3 Full Suspension Trail Bikes Under £1500, Tested & Reviewed

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Just how much do you need to spend on a decent mountain bike these days? £500? £1000? £3000? What about one with rear suspension as well as front suspension?

It’s true that the ceiling for bike pricing has gotten higher and higher over the past decade. The advent of carbon fibre components (such as the rims used for high-end mountain bike wheels), top-end 11-speed and 12-speed groupsets, and the increase in highly advanced forks and rear shocks has lifted the prices folks are now paying for the absolute crème de la crème. Factor in the latest high-tech carbon fibre framesets out there, and it’s now not that uncommon to find a brand’s halo bike costing over five figures.

It’d be easy to moan about these chi-chi models and their exorbitant price tags. But the flipside of this equation is that bikes through the mid-level and entry-level end of the price spectrum are getting very, very good. It’s now possible to get decent full suspension bikes for under £1500 – bikes with air-adjustable suspension and hydraulic disc brakes that actually work.

To see what’s available in this price bracket, we’ve arranged three sub-£1500 full suspension trail bikes for you to check out. Antony has tested and reviewed each of these bikes over the past twelve months, and as you’ll be able to read in each review (follow the links provided to read them in full), he’s been thoroughly impressed for what your cashola can get you these days.

boardman fs alloy cheap
The Boardman Pro FS is a 130mm travel trail bike built with 27.5in wheels.

Boardman Pro FS 27.5 Specifications

  • Frame // Triple Butted & Hydroformed X9 Alloy Tubing, 130mm Travel
  • Fork // RockShox Pike RC, 140mm Travel
  • Shock // RockShox Monarch RT
  • Wheels // Mavic XM319, Alloy Disc Hubs, 100x15mm Front & 142x12mm Rear
  • Tyres // Continental Trail King, Folding Bead, 2.2in Front & Rear
  • Drivetrain // SRAM GX 1×11
  • Brakes // SRAM Guide R, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Bars // Boardman Alloy, 740mm Wide, 25mm Rise
  • Stem // Boardman Alloy, 55mm Length
  • Seatpost // Boardman Alloy, 31.6mm Diameter
  • Sizes // Small, Medium, Large
  • Actual weight // 13.22kg (29.1 lbs)
  • RRP // £1499
boardman pro 27.5 fs
Sleek alloy frame with a snazzy metallic blue paint job.
boardman pike
A RockShox Pike? On a £1499 full suspension bike??

The snazzy metallic blue frame is a veritable bird of paradise compared to the workmanlike black or silver finishes of Boardmans of yore. A colour-matched Prologo saddle is a nice touch. The seatpost is also colour matched, causing me to wince when it started to scratch up. Of course, raising and lowering your seatpost by hand is generally considered to be a mug’s game these days, and it’s pleasing to note that the frame has been future-proofed with a spare cable guide and routing port for a dropper upgrade“…read the full review here.

The Calibre Bossnut has been stirring many feathers with its nu-skool geometry and robust build.

Calibre Bossnut V2 Specifications

  • Frame // 6061 Hydroformed Alloy Tubing, 130mm Travel
  • Fork // RockShox Sektor Silver, 130mm Travel
  • Shock // RockShox Monarch R
  • Wheels // WTB ST i25, Tubeless Compatible, 100x15mm Front & 142x12mm Rear
  • Tyres // WTB Vigilante, Folding Bead, 2.3in Front & Bee Line 2.2in Rear
  • Drivetrain // Shimano Deore 2×10
  • Brakes // Shimano M506, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Bars // Ritchey MTN Trail, 760mm Wide, 20mm Rise
  • Stem // Calibre Trail, 45mm Length
  • Seatpost // Boardman Alloy, 31.6mm Diameter
  • Sizes // Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Actual weight // 14.5 kg (31.9 lbs)
  • RRP // £999 (with a £5 Go Outdoors membership)
Calibre Bikes comes from the Go Outdoors stable, and thanks to that buying power, it’s been able to create a killer package for the monies.
Tidy rocker-driven suspension linkage delivers 130mm of rear travel.

It’s also incredibly forgiving for novice riders. The stock riding position is fairly high and upright, giving an instant feeling of control. The bottom bracket clearance, combined with the 170mm cranks, makes it much harder to catch a pedal on a root or rock. And the unfashionable choice of a 2×10 drivetrain makes perfect sense for this bike’s target market, and means that it should last longer than a 1x setup, as well as being cheap to replace the chainrings when they wear out. I’d also forgotten the lovely feeling of attacking a climb for a long as possible, then clicking down and spinning the rest of the way. I reckon grannies are due a comeback“…read the full review here.

norco fluid
The Norco Fluid is a proven platform, but the 7.3 is a new spec for this season, and it’s specific to the UK.

Norco Fluid 7.3 FS Specifications

  • Frame // Hydroformed Alloy Tubing, 120mm Travel
  • Fork // Rockshox Recon Silver RL Solo Air, 120mm Travel
  • Shock // RockShox Monarch R
  • Wheels // WTB ST i23, Tubeless Compatible, Joytech Hubs, 100x15mm Front & 135x9mm Rear
  • Tyres // WTB Vigilante, Folding Bead, 2.3in Front & Bee Line 2.2in Rear
  • Drivetrain // Shimano Deore 1×10
  • Brakes // Tektro Hydraulic, 180mm Front & 160mm Rear Rotors
  • Bars // Norco 6061 DB Alloy, 760mm Width, 25mm Rise
  • Stem // Alloy MTB 4-Bolt 60mm  (75mm on XL)
  • Seatpost // Norco 6061 Alloy Double Bolt 30.9 x 350mm
  • Sizes // X-Small, Small Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Actual weight // 13.7 kg (30.2 lbs)
  • RRP // £1099
norco fluid rockshox
A solid alloy frame is the same as what you’ll find on higher-end Fluid models.
norco fluid antony
Air-adjustable RockShox suspension front and rear.

“Here we have the Norco Fluid 7.3 FS – certainly not the cheapest bike ever to pass through the doors of Singletrack, and probably not the cheapest full susser, but still a good way below the price point at which most of my riding buddies would consider “decent” bikes reside. It’s a UK-only exclusive, born of a pact between Norco and Evans Cycles to make their budget full suspension bikes even more so. Although it doesn’t quite sneak below the Cyclescheme threshold (which would just be cheeky), it’s about as cheap as bikes in its category can get without cutting some serious corners”…read the full review here.

So, what do you think of these three sub-£1500 trail bikes? Do any of them float your boat? Or is there a full suspension bike from another brand that gets your vote? Let us know in the comments section below!

Comments (5)

    There’s no really a comparison or comment on these 3 bikes vs each other.

    The Boardman whops the Alex of the other 2 bikes here – and with various discounts has been available at times for around £1300.

    That’s with a Pike vs the sektor and recon on the other 2 bikes. And with 1×11 GX vs 2×10 and 1×10 Deore. And guide r brakes vs not ‘really deore’ and Tektro hydraulic brakes.

    The Boardman has proper 4 bar swuish too and sensible geometry for the type of rider it’s aimed at.

    So the norco seems to be a distant 3rd with the Bossnut 2nd and the Boardman well out front.

    Boardman spec “Drivetrain // SRAM GX Eagle 1×11″….Eagle??? Be more thorough. I suspect that the word Eagle doesn’t belong there.

    @steel4real – now THAT would be good value!

    It’s not really news though, as you could get perfectly capable full sus bikes for £1500 10 years ago. I know because I’m still riding one. I appreciate that geometry, wheel sizes and standards have changed, but what this test shows me is that there’s been a push to raise the ceiling price on bikes, without relative improvements further down the range.

    Couple of points Keith. Only one of these bikes is £1500 – the other two are nearer a grand. I know some people think geometry is princess and the pea stuff, but for me it makes a real difference to the way a bike rides. And you didn’t used to get tubeless-ready wheels or 1×10 on bikes at this price point.

    If you’re happy riding your 10 year old bike, good for you, but I do think things have moved on.

    – Antony

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