HomeBuying GuideBest​ ​Full​ ​Suspension​ ​MTBs,​ ​£1500​ ​to​ ​£3000 

Best​ ​Full​ ​Suspension​ ​MTBs,​ ​£1500​ ​to​ ​£3000 

 If​ ​you’re​ ​looking​ ​for​ ​full​ ​suspension,​ ​the​ ​£1.5-£3k​ ​price​ ​bracket​ ​takes​ ​you​ ​from​ ​capable​ ​entry-level​ ​bikes right​ ​up​ ​to​ ​seriously​ ​fast,​ ​strong​ ​and​ ​light​ ​full-sus​ ​rigs​ ​for​ ​trail​ ​centre​ ​glory​ ​and​ ​aggressive​ ​XC​ ​through​ ​to all-mountain​ ​and​ ​enduro-spec​ ​rides.

While​ ​there​ ​are​ ​full-sussers​ ​available​ ​for​ ​under​ ​£1,500,​ ​don’t​ ​plan​ ​any​ ​Alpine​ ​gravity​ ​jaunts​ ​or​ ​DH​ ​races  on​ ​them;​ ​they’re​ ​generally​ ​too​ ​compromised​ ​on​ ​suspension​ ​performance​ ​and​ ​weight​ ​for​ ​serious,  enthusiastic​ ​use.​ ​So,​ ​while​ ​there​ ​are​ ​plenty​ ​of​ ​good​ ​bikes​ ​available​ ​for​ ​less​ ​money​ ​(see​ ​Hargroves  Cycles​ ​guide​ ​to​ ​buying​ ​your​ ​first​ ​MTB),​ ​​£1,500​ ​is​ ​a​ ​good​ ​place​ ​to​ ​start.

At​ ​the​ ​other​ ​extreme,​ ​there​ ​are​ ​plenty​ ​of​ ​bikes​ ​available​ ​for​ ​more​ ​than​ ​£3,000!​ ​But​ ​while​ ​materials​ ​get  more​ ​exotic,​ ​parts​ ​lists​ ​get​ ​very​ ​desirable​ ​and​ ​performance​ ​reaches​ ​sensational​ ​heights,​ ​arguably​ ​the  biggest​ ​steps​ ​forward​ ​are​ ​found​ ​with​ ​the​ ​£1,500-£3,000​ ​band.

At​ ​the​ ​top​ ​end​ ​of​ ​this​ ​bracket​ ​you​ ​even​ ​find​ ​‘boutique’​ ​brands​ ​creeping​ ​in.​ ​These​ ​make​ ​very​ ​special  machines​ ​indeed​ ​–​ ​highly​ ​focused,​ ​uncompromising​ ​and​ ​super-stylish​ ​stand-outs​ ​on​ ​the​ ​trails.​ ​Carbon  frames​ ​from​ ​major​ ​manufacturers​ ​start​ ​to​ ​appear​ ​too,​ ​bringing​ ​significant​ ​benefits​ ​in​ ​weight​ ​and  stiffness.

Look​ ​around​ ​the​ ​middle​ ​area​ ​of​ ​£2,000-£2,500​ ​and​ ​you​ ​find​ ​a​ ​host​ ​of​ ​hugely​ ​capable​ ​full-suspension bikes,​ ​featuring​ ​up-to-the-minute​ ​frames​ ​and​ ​highly​ ​capable​ ​components.​ ​Choice​ ​here​ ​is​ ​excellent,​ ​and  you​ ​can​ ​expect​ ​quality​ ​suspension,​ ​drivetrains​ ​and​ ​brakes​ ​from​ ​big​ ​brands​ ​such​ ​as​ ​Fox,​ ​RockShox,  Shimano​ ​and​ ​SRAM.​ ​These​ ​are​ ​frames​ ​that​ ​reward​ ​new​ ​upgrades​ ​with​ ​a​ ​real​ ​performance​ ​boost​ ​–  they’re​ ​the​ ​same​ ​as​ ​those​ ​on​ ​the​ ​more​ ​expensive​ ​models​ ​–​ ​so​ ​they’re​ ​long-term​ ​investments​ ​too.

WHAT​ ​SHOULD​ ​I​ ​LOOK​ ​FOR?

The​ ​first​ ​thing​ ​is​ ​the​ ​suspension.​ ​Travel​ ​is​ ​certainly​ ​important​ ​(think​ ​110-120mm​ ​for​ ​XC​ ​and​ ​light​ ​trail,  130-150mm​ ​for​ ​aggressive​ ​trail​ ​and​ ​160mm-plus​ ​for​ ​serious​ ​gravity​ ​riding)​ ​but​ ​how​ ​that​ ​travel​ ​is  controlled​ ​is​ ​arguably​ ​more​ ​important.​ ​Look​ ​for​ ​compression​ ​damping​ ​adjusters​ ​to​ ​join​ ​rebound​ ​as prices​ ​rise.​ ​Extra​ ​control​ ​is​ ​worth​ ​more​ ​than​ ​extra​ ​travel.

There’s​ ​a​ ​second​ ​thing​ ​more​ ​important​ ​than​ ​simple​ ​travel​ ​–​ ​frame​ ​geometry.​ ​Compare,​ ​for​ ​example,​ ​the  Specialized​ ​Men’s​ ​Camber​ ​29​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Transition​ ​Sentinel.

Both​ ​are​ ​29ers,​ ​both​ ​full-suss​ ​trail​ ​bikes.​ ​But​ ​while​ ​the​ ​Transition​ ​has​ ​20mm​ ​/​ ​40mm​ ​more​ ​travel​ ​back​ ​/  front,​ ​that’s​ ​not​ ​why​ ​it’s​ ​more​ ​at​ ​home​ ​on​ ​extreme​ ​trails.​ ​A​ ​look​ ​at​ ​the​ ​geometry​ ​shows​ ​the​ ​Sentinel​ ​is  over​ ​8cm​ ​longer,​ ​a​ ​centimetre​ ​lower​ ​and​ ​a​ ​whopping​ ​4.5​ ​degrees​ ​slacker​ ​than​ ​the​ ​Specialized​ ​Camber.

By​ ​the​ ​same​ ​token,​ ​the​ ​Camber​ ​is​ ​zippier,​ ​more​ ​responsive​ ​and​ ​likely​ ​more​ ​fun​ ​for​ ​all-round​ ​trail​ ​use.​ ​In  this​ ​price​ ​bracket​ ​there’s​ ​excellent​ ​choice​ ​in​ ​frame​ ​geometry​ ​–​ ​just​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​it​ ​matches​ ​your​ ​riding.

WHAT​ ​ABOUT​ ​COMPONENTS?

Drivetrains​ ​should​ ​be​ ​quality​ ​10-speeds,​ ​brakes​ ​hydraulic​ ​discs.​ ​You​ ​don’t​ ​have​ ​to​ ​go​ ​far​ ​up​ ​to​ ​find​ ​1×11  transmissions,​ ​premium​ ​brakes​ ​and​ ​remote-activated​ ​dropper​ ​posts.​ ​All​ ​are​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​benefit​ ​on​ ​tricky  trails.

You​ ​have​ ​a​ ​good​ ​choice​ ​of​ ​either​ ​wheel​ ​size,​ ​and​ ​while​ ​27.5in​ ​has​ ​been​ ​more​ ​popular​ ​for​ ​more  aggressive​ ​bikes,​ ​hard-hitting​ ​29ers​ ​are​ ​becoming​ ​more​ ​popular​ ​too.​ ​Really​ ​this,​ ​or​ ​whether​ ​to​ ​go​ ​for​ ​a  wide-tyred​ ​‘Plus’​ ​bike,​ ​is​ ​down​ ​to​ ​personal​ ​preference.​ ​Check​ ​out​ ​our​ ​feature​ ​on​ ​Plus​ ​bikes​ ​​which​ ​features​ ​some​ ​recommended​ ​models​ ​and​ ​also​ ​explains​ ​the​ ​difference​ ​between​ ​‘Plus’  and​ ​‘Fat’.

BIKES​ ​WE​ ​LOVE
The​ ​Specialized​ ​Men’s​ ​Camber​ ​29​ ​(£1,700)​ ​is​ ​an​ ​excellent​ ​choice​ ​for​ ​all-round​ ​performance.​ ​Featuring  120mm​ ​travel​ ​both​ ​ends​ ​thanks​ ​to​ ​a​ ​custom​ ​X-Fusion​ ​shock​ ​matched​ ​an​ ​air-sprung​ ​RockShox​ ​Recon  fork,​ ​and​ ​matching​ ​SRAM​ ​and​ ​Shimano​ ​componentry​ ​with​ ​180/120mm-rotor’d​ ​Tektro​ ​disc​ ​brakes,​ ​it’s  ready​ ​for​ ​anything​ ​from​ ​XC​ ​epics​ ​to​ ​the​ ​fastest​ ​trail​ ​centre​ ​descents.

Specialized Camber 29

More​ ​capable​ ​still​ ​is​ ​Specialized’s​ ​Stumpjumper​ ​Comp​ ​Alloy​ ​29/6Fattie​ ​(£2,500).​ ​That​ ​extra  performance​ ​is​ ​partly​ ​in​ ​the​ ​extra​ ​travel​ ​from​ ​its​ ​all-RockShox​ ​suspension​ ​–​ ​135mm​ ​rear,​ ​150mm​ ​front​ ​–  and​ ​compression/rebound​ ​adjustment.​ ​It’s​ ​also​ ​partly​ ​thanks​ ​to​ ​a​ ​lightweight​ ​11-speed​ ​SRAM​ ​GX  drivetrain​ ​and​ ​powerful​ ​Guide​ ​R​ ​brakes.​ ​But​ ​then​ ​there​ ​are​ ​the​ ​wheels…​ ​coming​ ​with​ ​29ers​ ​as  standard,​ ​the​ ​29/6Fattie​ ​is​ ​fully​ ​compatible​ ​with​ ​27.5in​ ​Plus​ ​wheels​ ​(Specialized​ ​call​ ​them​ ​6Fattie).​ ​This  gives​ ​you​ ​the​ ​option​ ​of​ ​big,​ ​balloon-like​ ​tyres​ ​for​ ​extra​ ​comfort​ ​and​ ​grip​ ​–​ ​it’s​ ​two​ ​bikes​ ​in​ ​one.

Looking​ ​for​ ​carbon?​ ​The​ ​Cube​ ​Stereo​ ​140​ ​HPC​ ​Race​ ​27.5 ​(£2,499)​ ​has​ ​a​ ​carbon​ ​monocoque​ ​front  triangle​ ​and​ ​a​ ​6061​ ​aluminium​ ​back​ ​end​ ​offering​ ​140mm​ ​of​ ​Fox​ ​DPX2-powered​ ​travel,​ ​paired​ ​with  super-robust​ ​Fox​ ​36​ ​Float​ ​factory​ ​Fit​ ​forks.​ ​Throw​ ​in​ ​a​ ​150mm​ ​dropper​ ​post​ ​and​ ​SRAM’s​ ​1x​ ​12-speed  drivetrain​ ​and​ ​you​ ​have​ ​superb​ ​set-up​ ​for​ ​fast​ ​trail​ ​use​ ​and​ ​even​ ​enduro​ ​racing.

On​ ​the​ ​XC​ ​side​ ​there’s​ ​the​ ​Scott​ ​Spark​ ​940​ ​(£2,999).​ ​With​ ​120mm​ ​of​ ​Fox​ ​bounce​ ​remotely​ ​switchable  between​ ​120mm,​ ​85mm​ ​and​ ​locked​ ​out,​ ​a​ ​cutting​ ​edge​ ​SRAM​ ​12-speed​ ​drivetrain,​ ​Boost​ ​spacing​ ​and​ ​a  120mm​ ​Synchros​ ​dropper​ ​post,​ ​it’s​ ​built​ ​for​ ​speed.  At​ ​Hargroves​ ​we’ve​ ​always​ ​been​ ​impressed​ ​with​ ​what​ ​Scott​ ​roll​ ​out,​ ​and​ ​feature​ ​more​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Scott​ ​MTB family​ ​in​ ​our​ ​women’s​ ​specific​ ​feature.

 

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