The batch of bikes we assembled for this year's Value Bike Field Test ended up being some of the best performing options we've ever had in this category. Modern geometry plays a big role here, along with the trickle down effect of better brakes and suspension showing up at lower price points.
Of course, each bike has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, so we sat down to discuss the highs and lows of this quintet of bikes under $3,500 USD.
When it comes to the best climbing bike, the bike we'd chose for longer days of pedaling, the Vitus Mythique Amp was the unanimous choice thanks to its balance geometry and reasonable weight. The GT Sensor was the most efficient feeling bike, although that did come at the price of some traction.
For riders looking for maximum climbing grip, the Marin Rift Zone and the Specialized Status each receive a nod, although the Status' geometry isn't really ideal for technical climbing – it can be a challenge to handle at times.
For pure downhill performance, the Specialized Status was our pick, with the Marin Rift Zone nipping at its heels. The Rift Zone is the more versatile option, but for riders who prefer steeper trails over everything else the Status is the way to go.
As far as the best value goes, the Specialized Status was the standout at its sale price of $2,250, and it's still a good value at its full $3,000 retail price. The Vitus Mythique is another very well spec'd option for its $2,599 asking price. And don’t forget about the YT Capra Core 1, which is currently on sale for only $1,999. Sizes are limited, but that’s a great deal if a rider’s size is in stock.
Watch the full video for additional insight into our picks, our timed testing results, and what changes we'd make if we had 500 more dollars in our budget to upgrade one of these bikes.