Not all bikes are created equal. It can be a bit of a headache tracking down the bargains from the bin-worthy with so much information to sift through pre-purchase. The sub-£1000 Hardtail is perhaps the hardest bike purchase to get right. Go into any bike shop looking for a Road or hybrid bike with a grand and you’re almost guaranteed to come out with a solid, relaxed geometry, high-geared, aluminium bike. Differences between models will be subtle and follow a very similar design process – But go in looking for an entry-level Hardtail and you’ll be faced with a plethora of choices and styles. It’s a little like walking into an inner-city barbers and trying to determine the style you want from some faded pre-soviet era photos white tacked around the shop. You can listen to the barbers advice that a Mohawk would be a great choice for your job interview but how do you know they aren’t trying to stitch you up? Meanwhile the cool kids with their stylish locks mock your ignorance and snigger behind bottles of Tresemme in the corner. Just swap barber for a LBS, the Mohawk for a unsuitable bike, the cool kids with nice hair for roadies with all the latest gear and the Tresemme for a TT bike and you’ve got yourself an airtight simile.

Do you go for better frames and worst components? Do you get the base model in a range and upgrade as you go? or maybe you want to get a complete package without breaking the bank. Discs or callipers? Fat tyres or not? It’s a minefield of figures,numbers and product ranges that, unless you’re a really savvy and experienced cyclist, you’ll struggle to decipher.

Fear not dear readers, our ‘Hardtail Mountain Bike guide’ explains in detail the different frame materials and components you can expect to find on a Hardtail bike and the common pitfalls experienced by first-time shoppers and experienced riders alike. From there we have selected our favourite models for the year, in the hope of guiding you towards the best possible purchase for your money. We haven’t included any full-suspension models as very few fall into the sub-£1000 range and as a general rule FS bikes at that price won’t be as comfortable or perform as well as a well-made, better spec’d Hardtail.

Here’s five of the best bangs for your buck if you’re in the market for a sub-1k Hardtail MTB:Need to know more about hardtails first?

Specialized Rockhopper elite.

This bike is ideal for novice to intermediate riders. If you want to get into upgrading, it has several tricks up its sleeve. It has tubeless compatible wheels and tyres, RockShox front air suspension forks that soak up trail bumps to keep you comfortable and let you to tackle bigger challenges while the bike does the heavy work for you. Shimano Deore 11-speed gears ensure smooth and dependable shifting.

The A1 premium aluminium frame from Specialized boasts hydroformed top and down tubes to save weight, internal cable routing for a sleek appearance, and is dropper post compatible.

Available in 27.5 inch and 29 inch flavours.

How does it compare to other Rockhoppers?

Rockhopper Comp

  • Lightweight and durable A1 Aluminium frame
  • Dropper-post compatible
  • SR Suntour XCM lock-out fork
  • microSHIFT Advent 1 x 9-speed
  • Clutch equipped rear derailleur
  • SRAM Level hydraulic disc brakes

Rockhopper Elite

  • Specialized A1 premium butted alloy, zero-stack head tube, internal cable routing
  • Shimano Deore drivetrain
  • Shimano Deore M5100, 11-speed shifter
  • RockShox Judy air-sprung fork
  • Shimano BR-MT200, hydraulic disc, 180mm
  • Dropper post compatible

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Rockhopper Expert

  • Lightweight and durable A1 Aluminium frame
  • Dropper-post compatible
  • SR Suntour XCM lock-out fork
  • microSHIFT Advent 1 x 9-speed
  • Clutch equipped rear derailleur
  • SRAM Level hydraulic disc brakes

Specialized Rockhopper Elite 2022 Hardtail Mountain Bike

£949  View All Specialized Rockhoppers

Marin San Quentin 1

The San Quentin is for an aggressive hardtail rider who looks for a blend of single track capabilities and extended air time. It has Suntour 120mm forks and hydraulic disc brakes allowing you to push trails to the max.

Featuring internal cable routing, SR Suntour XCM32 Boost forks which you can lock out for smoother surfaces.

If you like the look of this but still want to go one better, the San Quentin 2, replaces the microshift 9 speed gearing with deore 11 speed and takes you from a Suntour Coil Fork to a RockShox Air Sprung Fork. The 2 also gains Shimano brakes over the Tektros on v1 and dropper post as standard with tubeless-ready wheels.

How does it compare to other San Quentin versions?

San Quentin 1:

  • Series 2 6061 Aluminum frame
  • SR Suntour XCM32 Boost 120mm Travel forks
  • Microshift 9 Speed drivetrain with clutch mechanism rear derailleur
  • Tektro M275 Hydraulic Disc Brakes (rotors 180mm front, 160mm rear)
  • Vee Tire Co, Flow Snap, 27.5×2.6″, MPC Compound, Wire Bead

San Quentin 2:

  • Series 3 6061 Aluminium frame
  • RockShox Recon RL Forks
  • Shimano Deore, 11-Speed, SL-5100R shifters
  • Shimano Deore, 11-Speed, SGS rear derailleur
  • Vee Tire Co, Flow Snap, 27.5×2.6″, MPC Compound, Wire Bead

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San Quentin 3:

  • Series 3 6061 Aluminum Frame
  • RockShox Revelation RC Forks 130mm travel
  • Shimano Deore, 12-Speed, SL-7100R shifters
  • Shimano Deore, 12-Speed, SGS rear derailleur
  • Vee Tire Co Attack HPL, 27.5 inch Tyres – Tubeless compatible

Marin San Quentin 1 27.5

£844.99 View Marin MTBs

Cannondale Trail SE 4

The Cannondale Trail SE hardtail mountain bike combines a new aluminium frameset with a big trail-ready parts package – available in v2,v3 or v4 flavours depending on whats important to you.

Built from Premium SmartForm C2 aluminium, the frame has a sleek, integrated look that provides excellent performance and ride quality, whilst Shimano Hydraulic disc brakes offer powerful, controlled braking – meaning you can pedal more and brake less whatever the weather.

The SE4 still benefits from Shimano Deore shifting, albeit at a cost of losing a couple of gears compared with the SE 2. The Suntour coil shocks / forks give you everything you need upfront. It’s dropper post compatible but features SAVE dropped seatstays out of the box for added comfort.

How does it compare to other Trail SE versions?

Trail SE 2

  • Premium SmartForm C2 Alloy frame / RockShox 35 Silver R 120mm 120mm fork
  • SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain / Shimano MT400 hydro disc brakes
  • Integrated connectivity with Cannondale App / dropper seatpost

Trail SE 3

  • Premium SmartForm C2 Alloy frame / RockShox Judy Silver TK 120mm fork
  • Shimano Deore 11-speed shifting / Shimano MT200 hydro disc brakes
  • TranzX dropper seatpost

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Trail SE 4

  • Premium SmartForm C2 Alloy frame / SR Suntour CXR 120mm fork
  • Shimano Deore 10-speed shifting / Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes
  • Dropper post compatible

Cannondale Trail SE 3


Cannondale Trail SE 4


Cannondale Trail SE 5

£549  View All Cannondale Trail Range

Giant Talon 1

The lightweight ALUXX aluminium frame on the Giant Talon 1 is a lightweight hardtail mountain frame, with an geometry design intended to be comfortable mile after mile on singletrack, cross country and light trail riding. Perfect for the aspiring mountain biker and weekend warrior.

The ALUXX aluminium frameset is hand-built in-house by the world leader in aluminium engineering, and the frame geometry is designed to optimise the liveliness of 29-inch wheels.

XC Control – The suspension fork offers either 80mm or 100mm of smooth travel for added XC control. Please note that some models may either come with a Rockshox or Giant SXC32-2 fork, please check before ordering.

How does it compare to other Talon versions?

Talon 1

  • 11 Gears
  • RockShox Judy TK or Giant SXC32-2 R Forks
  • Shimano Deore rear derailleur
  • Tektro HDC hydraulic brakes
  • Kenda Booster 29 inch tyres

Talon 2

  • 18 Gears
  • SR Suntour XCM30, QR, steel steerer Forks
  • Shimano Altus M2020 rear derailleur
  • Tecktro HDC hydraulic brakes
  • Fast and stable 27.5 inch wheels

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Talon 3

  • 16 Gears
  • SR Suntour XCE, QR, steel steerer Forks
  • Shimano Altus M310 Rear Derailleur
  • Tektro HDC hydraulic brakes
  • Kenda Booster 29 inch tyres

Giant Talon 1 27.5 Black


Giant Talon 1 29er Black


Giant Talon 1 29er Black


Giant Talon 1 29er Giant Hubs

£728  Giant Talon Full Range

Whyte 605

Featuring a broad 760mm bar, a short stem, and a larger top tube, this bike is well-suited for all-around riding while yet offering a high degree of control.

The 605 is Whyte’s entry-level mountain bike, but you wouldn’t know it from its carefully selected branded components and thoughtfully crafted frame. It bears all the distinguishing characteristics of Whyte’s award-winning DNA.

This new frame is loaded with UK design elements, such the Get A Grip seat post clamp system, which enables rapid adjustments and excellent weather resistance.

How does it compare to other Whyte 600 models?

Whyte 605

  • 9 Gears
  • Lightweight 6061 T6 HydroFormed Aluminium Frame
  • RockShox Judy w/Adjustable Rebound & Turn Key Lockout forks
  • Tektro M-275 Hydraulic Disc Brakes
  • Shimano Deore 1×10 Speed Drivetrain

Whyte 604

  • 18 Gears
  • 6061 Alloy, Hydro Formed T6 Aluminium Frame
  • SR Suntour 120mm Fork
  • MAXXIS Forekaster Tyres

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Whyte 603

  • 10 Gears
  • 6061 Alloy, Hydro Formed T6 Aluminium
  • RockShox Judy TK Forks
  • AXXIS Recon Race 27.5″ x 2.25″ Rear Wire Bead Tyres

Whyte 605 Hardtail

£950 Whyte MTB Range

Marin MTB


See – not so hard after all right? Sure, there’s a bunch of key differences between models – groupsets, wheelsets, dropper post compatibility, tubeless etc. What’s really important is deciding what bits are worth spending on and to be honest, bike parts are a minefield.

Work out whether you’re better buying an MTB with better shocks than gearset or just bite the bullet and start planning your future upgrades!

We have ever-changing stock here and mountain bikes are continually evolving, so whats hot right now might not be around next year. Our advice? Spend what you can afford and go for the better specs as they’ll last you longer before your next upgrade!View All Mountain Bikes Under £1000

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We’re proud of our heritage, expert knowledge and our team have a genuine passion for cycling. For no-hassle, expert advice on your next bike, upgrades or any of our products, we’re only too happy to help. There are four ways you can get in touch. Call, Email, Live Chat or in person at one of our many stores.All Hardtail MTBsAll Full Suspension MTBsGuide to Full Suspension MTBsGuide to Hardtail MTBs

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