Are you looking for the best mountain bikes under $500 but have no idea what you’re looking for? It’s possible to spend double this price, but if you’re on a budget, you’ll want a cheaper option. There are many cheap mountain bikes available in the market, but only a few are good investments that are likely to last for a very long time. So, take a look at the list of the best choices we’ve compiled to help you in making an effective decision when it comes to buying a mountain bike.
Most mountain bikes below $500 are cross-country, hardtail bikes. If you’re short on time, we recommend the Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail. This mountain bike features 29-inch wheels which will help you to ride over obstacles with ease. It provides a powerful braking system of hydraulic disc brakes which are highly responsive and put you in control when riding. However, its standout feature is its lightweight carbon fiber frame which allows you to pedal fast without weight dragging you down.
|Best Overall||Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail||
|Runner Up||Trek Marlin 4||
|Best on a Budget||Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike||
|Mongoose Malus Fat Tire Bike||
|Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1W||
|Huffy Kids Bike for Boys||
|Raleigh Bikes Eva 24 Kids Hardtail Mountain Bike||
|Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Dual-Suspension||
|Schwinn Bonafide Men’s||
|Huffy Hardtail Mountain Trail Bike||
The Best Mountain Bikes Under $500 in 2020
We appreciate that some consumers are searching for a budget-friendly mountain bike which won’t break the bank. We’ve spent hours researching the best mountain bikes under $500 and provided you with a vast selection which are made from high-quality materials and which have reliable features.
1. Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike — Best OverallDiamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail
This Diamondback mountain bike features a carbon fiber frame which is significantly lighter than aluminum, titanium or steel. It also has a lower density than these materials, helping to absorb impact from road vibrations which prevents damage to the bike’s frame and aids overall comfort.
To enhance your experience when mountain biking, this Diamondback has excellent geometry on the overdrive with a short rear-triangle on the front for clearing obstacles. Its frame and geometry allow you to bike over a wide range of terrains without the bike pounding against your body.
Designed with 29-inch wheels, the Diamondback rolls over obstacles with ease and can travel over rough and wet surfaces without becoming stuck or slowing down. These high-impact wheels also allow you to travel quickly and gain excellent clearance on mountains.
When traveling at high speeds, it’s important that your safety is not compromised. That’s why this mountain bike uses Shimano M315 hydraulic disc brakes which put you firmly in control while allowing you to reach and push your limits. Finally, this budget-friendly bike comes with a single-ring, 11-speed drivetrain, which is the best option for traveling fast without any restrictions.
2. Trek Marlin 4 — Best Runner-up
The Marlin 4 is an ideal choice if you’re looking for something like a mountain bike that can double up as a rugged commuting bike. With front suspension, you’ll barely feel the impact of rough terrain, which will help you to ride for longer and feel less impact. There is a total of 21 speeds, which is great for offering a safe ride as you travel up and down steep hills, and allows you to remain in control.
It’s designed to fit all body types and sizes. If you purchase XS and S frames, the top tube dips down towards the seat tube. This feature provides a low standover height, making it perfect for shorter riders to straddle their bike. Alternatively, the M and ML frames have a straight top tube, which makes them ideal for taller riders who don’t have issues with standover height.
With 27.5 wheels to 29 inches wheels, this bike is built to perfection to enable a comfortable and safe ride. No matter which frame size you choose, you’ll be able to travel up and down hills and across rough terrain without any issues. The handlebars are also slightly wider than those on the Diamondback, and some customers report that this makes it more ergonomically-friendly when traveling over longer distances.
3. Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike — Best on a BudgetSchwinn High Timber Mountain Bike
Since a very long time ago, Schwinn has been producing high-quality bikes in all categories. The category of mountain biking is one of those. Schwinn is one of the top-rated mountain bikes for under $500. As safety is your number one priority when riding a bike, Schwinn has designed this model with front and rear alloy linear-pull brakes which provide precise stopping power. With a light amount of pressure on the bike, it’ll come to a brisk stop, helping to prevent accidents. Therefore, this mountain bike is a great bike for beginner riders.
This Schwinn High Timber mountain bike is manufactured with a 21-speed system to help you climb hills quickly and you can adjust the gears to suit your fitness and comfort levels. Perhaps our favorite feature of this mountain bike is its high-quality SR Suntour M2000 front suspension fork. Whether you’re traveling on or off-road, this suspension system feels comfortable on bumpy surfaces and provides outstanding performance while keeping the bike in tip-top condition.
To ensure the bike is long-lasting and tough, it’s equipped with alloy wheel rims. This material offers a durable riding experience while enabling it to travel over a range of terrain with minimal effort. Finally, the durable Schwinn alloy crank makes the bike easier to maintain and provides steady gearing for a smoother ride.
4. Mongoose Malus Fat Tire Bike — Best Fat Tire Bike under $500Mongoose Malus Fat Tire Bike
Are you looking for the best mountain bike under $500 with fat tires? Mongoose has designed this model with 4-inch wide tires to allow riders to easily travel over deep mud, snow, and sand, compared to thinner tires. As well as the width, these tires offer a smooth ride across rocks, embankments, and other bumpy surfaces, which makes it a perfect purchase if you tend to avoid smooth pavements.
For overall comfort, this bike features a well-padded seat which absorbs impact and reduces pressure from unexpected bumps and jolts. You can also make quick decisions with the front and rear wheel brakes, which enables you to safely stop the bike and removes the possibility of making mistakes.
If you love to explore the great outdoors, this mountain bike features a steel frame, which helps to improve the bike’s overall durability and makes it hard to bend, and is highly resistant to bumps and scratches. This material also prevents you from directly feeling the impact from the ground when cycling over bumpy surfaces and shaky ground.
The mountain bike brand “Mongoose” offers quality bikes that are great value for money products. It also offers Mongoose Status 3.0 Dual-Suspension 26-Inch Mountain Bike which is considered a nice bike.
This bike offers you a smooth and comfortable ride at an affordable price. Most riders always loved its performance. This mountain bike comes with features like 26-inch wheels, dual disc brake, 24-speed with Shimano shifters, dual-suspension, SR suspension fork, and quick release for both wheels. There are other MTBs that are available in the market that comes in various attractive colors and are easy to assemble. Find the best choice on the basis of your requirements and comfort.
More: Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Mountain Bike Review
5. Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1W — Best for Women
Weighing just over 30 pounds, this mountain bike is lightweight, which makes it great for beginners and those who are looking for a lighter model. Its wheels are two inches thinner than the Mongoose Malus mountain bike, making it a suitable choice if you don’t want a bulky ride.
It’s specifically designed for women with a shorter top tube, narrower handlebars, short stem, and a saddle which is shaped for a woman’s body. Although the difference may only be a few centimeters less than some others on the list, it’s built for perfection. Although the bike has size and weight to it, that doesn’t mean that it can’t handle bumpy surfaces. The coil-sprung suspension fork soaks up bumps and the aluminum lowers ensure that the bike remains weighted down for an enjoyable ride.
For ultimate safety, this Co-op mountain bike features hydraulic discs on the brakes which tell you when you need to adjust your speed precisely. This feature ensures that you’re safer on the road, and helps to prevent any crashes or collisions while enabling you to perfect your ride if you’re a fitness enthusiast.
6. Huffy Kids Bike for Boys — Best for KidsHuffy Kids Bike for Boys
Are you looking for the best full-suspension mountain bike under $500 for kids? This model is a great choice for a number of reasons. It’s ideal for children aged between 5 and 9 with a height of 44 to 56 inches. It’s also great for beginners, as the steel frame is durable and limits excessive damage if it’s dropped to the floor.
It features 6 speeds, which allows kids to prepare themselves for an adult bike and real riding adventures. It also allows kids to feel in control when riding. It’s designed with a twist-grip shift for smooth transitions, giving kids the chance to have more fun when riding and meaning that the bike requires minimal maintenance.
In order to protect the gears, it comes with a rear derailleur guard which helps keep the bike in tip-top condition. The front and rear linear-pull brakes are designed with steel to provide a consistent ride and offer high-demand stopping action which will keep little ones safe when cycling.
7. Raleigh Bikes Eva 24 Kids Hardtail Mountain Bike — Best for Girls and Young RidersRaleigh Bikes Eva 24 Kids Hardtail Mountain Bike
This Raleigh bike has a sleek design which makes it perfect for girls to ride without any discomfort. Its low standover aluminum frame provides easy access and dismounting and is designed to fit ages 8 to 12 or those of up to 61 inches in height. Girls will have plenty of fun while riding this mountain bike and will also stay comfortable at all times.
The lightweight aluminum frame is durable and helps to absorb impact from uneven surfaces and bumps. The added feature of a high-grade suspension fork which measures 50mm also helps to smooth out bumps and offers a more enjoyable ride. The saddle is padded for comfort and specially shaped for girls, so they can ride this bike for long periods of time.
It is an ideal purchase for beginners, having 7 gears which are easy to twist without putting any pressure on a child’s wrist. With 7 gears, riders can easily bike up and down hills without struggling. In addition, the mechanical disc brakes provide great control and efficient stopping power to keep girls safe when they are using the bike. So, it can be expected to generally find mechanical disc brakes with cables connecting the brake levers to the calipers at the sub-$500 price point.
8. Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike — Best for SuspensionSchwinn Protocol 1.0 Dual-Suspension
Schwinn have designed this mountain bike with high-quality materials and an excellent suspension system. Firstly, it features an aluminum full suspension frame which alleviates some of the pressure on the rider when traveling over bumpy surfaces. The front suspension fork makes for reliable, responsive riding.
There’s a total of 24 speeds, which is a generous feature for providing a wide gear range and offering a smooth transition from trail to pavement. When it comes to stopping, the front-rear disc brakes are responsive and provide crisp all-condition stoppage, which keeps you in control of the bike at all times.
Designed with light and strong alloy rims, these mountain tires are durable for everyday riding and also can absorb all impacts and handle rocky surfaces and rough terrains. To keep this bike as low maintenance as possible, it comes with an alloy crank which offers optimal gearing, and doesn’t require much work to look after. This also enables a smooth transition between gears to keep you moving forward.
9. Schwinn Bonafide Men’s — Best for MenSchwinn Bonafide Men’s
This powerful Schwinn bike may be heavier than some of the others on this list, but its extra weight offers more durability and sturdiness. Its high-quality aluminum mountain frame and suspension fork soak up bumps from the road, allowing you to have a fun and safe ride.
It’s designed with front and rear mechanical disc brakes which provide a quick and smooth stopping experience, and bring you to a sudden stop when only light pressure is applied to the brakes. Thus, mechanical disc brakes are an essential feature in mountain bikes. Also, t’s manufactured with Schwinn alloy cranks which provide smooth and steady transitions through the gears and require minimal maintenance.
If you wish to bike through mud, snow, or rocky areas, this Schwinn mountain bike won’t have a problem with that terrain. The 2.25-inch wide knobby tires are prepared for bumpy terrain but are not as thick as those on the Mongoose Malus mountain bike, so it’s not difficult to get used to. For further durability and strength, the tires feature double-wall alloy rims which remain light yet sturdy on all surfaces.
10. Huffy Hardtail Mountain Trail Bike — Best for Gravel PathsHuffy Hardtail Mountain Trail Bike
The final contender on our list of the best mountain bikes under $500 is the Huffy Hardtail. It’s equipped with all the features you could need for mountain biking, such as a Kolo 2200 suspension fork which absorbs bumps and uneven terrain for a comfortable and smooth ride. Another great feature of an enjoyable ride is the slight-rise handlebars which allow you to use an upright cycling riding position for minimizing back and shoulder pain.
The 26-inch tires bite into dirt and gravel effortlessly, whether it’s in wet or dry conditions. If you’re looking for a mountain bike purely for bumpy and rocky surfaces, the Huffy Hardtail will be the perfect purchase. The tires are oversized, which allows you to push through mud, rain, snow, and other various terrains which can make riding difficult.
For smooth stopping power, the bike comes with alloy linear-pull brakes which are highly responsive. The lightweight aluminum hardtail frame offers a rolling momentum which makes pedaling for speed and acceleration easier.
Buying Guide to Choosing the Right Mountain Bike for You
We approve of the above mountain bikes. Each of them is equipped for a safe and enjoyable ride and can tackle rough terrain and bumps without impacting the bike’s frame. But, how do you know which is the best bike for your needs and preferences? Here’s a buying guide to consider in order to refine your search.
One of the first features to tackle is a mountain bike’s suspension type. The bike’s front suspension takes the majority of the rider’s weight as mountain bikers typically ride with more of their weight towards the front of the bike. More often than not, a mountain bike will come with an adjustable suspension fork. This adjustable suspension fork ranges from firm to relaxed so that you can gear it to your riding style and the road conditions. Therefore, an adjustable suspension fork helps in raising or lowering the bike’s suspension.
There are two factors which affect a suspension type’s effectiveness — price and mountain bike type. Full suspension frames absorb impact and pressure both at the rear and front. These bikes can travel downhill without the suspension feeling much impact. They’re the optimal choice for the most demanding and rough landscapes and offer significant efficiency with even the toughest terrain.
Hardtail mountain bikes have a suspension fork at the front and a rigid suspension at the rear. They’re the most affordable type of mountain bikes and can travel fast on smooth trails or when climbing hills. This type of suspension is excellent for climbing and offers efficient pedaling, making it a great choice for cross-country riders. They’re also a more affordable option.
During your search for the best mountain bikes under $500, you’ll discover that suspension performance vastly differs. Cheaper mountain bikes tend to be heavy and have a harsh suspension system, but higher-quality mountain bikes are lighter in weight and have more bounce to them when you ride.
You should also consider rebound damping adjustment when looking at the suspension type. This represents the speed the suspension recovers after going over a large bump. If this is too slow, the suspension system won’t react in time for the next hit. On the other hand, a high number means you’ll end up bouncing around like a ball. The optimum speed depends on the rider’s weight and the spring weight.
Next, you should consider a bike’s frame materials as this determines its durability, weight, and overall comfort. One popular option is steel, and this is considered to be one of the most favorable materials for mountain bikes.
Steel is the heaviest material used for bike frames, although butted tubes and alloy blends are taking some of the strain off of frames to create lighter results while retaining strength and durability. This isn’t the most expensive material and it is the strongest of all, which is great if you want your frame to be long-lasting.
You might consider a steel frame if you’re searching for a cost-effective bike and weight isn’t a huge factor. However, if you want a lightweight frame because you intend to ride your mountain bike at fast speeds, you may want to avoid this.
This is one of the most popular materials on our list of the best mountain bikes under $500. It’s the second lightest material, after carbon fiber, and is in huge demand. Aluminum can be molded into many sizes, shapes, and designs, and is the second stiffest material after carbon.
To ensure that aluminum bike frames are durable, manufacturers use plenty of this material along with large diameter tubes in mountain bikes. The frames are then stiffened to make the frame as durable as possible, but weight isn’t an issue as aluminum is so lightweight.
Thanks to the material’s versatility and flexibility, you’re likely to find the design and shape you’re looking for at a friendly price. Most bike frames which are perfectly designed for the consumer, such as allowing riders to stand up while at a standstill, are made from aluminum.
Another go-to frame material for mountain bikes is carbon as it can be perfectly shaped with curves and molded shapes for a lightweight frame. In fact, this is the lightest of all bike frames. Although this material has many advantages to it, over time, it naturally stretches, so the bike won’t be a life-long option. Also, once carbon breaks, it does so all at once, so you’ll need to make a completely new purchase.
That doesn’t mean to say that the frame will easily break though as manufacturers are putting more work into their frames, but it’s an important consequence to be aware of. On the upside, carbon fiber is one of the most durable and strongest materials you can buy, which enables riders to survive crashes and reduces the potential for injuries.
You might consider carbon if you want a bike that’s stiff, lightweight, and can absorb vibrations. So, if you’re searching for mountain bikes for serious riding, this is the material for you. However, these incredible benefits come at a price.
Finally, titanium is another reliable material used for bike frames which is strong and dense. One of the biggest benefits of titanium is that it offers a smooth, vibration-less ride. It’s also incredibly lightweight, which allows you to reach high speeds without weight holding you back.
Titanium has a luxury appearance to it which makes some of the most beautiful mountain bikes you’ll find. If you’ll spend most of your time riding in the XC category, a titanium frame is a great option. You can even have a mountain bike without suspension, but with a titanium frame, your bike will still travel over bumps and offer a forgiving ride.
The most common wheel size is 27.5 inches and you’ll find that most wheels on the above mountain bikes are around this size. Anything smaller than this is considered a petite size and is usually aimed at kids or those looking to maximize a bike’s minimal weight.
Contrary to arguments, bigger wheels aren’t always better. 29-inch wheels are highly praised for providing excellent grip and a lower rolling resistance than other sizes, which makes them the ideal size for environments with loose surfaces, rough terrain, and bumpy conditions.
On the other hand, this extra size produces more weight, which makes the mountain bike difficult to control when downhill racing or maneuvering around tight lanes. Also, the additional size and weight can take its toll on suspension systems.
What Different Sizes Mean
Larger wheels reduce rolling resistance, as they have a shallower angle to attack the ground. This affects the amount of power that a bike has when traveling uphill as the wheels are bigger and require more manual power to move them.
Bigger wheels also mean more weight. For some riders, additional weight isn’t a disadvantage, as there are other benefits to bigger wheels. However, if you wish to use mountain bikes for commuting and will add accessories such as a basket, or you want to reach your maximum speed, the additional weight can pose some limitations.
One size is not suitable for everyone, as it all depends on your personal preference. If you’re tall, you might consider larger wheels, while short people might feel more comfortable and in control when riding a bike with smaller wheels.
A wider tire provides more stability when moving fast compared to a thinner tire. However, it contributes to more weight on the bike, which can slow you down. With a wider surface area, traction and grip are also improved, although wider tires don’t have as much mud clearance from the tire to the frame.
Your style of riding should be a determining factor for the tire size you choose. If you’re a cross country rider, opt for small knobs with a narrow tire width. This maximizes the performance in environments which are fairly smooth and not too demanding, such as in grass. However, for wet conditions, you may require narrow tires to increase mud clearance.
For optimum grip and durability, choose tires with a soft compound which can stick to rocky surfaces and can better handle corners. This will improve your safety while preventing you from needing to reduce your speed on demanding routes.
The Winning Mountain Bike
The Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike is an excellent choice as it is the only one on this list with a carbon fiber frame. This material absorbs road vibrations and rocky terrain easier than aluminum or steel frames. Also, the 29-inch wheels allow you to travel over wet and dry surfaces while gaining speed.
Alternatively, the Marlin 4 is a great runner-up. You can use it as a mountain bike with a reliable front suspension or for commuting with plenty of space and features for adding accessories. Also, with a total of 21 speeds, you’ll never need to compromise on speed when traveling on uneven surfaces or rocky terrain.
There are many mountain bikes at this price point that provide a great look and features. The best thing is that you can choose the right mountain bike made of quality material within an affordable price range. However, being a mountain biker, you’ll need to consider the pros and cons of the features to take the advantage of great performance and a more comfortable ride.