WHY 2K? Full-suspension bikes under £2000 test

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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.

Verdict

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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Review Info

Brand: Boardman, Jamis, Vitus
Product: MTR 8, Faultline, Mythique VRX
From: See review
Price: See review
Tested: by Benji and Rhys for Singletrack World Magazine Issue 147

Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

More posts from Ben

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • WHY 2K? Full-suspension bikes under £2000 test
  • snotrag
    Full Member

    Good to see articles like this.

     

    Despite having owned many much fancier bikes both before and after, I still have fond memories of my Boardman Pro FS:

     

    Pro FS

     

    Which I do recall, with some sale pricing and clever use of BC membership discounts came in at around £900 brand new. It had a Pike, 4 pot brakes, and 1×11 GX with an XD compatible hub. It had a slot for an internal dropper cable too, so that was the obvious first upgrade.

    More so than the infamous Bossnut Calibre, I think this bike was “peak value”. They were really popular with STW forum readers too.

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    Yeah, there are a lot of nice bikes at this price point…there are several being ridden by the riders at coaching sessions – and they seem perfectly capable. They look nice as well.

    chrismac
    Full Member

    Great to see. I think I would be looking at second hand at that price range. There are some great deals around

    fazzini
    Full Member

    You can get a Specialized Stumpjumper Alloy for under £2k….and from an LBS too

    hooli
    Full Member

    Great to see. I think I would be looking at second hand at that price range. There are some great deals around

    I’d agree if buying a bike for me but don’t forget for people who don’t know a lot about bikes buying a 2nd hand bike is scary, especially a 2nd had full suss as there is a lot that can be wrong with it and it can get expensive to fix if you cant do it yourself.

    There must be a good market in this sort of price range for teenagers getting a first “decent” bike and people picking up the hobby.

    stwhannah
    Full Member

    Some useful pointers for those looking at the second hand market: https://singletrackworld.com/2021/10/how-to-buy-a-second-hand-mountain-bike/

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