Photos by Max Rhulen & Dusten Ryen
Video by Brian Niles / Treeline Cinematic


For 2023, our crew set out to review five of the best budget mountain bikes with a maximum price of $3,000. After having so much fun during our Sub-$2,000 Bike Shootout a couple years back, we wanted to see how much better and capable affordable, budget-minded mountain bikes have gotten. With the majority of the bikes in our test sitting around the $2,650 average, it’s safe to say that our entire crew was pretty impressed with how much fun and how capable these bikes are, with one tester even saying, “Half-way down the trail I was asking myself, why I spent so much money on my personal bike?”

The testing for the 2023 budget bike review spanned the course of several months and a variety of terrain from high desert rocks and tech to flowy, forest singletrack. The variety of conditions allowed us to best learn how and where each of the bikes excelled and who the ideal consumer for each bike could be.

We’d like to thank Leatt Protectives and Versus Tires for making this long-term review happen. Their support and products not only kept us safe and gave us a constant test tire platform to equip all bikes, but allowed our crew to spend considerable time out of the office and on the trails testing bikes, and gear, to report back to you. Without Leatt and Versus’ support we couldn’t have made this happen, so if you enjoy the content, shoot them a thanks too.


Sub-$3,000 Budget Mountain Bike Group Review


MSRP: $2,599
Rear Travel: 120mm

The Jamis Faultline family is the brand’s cross country, trail bike and is the shortest in travel for this test. Starting at $1,999 for the A2, the Faultline series is likely to be the option for riders who are looking for a more efficient, pedal-friendly bike for more old-school and multi-use trails. Jamis does have more aggressive and longer travel bikes in their lineup, several of which we have tested, but the Faultline definitely stands out as the XC bike in this group. It does have some quirks when looking at geometry compared to more modern bikes, but is emblematic of Jamis’ design ethos, the East Coast HQ and the technical trails they build bikes for.

Sub-$3,000 Budget Mountain Bike Group Review


MSRP: $2,499
Rear Travel: 130mm

Norco Bicycles recently announced their redesigned Fluid FS bike line in 2022 and it has since become a fan and editor’s favorite, already winning plenty of awards from various outlets. We had such a good time riding the higher-end A1 model last year that we reached out to get the more affordable, $2,499, Norco Fluid FS A3 of this budget mountain bike review. As the only bike featuring size-specific geometry, custom-tuned suspension kinematics and shock tuning, the Norco Fluid FS family of bikes offer a long of bang for the buck. And for riders who may not fancy themselves mechanics or are uncertain about building a consumer direct bike, like other brands in this test, Norco bikes are still competitively priced while being supportive of the dealer model, so you’ll have support from warranty and maintenance to professional assembly.

Sub-$3,000 Budget Mountain Bike Group Review


MSRP: $2,599
Rear Travel: 135mm

During our test period riders continued to find the Polygon Siskiu T8 to be among the most fun and confident bikes in the group review. We regularly pushed this bike hard, forgetting that it was a 135/140mm bike since the confident body positioning and stance of the bike had us thinking it was more like a 150mm bike. Available in North American through, the Polygon Siskiu T8 is a solid all around option for riders who like to ride and want a bike to grow into.

Sub-$3,000 Budget Mountain Bike Group Review


EDITOR’S PICK | Drew & Nic

MSRP: $2,599
Rear Travel: 140mm

Our first Vitus bike review and wow, what an impression it made. Vitus Bikes have been racking up accolades and fans in Europe for quite some time now and we’re happy to see they’re finally available to riders in North America. The Vitus Mythique line ranges from $1,699 to the top-of-the-line AMP model we reviewed, at $2,599. Vitus has other models, categories of bikes with higher travel and price tags, but the Mythique is their bread-and-butter mountain bike with affordability and budget-driven riders at the forefront. Despite the price tag, the Vitus Mythique AMP had some of the best products on-board, like the XT/SLX Shimano drivetrain and Shimano SLX brakes. Every rider who hopped on the Mythique AMP had a great time and it even impressed Nic Hall and Drew Rohde so much, they selected this bike as their choice of bike to buy.

Sub-$3,000 Budget Mountain Bike Group Review


EDITOR’S PICK | Sean & Max

MSRP: $2,999
Rear Travel: 150mm

Another brand synonymous with value-minded builds that shred, YT Industries have delivered a real competitor in their Jeffsy Core 2. It is the most expensive bike in our group test, at $2,999, but it also has one of the best looking chassis and the best suspension package on test. With more travel than other bikes in our review, the YT Jeffsy wasn’t the best pedaler, but when it came time to pop, jump, play and slay, the Jeffsy was regularly at the front of the pack. Our testers really liked the finish and aesthetic of the YT Jeffsy, stating it was the bike that looked like it cost more like a higher-end bike than some others. If you’re a rider who is looking to progress your skills, may want to venture into the enduro or occasional bike park rider-set, this could be the pick for you.

We’d like to thank all the brands for sending us these awesome bikes to ride and test for this roundup. It was an absolute pleasure, and if we could leave with one impression on your mind it is that these affordable bikes are very capable of having fun! Sure, long-term durability issues may arise in certain components for heavier or very aggressive riders who are regularly pushing the limits, but the beauty is that tons of riders out there may never push their equipment hard enough to notice that wheel flex or brake fade. And if they do, they’ll likely have recouped from the lower investment purchase price and be able to upgrade to the exact parts they want, making the bike even more capable and the process more fun. Although we regularly get sent tons of high end bikes to ride, we often find ourselves talking about how much simple-fun we have riding these more affordable and impressively capable budget-friendly mountain bikes. Bring on the fun!

Thanks again to Leatt Protectives and Versus Tires for your support in making this series happen.



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