Best hardtail mountain bikes under 1500

Right off the beat, you really can’t go wrong with a hardtail mountain bike! These types of bikes are great all-rounders, they can breeze through off-roads and glide through urban environments. Versatile and lightweight, it’s not a big secret that hardtail mountain bikes are a total bang for your buck!

In this guide, we get into the best hardtail mountain bikes under $1500, featured in a quick and easy list with individual reviews for each bike. We have broken everything down, each bike’s features, specs, pros and cons. Do yourself a favor and follow through!

Quick List for the Best Hardtail Mountain Bikes Under $1500

  1. Best Overall: Co-op DRT 1.2 MTB
  2. Best Value: Diamondback Hatch 1 MTB
  3. Best Premium: Salsa Rangefinder Deore
  4. Best Womens Hardtail Mountain Bike: Cannondale Trail 5 Women’s MTB
  5. Best Aesthetic Design: Schwinn High Timber MTB
  6. Best For Beginners: Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1

Top 6 Hardtail Mountain Bikes Under $1500

Best Overall: Co-op DRT 1.2 MTB

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 32.4 lbs
  • Suspension Travel: 120 mm
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 27.5 or 29 x 2.4 in
  • Gears: 9 speeds
  • Brake: Hydraulic Disc Brakes

The Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2 mountain bike sits between newbie-friendly and pro territory in a series of 10 bikes. The DRT 1.2 is a tremendous hardtail mountain bike for intermediate riders looking to push their boundaries

The bike has smooth and powerful gears if you’re planning on putting it through the ringer. It has a 9-speed rear cassette, with 18 gears in total to tackle any terrain. It comes with high-end hydraulic disc brakes for excellent stopping power in any conditions. The front suspension has 120 mm of travel with dual pistons, it can handle any terrain smoothly.

You have the choice of wheel sizes ranging from 27.5 inches on the smaller sizes to 29 inches on the larger models all at a respectable 2.4-inch thickness. It has modular cable organization should you try some custom modding.


  • Premium material construction
  • Wheel size variety
  • Optimal suspension travel
  • Modular elements


  • Lack of aesthetic variety

Best Value: Diamondback Hatch 1 MTB

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 28 lbs
  • Suspension Travel: 100 mm
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 27.5 or 29 x 2.25 in
  • Gears: 21 speeds
  • Brake: V-brakes

The Diamondback Hatch 1 is the most affordable hardtail mountain bike from the brand. This bike is the perfect entry-level mountain bike if you’re getting into cross-country riding.

This versatile bike can do many jobs and rides well off-road on dirt or gravel and asphalt. It has a lightweight aluminum frame. You have the choice of wheel sizes ranging from 27.5 inches on the smaller sizes to 29 inches on the larger models at a 2.25-inch thickness.

Total bang for your buck considering it has a 100 mm fork suspension travel and 21-speed gears for controlled inclines. A notable design choice is that the Hatch 1 is the only one with V-brakes instead of hydraulic discs, although functional, we suspect they did it to cut costs. Fair tradeoff.


  • Total bang for your buck
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Lightweight


  • You may find the seat uncomfortable

Best Premium: Salsa Rangefinder Deore MTB


Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 31.1 lbs
  • Suspension Travel: 120 mm
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 27.5 x 2.8 in
  • Gears: 11 speeds
  • Brake: Hydraulic Disc Brakes

The Salsa Deore mountain bike will give you tremendous confidence and comfort on challenging terrains. Right off the bat, the wheels are quite thick, measuring 2.8 inches. The air fork suspension gives you 120 mm of travel and combined with the wheel dimension, you can conquer any environment!

This Salsa Rangefinder Deore has an 11-speed drivetrain with premium hydraulic disc brakes. This blend of specs is a great choice for more technical trails, climbs, and descents. The geometry of this bike is tapered for performance. The 63° head tube and 439 mm chainstays let you have nimble handling without compromise. While it has an overall slick, minimalistic design, the lack of variety is notable. 


  • Slick, minimalist design
  • Has the smoothest ride 
  • Comfortable geometry & seat
  • Modular cable management 


  • Sitting right at the $1500 mark
  • Lack of aesthetic variety 

Best For Women: Cannondale Trail 5 Women’s MTB

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 31 lbs
  • Suspension Travel: 100 mm
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 27.5 or 29 x 2.25 in
  • Gears: 10 speeds
  • Brake: Hydraulic Disc Brakes

There is a particular model of the Cannondale Trail 5 mountain bike for the  ladies. Off-road riding will be more comfortable and pleasurable thanks to its attributes. Despite having a reduced size to allow for simpler mounting and operation, the Trail 5 basic model is still a fantastic option. Additionally, it has an ergonomic seat that was created with women in mind.

With an internal coil spring and a hydraulic cable-actuated lockout, the aluminum frame has a 100 mm travel suspension. a high-performance, simple-to-maintain 10-speed drivetrain is included. The tires are 2.25 inches wide but you may pick smaller or larger ones for precise adjustment. The lack of stylistic variation is something to consider, though it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker. Despite being neutral, you might not like the color charcoal for a bike.


  • Female-friendly design 
  • Very comfortable geometry & positioning
  • Optimal off-roading performance
  • Versatile design


  • Dull color schematic 
  • Lack of aesthetic variety 

Best Aesthetic Design: Schwinn High Timber MTB

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Steel/ Aluminum
  • Weight: 32 lbs
  • Suspension Travel: N/A
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 24, 26, 27.5, 29 in
  • Gears: 21 speeds
  • Brake: V-brakes, Disc Brakes

While the Schwinn High Timber mountain bike is the “loudest” in regards to aesthetic variety, it has some subtleties about it! The step-through frame design makes it easy to mount the bike. It’s the best choice for youths all the way to seniors. 

This bicycle is offered with 4 distinct wheel designs placed on either an aluminum or steel frame. Speaking of receiving personalized work, great! This bike incorporates twist shifters on the handlebars that operate a rear derailleur with 21 gears, making shifting simple.

This bike’s front fork incorporates a suspension mechanism that reduces the impact of bumps. Linear-pull brakes are used for stopping, with the exception of the model with an aluminum frame, which also features front and rear disc brakes for precise control.


  • Overall friendly geometry design
  • Highly customizable 
  • Comfortable ride
  • Durable & long-lasting


  •  Can be quite heavy

Best For Beginners: Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 31 lbs
  • Suspension Travel: 100 mm
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 27.5 x 2.1 in
  • Gears: 21 speeds
  • Brake: Hydraulic Disc Brakes

The Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 mountain bike is great all around. It has a very affordable price point, it has a comfortable unisex design and it’s also beginner-friendly.

The frame is made from aluminum and is relatively lightweight. The geometry and shape of the frame make it suitable for female riders. Its construction is definitely strong and durable and it can last you a long time.  It has a coil spring suspension with 100 mm travel, which means it has almost no adjustability but it’s functional.

The 21 gear speeds are great for navigating off-roading terrains, while the wheel diameter is pretty good at 27.5 inches, the 2.1 inches in diameter is a little “iffy”. But point-something inches won’t make a major difference. The real highlight is the hydraulic disc brakes, which at this price point is ridiculously rare.


  • Affordable price tag
  • Comfortable unisex geometry
  • Rare premium parts for the price


  • Could have had a bit wider tires

How To Choose The Best Hardtail Mountain Bike?

It’s only natural to get a bit more familiar with the differences between the mountain bikes. This way you can have a better understanding. Ultimately it will help you choose the best bike and the most useful for your particular needs.

Frame Material

Hardtail mountain bikes under in the $1500 price range have frames made from aluminum alloys. It’s the most optimal frame material on the market. It’s fairly light weight, it won’t rust, it has become increasingly more affordable to produce, and its physical properties allow it to absorb shock and vibrations when riding. Considering the fact that hardtail bikes only have a front suspension, any other means of reducing vibration is always welcomed.

Taking a more secondary role, is steel. While this material was used for decades, it’s cheap, durable as it can be, it’s still heavy. A few hardtail mountain bikes might use this material to cut down costs, but implementing it to the forks of the bike. All in all, it’s getting phased out since aluminum does the job extremely well.

While you may think that at this point carbon fiber would be included, we should point out that it would raise the cost over $2000 to atleast have carbon fiber elements in the frame.


Most hardtail mountain bikes have a wheel diameter of 27.5 inches, and a minimal tire thickness of 2 inches. That’s not to say that you can’t find wheel variety, because there are other options, or you can even swap out stock wheels for customs.

The reason 27.5 inches is the common choice, is because it’s an intermediate diameter. Most off-roading bike wheels are 26 inches but the sacrifice in flat roads is noticeable. At 27.5 inches you have enough diameter to have a cushion effect on drops, bumps, and road vibrations but also maintain a fair top speed. 

Deep groove wheel patterns and a thickness over 2 inches, will ensure maximum grip contact, and allow you to get over obstacles with ease. Thin, narrow tires wouldn’t stand a chance on off-roading trails.


Hardtail mountain bikes have a variety of braking systems, and at a price range of $1500 you can expect some high quality parts. Right off the bat some hard tails use rim brakes, specifically V clamp rim brakes, these function basically by shutting tight around the rim to slow down your acceleration. The specific V clamp brake is a great brake system if you are into racing, and hardtail mountain bikes are tremendous for off-road racing. The V clamp braking system has solid performance, easy to maintain and you can’t really go wrong with it.

Disc brakes are the pricier brake system that gives you consistent braking every single time. On one side you have mechanical disc brakes, which use steel cables to slow you down, fairly easy to maintain, at a fair price. And on the other hand you have hydraulic disc brakes which basically use fluid rushing down tubes to slow your acceleration. Hydraulic disc brakes are the best that money can buy, but they are fairly complicated to maintain by yourself, trips to the bike shop are the new reality with this braking system.


When choosing a hardtail mountain bike, you also have to think about the types of terrain you want to ride in. The more challenging the terrain, the longer the travel suspension you need. Longer suspension travel can absorb large impacts, bumps, rocks, and logs so your ride will be relatively smooth. 

To give you an idea, a travel suspension between 90-150 mm is optimal for any bumpy terrain, but any travel suspension between 150-200 mm is all about the roughest and toughest environments with “impossible” angles.


Hardtail mountain bikes are optimal for off-roading racing, when it comes gearing and speed shifts, they come with a large variety. Hardtail mountain bikes have at least 10 gear speeds which are great for acceleration, as it translates your pedaling effort into great top speed. But a low speed count means that you will fatigue faster when climbing inclines and hills.

A high speed count of 21 gives you options to adjust your bike, in such a way that it takes minimal effort while pedaling to go over steep inclines. Our picks have a variety of speeds, many of them have the option to include gearing with more or less speed available.

Hardtail vs Full Suspension

Comparing hardtail and full suspension mountain bikes can be like comparing apples to oranges. Both have their pros and cons that make them appealing to different types of riders.

Hardtails are typically lighter weight and more affordable, while full suspension bikes offer more comfort and control on rougher terrain. Ultimately, the best bike for you is the one that best suits your riding style and needs.

If you’re trying to decide between a hardtail and full suspension mountain bike, here are some things to keep in mind:


  • Typically lighter weight
  • More affordable
  • Good for cross-country riding or racing

Full suspension:

  • Offers more comfort and control
  • Better for downhill riding or aggressive trail riding
  • Typically more expensive

Frequently Asked Questions on Hardtail Mountain Bikes

Q: Are hardtails good for trails?

A: Hardtails are great for mountain trails and even better for street trails. Hardtail mountain bikes are a little rougher when it comes to drops but they make up for fast ascents which adds to the sense of speed, even if you’re not pedaling as fast.

Q: Can you jump with a hardtail?

A: Yes you can jump with hardtail mountain bikes. It is also easier to jump on a hardtail mountain bike than a full-suspension mountain bike. However, since you don’t have a rear suspension, the drop on a hardtail won’t be as soft compared to a full suspension, naturally.

The Finish line

We would highly recommend the Co-op DRT 1.2 MTB is the best overall because it has the most optimal blend of features, specs, and price. While highly affordable, the Diamondback Hatch 1 MTB is our best value option if you are working with a budget and want to get the most. But if you want to step it up, then look no further than the Salsa Rangefinder Deore as it offers you premium features. Fret not because we have included other options that might be more to your speed!

Hardtail mountain bikes at a price range $1500 are intermediates, or tremendous entries to competitive off-road racing. It’s fair to assume you have had a mountain bike for a while and it’s time for an upgrade. Considering everything, these are your next natural choices.

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