Top 5 Affordable Hardtails

Josh Kirchhoff

Updated December 9, 2023

Hardtail mountain bikes represent many things to many people; they’re lightweight, easy to maintain, and can greatly up the fun factor on otherwise mundane trails. But one of their most alluring traits is their price. The lack of rear suspension and the corresponding lack components and manufacturing complexity means that you can usually get a hardtail for about $1,000 less than an equally speced full suspension bike. These factors have led to a huge increase in their popularity over the past few years and these days there’s more dialed, affordable hardtails on the market than ever before. But just like their squishier counterparts, no two hardtails are created equal and it can be tough to figure out which bike is best for you, so we’ve compiled a list of five of our favorites, all for less than $2,000. 

Best Do-It-All Hardtail
Trek Roscoe 8

Smart, well rounded geometry paired to a pretty awesome spec, not to mention ease of access given Trek’s worldwide presence.

Only drawbacks are the relatively lower end fork and short dropper post. It’s also at the upper end of our price limit. But if you can afford it and can live with the less refined fork it’s pretty hard to beat! Other bikes to consider in this category are the Canyon Stoic 4 and Orbea Laufey H30, which we’ll actually be talking about in a bit!

Best XC Hardtail
Canyon Exceed CF 5

Purpose built XC race machine, with a highly upgradeable frame.

Fork quality isn’t quite on par with the rest of the bike and it’s a very narrowly focused bike.

Beset Aggressive Hardtail
Marin San Quentin 29" 3

Burly part spec paired with modern enduro geometry, and cheaper than many of the bikes on the list.

Only slight drawback is that like the Canyon Exceed it’s a bit hyper-focused on enduro riding, and some of it’s geo and part spec may be a hindrance on less technical trails.

Best Budget Hardtail
Cannondale Habit HT 3

High quality frame with modern standards and geometry are the biggest things going for this bike, making an excellent option for riders looking for a very affordable way to get on a bike you can upgrade to your liking down the road.

Bummer that you don’t get a longer travel dropper post or air sprung fork, but those are things that can be upgraded much more easily than having to replace a low quality frame.

Best Spec'd Hardtail
Commençal META HT AM RACE

Burly, high performance fork and wheels and a long travel dropper post mixed with an iconic frame.

Sadly the geometry on the Meta HT is starting to show its age, and most riders will likely need to size up. The 2 piston brakes are a bit of a bummer as well, but much more affordable to upgrade than a fork or wheel set.

Compare Our Picks

MSRP
$2,399$1,999$1,799$1,100$2,800
Spec Level
Weight
29.9 lbs25.9 lbs4.6 lbs (frame)
Frame
AluminumCarbonAluminumAluminumAluminum
Fork
RockShox 35 Gold RLRockShox Recon Silver RLMarzocchi Bomber Z2Suntour XCRFox Performance Float 36
Wheel Size
27.5″ / 29″29″29″29″27.5″
Groupset
GX Eagle, NX EagleDeoreDeore, FSAmicroSHIFT Advent XSLX
Drivetrain
1 × 121 × 121 × 121 × 101 × 12
Travel
140mm front100mm front140mm front130mm front150mm front
Seatpost
DropperRigidDropperDropperDropper
Where to Buy
$2,399

At Trek

$1,799

At Jenson USA

$1,099

At Mike’s Bikes