7 Best Mountain Bikes Under $1500 in 2020 (Review)
Spending $1500 on a mountain bike is a big commitment. You want to get the right mountain bike, and we want to help you get the right bike for you. In the bike reviews below, we’ve found what we feel are the 7 best mountain bikes under $1500 in 2020. These bikes have been picked as they offer the best value for money and will inspire you to take your riding to the next level.
After the reviews, we’ll look at some tips to make sure that you don’t make any mistakes when you’re buying your new bike. We’ll then have a look at what you should expect to find on a mountain bike costing around $1500 and whether you should spend another $500 or not.
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The Best Mountain Bikes Under $1500
1. BEIOU CB020 Mountain Bike
Like many of their other Chinese compatriots, BEIOU likes to give their bikes model names. They try to avoid spending money and time coming up with fancy marketable names. The BEIOU CB020 is a Toray T800 carbon fiber hardtail mountain bike with 27.5” (650b) wheels.
The frame is an open mold model, which helps bring down the price and also lets you guess which other companies are using it and some big brands will be and you’ll be paying a lot more for their stickers. The other parts are also other straight from the factory floor and just have different stickers.
On this cross-country mountain bike though you’ll find the 30 speed Shimano Deore M6000 groupset. A more than capable groupset that does the job of changing gears quietly and efficiently. Taking care of suspension, you’ll find an air-sprung brand fork. The fork will be light, but you may have trouble finding spares for future services. Forums such as Chiner Town might be able to help guide you to what you need.
- Shimano Deore M6000 groupset
- Toray T800 carbon fiber frame
- 30 speed
Colors: Black, burnt orange, white
Weight: 23.6 lbs
Sizes: 17, 19”
2. Co-op Cycles DRT 1.3 Mountain Bike
REI’s Co-op Cycles DRT 1.3 is a nice trail-ready 27.5” wheeled hardtail mountain bike. At the heart of the DRT 1.3 is a 6061 double-butted aluminum frame. Double butting means that the frame’s tubes have less material in the center of them and more at the ends of the tubes. By going this route, you get a frame that balances strength and weight.
Helping to keep the weight down further we have an air-sprung SR Suntour fork. The air spring will also make the mountain bike easier to tune for your specific style of riding and weight. It might not have one of the cooler brand names; they would be coil spring only at this price.
Gearing wise, the DRT 1.3 uses a 20 speed Shimano Deore groupset, with an upgrade where you’ll notice it most. The rear derailleur is upgraded to a Shimano SLX Shadow Plus. Shadow Plus technology means that the rear derailleur has a clutch. The clutch allows you to add tension to the rear derailleur and stop it swinging out when you hit drops or very harsh terrain. By not swinging out you’ll find that your chain should be less likely to come off.
- Shimano SLX Shadow Plus rear derailleur
- SR Suntour 27.5 air-sprung suspension fork
- 20 speed
Colors: Pirate Black
Weight: 29.3 lbs
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
3. BEIOU CB005 Mountain Bike
The BEIOU CB005 is similar to the BEIOU above. The main difference is that the CB005 uses 26” wheels. 26” might be seen as being old technology to some people, but they still have a place in mountain biking. If you’re small or a teenager, 26” wheels will be a lot more manageable than the bigger 27.5” or 29” wheels.
The CB005 has a Toray T800 carbon fiber frame, and this frame allows the CB005 to be a pretty light bike. Being light is also an advantage for smaller and younger riders as it will be easier for them to throw the bike around and ride it uphill. T800 is a strong form of carbon, and it will take a lot of knocks.
The CB005 comes with a 30 speed Shimano Deore M6000 groupset. You’ll find a wide spread of gears, enough to help you conquer any hill and an also have enough speed to make the downhill sections fun.
To help you tame those downhills, you’ll find an own brand air-sprung suspension fork. The fork this time looks a lot like a Manitou and should provide you years of service.
- Toray T800 carbon fiber frame
- Shimano Deore M600 groupset
- 30 speed
Colors: Green, orange, red, yellow
Weight: 23.8 lbs
Sizes: 15, 17, 19”
4. BEIOU CB024
The BEIOU CB024 is another 26” wheeled Toray T800 carbon fiber mountain bike. The main difference between the CB005 and the CB024 is that on the CB024 you get internal cable routing. The internal routing will help to keep your cables away from the muck and grime you’ll find out on the trail, and it’ll help extend the working life of these parts.
The internal routing will also make your mountain bike look a little sleeker. It will also make your bike marginally faster, as it will bring a small aero gain. There is also the bonus that you won’t be able to get your cables snagged on anything as you take a tight line around some bushes.
The rest of the spec sheet is identical to the CB005, including down to the carbon stem, handlebar, and seat post. There are not many bikes where these parts come as a standard feature and not as expensive upgrade option.
- Toray T800 carbon fiber frame
- Carbon fiber stem, handlebar, and seat post
- 30 speed
Colors: Black, orange, red
Weight: 23.5 lbs
Sizes: 15, 17, 19”
5. Steppenwolf Tundra Pro
The Steppenwolf Tundra Pro is a great choice of mountain bike if you want to race cross country (XC). The bike has a stiff and light carbon fiber frame to make sure that every watt from your pedal stroke is converted into forward momentum.
The Tundra Pro comes with a RockShox SID RLT fork. The 100mm travel fork has a huge heritage in XC racing and is the lightweight fork of choice for many racers. The fork also comes with a remote lockout. The remote lockout lets you lock out the fork’s suspension. Locking out your suspension will make sure that the mountain bike doesn’t bob and waste your pedal stroke.
If you’re racing, you’ll want a great groupset to make sure that every gear change will happen and do so quickly. Thankfully the Steppenwolf features a Shimano XT groupset. There is only one groupset higher in the Shimano hierarchy, and for under $1500 this is great value.
The quality rating for the Steppenwolf gets even higher when you realize it also comes with 29” DT Swiss X 1900 Spline wheels. These wheels feature the phenomenal DT Swiss Star Ratchet Drive, as soon as you put any pressure on the pedals your drivetrain will have engaged.
- Carbon fiber frame
- RockShox SID RLT fork
- 30 speed
Weight: 29 lbs
Sizes: S, M, L
6. Mongoose Salvo Comp
The Mongoose Salvo Comp is the first full suspension mountain bike in our bike reviews. The Salvo Comp is a 120mm travel bike, putting it in the trail bike category. You should find the X-Fusion O2 RL Pro rear shock helps you out when you make mistakes that should otherwise have resulted in a crash.
The front SR Suntour XCR fork is an air sprung fork. You’ll then find it easier to balance both your front and rear suspension. You’ll want to do this before you go on a trail. Otherwise, you may find that the bike is trying to throw you off when you’re riding.
The Salvo Comp uses the 27 speed Shimano Alivio M4000 groupset. You do get an upgrade to the Shimano Deore Shadow Plus rear derailleur. The Shadow Plus system is more important on a full suspension bike than on a hardtail. As your bike moves through its travel, the rear wheelbase will lengthen or shorten, and by keeping the tension applied with the rear derailleur you’ll be less likely to have your chain fall off.
- Full suspension design
- SR Suntour air suspension fork
- X-fusion O2 RL Pro rear shock
Gears: 27 speed
Sizes: 15”, 19”
7. New 2018 Diamondback Overdrive 2 29 Complete
The New 2018 Diamondback Overdrive 2 29 complete mountain bike is a lightweight, precision-based aluminum cross-country model. Diamondback has gone above and beyond with this newer model by increasing the stiffness and handling. They did this by adding rear spacing and thru-axles.
The Alternator dropout allows you to lengthen or shorten the bike’s wheelbase. You can bring your rear wheel in to make the Timberjack a maneuverable trail bike. You can then pull the rear wheel back, and you have a stable mountain bike for bikepacking.
This bike is meant for the roughest terrain and toughest climbs. Slipping in between rocks and over logs is going to be the least of your concerns due to their top-of-the-line granny gear. They were able to make this happen without making it the typical mountain bike with the traditional front derailleur system. (This also makes the bike more pleasing to look at.)
They’ve also added a Blanchard 25 tubeless ready wheelset along with their 29” wheels for this model. For the brakes, the manufacturer has included Shimano MT500 hydraulic disks for accurate and fast stops. One of the greatest things about this model is that it is easy to switch out parts to meet your preferences (or upgrades, should you wish).
- Blanchard tubeless-ready wheelset
- Shimano MT500 Hydraulic disc brakes
- 100mm travel suspension fork
5 Things to Think About When Buying a Higher Price Range Mountain Bike
As you start to buy higher-priced bikes, they start to have a more defined role. You’ll find lightweight XC bikes that don’t like being raced downhill. You’ll find bikepacking specific bikes that will be less maneuverable than an XC bike. Make sure you buy a model that fits how you ride at least 90% of the time. You don’t want to buy a downhill bike when you only ride downhill twice a year, as it will be horrible for every other style of riding.
Can you afford to keep buying parts at the same level of spec, or upgrade, as parts wear out? There is no point buying a bike dripping with Shimano XTR if you can only afford Deore parts in the future. Parts such as 11-speed chains will wear out faster than 7-speed chains, so make sure you have money aside for future servicing and repairs.
You may also find that it is not possible to downgrade your bike anyway. You won’t be able to go from 11 speed Shimano SLX to 10 speed Deore without changing the majority of your drivetrain and shifters.
As the price increase, you’ll find bikes offering more travel. The question is, do you need more travel? If you stay away from the downhill courses, then the chances are that you will be paying for something you don’t use. You may actually make riding your bike more difficult.
The longer wheelbase needed for the extra suspension can make your bike harder to turn. A longer wheelbase will require you to ride at faster speeds to be able to get the proper handling effects. If that isn’t you, then don’t feel you have to buy a longer travel bike.
$1500 is a lot of money to spend, and you’ll want your investment to last. You’ll want to read the spec sheet of your bike to make sure that it comes with thru-axles, a tapered headtube, and press-fit bottom brackets appear to have had their time in the sun, and we’re heading back to using threaded bottom brackets. Threaded bottom brackets will save you from getting any little creaks out on the trail. Creaks can ruin a ride, so always try and see if the bike you’re thinking about has a threaded bottom bracket.
Your brand new $1500 mountain bike won’t come with pedals, and if it does, they will be cheap, no-grip, test ride pedals. You’ll then want to make sure you have a set of pedals for when your new bike arrives, or you’ll be waiting a little longer before your first ride. Don’t just use old pedals you have lying around, buying new pedals will make your new mountain bike feel great.
What Can I Expect from a Mountain Bike Costing Around $1500?
On a mountain bike costing around $1500, you can expect a bike that is more than capable of taking on your local trails, and some bigger trails. The bike when it comes out the box will not need upgrades for you to unlock its full potential. You can pull it out and get ready to go and ride the trails.
You should be getting air sprung forks. Cheaper coil sprung forks are harder to set up. You would have to take them apart and fit new springs to adjust them to your weight, and these springs might not even exist for cheaper forks. Coil sprung forks will be something you want to avoid if you’re buying a full suspension bike as it will be hard to dial in with your rear shock.
Air sprung forks can easily be tuned to your riding style with a shock pump. Don’t try and use your handy track pump or you risk damaging your fork, or rear shock. A good shock pump will cost you around $30. It can help you make a cheap fork ride as well as an expensive fork, and it’ll help you set up your expensive fork so that it works correctly. You also don’t want to take the settings your friend uses. There are many good setup guides on YouTube. Follow them, and your mountain bike will feel great.
You should also be looking at mid-range Shimano groupsets. Ideally, the bike should come with Deore or SLX. If the mountain bike comes with SRAM, we would be looking at an NX level of groupset. These groupsets are a great point for balancing the meeting between price and quality.
These groupsets will bring you some high-end features. One of the main reasons for buying mid-range parts is that they may not be fancy, but you can be sure they will work out on the trail.
You may also now start to find fewer gears than you expect. Mountain bikes are now starting to run a single front chainring, rather than 2 or 3 as they have done in the past. The reason for this is to save on drive train wear, and it makes picking a gear to ride in a lot easier. You might even save a little bit of weight when you go 1x as well.
All of the mountain bikes at around $1500 should have hydraulic disc brakes. No mountain bike at this price point should be without hydraulic disc brakes. If the mountain bike you’re looking at doesn’t have them, move on.
Should You be Setting a Budget of $2000 or More to Spend on a Mountain Bike Instead?
If you can easily budget for $2000, then you should give that some thought. You’ll find that the usual rules of bike buying will apply. As you go up in price, you can expect a lighter bike, a better groupset, and higher quality parts. That doesn’t mean that you should spend $2000.
If you spend $1500, you can be sure of getting a great bike. All bikes around the $1500 price point will be good bikes. Your biggest problem might be buying a mountain bike that doesn’t suit the way you ride, this is not a fault on the part of the mountain bike but a fault on the part of the person who bought the bike.
There are a few differences you’ll find between the mountain bikes under $1500 and the mountain bikes under $2000. If you want a full-suspension bike, you’ll find that you start to get suspension systems that are a little easier to dial in. You’ll also find that they tend to become a little lighter.
The next thing you’ll notice, and this is the same for hardtails, is that you’ll find more choice in groupsets and you’ll find higher-end groupsets. You’ll no longer find Shimano Alivio. You’ll be looking at Shimano SLX or SRAM GX and above. You’ll definitely only start to see 1x bikes with multiple front chainrings being an exception rather than a rule.
On the bikes costing around $1500, some will have a dropper post and some won’t. At around the $2000 mark, the majority of mountain bikes will come with dropper posts. A dropper post is a style of seat post that descends at the flick of a switch, making downhill riding easier and safer. When you flip the switch back, the seat will return to your preferred riding height.