Let’s be honest: it’s pretty hard to screw up a hardtail mountain bike. But producing a quality full suspension mountain bike on a budget is much more difficult to do. While we could include a bunch of dirt-cheap FS bikes on this list, we’re not going to. Instead, we’re only including tried-and-true suspension designs that, while on the more affordable end of the spectrum, could still cost a couple thousand dollars.
The truth is you get what you pay for. And when it comes to buying a full suspension mountain bike, that’s doubly true. You want to buy a full suspension mountain bike, but you don’t want to pay more than $500? You’re going to be pretty disappointed. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.
Below you’ll find a full array of quality full suspension mountain bikes for less than $2,000. While this list isn’t nearly comprehensive, and spending even one hundred more dollars can open up a much wider away of options, the bikes on this list are all a great place to get started.
We have reduced the ceiling on this article by $500, down from $2,500, because we tracked down so many excellent bikes at relatively affordable prices.
Full Suspension Mountain Bikes Under $1,000
Diamondback Recoil 29 $600-$999
While you can buy a full suspension mountain bike for $600 (or even less, from Bikes Direct brands), that doesn’t mean you should. As noted above, you’re definitely going to suffer some serious drawbacks in performance. With a Kindshock Coil rear shock with oil damping, an SR Suntour XCT 100mm-travel fork (coil and oil, again), Tektro Aires mechanical disc brakes, and a Shimano Altus/Acera drivetrain 3×8, I’d have a hard time recommending the base model of the Diamondback Recoil–but it’s there, if that’s what you’re looking for. One plus: the Recoil does sport 29″ wheels (bumped up in size from 27.5″ last year).
However, once we step up to the Recoil Comp 29 at $1,000, we’re looking at a functional full suspension mountain bike. The Comp upgrades to a RockShox Monarch R air spring rear shock with rebound adjustment, an SR Suntour XCR-LO 100mm fork, Shimano BR-M355 hydraulic brakes, and a few other key upgrades. That said, I would recommend looking at the Atroz in the Diamondback line at the $999 price point.
Diamondback Atroz $999-$1,500
The Atroz sports 120mm of single pivot rear travel, 120mm of front travel, and 27.5″ wheels. It’s spec’ed with an SR Suntour XCM fork, SR Suntour Raidon-R rear shock with air adjustment, SRAM X5 9-speed drivetrain, and Tektro Auriga hydraulic disc brakes.
The Atroz Comp upgrades many components thanks to the $1,500 price point, including a RockShox Recon Silver coil fork with lockout, RockShox Monarch R rear shock with air adjustment, SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain (the first 11-speed drivetrain on this list), and Tektro Gemini hydraulic disc brakes.
That said, both models of the Atroz lose points for not including an air-sprung fork, even at the $1,500 price point.
Full Suspension Mountain Bikes Under $1,500
Fuji Reveal $1,100-$1,525
The Fuji Reveal features the same style of single pivot rear suspension with raised chainstays as the Diamondback models mentioned above. However, the reveal sports more travel, at 140mm front and rear. The base-model 1.5 comes spec’ed with an SR Suntour Epixon fork with air spring, a Manitou Radium Comp rear shock with air adjustment, a Shimano Altus/Acera 3×8 drivetrain, Tektro M280 mechanical disc brakes, and 27.5″ Vera Terra DPD16 rims.
Giant Stance $1,365-$2,100
Giant’s reputation for producing quality bikes at an affordable price point–while also producing high-dollar models–continues into their full suspension lineup. The Stance starts at $1,365, a decrease from $1,500 last year, whereas many other models on this list have seen slight increases in price. That makes the Stance extremely competitive in this price range, and arguably one of the best deals to be had.
The Stance sports an aluminum frame, 120mm of travel, 27.5″ wheels, a RockShox 30 RL Gold Air fork, RockShox Monarch R rear shock, a 3×9 Shimano Deore drivetrain, and Shimano M315 hydraulic disc brakes.
For an upgraded parts kit, be sure to check out the Stance 1 for $2,100.
Jamis Dakar XC $1,399
Jamis is a tried-and-true brand which has a knack for producing great-quality mountain bikes at a low price (though they do sell more expensive bikes too). The Dakar XC sports 27.5″ wheels, an aluminum frame, 90mm of rear travel thanks to a RockShox Monarch R air shock, 100mm of front travel courtesy of a RockShox 30 Silver TK coil spring fork with lockout, a 2×10 Shimano Deore drivetrain, and Shimano M365 hydraulic disc brakes.
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Fezzari Wiki Peak $1,449
The Fezzari Wiki Peak cuts cost corners, in part, by spec’ing a 100mm SR Suntour XCR Air fork (with lockout and rebound adjust) and a Suntour Radon air shock, with lockout. While SR Suntour sometimes gets a bad rap, since both of these components feature adjustable air pressure, they should provide decent performance for the money. Personally, I’d take just about any air fork over a coil fork–even if the coil fork was from a brand like RockShox.
The Wiki Peak provides 110mm of rear suspension, 29″ wheels, and a 12x142mm rear thru axle. The drivetrain and brakes have seen an upgrade for 2017, to a SRAM GX 2×10 drivetrain and SRAM Level brakes.
Marin Hawk Hill $1,499
The Marin Hawk Hill is a new model that was just announced in the middle of 2016, and it has already made big waves in the budget full suspension market with a reputable brand name and a great component spec. The Hawk Hill offers 120mm of suspension travel and is spec’ed with a RockShox Recon Silver RL fork (which includes an air spring), X Fusion O2 Pro R rear shock with air spring, a Shimano Deore 1×10 drivetrain with clutch-style Shadow Plus rear derailleur, Shimano BR-M315 hydraulic disc brakes, Marin 27.5″ rims, and capable Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires.
Full Suspension Mountain Bikes Under $2,000
Bulls Bikes Wild One $1,699
As a direct-to-consumer brand, Bulls Bikes offers great value in their 140mm-travel Wild One. This bike is spec’ed with a Suntour Epixon fork and shock, both with air springs. The drivetrain consists of a 2×11 Shimano XT/SLX combination with a Shadow-Plus clutch-style rear derailleur (the best drivetrain on this list so far), and the brakes are Tektro HD-M285 hydraulic disc.
Commencal Meta AM $1,699-$4,599
The Meta AM from Commencal is far-and-away the most affordable enduro/all-mountain bike on this list, and they have no shortage of options to choose from. The Meta AM is actually available in three different suspension designs for 2017–the V3 and V4–and both of those suspension designs have models priced below $2,000, although the V3 trends cheaper than the V4. Considering the entire Meta AM line, there are 7 different models that come in below our price ceiling of $2,000 for this article, and a number of other models above that price ceiling, topping out at $4,599.
All of the Meta AM models offer 160mm of front travel and 150mm in the rear. For the rest of the specs, I’ll focus on the base V3 Origin 650b 2017 model, which retails for $1,799. The 2016 model is $1,699 and is still available on their website at the time of this writing. If you have more money to spend, working your way up the Meta AM line until you reach your price ceiling will get you better and better components.
The Meta AM V3 Origin 650b 2017 comes spec’ed with a RockShox Yari fork, RockShox Monarch R rear shock, a SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain, Avid DB1 disc brakes, WTB STP i25 rims, and wide 27.5×2.4″ Maxxis High Roller II and 27.5×2.3″ DHR II tires.
Norco Fluid FS $1,699-$2,199
The Norco Fluid FS line is extremely deep, with four models coming in below our $2,000 cap and three just above it. Within this mountain bike line, you can choose from 26″ wheels (XS only), 27.5″ wheels, 27.5+ wheels, and 29″ wheels. Here are a few of the highlights.
The Norco Fluid FS 9.2 is the most affordable 29er model. With 120mm of travel, this aluminum-framed bike is spec’ed with a RockShox Recon Silver RL Solo Air fork, RockShox Monarch R rear shock, a Shimano Deore 1×10 drivetrain with Shadow Plus rear derailleur, Tektro M285 hydraulic disc brakes, and notably–a JD TransX dropper post with remote lever. This is the first stock dropper post spec that we’ve seen on this list so far.
Norco Fluid FS 7.2+ $1,899
This model of the Norco Fluid is notable as the first full suspension plus bike on our list. It comes spec’ed with WTB Ranger 27.5×2.8″ tires, Alex MD 35mm rims, a RockShox Plus Sektor Silver RL130mm fork, RockShox Monarch R rear shock, a Shimano Deore 1×10 drivetrain with a Shadow Plus rear derailleur, Tektro M285 hydraulic disc brakes, and a JD TransX dropper post with remote lever.
Specialized Camber $1,900
The Specialized Camber is available with either 29er or 27.5 wheels for $1,900. This 120mm-travel bike is spec’ed with a RockShox Sektor Silver RL Solo Air fork, Custom X-Fusion 02 Pro RL rear shock with air spring, a combination SRAM GX/Shimano Deore 2×9 drivetrain, and Tektro Gemini Comp hydraulic disc brakes.
While some bike companies only offer high-end bikes, to be quite fair, most bike companies worth their salt sell rigs that span most of the price spectrum. Rocky Mountain is one such brand that is known best for its high-end rigs, yet they sell bikes like the Thunderbolt 710 for $1,949 (down $50 from 2016).
The Thunderbolt features an alloy frame, 27.5″ wheels, 120mm of front suspension from a RockShox Recon Silver Air fork, 120mm of rear travel thanks to a RockShox Monarch RL rear shock, Shimano M355 hydraulic brakes, and a Shimano Deore 2×10 drivetrain.
Commencal Supreme DH V3 2016 $1,999
At the time of this writing, the Commencal Supreme DH V3 2016 is the most affordable downhill mountain bike I could find, and it’s currently for sale for just under $2,000! While you’ll have to price up to $2,499 for the 2017 model, there are some killer deals to be had out there.
The 2016 Supreme DH V3 sports 200mm of travel up front, 190mm of travel in the rear, and 27.5″ wheels and tires. It’s spec’ed with a RockShox BoXXer RC fork, RockShox Kage R rear shock, a SRAM X7 9-speed short cage rear derailleur, and SRAM DB5 hydraulic disc brakes.
Giant Anthem 3 $2,000
The Giant Anthem 3 squeaks in right at $2,000. This aluminum XC rig features 110mm of rear travel and 120mm up front. It’s spec’ed with 27.5″ wheels, a RockShox 30 Gold RL Solo Air fork, RockShox Deluxe RT rear shock, a Shimano Deore 2×10 drivetrain, and Shimano M365 hydraulic disc brakes.
As I mentioned above, this list is far from comprehensive. But with these key models, you can easily compare the bike you’re considering buying to the bikes on this list to see how it stacks up against the competition.
And remember, be sure to shop around! While some of these bikes might be the best at MSRP in their category, that’s not to say that you can’t find a killer deal in an unexpected place.
While 2017 didn’t bring wide-sweeping price reductions to the budget full suspension mountain bikes as it did to the budget hardtails, some models did drop in price. However, others increased–Trek didn’t make the list this year as their most affordable full suspension bike, the Fuel EX 5 29, increased in price from $1,990 in 2016 to $2,199 in 2017. However, that price increase did come with a better frame and component spec–it’s just above the ceiling on this list.
That said, there are more models than ever in the budget range from both standard brick-and-mortar brands and direct-to-consumer brands alike. This means more competition and hopefully, more choices and value for the consumer!
Your turn: Know of a great budget full suspension rig that we didn’t include? Talk it up in the comments below!
Interested in purchasing a hardtail on a budget? Be sure to check out our budget hardtail buyer’s guide!
Last updated by Greg Heil on June 6, 2017 at 7:05 MDT.