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Best women’s mountain bikes under $1,000: Budget bikes to get you started on the trails

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Best women’s mountain bikes under $1000
(Image credit: Liv)

The best women’s mountain bikes under $1,000 can offer a budget-friendly way into mountain biking for those not wanting to lay down a lot of cash when they're new to the sport. And what a sport it is!

Mountain biking is just a whole lot of fun. After all, what could be better than getting outdoors, into the forests, parks, trails and countryside, exploring your local area, riding with friends or family, moving your body and learning new skills? And best of all, you don’t need to break the bank to get started. The best entry-level women's mountain bikes are prime examples of this notion, offering an exceptional blend of performance, value for money, comfort and fun. 

To help you find the right one for you, here's a selection of the best women’s mountain bikes under $1,000 that we’ve cast our expert eye over, or, if you're looking at spending a bit less, our guide to the best women’s mountain bikes under £500 might be worth a gander.

At a sub-1K price point, hardtail mountain bikes are the best type to go for. These have suspension forks at the front and a rigid back end - hence the ‘hard tail’ description. They’re efficient at climbing with enough forgiveness in those forks to make riding more challenging, and fun terrain something you’ll relish. 

Modern hardtails are designed with geometry that makes them as fun as their full-suspension counterparts, and they’re absolutely brilliant for learning skills on. If you learn to ride a hardtail well, you’ll be more than ready if or when you decide to upgrade to a full-suspension mountain bike. 

Keep reading for our pick of the best women’s mountain bikes under $1,000, so you can get out there and get riding. Unsure what to look for? Skip to the bottom to find out what to look for in the best budget women’s mountain bikes.

Best women’s mountain bikes under $1,000

Liv Tempt 1

(Image credit: Liv)

Liv Tempt 1

A capable, fun women’s specific hardtail mountain bike that’s trail ready

Sizes: XS, S, M, L
Colors: Rosewood
Frame: Aluminum
Wheels/tires: Giant 27.5 or 29 wheels with Maxxis Rekon 27.5 or 29x2.4 tires
Front suspension: Giant SXC32-2 RL 27.5 or 29, 80mm or 100mm, air spring, QR, alloy steerer, rebound adjust
Groupset: Shimano Deore
Weight: Unpublished
Price: $920 / £729 / €839
Reasons to buy
+Women’s specific frame geometry+Hydraulic disc brakes+Reliable 1x10 Shimano Deore groupset
Reasons to avoid
-Low availability

Liv is a mountain bike brand that only makes bikes for women. Its team of women engineers and designers bases its bike frame geometry and component choice on data from women riders to ensure a great fit and performance. 

The Tempt is based around a great quality aluminum frame with a low standover, making hopping on and off easy work. Front suspension smooths out the rough and gives great grip, and the tires offer a great blend of grip in damper conditions with fast-rolling speed in the dry. 

Liv has chosen to give these bikes size-specific wheels, so the XS and S come with 27.5-inch wheels, the L with 29-inch wheels, and those fortunate to ride a medium bike get to choose between both wheel sizes. 

Women’s specific finishing kit such as saddle and narrow grips complete the bike. 

Trek Marlin 6

(Image credit: Trek)

Trek Marlin 6 Women

A great value-for-money women’s trail bike for exploring parks and forests

Sizes: XS, S, M, M/L
Colors: Miami green/royal, matte mulberry
Frame: Aluminum
Wheels/tires: Bontrager Connection rims with Formula Hubs, Bontrager XR2 Comp tires, 27.5x2.20 on XS and S, 29x2.2 on M and M/L
Front suspension: SR Suntour XCT 30 100mm (80mm on XS)
Groupset: Shimano Altus with Shimano Tektro hydraulic disc brakes
Weight: M - 14.37 kg / 31.67 lbs
Price: $699.99 / £600 / €669
Reasons to buy
+Short reach levers on the XS and S size are great for smaller hands+Low standover
Reasons to avoid
-Limited availability

A great quality alloy frame with a low standover is paired with capable Suntour forks and reliable Shimano gearing to form a capable package that’s perfect for exploring.   

The Trek Marlin 6 is a great value-for-money hardtail mountain bike with hydraulic disc brakes that offer plenty of control and stopping power in the wet and a 2x8 drivetrain that gives enough gear range to spin up steep climbs. 

A women’s specific Bontrager Ajna saddle - one of the comfiest we’ve tested - provides a great perch from which to expand your riding skills and your horizons. 

Specialized Rockhopper Comp

(Image credit: Specialized )

Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29 and 27.5

A hardtail with exceptional handling characteristics and geometry

Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Colors: Gloss oasis/tarmac black, gloss clay/satin cast blue metallic, gloss metallic white silver/satin black, satin smoke/satin black
Frame: Aluminum
Wheels/tires: Stout alloy rims with Shimano hubs, 29/27.5x2.3
Front suspension: SR Suntour XCM 29
Groupset: microSHIFT Advent gearing with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes
Weight: Unpublished
Price: $850 / £675 / €749
Reasons to buy
+Great size range+27.5 and 29 wheel options+1x9 groupset
Reasons to avoid
-Limited availability-Unisex saddle

The Rockhopper Comp is a hardtail that’s built for pushing your limits. Yes, it’s going to be fun and efficient for riding around parks, trails and forests roads, but if you want to start to push your skills, the Rockhopper will be a willing partner in crime. 

Based around an alloy frame, it features a 1x9 microSHIFT Advent groupset with powerful Shimano hydraulic brakes which offer plenty of confidence and control. Grippy Ground Control tires offer a nice blend of off-road grip and fast-rolling speed. 

Specialized only makes unisex bikes, so on the upside, this means the Rockhopper is available in a wide range of sizes, but on the downside, it means unisex contact points like the all-important saddle which might affect some rider's comfort - though of course it can be easily swapped out.

Canyon Stoic 2

(Image credit: Canyon )

Canyon Stoic 2

A budget-breaking hardtail that’s worth a few extra dollars

Sizes: 2XS, XS, S, M, L, XL
Colors: Avalanche white
Frame: Aluminum
Wheels/tires: Alex Rims DP30 with Shimano MT400 hubs, 29x2.35
Front suspension: SR Suntour XCR 34 29-inch AIR Boost
Groupset: Shimano Deore
Weight: Unpublished
Price: $1,199 / £949 / €899
Reasons to buy
+Pricier than others in the test… but worth it+Brilliantly grippy off-road tires+140mm travel fork+Capable, modern, fun trail-bike geometry
Reasons to avoid
-Bars may be too wide for smaller riders

Yes, hands up, this is a bit over our $1K budget - but if you can stretch to some extra dollars, the Canyon Stoic is totally worth it. This is a very capable, fun hardtail trail bike that’ll help you take your riding to the next level. 

The 140mm Suntour forks combined with a slack, long geometry mean that it feels confident and at-home on steeper or more technical terrain, and by extension you will too. It’s efficient at climbing, and venture into the pump track with it for a real full-body workout that will boost your riding skills to the next level. 

Impressively powerful hydraulic disc brakes combined with Schwalbe Magic Mary and Hans Dampf tires - both of which are unusual at this price point - offer unparalleled traction and control off-road. Shimano Deore gearing is reliable and efficient.

Cannondale Trail Women’s 5

(Image credit: Cannondale )

Cannondale Trail Women’s 5

A brilliant bike for exploring, adventuring and generally getting out mountain biking

Sizes: XS, S, M, L
Colors: Lavender
Frame: Aluminum
Wheels/tires: WTB SX19 rims with Shimano hubs, WTB Ranger Comp, 29x2.25" (27.5x2.25" - XS, SM)
Front suspension: SR Suntour XCM, 100mm
Groupset: microSHIFT Advent X with Shimano Tektro hydraulic disc brakes
Weight: Unpublished
Price: $950 / £675 / €899
Reasons to buy
+Tektro hydraulic disc brakes+Low-maintenance 1x gearing and external cable routing+Low frame standover
Reasons to avoid
-Not great tire grip in the wet

The Cannondale Trail Women’s 5 blends comfort and capability. Built around an aluminum frame with easy-maintenance external cable routing and 100mm forks, it’s ideal for exploring your local parks, paths, forests and easy trails. 

A curved or dropped top tube gives a nice low standover which makes mounting and dismounting easy. We also rather like the nearly-raw metal finish with a subtle wash of purple. 

Suntour forks offer ground-smoothing suspension and grip while the WTB Ranger Comp tires are great for hard-packed surfaces, gravel and dry dirt, but would struggle a bit in the wet. 

MicroSHIFT 1x gearing offers a good range for conquering climbs or just spinning along, while the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes provide plenty of stopping power.

What to look for in the best women's mountain bikes under $1,000

There are plenty of great quality bikes to be found at this price point, but there are also a few things worth bearing in mind to make sure you get the best bike you can for your money. 

1. Mountain bike type

It’s best to stick to a hardtail mountain bike if you’re looking at the sub-1K price point. Mountain bike suspension involves complicated engineering, and while you can find cheap dual-suspension options, the chances are they won’t be very good and you may find they are heavy and suck the fun out of your ride rather than adding to it. A well-designed quality hardtail with front suspension forks will be fun, efficient, require much less maintenance, and will help you develop some great bike handling skills so if and when you decide to upgrade to a full-suss, you will be ripping in no time. 

2. Suspension

The best mountain bike forks are also important. At this price band, expect to see SR Suntour; they're great entry-level forks that will help give you a smooth ride and enhance front wheel grip. Some come with features like a lock-out so you can stiffen them up to make them more efficient on climbs; just remember to unlock them when you get to the top of the climb before you descend! There are other good ones; Giant and Liv bicycles, for example, tend to run their own Giant forks, and while it’s unlikely you might just find some quality Fox or RockShox forks on a build out there. 

3. Gearing

If you look at the bikes featured above, you’ll notice that most of them only have one cog, or chainring, at the front. In the past, bikes at this price point would often have two or even three chainrings which provided a wide range of sizes, but don’t worry - only having one chainring isn’t anything to be worried about and in fact has a lot of positives. 

Firstly, you’ll still have plenty of gears because the set of cogs at the back, or the cassette, is much bigger than it used to be, so while there’s a smaller number of gears, you still have pretty much the same range; enough gears to get some thrilling speed up on flat sections and descents, but also low enough gears so you’ll be able to get up hills. Secondly, only having one chainring means less fiddly gear shifting as you only need to worry about the back gears. Thirdly, because you don’t need to shift on the front, the shifter that did that isn’t needed, so that means less maintenance and less weight. And fourth and finally, it means you’re a lot less likely to drop a chain. So all in all, it’s a positive. 

4. Brakes

And once you get going, you want to know you’ve got reliable brakes for stopping, so look out for hydraulic disc brakes which are much more powerful, especially in wet and muddy conditions. 

Aoife Glass

Aoife loves a bike-based adventure, whether it’s out in the mountains on her MTB or exploring new places by road or gravel. She’s tested a LOT of bikes and kit, and is passionate about making cycling accessible for everyone. After all, it’s much more fun with friends, right?

Bikes currently owned: Juliana Maverick, Liv Devote