The Best Mountain Bikes Under 500 Dollars Of 2018

A new bike is a big investment. A new mountain bike can cost a small fortune! Luckily, it is possible to get a great bike for not a lot of cash. These five bikes are examples of some of the most well-loved bikes sold today.

But before you go and pick one up, you will want to decide what you need and what you can do without. Inexpensive bikes are often aimed at casual or inexperienced riders. They won’t have the newest or the lightest technology on them. What they will have are components that have been successful over time.

Best moutain bikes under 500

Decent, inexpensive bikes fall into a few categories:

  • Rigid Bikes – these are bikes that have no suspension in the front or rear. While harder to find these days, these bikes offer a light-weight and lower cost option to heavier suspension bikes. Rigid frames are somewhat rough to ride and have some limits on what they can safely do. But for many riders, they are a good choice.
  • Hard-Tail Bikes – these are bikes that have no suspension on the rear wheel. Instead only the front fork has shocks. For many riders, this style of bike offers both quality components and a lower price tag.
  • Full Suspension Bikes – these are bikes that have both front and rear shocks. At this price point you can't expect a Cadillac, and I didn't find one! But you can expect to get something comfortable and durable enough for a learner to use in the hills.

I’ll be looking at several characteristics of each bike. These are things I know will impact how they ride on either trail or roadway. These bikes won’t have the frills or nicer touches found on pricey bikes, but they will deliver fun in spades. The best mountain bike under 500 dollars is here.


Top 5 Best Moutain Bikes Of 2018 Under $500 Reviews

Name

Image

For Men or Women

Size (inch)

Frame Material

Number of Gears

CHECK PRICE

Men

26

Aluminum

24

Men

26

Steel

18

Unisex

27.5

Aluminum

24

Unisex

26

Aluminum

21

Unisex

26

Aluminum

21


Is It For Men or Women?

Sometimes a bike is built with a particular body type in mind. In general, women’s bikes will be designed for a longer torso and shorter legs. Men’s bikes will be designed for longer legs and a shorter torso. That said, some bike makers just use different color schemes or decals on their men’s and women’s lines. So just pick the one you find comfortable!

Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

This is a bike designed for men. It has a lower frame, making it somewhat suitable for people with shorter limbs. I wouldn’t say that this is a small bike though, the frame is designed for someone over five feet six.

Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

Roadmaster Granite Peak Mountain Bike in Black

Another bike aimed at men, the Roadmaster Granite Peak will be most comfortable to someone with a height of five feet four or taller. I’d describe it as a medium-sized frame.

Diamondback Overdrive Hard Tail Mountain Bike in Red, 2016 Model

The Diamondback Overdrive is a men’s bike that is also unisex-friendly. It is sold in 16 inch, 18 inch, 20 inch and 22 inch size frames. That’s every size from small to extra large! If this is a bike you’d like, then your size is out there.

Merax® Finiss Aluminum and Magnesium Alloy Mountain Bike

The Finiss is another men’s frame that can also be unisex. This bike has a 19 inch frame, making it roughly medium-sized. Those of us taller than five feet six inches should be happy on this frame.

Merax® Finiss Aluminum Mountain Bike with Disc Brakes

This bike is designed for men but can be ridden by anyone. This is another 19 inch frame. This means it’s around a medium. It should be conformable for most people over five feet six inches.

Merax® Finiss 26


Bike Frame and Wheel Information

Knowing a little bit about how the frame is designed will help you know how the bike will handle. Knowing what size the bike wheels are will tell you how the bike will handle trails.

Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

This bike has a pretty typical design for a lower priced full suspension bike. The frame is made of two parts, with a large shock absorbent coil at the joint. The frame has mounts for both disk and rim brakes. There are no mounts for water bottles or racks. Heavier riders will notice some bouncing while vigorously peddling. Lighter riders will not have this issue. The fork is entry level, and is non-lockable. Wheels are a standard 26 inches.

Roadmaster Granite Peak Mountain Bike in Black

This is a pretty typical inexpensive hard tail bike. The frame is a modern mountain ‘diamond’ design, with a slightly lowered top tube. There are plenty of locations on this frame for attachment of bottles or packs. The rear triangle can accommodate either a rack or a mud guard. This bike is set up with rim brakes. Wheels are 26 inches.

Roadmaster Granite Peak Mountain Bike in Black

Diamondback Overdrive Hard Tail Mountain Bike in Red, 2016 Model

The Overdrive has a hand-built frame. The design is a retro-inspired, but still modern, mountain-style diamond frame. There are attachment points for bottle cages, packs or mud guards. This is a decent entry-level mountain bike for someone who wants to ride trails more than once in a while. Wheels are 27.5 inches, for a more stable ride in the back country. The SR Sun tour XCT suspension fork is adjustable. It provides up to 100mm of travel. That’s plenty for many trails.

Merax® Finiss Aluminum and Magnesium Alloy Mountain Bike

This is a lightweight, racy aluminum frame. It’s made with 6061 heat-treated aluminum. The frame has three paint jobs, which is nice. You can choose from classic green and gray, a bright red called passion red and stylish black. Both red and black have red touches on the wheels, while the gray bike has green accents on the wheels. There is an included bottle cage. The 26 inch wheels are magnesium, and don’t need truing. There are somewhat more durable than steel or aluminum wheels. The fork is aluminum and lockable.

Merax® Finiss Aluminum Mountain Bike with Disc Brakes

The 19 inch frame is built with 6061 heat-treated aluminum. It is light-weight and durable. It comes in three color schemes. The classic black is mostly black, with deep red touches. The gray scheme has light lime green accents. The third color is white, with nice red and blue accents. The standard lockable suspension fork offers 80mm travel. It’s not as much as some bike forks; but still plenty for most users. The frame has attachment points for a rear rack or rim brakes and there are places for bottle cages. This bike has standard double wall aluminum wheels. They are the traditional 26 inches. The front wheel also has a quick release level. It makes transporting the bike easier.


Weight of the Bike

In mountain biking weight is not as important as it is to a road rider. You still don’t want to pedal a heavy bike if you don’t have to do so! Try to find a bike that has a weight you can live with while still having the features you need.

Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

A full suspension bike will always be heavier than many other bikes. Those forks and coils are heavy! This bike is no exception. It weighs in a little over 40 pounds.

Roadmaster Granite Peak Mountain Bike in Black

This bike weighs around 25 to 30 pounds as shipped.

Diamondback Overdrive Hard Tail Mountain Bike in Red, 2016 Model

Weight will vary with frame size. The heaviest and largest size bike weighs a little over 30 pounds. It’s pretty typical for a bike of this type. Users say that the larger wheels make it easier to zip up hills.

Diamondback Overdrive Hard Tail Mountain Bike in Red, 2016 Model

Merax® Finiss Aluminum and Magnesium Alloy Mountain Bike

This bike weighs 34 pounds as shipped. The designers have attempted to shave off weight by using lightweight components whenever possible.

Merax® Finiss Aluminum Mountain Bike with Disc Brakes

This is a fairly lightweight mountain bike. It weighs in at 33 pounds.


What is the Frame Made of?

Traditionally, all bikes were made of steel. Today steel is just one material we make bikes from. Today’s mountain bikes are often made of aluminum. Steel is long-lived, springy and strong. Aluminum is almost as strong, but far lighter. It also can be worked in interesting designs and doesn’t rust.

Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

This bike’s frame is made of both aluminum and steel. Most of the frame is aluminum. This helps keep the bike a little lighter. The rear wheel triangle, in white paint, is made of steel. This helps to provide a little more flex and safety to a high-stress part of the frame.

Roadmaster Granite Peak Mountain Bike in Black

This bike frame is built entirely from hi-ten steel. It’s durable, but not the lightest. It has somewhat relaxed geometry, letting you ride upright if you’d like to do that. The fork offers suspension to smooth out a rough ride.

Diamondback Overdrive Hard Tail Mountain Bike in Red, 2016 Model

This is a hand-built 6061-T6 aluminum alloy frame. This means that the frame should have neater weld points than machine-built frames. As this is an entry-level mountain bike, the geometry is not too aggressive, making the ride more pleasant.

Merax® Finiss Aluminum and Magnesium Alloy Mountain Bike

This stylish bike’s main selling points are what it is made of! The frame and most of the components are made of aluminum alloys. These add up to a lightweight but tough bike. This bike might be entry level, but it is also designed to be racy. The geometry is not as relaxed as some other bikes. The 26 inch wheels are magnesium alloy rims and hubs. This means that they have just a few spokes that are nice and sturdy. You basically just ride on them till you crack one on a rock, which will probably never happen.

Merax® Finiss Aluminum and Magnesium Alloy Mountain Bike

Merax® Finiss Aluminum Mountain Bike with Disc Brakes

If you like both your bike and your wheels to be made of the same stuff, then this is the bike for you. The frame has modern lines and is made of heat-treated 6061 aluminum. The fork, handlebars, seat post and pedals are also aluminum. This is one bike that you won’t have to worry about rusting out if you ride it in the rain!


So, How Many Gears do You Need?

A mountain bike can have anywhere from nearly thirty gears to just a single gear. I like both the ease of riding a bike with many gears and the easy thought-free ride of a single speed bike. More gears make going up hills easier, of course! They also increase maintenance and weight. It all depends on what you want.

Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

The Protocol comes with 24 gears. These come from a triple ring in the front and a standard cassette and derailleur in the back. Shifting is easy enough with the stock Shimano EF-50 trigger shifters. They may need a little fine tuning from time to time.

Roadmaster Granite Peak Mountain Bike in Black

This bike comes with 18 gears. The front is a typical mountain triple ring, to make hill climbs a bit easier. It uses SRAM twist shifters and a mountain-style derailleur.

Diamondback Overdrive Hard Tail Mountain Bike in Red, 2016 Model

The Overdrive has a mountain triple in the front and a Shimano Acera 8-speed rear derailleur in the back. There are 24 speeds total. There are lots of low gears for hill climbing; shifters are Shimano rapid-fire style. They are integrated with the brakes.

Merax® Finiss Aluminum and Magnesium Alloy Mountain Bike

This bike has 21 speeds. These are provided by a triple mountain ring with Shimano FD-TZ30 in the front and the Shimano RD-TZ50 in the rear. Shifters are Shimano EF51 21 speed shifters.

Merax® Finiss Aluminum Mountain Bike with Disc Brakes

The front triple mountain crank is aluminum, sized 42/34/24. The front derailleur is the Shimano FD-TZ30, the rear derailleur is the Shimano RD-TZ50. It has Shimano shifters. There are a total of 21 speeds, many of them low for easier hill climbing.

Merax® Finiss Aluminum Mountain Bike with Disc Brakes


Type of Brakes

All brakes will stop your bike. Some kinds just do it better! Today’s mountain bikes can have either rim brakes or disk brakes.

Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

This bike uses both kinds of brakes. The front wheel is outfitted with a decent disk brake. The rear wheel uses a rim brake. If you want to change this set up, the frame has mounts for both disk and rim brakes front and rear.

Roadmaster Granite Peak Mountain Bike in Black

This bike uses reliable rim brakes. The levers are linear pull style. They provide good stopping power under most conditions.

Roadmaster Granite Peak Mountain Bike in Black

Diamondback Overdrive Hard Tail Mountain Bike in Red, 2016 Model

This bike can be outfitted with either rim brakes or disk brakes. In fact, the brake levers are set up for either. The bike comes outfitted with Tektro Mechanical disc brakes on the front and rear of the bike.

Merax® Finiss Aluminum and Magnesium Alloy Mountain Bike

The bike ships with durable mechanical disk brakes on both front and rear wheels. The levers are Shimano brand and light-weight aluminum.

Merax® Finiss Aluminum Mountain Bike with Disc Brakes

This bike comes standard with front and rear mechanical disk brakes. The levers are light but sturdy Shimano aluminum pulls.


What do Users Think?

Reading reviews from long-term users of these bikes can tell you a lot. People don’t hold back when they review something, they really don’t hold back if they hate it. These first hand experiences can let you know what to expect if you buy that same bike.

Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

Users either love or hate this bike. People who love it are using it for light trail riding, some street riding and very little downhill riding. At this price point, these users understand that this bike is not a top of the line mountain bike, but a full suspension bike that is good for trails and great for busted up pavement and poorly maintained roads. Those who hate this bike wanted a full-on downhill bike for a steal.

Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

Roadmaster Granite Peak Mountain Bike in Black

This is another bike with mixed reviews. Many people loved this bike. A few really hated this bike. Nearly everyone mentioned that the low cost of this particular bike means that you might need to replace a part or two before too long. But, for the price, it is considered a reliable ride for those of us who live with rough roads or want something to cruise gravel trails. You might want to have this bike professionally set up before heavy use. Users also hated the seat, many said it was too small and hard. But, a seat is easy to change!

Diamondback Overdrive Hard Tail Mountain Bike in Red, 2016 Model

At the higher end of our 500 dollar price limit, the Overdrive is perhaps the first serious mountain bike on our list. This bike is built with known parts from companies who are known for quality mountain biking components. All these good parts on a hand-built frame add up to a bike that was remarkably well-reviewed. Users loved the deep, rich red of the paint. They liked the reliability of the components and being able to ride without worry on trails. One user disliked the BMX style bottom bracket as it let sand into the bearings.

Merax® Finiss Aluminum and Magnesium Alloy Mountain Bike

This is a bike that users really like. It is another entry-level mountain bike, that is well-suited to riding on beginner friendly trails. The sturdy magnesium wheels are a bit thinner than many mountain bikes, making for a speedier ride on most surfaces. Users suggest a professional tune-up or assembly to nip any potential problems in the bud. For most people, this just means that the disk brakes are a little finicky straight from the factory. Users love the unusual wheels and racy looks of this bike.

Merax® Finiss Aluminum and Magnesium Alloy Mountain Bike

Merax® Finiss Aluminum Mountain Bike with Disc Brakes

Most users who bought this bike were looking for a gravel grinder or hybrid kind of bike. This particular mountain comes with thinner, all-purpose tires that work great for these kinds of riders. The fork will also offer plenty of comfort on these kinds of trails. Riders who wanted a more specialized trail bike simply changed the tires to something wider and upgraded the fork. Users often compared this bike with pricey well-known mountain bike brands, even if they didn’t upgrade their forks!


The Best of the Best

​Selecting the best mountain bike under 500 was difficult, there are several great bikes in this line up. Both Finiss bikes, the Schwinn and the Roadmaster all have plenty of good points to their favor. I eventually decided that the best of this selection would have to be the Diamondback Overdrive. Allow me to explain why.

Diamondback Bicycle 2016 Overdrive Hard Tail Mountain Bike, Red (27.5-Inch)

 

The first thing to consider is the frame. The Overdrive has a hand-built frame that is sold in several sizes. Perhaps the most important step in finding a new mountain bike is to find one that perfectly fits your body. If you are able to try different sizes of frame, you will be able to find a bike that most perfectly fits your body.

Diamondback Bicycle 2016 Overdrive Hard Tail Mountain Bike, Red (27.5-Inch)

The second thing we need to keep in mind is the wheel size. There is nothing wrong with a 26 inch wheel. But a slightly larger wheel is much more stable on the trail. The 27.5 inch wheel is a great middle point between the traditional 26 inches and the imposing 29er. It still turns quickly, like a smaller wheel, but offers the stability of the larger wheel.

The quality level of the Overdrive is another reason it is the best of the best. This bike is outfitted with quality, named components from top of the line companies. These are durable parts, and won’t be found on so-called big box store bikes.

If you want to start seriously riding the trails, you need a bike that won’t shake itself apart the first time you hit a bump. This is such a bike. If you don’t want to spend a small fortune on your hobby then this bike is also a good choice. It is solidly built and it’s easy enough to upgrade parts as you choose to.

Subscribe to our Newsletter


    Johnny

    I love cycling

    Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

    Leave a Comment:

    Back to TOP