Best Mountain Bikes 2021

Best Mountain Bikes: There are so many types of mountain bikes that it can be confusing to choose the right one. The terrain of the road you intend to ride on will determine the type that is best suited to you. The topography will also help determine the kind of suspension system that will suit you best. There are three main categories of mountain bikes and they are: hard tail, full suspension and dual suspension. 

Each category has its own pros and cons, so in this article we shall analyze each separately and discuss which category the best mountain bikes belong to.

Best Mountain Bikes

There’s a staggering array of great mountain bikes available under £2,000. Luckily, the good ship BikeRadar has done the heavy lifting for you and put together the very best mountain bikes under £2,000 in 2021. Between £1,000 and £2,000 is the point that full-suspension mountain bikes begin to make more sense, with decent builds that have few compromises. 

If you’re looking to buy a hardtail in this price range, you’ll also have a hard time buying a bad one. This price bracket is a popular one for enthusiast cyclists, which has made for an incredibly competitive market, forcing brands to spec bikes with increasingly high-quality builds, including more expensive mountain bike groupsets.

If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, be sure to check out our guides to the best mountain bikes under £1,000£750 and £500. If you’re feeling a little more flush, our guides to the best mountain bikes under £3,000 and the best trail bike should do the trick. Lastly, for a more overall guide, check out our guide on how to choose the right mountain bike for you.

The best mountain bikes under £2,000, as rated by our expert testers

  • Calibre Triple B: £1,499
  • Calibre Bossnut: £1,100
  • Canyon Stoic 4: £1,639 / $1,799 / AU$2,649 / €1,699
  • Merida Big. Trail 500: £1,350 / AU$1,849
  • Vitus Mythique 29 VRS: £1,450 / $1,800 / AU$2,500 / €1,700
  • YT Jeffsy Base 29: £1,999 / $2,299 / €2,299
  • Boardman MTR 9.0: £2,000
  • Marin Hawk Hill 1: £1,445 / $1,600 / AU$2,399 / €1,599
  • Radon Cragger 8.0: £1,847 / €1,950

Calibre Triple B

Best Mountain Bikes
  • £1,499 as tested
  • Amazing value for money
  • Cracking performance, even when pitted against bikes worth double
  • Grippy tyres are good on descents but a bit of a drag on long climbs

The Triple B is the Bossnut’s better-specced sibling, kitted out with SRAM’s Guide RE brakes, NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain and a RockShox Sektor RL fork and Monarch RS rear shock.

This top-tier spec – for the cash – is backed up by modern trail bike geometry that boasts a 65.5-degree head angle, 74-degree seat-tube angle and a lengthy 460mm reach on the size large, which combines to provide a superb ride.

Our testers loved how the Triple B tackled fast and flowy terrain and supported them through turns and compressions without wincing over trickier ground.

It is a bit on the hefty side, so if you’re really worried about headline weight figures you might want to consider another bike, although we challenge you to find one that performs as well as the Triple B at this price.

Calibre Bossnut

  • £1,100 as tested
  • Great geometry
  • Kitted out with decent parts considering the price
  • Great on the trail
  • Non-Boost axles could limit upgrade potential

Because the Triple B and Bossnut share the same frame, you get the same fantastic geometry as the more expensive model.

So it’s in the spec where Calibre has saved the money. There’s a RockShox Recon RL fork and Monarch R shock, a cheaper SX Eagle drivetrain and SRAM Level T brakes.

For the cash, our expert testers really struggled to fault the Bossnut out on the trails, but because it lacks Boost axle spacing, you might struggle to find compatible wheels when it’s time to upgrade.

Canyon Stoic 4

Best Mountain Bike
  • £1,639 / $1,799 / AU$2,649 / €1,699 as tested
  • Gravity suitable all-rounder
  • Well considered spec
  • Modern geometry

Canyon says the Stoic 4 is “the best Enduro hardtail”, and it is true that the bike can fly down descents like a full-suspension bike – as long as things don’t get too rough – while retaining that hardtail simplicity.

It achieves this thanks to the solid rear end that can gain speed from every rise and fall in the trail as well as the modern, slack geometry.

The long wheelbase helps spit you out of turns perfectly and you can maintain control over rocks and roots. The dropper post also opens up plenty of room for you to move around.

This aluminium bike might be aimed at descending, but it won’t make getting to the top of a trail a drag because it ascends surprisingly fast considering its burly 14.86kg weight and gnarly tyres.

With a 140mm travel RockShox fork and SRAM groupset, the Stoic has a great spec for the price, but there are also two less pricey versions of the Stoic in Canyon’s lineup starting from £799.

Merida Big. Trail 500

  • £1,350 / AU$1,849 as tested
  • Impressive going downhill and calm handling
  • Balance of Merida parts and branded parts
  • Make sure you pick the right size

Compared to bikes at the leading edge of the sport, the Merida Big. Trail 500’s geometry is relatively short. This means on paper it doesn’t have the stability of bikes with a longer wheelbase.

But, the Merida has a shorter seat tube than many other bikes allowing riders to size up without worrying about standover height, unlocking a longer reach and a more stable wheelbase.

With this in mind, the Big. Trail 500 is a comfortable climber. The longer reach in testing meant there was plenty of room to move around and the steep seat tube improved comfort, made pedalling easier and reduced front wheel lift.

When it comes to descents, the Recon fork has plenty of mid-stroke and low-speed compression helping you go fast and amplify the aluminium frame’s calm feel.

The mix of Merida’s own-brand kit, including a dropper post, and branded kit from Shimano keeps the bike’s price down but this doesn’t stop it from being one of the most capable bikes for under £2,000.

Vitus Mythique 29 VRS

  • £1,450 / $1,800 / AU$2,500 / €1,700 as tested
  • Great, grippy Schwalbe rubber
  • SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain impressed
  • Some geometry updates would be nice to see

If you’ve got your heart set on Vitus’s Mythique, it’s well worth spending the extra cash to upgrade to the VRS model from the VR, which we also reviewed.

It’s decked out in impressive kit, headlined by Schwalbe’s ADDIX Soft compound Magic Mary and Hans Dampf combination. Complementing the tyres is SRAM’s 12-speed SX Eagle drivetrain and Shimano’s top-performing MT-401 brakes.

While we thought the X-Fusion Sweep RC fork could have performed better, it was a marked improvement over the RC32 fitted to the VR version.

YT Jeffsy Base 29

Best Mountain Bikes
  • £1,999 / $2,299 / €2,299 as tested
  • Impressive downhill demeanour and exceptionally fun to ride
  • East to get the suspension dialled
  • Great performance for the price
  • Some upgrades would drastically improve it

YT’s bikes always strike a great balance between performance and cost, and the Jeffsy’s no exception.

With a RockShox Yari RC fork and Deluxe rear shock, its 150mm of travel tackles tricky terrain with impressive competence.

That confidence is backed up by Maxxis Minion DHF and DHRII tyres that are impressively grippy.

We did struggle to get the gear and dropper levers set up in the correct position, and if we are being really picky, it needs to go on a bit of diet to help improve its climbing performance.

Boardman MTR 9.0

  • £2,000 as tested
  • Shimano SLX drivetrain and brakes
  • Full suspension with RockShox fork and rear shock
  • Rides with confidence and one to consider for gravity riding

The MTR 9.0 is the flagship bike in Boardman’s MTR series, with a 6066 alloy frame that has smoothed welds, RockShox suspension front and back and a groupset that is mostly Shimano SLX.

The full-suspension bike has four-pot brakes that help its overall feeling of stability on descents, and the tyres provide plenty of grip.

Despite its emphasis on descending it climbs reasonably well, aided by the 10-51t cassette and steep seat-tube angle.

The bike has a dropper seat post which is welcome on a bike like this, but one small thing is that the lever isn’t particularly good.

Overall, the bike rides with more confidence than you would expect from the price. There are small niggles – like the dropper lever – but none that would cost much to change.

Marin Hawk Hill 1

  • £1,445 / $1,600 / AU$2,399 / €1,599 as tested
  • Exceptionally fun bike to ride
  • Well-tuned suspension
  • Front-to-back balance is sorted
  • It needs a dropper post

The 27.5in-wheeled Hawk Hill 1 is most at home riding berm- and jump-filled riding spots, living up to Marin’s claim that it’s the brand’s most fun bike to ride.

It’s got a RockShox Recon fork up front and an X-Fusion 02 Pro shock at the back that’s been custom-tuned for the bike’s suspension design.

Impressively, considering its price, it handles small bumps and hard compressions with ease. Unfortunately, it lacks a dropper post and only has ten gears when most bikes at this price point now have 12.

Radon Cragger 8.0

Best Mountain Bikes
  • £1,847 / €1,950 as tested
  • Fast uphill and downhill
  • Excellent spec throughout
  • Long seat tube reduces the standover height

Radon’s direct-to-consumer model has enabled it to spec the Cragger with components that exceed the bike’s price, including the 12x SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain.

The Cragger has relatively progressive geometry and is a charging descender. It’s not the smoothest downhill, but it’s capable and confident with the 29in wheels rolling quickly over harsh terrain and the DVO Sapphire front fork doing a fantastic job.

The long top and seat tubes give the bike a stretched-out feel that’s great for hard efforts uphill but doesn’t lend itself to more genteel climbing.

The slender aluminium tubing and smoothed welds give the impression the Cragger might be carbon fibre, and cables can be routed internally for maximum neatness.

Radon Cragger 8.0

  • £1,847 / €1,950 as tested
  • Fast uphill and downhill
  • Excellent spec throughout
  • Long seat tube reduces the standover height

Radon’s direct-to-consumer model has enabled it to spec the Cragger with components that exceed the bike’s price, including the 12x SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain.

The Cragger has relatively progressive geometry and is a charging descender. It’s not the smoothest downhill, but it’s capable and confident with the 29in wheels rolling quickly over harsh terrain and the DVO Sapphire front fork doing a fantastic job.

The long top and seat tubes give the bike a stretched-out feel that’s great for hard efforts uphill but doesn’t lend itself to more genteel climbing.

The slender aluminium tubing and smoothed welds give the impression the Cragger might be carbon fibre, and cables can be routed internally for maximum neatness.

How Important Are the Wheels? Bikes that have wider and lighter wheels tend to be faster and handle better. When you are going downhill, it’s important to have wide wheels that can absorb the bumps. When you are going downhill, it’s important to have fatter tires to absorb the bumps. However, the wheels need to be wide enough for comfort and safety. 

Most bike manufacturers will let you choose the diameter of the wheels that you want to use. Another important feature to consider is whether or not your new bike has a full suspension system. Suspension on a bike means having the motor and the drive train connected to the frame. The suspension system uses springs and struts to dampen the forces that it applies when you pedal. Some of the most popular full suspension bikes include the Specialized Free ride 2 Carbon, Pacesaver Tracer Carbon Drivetrains, and Geomechanical suspension on the Gecko Boomerang.