6 of the best downhill mountain bikes on a budget
© YT Industries
Thinking of buying a new DH rig? The latest 2018 kit from your favourite manufacturers has been released, we picked our top downhill bikes.
When it comes to talking ‘affordability’ in mountain biking, the subject is clearly a question of available budget. And with the sport’s ever-changing technology it should perhaps be no surprise that price tags for brand-new downhill rigs reach far out of most people’s realms of attainability.
However, the advent of direct-sales bikes and their irresistibly low price tags has helped to drive budget lines from most manufacturers. Whether you like ‘em (most consumers) or loath ‘em (most retailers), direct-sales bargains have redefined bottom- of-range bikes as sturdy, nearly-all-singing nearly-all-dancing workhorses for the core riders who just want to get out and ride.
We’ve sought out what we consider the best-value downhill bikes for under £2,500. If that still seems steep and you’re in the market for a brand new steed then you better get saving – downhill bikes don’t come any cheaper than this.
1. YT Tues AL – £1,999
The leader in the pack when it comes to bonkers-low direct sales pricing, German brand YT Industries raise eyebrows with every new bike they bring to market. The Tues has been around for a few years now though, and if its bargain price tag wasn’t enough of a draw in the first place, Aaron Gwin’s two DH World Cup titles aboard its carbon version (in 2016 and 17) is pretty much the best affirmation of the bike’s ability that anyone could wish. If that isn’t enough, then the likes of Andreu Lacondeguy and Cam Zink sending to infinity at Red Bull Rampage should seal the deal.
Stacked with well-selected components – from the RockShox BoXXer RC fork and Kage shock to the SRAM Guide R brakes, right through the mix of SRAM GX DH and RaceFace drivetrain, solid E*13 wheelset and Maxxis High Roller 2 tyres – the aluminium Tues is a true bargain that comes with only a few gripes. A victim of its own popularity, the first of those is that you’ll be hard pressed to find one available in your size – they sell out fast. And as a direct sales-only brand, you won’t get the level of support that comes with a bike purchased at a shop. Finally, for the taller riders out there you’ll have to look to the more costly Tues CF, which adds an XL sizing to the AL’s S, M and L.
2. Propain Rage Comp – £2,242.49
What better testament to a bike’s worth than the lunatic antics of Phil Atwill tearing apart British tracks and trails, then getting serious and sneaking onto a World Cup podium (in Lenzerheide, 2017)? Atwill looked at ease from the moment he moved to Propain, and it is no surprise – the Rage has had rave reviews across the board.
Another German direct sales brand, Propain manufacture to order, meaning that there are sometimes lengthy waits, but it is worth it. This bike flies, plus it is reliable and stacked with quality parts. The components list includes RockShox’s pricier Vivid R2C shock, powerful SRAM Code R brakes and combo of GX DH mech and shifter with Truvativ Descendant crankset. There is little of concern with this bike’s kit list.
A neat feature when purchasing the bike is that Propain’s website allows you to choose spring weights, with alterations from stock at a minimal added cost.
3. Cube Two15 Race – £2,299
The Two15 introduces some alternative products to our group of value bikes, with its Marzocchi Bomber 380 fork and Fox Van RC shock taking care of the hits, the superb Schwalbe Magic Mary tyres front and rear and Magura’s ultra-powerful MT5 brakes dealing with stopping. Elsewhere, a mix of solid components and a few own-brand finishing parts make this bike a great deal, worth every penny.
4. Radon Swoop 200 8.0 – £2,428
An in-house brand of the German behemoth online store, Bike Discount, Radon bikes have started to feature more regularly across Europe and not least in World Cup racing, with their factory team taking to the circuit for the first time in 2017.
This bike features Magura’s MT5 brakes combined alongside a selection of equally solid components – Shimano’s notoriously bombproof Zee mech and E*13’s LG1 cranks and wheels are joined by a number of solid RaceFace Atlas finishing products. A RockShox BoXXer RC fork and Kage shock handle the rough with ease. The Schwalbe Rock Razor semi-slick rear tyre won’t be much good in UK mud though, so the extra cost of a replacement tyre should be considered.
5. Commencal Furious Origin – £2,4028
There are few brands with such prestige as Commencal – the French-Andorran company’s founder and director, Max Commencal, has more DH World Cup titles linked to him than probably anyone else in the sport. But this bike isn’t the brand’s fully-fledged DH race rig – they have taken a different approach and the Furious is an alternative line that offers a simpler frameset, tellingly favoured by Rampage veterans Kyle Strait and Pierre-Edouard Ferry.
Ride Alpha is the company’s in-house components brand, and you’ll find a number of their products on this bike. That’s not a bad thing – these are solid pieces and they allow Commencal to bring the overall costs down. This is the only bike in this list to feature an air shock – RockShox’s Super Deluxe R, which means ease of adjustability and reduced costs of finding the best spring rate. SRAM’s Guide RE brakes are developed for e-bikes, but their excellence in slowing heavier mules makes them a great choice for massive stopping power on the Furious.
Commencal also offer a 10% discount if you pick the bike up at their store in Andorra – perhaps with the difference you could treat yourself to a holiday to go and fetch the bike?
6. Bergamont Straitline 7.0 – £2,499
Bergamont’s Straitline pushes the boundaries of our £2,500 limit, but it is another bike that can be bought through UK dealers and will therefore come with an added level of after-sales service.
For several years Bergamont have had a World Cup team with a strong presence on the circuit – with Eddie Masters’ exploits drawing a lot of attention to the German brand. This has helped them to develop this Straitline frameset with progressive geometry. It is also the only bike in this list that offers four sizes.
A Marzocchi Bomber 380 fork and X-Fusion Vector shock offer dependability in terms of suspension, but perhaps where the kit list lacks is in the choice of SRAM Level TL brakes, which are probably better-suited to trail bikes. Otherwise, a mix of some own-brand components and others from well-known manufacturers ensures great value-for-money, plus it comes with a set of pedals – most of the above don’t. With this frameset, you could gradually upgrade components until you have a truly World Cup-worthy race bike.
Note: All the bikes listed are aluminium frames. We deliberately haven’t detailed their listed weights, as this can be misleading dependent on frame size weighed, pedals included etc.