Why Are Mountain Bikes So Expensive?

Mountain biking is becoming more popular each day. But, sadly, its popularity has seen mountain bikes become costlier by the day. So, why are mountain bikes so expensive?

First, the frames are expensive to engineer and treat, and the individual components are costlier to procure. Additionally, the MTB technology is fast-evolving and becoming costlier.

I’ll dig deeper into these factors and a few others to help you know what you are paying for and if it’s worth it.

Additionally, we’ll look at the options you have, such as building your ‘own’ high-end mountain bike and going for a used option.

We’ll also differentiate a cheap MTB from an expensive option to help you understand why cheap is often costly.

Let’s begin!

why are mountain bikes so expensive

Why Are Mountain Bikes So Expensive? (Detailed View)

Overall, mountain bikes command outrageous retail prices because of the following:

1. A Good Mountain Bike Frame is Expensive

Everyone wants mountain bikes that are not just lightweight but equally stronger. Materials that meet the description for the frame are aluminum and carbon fiber, and unfortunately, they don’t come cheap.

Carbon fiber frames, in particular, are at the highest price end, thus identified with high-end MTBs.

Not only is it lighter and sturdier, but also stiffer. The advantage of lighter and sturdier frames is that they are more comfortable when taking the hills.

Most of them come with a perfect geometry which also makes them costlier.

2. Individual Components Are Expensive

The brakes and drivetrain are two major components that hugely influence the price of mountain bikes.

Mountain bikes are supposed to be tough to take on the rugged terrains. But, of course, that’s only possible if the brakes and drivetrain measure up.

The brakes should offer you more crisp-stopping in poor conditions.

While there are caliper brakes, cantilever brakes, and linear-pull brakes, they are not as highly favored as disc brakes.

That’s because disc brakes are more reliable in all weather and efficient. In addition, their superior power enables you to have a hard stop.

Sadly, disc brakes don’t come cheap.

Drivetrain components like cassettes, derailleur, and cranks also come in premium quality versions that cost more money to assemble.

I also cannot forget to mention suspension forks which come in handy when taking on the bumpier terrains.

Unfortunately, premium-quality MTBs have more robust and lighter suspensions that cost much more money to assemble and test.

Other components to explain what makes a mountain bike expensive are upgraded wheels, low-pressure knobby tires, seat posts, and stems.

3. Raw Material Treatment and Bike Engineering Are Expensive

Materials like carbon and aluminum need treating in their raw form before making the bike frame and other components.

The treatment surprisingly costs more than the materials as it requires unique technology and extra labor.

The engineering aspect is also another expensive area. Again, there is prototyping, data testing, and validation, which cost a lot of money.

Each piece needs to be shaped and welded perfectly to create a suitable frame.

How Much Should A Mountain Bike Cost

4. Mountain Bikes Are Expensive Because the Designs Are Evolving Faster

Each passing day, mountain bike manufacturers come up with newer MTB designs that are faster, more comfortable, and more durable.

As a result, they cost more than the designs before them.

In the old days, MTB was chunkier and heavier. Modern MTBs are the direct opposite. They are less chunky and lighter.

The developments have consistently pushed MTB’s retail prices.

5. There are Fewer Mountain Bike Manufacturers

Basic economics dictates that ‘the fewer the competition, the higher the product price.’ Thus, compared to road bikes and hybrid bikes, there are fewer MTB manufacturers.

What’s even perturbing is the fact that the existing competitors source their drivetrains from SRAM and Shimano. So, they pay more for them and pass the cost to the buyer.

Also, the fact that competitors are fewer means there is less competition for buyers among them. So, they are not compelled to lower their prices to attract customers.

But How Expensive Are Mountain Bikes? How Much Should A Mountain Bike Cost?

Here’s a table showing the average prices of different MTB categories.

Mountain Bike Level Price
Beginner level Hardtail$700-$1,500
Entry-level MTB$2,000-$2,500
Intermediate level full-suspension MTB$3,000-$4,000
Advanced level full-suspension MTB$4,000-$6,000
Pro level full suspension MTBUp to $10,000 or more

Overall, beginner-level Hardtail and entry-level MTBs are cheaper than their intermediate, advanced, and pro counterparts.

As you’ve seen, I’ve given a price range for each level to show that there are specific price determiners.

They include the bike brand, bike size, style, and quality of components.

are high end mountain bikes worth it

Any Cheaper Options?

They include:

a) Low-End Mountain Bikes

While most mountain bikes cost over $2000, you can get a budget MTB for under $1000. Note, however, that a majority of these bikes are low in quality.

The danger of low-end MTBs is that they are not very reliable because of their low-quality components.

Note, however, that there are a few decent budget options if you dig deeper. To illustrate what I mean and save you the stress, below are the best budget MTBs on the market:

  1. Mongoose Argus ST Fat Bike – Best Kids Fat Mountain Bike Under $1000
  2. Mongoose Malus Fat Bike – Best Adult Fat Mountain Bike Under $1000
  3. Schwinn Mesa Mountain Bike – Best Men Hardtail Under $1500
  4. Mongoose Switchback Mountain Bike – Best Women Hardtail Under $1500

b) Used Mountain Bikes

The other cheap alternative is to get a used version of a high-end mountain bike from craigslist, eBay, or any different store.

You won’t pay the full price, but you’ll get a mountain bike with high-quality components.

The danger of used MTBs is that you may buy an MTB with hidden technical problems.

The bikes also don’t come with warranties, and you may end up spending more money on maintenance, upgrades, and modifications after purchase.

c) Build Your Own (Custom) MTB

You can also buy an entry-level or mid-level MTB and upgrade it with the high-end components that you want.

Though you may not save a lot, this approach may prove to be cheaper than buying a fully assembled high-end option.

It’s essential, however, that you know what you are doing. You must know how to get the right components and fix them on your bike.

The advantage is that the parts can be new or old, depending on what you prefer.

is an expensive mountain bike worth it

Are High End Mountain Bikes Worth It?

Generally, it’s tempting to overlook a high-end MTB because of its price and go for a cheaper option. After all, the cheaper MTB promises massive savings initially.

But let’s face it; here are the things that you buy when thinking that you are saving:

  • Low-quality components, especially the brakes, drivetrains, and shock suspension
  • A heavier frame
  • Less reliable and less comfortable MTB

Note that the danger of going for low-quality components is that they break down and wear much faster. So, you’ll incur costly repair costs quite often.

As for a heavier frame; it makes pedaling much harder, especially uphill, and that takes away the fun of mountain biking.

And if the MTB is less reliable and less comfortable, it becomes a safety concern when you take on rugged terrain.

So, it doesn’t make financial sense to go for cheap as it turns to be expensive in the long run. So, high-end MTBs are, without a doubt, worth it.

Besides, you now know why mountain bikes are expensive!


1. Are Mountain Bikes Worth the Money?

Though mountain bikes are generally expensive, they come with high-quality components and frames to take on rugged mountainous terrains.

So, it’s worth spending $2,000 or more on a mountain bike if you prioritize performance.

2. How Much Does A Good Mountain Bike Cost?

While it’s possible to spend $700-$1,500 on a beginner Hardtail, a decent entry-level full-suspension mountain bike will cost you $2,000-$2,500.

An intermediate-level and advanced-level full suspension MTB, however, will cost you much more.

3. Is it Cheaper to Buy or Build a Mountain Bike?

Overall, it’s cheaper to buy a full-assembled mountain bike than build your own.

But if you compare a custom-made MTB with buying a full-assembled, the former can be more affordable.

But, of course, that’s if you get the components at a discount price.

4. Should I Buy a Cheap Mountain Bike?

While you get to save some money when you buy a cheap mountain bike, the long-term costs can be more expensive.

That is because cheap MTBs come with lower-quality frames and components that break down more often. So, their maintenance and repair costs are much higher.

5. What is the Best Affordable Mountain Bike?

Here are the five best affordable mountain bikes under $1500

  1. Mongoose Argus ST Fat Bike – Best Kids Fat Mountain Bike Under $1000
  2. Mongoose Malus Fat Bike – Best Adult Fat Mountain Bike Under $1000
  3. Schwinn Mesa Mountain Bike – Best Men Hardtail Under $1500
  4. Mongoose Switchback Mountain Bike – Best Women Hardtail Under $1500

Why Are Mountain Bikes So Expensive? Closing Thoughts

In general, mountain bikes are primarily expensive for featuring expensive components that are costlier to assemble, treat, and even treat.

So, you are paying for quality, which you shouldn’t compromise on by getting a cheaper MTB.

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