Mountain bikes are more complicated than they might seem. There are vast differences between enduro bikes, XC (cross country) bikes, downhill bikes, and fat-tire mountain bikes. Making matters more challenging is the cost of mountain bikes.
No one wants a bike that falls apart after one ride, and a $10,000 toy is a difficult price to swallow for most riders. That is why we have crafted a list of the best mountain bikes under $5000.
Hitting the trail doesn’t have to cost the same as a car, and many of these bikes offer quality build materials and wonderful suspensions for comfort and quality. While many bikes on this list come in well under $5000, there are a handful of mountain bikes that push the budget to the limit but provide some nice upgrades over the $2000 and $3000 level bikes.
Additionally, a fat-tire racer and an electric bike crack the list with some outstanding features that just might steer you away from traditional hardtails or enduro bikes. Put away the second mortgage contracts and find your perfect mountain bike for less than $5000!
REI Co-Op Cycles DRT 1.1
We start the list off on an (extremely) affordable front. Many entry-level bikes are, well, entry-level in terms of performance and quality. But for the new rider, spending thousands of dollars on a hobby that may or may not work out is tough to wrap their head around. Unlike many other entry-level models, however, the REI Co-Op Cycles DRT 1.1 is an excellent ride.
The DRT 1.1 retails for $599, making it a great starting point for new riders. It comes with an SR Suntour suspension fork with 100mm of travel for a decently smooth ride on easier trails. For stopping power, the DRT 1.1 uses hydraulic disk brakes. Finally, a 3×7 powertrain with 21 gears helps with uphill power and downhill control.
REI also covers bike tune-ups for the first year, so new riders don’t have to feel overwhelmed with the technical side of mountain biking quite yet. The frame is aluminum and on the heavier side at 31.5 lbs. Regardless, the DRT 1.1 is the perfect entry point into the sport.
Marin Rift Zone 27.5 3
Now onto the bikes for the enthusiasts willing to spend a little extra. The Marin Rift Zone 27.5 line has three great options for mountain bikes, but their best is the Marin Rift Zone 27.5 3. As the most playful bike in Marin’s lineup, the “3” is also the most technologically advanced model.
The Rift Zone 27.5 3 starts at $2999, placing it well below the $5000 mark. For the suspension, the Rift Zone 27.5 3 uses a Marzocchi Bomber Z2 with 130mm of travel. The Fox Float DPS is a distinct upgrade over the Rift Zone 27.5 2 and makes for a supremely airy ride with plenty of jump capability.
Hydraulic brakes come with the Rift Zone 27.5 3, and the lines go through the frame, preventing them from getting caught. The frame is hydroformed aluminum but not as lightweight as other bikes sitting at more than 30 lbs. Despite the weight, the 27.5-inch tires offer agile handling, and the geometry provides capable performance uphill or down.
Rocky Mountain Growler 50
Hardtails are alive and well, and the Growler 50 proves as much. Though the hardtail design is a classic, the Growler 50 packs enough zest to shred up any trail, especially with the 29-inch wheels that provide unreal grip. Plus, the geometry of the Growler 50 gives the rider confidence thanks to its aggressive design.
Rocky Mountain prices the Growler 50 at $2,199, making it the priciest model in the Growler lineup. The Growler 50 uses a RockShox 35 Gold RL fork that allows for 150mm of travel. It also uses Shimano SLX shifters and Shimano XT rear derailleur. The brakes are Clarks M4 4 pistons with resin pads. The 6061 alloy frame brings the Growler 50 to 31 lbs, putting it right in line with the Rift Zone 3. The Growler 50 is a perfect blend of trail riding without being overly fast and aggressive
Salsa Timberjack NX Eagle 29
Salsa’s Timberjack NX Eagle 29 combines function with features. The Timberjack NX Eagle 29 uses 29-inch wheels along with a longer top tube and shorter stem to give riders a confidence-boosting stance when on the trail. Frame protection and storage give the NX Eagle 29 a leg-up on the competition.
The Salsa Timberjack NX Eagle 29 is more affordable than many other mountain bikes starting at $1,999, but that doesn’t mean it can’t perform. Swappable drop plates are standard, making the perfect drivetrain possible. For the suspension, the Eagle 29 has a RockShox Sektor RL fork that provides 130mm of travel.
Despite the added technologies, the Timberjack NX Eagle 29 weighs in at 30 lbs, making it lighter than the Growler or the Rift Zone 3. Plus, the fork offset of 42mm-51mm is more aggressive than the competition.
Kona Process 153 DL 29
Are you looking for the perfect enduro bike? Look no further than the Kona Process 153 DL 29. It combines uphill capability and downhill power that will have you shredding up trails in no time. The Kona Process 153 DL 29 uses a tapered headtube to benefit riders with durability and shock absorbency.
The Kona Process 153 DL 29 is decidedly more expensive than the other bikes on this list. At $4,399, the 153 DL 29 packs quite the setup. It features a RockShox Lyrik Select RC Charger DebonAir fork with 160mm of travel up front and 153mm in the back, which also uses RockShox suspension.
Kona uses 6061 aluminum alloy for the frame of the Process 153 DL 29. Despite the alloy, the Process 153 DL 29 is heavier than the other bikes at almost 34 lbs. While the Kona Process 153 DL is a great enduro bike, some may find it underwhelming on mellow trails. Go hard or go home, right?
Norco Fluid FS 2
Norco is well-known for its quality bikes, and the Fluid FS 2 continues the legacy. The Norco Fluid FS 2 gives riders an excellent ride position and two options for wheels, 27.5 or 29-inches. Norco supplies the Fluid FS 2 with internal cabling, and weld lines that are smooth for unparalleled quality.
The Norco Fluid line can get as expensive as $3,300, but the FS 2 comes in at a reasonable $2,699. RockShox suspension makes an appearance on the Fluid FS 2 in the form of 35 Silver Rs that give the FS 2 130mm of travel.
Shimano also makes an appearance on the FS 2 with Deore RD-M6100 rear derailleur and Deore SL-M6100 I-Spec EV rear shifter. Despite having 6061 alloys, the Fluid FS 2 is on the heavier side, weighing almost 34 lbs. Regardless, the build quality and an excellent, reliable ride make the Fluid FS 2 one of the best mountain bikes under $5000.
Salsa Beargrease C SLX
No mountain bike list would be complete without a fat-tire bike. One of the best is the Salsa Beargrease C SLX. Unlike other bikes, the C SLX uses a carbon fiber frame, which not only saves weight but provides better energy transfer. Plus, the lighter weight allows for more on-frame extras like storage.
The Salsa Beargrease C SLX starts at $3,599, which makes sense given the frame isn’t aluminum, only the steerer. It uses a Kingpin fork and a Shimano SLX M7100 rear derailleur and chain. Worth the extra cost, as the C SLX is a great fat-tire bike and one of the best mountain bikes under $5000.
Overall, the bike weighs just over 28 lbs, making it also one of the lightest bikes on this list, thanks to the carbon fiber frame. The C SLX has a 51mm offset making for solid comfort getting through the toughest winter trails. It’s the perfect off-road bike for campers, racers, and explorers.
Transition Sentinel NX Carbon
Transition’s Sentinel comes in a wide variety of models, but the best under $5000 is without doubt the NX Carbon. The Sentinel NX Carbon is an excellent all-around bike, perfect for leisurely trail riding or the hardest downhill charges. However you decide to use it, the NX Carbon will have you white-knuckling the RaceFace Chester 35 handlebars.
Transition prices the Sentinel NX Carbon at $4,799, with the alloy variant costing almost $1,000 less, but the carbon fiber reduces weight – almost four pounds – and provides better performance. Rock Shox Lyrik Select forks with 42mm offset and 160mm travel give the NX Carbon one of the smoothest rides available.
The balanced nature of the NX Carbon allows for steep terrain traversing at high speeds, and unparalleled agility at slow speeds. Because of the incredibly balanced nature, the NX Carbon gives confidence to experienced riders and novice riders alike, helping to build and grow your skills.
YT Jeffsy Core 3
YT Jeffsy Core 3 has a unique blend of quality carbon components and fully-adjustable suspension aspects. The Jeffsy Core 3 is a perfect option for pushing your performance up a notch. The Jeffsy line is perfect for all-mountain riding, and the Core 3 is the best mountain bike under $5000 in the YT lineup.
The Jeffsy Core 3 starts at $4,199, but with a Fox 36 Performance Elite fork and Fox Float DPX2 Performance Elite shocks, you’ll struggle to find a more comfortable, capable ride. These performance parts allow for 44mm offset and 150mm of travel. An SRAM GX Eagle rear derailleur gives the Core 3 12 gears.
Because the Jeffsy Core 3 uses carbon fiber components, the weight is just over 31 lbs. The compact, high-quality build of the Core 3 makes it one of the most balanced bikes on the market, especially since the 29-inch wheels give the Core 3 an excellent grip on all types of trails.
Himiway Cobra Pro
Until recently, electric bikes were a novelty. With the Himiway Cobra Pro, electric bikes are capable mountain bikes in their own right, only with an upside – the electric motor. With the 1000w mid-drive motor, cyclists have up to 80 miles of pedal-assisted riding up to 28 MPH!
The Himiway Cobra Pro comes in at $3,999 but is one of the most effective electric bikes on the market. It uses a 6061 alloy frame with an integrated battery, so damage to the battery isn’t an issue. Himiway supplies the Cobra Pro with four-bar linkage and coil suspension for capability over any type of terrain.
The Cobra Pro uses super fat tires for extreme grip. It also comes with a Shimano 10-speed gear shifting system, a thumb-controlled throttle, and a 48V LED front light for night-time riding. Himiway doesn’t just field one of the best electric bikes; it fields one of the best mountain bikes under $5000!
Final Thoughts on the Best Mountain Bikes Under $5000
Finding the right kind of mountain bike for you isn’t impossible. Spending a reasonable amount on one is also not impossible. Combing through the quality bikes and selecting the best one is all about your personal goals and preferences.
While carbon fiber adds to the cost, it reduces weight for hard-core riders. In contrast, aluminum offers a more digestible cost and allows room for extras.
Balancing all aspects of these bikes gives cyclists a comprehensive overview of what’s out there. From the entry-level Co-Op DRT 1.1 to the Sentinel NX Carbon, these mountain bikes give cyclists the capability to go hard every trip to the trail.
However, since not every rider is looking for that level of intensity, some bikes, like the Himiway Cobra Pro give cyclists a pedal-assist to extend their journey. Regardless of your journey, you can’t go wrong with any of these best mountain bikes under $5000.