The best mountain bikes in the £500 - £1,000 mountain bike price range include hardtails with improved suspension performance and spec, in a range of wheel sizes. Full suspension bikes are usually reserved for higher price points but there is one notable exception that we just had to include in this review.
Wheel size makes a difference: 27.5” (650b) is now the most common size as it combines fast rolling speed with nimble handling. 29” wheels are a great option for hardtail MTBs as they are even faster rolling than 27.5 but are not quite as nimble as MTBs with smaller wheels, especially for smaller riders.
Tyres are getting wider: This is why we have included a plus sized bike with 2.8” tyres. Known as 27.5-plus or 6fatties, bikes with these wheels offer more grip as well as more float (the ability for the tyres to soak up bumps in the trail) for improved confidence when riding challenging terrain.
There is a real mix of different drivetrain solutions in this MTB review including triple, double and single ring chainsets. Generally speaking, the fewer front chainrings a mountain bike has, the easier it is to change gear. Of course, this could restrict the gear range, so ‘one by’ drivetrains have a very wide range cassette to give you plenty of gear ratios for both climbing and descending. Hydraulic disc brakes offer the best speed control in all-weather conditions and are found on all models in this review.
Frame 6061 aluminium alloy
Suspension SR Suntour XCT-100 fork
Wheels 27.5” with 2.0” tyres
Drivetrain Shimano 3x8 speed
The Cannondale Trail 6 offers a smooth ride thanks to the Save Stays in the rear triangle. These are designed to flex slightly over rough ground to minimise the shock traveling through the frame. A Suntour XCT-100 fork offers 100mm of plush coil sprung suspension travel to soak up the bumps on the trails. Offering the ideal balance between quick rolling and nimble handling the 27.5” wheels are ideal for general MTB riding.
Hydraulic disc brakes offer confident all-weather stopping power and are great to see on a bike at this price point. Low-profile nobs on the tyres mean that the Cannondale Trail is fast over smooth ground while still offering some grip in the corners. Ideal for cross country and gravel track mountain bike riding the Trail can also double up as a rugged commuter.
A fast and fun hardtail mountain bike for single track trails and gravel tracks.
Frame A1 Premium aluminium
Suspension SR Suntour XCR-Air fork
Wheels 29” with 2.1” tyres
Drivetrain Shimano Deore 2x10 speed
A rapid 29er the Specialized Rockhopper offers much better performance than its price tag suggests. The A1 SL Premium aluminium alloy frame offers a confident stable riding position while the air sprung Suntour XCR fork offers 100mm (80mm on size small) of plush suspension travel.
Shimano hydraulic disc brakes deliver confident and consistent stopping power in all weather conditions. This makes the Rockhopper a great choice for all weather cross country MTB adventures. A 2x10 speed Shimano Deore drivetrain offers easier shifting than traditional triple chainsets yet still gives you a wide range of gears for taking on all the climbs. The 29” wheels also roll quickly and confidently over all surfaces from the rough to the smooth.
29” wheels for rapid rolling cross country adventures.
Frame 6061 aluminium with internal cable routing
Suspension 6061 aluminium with internal cable routing
Wheels 27.5” with 2.25” tyres
Drivetrain Shimano XT/SLX 2x11 speed
The Cube Acid 27.5 is a classic cross country hardtail that features a well-balanced natural riding position and performance oriented components. Fast rolling over smooth and bumpy terrain while remaining nimble in technical sections and offering plenty of grip in the corners. The 27.5” wheels are ideal for general mountain bike riding and are shod with 2.25” tyres for improved off-road grip. The Acid is also available with 29” wheels for larger riders.
Built to take on cross country and trail centre trails the Acid has a lightweight, air sprung, RockShox Recon Silver fork to soak up the bumps on the trail. The quality Shimano XT/SLX 2x11 speed groupset offers slick shifting with a wide range of gears for taking on varied off-road terrain. Shimano hydraulic disc brakes offer confident stopping power in all weather conditions.
Performance components and a stable ride for confident mountain bike trail adventures.
Frame 6061 butted aluminium
Suspension SR Suntour Raidon LO-R fork
Wheels 27.5”+ with 2.8” tyres
Drivetrain Shimano SLX 1x10 speed
With its Plus sized 2.8” tyres the Charge Cooker 2 opens up hardtail mountain biking to more challenging terrain. As well as ofering more grip, the extra volume offers enough extra float so that it rides over very rough terrain almost as well as a full suspension MTB.
A very well thought out mountain bike the Cooker features dialled trail geometry with a super reliable Shimano ‘one by’ drivetrain with very wide range cassette which gives you all the gears you need. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes offer confident all-weather stopping power. The wheels and WTB Trailblazer tyres are tubeless ready so you can run lower tyres pressures to make the most of the extra grip and float.
More grip, more control, more fun. The Charge Cooker offers a plus sized advantage.
Frame 6061-T6 aluminium alloy
Suspension SR Suntour XCR fork and All Terra AO shock
Wheels 27.5” with 2.1” tyres
Drivetrain Shimano Deore 2x9 speed
With the Verb Elite, GT have pulled out all the stops to bring you true full sus MTB performance under £1,000. Designed from the ground up for 27.5” wheels the Verb offers 120mm of full suspension travel for taking on more technical trail centre trails. Independent Drivetrain technology ensures efficient pedalling over both the rough and the smooth.
The extra cost of the full suspension technology means that you get a slightly lower range Shimano Deore 2x9 speed drivetrain but you still get a wide gear range for taking on all the climbs. Shimano hydraulic disc brakes give you powerful stopping control.
Confident, quick and fun to ride the Verb will let you tear it up at the trail centre while also being lightweight enough for cross country adventures.
True full suspension mountain bike performance at an affordable price point.