The Kona Honzo DL is a good value, but at $2,200 might not be considered budget. It arrives ready to shred though: great geometry, arguably a half step ahead of similar bikes; solid build, including wheels and tires; and a dropper post.
The new Santa Cruz Chameleon is promising too, and it’s $200 less than the Kona. They have similar builds although the Chameleon lacks a dropper post and has less beefy rims. Also, I’d personally take the RockShox Yari over the Fox Rhythm fork.
At a more affordable price point, the Giant Fathom 1 looks pretty dang sweet. For $1,450 you get a good geo, an air sprung 120mm fork, 11 speed SLX drivetrain, and a dropper.
Yeah I’m working on an article with a price range, but partially I’m curious to see where most people think the value sweet spot is. Is it at the low end, medium, etc.? Where do people think the value really begins to drop off?
Cannondale Cujo 3. It’s adequately spec’d. Ships with Kenda plus size tires, and comes in at a very competitive price. My brother just picked one up as a total beginner and it was by far one of the best choices in his $1000 budget from a major brand. I even gave it a spin and it is an absolute blast! After taking a close look at it, it’s easily up-gradable as well with boost spacing and a tapered head tube.
I’d have to go with the Commencal Meta AM HT. Several specs starting at $999 to $1999. I decided to pick up the “Race” version for $1599 + about $70 shipping. Bike is specced out well: 160mm Lyrik, NX 1×11 drivetrain, High Roller II’s, and most importantly (for me) the modern geometry. This bike is insanely fun when pointed downhill. They have a site in California so you dont have to worry about import charges.
Rocky Mountain Vertex is an amazing bike. It’s super fast and rides so well. They have couple of models so the cheapest one starts from around two thousand and the most expensive I believe about three and a half. It comes with Shimano XT and all high end parts. Awesome hardtail!
As someone who is on a budget and recently purchased a hardtail, I will throw the 2016 Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29″ into the mix. I bought it on sale for $999 CDN and can attest to the fact that it is a solid entry level HT. components aren’t spectacular, no XT here, but that thing shreds which can be seen by my Strava sections at my local trails. I am killing some of the guys on their $5000 whips, and their carbon steeds.
I have upgraded a couple of things, but mostly the original spec works fine….for a bike at this price point. Pure joy.
Salsa’s Timberjack takes the cake for dollar to fun ratio. Approachable geometry for beginners that’s still fun to shred with a solid component spec for $1000. You can spend $400 more and get a better fork, drivetrain and plus wheels. It’s also a great setup if you want a budget bikepacker that you can still have fun with unloaded.
The Kona Honzos straight up rule and the mad deal IMHO is the Honzo AL for $1599. That Giant looks good too, but I think one is better off on big wheels for a hard tail. The Marin Pine Mountain 1 for $1299 is sweet too with a steel frame and plus tires. Plunk an inexpensive dropper on it and party.
I just helped a friend with this, and at $1000 the Specialized Fuse is a great bike. In fact, he was convinced he was going to buy the base level bike and then maybe upgrade a few things as he went. But then we looked closer at the Comp at $1500 and decided with the nicer fork, better brakes, dropper post, and drivetrain it was the best route to go. To be honest, if I was to start over it would be a tough call between the Fuse and the Giant XTC+
I don’t know about the best but I just got a 2017 specialized rockhopper sport medium size frame 29er .I spent $680 on it and I am on a tight budget. It seams to work really well for me . I am 45 and 5’8″ and way out of shape. I got this to get back in shape and to get my health back on track .So far I have added a set of renthal fatbars 30mm rise 5mm upsweep and 7mm backsweep working on getting a renthal 10mm rise stem and crankbrouther stamp large pedals for my first year upgrades. I have got 2 months now with the bike with no complaints.
Here’s my 2 cents: I can’t speak about the other bikes that were listed in the thread but I did buy the Giant Fathom 1 a month ago because I was on a tight budget & I was looking for something that had great value: Dropper post, 1×11 Shimano SLX Drivetrain, Maxxis Ardent tires, decent 27.5′ wheelset, tapered 120mm air sprung fork with 15ml axle, compression dampening & rebound control, modern frame geometry, slack head angle…etc.
I researched the big 4 (Giant, Specialized, Trek, Norco) & a few others but I felt for $1,600 CAD price tag, the Giant Fathom 1 is a damn good deal for the money.
I’m a Clyde (6’2″ – 250lbs) & my main concern as always is the wheelset, fork & dropper post. For instance, on my old mountain bike’s maiden voyage, I taco-ed the wheel after 2 hours of moderate riding. The dropper post on the Fathom 1 has a 75kg weigh setting which was a little worrisome. I did talk to Giant Canada & they assured me that based on my weight, I would be fine. My old bike had a 2015 Rockshox Reba 100ml fork which I loved so I was skeptical that the SR Suntour fork wouldn’t be up to snuff. But after riding the Fathom 1 on some trails I came away impressed by the handling & control & I haven’t experienced any issues or failures with any of these components. I haven’t done anything technical yet & the season is still early but so far the bike has been rock solid.
I bought the Fathom to replace my mountain bike that was stolen a few months ago, although heart broken, the Fathom has made the loss a lot easier to take.