Marin's Affordable Hardtail Mountain Bikes - Which One Is Best For You?

Marin Bikes Affordable Hardtail MTB hero image

Bang For Your Buck

Here at Marin all our bikes, regardless of their price tag, are built to give the absolute best bang for your buck that they possibly can.

Whether you’re buying a high-end full suspension or an affordable hardtail mountain bike, we work super hard to make the price tag killer value and the experience super fun.

That’s especially true of our most affordable mountain bikes. We believe that a low price tag shouldn’t mean low quality, reliability or fun. Everyone deserves a bike that’s made for fun.

We understand that not everyone needs to, or can afford to, spend big bucks on a bike. And one of the best value, most fun bikes you can buy is a hardtail mountain bike.

Hardtail mountain bikes are easy to ride, easy to maintain, and there’s no rear-shock to tune-up, set up, ride or maintain. And they’re just pure fun - by taking away the rear suspension you’ll find you don’t need the roughest trails or biggest hills to get your heart racing.

In this story we’ll introduce Marin’s range of affordable hardtail mountain bikes and give you some ideas of which might suit YOU.

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So, uh... What's A Hardtail Mountain Bike Again?

Simply put, a hardtail mountain bike is a mountain bike without rear suspension. The bike has a rigid frame and just looks like the classic bike we all know and love. Typically ‘hardtails’ have a suspension fork at the front of the bike to help absorb bumps and make your ride more comfortable.

Hardtails have the benefit of being easier to maintain, they’re often lighter weight and lower cost compared to full suspension mountain bikes. The lack of rear suspension makes them a little more challenging to ride through technical terrain but many riders love the challenge and simplicity that comes with that. Many believe that hardtails are great for beginners to learn the basics, but, they're also popular with experienced riders who just love the experience.

For riders on a budget, hardtail mountain bikes are often a great choice vs. full suspension bikes and will come with better quality or higher spec. components than a similarly priced suspension bike.

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Affordable Hardtail Mountain Bikes - How low should you go?

It can be tempting to pick up the cheapest thing you can find that describes itself as a mountain bike. But whoah there cowboy - let's just take a minute before you make the cash register ring.

Mountain bikes are complicated bits of equipment and have a tough life, so it’s important to buy something that’ll go the distance without breaking-down on the trails.

Here at Marin we hit the sweet spot of performance and price, starting at around $500 for our most affordable mountain bike hardtails. This level allows us to build quality frames and use reliable components from well-known, reputable brands like Shimano, Vee Tire or Clark’s.

Buy quality and you’ll get peace of mind that you’re buying a bike won’t let you down and will last for years. You’ll also get the safety net of an established dealer network to give you plenty of advice and keep your new whip running in top condition.

Marin Bolinas Ridge and Willdcat Trail Affordable Hardtail MT Bs

The Best Value Hardtail Mountain Bike Under $500

Two of the best hardtail mountain bikes under $500, the Marin Bolinas Ridge and Wildcat Trail are both great for riders who want a taste of proper mountain biking but don’t plan to stray too far into the mountains.

Both are built to look and feel like bikes five times the price, and we’ve picked components that give the impression you’re riding on a bike way beyond your budget. Both come with reliable and powerful disk brakes, bump-absorbing suspension forks, grippy off-road tyres and we’ve partnered with top brands like Shimano and Clarks to guarantee everything is awesome quality.

Whilst neither are designed for proper, hardcore mountain biking they’ll both be great for exploring tracks and trails and can still cut-it on the daily commute or a rip to the grocery store.

The Marin Bolinas Ridge is our most affordable, do-it-all, hardtail mountain bike. The Wildcat Trail is an affordable, women’s-specific mountain bike hardtail. It’s like the Bolinas Ridge but made 100% for female riders, with a lower frame ‘stand-over’ (the space between the frame and your crotch, that is).

Last but not least, we’ve gone crazy on the paintjobs for our most affordable hardtail mountain bikes. We've treated you to some designs that you just don’t see anywhere else on bikes at this price.

Just how good do these babies look..?

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A Little More Bang For Your Buck

For riders looking to explore way further off the beaten track, there’s the Marin Bobcat Trail. One of the best value hardtail mountain bikes under $800, the Bobcat Trail is a proper mountain bike at a bang-for-your-buck price.

Whilst the Bolinas and the Wildcat are affordable all-rounders for light off-road, the Bobcat is a legit mountain bike. It’ll see you right out into the hills and soaring through the singletrack, exploring your local trail network and tackling those more technical tracks.

Even in its most affordable guise, the Marin Bobcat 3, you’ll get a lightweight Series 2 aluminum frame, legit mountain bike geometry, an SR/Suntour suspension fork, powerful hydraulic disk brakes, Shimano gears and stacks of quality Marin components.

Upgrade to the mid-tier Marin Bobcat 4 for microSHIFT 1x9-speed gears and then again to the Marin Bobcat 5 for a Shimano Deore 1x11 drivetrain, upgraded hydraulic brakes and a suspension fork that wouldn’t be out of place on a bike way above this price point; the SR/Suntour XCR32 Coil LOR DR fork with a thru-axle.

The Marin Bobcat 5 might well be the best hardtail mountain bike under $1000.

Marin San Quentin 1 Budget Hardtail Mountain Bike

Go Next Level With The Marin San Quentin 1

And for riders that can stretch to the thousand-buck mark, things get really exciting.

Enter the Marin San Quentin 1 - a proper, hardcore hardtail mountain bike that walks the line between our ‘budget’ and ‘performance’ hardtails.

It's tough enough for technical tracks and trails, bikeparks, dirt jumps, pump tracks and almost everything short of the dankest of dirt descents. And all at a price that makes the Marin San Quentin 1 one of the very best value hardtail mountain bikes under a thousand dollars.

With a Series 2 aluminum frame, aggro geometry, a 1xmicroSHIFT drivetrain, Tektro hydraulic brakes and an SR Suntour XCM34 fork it’s crazy good value. And, when you’ve saved up your pocket money, the San Quentin 1 has heaps of upgrade potential. We’d recommend a dropper post to really step it up another gear!

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Affordable Hardtail Mountain Bikes For Kids

Let’s not forget the groms! The Marin kids hardtail mountain bike range is packed with awesome value bikes for little shredders. Because kids need great bikes too - start ‘em young and they’ll have dirt in the veins for their whole lives.

Two of the best affordable kids hardtail mountain bikes going are the Marin San Quentin 20” and Marin San Quentin 24”. Both are absolutely legit mountain bikes, just a bit smaller to fit littler rippers.

Both feature lightweight aluminum frames with dialed, mountain bike geometry and both have powerful kid’s specific hydraulic brakes, a bump-eating SR/Suntour XCM suspension fork and heaps of mini-components with plenty of big-bike feel.

The San Quentin 20” features smaller 20” wheels whereas the San Quentin 24” has larger, but not too large, 24” wheels.

For those with a little less to spend, there’s the Marin Bayview Trail, an awesome kids mountain bike for just over five hundred dollars. It has 24” wheels, an SR/Suntour XCT suspension fork and great-for-littler-fingers Clarks cable disc brakes.

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