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.
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!
Fork quality isn’t quite on par with the rest of the bike and it’s a very narrowly focused bike.
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.
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.
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.
|4.6 lbs (frame)
|RockShox 35 Gold RL
|RockShox Recon Silver RL
|Marzocchi Bomber Z2
|Fox Performance Float 36
|27.5″ / 29″
|GX Eagle, NX Eagle
|microSHIFT Advent X
|1 × 12
|1 × 12
|1 × 12
|1 × 10
|1 × 12
Where to Buy
At Jenson USA
At Mike’s Bikes