Whether you’re buying your first mountain bike or looking to upgrade your starter mtb, you might not know how much you have to spend to get something good.
The bad news is that high quality mountain bikes can cost you as much as over $2,000.
The good news is that you can get a pretty good mountain bike under $1000. But, of course, the more you spend then the better bike you end up with for the trails.
Let’s dig into this a bit more and get a good look at what you get for the money when mountain bike shopping.
How Much Should You Spend On Your First Mountain Bike?
Are you looking for get your very first mountain bike? Before knowing what your price range should be, it’s more important based this decision on your skill level.
Have you ever ridden a mountain bike before? Is there is a risk that you won’t really stick with it and possibly not really use the mtb all that much?
Or do you have some experience with mountain bike riding? Maybe you’re committed to getting yourself some quality gear so that you can tear up those trails in your free time.
Here’s my recommendations:
- If you’re completely new to mountain biking, then I suggest a budget of $500 – $1000 for your first hardtail mtb just in case you don’t stick with it. Cause you can always upgrade to a better bike later on.
- If you have some experience with mountain biking, then I suggest a budget of $1000 – $1500 for a cheap high quality hardtail, and up to $2500 for a beginner-friendly full suspension model.
Of course, you’ll see plenty of mountain bikes for sale with prices far cheaper than those prices ranges above. And you can get yourself one of those cheapo options if your budget can’t handle the higher prices.
But you truly get what you pay for when it comes to mountain bikes.
Usually, the cheaper the mountain bike is to buy, then the more you have to spend on repairs, upgrades, etc. So, just do yourself a favor and get the best bike that you budget can handle.
The price ranges above are certainly not going to get you a top of the line mountain bike, but you will end up with a high quality bike that will last you for a while.
And I think that hardtail mtbs are usually a better option for beginners that FS mtbs, and they just happen to be the cheaper type of mtb as well.
Why Do Good Mountain Bikes Cost So Much?
Compared to the bikes you see at your local big box stores and sporting good stores, you might have a bit of sticker shock when you start shopping for a new mountain bike.
Yes, the quality mountain bikes do seem expensive compared to the cheap models that you probably grew up riding with your friends and family.
You might be wondering what it is about mtbs that makes the good ones so expensive.
It’s the components.
The frame itself is a big part of the cost. And the lighter that frame, then the more expensive it is, and the higher the cost of your bike.
Basically, when the frame uses more expensive materials, then your cost rises.
The same applies to the MTB wheels – when more expensive materials are used to make them, then that higher cost is passed on to the consumer (you).
Once you add up the cost of all the bikes components, from the brake systems to the tires, you end up with a hefty price tag.
But the good news is that investing in a high quality mountain bike from the start means lower repair costs for the life of the bike.
Mountain Bike Price Ranges & Quality: What To Expect
Now that you know our recommendation for a good price range, let’s take a closer look at what you get for they money. We’ll break down the price ranges that you find by the quality of bike that you get in each range.
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Under $500 Price Range
This price range is best avoided. You’ll find bikes that fall into this range at local big box stores and online at Amazon.
The bikes may look all nice and shiny, but all it takes is one ride to know how crappy one of these bike is – and how much money you just wasted on it.
Mountain bikes in this price range are also usually a lot heavier than their higher priced counterparts.
If you cannot afford anything above this price, then you are better off not buying a mountain bike at all. You will truly have a terrible experience if you buy one of these models.
With once exception.
The new Cannondale Trail 8 Bike for 2020 has a price under $500 at REI and it’s actually looking like it’s a pretty decent hardtail for the money. And if you pair this with an REI membership so that you get cash back dividend – and maybe a member coupon, then this is a killer deal.
Other than this one model, I’d suggest skipping this price range.
$500 – $1000 Price Range
This is a good entry level starting point for someone who isn’t sure if mountain biking is really the thing for them or not.
The cost is low enough for the commitment-shy rider, but high enough to get you something with decent quality.
You’re not going to find a quality full suspension bike in this category though, so focus only on hardtails.
➤ ➤ See our list of recommended cheap hardtail mtbs.
Some of the best brands in this category are:
Every so often DiamondBack makes a bike in this price range that is decent, but not always. So, if you’re considering one of their models be sure to do your homework on it.
$1000 – $2000 Price Range
Moving up to this price range gets you an even better hardtail and you’re now able to get a decent full suspension model.
The performance and quality of bikes is this price range is high. You’ll notice that the hardtail bikes are more lightweight than in the previous price range.
But the FS bikes are going to be heavier than the hardtails in this range – that’s because these are the lower end of quality FS mountain bikes.
Some of the best brands in this category are:
- Salsa (great hardtail mtbs in this range)
- REI Co-Op Cycles
- Ghost (both hardtail and full suspension models)
- Giant (their Trance model is a great cheap FS bike in this range)
Of course there are other decent brands that you can find in this price range, but the above brands are some of our favorites.
$2000 – $3000 Price Range
This range is likely not going to attract anyone who is new to mountain biking, but if you’ve been at it for a while and want to upgrade your gear then you might start here.
For this amount of money, you’re going to find hardtail bikes with carbon fiber frames. So, ultra lightweight mtbs in this class.
For the the full-suspension models, you’re still going to have the aluminum frames but there will be a noticeable improvement in quality, performance, and components compared to FS bikes in the previous price range.
Some top brands that you’ll find in this price range include:
There’s other direct to consumer brands that fit this price range as well. So, shop around and talk to the people at your local bike shop to get a better idea of what you’re interested in buying in this price range.
$3000 – $5000+ Price Range
Now we’re in the top of the line category. Here you’ll find the best of the best when it comes to high end mountain bike with the ultimate in quality and performance.
This is the price range for people who are serious about their mountain biking.
You’re not going to find too many hardtail mtbs here. Instead, it’s mostly full-suspension mountain bikes.
And honestly, all the major mtb brands tend to have some bikes in this price range. So, check out what they offer and get yourself the best mtb that meets your riding style.
When’s The Best Time Of Year To Buy A Mountain Bike?
If you want to save money on your new mountain bike purchase, then it’s a good idea to shop when the retailers and manufacturers are discounting the current year models.
And that time is toward the end of the year. It’s just like when you’re buying a new car and they need room for the new year models.
But what if you don’t want to wait until the end of the year to get a good deal on a mountain bike?
Luckily, there is another way to score a good price that I know of, and have used myself in the past.
5 Ways To Save Money On A New Mountain Bike
Here’s how you can get a discount on your new mtb pretty much any time of year.
- Check the REI Outlet store online for closeout models with a discount sale price.
- Sign up for an REI membership online and order your bike (you get cashback as a dividend!)
- Look for the next REI Garage sale to score a cheap pre-owned mtb in great condition.
- Buy during an REI sale like their anniversary sale (May), Labor Day sale, and holiday sale.
- Buy a used on on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace (we recommend you take a used bike to a local bike shop for inspection before buying it!).
I think that REI is the best place to save money on a new mtb. If you have a local bike shop that you can visit, then you may also want to pop in there and see if they run any sales or discounts throughout the year.