There's never been a better time to get into mountain biking. Prices have dropped post-pandemic, and there are lots of deals to be had with a minimal amount of hunting around. Granted, it's not all sunshine and rainbows for companies that are sitting on large stockpiles of inventory, but that's a topic for a different time.
For riders, whether you're a newcomer or a seasoned vet looking to save some cash, in many cases the bikes that used to be considered entry-level are more capable than ever. Modern geometry plays a large role in this, as do improvements in suspension, drivetrain, and brake technology.
For this year's Value Field Test we brought in five bikes, all with retail prices below $3,500 USD. Bike prices jumped up dramatically over the last few years, but things seem to be starting to return to semi-normal, and many cases the sale prices of bikes like the YT Capra or Specialized Status make them a screaming deal.
Along with those two bikes, which have 170 and 160mm of travel respectively, we also brought in the GT Sensor Comp, Vitus Mythique, and Marin Rift Zone. Those bikes fall into the trail bike category, with 130mm of rear travel for the GT, and 140mm for the Vitus and Marin.
Why mix categories? Well, these days plenty of riders are riding enduro bikes as trail bikes, and vice versa. The goal was to bring in a good cross-section of what's available at this pricepoint to highlight their strengths and weaknesses, and to determine who the ideal candidate for a specific model would be.
Testing took place in Bellingham, Washington, and Squamish, BC. The bikes were ridden on a mix of trails that were well suited to their intended use, a healthy mix of flowy singletrack climbs and descents, jumps, and berms, plus steeper, chunkier terrain that was ideal for sussing out any potential frame or component limitations.
6'3" / 191cmWeight:
175 lbs / 79.4 kgNotes:
Tech editor, the king of customization.
5'11" / 180cmWeight:
160 lbs / 72.6 kgNotes:
Managing tech editor, serial cereal eater
5'10" / 178 cmWeight:
170 lb / 77 kgNotes:
Tech editor, fast... and late
We'll have Value Field Test articles and videos rolling out all week, and then we'll wrap it up with a roundtable where we debate the pros and cons of all the bikes in this round of testing.