(Last update on April 7, 2022
Finding a quality mountain bike doesn’t have to hurt your wallet. I’ve researched the top brands and most reviewed models to create this complete guide to the best mountain bikes under $500.
These recommended bikes are perfect for budget-conscious riders looking to learn on the trails without spending a fortune. Continue scrolling to find out the best mountain bikes for sale in 2022.
What is an Entry-Level Mountain Bike, and How Does It Work?
Mountain bikes with a price tag of $500 or less are ideal for novice riders and budget-conscious people who want to get started on the trails. Anything under $400 probably doesn’t include enough quality components to make it a worthwhile purchase, but there are several bikes at the $500 price point that will perform well for many miles to come.
These mountain bikes are affordable and can be used on any trail. The majority of these bikes are hardtails, meaning they have a rigid frame with no rear suspension and 80-100mm travel from the front fork. They also come with a triple chainring design This is in contrast to the 1x drivetrain system found on more expensive MTBs.
How I chose these budget-friendly mountain bikes
Because of their versatility, and the increasing affordability of mountain bikes, there is a high demand for them. Bike riding is a popular sport During the Covid-19 epidemic. This means there are thousands of bikes on the market today— how do we know which ones are worth the money?
To narrow down my choices, I considered both top MTB brands and popular budget brands. To make sure that every bike on this list is an excellent choice, I read extensive technical specs, user reviews and bike expert opinions. These were the criteria that I used to rate each bike:
- Ride feel: Affordable bikes don’t have to feel cheap. The difference between a frustrating ride and a pleasant, smooth experience is frame geometry and quality components.
- ReliabilityMountain bikes are made to withstand the harsh conditions on the trail. Bike parts that aren’t high quality can cause damage and may spend more time at the shop than on the mountain.
- Price: The majority of bikes on this list are below $500. I’ve included a few models priced slightly higher because of their impressive value for money.
Compare the Best Mountain Bikes Below $500
|Model||Summary||Type of MTB||Dimensions of wheels||Price||Rear suspension?||Are mechanical disc brakes possible?||Material for frames|
|Giant ATX 27||The Best Overall Affordable MTB||Hardtail||27.5”||$529||Aluminum|
|Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1||Best componentry for entry-level MTB||Hardtail||27.5”||$599||x||Aluminum|
|Vilano Blackjack 3.0||Most Affordable 29” Mountain Bike||Hardtail||29”||$399||x||Aluminum|
|Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Bike||Best Fat Tire Mountain Bike Under $500||Hardtail||26””||$498||x||Steel|
|Schwinn High Timber 29||Best 29” Steel Mountain Bike||Hardtail||29”||$439||Steel|
|Schwinn Traxion 29||The Best Mountain Bike with Full Suspension on a Budget||Full-suspension||29”||$699||x||x||Aluminum|
Related Article: The Top 8 Mountain Bike Brands: These are our Top 8 Picks for 2022
The Best Mountain Bike for Everyone
GIANT ATX 27
Giant ATX27.5 is the ideal mountain bike for beginners who want to explore parks, city trails, and other short distances. Giant is the most popular bike manufacturer in the world and the ATX is no different. It is made from lightweight and durable ALUXX aluminum, with a suspension fork that provides 100mm of travel. This bike can handle any terrain.
For such a budget-friendly model, the frame geometry has a good shape that’s reminiscent of Giant’s higher-end designs. The ATX mountain bike has the best frame quality of any other on the list. It is a very upright position that allows for great stability and confidence when riding on mountain trails.
The ATX is a traditional hardtail setup that features a rigid frame, flat handlebars and Suntour front suspension. This fork absorbs moderate bumps. Thanks to the triple front cassette and 7-speed rear chainring, riders can choose from many gears. Shimano Tourney rear and front derailleurs, which are both solid components at this price, provide smooth shifting.
The bike comes equipped with 26” or 27.5” wheels, depending on the frame size. Smaller frame options use 26” wheels, and the larger frames have 27.5” to customize the bike fit to the rider’s specific proportions. 27.5” wheels are the new standard on modern MTBs, and I’m glad to see Giant making the trend affordable.
To save money, the ATX has rim brakes and not more powerful disc brakes. If the brakes were stronger, I would rate this bike higher. These brakes are sufficient for most types of riding that this bike is intended to be used for.
- Aluminium frame made of ALUXX quality
- Shimano Tourney groupset
- Stable and responsive on technical trails
Best componentry for entry-level MTB
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1
The DRT1.1, a popular mountain bike brand by Co-op Cycles can be your ticket to off-road adventures. REI’s sub-brand Co-op Cycles is well known for offering quality bikes at amazing prices.
This bike is a great beginner mountain bike. Hydraulic disc brakesShimano Tourney shifting, front suspension of 100mm, and Shimano RT 1.1 all for $599 The DRT 1.1’s price tag stretches a bit beyond this list’s $500 budget, but I couldn’t pass up on including it.
The DRT 1.1 features a durable aluminum frame and 27.5” wheels (the XXS size has 26” wheels) to handle rough terrain and off-road abuse. The SR Suntour suspension system, which is used on several of the bikes featured in this round-up provides 100mm of travel for absorbing bumps. Kenda Kadre 2.1” tires are grippy enough for technical trails but can still be enjoyed on smooth surfaces.
The shining star of this mountain bike’s set-up is the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes that provide reliable stopping power regardless of weather conditions. Co-op Cycles has made hydraulic brakes affordable. Usually, these are reserved for high-end models.
The DRT 1.1 has a conventional 3×7 drivetrain with Shimano Tourney derailleurs for buttery smooth shifting, as well as well-chosen gearing to tackle steep climbs. This bike would be rated higher if was a bit more affordable, but for the price it’s a solid value. For the mountain biker that’s willing to spend the extra $100 on worthwhile componentry, the DRT 1.1 is a capable machine that’ll conquer trails for years to come.
- Hydraulic disc brakes that are powerful
- Shimano Tourney dependable shifting
- All-terrain Kenda tires
Most Affordable 29” Mountain Bike
Vilano Blackjack 3.0
A mountain bike with 29” wheels for only $399? I know— I couldn’t believe it at first either. The Vilano Blackjack 3.0 is ideal for taller riders or riders that want to take advantage of those large 29” hoops to navigate technical trails. Larger wheels allow for easier rolling over large obstacles on the mountain. They also give the bike a more stable feeling, especially at high speeds.
The 29ers are the main draw, but the rest of the components make up the mountain bike package. The 6061 aluminum hardtail frame is standard in geometry and the fork’s front suspension provides 80mm of travel. That’s not as much cushion as rival bikes, but riders of the Blackjack 3.0 probably won’t be doing any crazy stunts and jumps that require too much extra shock absorption. The fork is equipped with an easy lockout feature.
The front and rear mechanical disc brakes provide reliable stopping power, which is impressive considering the low price. It has 24 speeds and an alloy 42/34/24 tri-chainring. This means that there are both low gears to climb and high gears to go flat out. Smoother shifting and better suspension would give this bike a rating of 10. For beginner riders that want their first 29” mountain bike, the Vilano Blackjack 3.0 is a steal of a deal.
- 29” wheels
- Disk brakes
- Amazing value for the money
- It’s not the most elegant groupset
- A little heavy
Best Fat Tire Mountain Bike Under $500
Mongoose Dolomite Fat Tire Bike
The Mongoose Dolomite is an incredibly priced fat bike with 4” knobby tires designed to handle any terrain you come across. If you’ve never ridden a fat bike, the beefy set-up and ultra-wide rubber make you feel invincible over tough trails with snow, mud, or sand. It’s a fun ride experience on paved paths, too. Mongoose is a brand that’s been around for a long time and is well known for offering quality bikes on a budget.
The Dolomite is built around a durable steel mountain bike frame that isn’t the lightest material, but it’ll stand up to all-terrain use and abuse. The brawny 26” wheels are paired with monster 4” tires with a medium tread pattern for on- and off-road grip. The bike has a 7 speed drivetrain and a twist shifter. It’s not the best shifting, but, after all, the draw of this bike is the fat tires and not the gears.
The combination of high traction and excellent stopping power from the fat tires, together with front and rear mechanical disc brakes, makes them very effective. There’s no front suspension, but it’s not very necessary because the large air volume tires absorb many of the bumps. The bike comes with heavy rims and simple shifting, so it doesn’t get full marks.
For those who want to learn the category and ride all terrains, the Dolomite is the perfect fat bike. This Mongoose bike is ideal for riders who live in areas with extreme weather and frequently switch terrains.
- Huge 4” tires for any conditions
- Steel frame made of durable steel
- Brakes with strong mechanical discs
Best 29” Steel Mountain Bike
Schwinn High Timber 29
The High Timber 29 is a classic mountain bike with modern 29” wheels for cruising around city paths, parkways, and light trails. Ideal for taller riders, the one-size frame best fits people between 5’7” and 6’2”. Schwinn is a well-known brand for bicycle building. They have recently focused more on making affordable aluminum and steel bikes.
This version of the High Timber uses a rigid 18” steel mountain bike frame and Schwinn front suspension. Its upright design makes it ideal for beginners learning to ride on the trails.
For $539, riders looking for a lighter bike should consider the aluminum ALX model. The 29” wheels have single wall alloy rims and grippy tires with a stylish green stripe to match the blue and green colorway. Some riders may find the bike too heavy due to its heavy steel, which can affect my rating by a few points.
Riders have 21 gears to choose from for climbing steep hills or going full-gas on flat roads. Shimano Revoshift twist grip technology allows for precise shifting. While the bike doesn’t have disc brakes, the linear-pull rim brakes work fine to provide secure stopping power and control. The High Timber 29 is the right bike for taller riders who want to take advantage of 29” wheels to navigate paths and technical trails with ease.
- 29” wheels
- Shimano gearing
- Great for taller riders
- Heavy steel frame
- No disc brakes
Best Mountain Bike for Full Suspension at a Fair Price
Schwinn Full Suspension Traxion 29
For mountain bikers that tackle steep hills and gnarly descents, the Schwinn Traxion 29 is the full-suspension solution you’ve been waiting for. One of the most affordable full-suspension mountain bikes on the market, it’s a great way to explore all those technical trails you’ve had on your bucket list.
Although the price tag of the bike is higher than $500, I still included it as it offers great value and allows riders to choose whether to buy a hardtail or full suspension model. The Traxion, a significant upgrade to the Schwinn 29, is equipped with mechanical disc brakes. It also has 24-speed trigger shifting for precise gear changes.
The all-terrain, knobby mountain tires hook up with the aluminum, high profile double wall 29” rims for great performance in rough conditions and technical routes. The coil spring rear suspension and front fork bring a new level of shock absorption when you’re hitting those bumps and jumps. The Traxion 29, the ultimate machine for riders looking for full-suspension performance on a tight budget, is the Traxion 29.
- Front and rear suspension
- Double walled 29” rims
- It’s not as affordable as hardtail models
How to Pick the Perfect Mountain Bike
Think about the terrain you plan to ride your mountain bike. For technical trails or big obstacles, you will need more suspension and knobby tires to provide enough grip and stability. Fat bikes are best in snowy and sandy conditions. A moderate MTB is the best choice if you are looking to ride city trails or light trails.
The most important step in choosing the right frame and size of wheels is to make sure you have the best bike. You can use the size chart to find the best MTB size based on your height.
Mountain Bike Size Chart
|Height (ft/in).||Height (cm).||Leg inseam (inches)||Leg inseam (cm)||Suggested Frame Size in Inches||Suggested Size for Wheels|
|4’10 – 5’3″||147-160cm||25 – 28″||62-70 cm||13 – 14″||26″|
|5’4 “- 5’7”||160 – 170cm||25 – 30″||63 – 76 cm||15 – 16″||26″|
|5’5″ – 5’9″||165 – 175cm||26 – 31″||66 – 78 cm||16 – 17″||27.5″|
|5’9″ – 6’0″||175 – 183cm||27 – 32″||68 – 81 cm||17 – 18″||27.5″|
|6’0″ – 6’3″||183 – 190cm||28 – 33″||71 – 83 cm||18 – 19″||29″|
|6’1″ – 6’6″||190 – 200cm||29 – 34″||73 – 86 cm||19″ +||29″|
Frequently Asked Question (FAQs).
All of the mountain bikes below $500 on this list are high quality options. My personal favorite is the Vilano blackjack 3.0. At only $399, it’s a major deal considering the 6061 aluminum frame and large 29” wheels. The vehicle also features mechanical disc brakes and a front suspension with 100mm travel.
In recent years, mountain bikes with 29” wheels have skyrocketed in popularity among professional riders and recreational cyclists alike. It is believed that a larger wheel will roll more smoothly over roots and rocks, as well as other obstacles on the trail. Larger wheels are also more stable at higher speeds. This inspires riders confidence. One downside is that 29” wheels and their frame sizes can be too big for shorter riders that feel more comfortable on smaller bikes.
Many cheap mountain bikes are available on the market, but only some of them are worthwhile purchases that’ll last a long time. Every bike in this round-up has been reviewed positively by bike experts as well as actual users. Take a look at the bikes above and browse budget-friendly models that don’t cut corners.
Mountain bikes made by quality brands are built to last and can withstand the harshest conditions on the trails. You should be able to choose from a range of price points so that you can match your budget. Co-op Cycles is my favourite affordable brand. Santa Cruz is my top-tier preference. Our article on 2022’s Best Mountain Bike Brands will provide more information.
For a beginner mountain bike, the price range is between $400 and $800. There are many quality options within that range to match a rider’s preferences and style. MTBs below $400 come with components that aren’t built to last and can be difficult to repair when something goes wrong. Mid-tier mountain bikes are more capable and cost $1,000 or more.
Think about your riding style and where the bike will be used. You have two options: a hardtail or full suspension model. Choose the right frame size for you based on your height. Choose the bike that best suits your tastes and look for components that will last. Although budget options are more economical, it can lead to greater repairs later.
For riders who frequent technical trails and steep descents, full-suspension mountainbikes are well worth the additional weight and price. Riders can maintain high speeds on rough terrain and absorb bumps caused by rocks and roots thanks to the extra rear suspension. Hardtail mountain bikes are ideal for those who plan to ride on pavement and explore light trails.
Jeffrey Brown He is a professional bike mechanic, writer, editor, as well as a journalist. He has over seven years of experience in both full-service and community-based shops. As a bicycle educator, he supports youth programs across the US that teach mechanics and life skills to the next generation.
Jeffrey He began his professional career as a mechanic at his university’s bike co-op. This is where he learned about the power of the bicycle community. Although he was self-trained initially as a mechanic and later as a manager and educator, he received formal training. He has received numerous awards and grants for his work as an environmental advocate, and as a bike mechanic.