After riding more than 50 mountain bikes in 2020, we think that the best cheap mountain bike is the Diamondback Overdrive 29. It’s a sturdy hardtail bicycle with great mechanical disc brakes that won’t let you down.
It could be quite a challenge to find good and at the same time affordable mountain bikes in 2020. In this blog post, we are going to help you with the tough task to find the best affordable mountain bikes. The mountain bike is not a normal city bike because it should withstand rocks, mud and other obstacles without breaking apart.
If you don’t have time to read more, check below our top picks:
- Diamondback Overdrive 29 – The Best Cheap Hardtail Mountain Bike
- Raleigh Talus 2
- Mongoose Impasse Full Dual-Suspension – Cheapest Full-Suspension Mountain Bike
- Diamondback Hook
- Trek Marlin 5
- Cannondale Trail 8 Bike 2020
- Co-op Cycles DRT 1.2W Women’s Bike – The Best Affordable Mountain Bike for Women
- Schwinn High Timber
- Diamondback Atroz 2 – The Best Full-Suspension Cheap Mountain Bike
What’s the problem with the cheap mountain bikes?
Unfortunately, many cheap mountain bikes cut too many corners and deliver mediocre quality. They usually look good but only imitate the real mountain bikes. Our goal with this guide is to steer you away from these bad bikes and find the best cheap mountain bikes for you.
Whether you want to find a bike just for commuting or looking for a new hobby, mountain bikes are the best choice. They are super versatile and multi-purpose bikes despite the fact that they are called mountain bikes. Actually, you can even make your daily commutes on a mountain bike.
Trusting your bike is as important as trusting your cycling abilities. The mountain bike is one of the best ways to enter the world of cycling without breaking your wallet. In most cases, they are versatile, balanced and most importantly cheap. If you are interested in the topic – mountain bikes vs. road bikes vs. hybrid bikes you will find our answer in this article too.
What to consider when buying an affordable mountain bike.
Hardtail Bike vs. Full Suspension
This is one of the most important questions you need to answer before you decide which cheap mountain bike you will buy. If you are on a budget my answer will always be: rather buy a better quality hard-tail bike than a cheap full-suspension model.
There is a good reason for my opinion on the full suspension mountain bikes. If you look at a full-suspension bike and a hardtail at the same price range, the added complexity of a suspended frame means big compromises made in terms of components.
Of course, a full-suspension mountain bike will always be much more capable and enjoyable on a violent terrain. This is true on paper, but in reality, there is a lot of stress on the frame and most of the cheap full-suspension mountain bikes will not last very long.
Another significant compromise you should make if you decide on a full-suspension bike is that you are losing a lot of energy with every pedal stroke because of the suspension bends and flexes. Unless you buy a bike with a mid shock that lets you lock it out when you are on paved roads, you are likely going to regret taking that big hill.
In comparison, a hard-tail bike normally is stronger, lighter and stiffer. You are going to be just fine when you wish to go to the mountain and the front shock absorber is more than enough. Take into consideration that most of the time your new mountain bike will be used on paved roads.
After all, it’s up to you which one to choose. In my opinion, the good full-suspension bikes start at around $1200. If you plan to ride most of the time on rocks maybe you should consider such an option.
Starting around 2010, 29er mountain bikes became a very popular alternative as they offered multiple advantages over the standard 26’’ mountain bike. The larger wheels on the 29er give the rider the ability to reach higher top speed.
Another benefit is that with each pedal stroke, you are going to travel further and with less fatigue. Also, the bigger wheels roll easier over rocks and logs. In general, it’s much more fun riding a 29er than 26’’ and you should consider it. You should take in mind that if you are not very tall maybe under 5′ 11″ it can be a little bit difficult to handle it.
The 26’’ mountain bike is the industry standard. A bike with such wheels is usually lighter, nimble and corners very easy. The smaller wheels are often better for technical terrain that requires fast reaction and changing directions. But with this wheel size, you are going to be much slower than the 29er. Mountain bike with 27.5’’’wheels is the best of both worlds. It’s a compromise between the advantages and disadvantages of both bike sizes.
My recommendation is to buy a 29er mountain bike to fully experience the joy of mountain biking. Of course, it depends on your height and you should ask for help in your local bike shop if you cannot decide on your own.
Mountain Bike Frames
It’s very important to buy the right bike frame size for your height. It can be measured from where the crank enters the bike to where the seat post begins.
The frame is probably the most important component of a bike. High-quality frames are very expensive and can last very long. In most cases, the frames in the entry-level mountain bikes are either aluminum or steel.
Aluminum alloys are a very popular choice for bike frames. Aluminum is a strong, light and rigid material and you get a better strength to weight ratio. The aluminum was originally introduced as a frame material because it enabled manufacturers to mass-produce frames more cheaply and in more specialized and better-looking forms.
With time aluminum frames became an industry standard and today they are almost as cheap as the steel frames. Steel frames are known as more durable but heavier. With some basic maintenance, a steel-framed bike can last decades. Very few manufacturers produce steel frames today, but still, a lot of cheap mountain bikes with steel frames can be found in the market.
Knowing your maximum budget before start searching is crucial for any big purchase. The rule of thumb here is that if you pay more you will get a lighter mountain bike with higher quality components. Realistically we can say that $300 – $400 is a good starting point for a basic but still good mountain bike. Of course for this price range, you will have to make a few compromises.
If you look for models below this price range and the quality of the components drops dramatically. In our picks below you will see a few bikes below $300 but they are only a few gems that can be found on the market.
Best Cheap Mountain Bikes for 2020
Let’s start with our top pick for the best cheap mountain bike. Diamondback is a brand that we at YesCycling value a lot. They provide very good value for the price. Compromises for the most important components are not common for this company.
As I mentioned already the hard-tail frame is the best option if you are on a budget. And with this bike, you get one of the best hardtail frames in the market right now. This one is made of butted 6061-T6 aluminum that is durable, and reliable.
The bike is fitted with double-walled rims. With two layers of metal, the wheels are much stronger than the one-walled wheels. This is so important when you bike off-road because the rims are not going to bend easily. Also, they make the bike a very good option for heavier riders.
Another area where Diamondback doesn’t make any compromises is in the components of the gear. Most of the competition use even cheaper gears with very questionable durability.
The mechanical disc brakes ( Tektro Aries Mechanical Disc w/ 180mm Front / 160mm Rear Rotors ) are very nice to have at this price range and they are also of good quality and you should not expect any problems with them.
In conclusion, Diamondback Overdrive 29 is a very good mountain bike for anyone who wants to get dirty off-road or for casual riding in the city. It is a very good bicycle if you are a heavy rider because for that money you get a really sturdy and capable mountain bike.
- Nice hardtail aluminum frame
- Mechanical disc brakes with huge stopping power
- Strong double-walled wheels
- Affordable mountain bike
- Tires could be better
Raleigh Talus 2 is a very good and reliable all-rounder that won’t break your piggy bank. The components used here are also quite good. For example, the front suspension fork is SR Suntour which is a very good entry-level one and delivers nice 75mm of movement. The benefit of using such fork is a very smooth and nice ride for the Raleigh Talus 2.
What I really like about this cheap mountain bike is the aluminum frame which is very good as in most Raleigh bikes. The geometry is just perfect for any road and rider. Raleigh Talus 2 is suited with Kenda mountain bike tires which are very good for this price range.
Raleigh Talus 2 is really tough, moderately priced mountain bike that can serve you for years if you take good care of it. I definitely recommend it to everyone who is looking for a cheap alternative to the more expensive mountain bikes. It’s great for riding on concrete, gravel, dirt, and it handles mountain biking trails well
The smallest frames ( X-Small, and Small ) are perfect for teenager riders who would taste the World of mountain biking for the first time.
- Good SR Suntour fork
- Great frame geometry and quality
- Raleigh is a good brand
Mongoose Impasse is another great choice for anyone who is looking for a mountain bike that is cheap and offers full dual-suspension. As we already know, I’m not a big fan of the full suspension bikes especially when we talk about such cheap ones. But in this case, I have to admit that this bike is pretty much everything you should ask for in a dual-suspension affordable bike.
It’s reliable, fun to ride and it includes some features like disc brakes, Element Suspension fork on the front and 21-speed Shimano rear derailleurs. It has even a quick-release alloy wheel which is a very useful feature to have. The tires are not so bad having in mind the price of the bike and if you read the reviews you will understand that the bike is relatively high-quality.
Of course, there are some downsides as well. For example, many users complain that when the package arrived there were some missing parts. I suppose that this issue was now fixed, but have it in mind when ordering.
Be warned that the reviews of this mountain bike are all over the place. From extremely good, to garbage. It has an average rating of 3.6 stars out of 5 with more than 320 reviews. In my opinion, opt-in for a hardtail mountain bike with better reviews.
- Full-suspension bike
- Disk brakes are good
- Mongoose is a good brand
- Complains about missing parts
- Average quality components
While we agree with the reviewer delivering the prophetic quote, “Affordable shouldn’t be code for lame,” we would like to add, “Who says the two are mutually exclusive?”
At $700.00, The Hook will hook you if it’s within your price range, and you love a bike with a solid brand pedigree responsible for introducing models like the Line and Sync’. Even the low-slung frame will remind you of these not-so-distant cousins.
It doesn’t matter if terrain happens to be tight trails, or you could be described as the maniac prone to suicidal dives down daredevil descents.
Diamondback product developers and designers didn’t skimp on quality when they stipulated a fearsome 120mm fork, easy-to-operate, single-ring drive train, disc brakes that offer you stopping insurance you can take to the bank–plus quick-rolling 27.5-inch wheels.
Is it possible to mention the words “beginner bike” in the same sentence as “affordably priced”? It is if you like this baby. Just ask owners who find the brand to be irresistible, but always assumed it was beyond their price reach.
Ready to do battle with pricier mountain bikes, the Hook has what it takes to be a star on the circuit: 8 speeds (rear derailleur, chain, and shifter), disc mount alloy front and rear hubs, stainless steel spokes, double-wall rims and a long list of impressive specs you should read yourself to understand how much quality you get.
- Comfortably accommodates “tall and big guys.”
- One of the most dependable rides for the money
- Customization options are endless
- Prestigious brand name; Diamondback has a stellar history
- Expect amazing company customer service response.
- The seat had been proclaimed “uncomfortable” by owners
- Derailleurs may disappoint when tackling extreme heights.
New for 2020, the Trek Marlin 5 has debuted to glowing reviews from people who ride and are not shy about being truthful when expressing their opinions. Priced at around $550, the Marlin 5 prides itself on its ability to hit the trail daily – or conquer city terrain if that’s your thing – and you can put up with any number challenges that come your way because this affordable bike is prepared to meet them all.
Highly recommended by experts for new mountain bike riders who seek a stable yet adventurous ride while they decide if they want a more sophisticated mountain bike down the road.
The Marlin 5’s front suspension fork offers 100mm of travel (favored by a predominance of cross country racers), flies along at any of the bike’s 21 speeds, and there are mounts for a rack that is beefy enough to hold anything you intend to drag from place to place.
Small details like the kickstand make the Marlin 5 an ideal choice for commuters whose most exciting challenges come from avoiding street traffic on the way to work.
Available in teal, matte black, and volt green, your ride will not only perform like a pro, but you could be called a trendsetter, too. Choose between 6 wheel sizes when you make your selection (they range from 27.5-inches to 29-inches).
Feel free to marvel at the lightweight Alpha Silver Aluminum frame protecting internal routing cables. The Marlin 5’s hydraulic disc brakes offer a smoother ride than mechanical disc brakes, so you get a lot of bike without having to clean out your bank account.
- Extremely versatile – excels on a wide variety of surfaces
- Available in extra-small frame sizes that are not easy to find
- The Marlin 5 comes with Trek’s lifetime warranty
- Kickstand and rack mounts can be invaluable
- Separate brake and shift levers offer comfort and can be customized
- The chain could disengage while shifting gears, damaging the bike
- Line up a good local bike mechanic. You may need him.
Take your mountain biking passion to new heights for less than the aforementioned Hook. But the $485 price tag doesn’t mean you will wind up with a bike of lesser quality.
Fast, fun, and available in four sizes designed to accommodate most trail rider’s builds and weights, the aluminum frame delivers what the company refers to as a hefty, stiff and snappy ride that’s both lively and responsive.
Engineers have built one hell of a ride using the brand’s proprietary dirt-tailored geometry responsible for this trail bike’s responsiveness, so no worries that the affordable price will impact performance.
The Trail 8 bike sails along on wheels that range in size from 27.5- to 29-inches, and short chainstays deliver on agility, and reassuring traction as the wide bar and short stem contribute to the control every trail biker needs to stay confident and sure, no matter what terrain surprises await.
When things get steep and daunting, wide-range gearing keeps riders tooling along effortlessly thanks to the Suntour front suspension, 75 millimeters of fork travel, Shimano shifters, front and rear derailleurs. This baby is ready to tackle changing terrain on the fly courtesy of 21 gears that keep pace with changing surfaces.
The mechanical disc braking system plus Ranger or Nine line tires are made to stop you on a dime if necessary; thus, this Cannondale demands a second look.
- The unisex bike is popular with men and women
- Frame design includes mount points for a rack
- Company has been making bikes since 1971
- Accommodates riders up to 276 pounds
- Easy cleanup thanks to the low maintenance body frame
- It’s hard to find the acid green version of this bike
- Need more than seven speeds? Keep shopping.
Ratings are high, and recent price reductions make this Co-op DRT 1.2W eminently affordable for anyone seeking a quality product for under $600. You read that right. If you’ve been shopping, you know that this bike once came with a $900 price tag.
Choose from only two sizes: extra-small and large and just one color: Dark Vin Rouge. As a product that’s designed exclusively for women, this trail bike has been thoughtfully created to fit a woman’s body better.
Specifically, the top tube and stem are shorter, handlebars are narrower, and the saddle design is a female trail rider’s dream. As the company notes, the differences may be “only a couple of centimeters, but it can make a big difference in your comfort.”
Set off on whatever journey you care to take on this customized bike, and you will experience the difference in performance, design, and construction. The Shimano Low-profile rear derailleur tucks under the frame, so it’s protected from the debris that is acquired while racing across the landscape.
No worries about your body being subjected to so many obstacles you can barely walk once you unmount: the 120mm front travel fork offers the ultimate in shock absorption. Switch the suspension off on the fly without removing your hands from your grips as you prepare to climb your latest challenging elevation without exhausting every cell in your body.
Ladies: this is the gift you had earned over the years when the only bike options on the market were for dudes!
- The Shimano drivetrain’s 27 gears put you in control of your ride
- Uniquely-sized components offer women a comfier ride
- Tektro hydraulic disc brakes are reliable even in bad weather
- Lock the fork when you climb without having to stop your ride
- Bike accommodates riders up to 300 pounds of body weight and gear.
- The bike comes in only two sizes.
- It could be hard to find despite closeout pricing.
Would any review promoting cheap mountain bikes be complete without at least one product from the Schwinn family library?
This iconic American company has been a household name since 1895, and while the price tag on this product is amazingly low at between $228 and $330, the differential has more to do with the fact that this product may be purchased with either an aluminum or steel frame.
In addition to having two sturdy material types to take you through your riding paces, both models also come in 9 fashionable colors, and both frames feature suspension forks for what the company calls “controlled riding on tough trails.” Count on the Shimano twist shifters with 21-speed rear derailleur for quick gear changes on the trail, so terrain deviations don’t slow you down.
This Schwinn’s stability is supplied by durable alloy wheels supporting wide, knobby all-terrain tires that won’t let you down, no matter the number of rocky, uneven surfaces you encounter. Choose from 4 wheel sizes: 24-inches, 26-inches, 27.5-inches, and 29-inches.
Each is prepared to go the distance for riders who weigh up to 250 pounds. Whether you go for the Schwinn pedigree, you love having this many color selections, or you’re just impressed by the High Timber’s affordability, if you’re a fan of the Schwinn brand, you won’t be disappointed.
- Easy to assemble if you are good with directions
- Excellent ratings from women for comfort and lightweight
- Great value and quality construction
- Color selections are trendy and fashionable
- Gears have been called “perfect out of the box.”
- Derailleurs may not shift properly
- Not the best choice for large adults.
You may wonder what this Atroz 2 is doing on this list, given the fact that the price tag on this Diamondback gem is $1,000, but everything in life and trail biking is relative. If you consider the brand reputation, you are likely to find it a bargain guaranteed to give you a great return on your investment.
Available in three sizes (S, M, L) but only one color (Satin Blue), the Atroz 2 stands out from a crowded field of competitors by showing off perks like full-suspension, extreme comfort, and unparalleled rider control.
Shoppers are impressed by the “grippy tires” once they put this bad boy through its paces over rugged surfaces that show no mercy. Sealed cartridge bearings are tucked into what Diamondback calls “an understated single-pivot design,” thus, durability is a given, and a smooth ride is assured.
The fact that there’s a substantial price tag attached to this bike can be mediated if you look at the company’s sterling history and quality products.
You will be impressed by the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, Suntour air-sprung rear suspension, and the single-ring drive train is so easy to operate, you will wonder how Diamondback managed to include these on a bike that, by all rights, should cost more.
If seeing that many zeros on a mountain bike price tag gave you pause, you owe it to yourself to do a little more investigation so you can see exactly why this product is a true value. Ride one. That should convince you.
- Easy assembly; even for neophytes
- Shimano Acera Derailleur is easy to adjust and noticeably quiet
- Drive train and suspension dramatically outperform the Atroz 1
- Conquers mountains and technical trails with ease
- “Best money I ever spent,” multiple owners enthuse!
- May be way out of your price range.
- Grips are cheap and could rub blisters.