Updated on June 16, 2022

There is no doubt you can spend bundles of cash buying the sweetest looking mountain bike available… but do you need to spend your life savings just to get a bike that can ride trials and make you holler from joy? No way!

There are plenty of quality mountain bikes out there that are just a fraction of the price, you just have to know where to look. But don’t worry, we have done the hard work for you and found 10 – yes 10! Mountain bikes under $500 that are worth your hard earned cash. 

The Adventure Junkies MTB experts looked for bikes that would stand up to some proper mountain biking built with quality componentry. All of the bikes on the list below are outfitted with decent tires and are manufactured by reputable brands. Just like you, we love to ride, so we selected bikes we would be happy to throw a leg over and hit the trails on.

For more of our top mountain biking gear recommendations, check out Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners.

 

Quick Answer - The Best Mountain Bikes Under $500

  1. Schwinn Bonafide
  2. Mongoose Malus
  3. Schwinn High Timber
  4. Mongoose Status
  5. Diamondback Overdrive 27.5
  6. Hiland Aluminum

 

Comparison Table - Best Mountain Bikes Under $500

For the best experience turn your device horizontally
NameFrame MaterialWheel SizeSuspensionPurposePriceRating
Schwinn BonafideAluminum29”HardtailCross Country$$$4.9
Mongoose MalusSteel26”RigidEasy Trails, Snow And Sand Riding$4.0
Hiland 26Aluminum26"Front suspension forkAll$4.3
Schwinn High TimberAluminum29"Front suspension forkTrail Riding$$4.4
Mongoose StatusAluminum26”HardtailTrail Riding$$4.7
Diamondback Overdrive 27.5Aluminum27.5”HardtailCross Country$$$4.1
Hiland AluminumAluminum26”HardtailCross Country$$4.4
NameFrame MaterialWheel SizeSuspensionPurposePriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - Best Mountain Bikes Under $500

Schwinn Bonafide

Specs
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Wheel Size: 29”
  • Suspension: Hardtail
  • Drivetrain: 3 x 8
  • Purpose: Cross Country
  • Brakes: Hydraulic Disc
Features
  • Durable Drivetrain For Lower Maintenance
  • Front Suspension To Smooth The Ride Feel
  • Large Wheel Size For Better Traction

BEST FOR: BEGINNERS ON A BUDGET 

This entry level mountain bike is perfect for those looking to hit the dirt for the first time without handing over bundles of cash. With this bike, you’re going to get a feel for riding and understanding of mountain bikes. Plus, you’ll be able to work out what you do and don’t like about a bike before perhaps upgrading. 

The Schwinn Bonafide Mountain bike is manufactured from a strong aluminium and built with durable components. It even has disc brakes for quick and safe stopping. It will be able to take a bit of a beating out on the trails as you learn the limits of riding mountain bikes. You’ll have plenty of fun learning the ropes on this bike!

Mongoose Malus

Specs
  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Wheel Size: 26”
  • Suspension: Rigid
  • Drivetrain: 1 x 7
  • Purpose: Easy Trails, Snow And Sand Riding
  • Brakes: Mechanical Disc
Features
  • Fat Tires For Added Traction
  • Simple Gearing For Easier Maintenance
  • Disc Brakes For Powerful Stopping

BEST FOR: SAND AND SNOW RIDING

The Mongoose Fat Tire Bike earns its name from its extra wide tires. These tires offer additional grip and traction which makes it the perfect bike for riding on loose surfaces like sand and snow. But don’t be fooled – this bike is still plenty of fun for getting dusty and dirty on some easy mountain bike trails too. This inexpensive bike is fitted with disc brakes for excellent stopping power and a simple 7 speed gear system that makes it low maintenance. This is a rigid designed bike, meaning it has no suspension. However, those fat tires also help soak up the bumps on the trails so you’ll still have a smooth ride.

Hiland 26

Specs
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Wheel Size: 26"
  • Suspension: Front suspension fork
  • Drivetrain: 24 Speed
  • Purpose: All
  • Brakes: Mechanical Disc
Features
  • SHIMANO Shifter and Derailleur
  • 85% pre-assembled, required assembly tools included
  • Kickstand & pedals included

BEST FOR: KIDS

If you’re looking for a versatile option that your little ones can take on and off-road, consider the Hiland.

The Hiland 26 boasts a beginner-friendly 24-speed drivetrain that easy to use AND easy to maintain. There are front and rear mechanical disc brakes and a front suspension. Integrated mounts make it easy for you to add racks or fenders as desired. This model comes 85% assembled with an assembly video that helps walk you the rest of the process.

What I like most about the Hiland is that it offers a plentiful amount of travel.

Schwinn High Timber

Specs
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Wheel Size: 29"
  • Suspension: Front suspension fork
  • Drivetrain: 21 speed
  • Purpose: Trail Riding
  • Brakes: Mechanical Disc
Features
  • Alloy crank
  • Twist shifters
  • All-terrain, wide knobby mountain tires
  • Quick release seat post

BEST FOR 29″ WHEELS

For just over $400, it’s hard to find reasons that justify NOT investing in this bike.

The High Timber features a bit of an old school design that many riders dearly appreciate. The alloy crank is complimented with durable alloy wheels, platform pedals, and a relatively comfortable saddle, too. Its combination steel and aluminum frame makes it sturdy without sacrificing too much in terms of weight — although it is far from a lightweight model. It is equipped with a 21 speed twist shifter, as well.

What I like most about this bike is how easy it is to assemble.

Mongoose Status

Specs
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Wheel Size: 26”
  • Suspension: Hardtail
  • Drivetrain: 3 x 7
  • Purpose: Trail Riding
  • Brakes: Hydraulic Disc
Features
  • Disc Brakes For Superior Stopping Power
  • Sturdy, Yet Lightweight Rims Built To Endure Tough Conditions
  • Ultra Wide Range Of Gears For Climbing Hills

BEST FOR: GOOD VALUE TRAIL READY HARDTAIL

The Mongoose Status is loaded with features that will have you hitting the trails with a smile on your face. The 3×7 Shimano drivetrain has an ultra wide selection of gearing that will help you tackle varying terrain, plus high quality disc brakes for safe stopping on steep descents. 

The powerful front suspension is ample for soaking up bumps, and it’s paired with strong wheels and quality tires that provide plenty of traction to inspire confidence out on the trails. The frame is designed to be super strong where you need it while maintaining a light weight. The Mongoose Status is a quality build with a bright aesthetic to match – you’ll look sharp shredding trails on this rig.

Diamondback Overdrive 27.5

Specs
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Wheel Size: 27.5”
  • Suspension: Hardtail
  • Drivetrain: 3 x 8
  • Purpose: Cross Country
  • Brakes: Mechanical Disc
Features
  • Large Range Of Gears For Easy Climbing
  • Budget Friendly Cross Country Bike
  • Wide Bars For On-Trail Control

BEST FOR: BASIC CROSS COUNTRY RIDING

Using their lightweight aluminium Overdrive frame, Diamondback paired this lightweight framed bike with budget friendly components to make a trail bike that won’t break the bank. It comes equipped with powerful disc brakes for maximum stopping power, a plush 100mm of front suspension for smoothing out rough trails, and plenty of gears to help you tackle steep terrain. Fitted with wide knobby tires to grip rocks and roots and extra wide handlebars, it will inspire confidence and keep you in control as you explore the trail. This is a really solid starter mountain bike and one that won’t disappoint.

Hiland Aluminum

Specs
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Wheel Size: 26”
  • Suspension: Hardtail
  • Drivetrain: 3x8
  • Purpose: Cross Country
  • Brakes: Hydraulic Disc
Features
  • 100mm Front Suspension Smooths Ride Feel
  • Trail Geometry For Technical Riding
  • Smaller Wheel Size For Shorter Riders

BEST FOR: SHORT MOUNTAIN BIKERS

If you’re after a bike that suits a shorter rider, then look no further. The Hiland Aluminum Mountain Bike is designed with vertically challenged people in mind. The 26” wheel size makes this bike the perfect geometry and fit, as it reduces the overall height and length of the bike. This inspires confidence and control when riding it in comparison to a bike with larger wheels. 

Rest assured – there are no compromises on components with this bike. It comes with hydraulic disc brakes, the gold standard in mountain bike brakes, for excellent stopping power. It’s also fitted with a large selection of gears, a super strong and durable aluminium frame, and a plush 100mm of front suspension. Get ready to rip the trails on this sweet ride!

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A MOUNTAIN BIKE UNDER $500

WHERE AND HOW YOU RIDE

Choosing a mountain bike that is suitable for where and how you plan on riding is essential to ensure you enjoy riding every time you go out. Most entry level mountain bikes are suited to trail riding and cross country mountain biking, as described below. The manufacturing methods, build quality, componentry and suspension is specific to this style of riding. If you plan on riding big jumps, drop offs, or gnarly downhill then it is best to select a bike that suits these conditions and will most likely involve a higher price tag.

 

RIDE STYLE

Trail Riding is a less technical style of riding. It can include gravel roads and wide open trails. The climbs and descents are generally easier and not so steep. A hardtail (front suspension only) or rigid (no suspension) mountain bike is appropriate for this style of riding.

Cross Country Mountain Biking is a more technical and challenging style of riding. It typically involves steeper climbs and descents, and narrow trails – also known as singletrack. The terrain can be more technical and include rocks, roots and lots of corners. A hardtail (front suspension only) or rigid (no suspension) mountain bike is appropriate for this style of riding.

 

FRAME MATERIALS

Aluminum is the most common frame material. It is low cost and easy to use in manufacturing, meaning a lot of entry level and lower cost bikes are made from this material. It is lightweight yet strong.

Steel is less commonly used as it is more expensive to use in manufacturing. It is very strong and has excellent flexible properties.

 

SUSPENSION

Most mountain bikes use mechanical shock absorbers in the front of the bike. Higher end bikes and those suited for more rough terrain will also have suspension in the rear of the bike. Suspension smooths out the ride and allows greater comfort and control on rough terrain. 

Rigid bikes have no suspension.

Hardtail bikes have suspension on the front only.

Full Suspension bikes have suspension at the front and rear. None of the bikes listed here are full suspension as these typically have a higher cost.

 

WHEEL SIZE

Deciding which mountain bike wheel size is right for you is important for ensuring that your mountain bike suits all your riding needs. Read on to learn about which wheel size is appropriate for which type of riding:

29” Wheels are excellent for holding speed and rolling over obstacles. Cross-country bikes are most commonly designed with this wheel size. Taller riders also suit this wheel size best.

27.5” Wheels are more nimble and suited to tight, technical terrain that requires fast maneuvering. Trail bikes are most commonly designed with this wheel size. Shorter riders also tend to prefer this wheel size.

26” Wheels are not as common, but they reduce the overall height and length of a bike, making it easier to control. These bikes are typically suited to very short riders.

Fat Tires are most commonly found on 27.5” wheels. Fat tires are larger than normal tires and can be run at lower pressures. They absorb shock and grip the trail, but are heavier than a standard tire.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

TRAVEL

“Travel” refers to how far the suspension will travel while you ride; if a mountain bike has 100mm of travel, then the suspension will compress 100mm. The more travel suspension, the plusher the ride will feel and the more suited the bike is for rough terrain. Read more about how much travel you need for your style of riding here.

 

DRIVETRAIN

Refers to the mechanisms which aid in the bike moving forward. This includes: the crankset (the thing the pedals are attached to); the chain that transfers the power between the crankset and the rear wheel; and the cassette (a set of cogs), which is also simply known as the gears that are attached to the rear wheel.

 

DISC BRAKES

These are a style of mountain bike brake. Most modern mountain bikes are equipped with disc brakes as they offer quick and even stopping power.  The caliper – which works like a clamp – grips the metal rotor on the wheel to bring the bike to a quick stop. 

Mechanical disc brakes use a cable that is connected between the brake lever and the disc brake. When the brake lever is pulled, it tightens the cable which forces the caliper to close on the rotor.

Hydraulic disc brakes use fluid to actuate the braking mechanism. Hydraulic brakes are the gold standard in brakes.

 

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