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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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.