When it comes to off-road speed, there’s nothing faster than a 29er mountain bike. Our four, sub £1,000 test bikes prove you don’t have to spend a fortune to go flat out either

The last couple of years have seen the rise of a new all-rounder 27.5-inch wheel size that splits the difference between original 26-inch wheeled mountain bikes and wagon wheeled 29ers (with 29-inch diameter wheels). When it comes to rolling over roots and rocks with minimum loss of speed and turbo-diesel style surges of power that’ll punish your riding mates, 29ers still have the upper hand.

That’s why they’re still very much the dominant force in MTB cross-country and marathon racing, with 27.5in bikes only getting a look in for riders who aren’t big enough to feel comfortable on bigger wheels. The stability and increased confidence inspired by 29ers also makes them great

for more technical trails compared to smaller wheeled bikes of similar suspension travel which are literally more likely to get tripped up by rocks and roots.

Their impact shrinking ability is even more valuable if your budget doesn’t stretch to a lightweight suspension bike, and that’s definitely the case if you’ve got to keep a £1,000 lid on your shopping. As you’ll see from our test, a grand will still potentially buy you the serious speed and technology that you’d hope for and expect.

It also offers you a diverse range of ride characteristics and mixes well-sorted complete packages with bikes whose real value is their upgrade potential. Question is, which bike will get you maximum speed for your spend?


Here are the bikes we tested:

Trek Superfly 5

“The 5 is the cheapest Superfly but gets the same lightweight hydraulically formed alloy frameset as Trek’s £1,600 8, £1,400 7 and £1,200 6 models…”

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Focus Black Forest Lite

“The Focus is certainly bang up to date in feature terms…”

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Scott Scale 960

“Scott’s crazy light carbon frames might grab the headlines, but its alloy frames are also extremely light compared to others…”

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BMC Team Elite 03 SLX

“While most MTB frames now use a sloped top tube to create a lighter, compact frame with a longer seat post extension for shock absorbing flex, BMC has stayed with an almost flat strut-reinforced top tube that matches its road bike designs…”

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