Best Budget Full Suspension Mountain Bikes (Under $2000) + Buying Guide

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By Robbie Ferri, Cyclist, Personal Trainer, and Group Exercise Instructor.

When looking for the right full suspension mountain bike, there’s so much to think about, and you can end up spending a lot of money on the utterly wrong bike. In this article, you will find some fantastic bikes for less than $2000 and a guide to help you pick the right bike to give you the best experience possible.

Our Top Pick
Trek Fuel EX 5 Mountain Bike Trek Fuel EX 5 Mountain Bike
4.9

The gateway to full suspension trail bikes: Trail-taming front and rear suspension, a Shimano 1x12 drivetrain, a dropper post for getting low on descents, and hydraulic disc brakes make Fuel EX 5 a high-performance mountain bike with exceptional versatility.

Runner-Up
CANYON Neuron 6 Mountain Bike CANYON Neuron 6 Mountain Bike
4.8

There’s nothing quite like riding a full-suspension mountain bike. Gliding over rocky singletrack and flying through corners with new-found traction, the Neuron 6 gives you everything you need to jump into trail riding and all at an incredible value!

What to look for in a Full Suspension Mountain Bike

There’s a lot that goes into a mountain bike compared to other types of bikes. Firstly when I start looking at Full Suspension mountain bikes, I think about the Frame and the Material it is made of. Is it carbon, aluminum, steel? Then the geometry. I think about the wheel size 27.5” or 29”. Then the suspension, hardtail,l or full suspension. Then finally, the gearing. All these characteristics will completely change how a bike rides and, depending on your goals, needs serious thought. 

Best Budget Full Suspension Mountain Bikes

How we rated the bikes?

In my opinion, every bike is a good bike providing it does the job that it has been designed to do. A lot of it comes down to what you want to be good on the bike and making sure the price you’re paying reflects what you’re looking at. Some you might find have a great frame, but the gearing might not be as good as others, or you could find the wheelset might be basic, but the components might be of a very high level. I break it down into these categories to simplify the buying process.

  • Wheel Size
  • Frame 
  • Suspension
  • Gearing
  • Value for money
  • Customer Reviews

The bikes we are looking at today are full Suspension Trails bikes, and they are amazing value for money and would be excellent to ride.

Our Top 5 Full Suspension Mountain Bikes Under $2000

  • Best Overall: Trek Fuel EX 5 Bike
  • Runner-Up: CANYON Neuron 6
  • Best Value: Giant Bicycles Stance 29 1
  • Best for Entertaining Ride:  Marin Bikes Rift Zone 27.5″
  • Best Design: Polygon SISKIU T7

Best Overall: Trek Fuel EX 5 Bike

Our Top Pick
Trek Fuel EX 5 Mountain Bike Trek Fuel EX 5 Mountain Bike
4.9

The gateway to full suspension trail bikes: Trail-taming front and rear suspension, a Shimano 1x12 drivetrain, a dropper post for getting low on descents, and hydraulic disc brakes make Fuel EX 5 a high-performance mountain bike with exceptional versatility.

  • 27.5” or 29.”
  • Aluminum Frame 
  • RockShox Recon Silver RL 27.5 / X-Fusion 02 Pro R 
  • Shimano Deore 12 Speed

Welcome to the Trek Fuel EX 5. The most expensive bike on this list, and it does pack a punch. Depending on the size, you will either get a 27.5” or a 29” wheelbase, to this shows, Trek has spent a lot of time working on how they want the bike to ride. The Frame is Aluminum and supports the same suspension setup as the Marin, though it does offer more travel at 140mm. The bike is also geared with a 12 Speed Deore Groupset. It provides a little bit more than the other but does come in 20% more expensive I feel it’s still a reasonable price. It depends on how much the extra travel and Trek geometry means to you.

A lot of money compared to the others, but it is still fantastic value. The bike has been very well thought through.

Runner-Up: CANYON Neuron 6

Runner-Up
CANYON Neuron 6 Mountain Bike CANYON Neuron 6 Mountain Bike
4.8

There’s nothing quite like riding a full-suspension mountain bike. Gliding over rocky singletrack and flying through corners with new-found traction, the Neuron 6 gives you everything you need to jump into trail riding and all at an incredible value!

  • 29”
  • Aluminum Frame 6061
  • RockShox Judy Silver / RockShox Deluxe Select+
  • Shimano Deore 12 Speed

I do love what Canyon does. They offer some amazing bikes at excellent prices. The Neuron is precisely that. It has an Aluminum Frame that supports 29” wheels. The RockShox Judy Silver provides 130mm travel and is paired with The Rockshox Deluxe Select+ Shock. One thing I like about Canyon is how much time they put into getting an excellent geometry for their bikes, and this you can tell has been highly focused on with the Neuron for incredible speed and comfort. Another great thing about this bike is the 12 Speed Groupset. We all know how amazing the Deore 12 speed is. It’s a lot of bike for the money.

Outstanding value for money. You can’t go wrong with anything Canyon, in my opinion.

Best Value: Giant Bicycles Stance 29 1

Best Value
Giant Stance 29 1 Mountain Bike Giant Stance 29 1 Mountain Bike
4.8

Experience the latest trail-taming technologies for a smooth, confident ride. The bigger wheel size helps your roller over obstacles better and more fluent at higher speeds. The Frame is aluminum and will give you a lot of stiffness and strength on the rough stuff.

  • 29”
  • Aluminum Frame ALUXX-Grade
  • RockShox Recon Silver RL / RockShox Monarch R
  • SRAM Eagle, Shimano Brakes

As a taller rider myself, it’s the 29” inch wheels I find myself more efficient on. The bigger wheel size helps your roller over obstacles better and more fluent at higher speeds. The Frame is aluminum and will give you a lot of stiffness and strength on the rough stuff. This bike, like the Marin, offers 130mm travel on the Rockshox Recon but is paired up with the custom-tuned by Giant RockShox Monarch R Shock. A mash-up groupset of SRAM and Shimano makes for great control over those gears.

Really lovely bike and will suit a taller rider.

Best for Entertaining Ride:  Marin Bikes Rift Zone 27.5″

  • 27.5”
  • Aluminum Frame
  • RockShox Recon Silver RL 27.5 / X-Fusion 02 Pro R 
  • Shimano Deore 11 Speed

Marin has always had a vast place in the MTB world and knows what they are talking about when it comes to providing a bike that has some clout when it comes down to getting yourself on it and smashing down a trail. Marin has made a very playful bike here. With the 27.5” wheelset and the 130mm travel by 210x50mm suspension setup, you are looking at an entertaining ride. You will be jumping off tree routes, and you will find the bike exciting and agile when at speed. This isn’t only going to get you through the trail fast, but it’s going to make you smile all the way too.

Great bike, will be fantastic to ride. I would have expected a 12-speed groupset.

Best Design: Polygon SISKIU T7

Polygon SISKIU T7 Mountain Bike Polygon SISKIU T7 Mountain Bike
4.6

On the trail, the Siskiu T feels just as responsive and agile as the previous generation but the overall ceiling of what the bike is capable of has been lifted. The Siskiu T handles the demands of a modern trail bike, striking the balance between high-speed control and playful handling.

  • 27.5” or 29.”
  • Aluminum Frame 6061
  • Rockshox Recon RL Boost / RockShox Deluxe Select+
  • Shimano Deore 12 Speed

When it comes to some serious trails, the Polygon offers a little more than the others as far as options and specifications. You can choose between a 27.5” and a 29” wheelbase. Which governs the amount of travel you get. On the 27.5” 150mm and the 29” 140mm upfront, more than the other bikes. Like a lot of the other bikes, you are running a RockShox suspension setup. Gearing is a lovely 12 Speed Deore Groupset, and it comes in price-wise very close to the Canyon. I must admit, when it comes to looks, this is by far my favorite, with so much color and vibrance.

It looks the part, and the suspension setup is pretty good, I rate it.


Hardtail or Full Suspension?

As a rider, I get a question all the time, which is better, a hardtail or a full suspension. Well, they are built to do very different things. A hardtail will be more beneficial on a less technical trail which might involve lots of climbs. It made for a more direct riding style, and it can transfer power much better to the rear wheel than a full suspension bike. A full suspension is much better on technical trails or rocky terrain as it can get over and around obstacles much more efficiently. When it comes to climbing, it’s much heavier, and it’s harder to transport power. In a perfect world, you would want to have both, but if you had to pick the one, you need to make sure you choose the bike that will suit the style of riding and terrain you do more of.

What different types of Mountain bikes are there?

There are four different types of mountain bikes, and they are all designed to do different things. In this section, I will run through what each type does and what kind of rider it would suit.

Cross Country

Cross country bikes do precisely what they say on the tin. They go across the country. Normally a Hardtail or a Full Suspension bike. They range from 80mm to 120mm when it comes to suspension travel. They are made to be very fast and efficient, generally with a strong focus on climbing. They are 29” wheels most of the time as these suit the profile much better than 27.5”. The frames on high-end bikes will be a very high standard of aluminum or typically carbon, with mainly a fixed post.

Trail

Trail bikes are pretty similar to Cross Country but with a few slight changes. Firstly again, they usually come in Hardtail or Full Suspension. The travel of the suspension ranges from 110mm to 150mm. Wheel sizes are either 27.5” or 29” when it comes to a modern market. Frames again usually come in aluminum or carbon and typically sport a dropper post or a fixed post. They often have a slacker, more aggressive head angle compared to the cross country.

Enduro

The Enduro bike is quite different from the others because it is made to handle some tough stuff. The first thing to note on the Enduro bikes is that they will have much bigger brakes than the Trail and the Cross Country. The travel of the forks will be 140mm to 180mm, and again they will come in either a 27.5” or a 29” wheelbase. They will be good uphill but nowhere near as good as the Cross Country. They will, however, but much more efficient downhill compared to the trail or the cross country. 

Downhill

Downhill bikes are not made to go up hills quickly. They are much heavier, commonly sports triple clamp forks, a slack head angle, and a massive 200mm of travel with brakes that could stop a train. They are fantastic downhill and are purely made for this reason.

What to look for when buying a Full Suspension mountain bike.

Bikes are such an exciting purchase. When buying a bike, it’s easy to find that the prices differ significantly for the same bike. This is down to many factors such as frame material, gearing, wheelsets and tires even finishing kit. Knowing what you’re buying when it comes to all different parts is complex, and you want to make sure that you are putting your money where you need it for the style of riding you are doing.

Frame Material

The first material I want to talk about is aluminum. It’s very strong, lightweight, and generally seen on bikes in the lower price range. Although most cheaper bikes are made of aluminum, it doesn’t mean that an expensive aluminum frame won’t be excellent. It all comes down to build quality.

Next, we have Carbon Fiber. It’s very light, and it’s also very strong and even absorbs vibration to a certain extent. Though it ticks all the boxes, it is costly, and if pressure is applied to the wrong parts can break easily. If you are likely to crash a lot, maybe start on aluminum.

Then we have steel. It’s probably one of the heaviest materials frames are made of, but it is very cheap and robust. It produces a highly comfortable ride, and you will find many niche frame builders use this material as it’s easier to weld.

Finally, the last material is titanium, its like steel because it dampens the ride very well, but it is a lot lighter and much more expensive. Titanium is a costly material. It is also complicated to build a frame as welding has to be done in special chambers with less oxygen.

Frame Geometry

The geometry makes a huge difference, and certain types of mountain bikes will have specific geometries to suit riding style. For example, the Cross Country and Trail bikes will have a more relaxed Geomatery than an Enduro or a Downhill bike. A Cross Country race will require a longer time in the saddle, so comfort is essential. In a Downhill race, you want to be more way more aggressive as the duration of a race is so short you can get away with it. If you were to take a Downhill bike to a Cross Country race, expect your back to hurt by the end of it.

Forks and Shocks

Forks and Shocks are critical to get right. Basically, the more you are going to get thrown around, the more travel you will require. Cross Country, you will only need short travel 80mm-120mm so the forks will travel less and be lighter. Downhill you will require much more travel 200mm as the obstacles will be much more significant, and you will be hitting them a lot quicker. With more travel comes more weight, and getting the suspension right can completely change a ride. Rear Shocks will all work in different ways, and they will have different characteristics. Some will travel more than others, so they will be more responsive. It’s rider choice on what style suits them. If you are a beginner, I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it. If you’re going Pro, then you will need to do your research.

Wheels and Tires

The wheels and tires will have a considerable impact on how the bike handles overall. A 27.5” wheel will accelerate quicker and will be much more agile than a 29” wheel. A 29” wheel will accelerate slower than a 27.5” wheel but will require less effort to hold a higher speed after it has accelerated. Due to the 29” being more prominent. It’s much more efficient at rolling over obstacles than smaller wheel sizes such as a 27.5”. When it comes to tires, 27.5” are naturally wider than 29” tires. Although because of the bigger wheel size of the 29”, smaller tires will typically have more surface area on the floor. Then you have tires with tubes in, and you have tubeless. Tubeless tires are tires with no tubes but sealant instead, and this can self-repair and be run at lower pressures.

Gearing

Gearing is constantly changing in the industry. At the lower end of the price point, you will generally find two or three rings at the front and a small cassette at the back, offering you a wide range of gears. At the mid to high end of the market, you are looking at a single ring at the front and a large cassette at the back. Your gearing on downhill will be different to cross country because downhill requires fewer gears, so the cassette will be smaller, giving you fewer options. Going on cross country will provide you with a much more comprehensive range of gears and more options as you find yourself climbing much more and require the gears to save your legs. Always pick the right gears to suit your riding discipline. If not, it will be arduous work. When it comes to Speeds, I personally would try and stay up to date. For example, if 12 speed is the latest to invest money in that as it will last much longer and hold the value of the bike higher.

Brakes

These are extremely important and, from a safety point of view, the first thing to check before you go out riding. Most modern brakes these days will be hydraulic, unlike older brakes that use cables. The term hydraulic means they are filled with fluid. They are much more reliable and have extreme stopping power. Getting good brakes is important, companies like Hope, Shimano, and SRAM make some of the best brakes, and you can trust these brands. Most companies make various sizes. Depending on the different types of mountain biking you are doing, you will use different brakes. For example, downhill will require big 200mm brake disks, and Cross Country will need smaller such as 160mm.

Dropper Post

Most high-end bikes of specific disciplines will come with a dropper post. A lot of cheaper bikes won’t. When it comes to Enduro and Trail, it’s really good to have a dropper post so you can get super low and technical. Downhill will mostly have a fixed post, and cross country, you won’t always use a dropper as it might not be needed on a non-technical course.

Conclusion

There’s no such thing as a bad bike. It’s usually just the wrong bike for the job. When looking for a mountain bike, pick one that suits you and the riding you’re going to do. We hope this article helped you make a choice.

Continue Reading:
1. Best Fixed Gear & Single Speed Bikes
2. Best Budget Commuter Bikes

Robbie Ferri

A Personal Trainer and Ultra Cyclist living in King's Lynn in Norfolk, UK. From Ultra Cycling World Records to Bikepacking Races and a huge amount of time on the gym floor training myself and clients my experience when it comes to Health and Fitness is vast.