12 Best Mountain Bikes Under $500 in 2018
Mountain biking is a favorite hobby for many outdoor enthusiasts and continues to grow in popularity. If you have ever talked to a mountain bike enthusiast, one thing you have probably noticed is how expensive the hobby can be! This can be a huge barrier to entry for many people, so we have decided to help those on a budget find the right mountain bike for them.
In the following guide, we will show you some of our favorite mountain bike picks as well as teach you how to find the best mountain bikes under 500 dollars so that you can start enjoying the trails as soon as possible.
Top 12 Mountain Bikes Under $500 Comparison Table
Biking on a Budget: How to Find the Best (and Most Affordable) Mountain Bike for You
Regardless of the price, when choosing a mountain bike, there are many things to consider before you make your purchase. From the size of the wheels to the style of the body, you need to consider all of the features and think about those that are most important to you.
To help you find the best mountain bikes under 500 dollars, we’ve put together a list of some of the most important characteristics to consider when mountain bike shopping.
What Style of Mountain Bike Do You Want? – As a mountain biker, there are a number of different bike styles to choose from depending on the type of mountain biking you want to do. Where you ride and how you plan to ride will tell you a lot about what style of bike you need. While there are many bike styles, we will focus on three of the most popular:
- Trail Bikes – This is the most common type of mountain bike because it is a good balance of efficiency and weight. It is likely the bike for those who are looking to get into mountain biking because it can handle the terrain, climbs, and descents of your average trail for a fun, afternoon ride.
- Cross-Country Bikes – Cross country mountain bikes are built for speed. If you plan on getting into the racing side of mountain biking or if you know you like to go fast, these lightweight and gear-efficient are the choice for you. If you are a beginner, be careful if choosing this style as they will go down a hill quickly, sometimes more quickly than a beginner is comfortable with.
- All-Mountain Bikes – All-mountain bikes are built for mountain biking to the extreme. Think of steep descents and climbs, extremely rough terrain, and technical obstacles. These bikes are built ruggedly enough to handle rough impacts and are light enough to handle steep hills.
What Features Are Important to You? – A mountain bike’s features are a good indicator of what it can do. If you can make informed decisions on the following three characteristics of your mountain bike, you can be sure to get the right bike for you.
- Suspension – Choosing the right type of suspension is an important first step in choosing a mountain bike. There are three different types of suspension, including hardtail, full and rigid.
Hardtail suspension refers to a bike that has a suspension fork in the front, but none in the rear. Cross-country riders favor this type of suspension because it allows more energy transfer to the rear tire (because the suspension is absorbing none of the pedals’ energy).
Full suspension mountain bikes have suspension in the front and rear for full absorption of the trail. For trail riders, this type of suspension is best for a comfortable ride.
Mountain bikes with rigid suspension have no suspension at all. These are usually cheaper and require less maintenance, but they are not as comfortable as bikes with suspension.
- Wheel Size – There are multiple wheel sizes to choose from when shopping for a mountain bike, but the most popular sizes are 26 inches and 29 inches. 26-inch wheels are the most common wheel size (and used to be the only size) and are well equipped for most situations. 29-inch wheels (or 29ers) are a little slower to accelerate, but in theory, you can cover a lot more ground with the same amount of effort because of the bigger wheel.
- Gears – The speed of a mountain bike refers to the ratio of a bikes rear and front gears (example: a 21-speed bike has three front gears and seven rear gears, and 3×7=21). In general, the steeper the hills you plan to climb, the more gears you want. A higher number of gears gives the rider more choice when it comes to how you want to attack a hill.
How Do You Find the Right Fit? – Most mountain bikes are sized small, medium, and large and use a rider’s height to determine the right fit. If at all possible, even when shopping online, try to find a place that will fit you on a bike so you get the right size!
Now You Are Ready to Get out on the Trail!
The deeper you get into the sport of mountain biking, the more you will come to understand all the features and combinations that you could get in a mountain bike. However, armed with the knowledge in this guide, you can get off to a great start on your journey to being a mountain biking expert.
Top 5 Best Mountain Bikes Under $500 Reviews
Opater is a well-known Chinese bike manufacturer known for their cost-accessible mountain bikes, and although this 26-inch, 24-speed mountain bike is one of the pricier models on our list. It’s also our number one pick for the best mountain bike under 500 dollars.
- High Carbon Steel Frame – The Opater Mountain bike is sturdy and well made. Not only is its steel frame durable, but it also folds, making it easy to transport.
- 6-Spoked Wheels – The six magnesium alloy spokes that make up the wheels of this mountain bike are stylish and functional. A six-spoke wheel is less likely to get jammed up with debris.
- Repair Kit Included – One of the most important aspects of mountain biking is maintenance. Opater has included a repair kit that you can attach to your bike for long rides. Just in case!
The Opater Mountain Bike deserves our number one spot, and honestly, we are surprised that it’s under 500 dollars at all.
The FSX 2.0 is probably one of the coolest looking mountain bikes on our list. At this price point, the functionality and design of the FSX 2.0 is rare.
- Adjustable Suspension – The amount of shock-absorption you want can vary from trail to trail. The FSX 2.0 has adjustable front and rear suspension for a customized ride.
- Top-Grade Disc Brakes – The difference between a 400 dollar bike and a 1000 dollar bike is usually the brakes, but the FSX 2.0 has Tektro Novello disc brakes that you can rely upon without breaking your budget.
Gravity makes functional, dependable mountain bikes that entry-level riders can afford to take a chance on. Read on for a less-expensive option from Gravity with the same amount of quality.
The FSX 1.0 is close second to the FSX 2.0 when it comes to style. With its sleek design and sturdy construction, it could easily be mistaken for a 1000 dollar ride.
- Shimano Trigger Shifters – For those of you who don’t like twist shifters, the FSX 1.0 trigger shifters offer smooth and simple gear changes. The FSX is a 24-speed, giving you even more flexibility on hill climbs.
- Quick Release Wheels – One of the most difficult aspects of mountain biking is getting your bike to the trailhead. The FSX’s quick release wheels make it quick and easy to take off the wheels for storage or travel.
Gravity’s FSX 1.0 has the style and features of a high-end mountain bike without the huge price tag. It’s a great starter trail bike!
Schwinn is another proud and time-tested bike manufacturer. Their mountain bikes are affordable and effective, and their S29 is a perfect example of that.
- 29-Inch Wheels – We are definitely fans of 29-inch wheels. They are more reliable than 26-inch wheels on loose terrain and can outrun a 26-inch bike downhill or on a straightaway.
- Dual Fork Suspension – Suspension in the front and rear wheels combined with the 29-inch wheels gives the S29 maximum shock absorption for a more comfortable ride than a bike with one of those features alone.
In the S29 you not only get the features of a functional and efficient mountain bike, but you also get the quality and affordability of Schwinn as a manufacturer.
Diamondback is another great mountain bike manufacturer with some affordable and accessible models. Their Laurito bike is under 500 dollars and has all the features that a great mountain bike has!
- Step-Through Frame – The Laurito’s step-through frame is made from heat-treated aluminum for a lightweight, but durable build.
- 27.5-Wheels – If you love the standard 26-inch wheel and aren’t ready for 29s, a 27.5-inch wheel like the one on the Laurito might be perfect to try. They can handle small road obstacles with ease.
The Laurito is a great option for a new mountain biker on a budget. You certainly get a lot of quality for what Diamondback is asking for this bike!