Are you looking to invest in a mountain bike that promises quality at an affordable price range?
Finding a decent yet powerful mountain bike under $500 is really a challenging task, you have to spend countless hours to find the gem.
Having said that, a lot of manufacturers are designing new models of mountain bikes with features similar to the expensive ones, so you don’t have to worry about the quality.
The latest technology has introduced Aluminum frame that adds strength and durability to these lowest priced bikes. These bikes are best suited for entry level to intermediate level riders.
So, if you are looking for any model that is comfortable, durable and appealing, then check our reviews of these mountain bikes under $500 to decide easily which model will meet your needs and requirements.
Top Picks: Best Mountain Bikes under $500
To clear away this confusion, we have come up with the list which will help you to choose the best mountain bike in the mid-range category that won’t break your bank!
|Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1|
|Cannondale Trail 8|
|Trek Marlin 4|
|Marin Wildcat Trail 1||Hardtail||4.5|
|Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire MTB||Hardtail||4.4|
|Schwinn Traxion||Full Suspension||4.4|
|Gravity FSX 1.0||Full Suspension||4.4|
|Giant ATX 27.5||Hardtail||4.3|
1. Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 Bike – (Editor’s Choice)
If you are looking for a mountain bike designed for beginners and intermediate riders, then you should consider the Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1
In the DRT bike series from REI, the 1.1 is an entry-level model with an affordable price tag. Some of the key features of the DRT 1.1 include hydraulic disk brakes, a robust front suspension, and Shimano components. All these features guarantee a decent level of quality and a lengthy lifespan.
The Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 is ideal for riders ranging from 5’0” to 6’3”. It comes in two colors (may vary) and 5 frame sizes. This is the perfect mountain bike for first-time riders that will help you explore all types of trails near your home.
Thanks to its 27.5” wheels and a strong front suspension, the DRT 1.1 can concur any sort of terrain. It is a versatile bike that can be used not only for exercise but other roles such as commutation.
Also, with the 100mm coil-sprung front suspension, you can be assured of accurate handling and comfort, ideal for both short trails and long cross-country adventures. This mountain bike boasts of 2.1” Kendra Kadre tires which offers steady grip, comfort, and stability even on off-road trails.
This key features section would be incomplete if we didn’t talk about the hydraulic disc brakes. This is one of the advantages of choosing the DRT 1.1 over other mountain bikes within the same price range, because, most feature mechanical brakes. Hydraulics guarantee better precision and higher braking power. Whether you are buying the bike for yourself or your teenage kid, you can be assured of maximum safety.
Being an entry-level mountain bike, the DRT 1.1 contains a group-set of 21 Shimano gears. The 3×7 drivetrain accompanied by a wide range of gears provides sufficient power for cycling both up and downhill. Not to mention, the Tourney rear derailleur delivers smooth and precise gear changes. This makes it excellent for riders with an active lifestyle.
Overall, the DRT 1.1 is the perfect mountain bike for beginners. It’s affordable and boasts of superior features compared to other bikes in its price range.
The Co-op cycle comes in three main sizes: Medium, Small, and Extra small. It can carry a maximum weight of 300 lbs. inclusive of the rider and other gear. Also, REI, the manufacturers offer free tune-ups after 6 months of purchase.
2. Cannondale Trail 8 Mountain Bike – (Best Overall)
The Cannondale Trail 8 stands out as the most affordable mountain bike offered by Cannondale, showcasing a remarkable balance between cost and quality. Serving as an entry-level model, it packs an impressive array of off-road capabilities that truly surpass expectations within its price range.
Featuring innovative design elements, this bike seamlessly transitions from urban streets to rugged trails, guaranteeing a smooth and hassle-free ride. Whether you’re a novice venturing into the world of mountain biking or an experienced rider seeking an upgrade, the Trail 8 is sure to exceed your expectations.
Crafted from Cannondale’s Smartform C3 aluminum alloy, the lightweight frame optimizes weight distribution, resulting in a bike that is agile and nimble in every aspect.
What does this mean for you? Prepare to experience the joy of a lighter bike that effortlessly propels you forward, enabling faster rides with minimal exertion. Moreover, the internal cable routing ensures that cables stay neatly tucked away, even during the most demanding trail rides.
Equipped with reliable Tektro mechanical disc brakes, this trailblazer offers exceptional stopping power without breaking the bank. Pair that with the exceptional grip provided by the WTB Ranger 29″ tires, and you’ll enjoy unparalleled traction, conquering even the wettest and muddiest terrains with confidence. Starting and stopping won’t be a concern on your adventurous journeys.
Featuring 29″ wheels, a comprehensive Shimano drivetrain, efficient disc brakes, a responsive Suntour suspension fork, and outstanding treads on its tires, the Cannondale Trail 8 emerges as the perfect companion for mastering single-track shredding.
3. Trek Marlin 4 Gen 2 – (Best Budget)
The Trek Marlin 4 is a mountain bike with a strong and lightweight aluminum frame. It offers a smooth ride with its Suntour suspension fork that absorbs bumps on the trail. Depending on the frame size, it is available with either 27.5″ or 29″ wheels.
The 27.5″ wheels on the smaller frames provide a combination of benefits. They offer good clearance like 29″ wheels while retaining the agility of 26″ wheels. With the 27.5″ wheels, you can maintain solid momentum and easily navigate various terrains without sacrificing responsiveness.
The Trek Marlin 4 features Shimano Tourney derailleurs, which are durable and suitable for the bike’s intended riders. Additionally, it is equipped with Tektro mechanical disc brakes, a desirable feature at this price point that sets it apart from other bikes.
With 3 chainrings in the front and a 7-speed cassette in the back, you can find the perfect gear ratio for your rides. The bike’s internal cable routing adds to its aesthetic appeal and gives it a higher-end look typically found in more expensive models.
In summary, the Trek Marlin 4 is an impressive bike that will satisfy a wide range of riders. It can handle various types of riding and is sure to put a smile on your face every time you hop on the saddle.
In the past, Mongoose bicycles reigned supreme, capturing the hearts of many avid riders. However, as time progressed, the brand encountered a decline in its reputation. Nevertheless, a silver lining emerged as Mongoose embarked on a path of revitalization, breathing new life into their bicycle production.
Mongoose Switchback is the fresh example of it. The Mongoose Switchback stands out as an incredibly adaptable hybrid mountain bike that caters to both male and female riders alike. With a range of options available, including the Expert, Comp, Sport, and Trail editions, this bike offers versatility tailored to individual preferences.
One notable aspect of the Switchback is its meticulously crafted aluminum frame, designed to be lightweight, aerodynamic, and visually appealing with an array of attractive colors to choose from. Striking the perfect balance, this frame isn’t excessively light, nor does it weigh riders down, ensuring a comfortable and agile riding experience.
For those seeking adventure on recreational trails, gravel paths, or dirt tracks, the Switchback’s coil suspension fork comes into play.
Moving on to the different parts, the Switchback bicycle is equipped with a range of gears, which can vary depending on the specific model you choose. The number of gears can be anywhere between 8 and 21, providing ample options for beginners who are just starting out. The groupsets also differ, meaning that depending on the model, you might have either Shimano Tourney or Altus.
Additionally, the Switchback bike is designed with mechanical disc brakes, which are incredibly useful for quickly slowing down or coming to a complete stop, especially when riding on uneven or rough terrains.
When it comes to finding the right size, Mongoose offers the Switchback in three options: Small, Medium, and Large. Regardless of the size you choose, all models come with 27.5 x 2.1″ knobby tires. These tires are designed to provide excellent traction in most conditions, ensuring a secure grip while you ride.
While the Mongoose Switchback is categorized as an entry-level bike and may not be suitable for serious trail riding, it is perfect for casual off-road adventures and exploring less traveled paths. It offers a comfortable and upright riding position, making it an ideal choice for beginners who want to discover the intricacies of this sport.
The Marin Wildcat Trail 1 stands out as an exceptional entry-level mountain bike within its range, boasting distinctive features tailored to cater to women’s physical dimensions more effectively than traditional men’s bikes. Marin has gone the extra mile by equipping the Wildcat Trail 1 with women-specific components, including specialized grips, a comfortable saddle, and short-reach brake levers.
Constructed with a lightweight 6061 alloy frame and a low standover height, this bike ensures a nimble and agile riding experience. The 27.5″ wheels strike a perfect balance between the outgoing 26″ and larger 29″ wheels, guaranteeing enhanced maneuverability and reduced rolling resistance. Furthermore, the Wildcat Trail 1 incorporates an SR Suntour XCE Disc fork with 100mm of travel, effectively absorbing any rough terrain encountered during your ride.
Effortlessly transferring your pedaling power to the back wheel, the Shimano Tourney 7-Speed drivetrain proves ideal for conquering undulating trails and navigating diverse landscapes with ease.
Despite its entry-level classification, the Wildcat Trail 1 surpasses expectations by featuring mechanical disc brakes. With 160mm rotors, these brakes deliver exceptional stopping power while remaining simple to maintain, allowing you to ride with confidence.
For those seeking an affordable gateway into the world of mountain biking, the Marin Wildcat Trail 1 presents an outstanding and enjoyable opportunity to embark on this thrilling adventure.
6. Trek 820
As a professional biker, I highly recommend the Trek 820 as an excellent entry-level mountain bike for beginners who want to explore parkways, city paths, and light trails.
This model is a popular choice among novice riders due to its affordability and versatility. It’s not uncommon to see the 820 on the streets, in bike shops, and on tamer trails, where it can last for many years with proper maintenance.
Despite its affordable price tag, the Trek 820 has impressive frame geometry that closely resembles Trek’s higher-end designs. The rider’s upright position provides excellent stability and confidence when tackling mountain trails, while also allowing for easy maneuvering through city streets and potholes.
The bike’s Shimano Tourney front and rear derailleurs ensure smooth shifting, making it easy for riders to choose from a wide range of gears thanks to the triple front chainring and 7-speed rear cassette. The 820 missed out on a perfect rating due to the outdated steel frame and smaller 26″ wheels, which add weight and limit the bike’s off-road capabilities.
While the 820 comes equipped with rim brakes to keep costs down, stronger disc brakes would be a significant upgrade, especially for more challenging terrain. However, for most riders’ needs, the current brakes provide ample stopping power.
Overall, the Trek 820 is an excellent entry-level mountain bike that offers a great balance of affordability and versatility for beginner riders looking to explore different types of terrain.
Mongoose Dolomite should be your top-of-the-line choice for a great fat tire mountain bike.
The main feature with this bike are of course the super large tires. They are 26 inches high and 4 inches wide. This allows the Dolomite to ride through pretty much anything. It eats up rough terrain but rides through snow and sand like you were on hard asphalt.
It can ride over rocks while still staying perfectly under control and no matter what the conditions you can take this bike out into them.
Besides its large tires the Mongoose Dolomite features a shimano rear derailleur with 7-different speeds. This allows it to conquer hills while smoothly shifting between gears. It has a threadless headset which is adjustable so it can accommodate riders of all sizes and the front and rear disc brakes provides accurate stopping no matter what conditions you choose to ride it in.
This bike comes with beach cruiser peddles to give you an even more comfortable ride and provides a pleasurable ride through sand. It has a super-sized beach cruiser frame as well which not only makes it strong and durable but maneuverable and responsive.
If you’re looking for a no-fuss bike under $500 – this is it.
The Schwinn Traxion features large 29 inch wheels that will make it a solid but smooth riding mountain bike.
This bike is made with the classic Schwinn aluminum dual suspension frame and a very powerful Schwinn suspension fork that combined with the large wheels will absorb any bumps with ease. With Schwinn you are getting history and quality and the Traxion gives you a durable riding experience.
This is a 24-speed bike that features Schwinn’s EZ-fire trigger shifters for rapid gear changes along with the Schwinn front and rear Shimano derailleurs, so you will go from gear to gear with the utmost smoothness. It has front and rear mechanical disc brakes that provide extremely crisp braking in all-conditions, whether out on a trail or on the roads.
Along with the 29-inch wheels you get extra wide double alloy rims that are very light but still extremely strong to give you even more durability while riding.
The knobby tires are also 2.25 inches wide so they can grip and handle cracks, roots, and rocks with ease. This bike can be ridden on roads, but it thrives on trails with its full suspension setup and will handle any kind of terrains.
The Gravity FSX 1.0 is a dual full suspension bike that looks great and is also very affordable. This is a genuine trail riding bike that is under $500 which is tough to accomplish with how well it is made.
The FSX 1.0 has a hydroformed aluminum alloy frame that has extra reinforcement and ensures the highest level of strength in all riding situations. The areas on the frame that receive the most stress during a ride have the highest level of strength on this bike. For a dual suspension bike, it weighs in at only 26 pounds.
The suspension on the FSX 1.0 features front and rear Suntour shocks making it absorb even the toughest terrain like it’s not even there. The gears are all made of Shimano components including ultra light, but very responsive, EFT shifters. This gives you a very smooth shifting experience that provides 24 different gears.
This bike features brakes that you would normally find on a higher end bike. It uses Tektro Novela disc brakes for very strong stopping power along with very controlled braking. You can give slight squeezes and get a great response without having to apply too much force and pressure. For an aluminum frame dual suspension bike, the Gravity FSX 1.0 provides tremendous value.
10. Giant ATX 27.5
The Giant ATX 27.5 is an excellent mountain bike that is suitable for various purposes, including comfortable city commuting and moderate trail riding. It features a hardtail frame made from Giant’s special ALUXX alloy, which ensures a good balance of weight and strength for long-lasting durability and easy maneuverability.
For tackling light trails and forest paths, the bike is equipped with an SR Suntour 75mm suspension fork, which provides a significant improvement in ride comfort and control. However, we believe 100mm suspension is a must for any mountain bike, for that reason I suggest going with DRT 1.1 or Cannondale Trail 8 – since both offers 100mm suspension fork.
The Giant ATX 27.5 is equipped with a 3×7-Speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain, consisting of three gears in the front and seven gears in the back. This gear setup enables you to conquer steep inclines and ride at higher speeds in the city. The gear shifting is smooth and responsive, thanks to Shimano’s trigger shifters.
The stopping power of the bicycle is managed by Power branded V-brakes. While some may consider disc brakes superior, the V-brakes on the ATX (2021) are comparable to entry-level mechanical disc brakes and provide reliable braking performance.
The Giant Quickcross tires on this bike have a size of 27.5″ x 2.2″ and feature a shallow tread pattern, making them ideal for both smooth pavement and light off-road trails. These tires offer a good balance of speed and grip.
To ensure rider comfort, the Giant ATX 27.5 is equipped with a stock Giant Sport custom saddle, specifically designed for mountain bikes. The shape and width of the saddle provide a comfortable seating position, minimizing soreness and slips during rides.
Key Factors to Consider When Purchasing Mountain Bikes Under $500
Mountain biking is an exhilarating outdoor activity that offers an opportunity to explore nature while staying physically active. If you’re looking to buy a mountain bike on a budget, there are numerous options available under $500 that can provide you with an enjoyable riding experience.
However, it’s crucial to consider several factors before making a purchase to ensure you find a reliable and suitable mountain bike. In this article, we will discuss the key things to consider when buying mountain bikes under $500, helping you make an informed decision.
1. Frame Material and Construction
The frame is the foundation of any mountain bike and plays a vital role in determining its durability, weight, and overall performance. When shopping for a budget mountain bike , you’ll typically find frames made from aluminum or steel. Aluminum frames are lightweight and corrosion-resistant, making them popular among budget-conscious riders. Steel frames, on the other hand, offer increased durability but may be slightly heavier. Consider your riding preferences and prioritize a frame material that suits your needs.
2. Suspension System
Mountain bikes under $500 often come with front suspension forks to absorb impacts and enhance comfort on rough terrains. This feature, known as a hardtail, is typically more affordable than full-suspension bikes. While a hardtail mountain bike can handle most trails effectively, if you plan to tackle more challenging off-road terrains, you may want to invest in a bike with a full-suspension system. Assess the type of trails you intend to ride and choose a bike with an appropriate suspension system.
3. Components and Drivetrain
The quality and performance of components significantly impact a mountain bike’s reliability and riding experience. Within the $500 price range, you can expect to find bikes with entry-level drivetrains, such as Shimano Tourney or Altus. These drivetrains provide smooth shifting and adequate gearing options for beginners or casual riders. Additionally, pay attention to the brakes, as disc brakes offer better stopping power and modulation compared to rim brakes. Ensure the bike’s components are well-suited to the type of riding you plan to do.
4. Wheel Size
Mountain bikes come in various wheel sizes, including 26-inch, 27.5-inch, and 29-inch. Each size offers unique benefits, and your choice should align with your riding style and preferences. Smaller wheels, such as 26-inch, provide better maneuverability and acceleration, making them suitable for technical trails and shorter riders. Larger wheels, such as 29-inch, offer improved stability and roll over obstacles more easily, making them ideal for longer rides and taller riders. Consider the terrain you’ll be riding on and choose the wheel size accordingly.
5. Fit and Comfort
To fully enjoy your mountain biking experience, it’s crucial to find a bike that fits you well and provides adequate comfort. The bike’s frame size, standover height, and reach should be suitable for your body proportions. Consider visiting a local bike shop to get professionally fitted or consult size charts provided by manufacturers. Additionally, look for features like adjustable seat height and handlebar position, which allow for customization and enhanced comfort during long rides.
Finding a reliable mountain bike under $500 is an achievable goal, provided you consider the essential factors discussed above. Remember to prioritize frame material, suspension system, components, wheel size, and fit to ensure your chosen bike aligns with your riding style and preferences.
By taking the time to research and test different models, you can find a mountain bike that offers an exciting and enjoyable experience without breaking the bank. Get ready to hit the trails and embrace the adventures that await!