10 Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes Under 2000

We’ve talked quite a bit about hardtail bikes on Singletracks before. We’ve talked about hardcore hardtails, (twice actually), budget hardtails, rowdy hardtails, and the forums are filled with hardtail talk. It looks like Singletracks readers are pretty fond of them.

This time we’re taking things in a different direction. Here are 10 of the best hardtail mountain bikes priced under $2,000. All of them have been chosen for the very best value, so most of them are very close to $2,000. At that price level, we’re looking for dropper posts, we’re looking for good tires, good drivetrains, and the best bang for your buck. Some of them are aggressive hardtails, others are more XC-oriented, all of them are ready for the trails.

Here’s what we found.

Rocky Mountain Growler 50

  • $1,729
  • trail-oriented
  • 27.5+ wheels

Photo: Rocky Mountain Bicycles.

The Rocky Mountain Growler 50 starts us off and for good reason. Although these bikes aren’t listed in any particular order, this bike really tics all the boxes.

The Growler is a 27.5+ tired hardtail bike with an aluminum frame, threaded bottom bracket, a 140mm travel Rock Shox Revelation fork, an X-Fusion dropper post, and a Shimano SLX 1×11 drivetrain. That’s a hefty build kit for just above $1,700.

The Growler is made to be ridden hard with aggressive geometry. A 67-degree head angle means it’s going to charge head first on descents and the 140mm fork should help riders stay planted too.

The Growler has a clean finish and aesthetic that Rocky Mountain is known for, this time in a desert color.

Trek Pro Caliber 6

  • $1,999
  • XC-made
  • 29er wheels

Photo: Trek Bicycles.

We’re steering it back to XC prowess here. Steep head angles and slack seat angles are the name of the game for the Pro Caliber.

Trek’s XC-ready hardtail comes with a solid kit. A SRAM NX 12-speed drivetrain, Shimano MT-400 brakes, and a 100mm Rock Shox Judy fork with remote lockout are all included.

The hydroformed aluminum gives the Pro Caliber a clean look all the way through the tubes. An IsoSpeed decoupler sits at the intersection of the toptube, seatstay, and seat tube. This allows the seattube to move independently from the toptube and gives the rear end a bit more compliance over the rough stuff.

The seat tube angle measures from 73-degrees to 72-degrees, depending on the size, and there are seven sizes available. The head angle varies from 69 to 69.6-degrees depending on the size.

Buy from TrekBikes.com

Marin San Quentin

  • $1,899
  • aggressive and fun
  • 27.5″ wheels

Just look at that head angle… Photo: Marin

The San Quentin isn’t messing around. You can tell because it was named after a prison.

The San Quentin was developed with Marin freeride athlete Matt Jones. It’s not the bike for sweaty XC ascents. It’s a bike that’s content with chillin’ on the side for a minute while you help shape the lip of a double to get it just right.

A 65-degree head angle and 75-degree seat angle give it modern geometry necessary to climb when called on, and party on the way down.

The build kit is quite amazing as well. It’s an aluminum frame with a threaded bottom bracket to start. It’s dressed with a 130mm Rock Shox Revelation fork, an X-Fusion dropper post – with 150mm of travel on sizes M-XL, a 35mm stem, and 780mm wide handlebars.

The Marin San Quentin looks like serious fun, if you get some yard time.

Buy Marin San Quentin from JensonUSA

Santa Cruz Chameleon

  • $1,899
  • trail-oriented and versatile
  • 27.5+/29er wheels

Photo: Santa Cruz Bicycles.

With the name recognition that Santa Cruz carries, it’s great that they’re still making some solid entry-level bikes, like the Chameleon.

For $1,800, the Chameleon comes with a 120mm or 130mm Rock Shox Recon fork, a SRAM NX 11-speed drivetrain, WTB rims, SRAM Level brakes, and a RaceFace cockpit.

Angles include a 67.3-degree head angle, a 72.8-degree seat angle, the choice of 29 or 27.5-inch wheels, and swappable dropouts. The Chameleon will work as a hard-charging hardtail, or a bikepacking rig, hence the name.

Buy Santa Cruz Chameleon from Backcountry.com

Giant XTC 29

  • $1,999
  • XC-made
  • 27.5+/29er

Photo: Giant Bicycles.

Whoa, that’s not an aluminum frame! Giant has gone the extra mile on this one. Not only is the paint job and look of the bike rock solid, but the Giant XTC is a carbon-framed hardtail with a great component kit.

The XTC can be changed from 27.5+ to 29-inch wheels, it includes a Suntour Radion 100mm travel fork, a 1×10 Shimano Deore drivetrain, and Shimano M365 brakes.

Giant saves some money on the complete build with its part kit. The build on the XTC isn’t as nice as some of the others on here, but it’s also a carbon frame for $2,000. Not too bad.

The seat angle measures 72.5-degrees and the head angle measures 70-degrees. The XTC was made to haul uphill, and it looks like it does just that.

Salsa Timberjack

  • $1,499
  • trail-oriented and versatile
  • 27.5+ wheels

Photo: Salsa Bicycles.

Salsa is somewhat of an outlier. Their easy-going vibes and adventurous attitude stand out against major brands. In a way, they’re making a statement. In a way, they’re not.

The Timberjack is ready to haul some stuff. There’s ample room in the frame, three mounts for water bottle cages or other accessories, a Rock Shox Recon, a Shimano SLX 1×11 drivetrain, and WTB rims.

Have a little more cash? There’s a ton of potential with this bike and the accessories that Salsa has on their website are overwhelming. Take a look and see what’s possible kitting out a Timberjack.

Buy from REI

Kona Honzo DL

  • $1,999
  • aggressive and fun
  • 29er wheels

Photo: Kona Bicycles.

Kona has built a pretty sweet deal within the Honzo DL.

The Honzo DL tics right under two-thousand dollars, and for that money, buyers get a very functional and impressive entry-level build.

Kona is of course known for its aggressive trail handling capabilities and this is seen throughout the bike. A Rock Shox Sektor RL Debonair 120mm fork sits up front, controlling the squish. A responsive 35mm stem and wide handlebars steer the ship, and a SRAM NX 11-speed drivetrain keep it moving on wide WTB i29 rims.

The reach is long, there’s a 75-degree seat angle and a 68-degree head angle. This means geometry looks to be centered for climbing and relaxed enough to be a good time on the descents.

Norco Fluid HT 1

  • $1,699
  • Trail-oriented
  • 27.5+ wheels


The Fluid HT1 is Norco’s most premium Fluid HT. It’s murdered out, comes with a beefy component kit, and is affordable.

The Fluid HT works with 26-inch plus and 27.5-inch plus tires and comes stock with 27.5×2.8-inch WTB tires. The rest of the build include a RockShox Sektor SL 120mm fork, Shimano Altus brakes, and a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain.

This bike can be easily upgraded after realizing that there is a few hundred bucks left over after the purchase. Start with a drivetrain and then maybe move on to the brakes.

Either way, the Fluid HT looks like it’s ready to have fun out there.

Esker Hayduke

  • $1,999
  • Trail-oriented
  • 27.5″ wheels


The Esker Hayduke is a newly released bike for the Esker brand and a revision of the Advocate Cycles Hayduke.

The new Hayduke is highly adjustable, has modern geometry, and includes a stellar build kit for $2,000.

For those ready to spend a little more, you don’t have to just price up on the next build kit, you can just add the fork that you want, or a better wheel set. The build options are very buyer-friendly.

Esker is taking a much different approach to selling complete bikes and we can all appreciate that.

Commencal Meta AM HT

  • $1,999
  • Aggressive and fun
  • 27.5+/29er wheels

Photo: Commencal

Commencal has been on the rise as a direct-to-consumer brand, bringing affordability and quality to an intersection.

The Meta AM HT has a 150mm Rock Shox Lyrik RC, a SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, an e*thirteen wheelset, and a KS dropper post.

Looking at the bike’s geometry, the Meta AM HT has an aggressive 65-degree head angle and a 74-degree seat angle, matched with a long wheelbase, reach, and 428mm chainstays.

For an aggressive hardtail that’s still going to lay down power on the climbs, the Meta AM HT looks to do the trick.

Your turn: What is the best hardtail mountain bike priced under $2000?

# Comments

  • Sohaib Younus

    The best one in my opinion is Vitus Sentier Vrx, Xt drive train, Xt brakes, raceface wheels, ascend dropper post, rockshox revelation 140, a double down minion ss, and a dhf in front. I don’t think any of these bikes is even close to the value you get with Vitus that is $1700. It’s as aggressive as a hardtail gets, long wheel base and a slack HA.

    • adrewwalker

      I agree, was going to possibly plunk down on one, one BIG problem… Large frame has been sold out for months on Chain Reaction, so great bike, great deal, NOT AVAILABLE…

  • gusbus432

    I am looking at all of those bikes, but also the Specialized Chisel expert for 1,950, and the Cannondale FSI carbon 5 for 2,300

  • Sea Loam

    Would like to see a new list of AM Hardtails regardless of price. Some cool ones on this list though like the Chameleon , a staple in the hardcore hardtail world made by Santa Cruz who has not sold out to the E bike thing like most of the other companies that are listed here.

  • SiBike05

    The bike named after the prison is legit believe me i have one.

  • Tip

    I have been riding the Sonder Transmitter Carbon. Purchased from across the pond, this bike is definitely a worthy hardtail. I believe the price point is a bit higher, however. Choices are unlimited with how you can equip the bike.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.