You don’t need to spend a fortune to get the best bike for you that can take you anywhere from roads to the mountains.
Furthermore, you will not lack any options for these bikes and you will be surprised at the features they managed to add at these budget-friendly prices.
The best mountain bike under $1200 is not just inexpensive, it should also have awesome components.
Although you can buy a cheap bike, it may not be all worth it. You should choose one that has parts, materials, and components that will allow you to traverse many types of terrain so that you can have a better riding experience.
Best Mountain Bike Under $1200 Comparison 2020
Last update on 2020-07-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Top 5 Mountain Bike Under $1200
If you have a limited budget, these bikes are worth your attention. These come from great brands of bikes who put great attention to the details and build of their products so that you don’t need to worry when riding them on any type of terrain.
Schwinn Traxion Mountain Bike, Full Dual Suspension, 29-Inch Wheels
Now, this first on the list sets the bar high. It is a dual-suspension 29-inch wheels mountain bike.
Normally, you will find these bikes at a higher price point, but this one is something you will find below $1200.
They managed to build a bike that’s both affordable and offers great value.
This one comes from a well-known mountain bike brand, so that takes care of your worry about the build quality.
They used in-house components on some parts, which helped in keeping the price friendly to budget-conscious consumers.
Moreover, the frame is made from aluminum, a material often used on bikes. The dual suspension makes for a great vehicle on trails as it will easily absorb any bump on the trail.
They also included a wide handlebar that makes turning easier especially on rough terrain.
To make it more beginner-friendly and versatile, it is equipped with a 3×8 speed configuration, which will allow you to climb, descend, and make good speed on flatland.
It is equipped with Shimano EZ fire trigger shifters, which do a good job in shifting quickly so that you can adjust on the fly in any riding situation.
The 29-inch knobby tires have great traction both on pavement and gravel.
You will get more control over your riding with this bike because it is already equipped with mechanical disc brakes.
The wheels have quick-release hubs that make them easy to replace in case you need to fix the tire mid-ride.
The rear hub is cassette type, which is a step up for bikes at this price point. That being said, this bike is also a good foundation for upgrading and learning how to pair different components to improve the riding capability.
Related Guide: Best Mountain Bike for Tall Riders
Royce Union Men’s’ Gravel Bike 27.5”
If you don’t live near the mountains but want to go off-road, then gravel bikes are an ideal choice.
These are a hybrid between mountain bikes and road bikes. They have a good set of wheels and ergonomic design that will allow you to go virtually anywhere.
This bike marries a good balance of good features for most riders. It has a medium frame made from lightweight aluminum.
The hardtail makes it great for flatland because you don’t suffer any springiness and converts your pedaling power to full torque.
Gravel bikes, simply put, are mountain bikes for those who love their road bikes.
These are rigid bikes that are equipped with large tires that allow the rider to explore off-road trails.
And on the other hand, this can also be used by mountain bikers who want to experience the roads more but still want to be able to go on gravel or rough terrain.
So it’s easy to see why this bike is great for both worlds.
The wheels on these are 27.5 inches, which are a good size for any type of terrain. It has a 2×9 speed configuration that’s great for multi-disciplinary riding.
It has Shimano components. The shifters, brakes, and derailleurs are easy to use and will not easily wear out with daily use. Shifting is smooth, and the braking is reliable enough and not slippery.
The handlebar is something you will see on a road bike, which may intimidate some who are more familiar with the relatively straight handlebars on mountain bikes.
But you don’t need to worry because these are easy to use and maneuver.
Related Comparison: Mountain Bike vs Road Bike Guide
Mongoose Argus Sport Fat Bike
Fat bikes are like monster trucks in the bike world. Well, maybe not necessarily, but they do resemble them mainly because of the oversized parts, and most obviously, the wheels.
Generally, these bikes are designed to ride easily on terrains such as snow and sand.
But that doesn’t mean that all you can ride this on. You can still ride this downhill and uphill.
Although you may need a little more skill when riding it up because of the tires. Nevertheless, this is still an enjoyable bike.
The frame of the bike is made from aluminum which is a sturdy and lightweight material that’s used on bikes.
Even though the tires are 26 inches, you will not feel like they’re small stuff because of the 4.8-inch width they provide.
This allows for more traction and shock absorption if you ride it on rougher roads.
Drivetrain is 1×10 which is what most modern bikes now have. This will help you pedal easily and not feel the weight of having thick tires as wheels.
On the headset, you will have a tapered headtube which gives more stability and control and can fit most modern forks if you decide on upgrading.
But you will most certainly ride this stock because it has nice Shimano components like the rear derailleur and hydraulic disc brakes.
However, is mt may look sluggish, but this bike is agile and easy to control. It is designed to subdue almost any type of trail.
So if you want to feel a new experience in riding, this is the best mountain bike under $1200 you can buy.
Suggested Comparison: Mountain Bike vs BMX Bike
Oyma Power 21 Speed Folding Bike
If you want to bring a bike along and don’t have enough space in your car, folding bikes are a great option for you.
Oyma Power offers a 21-speed folding bike that you can bring virtually anywhere.
It has 26-inch tires and duals suspension, so if you go on a camping trip and want to explore nature riding a bike, this will be a great companion.
The frame is made from high carbon steel, which helps make it lightweight. So if you run across a rather difficult path and need to traverse it on foot, you don’t necessarily have to worry about the weight of this on your shoulder.
You will get mags on the wheels, which ensure that they are true and stay that way before and after rides.
It is also equipped with mechanical disc brakes for easy stopping and control.
On the seat, you will get a padded saddle that will provide comfort even for long rides.
The seat post is also adjustable thanks to the quick-release locks.
This bike is also a good commuter as it will fold easily when you need to ride the train or bus.
The wheels are slim enough to provide easy riding on roads. That is because there is less resistance on the wheels enabling you to ride faster on flatlands.
It is a bike designed to be a daily rider. So, it will make a great gift for young children or anyone that needs a bike to get around town.
Montague Paratrooper 24 Speed Folding Bike
Last on this list is another mountain bike which, from the name itself, is meant to take a beating.
We know that this can take a beating because this was commissioned by the military so that paratroopers can have a bike to use once they land on the area they are targeting.
This mountain bike is designed to be portable as well as functional for any type of utility.
You can use this for hauling gear, riding trails, or just commuting, this will be a great bike to ride on any day.
It has a 3×8 drivetrain that will offer plenty of versatility so that you can get to your destination easily.
The 24 inch tires are great if you need something easy to control as well as get to good speeds.
The folding feature is not the usual lockout you see on most folding bikes. But it does the job and folds neatly to a portable size and opens just as quickly.
It is equipped with mechanical disc brakes, which are great for added control and safety.
One additional feature you will get is a cargo rack to place your belongings if you’re using this when traveling or commuting.
This is a great feature if you plan on using this to help when traveling to different places.
You will get a fork with a shock that will absorb bumps and keep stress from your hands.
Additionally, the components on this bike are all from Shimano’s top line. That will ensure good shifting and reliability even on long rides.
So, if you want a reliable easy to carry a mountain bike, this one will be a top choice.
Features to Look for Before Buying
There are some specific things you need to look for before purchasing a mountain bike, and knowing the difference or specifics will help you find the best one for your budget.
Or more specifically, the frame materials used. This is because the frame is where all the parts are connected and it is what will take most of the impact and stress.
There are several materials used in building mountain bike frames, and all of them have different specifications and functions.
Aluminum frames offer lightweight features and durability. A well-built aluminum frame will be able to withstand impacts on trails and daily use.
The downside of aluminum is that it’s not as durable as steel and may dent more easily.
On that note, steel is another material usually used on mountain bikes. It is more durable than aluminum and can take a lot of beating on the trail
And it will last a long time. The downside though, as expected, is that it is heavier than aluminum, thus making it less agile and playful.
When choosing between aluminum and steel materials, you will find that steel tends to be more expensive because of the amount of time and effort to manufacture it.
You will also find carbon materials for frames, but those bikes go way beyond $1200 so we will not discuss them further in this guide.
If you’re planning on going on trails, then you have to look at suspensions. This prevents your arms and legs from absorbing all the bumps, which will, in turn, help reduce fatigue and even add safety to your riding.
When looking at suspension, you will find the term “travel” which is measured in millimeters.
This simply means the amount of compression your shock will compress. Taking that into consideration, that’s how much shock it can absorb.
Some shocks have adjustments so that you can set the travel you are most comfortable with. You can also read in forums or comments what are the standard travel for certain types of suspensions as your baseline and then adjust accordingly to your preference.
Another thing to note is the number of suspensions. You can get either just one suspension, usually on the fork, and dual suspension, where you get another one in the rear, usually built into the frame.
This comes into play when you are on a budget. A full-suspension bike will have more parts and will require more effort so if you are eyeing something below the $1000 mark, then you can expect a compromise here and there.
So just make sure to ask around for people you trust to have good knowledge of suspensions to provide you with useful insights on your choice.
A few years ago, there wasn’t much wheel size choice when it comes to budget bikes. But in recent years, they have made 27.5 the usual tires.
This is a great advantage because simply put — a larger wheel size will help you get around quickly and safely.
It offers more ground coverage compared to 26 inch or 24-inch wheels and gives more ground clearance, which is important when you are going through rough terrain.
Another advantage of bigger wheel size is stability and reliability when shedding downhill. That being said, you will get more enjoyment with a larger wheel size.
If you’re on a budget, remember that a bike with 29-inch wheels will cost more, but it will also be a better platform if you’re thinking of upgrading.
This factor comes into play if you plan on riding your bike for long periods. In essence, when the price goes down on mountain bikes, the weight goes up.
Manufacturers have created production innovation that can reduce the weight on the bike, but it comes with a cost. Higher-end components will also help reduce overall weight.
While cycling is more concerned about weight than mountain biking, it still helps to have a sub-20-pound bike when you’re pedaling uphill. It also helps make your bike more nimble and easy to maneuver when going downhill.
The drivetrain includes the gears that are used to move the bike. Usually, bikes will have 3×9 configuration, which was supposed to mean you have plenty of options for many applications.
But recently, 1x components have gained popularity as it has been discovered that riders tend to just use one gear when riding along. This led to the increasing popularity of these types of gear ratios.
Again, that doesn’t mean that you should go with what is popular, as riding is a very personal endeavor.
Your choice is all that matters. Make sure to pick the one that you will be comfortable with.
If you want to try out different components though, choose a bike that will allow for such upgrades and modifications.
Not a lot of people pay attention to brakes that come in with their bikes, but this needs to be addressed more.
Brakes are as important as the bike itself because it will provide safety to your riding, so having reliable brakes is necessary.
Most mid-priced bikes have disc brakes, and that’s a great thing. Even if they are mechanical, these are far better than rim brakes because they provide more stopping power since they stop the wheel closer to the center as opposed to rim brakes.
You will also see hydraulic brakes, which are a step above mechanical brakes because you don’t need to worry about any cable snapping accidentally.
Again, there are plenty of options for the length of handlebars. Generally, wider is better because you have more control and tend to be more comfortable when riding long distances or going downhill.
There are also other factors like the rise, the back sweep, and the materials used for it.
All these factors provide a sense of comfort, control, and aesthetics. The good thing with all these features is that you can pick out even to the minute details of what fits your preference best.
Unisex vs. Women’s Specific Mountain Bikes
The main difference you will notice between a unisex and women’s specific mountain bikes are very subtle.
Most mountain bikes for women have lower standover height, which makes it easy for easier mount and dismount.
They also have narrower bars in the package and smaller diameter on the grips. Additionally, they have more feminine color options. The frames will also be smaller.
Aside from those small changes, the performance of women’s bikes is up to par with standard and unisex models.
They are also upgradable and can accommodate different components to make the ride more comfortable and enjoyable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I pick a 1x drivetrain over a 3x?
Even if it boils down to preference, there are some advantages to 1x configuration which is why even budget-friendly bikes have been using this.
A few of these pros include simpler shifting and set up, fewer chain drops which seem to be the problem for 3x setup, and helps reduce overall weight.
Hardtail or suspension?
A hardtail is ideal if you have a lower budget allotted for your bike.
It will perform as good as full suspension if you master your technique and skill. But if you have extra money to spare, a good full suspension bike will be a great purchase.
Should I upgrade my bike?
One of the things that make mountain biking, or biking in general, is the customizing part, which includes upgrades.
Manufacturers are continuously putting out innovative products in the market that help make riding enjoyable and fun.
Should I buy new or used?
Like cars, bikes lose their value soon as they get driven. If you just want to get a feel of riding, then second-hand bikes are not a bad idea.
Just make sure you’re getting one in good condition and the latest possible.
But if you find that you only need to add a little to get a brand new bike, then get a new one because there’s nothing like opening a box with your brand new bike inside it.
How do I maintain my bike?
Depending on where you ride, a good wash down will suffice as mountain bikes are meant to be thrown around and take a beating. A little water will not hurt it.
When looking for the best mountain bike under $1200, you have to ask around from friends or compare them on the website and keep a list of what you want from your bike.
You should be able to feel comfortable and get a sense of pride from it for the experience to be worth its cost.