Best Mountain Bikes Under $500
When you are planning to buy a mountain bike but you are on a tight budget then the options are not so many out there. Well, you have decided that $500 is your maximum amount to spend on a mountain bike and that’s OK because you can even find a good and reliable one for the money. Our article about the best mountain bikes under $500 is here to help.
Mountain biking is one of the best exercises for your health and you should definitely consider it!
Best Mountain Bikes Under $500
- Vilano 26-Inch Frame Mountain Bike Ridge 2.0
- Nashbar AT1 Mountain Bike
- Merax 26″ Dual Disc Brakes 21 Speed Hardtail Mountain Bike
- Vilano Ridge 1.0 Mountain Bike MTB 21 Speed Shimano with Disc Brakes
- Mongoose R2780 Impasse Dual Full Suspension Bicycle
Buying online is probably the only way to spend less than $500 and buy a relatively good mountain bike. Of course, the “Walmart” quality bikes are most probably within the budget too but I have to tell you that they are garbage. You should spend your money online and buy a decent bike.
Normally the mountain bike is not the cheapest type of bike. It should be very solid and it should withstand rocks, mud and other obstacles without breaking into pieces. The difficult part here is that most cheap mountain bikes are equipped with low-quality components and finding one with good components is not an easy task.
All mountain bikes on my list below are equipped with decent quality components and as you can see on Amazon they have good reviews from the customers who bought them. This is one of the best advantages of buying online because you can see and read real experiences and verdicts from real customers.
Mountain biking is really a very nice hobby that you should start with a good mountain bike. Of course, here we are talking about your first mountain bike so you are most probably not experienced at this. There are some very important aspects that you should consider before buying the mountain bike.
Bike Frame and Suspension
The bike frame is the most important part of any bicycle. Mountain bikes should have a very rigid frame made of good materials. Most mountain bike frames today are made of aluminum. Aluminum alloys are very strong, lightweight and cheap to manufacture so it should be your first choice.
Some manufacturers still prefer the steel frames.With some basic maintenance, a steel-framed bike can last decades. Steel is more durable but much heavier and with the low cost of the aluminum today you won’t find many bikes with steel frames.
About the suspension, I have to say that the best option for your budget below $500 will be the hard-tail. There are many cheap bikes with full suspension but they are very low-quality and I don’t recommend them at all.
I guarantee you that a hardtail mountain bike with decent components will last much longer than a full-suspension bike in the same price range. Of course, the full-suspension is much more comfortable to ride on the mountain but with this budget, it is not recommended at all.
Let’s start with my recommendations for the best mountain bikes under $500!
Vilano 26-Inch Frame Mountain Bike Ridge 2.0
I love the look of this Vilano mountain bike! It’s absolutely gorgeous with these alloy mag wheels and the black/red color option. The price is normally below $500 and the bike is a very good bargain. For this very good price, you will get a decent quality aluminum frame which is quite durable and rigid enough for the mountain.
Another great feature of the Ridge 2.0 is that it is equipped with a front suspension fork with lockout. This means that when you need the bike for a casual commute in the town you can lock it and you will get a much easier, faster and more efficient ride. Most of the cheap bikes don’t have such feature included and normally the manufacturers put suspension fork without a lockout.
The disk brakes are medium quality but they serve enough braking power for the bike and you won’t have any issues. Unfortunately, there are some problems too which are quite normal for so cheap bike. The handlebars are a little bit uncomfortable and the seat is not very good. But for a few more bucks you can upgrade these parts and buy whatever you find comfortable.
The most important thing is that frame, drivetrain, and shifts are good enough for riding on the mountain. I would definitely recommend this bike to anyone who wants to ride casually in the mountain or commute in the town.Buy Vilano Ridge 2.0 Mountain Bike on Amazon
- Very good looking bike!
- Disk brakes ( not so common for cheap bike );
- Front suspension with lockout;
- Durable aluminum frame;
- Uncomfortable seat and handlebars;
Nashbar AT1 Mountain Bike
We already have a very good verdict in our review of this mountain bike in our article about the best cheap mountain bikes. But this bike is so cheap, basic and durable that I had to add it to this list too. The bike is very reliable but at the same time dull looking which is a problem for some riders.
As we already mentioned the components used are very good and durable enough for casual mountain biking. This bike is suitable for everyone who wants to own a bike which is capable enough on paved roads and on the rocky paths in the mountain.
I don’t like the wheels of the Nashbar AT1 because they are not double-walled but if you are careful enough you won’t have any issues. Maybe the bike is not very suitable for very heavy riders because of that too.Buy Nashbar AT1 Mountain Bike on Amazon
- High-quality aluminum frame;
- Cheap and reliable for long-term use;
- Good for anyone who wants to enter in the World of mountain biking;
- Dull looking, only one color option;
- Not very strong single-walled wheels;
Merax 26″ Dual Disc Brakes 21 Speed Hardtail Mountain Bike
Merax is a company which makes some of the cheapest bikes and sells on Amazon very well. Normally the quality is average but the bikes look good and the prices are extremely low. With this model, Merax is selling you a really basic model of a hard-tail mountain bike which is good enough for anyone.
The best thing about it is the price! It sells even below the 200 mark which is a very nice thing if you are on a very tight budget for a mountain bike. For what you pay you will even get disk brakes which are awesome. Of course, some of the components are very low-quality but you can change them at a later stage.
There are three color options available but in my humble opinion, the best one is the green which is actually a combination of green and yellow. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks too. The tires, for example, are not good at all and you most probably will need to invest in a new pair. But you can get a really good pair for around 30 bucks if you really need it so this is not so big problem.Buy Merax Mountain Bike on Amazon
- Dirty cheap!
- Good looking in green;
- Disc Brakes;
- Comfortable seat;
- Some low-quality components;
- Tires are not good at all;
- Noisy gear changing;
Vilano Ridge 1.0 Mountain Bike MTB 21 Speed Shimano with Disc Brakes
Vilano Ridge 1.0 is a great mountain bike for beginners. It is suited to a high-quality aluminum frame which is durable and good looking. For the price, you will get a full Shimano experience here with all important components made by the company including Shimano EF-51 Easyfire 7sp Shifters, Shimano Tourney TZ50 Rear Derailleur, and Shimano TZ30 Front Derailleur.
Vilano has known for it’s reliable and cheap bicycles since 2008. We’ve tested many Vilano models and in general, the quality is good for the price. In this case, you will even have a good pair of disc brakes which is nice for a bike under $500.
The bike is good enough if you are looking for your first mountain bike and it will serve you well in the mountain or on paved roads. You will have a smooth ride and good stopping power thanks to the disc brakes.
Of course, the tires are not very good which looks common for the cheap mountain bikes but you can always upgrade. The seat is also not very comfortable and the bike lacks comfort because of it. Despite all these downsides the Vilano Ridge 1.0 is still one of best mountain bikes under $500Buy Vilano Ridge 1.0 Mountain Bike on Amazon
- Perfect entry-level bike;
- Vilano quality;
- Nice looking bike;
- Uncomfortable seat;
- Low-quality noisy tires;
Mongoose R2780 Impasse Dual Full Suspension Bicycle
This Mongoose R2780 is another great choice for anyone who is looking for a mountain bike below 500 bucks and here you will get an even 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 cheap mountain 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 examples, many users complain that when the package arrived there were some missing parts. I suppose that this issue was now fixed. In a conclusion, Mongoose R2780 is not a bad mountain bike if you wish to have full-suspension and spend less than $500.
- Full Suspension Bike
- Disk Brakes
- Good looking bike
- Mongoose is a good brand
- Complains about missing parts
- Average quality components
Buy Mongoose R2780 on Amazon
About the Author
I'm a passionate cyclist and an adventurer. Writer and editor of Yes Cycling.