PINKBIKE FIELD TRIP
Four $2,000 (and under) bikes put to the test on Sedona's unforgiving trails
Words by Mike Levy, Photography by Anthony Smith
We took four trail bikes that all cost $2,000 or less and put them through the wringer on Sedona's rough and rocky singletrack. All of them held up to the abuse, and the bikes impressed us with (mostly) good handling and rear-suspension that's ready for anything you might encounter on your trail ride. Things weren't entirely perfect, of course, but our general takeaway is that no one should have trouble finding a capable trail bike in this price range. It's not a bad time to be on a budget, is it?
As impressive as the bikes are, we're not here to hand out participation medals. Mike Kazimer and I sat down with James Huang, a tech editor from CyclingTips, to chat about what we liked and didn't like, and to choose our favorites out of this category.
4 Trail Bikes Under $2,000 USD
While it's not entirely fair, it's also a no-brainer for me: I'd choose the Vee-tus all ride, every ride. But the $2,000 Mythique 29 VRX hits our price cap, and Vitus' direct-to-you sales mean they can out-spec some of their competition. It might not be new-school enough for some, but the geo is trail bike-appropriate as well, so yeah, of course it's my pick of the bunch. More surprising was how fun Bossnut was to ride, especially given that Sedona is a toothy, unforgiving place to spend two weeks aboard a $1,400, questionably named mail order bike from the UK. Aside from a few bolts rattling loose, the 'nut was a reminder to me that inexpensive doesn't mean less fun. I kinda already knew that, but things get a bit hazy when many of your rides are on ridiculously expensive, near-flawless dream machines.
Barring a few of those unavoidable cactus-jumping-in-front-of-me incidents, the Field Trip value bike experience was largely trouble-free. I came away thoroughly impressed with how capable most of the bikes were, and I also learned a few things
The Vitus Mythique gets my vote out of this quartet of value bikes. It's a very easy to handle machine, with a nimble feel that keeps it entertaining on trails that don't plunge straight down the fall line. It's not a watered down enduro bike; instead, it has a liveliness to it that's often missing on those longer travel sleds. In this case, the 140mm of front and rear travel feel perfectly matched to the its intentions, and that Marzocchi Z2 fork is especially deserving of a shout out. That fork punches well above its weight, and is one of the reasons we were so impressed by the Mythique's price vs performance ratio.
On the topic of price, the Mythique was the most expensive option in this $2,000 and under category, but what you get for all of those hard earned dollars is a bike that's well equipped right out of the box. The tires are trail worthy, the brakes feel better than what's on the other three bikes in this grouping, and even the wide handlebar / short stem combo leaves little to be desired.
My second place pick would be the Kona Honzo. The parts kit pales in comparison to what you'll find on the Vitus, and it obviously doesn't have rear suspension, but the Honzo's geometry makes it well suited to goofing off – a manual here, a little rear wheel drift there – and I'm all for bikes that encourage goofing off and having fun above everything else.
Third place? That goes to the Calibre Bossnut, the red bike with a funny name and good handling, as long as things don't get too crazy. The lack of a dropper post would be the first thing I'd change, and then I'd scrounge up some more funds for tubeless ready tires. After that, it'd be a great bike to test the waters of mountain biking with, a way for a rider to get their feet wet without going broke.
Photos: Anthony Smith
Additional footage: Lear Miller