A full-on professional specialist MTB made for competition at the highest level can cost in excess of $11 000. At the bottom end of the market, a steel-framed hardtail product can be found for $500 – but it’s likely to tip the scales at 40 pounds. In between these two extremes, there’s a whole world of MTB models to explore – and that’s what we’ve done, using two main criteria to compile a list of ten cycles: All of them have full suspension, and cost less than $4000. This is not a “ten best” list, but an informal international survey of affordable 2021 models. Several high quality component brands keep turning up repeatedly – RockShox, Shimano, SRAM and Maxxis. But there seems to be plenty of suspension systems. These bikes are well put together and offer good value combined with high performance. So let’s count them, from a lower price point up to the cut-off at $4000.
Now we will briefly introduce these ten best full suspension mountain bikes
$3800 – ICAN Rainbow Enduro Bike P9
The beautifully-shaped carbon MTB frame is in Toray T700 and 800 fiber, with internal control lines. The geometry reflects the latest research findings on enduro frames. Rear suspension is handled by a RockShox Deluxe with 150mm travel. The fork is the black 29er Enduro Bike Rainbow, with a 160mm travel. Groupset is SRAM Eagle GLX with a dozen ratios: 11-50t x 34t. The 40mm rims are full carbon, on 32 Sapim spokes and Novatec hubs, with Maxxis Minion rubber. It comes in colorful paint finishes, including the dazzling “radiant”.
$ 1950 – Diamondback Atroz 3.
An alloy frame gives rigidity to this full suspension machine, with an RL compressed air fork up front. At 32 pounds it may be heavy in comparison to the much more expensive carbon-framed bikes, but the specification offers real value for the price. The Atroz 3 comes with Shimano MT 200 hydraulic disc brakes and a SRAM NX 11-ratio transmission, and sealed bearings all round. It takes 27.5” wheels, and pedals are included. This is a top quality entry-level MTB, breathed upon by the componentry wizards of Shimano and SRAM.
$ 3000 Cannondale Habit 4
A good-looking alloy trail bike with full RockShox DebonAir suspension. Rear end has 130mm travel, front has 140mm. Three are sealed bearings all round. Discs are Shimano MT200 with 180mm rotors. The 12-speed transmission is by SRAM SX Eagle, 11-50t with a steel 30t chainring to get you out of tough situations. Cannondale also counts on SRAM for the bottom bracket and cranks and Shimano for the 32-spoke tubeless wheels, with 14g stainless spokes and Maxxis tires. And there’s a lifetime guarantee on the alloy frame.
$ 3000 – INTENSE Sniper XC.
A strong 29” competitor at this price point, this aggressive lightweight MTB has an internally-routed frame in carbon with titanium metal parts. The slack head angle and long wheelbase make it a bike that’s fun to fling around. Shimano supplies the M6100 hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors and 12 speed SLX transmission. The rear Fox Performance shock has a three-stage setting, with a 100mm travel in the fork. INTENSE makes the alloy hubs and stem in house; the wheels come with Maxxis Rekon 2.25” tires.
$ 3000– Fezzari Signal Peak Comp
This is a high-value 29” trail machine which comes in sizes to suit all statures, male or female, in ST CleanCast carbon. It will also take 650b wheels. For the ladies, it can be specced with a WTB Koda Comp saddle. SRAM is no surprise, with disc brakes and NX Eagle 12 speed transmission, which employs a 32t steel chainring and cassette fitted with sprockets from 11 to 50 teeth. Fork travel is 120mm on the RockShox Reba RL Solo Air – and at the rear, a RockShox Monarch RT3, which features a three position adjustment.
$ 3150– GT Sensor Carbon Elite
This 29” carbon MTB has alloy stays and a SRAM power train – a 12-speed 32t carbon chainset and SRAM 11-50t cassette with Eagle derailleur. Hydraulic discs are supplied by Aaron Gwin, with 180mm rotors. The carbon frame has internally-routed tubes and cables. It takes a dropper seatpost and all-alloy components. RockShox have travel of 140mm front and 130mm rear. The tubeless-ready wheels have 32 stainless 14-gauge spokes and WTB STi TCS rims. At the price, these are excellent specs, for an all-round off-road performer.
$ 3240– ICAN XC Bike S3
This machine is also a SRAM-specced twenty-niner with concealed cabling and hydraulics on a boosted frame from ICAN, the leading carbon design company. It’s a featherweight, with small size tipping the scales at only 3.2 Kg. RockShox come standard, and there’s a carbon saddle, seatpost, stem and bars. The 35mm carbon rims are fabricated by ICAN, laced to Novatec thru-axle hubs with six-bolt rotors and Sapim Leader spokes. SRAM GX Eagle takes care of the 12-speed transmission, using a 32t chainring and a 10-52t cassette.
$ 3350– Diamondback Release 29
This alloy MTB 29er has full suspension – Diamondback’s level link system, as created by Fox, using the Performance DPS Float air sleeve shock and a Fox Rhythm 34 fork with 130mm travel. Cranks and the 30t chainring are by Raceforce, but Shimano takes over for the SLX Shadow Plus 12-speed system. And for the M71 hydraulic discs with 180mm rotors. To say nothing of an SLX cassette with 10-51t. This bike comes with DB CNC platform pedals and a dropper post. Wheels are shod with good old Maxxis Minion.
$ 3400– INTENSE Tracer
The fit kit for this go-anywhere MTB relies heavily on components from Shimano. It’s a 27.5 carbon machine with 170mm of travel on the DVO Diamond D2 fork. At the rear, there’s a Jade X coil shock. Intense uses the company’s own hubs and 30mm rims to true the ETHIRTEEN LGI wheels, shod with Maxxis Minion. And the rest is Shimano. The SLX 12 speed Deore 11-51 cassette, driven by a FC-M611 32t chainring on 170mm cranks. The powerful hydraulic brakes are the formidable M1620 system with four pistons and 203mm rotors.
$ 3599– Fezzari La Sal Peak
Billed as an enduro bike 29”, this carbon beauty rides on Rockshox full suspension with travels of 160mm front and 150mm rear. Cockpit components are alloy; an X-Fusion Manic dropper seatpost, a 35mm forged stem and 780mm racing bars. Wheels have 32 stainless black spokes, lacing to Bear Pawls sealed bearing hubs with six-bolt rotor mounts and WTB STP i29 rims, tubeless ready. Front tire is a Maxxis Minion DHF, 29″ x 2.5″ – with a Maxxis Aggressor on the rear wheel. The rest of the fit kit is simply SRAM Eagle 12-speed.