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Benji and Rhys look at the world of £2k full suspension bikes. Can a good ride be had at this price?
These days, if you want a genuine budget-minded full suspension mountain bike there’s little point in looking in a ‘proper’ LBS (Local Bike Shop). Bike brands have seemingly given up on the whole idea of affordable entry level full sussers. When looking for double boing bikes for around £2,000 you’re looking at shops that either don’t exist (i.e. mail order) or you’re looking at warehouses in retail parks.
Neither of which are anything like the sort of experience (in every sense of the word) you get at an LBS. Who knows? You might strike it lucky and find yourself walking into a chain store during the shift time of a helpful and knowledgeable staff member. You may not. Similarly, your boxed-up bike may arrive just fine, safe and sound, and never have any issues during the warranty period. Or it may not play out like that. These are the risks you take and the compromises you need to make, in order to hit that £2k price point.
So here we are. A test of three full suspension bikes from three such places. A 145mm travel 29er Boardman MTR 8.9 from Halfords, a 120mm 29er Jamis Faultline A2 from Go Outdoors (a retailer that previously ruled the budget bounce scene with its iconic £1k Calibre Bossnut) and a 140mm travel Vitus Mythique VRX 27 with 27.5in wheels, available from Chain Reaction and Wiggle.
Often the verdict section is where we say things like ‘ooh… you’ve never had it so good ‘and ‘it’s amazing what you can get for your money these days’. But we’re not going to say those things this time.
Maybe it’s because we remember how things were a few years ago. Back then you could get an excellent, relatively uncompromised, full suspension mountain bike for not much more than a thousand pounds. None of the three bikes we’ve tested here have wowed us with value for money.
Yes, despite us being lavished with lah-di-dah mountain bikes to try week-in week-out, we still don’t think mountain bikes should cost seven grand or whatever. To us, it feels like you should be able to get a brilliant bike for £3k. And you probably can. We’ll no doubt be investigating such a price bracket at some point this year. But hey, this is not that test. This is the ‘£2k-ish’ test.
In many ways, despite it objectively being the worst handling bike here, the fact that the Jamis Faultline A2 can be had for £1,200 (which is Go Outdoors Members’ Card sale price at the time of writing this review) does mean it is probably the best value for money bike here. Sure, it’s not as good a bike as the Boardman or the Vitus but… it’s almost a grand less than the Vitus. That has to count for something, right? That said, we can’t help thinking that your money would be better spent on a hardtail with better geometry, or even taking a gamble in the second-hand scene.
The Boardman MTR 8.9 was by far the better ‘chain store bike’. Its aesthetic may be dated. Its geometry is not quite modern. But it works. Every time we rode it we were pleased to be there. It managed everything we asked of it and was very easy to set up and live with.
So then, are we going to give the win to the Vitus Mythique or the Boardman MTR? We could go all Top Gear and try to manufacture a photo-finish close-call drama-thon finale. But we won’t. The Vitus was miles better. Despite some lacklustre brakes and par-for-the-course meh Maxxis, the frame geometry and the suspension units are all fine for life. Tyres wear out. Brakes are a rotor-and-pad upgrade away from full potential. The Mythique is very much a bike that you can live with for a number of years.
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|Brand:||Boardman, Jamis, Vitus|
|Product:||MTR 8, Faultline, Mythique VRX|
|Tested:||by Benji and Rhys for Singletrack World Magazine Issue 147|
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