11 mountain bikes under $5k that are actually available in summer 2020

I’ve had a ton of people comment that they’d like to get a new mountain bike but that everything seems sold out.  I decided to spend a few moments to research what complete mountain bikes under $5000 are available and ready NOW.  While I have not personally ridden these bikes, I’ve included a few general thoughts and considerations for each model.  I recommend that you do a little further research before buying any of these bikes. 

If you’ve found yourself lusting over a new shred sled, you might have noticed that all your favorite new bikes are seemingly on back order until September 2032.  Here’s why- the good ‘ol bike industry was caught in a tough position as COVID became a reality.  Bike brands were making critical purchasing decisions for summer 2020 as early as February and March, and almost no one predicted the tidal wave of sales that surged across local bike shops (luckily deemed “essential services” in many municipalities) as well as online retailers.    

Online sales, as well as many brick and mortar sales, are booming right now.  It makes sense- with bars and taverns shuttered in many places, events and festivals cancelled, and travel heavily frowned upon, there isn’t much to do besides going outside and enjoying the beautiful summer.  I’d like to think that folks suddenly want to get healthy in order to avoid becoming sick, or to better recover should they be sick, but I have a hunch that assumes that boredom trumps preparedness.  Honk if you agree?

I work closely with online retailer Jenson USA, and while they didn’t sponsor this article, I do earn a small commission from any purchases via the links in this article.  

since this list is for those who are looking for a new bike to use this summer, I’m going to arrange it by size, and then by price, to be most helpful.  

Size Small:

$1999 Kona Satori: https://bit.ly/KonaSatoriJKW

The Kona Satori is a 29″ mountain bike with a four bar full suspension design that is indeed in stock in size small- AND ALL THE OTHER SIZES! Here’s a link: https://bit.ly/KonaSatoriJKW

Kona is a brand local to me here in Bellingham, and they built and sponsor one of my favorite trails here on Galbraith, Devil Cross.  In addition to their Ferndale, WA HQ, they also have a second office right across the border in Vancouver, BC.  That office sponsors another great trail- Boogienights, over on Seymour.  

I have NOT ridden a Satori, so I cannot give it a proper review.  I did glance at the geometry though, and it looks like a solid set up.  The extra steep seat angle is going to be GREAT on steeper climbs.  The 68 head tube angle is steeper than I personally prefer, but for a newer rider, it’s going to be easy to handle on tighter trails.  The Satori is a respected bike from a great brand, and it’s in good stock now.

$3499 Orbea Occam H10: https://bit.ly/OrbeaOccamH10jkw

The Occam H10 is the budget version the M30 LTD Occam I rode a lot this spring. The Occam is a really fun bike, and this should make for a good time for the budget baller. https://bit.ly/OrbeaOccamH10jkw

I rode the higher end, fancier version of the Occam, and while doing some background research on the bike, saw this build.  At a price that competes directly with the Ibis Ripmo AF, the Occam is a solid bike and it’s still in stock, though not much is on hand.  Also, for another $500 more, consider the M30 version, which uses a carbon frame: https://bit.ly/OrbeaOccamM30jkw  The H10 version (and the M30 carbon) both use a 34 fork.  The fork will work just fine for most riders.  That said, as a former pro rider at 170 pounds, I notice a LOT of flex with those 34 forks.  I much prefer the 36 platform.  

$4699 Norco Optic C 29: https://bit.ly/NorcoOpticJKW 

The popular Norco Optic 29er won Bike of the Year over at PinkBike, and has been receiving a lot of praise. It’s sold out in most sizes, but Jenson has some size small Optic bikes still in stock: https://bit.ly/NorcoOpticJKW

The Optic is one of the most requested bikes for some ride reports from my faithful viewers.  I’d love to try one, too- it was voted Bike Of The Year by famed media source PinkBike.  The short-er travel bike (140 front, 125 rear) sports geometry usually reserved for longer travel bikes.  Folks have told me the Optic is just very fun and versatile, more than the shorter travel alone would make ya think.  This type of bike- aggressive geometry, shorter travel- is what riders like myself often cobble together, but bike brands are afraid to produce.  It doesn’t fit neatly into traditional categories, so it’s hard and scary to do something like this.  But I’m stoked that Norco did, and did a great job to boot.  There are two size small Optics available and in stock at Jenson USA, don’t sneeze or they’ll be gone!  

Size Medium:

$3700 GT Force 29 Expert: https://bit.ly/GTForceExpert29JKW

The Force Expert 29 is one burly bike, and the color is my favorite of all bikes in this article. If you’re trails warrant 170/150mm travel, then check out the Force here: https://bit.ly/GTForceExpert29JKW

This 150/170mm travel BEAST of a bike is going to absolutely SMASH bike parks and rock gardens.  No, I have not yet ridden this bike, though I’ve got a few rad video ideas in mind that will require a GT Force.  But I’m not here to tell you how this bike rides, just to tell you that it’s available, and perhaps spew a little bit of contextual knowledge.  

My second ever BMX bike was a GT, and I’ve been a big fan of this brand for years.  GT has always made high quality bikes, though they did lose their identity a bit on the marketing front over the past decade.  Over the past few years they’ve dialed in their bikes, built up a great roster of killer riders, and are back on track.  I’ve seen ride reports of the Force that it’s a bit more “glued to the ground” feeling, with a long wheelbase, slack angles, and good performance with quite a bit of sag.  Consider the Force if you’re still is going HUGE or monster trucking through rocky gnar.  Pass if you’re a casual rider on mellow trails.  

$3999 Rocky Mountain Slayer aluminum 29: https://bit.ly/RockyMountainSlayer29AlloyJKW

The Slayer has been a key freeride, now referred to as “enduro” when performed with a fanny pack, bike for decades now in the Rocky Mountain line. It even has a trail named after it up in Whistler! Read more here: https://bit.ly/RockyMountainSlayer29AlloyJKW

This bike looks like a ton of fun!  I have not ridden this bike myself, but I’ve always had a lot of respect for Rocky Mountain.  This bike is more of a freeride machine, with a lot of travel, so I would consider this option if your local trails are really steep with a lot of gnar.  

$4999 Rocky Mountain Slayer carbon 29: https://bit.ly/RockyMountainSlayerCarbon29JKW

This is the carbon version of the Slayer. I did see that one of these broke for PinkBike during their field test, though Rocky has not issued any sort of recall. I have seen Rocky recall bikes in the past, so I’d trust this bike. I’d really like to get one in to ride for a while, as well as the smaller Altitude model. More info here, and since publishing this, SIZE XL IS NOW AVAILABLE AS WELL: https://bit.ly/RockyMountainSlayerCarbon29JKW

I wish I had a chance to compare this to the alloy version, but my gut tells me the alloy is actually going to be the better value of these two.  On such a big, long travel bike, I would not stress over carbon vs aluminum.  Assuming stiffness is comparable, at least.  The Slayer is a shuttle and bike park specialist, or if you have super gnarly local terrain, it can be a great contender.  But don’t expect it to climb like a little XC whippet.  This list is about plain old availability more than value or even “best of the best”, but maybe I’ll be able to get a Slayer in at some point this year!

$4899 Intense Primer SLX custom build: https://bit.ly/IntensePrimerJKW

The Intense Primer here is a custom build by Jenson USA, and THE PRICE IS RIGHT! Learn more about it here: https://bit.ly/IntensePrimerJKW

I have NOT ridden a modern Intense analog bicycle- but I have ridden the Intense Tazer ebike.  It impressed me!  The frame was built well, had GREAT geometry, and attention to detail was solid.  This 150 front, 140 rear travel 29” trail bike looks like a great value, and the geometry looks close to that of the Orbea Occam that I did ride.  My experience with the VPP suspension was that the bike was a tad more glued to the ground than the Orbea, which can be great in rockier environments.  The SLX build is solid, too, and the 36 fork with a DPX2 rear shock leaves little that needs to be upgraded.  

Size Large:

$3999 Rocky Mountain Slayer aluminum 29: https://bit.ly/RockyMountainSlayer29AlloyJKW

The Slayer has been a key freeride, now referred to as “enduro” when performed with a fanny pack, bike for decades now in the Rocky Mountain line. It even has a trail named after it up in Whistler! Read more here: https://bit.ly/RockyMountainSlayer29AlloyJKW

See more info above in the medium category.

$4499 Norco Range 29 Carbon: https://bit.ly/NorcoRange29jkw

The Norco Range is a big, bruiser of an enduro bike. This would be a shuttle MONSTER: https://bit.ly/NorcoRange29jkw

The Range is a 150/170mm enduro smasher of a bike.  This version uses a SRAM drivetrain, with an Eagle 10-50 tooth rear cassette.  This is a pretty turn-key enduro bike out of the box.  The coil rear shock is currently all the rage, and the Lyric fork gets rave reviews.  I’d love to ride this bike and see how it feels on the trail.  The 65 head angle is quite slack, which should be awesome, but the  73 seat angle isn’t nearly as steep as what I’ve been riding on the Occam/Stylus/Ripmo this year.  

$4599 Rocky Mountain Altitude Carbon 50 27.5: https://bit.ly/RockyMountainAltitude50JKW

While the Slayer would be a better bike for Whistler bike park, the Altitude would be my go-to Rocky model for all around mountain biking. The 27.5 version looks WAY fun! I’d expect this to be the best jumper in the article: https://bit.ly/RockyMountainAltitude50JKW

This 27.5 bike looks like a lot of fun!  It actually looks similar to the prototype test mule that Morgan Taylor was riding on Ladies Only a couple years ago.  Rocky Mountain is known for making good bikes, and were one of the first to really push the steeper seat angle, slacker head angle geometry.  These bikes tend to perform great in more mountainous locales.  This bike, with the 27.5 wheels and 160/150 travel, would be a pretty good all-around bike for a lot of places, though it’d be especially good if you really like to jump.  27.5 wheels are still easier to maneuver through the air, and being slightly less popular than 29, often end up being a little cheaper.  

Out of all the bikes on this list, the Altitude is the one I’d most like to ride myself.

Size Extra Large:

$3899 Kona Process 153 27.5: https://bit.ly/KonaProcess153JKW

These Kona Process 153 bikes are ALL OVER Bellingham. I only rode one briefly, and it seemed solid. It did feel a tad steep in the head tube, so I’d consider running it with a little more sag. More info here: https://bit.ly/KonaProcess153JKW

I’m blown away this bike is still in stock and available.  You’ll need to be at least 6’1” tall for this ride, but man, this is a STEAL!  The Process line of bikes is really good, these are about tied with the Sentinel/Patrol as the most common bikes up here in the PNW.  And for good reason.  The 4 bar suspension is well engineered, and the bike build is solid.  

I’d opt for a tad more fork travel if you’ll be hitting really aggressive descents, but otherwise, stock is gonna be a great bike! 

This list may get updated if folks find it helpful, so let me know!  Thanks everyone!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.