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The best entry-level mountain bikes this year

Five top options to get you out on the trails

Giant Fathom 29

Mountian biking is going through a huge boom in popularity right now, with many new riders taking to the trails over the summer. Picking a new bike, especially your first “real” mountain bike, can be confusing, though. If you (or someone you know) is looking to get more into the sport, but aren’t sure where to start, here’s five entry-level mountain bikes that offer an excellent mix of value and quality for any rider.

Mountain biking can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Any of the bikes below, and some of their more affordable siblings, will get you out in the woods in good form. The five we’ve chosen, while not necessarily the cheapest bike any of the companies make, add long-term value to their absolute cost. With parts that will perform well and survive plenty of abuse, these entry-level bikes aren’t just for beginners. They’re just good mountain bikes at a good price.

Five entry-level mountain bikes for 2020

Giant Fathom 29

Giant Fathom
Giant Fathom

Giant’s new trail-ready hardtail comes in 27.5″ or 29″ wheel options. 130-mm travel fork hits a nice middle ground where it is still fun for cross country rides but will handle more serious trails as you start pushing your abilities. There’s clearance for big tires, too. Clean design and internal cable routing make this aluminum bike look sharper than its $1,600 price tag.

Giant Fathom 2 – $1,600

Norco Fluid FW and Fluid FS W

Norco Fluid FS
Norco Fluid FS

Starting at $2,100 for a dual-suspension trail bike, Norco Fluid FS, which is also

We were very impressed with the Fluid FS when we tested it, and think it’s a great value for a proper, full-suspension trail bike regardless of your abilities. Norco mixes affordable parts with a design that will appeal to experienced and beginner mountain bikers.

RELATED: First Look: 2019 Norco Fluid FS

If  you’re find with just front suspension, the Fluid HT drops the rear shock, and nearly $1,000 off the price tag.

Norco Fluid FS 3 – $2,100

Liv Tempt 1

Liv Tempt 1

Liv offers lower price points, down to the $580 Tempt 3, but the mid-range Tempt 1  adds significant value and performance. The Tempt 1 will carry you further into your mountain biking career for just a few hundred dollars more. Shimano’s Deore 10-speed drivetrain works as well as many higher-priced shifters, and the Suntour SXC32 adds adjustable front suspension.

Liv Tempt 1 – $900

Trek Procaliber

Trek Procaliber 9.5
2021 Trek Procaliber 9.5

The Procaliber’s $2,750 price tag may be at the pricier end of “entry-level,” but Trek packs a whole whack of performance, including a carbon fibre frame. This cross country bike delivers race-ready performance at a lower price point but will grow with you as you get into more serious cross country riding and even racing. It’s more of an initial investment but, if you’re looking to get into racing, it is a great long-term investment.

If you’re not tied to carbon fibre, the X-Caliber 7 offers most of the Procaliber features, minus the iso-flex seattube, in an aluminum frame for $1,250.

Trek Procaliber 9.5 – $2,750

RELATED: Trek Procaliber focuses in on pure cross country racing

Specialized Rockhopper Elite 29

The Rockhopper name has been around mountain bikes almost as long as Specialized has. The Morgan Hill, California-designed hardtail has seen all kinds of changes over the years. The Rockhopper Elite 29 packs impressive value into the aluminum frame. Rockshox Judy front suspension, a reliable Shimano Deore 1×10-speed drivetrain, smooth-rolling 29″ wheels and more make for an excellent entry-level mountain bike that has already introduced generations of riders to the joy of exploring trails.

Specialized Rockhopper Elite 29 – $1,350