Searching for a new, high-quality mountain bike without breaking the bank? This ultimate buying guide might be what you’re after.
I spent hours researching the best mountain bikes under 500 on the market then spent days to weeks to test one-by-one. I analyzed their durability, speeds, ease of use, and more in an effort to help you find the most suitable option for your needs.
Why Is MTB So Expensive?
I used to ask the exact same thing when I first went into cycling “Why mountain bikes cost as much as motorbikes?”, and “What is the difference between an $800 MTB and an $8000 MTB?”
After years of testing, analyzing, and comparing, I finally realize that there’s no noticeable difference between an $800 mountain bike and an $8000 that the majority of regular mountain bikers are riding around on.
The fact that the media and news love discussing the newest and most expensive bikes available on the market, which is also the thing that readers/audiences frequently pay attention to.
But can’t deny that some expensive MTBs are specifically made for professional riders.
They’re made of the absolute best materials and also the result of thousands of researching, developing, and testing hours to deliver its user with as much advantage during the ride as possible.
So, if you’re just a regular mountain biker, there is no need to go for an insanely expensive MTB.
What Are The Best Brands of Mountain Bikes Under $500?
At the current, here are five good brands where you can rest assured to pick the best mountain bike under $500:
This brand is the OG in this industry. Founded in 1892, Huffy has now created plenty of innovation and practical technologies related to mountain bikes as well as other bicycle types.
Their products not only boast the highest quality and fun riding experience but are also kept at very competitive price points.
Established by the Cleveland Welding Company in 1935 then sold to AMF in 1950, Roadmaster has been a professional two-wheeled bicycle manufacturer. Their MTB lines got famous in the 1970s and were featured in the 1979 film, Breaking Away.
At the current, this brand is owned by Pacific Cycle Inc.
This is no doubt one of the most renowned German-born MTB manufacturers in the market these days. It was set up in 1895 and then became the dominant manufacturer of US bikes throughout the 20th century.
It is now a sub-brand of Pacific Cycle.
This might be the youngest brand on this list, with 45 years of expertise in manufacturing cast-magnesium wheel bikes. From BMXs to mountain bikes and scooters, this globally recognized brand always conquers the strictest riders with their innovation.
Kent International Inc was founded in 1909 as a US-born bike manufacturer. It was arguably the 2nd largest bike manufacturer in America.
Best Mountain Bikes Under 500 Comparison Chart 2020
Now, to see the difference between these 12 best mountain bikes under 500, let’s compare them side-by-side. This is an essential step that helps you narrow down your choices and find the right one.
|Best Mountain Bikes Under 500||It's Best for||Number of Speeds|
|Huffy Hardtail Mountain Bike||Best Hardtail MTB||4.9/5|
|Roadmaster Granite Peak Mountain Bike||Best for Men||4.9/5|
|Schwinn High Timber Youth and Adult Mountain Bike||Best for Youth||4.4/5|
|20" Hyper Shocker Mountain Bike||Best Road Mountain Bike||4.7/5|
|Dynacraft Firestorm Bike||Best for Beginners||4.8/5|
|Huffy 26 Inch Women's Trail Runner Mountain Bike||Best for Ladies||4.8/5|
|Schwinn Bonafide Men’s Mountain Bike||Best 29-Inch Mountain Bike||4.3/5|
|Schwinn Traxion Mountain Bike||Best for Downhill||4.3/5|
|Mongoose Impasse Mens Mountain Bike||Best Aluminum Mountain Bike||4.9/5|
|Speedrid Electric Mountain Bike||Best Electric Mountain Bike||4.2/5|
|Mongoose Hitch Men's Fat Tire Mountain Bike||Best Fat Tire Mount||4.9/5|
|Kent KZ2600 Mountain Bike||Best Entry-Level Mountain Bike||4.0/5|
What Are The Best Mountain Bikes Under 500 To Buy?
Consider my following suggested list if you find it’s too complicated to figure out the best mountain bike under $500 for your personal needs. I also include the strengths of each option to help you with your decision-making process.
- Best Hardtail MTB: Huffy Hardtail Mountain Bike
“Good at absorbing punishment on the trail; Ideal for starter mountain bikers for off-road riding or who want to ride away from streets or paved bike lanes; Comfortable, stable, and easy to ride”
- Best for Men: Roadmaster Granite Peak Mountain Bike
“Easy to assemble; Ideal for riders from 5’4″ to 6’2″ in height; Smooth-shifting for versatile rides”
- Best for Youth: Schwinn High Timber Youth and Adult Mountain Bike
“Perfect for youth riders at 4’ in height or taller; Straightforward to control and ride; Deliver superb strength and durability; Easy to transport”
- Best Road Mountain Bike: 20″ Hyper Shocker Mountain Bike
“Perfect for boys or teenagers; Offer reliable stopping power to ensure the user’s safety; Always on/off-road riding ready with smooth riding experience; Look cool”
- Best for Beginners: Dynacraft Firestorm Mountain Bike
“Very great after-sale services and warranty policies; Well-made, feels durable, and able to handle year’s abuse”
- Best for Ladies: Huffy 26 Inch Women’s Trail Runner Mountain Bike
“Lightweight and ergonomic, which is ideal for ladies; Easy to control; Deliver superbly smooth and comfortable riding experience”
- Best 29-Inch Mountain Bike: Schwinn Bonafide Men’s Mountain Bike
“Ready for bumpy surfaces, ideal for intermediate riders; Built with higher durability level; Low maintenance & perfect for steady gearing”
- Best for Downhill: Schwinn Traxion Mountain Bike
“A fantastic choice for downhill riding; Handle rugged terrains smoothly; Deliver efficient and crisp stopping power”
- Best Aluminum Mountain Bike: Mongoose Impasse Men’s Mountain Bike
“Super-comfortable and well-supported for heavy and big riders; Ultra-strong and heavy-duty metal pedals; Look sharp and impressive”
- Best Electric Mountain Bike: Speedrid Electric Mountain Bike
“Offer higher speeds with more effortless riding; Great to pull away from traffic lights; Give noticeable improvements in comfort and smoothness”
- Best Fat Tire Mountain Bike: Mongoose Hitch Men’s Fat Tire Mountain Bike
“Able to ride anywhere and any terrain with the least shock and flattening issues; You can ride it up/downhill; Deliver reliable stopping action”
- Best Entry-Level Mountain Bike: Kent KZ2600 Mountain Bike
“A good entry-level mountain bike; Offer higher durability and strength degree”
Top 12 Best Mountain Bikes Under 500 Reviews In 2020
Below are my extensive reviews of the 12 best mountain bikes under 500. Kindly pay more attention to this part!
Best Hardtail MTB: Huffy Hardtail Mountain Bike
- Good at absorbing punishment on the trail
- Ideal for start mountain bikers for off-road riding or who want to ride away from streets or paved bike lanes
- Comfortable, stable, and easy to ride
- Very quick to assemble the components of the bike
- The quality is worth the price
- Unclear instructions
This mountain bike is constructed with a charcoal sleek hardtail frame and a front suspension that does an excellent job of absorbing punishment on the trails.
Combined with two 26” wheels and knobby tires, it is perfect for starters to ride away from streets or paved bike lanes or off-road. It’s also equipped with Kraton grips for comfort, linear-pull hand brakes for stable stopping power, and a 21-speed drivetrain for consistent gear operation.
With an adjustable alloy quick-release, this mountain bike is a nice choice for riders of 5’ (at least), age 13 or older.
Buy it with confidence as your purchase will be backed by the manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty.
|Wheel size||26 Inch Wheels|
|Highlight features||Kraton grips
linear pull hand brakes
Micro shift twist shifter + indexed Shimano rear derailleur
Best for Men: Roadmaster Granite Peak Mountain Bike
- Easy to assemble
- Ideal for riders from 5’4″ to 6’2″ in height
- Smooth-shifting for versatile rides
- A very compact design
- The model is available at an affordable price
- The seat is slightly narrow and hard
- The handlebar could stay tighter
One of the best men’s mountain bikes for male novice riders.
It is super-easy to assemble, comfortable to ride, simple to control, and looks fashionable. While coming almost complete pre-assembly, it includes all the setup tools in the package, such as the Allen wrench screwdriver.
The bike features two 26” wheels and an adjustable saddle stem to perfectly fit riders from 5’4″ to 6’2″ in height.
It’s also smooth to shift between gears for different kinds of terrain while the integrated dual linear-pull brakes give strong and quick stopping power.
There are, by the way, 18-speed options to choose from.
|Wheel size||26 Inches|
|Highlight features||Tool-free adjustable seat post
Front and rear linear-pull brakes
18-speed twist shifters
front suspension fork
Best for Youth: Schwinn High Timber Youth and Adult Mountain Bike
- Perfect for youth riders at 4’ in height or taller
- Straightforward to control and ride
- Deliver superb strength and durability
- Easy to transport
- All components are high-quality
- Limited upgrades
- The bike seat needs improvement
As its name implies, the Schwinn High Timber is a great pick for youth riders. It has 20” wheels with all-terrain tires and alloy rims for superb strength and durability.
The height is also nice for shorter riders of 4’ tall or higher.
As being built for youth people, it is pretty lightweight and compact to easily be lifted up and moved around, like on/off pavements. Yet, it still delivers steady gearing and offers easy-shifting 7-speed Shimano twist shifters.
The dual alloy linear-pull brakes are a big bonus for an MTB at this price point, which offers extra precision stopping power.
|Frame materials||Aluminum and Steel options|
|Highlight features||Durable Schwinn alloy crank
all-terrain tires + alloy rims
front and rear alloy linear-pull brakes
a Shimano rear derailleur + 7-speed Shimano twist shifters
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Best Road Mountain Bike: 20″ Hyper Shocker Mountain Bike
- Perfect for boys or teenagers
- Offer reliable stopping power to ensure the user’s safety
- Always on/off-road riding ready with smooth riding experience
- Look cool
- A bit heavy
For those teenagers or boys who are finding the best mountain bike for their next adventures, I highly recommend considering the 20″ Hyper Shocker for three good reasons.
First off, it highlights powerful linear-pull dual brakes for reliable stopping action. Secondly, it has a 7-speed twist-grip shifting that is always ready for any on/off-road terrain, plus, it’s easy to shift.
The last reason is its shock-absorption steel fork and rugged, knobby tires for extra impact resistance to hence delivering a smoother riding experience.
Regardless, the bike also gives you a cool to look, due to the authentic hyper graphics.
|Highlight features||powerful linear-pull dual brakes
7-speed twist-grip shifting
shock-absorption steel fork and rugged, knobby tires
authentic hyper graphics
Best for Beginners: Dynacraft Firestorm Mountain Bike
- Very great after-sale services
- Warranty policies are available
- Well-made frame for a super high level of durability
- Stable riding with minimal shocking level
- Smooth saddle and grips
- It rides slowly
- The handlebars can’t be moved up
The Dynacraft Firestorm Bike is one of a few options that give buyers very good after-sale services: a two-year component part warranty and a lifetime frame and fork warranty.
Regardless, I love it because this MTB seems to be well-made regardless of its affordable price point – black, comfortable grips, cushioned saddle, knobby tires, and high-quality steel frame.
It also has dual linear-pull brakes, 7-speed gear, and two 20” wheels which is a fantastic choice for 7-year-old kids or older. Its durability level is enough to hold up well to some serious abuse. Being steel, it delivers a good weight – not too heavy nor too lightweight.
In fact, this model is quite comparable to some slightly higher-end kids’ MTBs in the market.
The combo of great customer service and user-friendly design, such as comfort grips, cushioned saddle, knobby tires, and dual linear-pull brakes of this bike is extremely suitable for non-experienced riders in mountain riding.
|Highlight features||Under a two-year component part warranty + a lifetime frame and fork warranty
Feature black, comfortable grips, cushioned saddle, knobby tires, and high-quality steel frame
dual linear-pull brakes, 7-speed gear, and two 20” wheels
Best for Ladies: Huffy 26 Inch Women’s Trail Runner Mountain Bike
- Lightweight and ergonomic, which is ideal for ladies
- Easy to control
- Deliver superbly smooth and comfortable riding experience
- Low bar design for easy riding
- Assembling is a piece of cake
- Rugged tire construction
- Not for those women shorter than 5’2”
Another 26” mountain bike by Huffy but this version is specifically for ladies due to its lightness and ergonomic structure. It rides smoothly and gives full control, thanks to the use of Shimano rear derailleur integrated with 18-speed index shifters.
To every ride, it gives superior performance with decent smoothness.
The secret all lies in its Krayton grips, hot pink suspension fork, and dual-suspension steel frame. If you intend to tide over a mix of terrains, look no further than this mountain bike.
|Wheel size||26 Inches|
|Highlight features||Shimano rear derailleur + 18-speed index shifters
26″ x 1.95″ rugged tires
Seat ATB saddle
Best 29-Inch Mountain Bike: Schwinn Bonafide Men’s Mountain Bike
- Ready for bumpy surfaces, ideal for intermediate riders
- Built with a higher durability level
- Low maintenance & perfect for steady gearing
- Great feature for men supports
- A very effective suspension
- Cassette wobble a little bit
- Grips don’t really grip
Next up is a 29-er by Schwinn – the Bonafide Men’s Mountain Bike.
Aside from two 29” wheels along with ultra-fat 2.25” knobby tires, it gives you 24-speed Shimano EZ Fire trigger shifters, which is just ready for bumpy surfaces. For extra durability, it is built with high-profile double-wall alloy rims.
What impressed me the most is its shock absorption capability even on rugged terrains.
The Schwinn Bonafide Men’s Mountain Bike also features exclusive alloy cranks for low-maintenance and extra steady gearing.
When not in use, it is easily lifted up and stored away due to its ultra-lightweight aluminum frame.
|Highlight features||2.25-inch-wide knobby mountain tires
High profile double-wall alloy rims
Durable Schwinn alloy cranks
front and rear Shimano derailleurs + 24 speed Shimano EZ Fire trigger shifters
a powerful Schwinn suspension fork + aluminum mountain frame
Best for Downhill: Schwinn Traxion Mountain Bike
- A fantastic choice for downhill riding
- Handle rugged terrains smoothly
- Deliver efficient and crisp stopping power
- Playing a great performance in all terrains
- High level of safety for riders with sudden stop
- Extra-wide alloy rim
- An attractive sporty design
- The gear shifts dinged
- Handle grips are poorly made
This Schwinn mountain bike is pretty similar to the previous version.
Some notable similarities are alloy cranks, 2.25”-wide knobby tires, mechanical dual disc brakes, 24-speed Shimano EZ Fire trigger shifters, and frame materials.
The biggest difference between them is that the Traxion is built for downhill and ripping through gnarly trails while its sibling with a hardtail designation is for the trail.
This one is a full-suspension MTB with a reliable disc brake mechanism and a powerful fork to capably handle smoothly all the rugged terrains. Meanwhile, stopping action is extremely efficient and crisp – something that you can count on when riding at high speeds.
|Highlight features||reliable Schwinn alloy cranks + a Shimano rear derailleur
24-speed Shimano EZ-Fire trigger shifters
reliable mechanical disc brakes
a powerful Schwinn suspension fork + an aluminum dual-suspension frame
Best Aluminum Mountain Bike: Mongoose Impasse Men’s Mountain Bike
- Super-comfortable and well-supported for heavy and big riders
- Ultra-strong and heavy-duty metal pedals
- Look sharp and impressive
- High-quality bike with a reasonable price
- Sturdy frame to reduce the risks in rough riding surface
- The nut is too tight to loosen it for adjustments
- The rear suspension feels a bit saggy
Unlike most mountain bikes at the same price point, the Mongoose Impasse is super-comfortable and well-supported for extended rides. Not only does it feature an extra-large and strong saddle but the seat itself also has an extra cushion.
The aluminum alloy frame and fork makes it a lot lighter with no compromise of strength.
In fact, it holds up well to heavy riders. A big bonus is its metal pedals which feel strong and long-lasting, so no replacement required.
Regardless, the matte red on black makes this MTB look sharp and impressive. And, the speed and power with less effort are awesome.
|Highlight features||Large saddle with extra padding
matte red on black
Best Electric Mountain Bike: Speedrid Electric Mountain Bike
- Offer higher speeds with more effortless riding
- Great to pull away from traffic lights
- Give noticeable improvements in comfort and smoothness
- The motor is powerful
- Anti-slip tires for a high level of safety
- In-built battery (very safe in wet conditions)
- Lightweight and sturdy
- Pedal assist is not as good as customers’ expectation
If comfort and effortless riding are two of your top priorities, I highly recommend choosing the Speedrid Electric Mountain Bike.
It’s an e-bike built with a 250W stable rear hub motor and 36V 8Ah removable battery that can easily reach 15-17mph top speed. There are three working modes – normal bike, addicted bike, and e-bike – to choose from, along with the LED three-speed intelligent meter button.
You might be wondering about its riding experience at high speeds now. In my opinion, it’s smooth thanks to the wonderful impact-absorption front suspension fork and ultra-fat tires.
It also takes your comfort to the next level due to the added handlebar angle and stems length adjustments.
Don’t worry about assembly as this comes 85% pre-installed and the remaining tasks aren’t complicated.
|Gearing||7/21 Speed Gear|
|Highlight features||Arrive 85% assembled
LED 3-speed smart meter button
Stem Length/Handlebar Angle adjustments
250W stable rear hub motor & 36V 8Ah removable battery
Best Fat Tire Mountain Bike: Mongoose Hitch Men’s Fat Tire Mountain Bike
- Being suitable to all terrains
- Shocking prevention
- You can ride it up/downhill
- Deliver reliable stopping action
- Comfortable geometry thanks to steel frame
- Very easy to assemble
- Winning snowy and muddy riding condition
- The assembling was a little take-taking
- The seat is slightly uncomfortable
If you’re finding the best giant mountain bike under $500, the Mongoose Hitch Men’s is a shining contender.
It stands out from the competition for the alloy 4”-wide wheel set and 4-1/4” knobby tires that are much bigger than some other MTBs.
For example, the Huffy Hardtail Mountain Bike has 1.95” tires or the Roadmaster – 26 Inches Granite Peak Men’s Mountain Bike has 2” tires. This upgraded component makes riding through rocky or rugged surfaces like a champ.
In other words, it is able to ride anywhere you want with the least shock and flattening issues. It rode through snow and sand easily during my rigorous tests.
Besides, the 7-speed gear even allows this MTB to go up/downhill. It is also built with dual disk brakes for reliable stopping action.
Take note that it’s perfect for male riders from 5’3” to 6’2” in height.
|Highlight features||front and rear disk brakes
Alloy 4″ wide wheel set & 4 1/4″ knobby tires
Cruiser design frame
Best Entry-Level Mountain Bike: Kent KZ2600 Mountain Bike
- A good entry-level mountain bike
- Lightweight with an aluminum frame
- Powerful disc brake in all riding conditions
- Offer higher durability and strength degree
- Strong grips
- Smooth riding thanks to the dual-suspension
- Require a few adjustments before use
The final option in my review roster is this Kent mountain bike. It is built with alloy wheel rims, rear tourney derailleur, Shimano 21-speed shifters, and two brake options – either rear linear-pull brake or front disc brake.
The 26” wheels along with 65mm suspension fork and full-suspension aluminum frame make it a good entry-level MTB.
It also delivers higher durability and strength degree by featuring 36 spokes and double-wall alloy rims.
|Wheel size||26 Inches|
|Highlight features||Alloy Wheel Rims
Rear Linear Pull Brake/ Front Disc Brake
Shimano 21 Speed Shifters
Suspension fork 65mm
The Ultimate Guide To Choosing Best Mountains Bikes Under 500 In 2020
The most important part to decide whether an MTB is durable and easy to ride or not is its frame material, so never sacrifice it regardless of your budget.
At $500 or less, there are three popular frame materials:
Carbon fiber: This is the costliest out of the cheapest but it’s well-worth because carbon offers the highest durability and lightness degree at the same time.
Aluminum: Its price range is in-between – not the cheapest yet the priciest. The biggest strength of aluminum frames is lightness and rust resistance. It’s also durable but not as high as carbon fiber. It can’t handle rough terrains either.
Steel: This is the cheapest option available for people who are really on a tight budget. It stands out from the competition for top-notch sustainability that can tackle well in rough terrains. However, it’s the heaviest.
In general, there are three common options of MTB wheel sizes:
26” – not really ideal for mountain riding but it’s friendly for beginners because it delivers the most complete control
27.5” – the most popular and known for its decent nimbleness and ultra-fast acceleration, allowing you to attack corners more aggressively. For short riders, this is also the best option.
29” (also called 29-ers) – outstanding for its unparalleled traction to capably roll fast over uneven and rough surfaces. In other words, it’s more efficient than the rest. But take note of its heavier weight.
Disc Brakes & Drivetrain
You probably had to suffer through cantilever brakes if looking for a cheap MTB in the past. But thanks to technology, it’s possible to find a disc brake mountain bike at under $500 now.
The difference you should take now is just the disc brake types, which there are two: hydraulic brakes and mechanical brakes.
The 1st type is commonly found in higher-end MTBs because it offers better modulation and stopping power. Unlike the mechanical brakes, it engages the brakes by using brake lines filled with fluid.
The mechanical disc brakes are more commonly found at the sub $500. They’re actuated through cables running from the lever to the calipers.
There are generally three types of MTB triple chainring setup – 24/34/42T.
For your information, these terms relate to the number of teeth in each ring. As a basic rule of thumb, the smaller the ring or the fewer the teeth, the less speed is made per pedal stroke.
But at the same time, small rings offer extra ease of pedaling, which is perfect for negotiating off-road terrain and climbing.
At a $500 price point or under, rear cassettes on MTBs usually feature ultra-large cogs up to 36T.
The biggest strength of these is extra ease of pedaling to hence deliver more doable steep climbing.
What is the best mountain bike under 500?
My suggestions are:
- Huffy Hardtail Mountain Bike
- Roadmaster – 26 Inches Granite Peak Men’s Mountain Bike
- Schwinn High Timber Youth and Adult Mountain Bike
Is it cheaper to build or buy a mountain bike?
A custom-build mountain bike is usually costlier than a prebuilt one, not to say that it takes time and effort. In turn, the bicycle will be exactly what you want.
How much should I pay for a good mountain bike?
It depends on your needs and preference. If you aren’t interested in name brands or are just a regular mountain rider, spending $500 or under for an MTB isn’t bad at all.
On the contrary, I highly suggest choosing a full suspension at $2000 to $2700 while a hardtail mountain bike for no less than $1500.
What is the best entry-level mountain bike?
- Roadmaster – 26 Inches Granite Peak Men’s Mountain Bike
- Schwinn High Timber Youth and Adult Mountain Bike
- 20″ Hyper Shocker Bike
- Huffy 26 Inch Women’s Trail Runner Mountain Bike
MY TOP PICK
My top pick is the Mongoose Hitch Men’s Fat Tire Bicycle mainly because of its ultra-large wheels and tires so riding through rugged, uneven terrains is a breeze.
It also features 26” wheels which come in handy for beginners to start bike riding and confidently explore new adventures. Not to say that it’s friendly for youth riders as well.
If you’re in need of the best mountain bike under 500, whether for regular on/off-road riding or for beginners, this is worth a try. Pick it!