Forum home Mountain biking forum MTB buying advice


supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
edited January 2009 in MTB buying advice
As you can probably guess, the most common question on this forum is 'what bike
for x amount?'. Here is a quick run down of what to expect at certain price
points and a few examples of models. The bikes mentioned will all be 2008 models
at RRP, and be your standard XC/trail type machine. The most important thing
however is to go and try the bike: it could have the best spec in the world, but
no good if it doesnt fit. I'd recommend that newcomers to the sport buy from a
local shop - this way you get 1st hand advice, get to test it, will have it fully
set up, a free service and easy to reach after sales care. Don't forget to budget
for safety gear and basic tools - it is important you keep the bike clean,
maintained and adjusted.

UP TO £300:

This is about the price for a good capable entry level hardtail. It is worth
reading the beginners bike thread for info on what to look for. However there are
some very good machines below this price that will suit many first time buyers.

Giant Boulder - £200: thoughtful speccing form Giant gives us a well laid out and capable entry level MTB with features usuallu unseen at this price

Decathlon Rockrider 5.2 - £200: alloy frame, 8spd, alloy components, decent fork,
V brakes and sub 30lbs weight make this a great starter bike for those who dont
want to venture too far off road.

GT Avalanche 3.0 Disc - £299: classic entry level bike sports great frame and parts, and a set of cable disc brakes for superior wet weather performance.

Carrera Vulcan - £299: similar to the Avalanche in spec and forks, another good
entry level machine with solid frame and parts. Edit: check out the latest version with a damped XCM fork!

Mongoose Tyax Elite - £299: one of the best selling bikes of the year. Ups the
ante with a superb damped forks, but still gets 8spd drivetrain, good frame and
cable discs, excellent performer if a little weighty.


In this price range things move up a gear. Forks start to have damping cartridges, offering much better performance off road: gears may be 9sp, not only offering more range, but more durability. Even hydraulic discs are appearing, which are simply the best stopper out there. Not all offer all this, it depends on what you want from the bike, but personally I feel the fork is the most important component for performance.

Trek 4300 - £300: another classic entry level XC bike. May not have the fancy forks and discs of others, but classy frame and light weight make it a good bike for light trails and paths, or to upgrade.

Carrera Kraken - £360: amazing value bike from Carrera shoehorns 9spd Sram gearing, Tektro hydro discs, superb frame and damped suntour fork for a great price. Only slightly high weight lets it down

GT Avalanche 2.0 and Mongoose Tyax Super - £400: two very similar bikes set the budget standard. Proven frames, damped forks with lockout, good quality shimano drivetrain and amazingly hydraulic discs

Specialized Hardrock Pro - £400: Sturdy offering from Specialized, with well proven Avid disc brakes, butted frame, hydraulic lockout sus fork and dependable shimano drivetrain.

Trek 4500 - £400: no discs on this one, but 9spd Shimano, Rockshox fork and light weight make for another excellent XC offering from Trek

Giant Terrago - £430: 9spd, hydro brakes and oil damped fork with a frame like this for 430 quid?

Genesis Core - £450: the new kid on the block, designed for UK riders. Standout fork make this a good option, backed up with decent brakes and tyres.


Carrera Fury - £500: incredible bike for the money. Tora 318 fork unbeatable at this price, plus fully butted frame, 9spd Sram gearing and twin piston hydro brakes.

GT Avalanche 1.0 - £500: according to WMB the best 500 quid bike ever, with superb frame, hydro discs, oversized damped fork and great shimano gear inc hubs and cranks.

Mongoose Amasa Elite - £569: SRAM X7 gear, Tora Uturn forks and dependable Tektro hydro disc brakes makes for a tough offering from Mongoose

Specialized Rockhopper - £600: superb M4 frame is the standout feature; dependable Tora forks, good drivetrain and parts with Avid hydros. Great base to upgrade.

Saracen Zen 1 - £650: the original UK hardcore hardtail, and still up there with the best. Great geometry with tough frame and parts for hard riding fun.

Genesis Altitude 1.0 - £800: steel hardtail from the British brand, made for Reynolds heat treated 725 cromo steel. Well balanced parts package designed for UK riding.

Trek 6700 - £850: one of the cheapest bikes to feature the award winning Rockshox Reba. Add to this the legendary Alpha frame, Bontrager kit and the new XT shadow mech and you have a great value bike for trails and XC

Merlin MALT 4 ~ £900: part customisable steed from the Lancashire bargain builders, based on a superlight Kinesis frame with stunning value kit.


  • Sir HCSir HC Posts: 20,148
    Intense Socom
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Nice one! I'll add a bit of colour to it in time, and sort the word spacing, copying it from notebad made it go a bit strange lol.
  • Andy BAndy B Posts: 8,115
    ^^^ that makes no sense at all!!

    A couple to maybe add Sonic?

    Claude Butler Cape Wrath

    Merlin Malt 1
  • Andy BAndy B Posts: 8,115
    Giant XTC (quite a few of 'em so pick the best for each price bracket)

    GT.... no wait, you've got that one covered... lol!

    Orange G2?
  • WolfWolf Posts: 989
    Avalanche 1!

    Not wanting to be picky, the Avalanche 3.0 disc is £299, and not £260 :roll:

    Maybe decathlons sub £400 full-sus jobbie? good for the money...
    Santa Cruz Blur XC
    Marin Eldridge Grade
  • ddoogieddoogie Posts: 4,159
    I'd always go with a Hardrock with £300 to spend :D
    S-works Stumpjumper FSR

    I'll see you at the end.

    You'll see me on the floor.
  • Andy BAndy B Posts: 8,115
    Mongoose Tyax Elite is the best £300 bike, as it has a damped fork & doesn't weigh as much as a house*

    *a house weighs 34lbs with 'V' brakes.
  • ddoogieddoogie Posts: 4,159
    That doesn't detract from the Hardrock though. They are fantastic bikes. Nice and tough to take some falls and daft moves. I still use mine!
    S-works Stumpjumper FSR

    I'll see you at the end.

    You'll see me on the floor.
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    I'll put the hradrock in there if you wish, but next to the models I listed it looks poor. Its no tougher than an Avalanche either.
  • Good thread, but here's my idea.

    Rather than recommending bikes within a price range I quite like the idea of stating how much people think a bike is worth (in a given year). That way when bikes are discounted you get to work out whether they are any good or not.

    I often wish they'd do this in bike (or any other review) mags, when they state the 'value' factor of an item they should give a figure in £ rather than a score out of 5. Ok so the value would go down over time but given a review/valuation date you can take that in to account.
    Fat bloke, on a nice-ish bike.
  • ash7990ash7990 Posts: 26
    I hate my Carrera Vulcan. I much much prefered my Saracen rufftrax which sadly got stolen - loved that bike.
  • the genesis altitude seems much more expensive than listed here in the 800-999 range? is the price right? does anyone know where i could get one new for under500?
    Genesis core seems to be the genesis bike in the price bracket listed here
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Well pointed out, typo, meant the Genesis Core.
  • clarksonclarkson Posts: 1,641
    ddoogie wrote:
    That doesn't detract from the Hardrock though. They are fantastic bikes. Nice and tough to take some falls and daft moves. I still use mine!

    agreed, gave the hired hardrock a bloody good thrashing on holiday and it was brilliant.
    I said hit the brakes not the tree!!

    2006 Specialized Enduro Expert

    2008 Custom Merlin Malt 4

    2008 GT Avalanche Expert
  • supersonic wrote:

    GT Avalanche 2.0 and Mongoose Tyax Elite - £400: two very similar bikes set the budget standard. Proven frames, damped forks with lockout, good quality shimano drivetrain and amazingly hydraulic discs

    Should that be the Tyax Super rather than the Elite?

    Great work getting this back up by the way - I'd dread to think how many times I read through / referred to the post on the old forums when I was choosing my bike.
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    oops! Corrected.

    I shall be updating the list soon as many 2008 bikes are now out. The emphasis of the list will be on value and reviews.

    There is a lot of discussion of the Hardrocks, and I shall include them as they are popular. However I will have to comment on the high weight and under par componentry.
  • The latest Merlin Malt 4 with full LX,inc HT2 chainset,Reba forks with poploc and handbuilt wheels,look like an absolute bargain,for £835They even have 10% off at the moment.
    For similar money also check out te GT Zaskar at www, for £750.

    With these 2,you really have to question if its worth spending anymore!
    2006 Giant XTC
    2010 Giant Defy Advanced
    2016 Boardman Pro 29er
    2016 Pinnacle Lithium 4
    2017 Canondale Supersix Evo
  • i think the carrea banshee and banshee x need to go up there nice full sus bikes for under a grand and preform really well.
  • z000mz000m Posts: 544
    merlin malt - good 1
    Claude Butler - wtf! dont add any catalogue jobies theyre a joke
    im sure u could also find a specialized for every section, if you really wanted too
    Andy_B wrote:
    ^^^ that makes no sense at all!!

    A couple to maybe add Sonic?

    Claude Butler Cape Wrath

    Merlin Malt 1
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    I'll be adding some more in the next few days now I have got a better look at the bew crop.

    No offence, but some Claud Butlers are very good, especially the Cape Wrath.
  • Andy BAndy B Posts: 8,115
    Yup, I agree,that's why I mentioned them.

    'Catalogue' bikes don't win mountain bike magazine awards, which the Cape Wrath and the Rock have done.

    The Cape Wrath D27 is a very good bit of kit, well thought out, quality components (Deore shifters, F & R mech, a superb brakeset in the Quad QHD1's.

    It feels very nimble, yet it feels well built & strong enough to take some abuse.

    It's in the top 10 £500XC bikes in my book, and a lot of others books too.

    I guess z00m would also class a Carrera Fury as a Halfords piece of censored , again you'd be wrong. Don't judge a book by it's cover!
  • Hi, I found your reveiw of the Avalanche 1.0 really useful.

    I've found 07 versions out there still and wonder whether it is a better bike than the latest 08 version? The main difefences appear to be Rims (now Alloy, but were WTBSX-24), crankset (now Shimano Octalink and were Truvativ 5-D with Powerspline) and Hubs (now Shimano and were an Alloy QR/Shimano mix).

    Can you also let me know if there is a £500 price hard 08 tail reveiw coming up on Bike Radar or WMB.

    Thanks for your help. Cheers
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    They just reviewed the 08 Avalanche 1.0! The upgrades take the bike from being very good to being about the best. Shimano Octalink cranks and bottom bracket, and hubs, are excellent pieces of kit.
  • Thanks. Do you have the link to the 08 article handy? All I can find is an 07 reveiw.

  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Was in the latest mag: not sure its been uploaded to the site yet.
  • Thanks again. Cheers
  • Hi,

    Is there a bike you can recommend that can do both jobs? - a 7 mile each way commute (part road and part rough canal towpath) and some light off roading at weekends; e.g. forest trails.

    I had been planning to get a decent XC trail bike (such as the GT Avalanche 1.0) and add all round tyres (e.g. Conti Traffic).

  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    If you want to go off road a mountain bike is a must really. I'd change the tyres over at the weekend and use slicks for the commute!
  • Thanks, that's good avice- better get my tyre levers out!
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