MTB

The best full-suspension trail bikes under £2000

© YT Industries
Written by James McKnight
These are some our top picks of fully suited and booted trail mountain bikes for anyone on a budget.
When it comes to choosing an all-round mountain bike, the almost infinite options available can seem overwhelming. If you’re looking to buy a new bike for 2018, we’ve compiled some of our favourite trail options at around the £2k mark to help you out.

What is a ‘trail’ bike?

There are many varying interpretations of this, but we have defined ‘trail’ as a full suspension bike that will be fun and reliable for trail centre adventures, local rides, epic rides in the British mountains and Sunday razzing alike. These aren’t bikes for Enduro World Series thrashing, and they aren’t lightweight cross-country steeds either. They balance weight, geometry, and practicality in order to ensure fun times are had on the flat, the uphills and the descents too. These are versatile workhorses that can take a hammering yet still have a spring in their stride when the going gets flat.

1. Vitus Escarpe VR 2018 – £1849.99

Vitus Escarpe VR (29)
Vitus Escarpe VR (29)
A brand steeped in cycling history, modern-day Vitus is part of the Chain Reaction Cycles/Wiggle group. The Escarpe VR is a solid workhorse of a bike that will lap up everything a UK ride can throw at it.
Its quality build, with modern dimensions (i.e. Boost 110/148mm f/r hub spacing) and suspension hardware make it great value for money and ready for upgrades should you wish. Not that there’s much on the components list that needs swapping: the more-than-decent RockShox Revelation fork and Deluxe RT shock will amply take care of obstacles; Maxxis 3C (Triple Compound) Minion DH front and SS (Semi Slick) rear tyres ensure you’ll whizz along at speed and in comfort; and the RaceFace AR27 wheelset is as tubeless ready as those tyres. Elsewhere, there’s not a single component that raises eyebrows.
Travel: 150/140mm front/rear suspension travel (140/140mm on 29er)
Wheel and frame sizes: Both 27.5” and 29er versions are available in four frame sizes.

2. Focus Jam Elite 27 – £1,949

Focus Jam Elite 27
Focus Jam Elite 27
A brand of the Dutch Pon.Bike group (which includes Santa Cruz bikes), Focus bikes have been revitalised in the last year or so, their range including some great budget offerings – namely this Jam Elite.
As this list of bikes proves, you can get a whole lot of bike for under £2k now, and the Jam Elite is just that. Its 34 Rhythm fork and Float Performance shock will appeal to Fox fans (rightly so – top kit); Maxxis Minion 3C DHF and standard DHR tubeless-ready tyres are ready for all terrains; while RaceFace AR30 rims on Shimano Deore hubs (Boost sized) offer reliability and big-brand assurance. Shimano Deore XT brakes and a KS E30i dropper post round out a great package.
Travel: 150mm front/rear suspension travel
Wheel and frame sizes: 27.5” wheels only, available in four frame sizes.

3. Lapierre Zesty AM 327 2018 – £1999

Lapierre ZESTY AM 327 2018
Lapierre ZESTY AM 327 2018
Lapierre may have gone off many core riders’ radars as they pile head-on into the e-bike market, but the French company is still pumping out some brilliant bikes.
The Zesty AM 327 is a great looking bike with equally good, modern (long, low) geometry across four frame sizes. Everything is up to date in terms of Boost and metric shock sizing. The low cost Suntour Aion punches above its weight, but Lapierre’s own-brand AF2 shock perhaps is a slight let down. Still, this is otherwise a great package that includes a mix of SRAM and RaceFace drivetrain, Shimano brakes and the excellent JD YSP12L dropper seatpost. For the full French experience, the bike is also equipped with Michelin’s burly Wild Rock’R2 tyres too.
Travel: 150mm front/rear suspension travel
Wheel and frame sizes: 27.5” wheels only, available in four frame sizes.

4. Giant Trance 3 2018 – £1,899

Giant Trance 3 2018
Giant Trance 3 2018
Giant have pretty much nailed it with the latest incarnation of their ever-trusted Trance. Long an aggressive trail rider’s best friend, the Trance continues to do its thing – that is, quietly and unspectacularly standing as one of the most solid and reliable bikes in its category. 
150 and 140mm front/rear suspension travel is delivered via Suntour’s Aion fork and RockShox’s Deluxe R shock (slightly lower spec than the Deluxe RT of the Vitus); Shimano Deore 1x10 groupset promises dependability; Shimano M365 brakes with 180/160mm front/rear discs are more than capable; wheels are fully Boost; and a selection of Giant own-brand parts (including their Contact Switch dropper post) are nothing to worry about – they are every bit as reliable as their branded equivalents.
Travel: 150/140mm front/rear suspension travel
Wheel and frame sizes: 27.5” wheels only, available in four frame sizes.

5. Canyon Spectral AL 5.0 EX – £1790

German mail order specialists Canyon have dodged the mountain bike categorising bullet by labelling the Spectral an “all mountain trail bike” – clever. Luckily, the Spectral is just as adaptable as its title.
It may not have the most boundary-pushing geometry (although it is offered in five sizes – the most of this group), but the Spectral’s components list and solid construction ensure you’ll be able to push to your own new limits. 
Fox Rhythm 34 float fork and Performance Float shock take care of the hits; SRAM’s Guide R deal with slowing down (very well); Maxxis’s adaptable High Roller 2 and High Roller SS (semi slick) tyres steer and power the bike respectively. RaceFace components (crankset, handlebars, stem) and DT Swiss M 1850 wheels finish off a great bundle of quality parts. The bike is also supplied with shock pump, a frame protection kit and a torque wrench – a nice touch.
Travel: 150/140mm front/rear suspension travel
Wheel and frame sizes: 27.5” wheels only, available in five frame sizes, as well as a women's range.

6. YT Jeffsy AL Two – £1,799

YT Jeffsy AL Two in Black Pearl
YT Jeffsy AL Two in Black Pearl
When it comes to bargains, YT steals the show just about every time. The German company’s Jeffsy trail bike is no exception.
With a RockShox Pike fork, SRAM Guide R brakes, SRAM GX shifters and derailleurs and DT Swiss M1900 wheelset (Boost rear) – not to mention the rest of the components package – the Jeffsy really is a steal. And the frame itself is no let down – great geometry is a trademark of YT bikes, and this one’s aluminium construction is hard to fault. A seriously popular bike for UK trail riders, with good reason.
However, what is easy to criticise is the lack of availability – YT’s tend to sell out fast. Some sizes are currently available, and don’t be surprised if a new components set appears on the next stock of Jeffsys.
Travel: 150mm front/rear suspension travel (140mm 29er)
Wheel and frame sizes: Both 27.5” and 29er versions are available in four frame sizes.