4 Best $2000 Mountain Bike (January, 2023)

Updated on August 18, 2022

Mountain biking can be an extremely expensive sport: there are hundreds of decent bikes available for between $4,000 and $6,000, and they aren’t even at the upper end.

Fortunately for those of us who are not willing to spend that much money on something without a motor, there are lots of excellent motorcycles available for less than or about $2,000.

And the good news is that a significant amount of the technology that has propelled the sport forward year after year has trickled down to this area.

Our recommendations for this year span from lightweight cross-country hardtails to all-mountain ready full suspension bikes.

For additional context, see our comparison table and purchasing advice located below the picks.

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Best $2000 Mountain Bike

1. Marin Rift Zone 27.5

  • Mountain bike in Marin Rift Zone
  • Trail
  • Suspension travel: 130mm (front), 120mm (rear) (rear)
  • 27.5 x 2.3 in. tyres
  • 1 x 11 gears
  • What we like: Excellent value for a well-built, enjoyable, and capable bike.
  • What we don’t have: Does not include a dropper post.

For full-suspension bicycles under $2,000, the quality and performance might be a real mixed bag, but Marin has a true winner in the Rift Zone 27.5 series.

The “1,” their entry-level model, nails all the necessary qualities with a robust and high-quality aluminium frame, modern geometry that’s slack enough for capable descents but comfortable on climbs, and a wide-range Shimano Deore transmission.

Additionally, they’ve included tubeless-ready tyres and wheels. At $1,679, the Rift Zone 1 is an incredible value.

The Rift Zone’s 120 millimetre rear travel and 130-millimetre front travel make it ideal for everything from extended cross-country rides and flowing trails to moderately difficult downhills.

While a hardtail at the same price will perform more nimbly and quickly on a long climb, the Rift Zone makes few concessions and is significantly more planted over rocks and roots.

If we had to select a flaw, we’d want stronger brakes and a dropper post to match the bicycle’s otherwise remarkable qualities. Upgrading to the “2” resolves both of those difficulties, but does so at a cost of $2,189.

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2. Salsa Timberjack SLX 29

Mountain bike Salsa Timberjack SLX 29

  • Trail
  • 130mm Suspension (front)
  • 29 x 2.6 in. tyres
  • 1 x 12 gears
  • What we like: This is our most capable and well-rounded hardtail.
  • What we don’t know: It still lacks the descending prowess of the Marin above.

Salsa’s latest Timberjack builds on the popularity of the original model and is our favourite hardtail under $2,000.

With Shimano’s contemporary 12-speed SLX gear, you receive a noticeable improvement in refinement and shifting speed over the standard SRAM SX setup seen at this price point.

Additionally, Salsa has equipped it with high-quality components such as a RockShox 35 Silver air fork, a TranzX dropper post, and Shimano MT401 brakes—all of which are noticeable upgrades over the Marin above—as well as burly 29 x 2.6-inch tyres that are ideal for aggressive riding and technical trails.

And, as is the case with many Salsa designs, it is easily modified for bikepacking.

The Timberjack’s high-quality components and comfortable riding posture are ideal for trail riding and allow for some rowdiness, but all-mountain riders will be disappointed.

No matter as hard you try, the 130-millimeter hardtail design simply cannot keep up with the Marin above on downhill stretches.

If speeding down tough trails is in your future, we believe the Marin or Giant are better long-term investments.

However, if you’re looking for a well-equipped hardtail with no obvious upgrade needs in the near future, the Timberjack is an excellent choice.

3. DRT 2.2 Co-op Cycles

  • DRT 2.2 mountain bike by Co-op Cycles
  • Trail/XC
  • 120mm or 140mm suspension (front)
  • 27.5 x 2.8 in. tyres
  • 1 x 12 gears

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While REI’s in-house brand of bikes is not always at the cutting edge of modern design, they regularly deliver excellent value.

Their hardtail DRT line is extensive, ranging from the $599 DRT 1.1 to the $1,899 DRT 2.2. What you get with their top-of-the-line model is a solid mix of reliable components: the NX drivetrain is a worthwhile upgrade from SRAM’s SX design, the brakes are Shimano’s mid-range hydraulic units, and thru-axles are incorporated for added sturdiness.

The DRT is well-suited for mixed cross-country and light trail riding, with 120 millimetres of travel (140mm with size medium frames and up) and wide, 27.5+ tyres.

As previously stated, Co-op Cycles takes a conservative approach to design in general, and the DRT 2.2 is no exception.

It’s not a loose ride and won’t be the most enjoyable on a technical descent, but the bike is comfy and pedals rather nicely.

The DRT’s average all-around performance drops it slightly down our list (and below the more competent Timberjack), but we believe this bike will satisfy a large number of riders.

Additionally, with nationwide access to REI stores and bike shops, it provides an added layer of security and convenience in the event of an incident.

4. Giant Stance 29 2

  • Mountain bike Giant Stance 29 2
  • Trail
  • Suspension travel: 130mm (front), 120mm (rear) (rear)
  • 29 x 2.35 in. tyres
  • 1 x 12 gears

We seldom endorse a full-suspension bike at this budget point—they’re often too compromised in terms of design and components—but the Marin and Giant Stance merit a spot on this list as reasonably capable setups.

The Stance 2 is smooth and swift on the trail, thanks to its in-house 130-millimetre fork, entry-level Suntour shock, and 29-inch Maxxis tyres.

And, while its geometry may be considered outmoded by some and may lack confidence on steep descents, the cushioned ride provides welcome relief on more gentle terrain.

While the components on the Stance are a step down from those on the hardtail models, there are some pleasant touches, like as the 12-speed Shimano Deore transmission.

We’re less enthusiastic about the absence of a dropper post, a worthwhile addition that will add approximately $200 to your investment.

Additionally, the bike is less rigid and dependable in difficult terrain, particularly when compared to the solid-feeling Marin. Having said that, the svelte Stance is a capable climber and can suffice on flowy, less technical trail networks.

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