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Full-suspension mountain bikes are the ultimate machines that biking enthusiasts revel in.
The foremost distinguishing feature of an FS bike is the suspension at both axles – both the front and rear wheels.
For the most part, biking parlance going around attributes it as “front suspension” and “rear shock”. But both these things perform the same innate function – cushioning bumps on the riding surface and making the ride smooth for the rider.
You can judge how good the suspension fork is by the amount of vibration – a shudder you feel as you ride over a pothole or loose rocks – that get conveyed to your body.
As you gain on smoothness, you do have points of concern. You sacrifice lightness of the ride because FS MTBs are quite heavy. A good bikemaker would design a light FS bike but would charge you more for it. If you can meet the cost, you have great racing potential downhill.
Get ready to discover 7 best full suspension mountain bikes under 1000
Aluminum is famous for making bikes durable but light. Savadeck uses a special alloy of aluminum that keeps the frame strong without the cumbersome weight that reviews warn you about. Savadeck makes the handlebars, seat post, and stem out of the same alloy material. The hydraulic suspension makes all the difference when you have a bumpy climb or need to race downhill. Bring that to the black paint with orange accents of the Patton and Savadeck creates a winner for the mountain-side.
Yes, Savadeck Patton weighs only 30 pounds, far less than even some of the hardtail bikes you’d see. This weight with two suspension forks, the front of which offers a travel of 100 mm, is a sure bargain in terms of weight.
The Shimano derailleur system used in this version of Savadeck, the Patton, is M2000, one of the best. The set comprises a front derailleur, a rear derailleur, and shifters. It is a powerful set of controls – light in weight, smooth in operation, and crisp in their effectiveness. To this, add the advantage of hydraulic disc brakes that engage in a second. They offer convenience and control while adding only a little weight to the frame.
The thick, knobby mountain tires and the hard but cushioned bicycle seat promote focused riding on tough terrain. 27.5-inch wheel rims nestle within and offer a tough, supple backbone to each turn of the wheel. From the word go, the Patton means business. It emerges almost assembled from the packaging. You only have to snap on the accessories and put the saddle, handlebars, and pedals into place.
- Super-smooth suspension
- Effective hydraulic disc braking
- Light body
- No cons
Verdict: Totally ready for use if you just inflate the tires. You also have a freewheeling option. The Shimano assembly is particularly precious for speeding downhill. Accessories include tools for assembly and tuning, and the instructions are included in the box. The ease of use and excellent braking system make it suitable for all seasons and types of terrain.
Schwinn’s mastery over making a muscular, jaunty, measured mountain bike that hits all the right notes for men is obvious in this S-29. The black bike comes in only two variants of color – glossy black with red accents or matte black with blue accents and lettering.
The aluminum frame speaks volumes about the strength that lies at the core of this bike. It supports a wide range of rider heights within a choice of frame sizes. Ever since it entered the market, the S-29 was dubbed the best entry-level FS bike as it was both affordable and good-looking. For this price point, it offers Shimano’s much-admired EZ-Fire Shifters. The gear system and derailleurs are also from Shimano. As with other FS bikes, the freewheeling option is available on S-29 as well.
The 2.1-inch tires wrapped over 29-inch rims are the best in the business of conquering light trails and rubble-ridden mountain paths. Double-walled rims are heavy-duty and the three-piece crankset remains lightweight because of the proprietary alloy Schwinn uses in its making. Seasoned users who have tried assembling this bike in their garages and then set out with it to beat trails in different conditions reiterate their praise for the smoothness in shifting.
Mechanical disc brakes clamp on to both wheels as you need. The no-nonsense 7-speed freewheel and 21-speed derailleur options are easy to switch between.
- Plenty of gearing options
- Simple assembly
- Lifetime warranty on frame and fork
- The suspension is for only light trails
- You cannot switch Freewheeling ON while riding
Verdict: All told, it’s a beginner’s mountain bike. It introduces you to a bevy of options and the wide range of gears let you get a feel of different terrains. At 51 pounds, you find that it’s rather heavyset and muscular.
It’s pretty cool that Schwinn offers dual suspension at the price point that it does. There are two variants – Protocol 1.0 and the Protocol 2.7. This review covers Schwinn Protocol 1.0 which delivers on decent budget brackets and weight which is reined in at 40 pounds.
We would recommend this for anyone who wants to get started on mountain biking right off the bat. The tuning and assembly you need to put in is rather low – you only need to tuck into the seat, handlebars, and front wheel into position.
The drivetrain is powered by Shimano – a 24-speed set with EZ-Fire shifters. Another Shimano derailleur at the back keeps the rider spoilt for choice in riding speeds and pedaling efficiency. Just when you think the bike is running away with you, rein it in using disc brakes from Promax. They respond within the second. The smooth and crisp shifting is handy on trails where terrain switches from smooth to trying in a single turn.
At first sight, you’ll see that the tires are thick and ribbed like any other MTB’s. But a closer look will tell you that they’re not made by a known, reputed maker. These tires are one of the reasons the price of the bike is low (check out mountain bikes under 200). But it shows that there is little to recommend these tires – they are rather heavy and the ribs on them erode faster than other standard-issue MTB tires.
Some care during assembly is required to adjust the axles, fenders, and brakes. A kickstand comes in the box. After installation is complete, it is smooth sailing but for the hard saddle.
- Decent suspension at the given price point
- Alloy rims keep it standing up well
- The crank made of alloy is maintenance-free
- Some non-standard parts used
- Weighs 45 pounds – on the heavier side
Verdict: An entry-level FS bike with plenty of gears. You can scale hill and dale without hurting your back. A gel cover for the seat might be in order.
Gravity 2.0 is a good-looking black bike with forest-green accents and wheel rims. You’d immediately notice the wide, flat handlebars. They come in aluminum alloy just like the rest of the bike’s frame. Aluminum’s tensile strength and light properties work well to keep the bike’s weight in the box at 35 pounds. After assembly, it comes down much lower.
Gravity FSX 2.0 is equipped with 24-speed set with EZ-Fire shifters and Shimano front and rear derailleurs. They power 26-inch tires with double-walled alloy rims inside. This allows the bike to stand up really well and gives an overall choice of sizes ranging from Small to X-large. To select the size that is best for you, measure your inseam length and compare it against the standover height of the bike.
Even the front suspension and rear shocks are adjustable and afford a long travel for added padding on rough roads. Suntour’s suspension forks have earned fulsome praise from long-standing riders and mountain-biking enthusiasts.
This is a bike assembled in China and shipped internationally. It follows the universal code of easy assembly – anyone who has a basic idea about how to put a bike together will be able to do so in under half-an-hour. One doesn’t really miss the instructions. Pretty much all the accessories just snap into place. Gravity has quick-release on both the front and rear wheels. The brakes and gear systems are already well-adjusted. For any queries, Gravity’s customer service is quick to pitch in with suggestions and trouble-shooting.
On the downside, you might need to scout about quite a few accessories to find a suitable kickstand. It is not included in the box.
- Tektro disc brakes do their job well
- Suspension and shock are in working order as claimed
- Good-looking matte-black
- Finding a suitable kickstand is a niggle
Verdict: For the given price point, it is a worthy bike that’s good for many miles. The suspension forks do their job well in keeping the momentum of the bike forward and not upward to the rider when rocks or roots make an impact with the tires.
Everything in moderation is sometimes the ticket to an enjoyable experience – even on mountain slopes. Titan Pathfinder’s 21-speed has all the makings of a mountain bike that’ll make the average rider of occasional trips through the trails quite happy. It makes for tolerable racing capacities because of its Shimano gear system. It has double-walled alloy rims that can tolerate sudden drops. It’s a discreet departure from the usual aluminum frame – the steel frame on this one makes it amenable to carrying riders of up to 275 pounds comfortably.
The suspension forks on both the front and rear axles ensure you don’t come to dead stops and lose momentum on the rugged mountain path. You keep control of the bike and retain balance as well as if you were on a pebbled street. To give you further control, there are the V-brakes that stop movement instantaneously.
The flat handlebars with adjustable height are one of the few things you need to append to the frame after you receive it. The 26-inch tires stay up thanks to the double-walled alloy rims that pack in strength into your ride, supporting the steel frame amply.
Users who are first hooked to the looks find plenty more by which to stay hooked. The white-black-and-green color scheme fits well into the mountain rushes and greenery. Frame warranty of 1 year keeps them assured of any manufacturing faults.
- Adjustable handlebars
- Durable wheel rims and tires allow commuter/mountain biking
- Heavy even for a mountain bike
- Not a pure mountain bike
Verdict: Upon shipping, the box declares the weight of the parts as 50 pounds, which is rather high. At 85% assembly, you need to put in some handiwork. Even after this, the weight doesn’t decrease much lower. If you don’t mind championing one of the heavier bikes, the durable steel frame will stand you in good stead.
26 inches is a good wheel size for a mountain bike. It’s unisex, gives just enough clearance, but doesn’t reduce the control you wield from your perch. This small wheel-size also keeps the weight of the tires down, which in turn keeps the weight of the bike low. You also have better control of the bike while it is stationary and in motion due to the smaller wheel.
Kent fits two suspension forks on the axles of this low-end mountain bike to give you a taste of dirt biking in a way hardtails don’t. For those of you who itch to get off the road and track onto real rutted paths and muddy inclines, Kent is the perfect beginner companion. A combination of disc braking in the front and linear pull brakes at the rear lets you make the most of their features. You reduce braking distance and keep your braking relevant despite wet roads and humidity in the weather conditions.
The aluminum frame with the uniquely-positioned shock-absorbers in bright blue accents is sure to attract beginner bikers. The front suspension fork affords a 65 mm travel – not too shabby – but not a lot of travel either.
Note the sturdy construction of the frame and the Shimano 21-speed shifters and rear derailleur. Again, these are entry-level parts that can be shoddy on either end of the gear spectrum. Users report clumsy shifting.
All told, the weight comes down to 40 pounds. The stand-out feature is a floating beam – connected to the suspension fork.
- Unique design with a floating beam
- The suspension is decent in action
- Easy to assemble
- Hard seat
- Small pedals
Verdict: The tires are not the best and though the suspension fork boasts of a travel, it quickly and often reaches a noisy, creaky point where you can tell it won’t give anymore. You would appreciate the Shimano gear system and the near-ready assembly at which it gets shipped. Of course, the price point is the biggest one in its favor.
The Northwoods FS mountain bike comes in 24-inch and 26-inch variants. Available in a snappy color combination of either grey and gray or gray and orange, this bike’s looks are all about accents and artwork that stand out against the earthy mountain hues.
The frame is made of Aluminum. The front suspension fork has the strength of steel and has a travel of 50mm which is quite basic. This is also among the few models in this price range that has twist shifters. The clean lines of the 3-piece crankset made of steel show up proudly on this simple yet performance-oriented machine.
The rear shock is a sight to behold. Shimano powers the rear derailleur and offers the rider extra options to enjoy this 21-speed bike. Despite the presence of two suspension forks, the bike weighs about 36 pounds – about average for an FS bike at this price range.
The brakes require adjustment right off the bat and more tuning from time to time. Once you put in the elbow grease, the brake system works well. However, fans of cool mountain biking will observe straightaway that Northwoods has used inferior materials in some places – as in the brake levers for instance. These materials contribute to the lightness, but in the big picture, they let the performance metrics of the bike down.
A serious would biker would also be less than impressed with the entry-level travel fork and front suspension, as aforementioned. Also, enthusiasts would be less than pleased to see that most parts of the derailleur are molded plastic.
- Brakes and gears offer a wide range
- Light aluminum frame
- Good-looking bike
- Plastic parts make construction fallible
- Not for advanced riders
Verdict: Suffice it to say it is a good bike for growing teenagers who wish to test serious mountain biking. Since it comes at a low price, it would allow a biker to get a feel of full-suspension. Advanced riders would find it inadequate.
Considerations for a Mountain Bike
Speed is not the highest priority on the list for the rider negotiating deep troughs, raised roots, and rutted paths.
This list of products tells you that merely springing for an FS bike or rejoicing that entry-level FS bikes boast of great specs is no free ticket to happy soft-tail bike hours. You still need to put in the research to ensure that you adjust your expectations – in keeping with the price you pay.
A bike maker would keep the design, frame geometry, gearing and braking systems, and the lightness of the bike as the top priority.
Then comes the consideration of giving it wheels that let it sprint along on different kinds of paths. Soft-tails mountain bikes are good for deep-rugged paths where you have to ride over raised roots, brambles, maybe even a stream that goes snaking by.
You need wide, ribbed tires. Wide, chunky tires grip on to the road or path even when there’s loose mud, leaves of autumn, maybe even snow and slush. The grip ensures the creation of enough friction so that the bike does not skid off from the path. This is true of sharp turns, sudden shifts in terrain, and many more challenges. The thrill of the mountain ride is in the variety of terrain you have to bypass.
This means you’ll use different speeds. Sometimes you come across a path of plane sailing where you want to accelerate and make speedy time over a predictable path. At other times, you dial down on the gear because you have a steep incline you need to scale up. You speedily shift to the smallest chainring. You also put in the least effort through your legs.
The highest or biggest gear is on the biggest chainring. It takes more pedaling effort for you to get the bike rolling in this gear. But once you get into this gear, it becomes easier to keep up.
As expected, the Savadeck Patton is a clear winner. It’s buttery suspension work and the lightness of the bike make it the most precious companion even on steep uphill climbs. With it’s braking the way it is, there is little to ask for.
Other options among Schwinn bikes let you experience choice and also offer excellent value for money.
Even as we pronounce the winners in this listing, we declare that each bike is better for a different type of riding requirement.
Yes, when you think of getting a full-suspension mountain bike on a budget, the Gravity FSX or Titan Pathfinder Elite gives you its own unique bouquet of benefits.