These Are The Best Mountain Bikes Under $500
The Best Mountain Bikes for “UNDER” $500.00
It can be tough shopping around for a decent mountain bike for less than $500. The manufacturers are great at touting premium parts and features and why everyone needs them, but less great at showing where the real value for money options are.
You are looking to buy a mountain bike at the same price the hard core mountain bikes are paying for just their front fork.
Walk into your local bike shop, and you are likely to feel intimidated very quickly. The kid working at the bike shop, who might well be a semi-pro downhill racer, will probably try to sell you a mountain bike for $2500 while all you need is a bike to get you from point A to point B.
Perhaps the occasional off-road riding, but nothing that justifies the astonishing price tags on some of the expensive Trek or Kona models.
With this post, I hope to shed some light on the very reliable options on the market that are available for less than 500 dollars.
- 1 The Best Mountain Bikes for “UNDER” $500.00
- 2 Comparison’s for Mountain Bikes “UNDER” $500.00.
- 3 Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men’s Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike
- 4 2016 Gravity FSX 1.0 Dual Suspension Mountain Bike Shimano Acera Suntour
- 5 Diamondback Bicycles Sorrento Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike
- 6 Diamondback Bicycles 2016 Overdrive Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike
- 7 Last but not least- Diamondback 2013 Overdrive Sport
- 8 Conclusion
Comparison’s for Mountain Bikes “UNDER” $500.00.
Firstly, at this price range, there are a few things you should be aware of. You need to understand that you can’t pay this price, and expect to have the lightest and fastest mountain bike on the market.
For manufacturers to offer mountain bikes in this price range, they had to make some tough decisions on parts.
More expensive mountain bikes can be manufactured from the latest and greatest materials that are lightweight and far more advanced. Be prepared that buying a bike at this price will mean a heavier frame.
The second thing that most manufacturers have to compromise on is the suspension. You won’t find many decent full suspension bikes for less than 500 dollars, as it just adds too much weight to an already have frame.
Additionally, a full suspension will add more cost meaning the manufacturer have to cut costs somewhere else.
This means most good bikes under $500 are hard tail bikes (meaning it has front suspension only).
I listed two full suspension bikes below, but I would recommend going for a hardtail in this price range.
At this price range, your bike is likely to be heavier, although it won’t be nearly as heavy as budget options were a few years ago.
The bicycle industry has made great strides in finding materials for lightweight frames and making these materials more affordable.
Most affordable mountain bikes feature aluminum frames that are reasonably light weight. Braking and gear shifting have also made huge leaps and bounds when it comes to technology, and will be much better than in years past.
Lucky for you, there is a huge demand for affordable mountain bikes, and this has led to manufacturers filling the market with plenty of options.
Do not be roped in by the big department stores selling mountain bikes at very low prices. Typically these are bikes that have been assembled from very cheap components.
The assembly is quite often done by employees who know nothing about mountain bikes as well. A recipe for disaster!
Keep in mind that bikes at this price should be seen as lifestyle mountain bikes, rather than actual mountain bikes. What does this mean?
These bikes combine the off-road capabilities of a mountain bike with the functionality of a road bike. You get the rugged good looks with a smooth ride.
If you do start out with one of these bikes, you can always upgrade some of the components as and when you become more serious about the trail or downhill riding.
Having said all of that, it is time for us to start looking at the different options on the market.
The good news is that I have done the hard work for you. I have looked at dozens of mountain bikes in this price range and have narrowed it down to 5 excellent options. All that remains for you to do is to read and compare, and of course, to order your bike.
Let’s get stuck into the five best mountain bikes under 500 dollars.
Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men’s Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike
The Schwinn Protocol features the lowest price of all the bikes on this list. It is labeled an all-terrain mountain bike and comes with full suspension.
While I think this is a sharp looking model, I wouldn’t take it out on the single track. It looks great on the road, and that is probably where it should remain.
The Shimano Altus rear derailleur and Shimano EZ-Fire shifters make for smooth shifting and deliver 24 speeds. In the front is a Promax disc brake, with a rear alloy linear pull brake for confident stopping in dirty and dusty conditions.
I like the fact that Schwinn realized buyers of this bike might want to upgrade components and subsequently placed a mount on the rear swing arm if you ever want to move to a disc brake.
As with most dual suspension bikes, there is little, if any space for a water bottle. This might be a turn-off for some. I was also a little disappointed with the quality of the tires on this bike’s 26-inch wheels.
You can’t have everything at this price, but I would have expected better from Schwinn. After all, tires are one of the cheaper components for a manufacturer to get right.
One thing that counts against the Schwinn is that it isn’t all that comfortable for larger riders. If you are 6’0” or above, and weight more than 250lbs, I would recommend you look at one of the Diamondback options in the XL size.
2016 Gravity FSX 1.0 Dual Suspension Mountain Bike Shimano Acera Suntour
The 2016 Gravity FSX is an excellent option for those just starting out with the sport, and who are looking for a good all-terrain bike.
The price is a little lower than some of the other options, but the affordable price is not an accurate reflection of how this bike performs.
The advanced aluminum frame comes with single pivot technology, a robust Shimano drivetrain, and adjustable front shock.
Front and rear disk brakes are responsible for confident braking, while the Shimano components ensure speed changes are smooth.
This bike is made from the same 6061 titanium as some of the other bikes on our list, and you can rest assured, this 26-inch bike is a much better option than anything you can find at a department store.
The tires on this bike work well on the road, but you might want to consider an upgrade if you want to accelerate off slippery surfaces or boulders.
I will mention that I was a little disappointed with the rear suspension, but again, you have to keep in mind what you are paying for this bike. This bike is easy to assemble and took me less than 30 mins to put together.
I have a good deal of experience assembling mountain bikes, so I didn’t need the manual. I did have a peek at it, though, and found the directions to be unclear.
My suggestion will be to search Youtube for a video if you are struggling with the assembly.
On top of this being a solid choice for beginners, the manufacturer (Sun Cycles) has some of the best support in the industry.
Diamondback Bicycles Sorrento Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike
Diamondback is a well-known brand in the cycling world even among those not fond of mountain biking, as they have been dominant in cycling since they started in BMX way back in 1977.
This is the first of three Diamondback’s I rate to be in the top 5, and for good reason.
I love the fact that the Sorrento comes pre-assembled. When I tried out the Sorrento earlier in the year, it took me 20 minutes from receiving the bike, to hitting the road.
I like the heat treated 6061-T6 aluminum frame. I found it to be relatively lightweight and very durable.
Another thing I like about Diamondback is their different size options. They have a choice for riders of every shape and size.
The Tektro linear-pull brakes make for powerful and confident stopping, and the 27.5-inch wheels ensure you get the best of both worlds when it comes to responsiveness and comfort.
You will find the Shimano Altus groupset used on this bike, to be one step above the very basic starter components. These are not made for hard-core jumping and single track riding.
I like the knobbly tires on the 27.5-inch wheels and found their grip to be above average, both on gravel and tar. It also comes with double walled rims, which makes the wheels a good deal stronger.
While I wouldn’t recommend tackling big obstacles, I found the 3” Suntour M3030 XC 75mm suspension fork to be a good performer on small to medium bumps.
The Shimano Tourney front and Shimano Altus 7 Speed rear derailleur work well together, and I was impressed with how easy the gears shifted.
Diamondback Bicycles 2016 Overdrive Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike
This is another bike that can best be described as a lifestyle mountain bike.
While it can handle some moderate off-road riding, it is best suited to hitting the sidewalk or the gravel.
This bike comes with 29-inch wheels that make for a super comfortable ride over rougher terrain, although the larger wheels do sacrifice some responsiveness.
One thing to keep in mind, the bigger wheels might make for a smoother ride, but this extra comfort comes at the expense of speed.
I also really liked the performance of the Tektro Aries brakes, it stands out over other options in this price class.
Although you might get some frowns from the hardcore mountain bikers, this is one of the few sub 500 dollar bikes that I would even consider taking out on a trail ride.
This is another Diamondback built on the 6061-T6 aluminum frame, and the machined head tube makes for relatively precise steering considering the size of the wheels on this bike.
This classic hardtail is rounded off with a plush Suntour front suspension fork, and 24 speeds delivered by the front Shimano Tourney derailleur.
Last but not least- Diamondback 2013 Overdrive Sport
The Diamondback 2016 Overdrive Sport is a cult favorite and has become increasingly popular with budget-conscious mountain bikers.
The upgraded components are paired with hydraulic brakes and come with 100mm front suspension. The larger stanchions on the front fork make for a more stable ride on the trail or the single track.
The aluminum frame responds well to the Shimano 8 speed shifters and offers a very nice ride that is a cut above many other bikes well above this price level.
I like how smooth the 29inch tires roll over roots, small rocks and ledges. The tires can be considered aggressive and might be overkill if you plan on riding this bike to campus.
This bike is also built on the traditional 6061-T6 frame, and the hydraulic brakes make for really reliable braking power.
I was surprised by how lightweight this bike was when compared to others in this price range, and I felt like the crank and derailleur worked smoothly.
It is important to realize that, for this price you won’t be getting the cutting edge technology found in bikes at 5x the price. The bike you choose will be heavier and less advanced than other bikes.
I would also advise against getting any of the above bikes if you will be doing regular trail rides, or single track rides. For those purposes, I would recommend you save up some more to get a good mountain bike.
For those who need an urban mountain bike, and who do not require the absolute best components, the five bikes mentioned above are great affordable options.
Remember, you are the best person to decide on the right mountain bike for you. Take other’s opinions into consideration, but make your decision on which bike is best for you.
You are the only one who knows exactly how you will use the mountain bike.
In this price range, I would rather go for a hardtail, as I feel the sacrifice on other parts with a dual suspension bike is just too much.
I would be hard pressed to choose between the 2013 Overdrive Sport and the 2016 Overdrive. If I could choose only one, the 2016 Overdrive would be my choice as the best mountain bike under 500 dollars.
The 2016 Overdrive performs very well on the road, and I would venture to say that for those shopping in this price range, the 29inch wheels will be just perfect. This bike offers a smooth and stable ride all the way to the office or campus.
I hope this article has helped you to make the right decision. Be sure to let me know in the comments which bike is best for you.
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