What is the Best Hardtail Mountain Bike Under $2,000?
Choosing a hardtail mountain bike that is right for your riding style and budget can be a difficult task! There are dozens of manufacturers producing great bikes made from different materials and components. Each bike rides differently because of its unique combination of frame geometry, front shock, drivetrain, wheels, and brakes.
The terminology used to describe hardtail mountain bikes can also be complex! If you aren’t browsing mountain bike websites on a weekly basis, you will probably come across a few confusing terms describing features on a bike. That’s where this buyers guide comes in handy — we will give you the information you need to find the perfect mountain.
This buyers guide will also explain the reasons why so many people opt for hardtail mountain bikes and offer some general advice for choosing a bike. We’ll then highlight 5 of the best hardtail mountain bikes under $2000. They are excellent bikes that are well-made, durable, and great value-for-money. They will provide you with thousands of hours of fun on the trails!
What types of mountain bikes are available?
Mountain bikes are designed to be versatile and handle many different types of terrain — from bitumen through to muddy trails. They are divided into the following categories:
Dual suspension/Full suspension mountain bikes
Bikes in this category have suspension on both the front and rear wheels. They are normally used for aggressive downhill riding or enduro riding — where riders tackle challenging trails, big drops and jumps. They can also be more comfortable to ride on compared to bikes without shocks, cushioning the rider from bumps.
Hardtail mountain bikes
Hardtail mountain bikes only have a shock on the front wheel and a use a rigid rear end. They tend to be lighter than a full suspension bike, mechanically simpler, and more responsive on the trail. They are usually used for general trail riding, cross country riding and enduro riding.
Rigid mountain bikes
Rigid bikes completely forgo suspension and have a solid frame. They are the lightest option, but are unsuitable for aggressive downhill riding. Some rigid bikes use fat tires to cushion the impact of bumps while trail riding — they are usually referred to as “Fat Bikes”.
What are the benefits of choosing a hardtail mountain bike?
With so many elaborate full suspensions mountain bikes on the market, you might be wondering — why should I choose a hardtail mountain bike? There are a few reasons why hardtail bikes are usually a better choice:
- Hardtail mountain bikes are lighter than full suspension bikes
The rear suspension on a full suspension mountain bike can adds a lot of weight to the bike. This additional weight can make it more difficult to climb hills. If you are interested in cross country racing or simply beating your friends up the trail, choose a hardtail bike.
- Hardtail mountain bikes are more affordable
Hardtail mountain bikes tend to be cheaper than dual suspension bikes because they do not have an expensive rear suspension units. Because of this, when you compare hardtail and dual suspension bikes that are a similar price, the hardtail will have usually have better quality components.
- Hardtail bikes have less chance of mechanical failure
The design of hardtail mountain bikes is simpler than that of dual suspension bikes. That means there is less chance of something going wrong while you are riding. Maintenance is also simpler without a rear shock on the bike.
- Riding a hardtail mountain bike is more challenging
Riding a dual suspension bike allows you to roll over most objects without much thought! When you ride a hardtail mountain bike will have to choose your line more accurately, avoiding larger rocks and navigating obstacles. Riders who like a challenge enjoy this approach.
- Hardtail mountain bikes are more responsive
Having an active rear suspension unit means that some of your peddling power is absorbed by the suspension. A hardtail avoids this problem, resulting in better power transference and more responsiveness.
How much do you need to spend on a hardtail mountain bike?
The amount of money you should spend on a hardtail mountain bike comes down to a few factors, including:
How often you like to ride
If you are chalking up thousands of kilometers each year, you should be prepared to spend at least $1,000 on your hardtail mountain bike. This will ensure your bike includes high quality components designed to withstand that much use. Having higher quality components will also minimize the risk of equipment failure during your long rides. If you are only using your mountain bike to duck down to the shops, you can buy a cheaper one!
How competitive you are
If you are quite competitive when you ride and enjoy beating your friends on the trails, you should look at slightly more expensive bikes — around the $1,500 to $2,000 price points. Bikes at this price range will have a lighter frame and lightweight components which can improve your performance. They will usually have more carbon components, which are super light and very durable. If you intend to race competitively, you might eventually spend as much as $4,000 or $5,000 on a high-quality carbon bike.
The kinds of trails you are tackling
If you are riding on trails that are particularly challenging, a bike with a high quality drivetrain, great tires, and responsive rear shock can help you immensely. You should look at bikes within the $1,000-2,000 price range to access high-quality components designed for technical trails. If you are only riding on pavement, you can get away with a sub-$1,000 mountain bike easily.
Your budget is perhaps the largest constraint on the kind of hardtail mountain bike you buy! If you are spending between $1,000 to $2,000 on a mountain bike, most of the models you are looking at will have an aluminum or carbon frame. They will have a very high-quality front shock and drive train. If you are spending close to $2,000, some of the components on the bikes will be semi-professional in quality — designed to provide excellent performance in harsh conditions.
Tips for buying the right hardtail mountain bike
There are a number of factors you should consider before selecting a hardtail mountain bike, including:
How good is the bike’s front shock?
The front shock on a hardtail mountain bike helps you to traverse difficult terrain and safely handle descents on the trail. It will also make your rides more comfortable, cushioning your arms and hands as you roll over bumps on the trail.
Front shocks normally use air, springs or a combination of the two (air spring shocks). Cheaper bikes usually have springs, with most bikes in the $1,000+ price bracket having air spring shocks.
A decent mountain bike in this price bracket should have a fairly lightweight shock that is made from aluminum or titanium. It should also have adjustable rebound damping, which allows the rider to adjust how quickly the shock returns to its natural height after a bounce.
You should also check that the front shock has enough travel for your riding style. The travel is how far the shock can move up and down. If you want a hardtail mountain bike that can handle bigger drops and steeper descents, get one with a front shock that travels at least 120 mm.
Choose the lightest frame you can afford
The weight of your bike’s frame and components has a strong impact on its performance. Essentially, the lighter your bike is, the easier it is to ride up hills. Most mountain bike frames are made from one of the following materials:
Bike frames were traditionally made from steel. It is a very tough material with limited flex, which makes it ideal for the tough conditions on the trail. The downside to having a steel frame is that it is significantly heavier than other materials.
Most mountain bikes are now made from aluminum. It is a very durable material that rides well and is fairly light — lighter than both steel and titanium.
- Carbon fiber
Carbon fiber is still a relatively new material on the biking scene. It is an incredibly light material that is strong, stiff, and capable of absorbing vibrations. Carbon fiber is also corrosion resistant, which adds to the frame’s lifespan. Carbon fiber bikes are a real pleasure to ride on, but they can be very expensive. At the $2,000 price point, you may see some bikes with full carbon fiber frames, but most will be aluminum.
This is an expensive material that is extremely durable. It is so hard-wearing that most titanium frames have a lifetime warranty. It is a great choice for mountain biking, but most riders prefer to use lighter aluminum or carbon fiber frames.
What type of drivetrain does the bike have?
The drivetrain is how the bike transmits power from your legs and sends it to the wheels. It includes the bike’s cranks, gear levers, chain, derailleurs, chain wheel and cassette.
Most hardtail mountain bikes use multiple chainrings and cogs on the rear cassette to achieve different gearing ratios and torques. It is important to check that the bike has the appropriate gears for the kind of riding you do. For example, if you often perform uphill rides, the bike should have smaller chainrings on the front and larger cogs on the cassette available. The reverse is true if you often reach high speeds down hills or on flats.
Shimano and SRAM are the leading manufacturers of mountain bike drivetrains, with both companies making outstanding products. At the $1,500 to $2,000 price point, expect to find bikes with Shimano Ultegra or Sram X5 drivetrains.
What wheels are on the bike?
Traditionally, mountain bike wheels have always had a diameter of 26 inches. Wheels of this size were responsive and fast off the mark — ideal for trail riding. In the 1980s, Gary Fisher began investigating wheels of other sizes, including large-diameter 28 x 1¾ wheels. He found them to be very efficient at rolling over obstacles and maintaining speed.
Bike manufacturers began experimenting with other wheel sizes, including large 29-inch wheels. Many different sizes are now available, each with different advantages and disadvantages.
In general terms, smaller wheels (26-inch) are more agile and responsive than larger wheels — which is why they are still popular amongst downhill riders. Large wheels (29-inch) are more stable, smoother, and hold their speed very well. The downside of using larger wheels is that it takes longer to build speed and they are trickier to handle on technical trails. Riders can also opt for other sizes, including the 27.5-inch/650b size, which is an excellent mid-point between 26” and 29”.
How good are the bike’s brakes?
Traditionally, mountain bikes used caliper brakes that gripped the rim of the bike. They are now quite rare amongst higher end mountain bikes, which usually have disc brakes.
Disc brakes have some significant advantages over caliper brakes, including better stopping power. Because disc brakes use a large rotor in the centre of the wheel instead of the rim, they are also less likely to become compromised by mud or dirt.
There are two types of disc brakes available — hydraulic and mechanical. Mechanical use a steel cable to pull the brake pad onto the disc. Hydraulic brakes use a piston and cylinder filled with hydraulic fluid to push the brake pad onto the disc. Bikes at the $1,500-2,000 price point should be equipped with hydraulic disc brakes.
Five of the best Hardtail Mountain Bikes Under $2,000
Here are five of the best hardtail mountain bikes on the market! They are all well made, packed with features and guaranteed to deliver years of fun on the trails.
Stradalli 650b Full Carbon Fiber Hardtail Mountain Bike
Stradalli is a highly regarded manufacturer of high quality hardtail mountain bikes. They offer a range of full carbon hardtail mountain bikes at very affordable prices compared to other manufacturers. The Stradalli 650b has a 100% 3k carbon fiber frame with a tensile strength of 50 tons per square centimeter. This is a seriously tough frame that is also light and responsive.
This bike uses a tapered head tube to improve its steering responsiveness — very handy on challenging technical trails. The front fork is a DT SWISS XMM OP 27 120mm 15mm Axel. This fork offers enough clearance for some large jumps and is tough enough to handle rough trails.
Another great feature of the Stradalli 650b is the Industry 9 Ultralight wheel set with Torch Hub hubs. The bike’s rims are surrounded by Schwalbe Thunder Burt tires that are durable and perfect for off-roading.
The Stradalli 650b uses an internal cabling system, which protects your brake and drivetrain cables from the elements. The drivetrain is Shimano XT with
an FSA SLK Carbon crankset — super reliable and used by many professionals. The brakes are Magura MT2 disc brakes. This is an affordable and ultralight carbon hardtail mountain bike that offers excellent value-for-money.
Diamondback Bicycles 2016 Overdrive Pro
Diamondback bicycles make affordable hardtail mountain bikes that are reliable and fun to ride. The Diamondback Bicycles 2016 Overdrive Pro is the company’s premier traditional hardtail and one of their most popular models.
This bike uses a butted and hydro-formed aluminum frame that is surprisingly light. It is super tough and capable of handling very rough trails. The base level 27.5” wheels make the bike quite quick off the mark and highly maneuverable. The wheels are running on Kenda Honey Badger tires (27.5×2.2”), which are ideal for off-roading. You can also opt for larger 29” wheels if you prefer.
The Overdrive Pro has fantastic stopping power, thanks to its Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. The bike’s 2 x 10 drivetrain is a combination of Shimano XT and Shimano Deore components — one of the most popular combinations on mountain bikes. This is a sturdy and affordable aluminum hardtail mountain bike that is a great choice for riders of any skill level.
Steppenwolf Tundra LTD Hardtail Mountain Bike
Steppenwolf is a popular German bike manufacturer that makes commuter bikes, trekking bikes and mountain bikes. They have established a reputation for making high-quality frames that last for many years.
The Steppenwolf Tundra LTD is one of their high-end hardtail mountain bikes. It features a Triple butted Ultralight aluminum X6 framework with a RockShox Reba RL 100 mm Remote fork. This frame is extremely light, responsive, and a pleasure to ride on.
The bike sits on two Schwalbe Rocket Ron 29×2.25 Evo tires and a Shimano XT/DT Swiss wheel set. These tires are an excellent choice for both commuting and trail riding. The bike can be customized to use 27.5” wheels or 29” wheels.
The drivetrain uses Shimano XT components and gears — a popular choice for mountain bikes in this price range. The hydraulic disc brakes are also Shimano XT. This is a solid all round mountain bike with a very high-quality frame and top level components. It is a very agile bike that can handle tricky terrain.
Diamondback Bicycles 2016 Sync’R Pro Complete Hardtail Mountain Bike
This is another great choice from Diamondback Bicycles. The Diamondback Bicycles Sync’R Pro is a very rugged hardtail mountain bike that has been designed to handle off-road trails. Unlike the other bikes reviewed, the Sync’R Pro only has a single 11-speed front cog. This makes the bike slightly lighter because it doesn’t have to carry a front derailleur and shifter. It also reduces the risk of your bike malfunctioning on the trail.
The Sync’R Pro has a 6061-T6 alloy frame that is tapered and butted. The rear end of this frame uses a thru-axle to provide the bike with some additional stiffness. The front end uses a large 130 millimeter Fox shock — capable of handling small to medium jumps.
The rear derailleur, cogset and shifters are all Shimano XT M8000, a super-reliable drivetrain that is found on many high-end mountain bikes. The rims are Diamondback Blanchard 28R, with WTB Vigilante Comp 27.5×2.3” tires. The Shimano M447 hydraulic disc brakes provide excellent stopping power in all weather conditions. This bike is an excellent choice for riders of any skill level!
SAVADECK Titanium Alloy 27.5” Mountain Bike
This surprisingly affordable titanium alloy bike is perfect for riders who want an extremely durable hardtail mountain bike. This titanium alloy frame has extraordinary corrosion resistance and can withstand extreme heat — meaning you will be using this bike for many years (perhaps many decades). The handlebar, seat post, and stem are also made from long-lasting titanium alloy.
It comes with a SHIMANO M8000 transmission control system, derailleurs and hydraulic brakes. This is a very tried-and-tested system that can withstand the harsh conditions outdoors. The Manituo suspension fork is quite smooth and has a versatile damping system which can be adjusted during rides.
It comes with Maxxis road semi slick tires, a comfortable Fizik saddle, and Chosen Hub — all very high end components. The frame has been designed with comfort in mind and this might is an excellent choice for riders who travel long distances.
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