Buying a mountain bike on a $500 budget can be difficult. There's plenty of choice, but how do you know if you're getting the most bang for your buck? We're on hand to help.
With big brand names looking to cater to the needs of amateur mountain bikers, there’s been a big increase in the quality of bikes available for under 500 dollars.
These days you can get your hands on a bike for a few hundred bucks that’s built with great suspension, excellent gears and a solid lightweight frame.
We often get questions from readers on mountain bikes for under $500. This article has allowed us to create a list of bikes we recommend for those of you in the market for a high-quality bike in this price range.
- 1 The Best Mountain Bikes Under $500
- 2 Raleigh Bicycles Talus 3 Mountain Bike
- 3 Raleigh Bicycles Talus 2 Mountain Bike
- 4 Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike
- 5 Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Mountain Bike
- 6 26 Schwinn Sidewinder Womens Mountain Bike
- 7 Buying a Mountain Bike Under 500 Dollars
- 8 Conclusion
The Best Mountain Bikes Under $500
We carried out hours of market research and aimed to explore every fine detail from frame material to weight and suspension fork travel. This also meant understanding which sacrifices should and shouldn’t be made in order to satisfy the sub 500 dollar price point.
We wanted to narrow down the options, so our readers have access to a list of bikes that offer the best balance between quality and value for money.
We carried out hours of market research and aimed to explore every fine detail from frame material to weight and gear systems to suspension fork travel. After filtering out plenty of good mountain bikes, we were left with a select few that are absolute monsters considering they’re available for less than 500 dollars.
After an extensive research and testing process, here’s a list of the best mountain bikes available for under $500 that are as smooth to ride as they are on your wallet.
Raleigh Bicycles Talus 3 Mountain Bike
Since we last updated this post, the Talus 3 by Raleigh has snuck into this price range; it would be criminal not to include it. On this newer model, you’ll find an upgraded SR Suntour XCM-DS that replaces the XCE-28 on the Talus 2, a Shimano M310 3×7 speed shifter replacing the EF500, and a whole host of other tweaks and improvements.
We’re keeping the Talus 2 on this list as it remains an excellent option in its own right, but the Talus 3 offers a tiny bit more and puts you right at the $500 limit. We’d recommend you weigh up both the Talus 3 and 2 and see if the extra few bucks are worth it for the improvements.
Raleigh Bicycles Talus 2 Mountain Bike
Though we’ve recently added the Talus 3 to this list, the Talus 2 remains an excellent all-rounder with a very reasonable price tag. This makes it an excellent choice for not just new cyclists but also experienced mountain bikers.
With this bike you get a delicate balance of maneuverability and stability. With wheels that are sized progressively, you get a wheel size that’s best suited to your size. You get 100mm of travel through the SR Suntour XCE-28 fork, Tektro disc brakes and Shimano gears. Overall this is a very good option; we’re particularly impressed at how much bike you get for your money.
Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive 27.5 Hardtail Mountain Bike
The 6061-T6 frame is made from alloy and built by hand. When it comes to suspension you get 80mm of travel delivered through an SR tour XCT front fork. You also get a total of 24 speeds available thanks to the Shimano gear system.
The 27.5-inch wheels offer a steady ride with plenty of traction and the disc breaks offer impressive stopping control. All in all, the Overdrive from Diamondback is an excellent quality mountain bike considering the price tag. It’s not just technically sound; it’s also a great looking mountain bike.
Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Mountain Bike
The distinctive feature when it comes to the Dolomite from Mongoose has to be the fat tire design. These make it super versatile, with enough traction to handle all terrains. You get front and rear disc brakes, with a Shimano made derailer that provides seven speeds. Beach cruiser pedals and lightweight alloy rims are a nice touch.
The bike feels a little bit heavy, but this extra weight helps to the durability needed for an all-terrain bike. On the whole, we’re really impressed with the Dolomite. If you’re looking for a mountain bike built for anything mother nature throws your way; it comes highly recommended.
26 Schwinn Sidewinder Womens Mountain Bike
Next up we’ve got the Sidewinder from Schwinn. When a bike has a name that reminds you of mountain bike trails; there’s no surprise when it lives up to it. It boasts excellent value for money and makes a perfect entry-level mountain bike for ladies.
It comes with a front suspension fork, 21-speed Shimano gears, and has linear-pull brakes which are impressively responsive. This is a bike that simply delivers, and we consider it one of the best women’s mountain bikes under 500 dollars.
Buying a Mountain Bike Under 500 Dollars
If you are an adventurous rider who wants to go beyond the usual smooth roads bicycle riding, mountain bikes are what will quench that thirst of yours. They are sturdily built for off-road cycling and for the peak performance on whatever terrain you may want to go on.
Usually, mountain bikes are known for sturdiness and durability. However, you can’t trust all the products you see on the market.
Choosing a Mountain Bike
Let’s look at some aspects you should keep in mind while shopping for a mountain bike on a budget. Having a $500 maximum doesn’t really give you the widest choice, but you certainly have an awful lot more to pick from that those with a slightly smaller budget.
The difference between the mountain bikes featured here and mountain bikes that cost less than $300 is staggering. Many of the same considerations still apply though, let’s look at some.
Since this buying guide is tailored to help those who have 500 dollars or less in selecting the right mountain bike, it is only wise that the budget is the first factor we look at.
Manage your expectations according to your budget. You may find a bike that has excellent shifters and derailleurs, but it’s likely you’re going to be compromising elsewhere on the bike.
If mountain bikes with all the best components were available for under $500, no one would ever spend any more than that.
There are three different types of mountain bikes; hardtail bikes with fork suspension in front, rigid bikes without any suspension and the full suspension with front and rear fork suspensions.
Hardtail bikes are the most common at low-end price ranges. Typically good quality full suspension bikes cost into the thousands, hence none being listed in this article.
Mountain bikes with rigid suspension are the cheapest and require far less upkeep. Hardtail bikes are a little better for mountainous terrain because they have a suspension system at the front. You will get shock absorption for the front wheel but nothing on the back.
Full suspension bikes are usually touted as the best for mountainous terrain, having suspensions in the front and rear.
Aluminum alloy is an excellent option for mountain bikes. This is because the material is so lightweight and durable. Although, mountain bikes are also framed with other materials like steel, carbon fiber, and titanium.
Even though steel is not expensive and very durable, it is heavy. Titanium and carbon fiber are lightweight but are costly. Ruling those out, we’re left with one choice. Aluminum frames are ideal for the balance of weight and price they offer.
Ask yourself what terrain you will be riding your bike on; hills or mountains? Your answer will determine what wheel size is ideal for you. Mountain bikes often come with 26, 27.5 and 29 inches wheel sizes.
26-inch wheels are good enough for a beginner so that they can have full control of their bicycle. However, the larger the wheel, the more comfortable it will be for you to tackle obstacles when riding.
You might be wondering what gears have to do in selecting a mountain bike since they don’t require constant gear changing. But you never can tell what a seven-speed gear system will do for you.
For the expert riders, the lower gears would come in handy for going up and down, while the higher gears are likely to be more suited for beginners on smoother trails.
Brakes are essential to safe mountain biking. We have disc brakes and rim brakes on offer. The former is powerful and suitable for all kinds of situations. While the latter offer solid grips but not all the time.
Mountain bikes are there for you if you want to experience more ruggedness and more adventurous riding experience. Getting a mountain bike that doesn’t suit your needs could put you off before you even get started.
With these tips at the back of your mind, you can get yourself a nice little mountain bike that’s light in weight and light in price. The bikes included in our list prove that even with a low budget, you can get a high performing budget bike that’s fit for purpose.