This by far has been one of the weirdest years to try to buy a new bike. Stock shortages however are only part of the changing landscape of buying a new bike. Prices of base models have also been trending up. For example, a couple of years ago an entry-level StumpJumper ST cost $1,850 now the entry-level StumpJumper is $2,200. These are arguably different bikes but there is no denying that sub $2000 trail bikes are becoming fewer and farther between. In this roundup we’ll take a look at the best options we’ve found for 2021. Keep in mind, stock may be limited so you may need to hunt around to find one of these options.
Best Platform to Upgrade
Marin Rift Zone 29 1 – $1,679.00
We reviewed the previous version of this bike when it was rocking 120mm of front and rear travel. Marin has now bumped the front travel up to 130mm as we suggested in our review. The rear suspension layout on the Rift zone is a simple and proven single pivot design. The suspension on this base model is driven by the X-Fusion O2 Pro R.
The front suspension is handled by a RockShox Recon Silver with 32mm Stanchions. At 130mm of travel, we’d like to see a 35m or 34mm fork to stiffen up the front end but this is a budget build.
As far as the geo of the frame goes this bike has the most modern numbers of any bike in this round-up. There is a tendency for entry-level bikes to lag behind in geometry, but not so here.
This base model also retains the 11-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain but with a large range cassette and an updated derailer. This build overall does cut some corners to hit the price point. One of the biggest being that it has an upgradable 141 QR rear end. However, the frame and geometry are solid and parts can be upgraded over time. This build does not come with a dropper so that will be many buyers’ first upgrade.
|Top Tube Length||580||606||633||659|
|Seat Tube Length||390||400||425||430|
|Seat Tube Angle||76.0||76.0||76.0||76.0|
|Head Tube Length||100||105||110||115|
|Head Tube Angle||65.5||65.5||65.5||65.5|
Most Canadian Bike
Who doesn’t love Canada? When speccing Fluid FS 3, Norco chose to go with X-Fusion suspension on the front and rear. You’ll also get a SRAM SX 12 speed drivetrain and Tectro brakes. Norco uses a sliding wheel size system that fits an XS and S bike with 27.5 wheels. Mediums get the option of 27.5 or 29 and the LG and XL sizes are dedicated 29ers.
We reviewed the Norco Fluid FS previously and found that the suspension was a bit finicky but overall we really liked how the bike climbed. For an all-rounder trail bike the Norco Fluid could serve nicely.
|Top Tube Length||522||554||586||590||623||655|
|Seat Tube Length||370||390||420||420||450||490|
|Seat Tube Angle||76||76||76||76||76||76|
|Head Tube Length||100||110||120||100||110||120|
|Head Tube Angle||66||66||66||66.5||66.5||66.5|
Most Complete Build
Canyon is one of the juggernaut direct to consumer brands in the bike maker landscape today. And they bring that buying power and savings to their Canyon Neuron 5. Unlike most other brands Canyon was able to skirt under the 2k mark while still equipping the front and rear suspension with RockShox components. You also get a 12 speed SRAM SX drivetrain, a dropper post, and Shimano brakes.
The geometry on the other hand of the Neuron is starting to look a bit dated. With the steepest headtube angle in the this round-up and the shortest reach, riders who are not into “new school” geometry are going to feel the most at home here. On the Neuron you’ll find 130mm of front and rear suspension. The wheel size moves from 27.5 to 29 depending on size.
Best XC Racer
If you want a trail bike you can also race the Scott Spark 970 may be your ticket. Scott has a reputation for building fast XC bikes. The 970 retains race feature from more expensive models like their unique twin-lock lockout system that locks out the rear and front shock. Whereas most systems only increase low-speed compression in an effort to gain pedaling efficiency, TwinLoc allows Scott to change compression damping, and the spring curve, dynamically altering the geometry of the bike. The X-Fusion rear shock has a special travel / geo adjust system that give you 3 modes: Lockout, Traction Control and Descend.
You will find pretty standard XC geo on this bike with 130mm of front suspension and 120mm in the rear. A 12 speed SRAM SX drivetrain and Shimano MT201 brakes make this a bike your can roll out of the shop and race if needed.
|Top Tube Length||575||605||635||655|
|Seat Tube Length||410||440||490||540|
|Seat Tube Angle||73.8||73.8||73.8||73.8|
|Head Tube Length||95||95||105||115|
|Head Tube Angle||67.2||67.2||67.2||67.2|