5 Best Hardtail Mtb Under 1000

5 Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes Under $1000

In order to scale mountain ranges quickly, or simply looking for exciting rides on rugged dirt paths, a hardtail mountain bike will provide you with fun and excitement on a cross country path or a trail ride. In this review, we will show you what makes a quality mountain bike as well as which ones on the market that you should consider buying.

Not all mountain bikes are the same, though. Some have more features than others, and some even have minor differences from one another that makes the bike a whole new bike entirely. Some riders prefer a full suspension mountain bike for their type of riding, while others like the simplicity and durability of a hardtail mountain bike. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a hardtail mountain bike.

#1

Marin San Quentin 2020

Marin San Quentin

Downhill, Light dirt jump, Enduro

#2

Marin Wildcat Trail 2020

Marin Wildcat Trail

Single Tracks, Fire Road Riding

#3

Orbea Alma H50 2019

Orbea Alma H50

Single Tracks, Fire Road Riding

#4

Jamis Komodo 2018

Jamis Komodo Expert

Trail

#5

Jamis Eden 2018

Jamis Eden Expert

Trail

Hardtail Mountain Bike Key Factors

Size

Every other aspect of a hardtail mountain bike comes second to the size of the frame. One thing to consider is that there is no universal size of reference; each manufacturer defines their own size of frame, and this can be problematic in the process of comparing one bike from a manufacturer to a different bike entirely. What one company classifies as a medium might be rather small for another.

Instead, look for what kind of bike fits you the best. Examine and compare how you feel on each bike. Does the seat feel comfortable? Do you feel safe when you hold onto the handlebars? Do your feet and legs move fluidly as you pedal? These are all things to take into consideration when you mount the bike for the first time.

Wheels

Standard mountain bike wheels are 27.5 inches, and are made for rocky trails and downhill paths. Wheels that are 29 inches in diameter are for cross country (or XC), racing and trails of almost any kind. 29 inches are likely to be the norm within the next several years.

One unwritten rule to remember is that smaller wheels can withstand harsher trails, while bigger wheels are better for longer ones. All of the bikes in this review have wheel that are of 29 inches, so you know they are all for long, enjoyable runs in the wilderness.

Durability

Weight is vital, but strength is even more so when it comes to riding off-road. When riding over treacherous rocks, ruts and roots, flimsy is the last thing you want to describe the bike that you are riding on. On a lightweight bike, steering, cornering and your nerves all take a hit. With a beefier bike, you will be more confident while steering and controlling at optimal levels.

Not only do you want a bike with sturdy materials, but also one that feels professional. It is one thing to buy what you may think is the safest and sturdiest bike in the world, but when you get on it, you might feel like everything about the bike is held together by glue.

Does the bike you want feel great when you mount it? Do all the parts work like a well-oiled machine? This is another thing to consider when looking for a hardtail mountain bike.

Suspension

Suspension is very vital when riding on bumpy and rocky terrains. Good suspension allow shock to be absorbed so that you nor your bike do not suffer pain when you land a jump or ride over bumpy trails.

On the bikes that you are reviewing, see how the shocks and forks on full suspension fare from separate reviews, and be sure that you identify their exact models. Suspension units can usually be lower in specifications than ones that you buy separately.

When it comes to suspension, quality trumps quantity. A few good shocks will typically give you a better riding experience over a handful of mediocre ones. Some bikes come with their own suspension systems, some bikes have forks that absorb impact, and other bikes have no means of absorbing shock at all, outside air in the tires. A bike with no shock absorption means that the impact of landings and bumps will go to your rump and legs, and they will hurt.

Price

Mountain bikes can cost as little as two hundred dollars and can max out at over eight thousand dollars, with extra add-ons and perks. Spending more money on a bike is expected to result in better handling, suspension, steering, durability and comfort. The more expensive the bike that you are looking at, the better the material of the frame will be as well. The three most common materials are steel, aluminum and carbon fiber, with carbon fiber being the most expensive.

For bikes in between 500 to 1000 dollars, hardtail bikes are common within this price range. Not only that, buy they make for good entry-level mountain bikes. Most hardtail mountain bikes have hydraulic disc brakes, which require smaller maintenance and give you better modulation and more pedaling force.

These hardtail mountain bikes are also meant to serve the rider a number of years until the rider either outgrows the bike or becomes more skilled. Whether you move onto a bigger bike or a more professional bike, you are expected to pay more money, beyond the thousand-dollar limit that the hardtail bikes in this review have.

Hardtail bikes are mostly made of aluminum and are slightly lighter than steel. The ideal hardtail bike comes with an 8-speed cassette with a double or triple crankset. Its tires will also come with better treading for improved performance and ride quality.

As mentioned previously, take the bike that you are looking at for a test ride. You would not want to buy a car without riding it first, and the same can be said for a bike that you want to ride on mountain trails.

When going for a test ride, do not just make a decision after riding across the store’s floor. If applicable, see if you can try it out somewhere that will give you a simulation of what riding on it feels like. Some brands will offer demo areas in your town, for customers to try out their bikes before they buy one. Some shops also might have a private area or simulation where you can try out bikes that are for sale.


Selection

For a quality mountain bike in this price range, selection is very limited. Luckily there are a few brands that are building great bikes in this price range.


5 Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes Under $1000

The five hardtail mountain bikes we will be looking at are as follows:

  • Marin San Quentin
  • Marin Wildcat Trail
  • Orbea Alma H50
  • Jamis Komodo Expert
  • Jamis Eden Expert

We will examine each bike and accentuate all of their ups and downs. At the end of our review, we will declare our top pick for the best hardtail bike under a thousand dollars.


Marin San Quentin 1

Marin San Quentin 2020

What Marin Says

Developed in conjunction with freeride legend Matt Jones, and taking it’s name from the most rough and tumble piece of Marin County, the all-new San Quentin collection lives up to the notoriety of the namesake maximum security California State Prison. Blending the strength and style of our Alcatraz dirt jump frame with the natural trail-savvy of the Nail Trail hardtail, the San Quentin family of aggressive trail hardtails is the perfect mash-up for the modern trail rider.

Suitable for:

  • Downhill trails
  • Light dirt-jump
  • Enduro

Key Features:

  • Aluminum Frame: The San Quentin 1 features a Series 2 aluminum frame, with tapered head tubes, 3D forged drop outs, IS brake mounts, and semi-internal cable routing.
  • Style: Dirt Jump inspired frame style. Taking cues from the Alcatraz, the San Quentin line up provides all the benefits of the DJ style with massive stand over, slick frame tubes, and a sexy paint job.
  • Geometry: The slack head tube angle paired with a steep seat tube angle create a ride that will fly uphill with perfect front wheel precision but then descend like it’s on rails. The balanced rider position thanks to the steep seat tube puts your weight between the wheels for impressive climbing and handling on flats, while the slack front end and short rear center help to pull you through the rough descents and corners with an intuitive feel.
  • Sizes: One of the best things we like about this entry-level MTB is the wide size range. This bike fits practically everyone.

What We Like

The San Quentin 1 uses a lightweight aluminum frame in a dirt jump geometry with low standover height. Much like a BMX bike, this configuration should make for an easy transition to mountain biking for the new rider. It uses 27.5″ tires and a 1x drivetrain, so all the complexity and maintenance of a front derailleur are eliminated. This is our favorite bike in this price range.


Marin Wildcat Trail

Marin Wildcat Trail 2020

What Marin Has To Say

The Wildcat Trail family crosses boundaries between Trail and Sport mountain bikes, with the Wildcat Trail 5 and Wildcat Trail 3 designed for the female hardtail enthusiast looking for a full featured trail mountain bike, and the Wildcat 1 positioned for the recreational mountain bikers.

Suitable for:

  • Single Tracks
  • Fire Road Riding

Key Features:

  • WFG: Womens’ Fit Geometry. The Wildcat Trail features Women’s Fit Geometry to better fit female riders with components like women’s specific saddles, narrower bars, and adjustable reach brake levers.
  • Wheel Size: 27.5” wheels fit most riders better and create a lightweight and responsive bike.
  • Frame: The Wildcat Trail 3 and Wildcat Trail 2 have a Series 2 6061 butted and hydroformed aluminum frame with a 120mm travel suspension fork and 27.5” wheels.
  • Sizes: With the WFG, this MTB fits even the shortest of women and men of smaller stature.

What We Like

Another great entry-level MTB from Marin. Focused on women or vertically challenged men, this is a lightweight, throwable, and easy-to-ride bike. It also uses a 1x drivetrain so it’s super simple to use and maintain keeping you on the trails more.


Orbea Alma H50

Orbea Alma H50 2019

What Orbea Says

Alma is for the the quickest lap times. The steepest climbs. Alma is for the strongest accelerations and highest altitudes. Alma is for the biggest stages, the loudest fans and the toughest riders. Alma is for the fiercest competitors, the athletes who accept nothing less than superlatives. When a few fleeting seconds separate fast from faster, Alma is for the fastest.

Suitable for:

  • Cross Country
  • Trail

Key features:

  • Frame: The Orbea Alma H50 is a budget friendly aluminum framed version of the Alma. It’s a great bike for a rider looking to get into cross-country riding with limited funds. It features similarities to the world class geometry of the far more expensive Alma models. Alma is known as a reliable hardtail that is perfectly balanced for climbing, speed, and compliance. If you are looking for an entry level bike to share your adventures on the trail with, the Orbea Alma H50 is a great choice.
  • Fork: This bike not only comes with a great frame but it also comes with great components like the RockShox fork.
  • 29″ Tires: The only bike on this list with massive 29″ tires. Normally seen on higher-priced bikes, 29er tires in this price range is rare.
  • Sizes:
SIZESTANDOVER
SMALL28.1″
MEDIUM28.9″
LARGE29.2″
X-LARGE31.6″

What We Like

Orbea may not be a familiar name like Kona, Trek, and GT, but they’ve been building metal things out of a factory for over 140 years out of Spain. The Alma is a wonderful example of their long tradition of attention to detail in a modern design with fantastic pricing.

This is the best spec-for-spec value on this list. It has 29″ tires, world-class frame geometry, and an international brand name more recognized outside of the USA.


Jamis Komodo Expert

Jamis Komodo 2018

What Jamis says

If you thrive on connection to the trail, if you live for the flow of a screaming descent — Komodo will take you there without the added weight and complexity of dual suspension. This is an all-the-time trail hardtail with slack head angles plus 5” of fork travel for high-speed handling, robust frame tubes and thru-axles for big landing durability, and 27.5” wheels for smooth roll-over and agility.

Suitable for:

  • Trail

Key Features:

  • Plus Sized Tires: A 27.5×3” tire measures out to a 29” diameter and a 26×3” tire measures out to a 27.5” diameter. Combining them with a 40mm rim, results in the ultimate combination of traction, roll-over and versatility without being too heavy, too bouncy, too tall or feeling lethargic on the trail.
  • Large Brakes: Bigger wheels and tires generate more rotating mass and traction once they are up to speed. So it only makes sense to use larger rotors to help control that larger wheel in the most efficient manner possible. Sure, 160mm rotors will stop the bike. But when you’re riding like every second counts, braking for the shortest time possible while keeping the bike under control is the goal. And a larger 180mm rotor up front let’s you do this.
  • Tubeless: Benefits of a tubeless set-up are reduced rotating weight and the ability to use lower inflation pressures for greater traction without the risk of pinch flats. WTB TCS rims feature a tubeless UST “On-Ramp” profile providing a consistent fit between the rim and the tire for easy installation and inflation.
  • Sizes:
SIZESTANDOVER
1529.0″
1729.9″
1932.0″
2133.3″

What We Like

In this price range this is an excellent bike. It comes with a dropper seat post that is a great feature that is often overlooked at this price.


Jamis Eden Expert

Jamis Eden 2018

What Jamis says

Wide tires provide ultimate traction while you’re out on the trails. Not only do they provide enhanced traction, but wide tires also provide extra cushioning for a smoother ride. The Jamis Eden Expert 26+ Bike uses plus-sized 26″ tires that provide an excellent ride when in loose dirt. It has a lightweight triple-butted 6061 aluminum frame that has a tapered head tube and uses post-mount disc brakes. The frame has Boost dropouts and internal dropper post routing. The geometry of the frame makes it perfect for riding on the trails.

Suitable for:

  • Trail

Key features:

  • Tapered Head Tube: Riding fast with control requires steering precision, which starts with the front of the bike. Stiffening this area results in less wheel deflection, more wheel control. A full 1.5” head tube and steerer would achieve this, but would add unnecessary weight and bulk, and limit stem choices. But a tapered 1 1 /8” to 1 1 /2” head tube serves up a significant increase in rough terrain tracking and stability without much of a weight penalty compared to standard 1 1 /8” systems.
  • Stout Rear Axles: Securing the rear wheel to the frame by threading a 12mm axle into the rear drop-outs is not only safer, it’s stiffer.  The rear wheel tracks directly in line with the frame, for more precise handling, so you can go faster with more confidence. The increase in stiffness of a 15mm fork axle improves steering & handling significantly. It also puts less stress on the fork’s internals, improving fork durability and performance. The hub drop outs provide a self centering feature for the wheel for fast, easy installation.
  • Outboard Chain Line: A 12×148 rear hub with 3mm offset chainrings minimizes the chance of chain to tire contact with short chainstays and “mid-fat” tires without compromising any pedaling efficiency to a wider q-factor.
  • Sizes:
SIZESTANDOVER
1428.3″
1629.6″
1830.7″

What We Like

The Jamis Eden is an entry-level trail bike that inspires confidence for those that don’t have much off-road experience. If you really like the Jamis Komodo Expert but find it just a little too big, this women’s sized version of it might be exactly what you’re looking for.


Final Verdict

After careful deliberation, the best hardtail mountain bike that you should buy is the Marin San Quentin. While the Orbea Alma H50 comes from a professional racing heritage, the geometry and all around friendliness of the San Quentin makes it our #1 pick.

You can get an incredible value on this bike, despite all that it has to offer for beginners and experts of mountain biking.Whether you want the safest experience or the most exciting, this bike is capable of giving you both, regardless of which trail you take.

It is designed to be suitable for any type of terrain, and you can feel at ease going uphill or downhill. It has adequate maneuverability, great control, and it absorbs shock extremely well.

The fact that it is a great bike for entry level bikers means that they can learn how to buy more effectively as a faster rate than with other bikes. If you’d like to jump up directly to a better bike, check out the next step up.

As mountain bikers gain skill and knowledge, they typically move onto a more expensive bike, but many opt to stick with the Marin San Quentin, solely because how much they enjoy riding it as well as how great it can serve more experienced riders. Keep this bike, and you can simply save thousands of dollars by not switching to an expert’s bike.

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