Top 9 Best Mountain Bikes Under $500 (January 2021)
Mountain bikes are perfect if you want to explore the outdoors and take on more challenging terrain. Purchasing a mountain bike is an expensive endeavor and can be downright scary. Slapping down the credit card for a large purchase requires serious research. All of this research can bring to light loads of jargon and terms. Terms like mid-travel, short-travel, and enduro are thrown around all the time.
Modern Day Technology
Rapidly advancing technology and an increasing number of manufacturers mean an ever-increasing list of options to pick from. Mountain biking is a brilliant sport for which only the best bikes will suffice. The sheer difference between a mountain range and a tarred road is one reason why normal bikes aren’t the best choice. Because of the differences in normal bikes and mountain bikes, the criteria by which the best is chosen is slightly different. Their tires are designed differently, as is their suspension, frame, and handle support. Price, ease of maintenance, suspension, life-cycle, weight, and construction material are some of the features we considered.
Best Entry Level Mountain Bike Models Under $500
While not overly sexy (or light), there are plenty of quality entry-level mountain bikes under $500. These are great options for beginner mountain bikers and young riders who may soon outgrow their current bike. Keep reading to learn what to look for in your first mountain bike and check out our list of the best mountain bikes under $500.
Performance Vs Maintenance
Not all of us need a suspension fork. If your local routes are light terrain then don’t get one. You’ll save on maintenance of your bike. As well as saving on maintenance you’ll also save on effort. A rigid fork will bring you less weight to push around, and you’ll also not have the bob you get from suspension forks when you pedal. The bob can suck some speed from you and requires more effort from you to overcome it. If you need a full suspension then so be it.
What To Expect In This Price Range
With the best mountain bikes under $500 it’s unlikely you’ll get your hands on hydraulic disc brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes are more powerful than mechanical ones as well as offering a better feel. Mechanical disc brakes however are quite achievable in this price range. In this review, we have picked five of the best hardtail mountain bikes under £500 for XC and recreational cycling.
Mountain Bike Wheels
Wheel size is a big choice in mountain bikes at any price point. Nearly all the best mountain bikes being made at the moment will have 27.5” wheels or 29” wheels. Typically 27.5” wheels are seen as being better for technical off-road use where you will be riding on lots of tight trails with sharp corners and lots of rocks and routes. The basic idea being that the 27.5” wheel is more manoeuvrable (it will also be easier to pop a wheelie or do other tricks). A 29” wheel bike will normally be faster as the bike will ‘roll’ more easily once you are up to speed. Nearly all race bikes will have 29” wheels. If you plan on using your bike for commuting then a 29” wheel bike will get you to work quicker.
Expensive Doesn’t Always Mean Better
It may seem counterintuitive, but when it comes to mountain bikes, lower price doesn’t necessarily equate to lower quality. It’s fairly common for bike manufacturers to make cheaper bikes with features that are quite similar to expensive models. If you happen to be a beginning-level rider who isn’t yet ready to jump into mountain biking with both feet, and you’re not comfortable shelling out a huge sum of money on a mountain bike, investigating the best mountain bike under $500 is a good start.
Finding a first-rate mountain bike for under $500 is no simple task and requires a considerable amount of research. To assist you in this endeavor and make sure you find a bike that not only respects your wallet, but is comfortable, safe, lightweight, reliable, and just all-around cool, we’ve composed this helpful guide to nudge you in the right direction.
The Mountain Bike Frame
Another important thing to know about concerning how to choose a mountain bike is the frame. Of course, the heart of any bike is the frame. All the MTBs featured here have aluminium frames as they are both strong and lightweight. Butting is a process that removes material from low stress areas of the frame to reduce weight. Forming also tends to reduce weight as the tubes are shaped more efficiently. Offering a stable upright riding position, for confident off-road handling, these hardtail MTBs are also suited to urban road riding as they offer extra visibility in traffic.
The best mountain bikes are usually made of either carbon fiber, aluminum, titanium, steel, or some combination of these.
Mountain Bike Gear Setup
The best mountain bikes can run the gamut from a simple single-speed bike to one with more than 30 gears. To simplify all complexity, you only need to hold two things in mind: your personal fitness level and the character of the terrain over which you plan to go riding. Rougher, steeper, and more hilly terrain will require more gears to help you power through obstacles. If you are a strong mountain biker, however, or if you’ll be riding on flat terrain, you won’t need as many gears to help push yourself up a hill.
Schwinn Traxion Mountain Bike
- ✔ Lightweight Aluminum Dual Suspension Frame
- ✔ Powerful Schwinn Suspension Fork Shock Absorption
- ✔ 24-Speed Shimano EZ Fire Trigger Gear System
- ✔ 2.25" Wide Knobby Mountain Bike Tires
A premium mountain biking experience is just a click away with the Schwinn Traxion Full Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike. This model was built with comfort and ease-of-use in mind, making it the ideal model for an experienced mountain biker.
Zoom down hills and rip through gnarly trails on the 29″ Schwinn Traxion, a mean full suspension mountain bike that’s itching to get out and go. Featuring an aluminum dual suspension frame with a powerful Schwinn suspension fork and reliable mechanical disc brakes. The centrally-located spring shock absorber also minimizes unnerving jolts applied to the seat. This bike handles smoothly and stopping is always crisp and efficient. Every trail is your new playground with 24-speed Shimano EZ-Fire trigger shifters, a Shimano rear derailleur and reliable Schwinn alloy cranks.
Durability is still the name of the game thanks to high profile double wall alloy rims and thick, knobby mountain tires designed to take a beating. So put down your phone and experience a ride that never quits. Like all Schwinn bikes, the Traxion comes with a limited lifetime warranty for as long as you own the bike.
Durable, adaptable, and reliable. Take on new trails like never before with this Schwinn mountain bike. Enjoy the freedom of riding a Schwinn.
This bike has almost 100 reviews, with an overwhelming majority being positive. It’s an affordable, quality full suspension mountain bike and you should give it some serious consideration if you’re in the market for one.
Mongoose Status Mountain Bike
- ✔ Aluminum Mountain Bike Frame
- ✔ Powerful Front Suspension Fork
- ✔ Front And Rear V-Type Brakes
- ✔ 21-Speed Shimano Gearing System
Many things in life seem to hold us back. There are always errands to run, dishes to do, bills to pay, and it all gets in the way of what you really want to do: ride. Hop on the 26” Mongoose Status 2.2 mountain bike for a ride that won’t hold you back. Featuring a strong aluminum full suspension frame with a powerful suspension fork and rear shock to smooth out bumps, the Status 2.2 is ready for your next adventure. A 21-speed Shimano rear derailleur with SRAM twist shifters guarantees quick shifting and the right gearing for any trail you encounter. Light and strong alloy rims add durability and support knobby 2.125” wide mountain tires that roll over anything in your path. Don’t let life hold you back – get out and ride with the Status 2.2. Finally, a mountain bike that elevates your ride and won’t break the bank along the way.
The Mongoose Status 3.0 is yet another dual suspension marvel from biking magnates Mongoose. This 26 inch bike is outfitted with all of the features needed for trail riding, making it easy and fun to be on the move.
These features include a full-suspension frame, an SR suspension fork; 24-speed Shimano trigger shifters, front disc brakes, rear disc brakes, a Shimano rear derailleur, alloy pedals, alloy rims, and quick-release hubs (front and rear).
With the review given above, you can see that the Mongoose Status 3.0 establishes itself as a perfect bike for trail riding, fitness riding, and commuting to work. Take your mountain biking experience to a new level. With its sturdy and durable construction, smooth suspension, reliable gears, and great brakes, the Mongoose is a bike that should be in your sights.
Kent Thruster T-29 Mountain Bike
- ✔ Lightweight Aluminum Frame
- ✔ 21-Speed Shimano RS25 Shifter Gearing System
- ✔ Front And Rear V-Type Brakes
- ✔ Lightweight Alloy Rims
Be Advised - Possibly Low StockBuy From Amazon.com
- A lightweight 6061 heat treated aluminum frame provides an excellent foundation
- Shimano RS25 Shifters and TZ31 Derailleurs ensure a precise and crisp drivetrain
- Lightweight alloy 29-Inch rims provide lower rotational weight compared to steel rims making the bike feel agile and easier to handle
- 29 x 2.1 inch all terrain knobby tires provide great grip on any surface
- The 170mm crank set with 28, 38, 48 tooth rings is made from steel for durability and strength
The Kent Thruster T-29 mountain bike is the perfect bike for riding on local trails or around town and is ideal for beginner and intermediate cyclists. The Kent Thruster T-29 mountain bike is constructed with a lightweight yet sturdy 6061 heat-treated aluminum frame for easy handling. With its 18” frame size and 30” standover height, the Kent Thruster is suitable for riders ranging from 5ft 6” tall up to 6ft tall.
The combination of a lightweight frame, 21 speeds and larger wheels on the Kent Thruster give this mountain bike its increased stability and make it easier to maneuver over more difficult terrain and easier to cycle uphill. The Kent Thruster T-29 mountain bike is equipped with reliable Shimano components including Shimano RS25 twist shifters and Shimano TZ31 front & rear Derailleurs. The Thruster T-29 features dual rim, linear pull front & rear alloy v-brakes for safe stopping power.
Additional features of the Kent Thruster T-29 mountain bike include a padded saddle, steel 170mm crank set, 29” alloy double wall rims, screw holes for a water bottle cage, and a kickstand.
The Thruster T29 mountain bike features 29 inch wheels and a lightweight 6061 heat treated aluminum frame that is perfect for beginner and intermediate riders that value a smart spec. Equipped with reliable Shimano shifters and derailleurs the T29 benefits from stable geometry for rides on your local trails or around town. Will fit riders 5’6”- 6’. 30” Standover. This bicycle arrives 85 percent assembled. You will need to install the pedals, front wheel, handlebar and air up the tires. We recommend that you have your bike inspected for safety after assembling.
If you are looking for a mountain bike to explore the world on without breaking the bank, then Kent Thruster T-29 Mountain Bike will be a good fit. It is a perfect choice for men looking to purchase a mountain bicycle at an affordable cost.
Royce Union RTT 24" Mountain Bike
- ✔ Aluminum Mountain Bike Frame
- ✔ 21-Speed Smooth Shimano EZ Fire Plus Trigger Gearing System
- ✔ Lightweight V-Type Braking System
- ✔ Front Zoom Suspension Fork For Shock Absorption
The Royce Union 21 speed mountain bike is designed to be a heavy-duty bike that provides riders with real off-road ability. It comes with a variety of different specifications that are critical to your understanding of this product. Each of these specifications has been carefully tweaked and adjusted to ensure that your mountain bike is tough enough to handle many different situations.
The RTT Mountain Bike has a light, durable aluminium frame. It comes with 21 speeds and trigger shift. The bike looks sharp with a silver frame and gloss paint. This all-terrain bike comes with a lightweight aluminium frame and front suspension that absorbs bumps on an uneven trail. The knobby tread in the tires grip the paths and trails to prevent slides and skids.
The linear pull brakes and wheel rims make for a superior braking power. The saddle is well padded with superior stitching. It can be adjusted to a proper height and angle by using the quick release binder. Shift the gears using the thumb and finger without leaving the handlebar. The slight-rise handlebar is for upright, riding that is the most comfortable while riding. The krayton-grips enhance the hold on the bike and the 3-piece pedals and crank provide a smooth responsive feel for long easy rides. The bike has precise and smooth linear pull brakes for a quick stop.
The rear derailleur guard protects the gears from dirt and damage. There is no wrist strain or twisting as the bike is loaded with a complete SHIMANO drivetrain. The SHIMANO EZ Fire Plus Trigger and Tourney TY300 rear derailleur help precise gear-shifting through 21 speeds.
Our opinion of the Royce Union 21 speed mountain bike is that it is a strong bike for a broad range of riders. While advanced bikers are more likely to enjoy it, we think that beginners will also appreciate its many features. It’s a great option for those who want to get into the sport, or those looking to improve on the bike that they already have.
Huffy Escalate Mountain Bike
- ✔ Amazon Exclusive Mountain Bike
- ✔ Lightweight Aluminum Hardtail Frame
- ✔ 21-Speed Shimano EZ Fire Plus Gearing System
- ✔ Alloy V-Type Brakes
- A bold design with vibrant graphics and great features make this Escalate bike ready to ride.
- Includes all tools needed for easy assembly. Simply install the first wheel, handlebar, seat and pedals, and then adjust the brakes.
- With the strength of aluminum, the lightweight frame efficiently transfers energy to the drivetrain for a solid ride. That’s something you’ll really appreciate when you need power for climbing or responsive handling.
- The frame is backed by our limited 10-year frame warranty (see owner manual for details).
- 21 speeds of ultra-smooth, precise shifting come from the all-SHIMANO drivetrain. A SHIMANO EZ Fire Plus Trigger and SHIMANO TY-30 indexed rear derailleur combine for efficient performance.
- Premium padded ATB saddle features an alloy quick release seat binder for easy height adjustment.
- Premium suspension fork with a forged crown provides a great ride with the right amount of response.
- 26in x 2.10in knobby tires grip the surface with ease in wet or dry conditions.
- Alloy linear pull brakes and machined alloy wheel rims add superior performance to every ride.
- Slight-rise handlebar enables an upright riding position that helps minimize back and shoulder strain.
- Kraton grips give a performance look and comfort feel to your ride.
- Head outdoors on your Huffy mountain bike – you’ll have fun wherever you ride!
Premium aluminum frame reduces weight for better performance. Lighter than steel, aluminum is durable with a rust-resistant surface. With its lightweight, aluminum frame, this Escalate bicycle provides more rolling momentum so it’s easier to pedal for speed and acceleration.
This 21-speed bike delivers more control, momentum, and power over all types of terrain. Tackle the trails and ride with pride on the Escalate 26-inch Mountain Bike.
This bike would be perfect if you’re just entering the world of mountain bikes or if you’re interested in upgrading to a bike with good quality components. The Escalate comes with all the tools you need to finish the assembly of the 90% pre-assembled bike. After assembly it’s worth checking the bike over however we personally were not able to find any issues. The handlebar needed aligning and tightening but this is to be expected.
One common issue with budget bikes is the gear system sticking. However that isn’t an issue with the Escalate mountain bike. Huffy have done a great job in delivering a bike that shifts well and remains quiet throughout. This bike is great and we’d really recommend it if you want a cheap entry bike for racing around your local dirt track or going off-road.
Merax Finiss 26" Mountain Bike
- ✔ Lightweight Aluminum Mountain Bike Frame
- ✔ Front Suspension Fork Offers Shock Absorption When Riding
- ✔ 24-Speed Shimano Gearing System For Smooth Transitions
- ✔ Powerful Dual Disc Brakes
Being able to sell a bike like this for so little is only achievable one way. The reason why this is such a cheap mountain bicycle is because the components that are fitted on it are budget options. That’s not necessarily a bad thing however. Overkill is something that many riders end up with when they go hunting for their next bike.
Being able to race professionally on your hobby bike might not be such a huge advantage. Especially if it cost you hundreds more for the privilege. That being said, the saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ is worth remembering.
The plan is to strike a balance between the two methodologies. Something that’s good enough for your personal needs without spending more than you need to.
This Merax Finiss Aluminum 21-Speed Mountain Bike Racing Bicycle features a lightweight heat-treated aluminum mountain frame. The 26-inch double-wall aluminum rim wheels make for easier rolling. Features Shimano 21-speed derailleurs and shifters for reliable shifting. Front and rear mechanical disc brakes. The suspension fork 80-millimeter travel provides smooth bumps and increases control.
The bike has some very positive reviews. They aren’t all positive, however many of the negative reviews are simply down to packaging and delivery issues. Although this isn’t ideal it shouldn’t effect your opinion on the bike itself.
If you want a cheap, budget/entry model mountain bike with some element of suspension then this is a good consideration. If you’re new to mountain biking then a hardtail (front suspension only) is a good idea. Hardtail bikes take less time to setup and require far less maintenance over time.
Merax FT323 Mountain Bike
- ✔ Dual Suspension For Easy Shock Absorption
- ✔ 21-Speed Shimano Gear System
- ✔ Reliable Linear V-Type Braking
- ✔ Aluminum Full Suspension Mountain Bike Frame
- Super lightweight 26” aluminum frame and stylish 6-Spoke magnesium alloy wheels.
- 21 Speed shifters & derailleurs provide easy pedaling and smooth shifting with 21 gear transmission system.
- High performance mountain bike suspension fork with comfort shock absorption provides a smoother ride on bumpy surfaces and increases control.
- Top of the line disc brake offers safe stopping power.
- Heat treated aluminum 6061 Mountain frame for long lasting durability.
Born In The USA
Established in 1995, the creators of Merax noticed a gap in the American market for a brand that specializes in day to day products for consumers. With over a decade of experience coupled with the desire to provide our loyal customer base with products they know and love, we have maintained a strong online presence that continues to expand on a national level.
Hand-picked and tested for quality, we constantly strive to provide our consumers with the finest Merax products that are tailored to fit into their lifestyle. With unmatched quality when leveled with competitors, we put our products through rigorous testing to ensure that our customers are offered the greatest selections that you can only get from Merax.
Experience a softer ride that absorbs impact with ease from both ends with front and rear suspensions, resulting in less disruptive bounce when riding on rough terrain for optimum riding efficiency.
High grade rubber gripped handle bars and bicycle seat are manufactured with the natural contours of the human body in mind for a natural fit when riding.
21 rapid fire shifter and derailleurs allow you to power down hills, comfortably glide on flat surfaces and persevere up angled hills.
Some previous customer comments
“Nice bike. Definitely need a better seat.”
“My uncle loves it.”
“I give this bike a 7 out of 10 out of the box.”
“Everyone things I paid far more than I did for it.”
Royce Union RMT Women's Mountain Bike
- ✔ Amazon Exclusive RMT Model
- ✔ Aluminum Step Over Lightweight Frame
- ✔ Zoom Front Suspension Fork For Shock Absorption
- ✔ 21-Speed Shimano Revoshift Gearing System
Backed by a limited 10-year frame warranty (see owner’s manual for details), the lightweight hardtail frame is molded from tough 6061 heat-treated aircraft-grade aluminum and will never rust! Durable aluminum, lighter than steel, makes this bike easier to accelerate, easier to maintain momentum and easier to handle.
We deliver this bike with the tools you need to quickly finish assembly so you can get riding! All bikes are equipped with an alloy quick release binder enabling easy height adjustment of the padded saddle for a proper fit.
The front ZOOM suspension fork delivers solid performance – it easily absorbs shock from bumpy trails and dips from uneven terrain. The slight-rise handlebar enables an upright, riding style with a more comfortable ride for the shoulders, back, and arms. The alloy front load 4-bolt stem together with the threadless headset is stronger and more rigid to handle any riding stress.
Unlike cheaper models, the RMT utilizes a complete SHIMANO drivetrain for optimal performance. Just twist to shift! The 21-speed SHIMANO Revoshift combines with the SHIMANO Tourney indexed rear derailleur to deliver seamless shifting between gears as you adjust to your path. The removable rear derailleur guard protects gears from accidental damage to ensure reliable operation time after time.
Larger 27.5 inch wheels maintain rolling momentum; the all-terrain tread pattern provides less rolling resistance than typical mountain bike tires. Alloy linear pull brakes with machined alloy wheel rims enable superior brake pad contact to deliver smooth, dependable, stopping power.
The padded, railed saddle can be adjusted for the perfect height and angle; the alloy quick release binder lets you customize for a proper fit. Krayton grips feel good to hold and pedals on the alloy -piece crank maintain a responsive feel no matter how long you ride.
Lots of great reviews, a hugely popular best seller. What’s more to say.
Dynacraft Vertical Alpine Eagle Mountain Bike
- ✔ Dual Suspension Mountain Bike Frame
- ✔ 18 Speed Shimano Grip Shifter Gearing System
- ✔ Front And Rear V-Type Brakes
- ✔ Comfortable Padded Saddle
You will soar into adventure on the Vertical Alpine Eagle mountain bike. This sleek ride features a bright Yellow BMX frame with custom graphics and blue, white, and Black accents throughout the bike. This 24” bike is equipped with front and rear linear pull brakes, Shimano derailleur, 18 speed index shifter, a quick release seat post, and a padded seat. This rugged ride is safe, comfortable, and fun! You will have a blast riding the 24” Vertical Alpine Eagle bike.
This rugged ride includes a full suspension frame guaranteed to eat up the bumps. The yellow and black deluxe paint finish with black and white details is sure to catch the eye. Featuring a 18-speed index derailleur with Shimano grip shifters, this bike will make any incline seem flat, while front and rear v-brakes make descending easy with safe and solid stops. The quick release seat post allows for super quick set-up and adjustment. The padded saddle provides a super comfortable ride and the solid steel kickstand makes resting the bike a cinch. Riders will enjoy hours of fun flying along the paths and trails on their Vertical Alpine Eagle 24” bike.
If you’re interested in an entry model mountain bike with dual suspension shock absorbers and a budget price tag then the Vertical Alpine Eagle might be for you. Please note this bike won’t be a good fit if you’re very tall as it’s a 24″ model.