How to Find the Best Mountain Bike for Under $500?

mountain bike feat

So you’re looking to invest in a decent mountain bike to challenge the terrain, but are finding most of the prices steeper than most of the mountains you’ll be facing. With all the name brands touting high-end features, how can any newcomer come to grips with the staggering price tag of a mountain bike, where it seems a bike chain can cost you more than a gold chain?

Well the truth is, attacking the mountainside doesn’t require a mountain of cash. You see, there’s something no bike can offer you, no matter how much you pay for it: enthusiasm! If you’ve got that, there are choices to help you break into mountain biking without breaking the bank. Here are some tips on how to select the best mountain bike under 500 dollars.

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How to Find the Best Mountain Bike for Under $500?

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Schwinn High Timber Youth and Adult Mountain Bike

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Top 4 Best Mountain Bikes Under $500

For you to know more about the best mountain bikes that is well under $500, here is a short list of the top 4 bikes that are recognized as the best in the market:

Schwinn Mesa Adult Mountain Bike

schwinn mesa adult

It has an aluminum frame that’s has an optimized single pivot design with 4” travel for the coil shock and oil damping. It’s very durable and is just around 34lbs. It also has 120mm of travel with its Suntour XCM suspension fork that has an external adjustment for you to easily adjust the fork according to your weight and style of riding.

Its disc brakes are made by Tektro Aires that is dependable whenever you need to stop even in any condition. It has Suntour triple chainring crank with 8 cog cassette that will give you 24 speeds to choose from when mountain trailing. Plus, the 27.5” wheels have double walls which handle more impact and make the rim stronger.

Users say that they are very much happy about this mountain bike because it’s lightweight, easy to assemble, stable and is easy on the pocket. Every feature is mentioned to be solid and can be very dependable.

Schwinn High Timber Men’s 18 Mountain Bike, 18-Inch/Medium, White

schwinn high timber

It has the new Schwinn body for mountain bikes with a Schwinn suspension fork. It has 21 speed Shimano twist shifters and a rear derailleur made also by Shimano for easy adjustments. You can trust its brakes that are made by Alloy V that is matched by its Alloy V wheels with 3 piece alloy cranks.

This mountain bike is fully recommended by its verified purchasers because it works pretty well even if it’s under $500. The features have good quality and are perfect for its price.

Mongoose Cache 26 inches Men’s Mountain Bike, Grey

mongoose cache

It has a Mongoose aluminum full suspension frame with front suspension fork. It also has Shimano 21 speed rear derailleur with twist shifters by SRAM. For a powerful brake system, it has a linear pull rear brake and a front disc brake. It has Alloy wheels that is very easy to use and is lightweight.

There are a lot of negative comments about the delivery of the pieces of the bike because some of its parts are damaged or broken. Although the customer service is helpful and fast to react, many buyers agree that the Mongoose should reconsider the parts that they deliver and their packaging. When used, the bike works well according to its price.

Mongoose 26″ Bedlam 21 Speed Shimano

mongoose bedlam

It has a 6061-T6 heat-treated aluminum alloy frame that comes with a replaceable derailleur hanger. It has Shimano 3-speed front derailleur and 7-speed rear derailleur for 21 combinations of its different gears. It’s equipped with a linear pull braking system for fast stopping. It also has Shimano shifters for easy and reliable shifting.

Many users mentioned that this mountain bike is lightweight and very easy to use. Its braking system works very well and the Shimano components are trustworthy.

Factors to consider before buying the best mountain bike under 500 dollars

If you’re going for a mountain bike and your budget is under $500, then there are certain factors that you should consider. This is important because not all bikes are the same; the features are different when you choose a bike under $500, $1000 or more.

Here are certain things that you should remember:

  • Suspension – When your mountain bike is under $500, it is better that you choose a mountain bike that’s a hardtail. Full suspension bikes are a little too heavy for these types of bike. While hardtail suspension is more versatile and easy to control. At this price point, full suspension usually has cheap quality which, in the end, you would still need to control your mountain bike like a hardtail.
  • Braking system – With a mountain bike that’s under $500, it is recommended that you go for a bike that has a disc brake or linear pull brake. This will make it easy for you to stop anytime even in different type of conditions.
  • Components – A lot of experts suggests that you go for a mountain bike that has a branded shifter like SRAM or Shimano. This will help you change your gears smoothly and quickly.
  • Frame – When it comes to the frame of the mountain bike, it is recommended that you go for an aluminum frame or a chromoly. It’s lightweight and very strong for its price.
  • Weight – You can’t get a bike that’s light as a feather at this price, and most of the bikes at this price range would be quite heavy. But it’s still important that you choose a bike that’s light and easy to move around. Overall, it won’t matter that much because you won’t be carrying it around everytime.

The Bad News

For all their added cost, there is one clear advantage to the higher priced mountain bike offerings. Often, these bikes will be made with lighter and more advanced materials. With a lower cost bike, your wallet will be heavier, but then so is the overall weight of the frame. This is just one issue with trying to choose a best mountain bike under 500 dollars.

Another issue on budget bikes is the lackluster suspension options. Mountain bikes can be “rigid” or having no suspension,”hardtail“with one front suspension fork, or have full suspension with shock absorbers on both the front and back wheels. While full suspension sounds great to have, on lower cost mountain bikes, it’s just way too much added weight. Plus lower priced suspensions usually don’t offer you great performance anyway

That’s not to say that all front suspension budget bikes aren’t worth a look, as all our picks feature front suspension. Just be careful that you’re paying for something that rides great, and not something that just looks great.

The Good News

The technology that lightens the more expensive bikes have been working wonders for lower priced bikes too, with aluminum frames that are more lightweight that they would’ve been just ten years earlier. Also, issues such as braking and gear shifting have been better worked out as well.

With demand for entry level bicycles growing, the need for companies to build lower cost quality bikes can no longer be ignored. This means there are plenty of selections available at your price range at the bike shop. Beware however, as you might be lured into getting a super low priced bike from one of the big department stores, but you might just be getting a collection of cheap components assembled by someone knowing next-to-nothing about bicycles.

The Awesome News!

You don’t have to settle for a department store bike or a bike lacking in quality. There are a few mountain bikes that stand out even in a budget price point, if you know what you’re in the market for. Take the Vilano Blackjack 29er, for instance. Vilano might be the new kid on the biking block, but they’re quickly making a name for themselves with their quality bikes at great prices. Truth be told, there are several Vilano bikes that would fit the bill, but let’s focus on the Blackjack to determine what makes it a contender as the best mountain bike under 500 dollars.

The 21 speed hardtail frame sporting 29 inch wheels does have a slightly heavier aluminum frame, but not enough weight overall to keep it from climbing to the top of our list. With double wall alloys, mechanical disc brakes, and even an adequate working front suspension fork, the Blackjack wheels in with features that are normally found on higher priced bikes.

The best part is all this can be acquired at a price that’ll leave enough of your $500 for an excellent cycling helmet and some new biking tires. If you’re looking to get your hands (and feet) on one of the best mountain bike under 500 dollars, you could do far worse than giving the Vilano Blackjack a try.

mountain bike under 500

But Wait, There’s More

Another bike that is climbing its way up our list of the best mountain bike under 500 dollars, is the

Revel 1 Gravity 29.1.

The Revel, along with being a suitable mountain bike for moderate terrain, is also a cross country bike. Cross country bikes are made to have less weight and be more agile than your standard mountain bike.

Revel Cross Country bikes would be more suited to the undulating hills and switchback passes rather than the more challenging rocky paths, due to having less suspension capacity. However, you can “lock out” or switch off the front fork for a more rigid ride on paths or even taking a trip on a paved street. If you’re perhaps looking for a compromise between a mountain bike and a travel bike, the Revel will serve you well in both respects.

Last, but Certainly Not Least

If you’re into saving the best for last, then feast your eyes as I submit for your consideration: the Diamondback 2013 Overdrive Sport. Even those with no interest in mountain biking are familiar with the Diamondback brand, as they’ve been dominant in cycling since their BMX beginnings in 1977.

Why is the Overdrive your new trail blazer? Details like upgraded components, hydraulic disc brakes, and a 100mm front suspension fork with larger stanchions which give a new mountain biker more stability on the trail. Add to it the Shimano 8 speed shifters onto the aluminum Overdrive frame and you’ve got a bike even experienced riders would enjoy.

Let’s ride!

So who’s the biggest expert on which mountain bike to go with? You, of course! Don’t be afraid to visit a dedicated cycling shop and ask what is the best mountain bike under $500 in the shop. The experts there want to make sure you get what you’re looking for, so expect the first mountain you face to be a mountain of questions about where you want to ride and what kinds of trails you enjoy.

Again, though the bikes in the cycling shop will be priced higher than the department store ones, there’s nothing more expensive than a bike you’re not happy with collecting dust in your garage. The cost may initially be more, but the memories will be priceless.