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Are cheap full suspension bikes worth it? | Pros & Cons

Not all of us have big budgets like 5000$ when we are in the market for a new mountain bike. Most of the time we try to find a decent full-suspension mountain bike in the range of 1500 to 2000$.

Easier said than done, good mountain bike components are expensive and manufacturers are struggling to find a good money-to-performance ratio but there still are some decent options even if ower budget is tight.

Modern low-budget full-suspension mountain bikes come with improved geometry, low to mid-level suspensions, a decent transmission system, and are well suited for less technical downhill or enduro trails. For cross-country riding, they will provide a more comfortable ride than hardtails.

In this article, we will have an overview of the pros and cons of buying a cheap full-suspension mountain bike. At the end of the article, you will have a better understanding of the compromises you need to make and if they are worth it for you. So keep reading!

It Is Worth Buying a Cheap Full-Suspension Mountain Bike?

As a general rule, if the terrain you are riding on is roky or it has a lot of tree roots on it you will be better off with a full suspension even if it is on the cheaper side. Some low-budget full-suspension bikes are equipped with decent components and are well designed for less technical enduro or downhill riding.

Full suspension mountain bike

A good mountain bike is designed to offer the best geometry for stability and it is equipped with good tires and suspensions for the best traction on the roughest of terrains. If you like to ride at speed, bike stability becomes an important factor to consider. On downhill portions of the ride, traction becomes your best friend, losing traction is a recipe for disaster.

Designing a good geometry for a mountain bike is not an easy task, the most renowned manufacturers in the industry invest a lot of time and resources in this important step for producing a high-performing mountain bike. After the design, they build prototypes and give them to experience riders for testing, after getting the feedback it is back to the growing board.

Most low-budget full-suspension mountain bikes are not properly tested or they come with an old geometry that is not in line with modern standards, but there are still manufacturers who decide to give their low-budget full-suspension bikes frames similar to the more costly versions available on the market.

Most people will say that a high-level hardtail is a way to go and for this reason, a cheap full-suspension isn’t worth the money but this is an overstatement. A full-suspension mountain bike is designed for a different type of ride than a hardtail.

If your rides incorporate a lot of rocky, rooty sections a full suspension even if it is on the cheaper side is the best choice. When riding downhill you will benefit from the increased stability that a full-suspension biker will offer.

I agree that if you buy a low-budget full suspension you need to make a lot of compromises but still, if you enjoy riding on rough terrain and need more traction when tearing the rocky trails then you need a full-suspension bike.

A cheap full-suspension mountain bike is the best choice for people that suffer minor lower back pain due to sedentary jobs but what to ride on the country roads or there the trails near them. The rear suspension will absorb all the bumps on the terrain and this will protect the lower back when riding sited on the saddle.

So you see, this is not an answer that fits all, but yes cheap full-suspension mountain bikes are worth it!

If you what to know which bike is for you a full-suspension or a hardtail, I encourage you to read this article!

The Pros for Buying a Cheap Full-Suspension Mountain Bike

Full-suspension MTB in susnset

Buying a cheap full-suspension mountain bike is a matter of weighing the pros and cons and deciding if your money is well spent. Next, we will examine the PROS of buying a cheap full-suspension mountain bike.

PROS of buying a cheap full-suspension mountain bike:

  • Comfort: A full-suspension mountain bike will be more comfortable than a hardtail, even if you ride soft trails you still will have a more comfortable ride.
  • Lower back protection: Even if the rear shock is not at the high-end it will still absorb all the bumps on the terrain when you ride sitting on the saddle.
  • Cheaper maintenance than more expensive bikes: Because they are equipped with low to mid-end components, it will be cheaper to replace them if they break.
  • Can handle downhill or enduro riding: Because they are full-suspension mountain bikes they have better traction than a hardtail when riding over rocks and roots or on the downhill parts of your rides.
  • More suited for long rides than hardtails: Because they are more comfortable and you can ride sitting on the saddle on most terrain they are more suited for longer rides than hardtails. On a hardtail, you need to be more focused on the trail and you need to ride off the saddle when the terrain is a little bit harder.
  • Stay on budget: You are not forced to overspend and still can have epic enduro or downhill-style rides.

Now we see that there are a lot of advantages to buying a cheap full-suspension mountain bike, but you need to decide which of them is important for you.

If you plan to ride on rocky trails or downhill and still stay on a low budget then a low-budget full-suspension bike is the way to go, but if you ride softer trails and country roads then a high-end hardtail will be the best choice.

If you what to know the advantages of a hardtail mountain bike, I encourage you to read this article!

The Cons of Buying a Cheap Full-Suspension Mountain Bike

Not everything is all flowers and rainbow when you are on a tight budget but still need a decent full-suspension mountain bike. There are some cons you need to take into consideration when buying a low-cost full-suspension mountain bike

The CONS of buying a cheap full-suspension mountain bike:

  • Bike geometry: A lot of full-suspension mountain bikes in the 1000 to 2000$ range come with outdated geometry, but if you search enough, you can still find bikes with a good trail wordy geometry.
  • The price of a high-end hardtail: At this price, you can buy a high-end hardtail that comes equipped with far better components (without the rear suspension) than a cheap full-suspension bike.
  • Low budget suspensions: Even if today you can buy a full-suspension bike with decent travel rarely do you have a decent RockShox suspension both front and rear in this price category. This is the may reason for which cheaper full-suspension bikes will have less traction than more expensive ones on more technical descents.
  • Cheap tires: This will highly impact the traction you have on the trails but still it is an easy upgrade in the future.
  • Less breaking power: Because of the overall price of the bike, they come equipped with entry-level brakes that need more time to stop the bike. You need to anticipate in advance if you need to squeeze the brake levels.
  • The weight of the bike: Because lighter components are more expensive you end up with a heavy mountain bike and this is a compromise that you need to make if you can’t stretch your budget.

If you only have a budget of 1500 to 2000$ and still you want a full-suspension mountain bike then you need to be repaired to make some compromises if an increased bike weight and lower-end components are pills to thought to swallow then it is time to start putting aside more money for a mid or high-end full-suspension mountain bike.

If you are trying to decide if your first mountain bike should be a hardtail or a full suspension, you need to read this article!

Tips for Finding a Good Low-Budget Full-Suspension Mountain Bike?

If you what to buy a full-suspension mountain bike that falls in the 1500 – to 2000$ price category, I have some tips to help you get a good mountain bike that will last you for years:

Pay Attention to Bike Geometry

Be aware that you can’t upgrade the bike’s geometry without changing the frame.

For 120mm travel find a bike with a 67-degree head angle, as travel extends to 150mm so does the head angle needs to extend to 65-degree (faster on descents). For a large bike, the reach should be 460+mm, with a 50mm or shorter stem and 760mm or wider handlebars for decent steering.

Pay Attention to Bike Suspensions

At this price point, it is common that your mounting bike will come equipped with suspension forks and rear shocks from manufacturers like Manitou, Suntour, and X-Fusion rather than RockShox or Fox.

If they are lower-end suspensions this doesn’t mean that they can’t work well but you need to read reviews and be well documented because these manufacturers have some products that rea a total miss and you will be forced to replace or service them often in the future.

Find a Bike with Cheap Tires

At this price level, every bike manufacturer needs to cut costs, the bike tires are an essential part because they have a big role to play in the bike’s level of traction but are easy to upgrade in the future and it is better that they are the compromise and not harder components to upgrade like the cassette ore drive train.

Get a Bike with 27.5′ Wheels Instead of 29′

29′ wheels require a longer fork and they are more expensive. If you get a bike with 27.5 wheels you will find more options on the market with RockShox forks and if you search enough you can find a 27.5-wheel full-suspension mountain bike with a full RockShox setup (front and rear) that fits a budget of 1500 to 2000$. And believe me, a full RockShox setup it’s worth it!

Conclusion

In the end, we can say that if you need a mountain bike that can handle an enduro or downhill riding style and you only have a budget of 1500 to 2000$ then it is worth buying a cheap full-suspension mountain bike but if your budget can be stretched, definitely do that.

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I started mountain biking many years ago to improve my overall health state. After my first ride, I fell in love with the sport. Now I spend dozens of hours a week researching and training to compete in local XC and Enduro events.