We say “more affordable” because if you’re interested in quality, you won’t be finding any particularly cheap mountain bikes. Yes, there are mountain bikes available in the 3-figures, but unless you’re just starting out, they won’t give you the ride and durability required for epic handling. If you can stretch the budget, however, the Specialized S-Works Epic HT is definitely one of the least expensive you’re going to find, without skimping on that all-important marker of quality.
Not only is the S-Works Epic HT one the more affordable end, it’s also the lightest yet stiffest frame Specialized has created to date – coming in at only 1175 grams, made from their FACT 11m carbon fiber. Specialized bike designer Peter Denk points out that creating a bike frame that is both perfectly aesthetically pleasing and designed for performance can be a challenge, but we think they did a pretty good job with this one. Not only is it light and attractive, it’s one of the stiffest, best handling frames you’ll find in this price range. Specialized then tailored and spec’d it for running on XC trails; a slacked-out head tube angle, longer top tube and corrected seat angle, give the bike a more planted feel. The rear spacing is now 12x148mm and includes internal split-housing cable routing. And to finish it off, they’ve given it custom-tuned RockShox Reba RL fork, 1×11 SRAM GX shifting, and fast rolling Roval Control alloy wheels; the result is an extremely fast, stable, low-riding hardtail perfect for chewing up cross country trails.
So if you’re ready to invest in a serious mountain bike for the first time, but aren’t quite ready to drop $4000+ on something you can only use on the weekends, take a look at the S-Works Epic HT. We’re partial to the Satin Black/Flo Red, but the Satin Acid Pink looks rad, too.