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Reviews: Best Value Hardtail Mountain Bikes (2022)

If you have done your homework and chosen hardtail when it comes between the hardtail vs full suspension mtb style, then it’s time to start shopping for that new mountain bike.

As a refresher, remember that this style gives you the more rigid traditional frame is without rear suspension so that you get all that power transferred to the back wheel of the bike.

End result? Better acceleration and efficiency out on the trail.

Riding one of these offers a bit more excitement than a full suspension model, so let me share some of my favorites so that you can get one of your own and start riding.

Keep reading for my reviews on the best hardtail mountain bikes for the money.

Our Picks: Top Cheap Hardtail Mountain Bikes

last updated Oct 12, 2022

Editor’s Pick
Cannondale Trail 8 Bike


Editor’s Pick
Cannondale Trail 8 Bike
  •   Overall Best Hardtail MTB For The Money
  •   The Trail delivers the best blend of fit, fast and fun for every riders
  •   Durable SmartForm C3 alloy frame is light and lively, stiff and snappy
Best Price at REI
Best Women’s MTB
GHOST Kato Base 27/29 Bike


Best Women’s MTB
GHOST Kato Base 27/29 Bike
  •   Lightweight aluminum frame is specially designed with a low stand-over height for women
  •   Climbs hills efficiently with an 18-speed Shimano drivetrain
  •   Smooths bumps with a 100 mm SR Suntour XCM fork
Best Price at REI
Budget Pick
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 Bike


Budget Pick
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 Bike
  •   Shimano 3 x 7 drivetrain provides a wide range of gears for power uphill and speed down
  •   Tektro hydraulic disc brakes deliver reliable stopping power on or off-road, regardless of weather conditions
  •   Good bike for beginners
Best Price at REI
Also Recommended
Vilano Blackjack 3.0 29er Mountain Bike


Also Recommended
Vilano Blackjack 3.0 29er Mountain Bike
  •   Performs well on low-impact trails, gravel roads and leisurely rides
  •   The Blackjack features a suspension fork, (80mm travel) with lockout
  •   The 29″ double walled alloy wheels and 29 x 2.1 tires will easily roll over obstacles.
Buy at Amazon
Also Recommended
Cannondale Trail 5 Bike


Also Recommended
Cannondale Trail 5 Bike
  •   Cannondale Trail 5 bike is built to take you from your first time off-road to your next big adventure
Best Price at REI
Also Recommended
Salsa Rangefinder Advent X 29 Bike


Also Recommended
Salsa Rangefinder Advent X 29 Bike
  •   Its stable trail geometry, dropper post and 120mm of fork travel keep confidence—and stoke—levels high
Best Price at REI

For reviews on some of these bikes, keep reading below.

I highlight what I like about some of my favorite models.

And, if you also need a new road bike, then be sure to check out my recommendations here.

Where to Buy Hardtail Mountain Bikes?

If you’re shopping for a new hardtail, then you may be wondering where you can get a good selection of models at a good price.

Well, if you have a local bike shop, then I suggest seeing what they have on offer.

Often their prices are a little more than what you find online, but you get to have a relationship with someone local who is very knowledgeable about the gear.

Otherwise, I suggest you check out the online inventory at:

How Much Should I Spend?

If you’re trying to set a budget for your new hardtail mtb, then you might not know how much one of these costs.

The truth is that you can find hardtail mountain bikes in pretty much any price range.

However, the old saying that you get what you pay for really rings true here.

At a minimum, we suggest budgeting around $1000 for your new bike purchase.

There are certainly some great models just under this cost, and plenty of even better options at a higher price point.

Spending this much will get you a quality MTB that has all the basic features and quality components that a beginner needs when just starting out.

We feel that really anything under $1500 is where you find the good entry-level hardtail mountain bikes.

When you go above that price, you tend to find bikes are are designed for more specialized riding.

And anything over $2000 should really be reserved for the more serious mountain bikers.

Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes Under $500

With a low budget of under 500 bucks for a good hardtail mountain bike, you’re setting yourself up for a bit of a challenge.

Sure, you can find cheap hardtail mountain bikes under $500, but they are no way near as good as what you can get if you can go up just a little in cost.

Based on my experience, the main brand that you can trust in this low cost range is Diamondback.

I’ve seen quite a few of their models in this range and they are actually decent options that represent a good value for the money.

The sub-500 dollar range is a good choice for beginners to mountain biking though since you don’t really know if you’ll enjoy it and if a hardtail is really the best type of mtb for your riding needs.

I’ve got a few models reviewed that fall in this entry-level mountain bikes price range, so check out the reviews and see if you can find something that you like.

Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes Under $1000

If you’ve got a budget between $500 and $1000 for your new mtb, then you’ll find a lot of great options to choose from out there.

Some of my favorite brands in this price range include GHOST, Cannondale and some of the Diamondback models.

If you can afford to buy in this price range, you typically end up with some good quality components that should last you quite a while out there.

Several models we’ve reviewed fall into this range.

This probably isn’t the ideal price range for someone who is a beginner to mountain biking though.

But if you are new mtbing but do other types of biking, then you may want to spring for something in this range since it will be a little better quality than one of the under $500 models.

Either way, if you don’t end up enjoying your ride, these things have a pretty good resale value on the used market.

Cannondale Trail 4 27.5 Bike Review

Cannondale Trail 4 27.5 Bike reviewWhere to buy: REI

Any time I check out a Cannondale bike, I’m reminded why they have such a great reputation.

And this Cannondale Trail 4 27.5 Bike model here is a perfect example of that.

I like that you get such as awesome ride from this one.

It is very smooth, actually I think it is surprising how comfortable the ride is at this price.

Granted, this one has a cost on the higher end of most people’s entry-level mtb budgets, but still surprisingly awesome ride on this mtb for the money.

I also like that it comes with high quality Shimano components.

That alone definitely makes this one worth the cost. It’s responsive on the trails, handles well and shifting is easy. What more do you need?

As for what I don’t like about this model, well, there isn’t much negative to say about it.

Sure, it would be nice if it was cheaper, but honestly for what you get that price is pretty decent.

And since Cannondale’s have a great resale value, there’s nothing to lose by giving this one a shot out on the trails.

Cannondale Trail 5 29er Bike Review

best hardtail mountain bike under 1000 cannondaleWhere to buy: REI

I love when we start seeing the new year models come out early, like this new Cannondale Trail 5 29er Bike model.

I was a fan of the previous edition and my opinion hasn’t changed for this edition.

This Cannondale makes a great entry level hardtail mountain bike as it offers a great value for the money and gives you a really great ride.

You get a a relaxed frame design and quality Shimano components.

When it comes to frame size, you can order it in: small, medium, large, or x-large.

The small frame gives you 27.5-inch wheels and you get 29-inch wheels with the other frames.

The best price that I have seen for this new mountain bike is actually over at REI.

Unfortunately though, they do not offer shipping to your home or business on this bike. Instead, you can either have it shipped to your local REI or your local authorized Cannondale dealer.

The good news is that the bike comes completely assembled and the shipping is free!

So, even if you don’t have an REI in your area, as long as there is an authorized Cannondale dealer nearby, you can score this great price on the bike and have it shipped your way.  

Though I’d prefer to have the bike shipped to my home, I do like that it comes fully assembled, which saves me a bit of time. Now, you just pick it up and you’re ready to ride.

Some of my disappointments with the 2014 version were the cheap chainset and the substandard brakes.

Unfortunately, Cannondale didn’t make any changes to those things in the current version.

But even considering those two components, this is still a top notch hard tail mountain bike. It’s hard to do much better at this price point right now.

At just over 31 pounds, this is great lightweight hardtail MTB for the money.

If you’ve ever ridden one of these Cannondale mtbs, then you already know that it is a seriously good mountain bike for the money.

It’s a strong bike that has a lot of speed and leaves you feeling really confident when you’re riding it on the trails.

Diamondback Overdrive Hardtail Complete Mountain Bike Review

best mens hardtail mtb under $500Where to buy: Amazon, or REI

When you look at all the men’s hardtail MTB brands on the market, there is really only one brand that consistently makes high quality mountain bikes that are affordable.

That brand is Diamondback and they have several cheap MTBs that are worth your money, but right now my favorite good men’s hardtail bike is definitely the Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike.

It’s hard to be this one for the money – and it’s actually one of my top picks for men’s mountain bikes.

The frame comes in sizes to fit men of all heights, with a range of small to x-large.

That makes this a great hardtail mtb for teen boys, too, since you can get a smaller frame.

Sometimes, the prices vary by frame size, so when you do a price check, remember to look at the frame that you’re interested in buying since prices change regularly.

Like all the bikes on this list, putting together this Diamondback is easy enough to do on your own.

Of course, you can take this, or any of these bikes, to your local bike shop or REI and pay them to assemble it and give it an initial tune-up.

Riding this bike is a treat.

Sure, it’s not as smooth as the higher priced models above, but it’s still the best ride at this price point.

Honestly, I think this is one is a greater choice for mountain biking beginners.

One thing I want to mention about this bike is that the tires have a presta valve. So, if you don’t have gear that works with this type of valve, you’ll probably want to buy an adapter for the bike.

Other than that, I don’t really have any other complaints of substance.

Sure, the bike seat causes some butt pain, but really, what bike doesn’t? You can live with it or upgrade your seat.

Or, get yourself some padded bike shorts if it really bothers you.

So, while this bike isn’t as awesome as the Cannondale model listed above, it is still a solid mountain bike choice that I think you will be happy with.

And since Diamondback makes quality gear, this one will also last you for a good many years to come.

Why Choose A Hardtail Mountain Bike Instead of Full Suspension?

As a rider, there are numerous things you want your bicycle to have, especially the mountain variants.

Mountain bikes are either full suspensions or hardtails.

Choosing between the full suspension and the hardtail can be challenging if you don’t know their basic features.

The major difference between these two types of mountain bikes is that a full suspension can absorb more shock than a hardtail.

Each bike has its drawbacks and advantages.

However, many people prefer hardtails for some reasons. Here are a comprehensive list of the benefits of hardtails over full suspensions.

They are often cheaper – Hardtails are cheap because they don’t require intense designing like full suspension bikes.

Full suspensions come with a lot of innovations, making them difficult to produce.

The innovations necessitate several patent agreements between the manufacturer and other parties, including the licensing authorities.

In the end, the producer translates all the costs associated with all the procedures to the buyers.

Hence, a hardtail bike is a better option for those who are on a tight budget.

They are often lighter – As a rider, you don’t want a mtb that will drain all of your energy after just a mile of riding.

You don’t want something that will leave you with sores and muscle cramps after a ride. This is where hardtail mountain bikes come in.

They come with a few features, making them lighter than the full suspension variants.

If you ride in a hilly place, go with a hardtail to increase your comfort level and reduce the rate of fatigue.

Marathon MTB mentions that you can expect between 800 to 1000 grams of added weight on a full suspension mtb compared to a hardtail.

This is a result of the heavy rear shock, cartridge bearings and some kind of suspension linkage that adds to the overall weight on FS mountain bikes.

They are simply designed – Hardtail mountain bikes come with few features.

This makes them not only lighter but also simpler.

A simple bike does not require regular maintenance because it does not have many components that break often.

A bike with fewer parts is good for long distance riders because it allows them to complete their journey without breakdowns on the road.

A simple bike is also easier to clean, maintain and customize.

Full suspension bikes have a lot of features that move and can break more often. This not only disrupts seamless rides but also causes additional expenses.

They Are Faster – Hardtails are lighter than full suspension bikes.

A lighter bike maximizes the speed in steep slopes and flat terrains by enhancing the ratio between the acceleration power and weight.

Rather than fighting the bike, the rider will conserve more energy, which allows him to put more effort on the pedals.

The full suspension has an additional rear part that adds more weight on the bike.

A heavy bike is the last thing a rider wants.

Many top riders ignore full suspensions because of the extra weight, which makes it much slower than hardtails.

They Are Beautiful – People love things that look presentable, including bicycles.

Many of them opt for hardtails because of their simpler and elegant look.

Full suspensions have a more aggressive appearance.

They Are Easy to Control – Hardtails are easier to handle than full suspensions because of their lighter weight.

The rider can easily negotiate a corner and break in case of an emergency with a hardtail.

Hardtails allow smooth run-offs on the road.

They are likely more fun to control in stiffer and slippery roads than full suspension bicycles.

Hardtails also provide improved traction on any road and terrain.

The benefits of hardtails outweigh those of full suspension mountain bikes by a wide margin.

They are affordable, cheaper to maintain, easier to clean and simpler to control.

People who love long distance and speedy rides consider hardtails as their top choice.

You could be among the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are enjoying their rides using hardtail mountain bikes.

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