Best Mountain Bike under 500 : A Reliable Buyer’s Guide
There are numerous mountain bikes in the market that cost below 500. However, a mountain bike’s price tag isn’t always the only determinant of an mtb’s quality so it’s possible to land either a top quality or junk mountain bike at this price range depending on the research you delve into prior to purchase. This poses a challenge for mountain bikers seeking to buy a good mountain bike on a limited budget. The best mountain bike under 500 should be durable, functional and safe to ride. Whether you are looking for an entry level hard tail bike, a full suspension bike or a fat bike; with careful research you can find an exceptionally good deal.
This post has explored several mountain bike options in the 500 price range to help buyers land the best mountain bike below 500. The list contains mountain bikes from reputable bike manufacture companies including Schwinn, Diamondback, GCM Yukon and Mongoose among others. It also delves into the intricacies every mtb enthusiast should consider when looking for the best mountain bike under 500.
What to consider before spending your 500 on any mountain bike
How do you decide which bike is best for you? Every prospective mountain bike buyer ought to consider the following factors to help them land the most fitting machine that will not only serve the intended purpose satisfactorily but also enable them receive the best value for their money.
1. Type of bike and nature of mountain biking adventure
The type of bike you settle for should mostly be determined by the nature of terrain you’ll be riding on as well as your riding style.
Cross Country Mountain Biking involves biking for extended time periods through wild trails. While the trails are not extremely rough, this type of biking requires endurance on the rider and significantly easy handling on the mtb to aid in effective maneuver. Once in a while, the rider may encounter mud and gravel but the track mostly comprises of up-hill ascents, leveled out stretches, single track corners and steep descents, an adventure that’s best served by hard tail mountain bikes.
In Downhill Mountain Biking, riders usually faced incredibly rough tracks and have to maneuver large obstacles thus the need for excellent brake handling to maintain balance and control the speed of descent. The best mountain bikes for this type of adventure are full suspension bikes.
Free riding involves a bit of downhill biking and a bit of dirt jumping. It also includes lots of tricks and a wide variety of terrains. For such adventures, full suspension mountain bikes and bikes with light but strong frames are most preferable.
Hard tail bikes only feature front suspension and are usually fairly priced and easy to find. On the other hand, full suspension bikes have shocks on both front and rear forks and are usually more costly than hard tail mountain bikes thus harder to find with a stringent budget.
2. Mountain bike size and fit
To enjoy optimal mountain bike performance, it’s crucial that the bike be the right size for the rider. There are numerous reliable mtb size charts and guides online to help mountain bikers determine the right mtb fit. Since online mountain bike purchases strike out the possibility of a test ride it’s vital that buyers carefully determine the mtb fit before buying. Moreover, bike buyers should keep in mind that different manufacturers have different methods of bike sizing thus it’s important to consider specific manufacturer’s sizing guides and charts before making that all-important decision to purchase.
3. Key components of the mountain bike
There are some key mtb features that ought to be carefully considered before buying the best mountain bike under 500. They include the bike’s frame, brakes, wheels and gear shifters.
Types of mountain bike brakes range from disc brakes to V-brakes (rim type). The best option would be disc brakes as they are highly responsive in any terrain and adverse weather conditions. However, they are more expensive than rim brakes. Rim brakes can be appropriate for less challenging terrains and will definitely cost less than the former.
Mountain bike wheel sizes range from small (about 16”) to super-size wheels (29ers). Rims also range from double walled to single wall types while rim spikes are forged from steel, alloy or Aluminum.
Different wheel sizes and compositions are appropriate for different riding styles and terrains. For example, fat wheels offer great traction, shock cushioning and spot increased ability to go over obstacles in rough terrains but are heavier and require more energy to pedal. On the other hand, thin wheels are lighter and appropriate for sharp mountain biking techniques such as dirt jumping and free riding. For a beginner, small knobby tires would be the most appropriate as they offer great traction and are exceptionally easy to move.
There are two main types of mountain bike gear shifters in the market with the most common being SRAM and Shimano shifters. Both offer quick and smooth gear shifting for your rides. However, rapid-fire shifters are usually more responsive and easier to use than grip-fit shifters.
The mountain bike frame forms the chassis on which all other bike parts are fastened or welded. In this light, bikers should go for the right frame size to ensure perfect mtb fit. While Aluminum frames are light and durable, Steel is a bit on the heavier end. On the other side, alloy frames fall in between aluminum and steel. In addition carbon fiber frames are exceptionally light but also relatively costly. An aluminum or alloy frame is makes an irresistible bargain for the best mountain bike under 500.
4. Gender specific needs
Are you particular about the gender for which a bike is designed for? Well, female bikes are designed around the concept that female riders have longer legs and shorter torsos. They are also generally lighter because the average female bike rider is oftentimes lighter than male counterparts.
On the other hand, exclusively men bikes are designed on the basis that men have longer torsos. The main differences in design come in the saddle design. Furthermore, generally, women’s bikes spot shorter handlebars than their male counterparts. However, women do not have to stick to female bikes only and neither do men need to stick to exclusively men’s mountain bikes. It all boils down to personal preference and bike fit.
5. Energy efficiency
All the components and the build of a bike come together to either limit or enhance your energy efficiency. The type of mtb pedals, saddle position, angle of the handlebars and size of the wheels as well as the size and constituent material of the bike’s frame all come together to determine how functionally efficient a mountain bike is.
While most mtb manufacturers offer these parts, you may need to make several adjustments to your bike to enhance its efficiency and functionality. Some riders prefer to custom-made bikes that best address their specific needs. However, custom bike building requires advanced skills in mountain mechanics and a good understanding of the various parts and their compatibility.
The best mountain bike under 500 as rated by expert and novice bikers
Schwinn Protocol 1.0
The Schwinn Protocol 1.0 is a dual suspension bike built with Shimano Altus 24 speeds and Shimano trigger shifters that enables riders to seamlessly shift speeds to suit various terrains and slopes. The front fork suspension offers reliable and responsive riding. It also has a Schwinn alloy crank that offers very efficient gearing. The alloy rims have bladed spokes that are lightweight but exceptionally strong.
The aluminum frame together with steel rear triangle offer sturdiness to hold up to 220lbs while the handlebars are mounted on the four bolt A-head stem and offer easy adjust to achieve a comfortable and energy efficient upper body riding position. It has Promax front disc brakes and alloy linear pull brakes on the rear to offer top notch braking capability.
- The 24 speeds enable you to change gears and speeds accordingly to maneuver the steepest uphill and downhill and the toughest terrains.
- The front disc brake and rear alloy V-brake combine for crisp all condition stopping.
- The Schwinn alloy crank is easy to maintain and durable.
- The 26” tires offer convenience and safety to maneuver all terrains.
- The SR Suntour suspension fork minimizes impact as you ride. Knobby tires are mounted on the alloy rims for easy everyday riding.
- The bike requires professional tune up for optimal functionality which comes at an extra cost.
- The bike does not have a water holder
- Its wheels wear off fast
The Schwinn Protocol 1.0 comes 85% preassembled. You only need to attach the front wheel, the seat and adjust the handlebars accordingly. It is easy to assemble but may require regular tune up.
Schwinn Protocol 1.0 is available in the men’s and women’s models. It is ideal for both accustomed and beginner bikers and is suitable for both on road and off-road riding. There are different sizes available to fit different riders including tall and heavyset riders. This mountain bike is light, comfortable and easy ride. Schwinn is popular for quality engineering so you are guaranteed of top grade durable components with this bike even with a limited budget.
This is a dual full suspension bike. The 29” wheel alloy wheels have a quick release front. They also feature alloy front and rear disc brakes. The bike spots 21-speed Shimano rear derailleur with SRAM twist shifters for easy gear shifting. The bike weighs 45.7 pounds.
The Mongoose Impasse is built with a sturdy Aluminum suspension frame to maximize comfort and performance. The suspension fork smoothes out the bumps and increases the biker’s riding control.
- It is easy to assemble
- It has a comfortable saddle
- The aluminum allow parts and frame make it light and sturdy
- Can be ridden by both men and women
- The braking system is highly responsive
- The brake levers are low end
- ·Requires professional tuning to work well
- Some riders find the frame short
The bike comes partially assembled. The remaining parts are easy to assemble with a basic understanding of the structure of mountain bikes. Once assembled, a tune up will be necessary to ensure the wheels are well aligned and the brakes work well. You can assemble and tune it up yourself or seek the services of an expert. At a reliable bike shop, the bike’s assembly and tune up services cost around $50.
The bike is ideal for tall and heavy riders. This is a good bargain for a full suspension mountain bike. You can ride this bike on trails, city parks, gravel roads, greenbelt rides, through the woods and down hills with small drop offs. While reviews on this bike have ranged from good to ‘do not buy this’, the fact remains you can’t expect to enjoy 1000+ value for a budget of less than 500. That said, the Mongoose Impasse is a fair bargain for its price as it offers above- standard features, functionality and performance. This bike is not ideal for racing as it hardly exceeds the 30mph mark.
The Merax Finnis comes with an 80mm front suspension and dual size disc brakes for easy stoppage. The bike weighs 33 pounds and has aluminum full suspension frame as well as 21-speed derailleurs. The front and rear wheels utilize mechanical disc brake systems.
- It has an advanced aluminum mechanical lockout suspension fork.
- It has highly responsive shifters for smooth gear shifting.
- It has mounted on it magnesium alloy wheels that are durable and sturdy.
- It is a lightweight bike
- It is aesthetically attractive
- The disc brakes require regular adjusting to work well
- The water holder bottle is of low quality
- Not suitable for short and light weight riders
It is an easy to assemble bike that arrives 85% preassembled. The remaining parts are carefully labeled with R/L and clockwise/anticlockwise markings to streamline assembly and tune-up of pedals, front wheels and handlebars.
The Merax Finis is a light, easy to assemble and easy to ride bike. It’s ideal for tall riders 5.7” and above and may not be a good fit for shorter riders. Note that this bike model is regularly upgraded by the manufacturer at an extra $100. Still, it’s a worthy bargain not only for its aesthetic value but also its uniquely high functionality. It accelerates fast, shifts well and rides smoothly. It is available in various colors including passion black, classic grey, green as well as fashion white, blue and red.
#4. Diamondback Sorrento
It comes with 27.5” sporty wheels that offer a comfortable and smooth ride on rough terrains. The Tektro brakes ensure offer efficient braking to protect the bike from slips and facilitate smooth instant braking. The 80 mm suspension fork allows for smooth rides on exceptionally rough terrains. Moreover, the bike spots a powerful Shimano derailleur gear system.
- It is built on durable and light weight aluminum frame
- It has a water bottle holder
- It is available in five frame sizes
- Has highly responsive gear shifting
- It has a chain stay protector
- It has no kickstand
- Requires regular professional tuning
- It has an uncomfortable saddle and poor quality pedals
The bike comes partially assembled and sealed in a factory shipping box. You will need to install and adjust various components to achieve a perfect fit. If you are not well skilled on bike assembly, it is recommended that you take the bike to a capable bike shop for building and tune up. Otherwise there are plenty of online videos and articles available to guide you on assembling.
This is a perfect hard tail mountain bike for your adventurous rides. There are various sizes available to fit people of different heights and weights. The lack of rear suspension can serve as an advantage or detriment depending on one’s weight and the purpose for which the bike is used- Lack of it works well for downhill riding and for heavier riders. However, in rough terrains the lack of back suspension causes substantial shock impacts on the rider.
#5. Diamond Back Overdrive Hardtail
The Diamond Back Overdrive Hardtail complete bike is available in four frame sizes. It has Tektro disc mechanical brakes that provide for optimal braking performance in all terrains. The brakes are made of 180mm rotors that enhance the braking functionality.
The bike also has Shimano brake levers and 24-speed derailleurs. It additionally features SR Suntour XCT 27 coil spring fork with 80mm travel and its big knobby wheels offer a firm grip in even the roughest terrains. Furthermore, its 29” tires are 2.1” wide and are double walled and its rims are forged from stainless steel. This hard tail bike has an aluminum frame and Shimano Altus derailleurs.
- Suitable for beginners and intermediate mountain bikers.
- The large wheels and double rim walls enable the bike to handle shock and rough terrains well
- The bike is available in four different frame sizes to fit different riders
- It is an ideal unisex bike
- It offers a great balance between durability, weight and traction
- The bike can be too heavy especially for beginners and female riders.
- The manufacturer does not warrant for assembly damages.
- The fork and wheels wear out fast
The bike comes preassembled with only a few parts requiring assembly and tune up. The Manufacturer provides a detailed and easy-to-follow assembly instruction manual to enable riders to easily assemble the remaining components.
The Diamond Back Overdrive Hardtail complete bike is an affordable entry level mountain bike ideal for beginners and intermediate mountain bikers. This bike model is also available in 27.5” size for people shorter than 5.6”. Its lovesome features and affordability qualify it as a worthy addition to the best mountain bike under 500 ranking.
#6. GCM Yukon Fat Bike, 26 –Inch
The GCM Yukon Fat Bike, 26 –Inch has 26” tires that are 4” wide. It comes in one frame size only that is suitable for riders whose height is between 5’6 to 6’. The overall weight of the bike is about 43 pounds. It’s built with a lightweight Aluminum frame whose geometry includes 23.5” effective top tube, 4.5” head tube, 28.5” stand over and 17” from the center of the BB to the top tube. It has 7 gears on the back and a single ring in the front. It is installed with entry level Shimano shifters and uses mechanical disc brakes. The suspension fork is made of high tensile steel. Furthermore, it features a Shimano Tourney rear derailleur, Shimano Revoshift shifters and a Shimano super low cassette.
- The aluminum frame holds the fat bike sturdily
- It can be ridden in a wide range of terrains
- The Shimano Revo shifters are highly responsive in extreme terrains
- The fat tires and front suspension fork provide shock absorption for comfortable riding
- Has 7 gear options suitable for speed and gear shifting to suit various terrains
- It can be quite heavy for beginners.
- Inappropriate for petite riders
GCM Yukon Fat Bike, 26 –Inch is fairly easy to assemble when you follow the manufacturer’s assembly guide provided upon purchase. However, if you find it hard to assemble, take the bike to your nearest local bike shop for swift but dependable assemblage.
The GCM Yukon Fat Bike, 26 –Inch is the best mountain bike under 500 available in the market. You can conveniently ride this bike on a myriad of terrains including sand, snow, rough trails and mud. Wherever you take it, you’ll surely enjoy a smooth ride as the fat tires will easily roll over loose surfaces and obstacles. Ideally, it’s a mountain bike designed for the heavier and big bodied rider.
#7. Diamondback Lux
The Diamondback Lux is built using a light weight 6061-T6 aluminum frame that‘s both uniquely sturdy and durable. It has a low slung top tube that enables riders to easily straddle and dismount from the bike. The bike weighs 41 pounds and has a stand over height of 25.5”.The 27.5” wheels and SR Suntour fork offer easy and smooth maneuvering on rough terrains.
- The disc brakes enable rapid stopping
- It is affordable for people looking to purchase a mountain bike at an affordable price
- It is strong and durable
- Ideal for entry level mountain bike riders
- It comes with a 24 gear ratio for maximum speed and efficiency.
- The bike is not full suspension hence lacks rear suspension fork which reduces comfort when riding.
- The wheel spare parts are rare to find.
- Requires advanced skills to assemble and tune up
With the major parts of the bike preassembled, there are very few parts that require assembly. They include the front wheel, seat, handlebars as well as front and back brakes. However, the bike doesn’t come with assembly tools. You can easily assemble the remaining components and take it to the local bike shop for tune up
This is a bike specially designed for women riders. It is best suited for beginners as it is easy to handle. It best serves as a Cross Country bike but can be ridden well in other terrains too. Generally, LUX spare parts are hard to find. While it is not the best cushioned mountain bike in the market, it is easy to handle and shifts smoothly. Besides, the knobby large wheels offer additional shock absorption.
#8. Gravity Monster
The gravity monster weighs 37 pounds and is built with an 18” frame. The big fat tires allow for easy riding in a wide range of terrains. It uses thumb shifters instead of the common triggers making it an outstanding feature in the best mountain bike under 500 categories. It features a 2x7 superior 16-speed SRAM drive train which offers easy cycling.
- The big tires make riding both comfortable and fun.
- It is suitable for riding over a variety of terrains including mud, snow, boogs, deep sand and any other rough terrain.
- The frame is well welded together to offer sturdiness.
- The sophisticated SRAM drive train offers high level of efficiency in riding
- Easy to upgrade
- The big tires can be quite heavy for light weight riders.
- The brakes may weaken fast over time.
- The tires and tubes are heavy
Assembling this bike can be a bit technical especially for people with no prior bike assembly experience. However, you can take the bike to a nearby local bike shop to have it assembled and tuned up.
This is the ideal bike for anyone starting out in fat mountain biking. The Gravity monster’s aesthetics will stand out in the crowd making you easily noticeable among other riders. Besides, it’s a good bike for riding during winter on the snow and on muddy trails.
#9. Nashbar AT29 29”
The Nashbar AT29 29” is built on a steel frame. Although the steel frame gives it a heavier feel compared to similar diamondback model bikes in the same price range, it is still a fair deal for its price. The bike has a beginner friendly oil-shock system made from SR Suntour XTX for easy maneuvering in rough terrains. It features 24-speed Shimano gear sets for easy handling, a unique feature for the best mtb under 500. This mtb also has Alex rims, front and rear Shimano Derailleurs and a SR Suntour crank set. Moreover, it spots a durable Shimano 7-speed drive train. However, it only has a front suspension.
- The shock system can be turned off on flat and smooth surfaces to save energy and enhance performance.
- The precisely built in disc brakes offer powerful braking performance.
- The 29” wheels ride swiftly and easily over obstacles
- It provides a wide range of gear shifting options.
- Suitable for both men and women riders
- The saddle is uncomfortable
- The frame is heavy
- The brakes and derailleurs are low end.
The bike comes without an assembly manual. For this, its assembly is a breeze for experienced mountain bikers although novice bikers will fiddle about for some time before getting the hang of its assembly and tune up.
This is a pretty decent mountain bike for a price below $500. It is durable and highly functional mountain bike and the key to have it lasting long is to putting in place proper maintenance mechanisms. Still, it’s an excellent hard tail bike for both men and women. Furthermore, it is uniquely suited for the tall and heavier rider and its wheels offer sufficient traction for uphill and downhill trail riding as well as cycling in fairly level roads and trails.
#10. 2017 Gravity FSX 1.0
Also considered the best mountain bike under 500 in the dual suspension category, this mountain bike features easy to handle Shimano Shifters, adjustable front and rear suspensions as well as front and rear disc brakes that are strong and durable. The bike is built on a sturdy Aluminum frame with a single pivot technology. Moreover, it has an adjustable rear coil over a cartridge shock. It additionally spots a Shimano drive train and an adjustable front shock. It also has Tektro Novella Disc brakes and Shimano M190 rear derailleur. With the latest upgrade, the bike’s new Aluminum frame is lightweight and composed of high performance hydroformed tubing. Further, the bike features a Suntour Triple Crank set, has 24 speeds to allow for a variety of gear shifting options and weighs approximately 35 pounds.
- The double wall rims are strong and light.
- It has a quick release on both the front and rear wheels.
- The dual suspension feature offers cushioning in extremely rough terrains.
- It has powerful brakes for responsive braking in rough terrains
- Available in different sizes to suit the needs of different sizes of cyclists
- It does not have a kickstand
- It has a short wheel base
- Low quality saddle and pedals
The 2017 Gravity FSX 1.0 ships partially assembled with an easy-to-understand-and-follow assembly manual.
The 2017 Gravity FSX 1.0 is a quality yet affordable entry level dual suspension mountain bike available in small, medium, large and extra large sizes to fit different riders. Proper maintenance is crucial to ensure the durability and optimal functionality of this bike.
There you have it, the best mountain bike under 500. Even at a limited budget, it’s possible to land a uniquely efficient high performance mountain bike. All it takes is thorough research and a keen eye for your preferable bike features. Since a majority of mountain bikes will be shipped to you partially assembled, it is important to get it you new acquisition finely tuned up to your preference by a professional to ensure safety and optimal functionality. Whether you are looking to upgrade your current bike gift loved one, this guide will be a reliable starting point to find the best mountain bike under 500 in the market.