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Best Mountain Bikes Under $500 (Budget Picks!)

Jeff Balton

Best Mountain Bikes Under $500

In this review, I will reveal the ten different best mountain bikes under $500 you can buy online in 2023!

Finding the right mountain bike for you can be tricky because you want to take it up to the mountains and you need it to perform.

After all, you want a good bike that will actually last. Read below, I have the best mountain bikes under $500 right here. Before buying a good mountain bike under $500, here are the best 10 you need to consider!

Please note! Due to bike shortage, some of the bikes are over $500.

 

REVEALED: The 10 Best Budget Mountain Bikes Under $500!

Well, these top 10 picks are the best mountain bikes for under $500 dollars. Enjoy!

 

1. Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1

Slightly Over $500. Clear Winner With Discs And All Sizes

Co-op DRT 1.1Co-op Cycles may sound like a new brand to your ear, but we’ve been fans of it for several years now. It’s owned by REI, the maker of a few pretty slick mountain bikes priced at under or around the $500 range.

Key features:

  • Suitable for men and women
  • Best for short riders (4’9″ and up)
  • 21 gears

FULL DRT Series overview

The DRT 1.1 is designed for cycling enthusiasts who want to take up trail riding and spend some time in nature.

Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 has a number of stand-out features that put it on par with more expensive trail bikes, even though it costs only around $599.

The bike employs lightweight 6061 aluminum alloy frame tubing coupled with 100 mm of travel on the front suspension, which will make all trail surfaces feel much smoother, and also will increase the rider’s control and confidence.

Another standout feature of DRT 1.1 is that it has not only disc brakes but hydraulic disc brakes. This means you need to apply less power to stop the bike. The bike requires minimal mechanical prowess to assemble – the provided comprehensive instructions and tools make it easy!

User reviews confirm our thoughts – DRT 1.1 is very intuitive and easy to feel comfortable on, and some owners point out that it’s a steal at this price. The word is out!

Finally, DRT 1.1 is a great choice for riders who are making their initial foray into mountain biking and seeking a reliable “companion”. The DRT 1.1 is truly one of the best beginner mountain bikes.

 

2. Marin Bolinas Ridge

Runner up

Marin Bolinas RidgeWe are excited to introduce this budget mountain bike. This is not a high-end bike, but it is an excellent choice for beginners.

Marin Bolinas Ridge secures its place as one of the top affordable hardtail bikes thanks to the attractive money-to-value ratio.

Key takeaway points:

  • 29″ wheels
  • Lightweight aluminum frame
  • 3×7 drivetrain

 

The bike is built around a durable aluminum frame that combines strength and comfort. There’s plenty of standover clearance for short riders thanks to the slanted top tube. The frame has mounts for fenders and a rear rack.

The Bolinas Ridge is a bargain hardtail mountain bike for everyday riding as it comes with wide 29″ wheels and tires and suits different mountain and recreational biking purposes!

This particular model comes in modern and attractive blue and red colors which make it look more expensive.

The Bolinas Ridge’s components are suitable for entry-level mountain biking and include an SR Suntour XCE fork with 100 mm of travel and mechanical disc brakes for reliable stopping power. With the grip and comfort you get from the tires, you will feel confident to ride and explore dirt roads and trails.

This bike also boasts a 3×7 Shimano Tourney drivetrain, which is enough gearing for beginners.

Marin has done a good job on the Bolinas Ridge. The bike will provide years of performance and riding bliss to any entry-level rider.

 

 

3. Mongoose Switchback – Men’s and Women’s

Best Affordable Hardtail MTB

Mongoose SwitchbackMongoose Switchback is a versatile hybrid mountain bike that’s suitable for male and female riders. Plus, it comes in several versions, such as Expert, Comp, Sport, and Trail.

It has a lightweight, streamlined, and sleek aluminum frame painted in various attractive colors, which is always a big plus. It’s not ultralightweight, but it’s not heavy either. The coil suspension fork is basic but it’s a great feature for recreational trail, gravel, and dirt riding.

Key takeaways:

  • Suitable for men and women
  • Aluminum frame
  • Mechanical disc brakes

 

Moving on to the components, the Switchback is equipped with anywhere between 8 and 21 gears, depending on the model. This is more than enough for entry-level riders. The groupsets vary as well, so you’ll get Shimano Tourney or Altus, depending on the model.

Moreover, this bike comes with mechanical disc brakes to slow you down or stop you on a dime, which is an indispensable feature when riding off-road.

Mongoose Switchback is a well-built mountain bike that delivers phenomenal value for the money to the average beginner trail rider.

Finding the right fit on Mongoose Switchback is easy as the bike is available in Small, Medium, and Large sizes. All models also get 27.5 x 2.1″ knobby tires that will ensure plenty of grip in most conditions.

Mongoose Switchback is an entry-level bike so it’s not recommendable for serious trail riding. However, it’s perfectly suitable for casual off-road rides and explorations off the beaten path. It’s a comfy, upright MTB that will do a great job of introducing you to the nuances of the sport.

 

4. Huffy Tekton

Best Granny Gears for Climbing

Huffy TektonIt’s time to update our list of the best mountain bikes that you can get for under $500. The newest addition is the Huffy Tekton. It has earned its place on the list because it provides unprecedented value for such a small amount of money.

Related: Review of Huffy Bikes

The low overall weight is achieved thanks to the lightweight 6061 aluminum frame with a relaxed trail-specific geometry. It puts the rider in a more upright and easygoing position. Therefore, you will feel more confident and ride more.

The best aspects about the Tekton mountain bike are:

  • High-quality aluminum frame
  • 21 speeds
  • Oversized tires

 

Huffy Tekton has an adjustable suspension fork, oversized tires, and comes with 26″ wheels. Therefore, it is suitable for different terrains and types of off-road riding.

Even though the Tekton costs much less than $500, it uses decent components. These are entry-level choices, but they work really well even at this level. You will have 21 speeds in total which is perfect for some decent off-road riding and climbing.

The Tekton is a simple and versatile trail mountain bike that does well on paved and unpaved roads, in the forest, and on moderate trails.

The 26″ tires are knobby and wide, so you won’t be lacking grip. You’ll also get a pair of platform pedals and a comfy ergonomic saddle. Therefore, all you need to do is hop on and go explore!

The Tekton 26″ mountain bike is the right choice if you want to buy an affordable mountain bike with decent components that you can ride on and off-road, to enjoy the outdoors, lose weight, or get fit.

 

5. Schwinn Mesa

Best for Short Riders

Schwinn Mesa

As you know, Schwinn has been around for a long time, making quality bikes in different categories. One of those categories is mountain biking. They provide value where it is needed the most, for example with components and strong wheels.

Key takeaways:

  • Suitable for riders  5’2″ to 5’6″ in height
  • Disc brakes
  • 27.5″ wheels

 

Schwinn Mesa is one of the best mountain bikes under $500 because it is made of high-quality materials, so it offers good value for the price.

It has 27.5″ wheels and disc brakes which allows you to negotiate obstacles and stop quickly. Wide knobby mountain tires are wide enough for off-road riding but not too wide for road commutes.

See more: Schwinn Mountain Bikes

Assembling might require some technical knowledge, though the bike ships mostly assembled already. The bike might be a little on the heavier side, considering it has entry-level front suspension.

This suspension is not intended for serious trail riding, but it will significantly improve the overall comfort on off-road rides.

Schwinn Mesa is an entry-level bike intended for beginners and recreational riders. You can’t really find too many faults with it considering the low price.

This hardtail bike has a Shimano Tourney drivetrain that offers 21 gears. This is a low-tier groupset, so it can’t handle too much abuse, but it’s still reliable and ready for everyday use. The components on this bike are going to last until you decide to wrap yourself around a tree, though we advise against it if you have a choice.

Get it if you want an affordable hardtail bike with the most comfort for off-road adventures.

 

6. Huffy Torreya

One Of The Best MTB’s Under $500

Huffy Torreya Mountain BikeYou can get the Huffy Torreya for less than $500. In this price range, you can’t expect anything superb, but there can be a nice balance between the price and quality.

Key takeaways:

  • 27.5 wheels
  • Aluminum frame
  • Front and rear disc brakes

 

Huffy Torreya rolls on 27.5“ wheels, which are double-walled. It is only available in one size (18“), so some very short or very tall riders might not be able to ride it. The aluminum frame is stiff and lightweight. This bike comes in one color only, but it’s a modern and attractive black, with beautiful gold details.

It mainly uses low-level components which are better than some third-party components. Torreya’s 8 gears are more than enough for different riding situations with a decent cassette on the rear.

Huffy Torreya is a massive bargain as it costs under $500 but offers components that usually cost much more.

You will need some tools to assemble it. The assembly instructions are good, but if you’re not familiar with bike assembly, then you might want to bring the bike to a local bike shop and have them do it for a fairly inexpensive price.

This is a good pick for those who are looking for the best mountain bikes under $500.

 

7. Mongoose Malus Fat Bike

Our Top Pick – Best Fat Bike Under $500!

Mongoose MalusMongoose makes many different types of bicycles, but we like their MTB line the most. This list would not have been complete without a fat bike, as they are more popular than ever. With that in mind, when choosing mountain bikes under $500, the Mongoose Malus fat tire bike was the most logical choice

Main Features:

  • Knobby 4″ wide tires
  • Mechanical disc brakes

 

Fat bikes are usually more robust and less complicated than other types of bikes, which makes them the perfect candidate for entry-level riders.

All fat bikes usually come with disc brakes, since they need more stopping power because of their heavier weight. Mongoose Malus has a set of mechanical disc brakes, which might need more strength in your fingers to fully engage, but they brake much more efficiently than V-brakes.

Mongoose Malus comes with a steel frame that puts an emphasis on comfort and strength but does not sacrifice speed and weight too much.

At this price, you cannot expect high-end components, that’s for sure. However, Mongoose Malus doesn’t give you the cheapest components either. It comes with a 1×7 drivetrain operated with a Shimano rear derailleur.

Fat bikes usually do not come with a lot of gears since they are intended for extreme terrains and conditions where you do not need to go very fast. Therefore, the seven speeds on Malus will certainly suffice.

Related: Best Fat Bikes

All in all, fat tire bikes are really fun machines, but they are much more than a toy. If you haven’t ridden one so far, we recommend Mongoose Malus as it’s great value for the price – fat bike for under $500 – give it a try!

 

8. Royce Union

Best 27.5″ Trail Bike

Royce UnionRoyce is not a very well-known brand but it is doing a lot to popularize mountain biking among entry-level riders, for both men and women. Royce Union is the right tool for this job because it costs little, looks good, and has plenty of beginner-friendly features.

Main features:

  • Aluminum Frame
  • 27.5″ wheels
  • 21 gears

 

You can see straight away that this is a modern trail bike, because of the progressive trail geometry. The bike looks really nice on the streets and rides even better, even though it is quite affordable.

The Zoom front fork has 100 mm of travel which is a good amount of travel for fun rides on bumpy roads or recreational rides on moderate trails.

It makes the ride smooth and eliminates the majority of vibrations. The fork and the frame allow for wide knobby tires, which you’ll love when the surface beneath you gets sketchy. You’ll get plenty of grip even if you ride in wet conditions.

The Royce Union trail bike offers phenomenal entry-level performance with a range of components and features to fit every pocket.

The number of gears is sometimes a problem with cheap bikes, but the Royce Union has 21 gears and a 3×7 drivetrain, which is plenty. You won’t need more than that. The bike comes with Shimano Altus components, which is an excellent mid-tier groupset.

All in all, Royce Union is a good choice for recreational riders. Feel free to buy one of them if you want to start off-road cycling as a complete beginner and learn the beauties of the sport.

 

 

9. Schwinn High Timber

Best MTB with 29″ Wheels

Schwinn High TimberSchwinn High Timber is an affordable mountain bike, perfect for being your first bicycle for hitting the off-road. It is well-equipped, good-looking, and easy to maintain.

Some specs:

  • Aluminum Frame
  • 29″ tires
  • 21 speeds

 

It has a lightweight and durable aluminum frame that improves comfort and achieves a modern look. Great looks are this bike’s main trait, but it is also pretty well-equipped for this price.

High Timber has a comfortable saddle that will support you well on longer rides and comes with platform pedals.

The value Schwinn High Timber offers at a very low price is hard to beat, making it the best bang for the buck in this category.

This bike has a 21-speed drivetrain so you don’t need to worry whether or not you’ll have the right gear for a steep climb. The bike also has front and rear mechanical disc brakes instead of V-brakes, which is a big plus on cheap mountain bikes.

The highlight is the wide 29″ tires that improve comfort and stability, which is the most important thing for beginner riders.

To sum up, if you want an affordable but quality bike that will show you all the beauties of riding bikes, don’t hesitate to get the Schwinn High Timber mountain bike.

 

10. Hiland 26 Aluminum MTB

Best Bike for Kids Under $500

Hiland Aluminum Mountain BikeWe believe that kids should start riding bikes at an early age. It’s fun and it’s good for their health! That’s why we’re wrapping up this list with the best kids’ bike for under $500! We’re talking about Hiland 26 which is a versatile choice that does well both on and off-road.

Key features:

  • 26″ wheels
  • Front suspension
  • Aluminum frame

 

It features 26” wheels which make this bike suitable for teenagers and young adults. However, depending on their height, even younger kids can enjoy this beautiful MTB. It’s suitable for riders over 5’1″ in height.

Related: Best Kids Bikes

This Hiland model costs well under $500. That’s a bargain, which makes this the perfect first mountain bike for you or your child.

The stock model is equipped enough to guarantee a fun and quality ride. Hiland 26 has a beginner-friendly Shimano 21-speed drivetrain that’s easy for kids to use and even easier for parents to maintain.

Hiland also has front and rear mechanical disc brakes that inspire confidence and stability.

The fork offers ample amounts of travel even though it’s heavy, but most kids don’t really need loads of travel as they don’t ride too hard.

If you want you or your child to spend more time outside and fall in love with cycling on a fun and quality bike, then the Hiland 26″ mountain bike is a no-brainer.

 

Conclusions

We tested eight bikes and found them all to be great values and competent machines. But which one would be the best for you?

suggested

Let’s investigate…

If you are an entry-level cyclist and want a true taste of real mountain biking, then you should get the affordable Marin Bolinas Ridge. However, the best trail mountain bike for around $500 that we’ve located is the Co-op DRT 1.1. This bike has hydraulic discs and all sizes available.

Mongoose Switchback costs slightly more than $500, but it’s worth it if you want excellent value for your money and a well-built bike that will last you for years.

Seriously!

The best trail mountain bike comes in the form of the Huffy Torreya. If you need a 29″ MTB, you should consider Schwinn High Timber, which is an excellent hardtail option.

Short riders sometimes have a hard time finding the right bike. However, we’ve managed to find Schwinn Mesa which will fit you like a glove if you’re under 6 ft. tall. For all-terrain fat bikers, we found the Mongoose Malus to be the best pick.

Fact time: Women can always use men’s bikes, and many do. For example, you should consider the Royce Union. A great bike for the price!

For the most part, you get what you pay for. If low price is your priority and you are satisfied with weaker components, then we’ll suggest the Huffy Tekton, which will fulfill its duties if maintained regularly and not abused.

Finally, if you’re looking for a bike to treat yourself or your kid with, then Hiland is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

 


Not Sure how to Assemble a Bike? Click Here To Order Proper Bike Assembly At Amazon.com!


 


If you didn’t find what you were looking for, here’s a quick tip for you. Find your bike on REI, JensonUSA, or evo mountain bike categories (sorted by price)


 

OVERALL

Overall Ideas

It can be difficult to find good mountain bikes under $500, especially now that all prices are rising and there are not enough bikes available.

Plus, one may be hesitant to purchase a cheap mountain bike online, but there are some strong contenders.

When it comes to branded bikes, you pay at least 30% for the name alone, while lesser-known best budget mountain bike manufacturers work hard to make quality bikes that could rival “Scotts” or “Treks“. You can read about them here on Bikeradar.

All of the bikes have a firm lightweight and high-quality frames and the only way to go up is to buy a carbon fiber frame, which is considerably pricier than the cheap mountain bikes discussed here.

At that rate, finding a good beginner mountain bike can become a pain in the backside.

We suggest you buy only the best hardtail mountain bikes because full-suspension bikes need more money and you can’t afford them in this price range.

Learn more: Mountain Bike Suspension Explained

While they might require some basic assembling, i.e handlebar or rims installed, we would advise any one of these bikes as top-notch entry-level options and you shouldn’t worry about the less than perfect quality – they are great for training and exploring new roads.

I hope you found the best mountain bikes under $500!

Consider buying pre-owner bikes from The Pro’s Closet

 

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88 Comments

  • Lonnie McCoy says:

    Hi Jeff,
    looking to get into a new bike for myself and wife, we are really beginners but looking for something street to trails not radical trails at this time really for exercise, that I can hail on my bike rack on the car, I’m 5’7 and the wife is 5’4 been years since my last bike and recommendations would be great.
    price range $300-$500 per bike

    Thank you

    • Editor says:

      Hi Lonnie,
      Glad to know you are both getting into the wonderful world of cycling. I think you both need a hybrid bike. For your bike charts:
      5’7: 16” Medium.
      5’4: 15” Small
      Check out our entry level hybrid bikes.

    • guratimud says:

      ’m 5’7 and the wife is 5’4 been years since my last bike and recommendations would be great.
      price range $300-$500 per bike

    • Editor says:

      Hi Guratimud,

      The same size recommendations apply to you:5’7: 16” Medium.
      5’4: 15” Small. Check out Schwinn and Mongoose. May I ask what sort of riding do you both enjoy? For casual off-road riding then these bikes will do.

  • Jeff says:

    Hi Jeff. I’d like to purchase a bike on the cheap. Primary use would be street/gravel daily exercise, but also something I could venture into light trails/downhill on occasion. Sorting through online sales and the local used market I’ve narrowed it down to a high end used bike in excellent condition (but 20 years old) and a low-mid tier modern mtb. Both are dual suspension, but the modern bike has several advantages including disc brakes and fork lockout.

    I can get either in the range of $250-$400.

    Option A: 1999 Schwinn S-10
    Option B: 2021 Gravity FSX 2.0
    Option C: You blow my mind

    Thanks!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Jeff,
      These are all good brands, although the Schwinn is a classic brand. But you can also check out our entry level hardtail bikes. Maybe you’ll find something there too 😉

  • Brayden says:

    Hello I’m looking for a dual suspension mountain bike for jumps and I’m 5’ 0”

  • Randy says:

    Hi Jeff. I am 6’4” and about 280lbs. I’m looking to ride for exercise and would like to know what entry level cycles you suggest for heavier riders? Thanks

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Randy,
      First, let’s address the bike size for you. You need something that’s 21+ inches for XXL riders. Now, I assume that you are not really into hardcore riding and would be using this bike for fitness and just going around town right? Hybrid bikes would be a perfect compromise between road riding and occasional gravel experience. So do check out the list and see if you can find something that strikes your fancy.

  • Michael Tripp says:

    Hi Jeff. I am looking for a mountain bike for mainly cardio reasons and occasional trail riding. I am 5″9 197lbs. I am looking to spend between 3-$400. My ortho recommended getting a bike as I have had a few knee surgeries and he advised to stop running so much.

  • Serge says:

    Hi Jeff, my daughter is 5’ 6” , 103 lb, 13 years old. The local bike shop has only one bike available with $500 price range is Trek Marlin 4 or we can buy from Dick’s store their GT laguna bike for pretty the same price. What would you recommend to buy? Thank you

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Serge,
      Both a good brands. Each price range is similar specs. Get your favorite that fits your daughter. Get her a 16” / 17″ under the Medium size.

  • saoirse says:

    hi i am trying to find the best mountain bike under 400 that has very springy springs and can hit those jump. I am a 13 year old kid who is very small so should i use a size 26 or 24? what is the bike that has the best springs? And also i would like a hardtail because the bikes with the back shocks too are very pricy

    hope this message finds you well with the best intentions
    thank you …

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Saoirse,
      You’ve come to the right place! You can use 26″ for a more comfortable and stable ride. You are right, full suspension is pricey. Here’s the link to affordable mountain bikes available.

  • Francisco soto says:

    My son is 5’5 135 and I wanted to know what’s the best MTB under 300 $

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Francisco,

      So far the cheapest mountain bike we can recommend is . Let’s face it, mountain bikes cheaper than that is not good. Or, you can also look for second hand as the last option if you want to get something good but not too expensive. By the way, make sure you you get him a medium-size mtb. Something with a frame size around 16” / 17″.

  • Hal R Kaelin says:

    I am looking at a Motobecane full suspension bike and am trying to figure out the best size to buy. My current bike is a hybrid Schwinn Searcher and is a 17.5″ frame with 700c 28 inch wheels. But the Motobecane comes in 16.5″ or 18.5″ frame size with 27.5″ wheels. I am 5’8″ with a 29″ leg inseam and 67″ total arms length. So which size would be best for me 16.5 or 18.5. I like to ride hard and fast and sometimes long distances, longest so far lately is 44 miles.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Hal,
      16.6″ is your sweet spot. Getting an MTB with the ride size will give you more fun without lower back pain and other discomforts.

  • Eiman says:

    Hi Jeff, my height 168cm and leg inseam 28″.
    What size of bicycle mtb that I need.. Thank you

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Eiman,

      Give her a road bike that’s between 16” / 17″. These are categorized under Medium.

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