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Best Budget Mountain Bikes – Under $500

By Sam Millers   /  Last updated - December 27, 2021

$500 tops for a mountain bike is something many of us are willing to pay.

With, or without any     mountain-biking background,     it should be the time to expect a decent-quality bike out of that amount, right? Well, considering the fact that a mountain bike has to perform well on such demanding terrains – some large and top bike brands have the luxury to bring the prices as low by producing a large amount of entry-level, therefore cheap mountain bikes.

best cheap under 500 mountain bikes

$600 is the new $500 in 2021

Is $500 enough?

For serious riders looking to get into mountain biking, we wouldn’t recommend anything under $1,000 really. But then again, in recent years we’ve seen a bunch of cheap mountain bikes made by large bike brands that stand the test of time for recreational mountain bikers.

If you are planning to buy a cheap mountain bike for everyday commuting or on light trails – just make sure to know that $500 for a mountain bike is the lowest limit to go, and regular maintenance or even swapping out some components is quite likely in the long run.

mountain bike prices

Related – Best Beginner’s Mountain Bikes


 

Table of Contents

10 Best Men’s Mountain Bikes

2 Best Women’s Mountain Bikes

2 Best Kids’ Mountain Bikes


 

What To Expect In a Good Yet Cheap Mountain Bike?

27.5″ / 29″ wheels
> 26″ wheels are found on smaller frame sizes or older bikes.

Aluminum / Steel frame
> 6061 alloy to be the most common.

Mechanical disc brakes
> Instead of rim or V-brakes.

2-3x front chainrings
> A cheaper alternative to 1x drivetrains.

Air-sprung coil suspension or a rigid fork
> with 80 to 100mm travel

cannondale trail 8 mtb


 

Best Men’s Mountain Bikes Under $500/$600

Batch – The Mountain 29″
Marin – Wildcat ‘2022
Co-op Cycles – DRT 1.1
Cannondale – Trail 8 ‘2021
Trek – Marlin 4 ‘2021
Diamondback – Hatch 1
Raleigh – Talus 1
Schwinn – Bonafide
Mongoose – Malus
Marin – Bolinas


 

Batch – The Mountain 29

batch the mountain mtb

MSRP: $470
Jenson USA

The Mountain 29 by Batch Bicycles is an entry-level mountain bike made for those on a tight budget, but still wanting to explore some light trails. The level of components is basic, to say the least, but if you are thinking of getting a bike to get you from A to B through thick and thin, there’s enough to go around.

THE GOOD. The best thing about the bike is the set of 29″ wheels (27.5″ on size small frame) which are great to ride over obstacles more easily (Compared to 26″, 27.5″ or 700c). Then it is the maintenance-free Suntour 100mm travel fork. Derailleurs are Shimano’s entry-level Tourney series, so the 7-speed cassette. In total, there’s 21 speeds. The aluminum frame is lightweight and durable, but as a major downside it is the V-brakes, which are clearly the past. But then again, for $500 it is a solid commuter compared to cheaper bikes on the market.

After all, Jenson USA is one of the best online stores to get a high-end and mid-range mountain bike from!

Frames – Youth’s 24″, Small, Medium, Large fit riders
4’11” to 6’3″

JensonUSA.com


 

Marin – Wildcat ‘2022

marin wildcat mtb

MSRP: $599
Jenson USA

Here’s a perfect example that you can get a decent-spec mountain bike at a very low cost. Yes, it is not under $500, but we wouldn’t really recommend anything below the following specs:

  • Series 1 6061 Aluminum frame
  • 27.5×2.25″ tires
  • Power 7 Mechanical Disc Brakes
  • Shimano Tourney 3×7-speed drivetrain
  • SR Suntour XCE 100mm travel fork

The Good

Marin is well-known large bike brand to put out a decent number of good value bikes.

The Bad

Bottom end parts make it limiting for serious mountain biking.
No XL frame available.

The Sum

Wildcat can be used to explore some nice trails on the cheap.

Frames from XS to L fit riders:
4’10” to 5’11”

JensonUSA.com


 

Co-op Cycles – DRT 1.1

Best value mountain bike with a unisex frame –

🏆 Score 4.5/5 out of 180+ ratings

co-op cycles drt 1.1 bikes

The Co-op Cycles’ DRT 1.1 is designed with both men and women in mind, from start to finish!

MSRP: $599
REI Co-op

If you didn’t know, Co-op Cycles is REI’s factory brand, which is well-known for affordable bikes with great characteristics. This model is available in two attractive colors — aqua blue and pirate black. Under that paint is a lightweight Co-op’s aluminum frame, so you’ll be able to easily lift the bike up and carry it over obstacles if needed.

  • Comfortable trail geometry
  • Aluminum frame
  • 100 mm of travel
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 21 gears
  • Shimano components
  • 2.1″ wide tires
  • 27.5″ wheels
  • Co-op Cycles DRT series overview

To begin with, the SR Suntour XCM air-sprung fork is known to be lightweight, and with 100mm of travel, it’s more than enough for a smooth ride even if you push its limits.

Next, you get 21 gears with this model and a great combination of Shimano components. The groupset fitted on this bike is Shimano Tourney, which is not fancy, to say the least, but if you are a beginner and ride recreationally, you don’t need anything better than that for a start.

Another great thing about the bike is the good-quality hydraulic disc brakes which is usually unseen at this price range.

REI.com


 

Cannondale – Trail 8 ‘2021

Best budget mountain bike

cannondale trail 8 mountain bike

REI Score: 4.1/5 out of 30+ reviews

MSRP: $600
REI Co-op

Cannondale is well known for its expensive, high-end mountain bikes ridden by the pros.

However, this brand does a great job when it comes to making entry-level trail bikes as well. Cannondale’s Trail 8 is a great example and an excellent choice for most beginner riders out there. But, has Cannondale made any big compromises to make this cheap bike possible? Not at all.

The Trail 8 model is built around the recognizable Cannondale’s frame made of SmartForm C3 alloy. The frame has an exaggerated bottom tube that seamlessly flows into the head tube to make the whole construction sturdy, durable, and attractive. But, that’s not the only good thing, let’s check out more.

  • SmartForm C3 Alloy frame
  • 14-speed
  • 75mm fork
  • XS – M 27.5″ wheels / L – XL 29″ wheels
  • 2.25″ tires
  • Weight: 33lbs
cannondale trail 8

2020 Trail 8

The Trail 8 is available in Grey only to add to its intense riding nature.

You can choose to stay inconspicuous with the moody dark coloring or make yourself known by smashing down the trails in spectacular fashion. Even though this is a trail bike that costs slightly over $500, it does not come with no-brand components. Instead, you can shift up and down the 14 speeds with Shimano Altus front and Tourney rear derailleur, and Shimano Easy Fire shifters. This will not do a fantastic job when cycling and changing gears up some steep hills, but they work just fine on the flats and more moderate ascents.

A similar thing can be said for the SR Suntour fork with 75mm of travel. It’s not ideal for aggressive trail rides, jumps, and high drops, but you will be quite happy with it as long as you stay on moderate trails and control yourself. But, don’t worry about stability and comfort as the 2.25″ wide tires will provide you with plenty of both. Finally, this bike also has Tektro mechanical disc brakes with 160/160mm rotors on the front and the rear wheel, so you can safely go faster on the downhills and always stop in time. All in all, this is a great bike to satisfy your need for the trails and the outdoors and give you something fun and healthy to do on the weekends.

Trail 8 Full Review

Frame sizes from XS to XL fit riders
4’6″ – 6’3″

REI.com


 

Trek – Marlin 4 ‘2021

Best beginner’s mountain bike

Trek Marlin 4

MSRP: $600
Trekbikes (Available in-store only)

It’s one of the best budget mountain bikes that you can get right now with an aluminum frame and a set of decent components for beginners. If you like the bike enough, you can always swap some components and upgrade them. However, I think that is not necessary, as the bike is perfect as is. You can abuse it and use it for what it is made without worrying too much.

  • Aluminum frame
  • Shimano components
  • 3×7 speeds
  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • 27.5″ wheels for XS – S / 29″ wheels for M – XL

The Trek Marlin 4 has a very high rating, as most comments are positive. It seems as if Trek has really hit a bullseye with this model. Those who have made the good decision to buy this best mountain bike under $500 say they love how it handles and how unstoppable it feels on any terrain. When I rode it, the strong frame and decent tires gave me a feeling of stability, and I felt a surge of confidence to try new lines.

Trek Marlin 4 comes with a lightweight aluminum frame and weighs around 31 lbs, but it does not feel sluggish.

The components on the bike are quite decent as well at this price range.

The rear derailleur is a Shimano Tourney, as well as the front derailleur, and there are 21 speeds in total. For beginners, this number of speeds and this setup will be more than enough. The Tektro mechanical brakes are great as well, though they require a bit more brute force to engage fully, when adjusted properly they’ll stop on a dime. So, if you want to have loads of fun riding through mud and inaccessible terrain on a mountain bike, don’t hesitate to buy Trek Marlin 4. I guarantee you’ll have a blast on it!

The PROs

Strong brand, modern design and long-running series.

The CONs

Entry-level components & mechanical disc brakes.

The SUM

Ideal choice for recreational, Sunday mountain bikers.

Frames from XS to 2XL fit riders
4’9″ to 6’8″

Trekbikes.com


 

Diamondback – Hatch 1

Detail Image of color Black Onyx Matte

MSRP: $600
REI Co-op

Have you finally decided to buy a decent mountain bike and start pedaling and exploring the area around your home? If that’s the case and you need a starter model, this Diamondback Hatch 1 is the real deal.

The Hatch is a hardtail XC bike with a durable and lightweight aluminum frame, 27.5″ (XS,S) or  29″ (M-XL) wheels make it stable around the bends and suitable both for short and tall riders. Check out the pros and cons below to get a better overview.

  • Aluminum frame
  • 29″ wheels
  • Shimano components
  • 2.25″ wide tires
  • 80 mm suspension fork

Sizing chart can be found at Diamondback.com.

The GOOD

Basic, affordable, cool design.
Available on REI Co-op.

The BAD

Rim brakes are old-school and not as great for mountain biking in 2022.
The cheapest available MTB by Diamondback.

The SUM

Awesome commuter bike for the price that can take some light trails as well.

Frames from XS to XL fit riders
5’1″ to 6’4″

REI.com


 

Raleigh – Talus 1

Raleigh Talus 1 mtb

MSRP: $600
Raleigh USA

The Raleigh Talus 1 is the bike that ticked all of these boxes without any problems, so I had no doubts about including it. Raleigh is a well-known company in the cycling world, and you know you are getting good quality even with the very cheap mountain bikes. The Talus 1 falls well under the $500 mark, which is not much to pay for this sturdy and good-looking aluminum bike.

  • Two designs
  • 100mm front suspension
  • 27.5″ or 29″ wheels
  • 2.25″ tires
  • ALUXX-grade aluminum frame

Most cheap mountain bikes come with only 27.5″ wheels. But that’s not the case with this Raleigh model. It has progressive wheel sizing, which means that smaller frame sizes (XS/S) come with 27.5″ wheels, whereas bigger sizes come with 29er wheels. That way, you get a bike geometry best suited to your body. 100 mm suspension fork means that you can get more out of it on the trails. It’s also a very comfortable bike to ride on bumpy tracks because of its 2.25” tires and the high-quality ALUXX-grade aluminum frame, which Raleigh uses for their more expensive models as well.

The GOOD

27.5″ or 29″ wheels.

The BAD

Rim brakes are a bit outdated for mountain biking.
Not widely available for online orders.

The SUM

Great roundabout with the capability to tackle light trails.

Frames: XS to XL fit riders
5’1″ to 6’4″ 

RaleighUSA.com


 

Schwinn – Bonafide

Best hardtail mountain bike under $500

scwhinn bonafide mountain bike

Amazon score – 4.3/5 out of 309+ ratings

Check Price on Amazon

This 29er aluminum mountain bike features mechanical disc brakes, 24-speed gearing, basically all the basics you could expect from under $500. Although Schwinn is an old name in the game – getting a mountain bike for that amount of money should only be used by beginner cyclists on light trails. Also, when you are going to order a cheap mountain bike online, make sure to get the fitting properly right. Re-tuning the bike after few hours of riding is mandatory!


 

Mongoose – Malus

Best men’s mountain bike under $500

mongoose malus fat tire bike

Check Price on Amazon

You are looking at the best under $500 fat tire bike for adults.

The Malus by Mongoose has reached a solid score of 4.5 / 5 out of 700+ ratings on Amazon. The bike features a 7-speed derailleur, the standard 26″ fat bike wheels, and a steel frame. The build of the bike is simple and obviously best suited for beginner/recreational cyclists looking for, so it is most likely worth checking out!

Related – Best Cheap Fat Bikes

The 26″inch wheel and rigid fork combination is among the most classical set-up one could find in the world of fat tire bikes, so there’s no hesitation. Anyway, this mongoose is a good beginner mountain bike at the lowest possible budget.


 

Marin – Bolinas

marin bolinas mountain bike

MSRP: from $599
Jenson USA

These are the new Marin’s entry-level 29er 100mm travel mountain bikes that have been selling out quickly for obvious reasons. The 6061 aluminum frame is lightweight and durable, and the mechanical disc brakes are also suitable for this price category as well. The drivetrain Shimano Tourney 3×7 wit ha SunRace 11-34t cassette.

This is a bike for recreational/beginner mountain bikers only, especially suitable for taller riders from 5’10” upwards as the new 29er wheels work like a treat off the road. When purchasing this bike remember the fact that all new bikes need a tune-up after about 10miles of riding!

The GOOD

Nice design & set of components. Another great cheap banger by Marin.

The BAD

No size recommendations found online.

The SUM

Great value & plenty of sizes and designs to choose from.

Frame sizes from XS to XL fit riders

JensonUSA.com


 

Best Under $500 Mountain Bikes for Women

If you are looking for something female-specific – down below is a list of the best mountain bikes under $500 for women.These models have different saddles and a slightly shorter reach (stem and top tube length compared to unisex models).


 

Cannondale – Tango 6

Best women’s mountain bike under $500

Cannondale Trail Tango 6 womens mtb

MSRP: $585
REI Co-op

Cannondale has taken action to make this happen, by making the Cannondale Tango 6 bike, specifically tailored to fit women’s needs.

This is an entry-level hardtail bike with a beautiful turquoise paint job. Whoever said that riding trails and getting muddy is not feminine will change their mind when they see it. Apart from the great looks, are there any other good things about it? There definitely are. Cannondale Tango 6 has both looks and the brain, as we will show you below.

First of all, when talking about women’s bicycles, it’s important to mention the frame and its geometry.

Cannondale has made sure to make this aluminum frame suitable for women by making a shorter top tube that slants downwards and makes it easier to get on and off the bike. The frame is completed with an SR Suntour coil spring with 75mm of travel. It’s just the right amount of travel for your needs as a beginner on the trail. You will start with some smoother gravel roads and moderate single tracks, which is what this fork is made for.

Like most bikes in this price range, the Cannondale Tango 6 has Tektro mechanical disc brakes. They have proven really well on the trails, so they’re a great choice in our opinion. You need a bit more time to adjust and maintain them, but that won’t be a big issue. If you’re buying this bike to make multi-day tours, you’re making a good choice since the frame features several mounts. You can fit it with racks and water bottles and hit the road. All of this makes Cannondale Tango 6 an excellent choice for all ladies who are interested in riding the trails. You will be happy with this model as your first bike for many years, with some care and maintenance.

REI.com


 

Trek – Marlin 5 Women’s ‘2021

For $550 there’s nothing to add or remove from this bike!

trek womens marlin 5 mountain bike

MSRP: $599
Trek bikes (Available in-store only)

Seems like the year 2022 allows us to really get closer to that affordable price tag! The Marlin 5 Women’s is a great trail bike for beginners, or should we say ‘cautious’ riders who are not planning to go competing on down-hill races anytime soon. You’ll see Shimano Tourney derailleurs and Shimano Altus shifters with Tektro hydraulic disc brakes which definitely get you through some of the roughest of trails.

  • 21-speeds
  • 27.5″ or 29″ wheels
  • 100m travel fork
  • Aluminum frame

As it is a trail bike, it is equipped with internal cable routing and it is also rack & fender ready. if you haven’t ridden a ‘decent’ or should we say modern mountain bike for a while – you’ll be positively surprised by the 27.5″ or 29″ wheels which one of the greatest upgrades in the mountain biking world in the past 5 years. Biggers wheels simply rolled over obstacles with so little effort!

Trekbikes.com


 

Best Under $500 Mountain Bikes For Kids

Related: Best Boys 20″ Bikes


 

Priority Bicycles – Start 20″

priority bicycles 200

MSRP: $379
Priority Bicycles

The Priority Start 20 is a kids’ bike, made by a brand that is well-known for its belt-drivetrains.

The bike has 3 gears that are internal, fits kids aged 6-11 years old. The bike comes with a kickstand that holds up this nice-looking aluminum-frame bike. If you are looking for a bike that requires less maintenance than the regular chain&derailleur system, the Priority bikes are silent, clean, and pretty much maintenance-free!

PriorityBicycles.com


 

Cannondale – Quick 24

Product image for acid red

MSRP: $500
REI Co-op

The Quick 24 is an ideal mountain bike for kids aged 46″ – 57″. It is made by a giant bike brand, Cannondale. The bike features a 7-speed derailleur, front and rear V-brakes, a side stand, chainring protection, and a rigid fork in the front. The frame is made of lightweight aluminum.

The Quick series bikes are generally of the hybrid bikes category, but this is still an ideal bike for kids to use on and off the trails. If you have to choose between a cheap supermarket bike versus a bike made by a known brand, don’t hesitate to trust the better value as brand bikes hold their value and quality way better in the long term once you are thinking of selling the bike!

REI.com


 

What Should You Need To Know Before Buying?

As you can see, when it comes to cheap mountain bikes, cheap does not equal bad.

There are some amazing bikes in this price range, which will serve you well for years if you take good care of them. If you thought otherwise, I hope I changed your mind. Therefore, in case you’re looking for an entry-level bicycle to get fit, stay fit, commute, workout, or just escape into nature, why not choose one of the best mountain bikes under $500? They’re perfect for beginners and occasional riders, and I promise they are loads of fun!

What size mountain bike do I need?

It is crucial to get the right size frame in order to get the best comfort and performance out of a bike ride. There are some generalizations for bike size charts, but today, each bicycle manufacturer has their own size chart recommendations for each bicycle discpiline, whether it will be mountain, road or hybrid bike.

Where to buy under $500 mountain bikes online?

How to buy a mountain bike?

  1. Field Of Use – are you going to use it for recreational cycling, or do are you thinking of progressing?
  2. Budget – 500/1,000/1,500 have very different quality of components
  3. Size – Make sure to check out each bike brand’s size recommendations to find you the most suitable model.

What is the best mountain bike brand?

Trek, Specialized, Scott, and Cannondale are one of the few bike brands that offer bicycles from $400 to $10,000 so even their lowest-end bikes can be trusted!

If you are interested to look into high-end MTBs – check out our Best MTB Brands review.

Best Mountain Bikes under 500 conclusions


 

RELATED Reviews

Best Full-Suspension MTBS under $3,000

Different Types of Mountain Bikes

Should You Pay More Upfront or Upgrade Later?

9 thoughts on “Best Budget Mountain Bikes – Under $500

  1. Very suprising not to see the schwinn axum dp on here a 1× with a cassette
    a dropper ,sized frames, tapered head tube, I’m sure I’m missing other features the fork isn’t the best at all but that goes for most bikes at this price point. Definitely should’ve been in the bonafide’s spot

    1. Sam Millers says:

      Thanks for the heads up, Phillip. Axum DP is a good choice as well that we’ll be looking to include in future reviews.
      Unfortunately, it costs ~$800 on Amazon, which is significantly higher than most other bikes here. Though one could get it from Walmart for around $500, it’s not always in stock due to shortages.
      Cheers!

  2. Patrick says:

    My son is going away to college in the University of Oregon and he wants a mountain bike(not my old school beach cruiser). We are in no hurry but what do you recommend for an older mountain bike that he can ride to campus or on a serious ride with new friends/riders and not be embarrassed. Trek or Cannondale 2005+/-? $300 – $500 craigslist?

    1. Sam Millers says:

      I’d look up State Bicycles bike. You’ll get a pretty sweet deal at under $500! They do not have a mountain bike, but you’ll be needing serious luck to score a decent MTB for trails at under $500

  3. Makmudul Hassan says:

    Ty. Very Helpful. I need an XLARGE because I’m 6ft1. Does it affect the prices that you mentioned for men’s bike

  4. Jayson says:

    Hello. I use to ride,now getting back into it. Enjoyed reading the column. Could you recommend a bike With an XL frame. In 6ft 6in. 220lb. Healthy. Budget about 500-1000 i could go less or more. Thanks.
    Jayson

    1. Sam Millers says:

      Hi Jayson

      If you’d like to order online – We’d recommend getting anything from the Cannondale Trail series as their XL frame is indeed extra-large. Besides, the bikes hold great value in terms of components and durability. Co-op Cycles bikes have also proved to offer superb value for the money!

  5. eric says:

    Ty. Very Helpful. I need an XLARGE because In 6ft1. Does it affect the prices that you mentioned for mens bike

    1. Sam Millers says:

      Hi Eric

      Generally, bike prices are the same for each model. Although the price might differ for varying wheel sizes, the number of gears, etc.

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