The Best Bikes for Less Than $3000
How to Find the Best Value in Mountain Biking
We spend a significant portion of this magazine talking about the newest and most exotic technologies in the cycling world, and those bikes and products regularly carry a hefty price tag—one that most riders aren’t willing to pay. Mountain biking is a gear-intensive sport, but that doesn’t mean it has to be prohibitively expensive. We know there are plenty of riders out there who love reading about the “Ferrari” bikes we regularly test but would never consider buying one. That includes the entire Mountain Bike Action staff—a group of riders who wouldn’t be able to afford much more than a beater rust bucket from a sketchy Craigslist ad if it weren’t for our jobs testing bikes. Fortunately, the technologies that are cutting edge one year regularly trickle down to the bikes that many more riders can afford the following year, result- ing in better bikes for everyone. We set out to sift through the multitude of awesome bikes that are actually affordable to see which ones we would actually spend our hard-earned money on.
Two schools of thought:
When buying a new bike on a budget, there are two distinctly different ways of thinking: The first is to buy the bike with the highest-end components, like wheels, drivetrain, handlebars, stem, etc. The other is to buy a higher-end frame with lower-end components with the notion that they will be upgraded later. Either of these is logical and will work. However, riders should know what they’re getting into before going down either of these paths.
GT Bicycles Force Comp: The Force is a 150mm travel, 27.5-inch All Mountain bike that is built for good times on rowdy terrain. Whether you’re getting down and dirty on a high alpine ride, racing your local enduro, or pushing the limits of what you think is possible at the bikepark, this is a Force to reckon with. Retail $2625
Jamis Durango Expert: These may be the most affordable 29’ers in our Jamis stable, but there’s nothing entry-level about the performance of these bikes. Jamis says they’ve taken all new frame styling and married it to their proven XC geometry. Best-in-class performance and big hoops don’t have to mean big bucks, and the Durangos prove it. It costs $850
Scott Big John: Scott’s Big John is a great way to get into the world of fat biking without breaking the bank. The Big John comes with a butted aluminum frame and clearance for huge 5-inch- wide tires. It might not be the best choice for a beginner’s first bike but it could certainly be pushed into trailbike service for most any rider.
Haro Shift Plus: Built on the foundation of a 6000 series 4 bar linkage frame with Plus geometry, the Shift Plus is the ultimate go-anywhere do-anything suspension bike. It features 130mm of travel in the rear, and 140mm of travel in the front with the new Revelation RC 27.5″ Boost fork from RockShox. Add to that WTB Scraper i35 rims paired with WTB Ranger 27.5 x 2.8″ tires and you’ll have so much suspension you’ll barely know the bumps were ever there. Shift Plus features Haro’s Four-Bar linkage Plus design and has a progressive rear function with an additional central linkage and rear wheel pivots that work together to optimize shock performance. In addition, it creates increased rigidity between the front and rear triangle and isolates the rear shock from braking forces while keeping the suspension active when needed. A dropper post by TranzX adds convenience and Shimano SLX 7000 hydraulic disc brakes with fins stops this beast on a dime. Its semi complete Shimano XT 1X11 drive train pairs nicely with an FSA V-Drive Modular Boost crankset with 30T chain ring. Retail $2300
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Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun. Start a subscription by clicking here or calling (800) 767-0345.