The best mountain bikes in the £500 - £1,000 price range you will find hardtails with improved suspension performance and spec, in a range of wheel sizes each with their own advantages which we detail in the is 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 which is why we have included a plus sized bike with 3.0” 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 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 2x9 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 XCM fork offers 100mm of plush coils 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. It is great to see a 2x9 speed drivetrain at this price point.
Hydraulic disc brakes offer confident all-weather stopping power and are great to see Shimano disc brakes on the Trail. 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 XCM, Multi-Circuit damping
Wheels 29” with 2.1” tyres
Drivetrain Shimano 3x9 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 XCM fork features Multi-Circuit damping – for premium performance – and 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 3x9 speed Shimano Deore drivetrain offers a very 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 RockShox Recon Silver TK AIR
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 ALUXX-SL Grade aluminium with internal cable routing
Suspension Suntour Raidon XC 120mm
Wheels 27.5” with 2.25” tyres
Drivetrain Shimano Deore 2x10 speed
With its longer travel, 120mm suspension fork and dropper post, the Giant Fathom 2 offers a more capable on technical terrain making it ideal for more technical trail centre loops. The Fathom features a 67 degree head angle, which is slacker than most cross country hardtails, and offers a more stable and confident ride on challenging terrain.
It is great to see a dropper post on a bike at this price point. Dropper posts allow you to drop you seat, for more control on challenging sections, then raise it up again for the next incline without taking your hands off the bars. Full internal cable routing keeps the lines nice and clean and make the Fathom look as good as it rides.
Trail centre ready with a 120mm fork and dropper post
Frame SmartForm Aluminium Alloy
Suspension RockShox Recon Silver 120mm
Wheels 27.5”+ with 3.0” tyres
Drivetrain SRAM GX 1x11 speed
With its Plus sized 3.0” tyres The Cujo opens up hardtail mountain biking to more challenging terrain. As well as giving more grip, the extra volume offers enough extra float so that it rides over very rough terrain almost as well as a full sus. Combined with the 120mm travel RockShox Recon Silver fork the Cujo is ideal for trail centre loops.
A very well thought out MTB the Cannondale Cujo features dialled trail geometry. The SRAM GX ‘one by’ drivetrain features a 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
More grip, more control, more fun. The Cannondale Cujo 1 offers a plus sized advantage.