cushioning, but excel in areas of finite control and maneuverability.  Essentially, the feel of the ground beneath your bike is transferred more easily into your body, which allows you to make small changes in the way you ride.

Q:   Is there a better bike style for a beginner?

The answer to this question depends greatly on what the beginner wants to do.  In many cases, a cross-country or trail mountain bike will offer the best versatility to try new riding style and terrains.  In most cases, these styles are the ones that beginners enjoy more often.  However, if you as a beginner want to try your hand at downhill or all-mountain styles of riding, there is nothing that says you can’t, and there are mountain bikes in those categories for beginners as well.  The trick is to do your research and determine which mountain bike for under $1000 meets your needs the best.

 

 

Final thoughts

When it comes to enjoying the great outdoors, there really is nothing like exploring the various terrains you may encounter with your mountain bike.  The fresh air, the sights, and sounds, and the friendships that can develop when racing along the trails are priceless indeed.  Thankfully, your mountain bike doesn’t have to be an expensive piece of equipment.  We consider all these options the best mountain bikes under $1000 in the market today.

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