Best Mountain Bikes Under 500 Dollars with Thorough Reviews

MTB UNDER 500

Are you interested in taking up mountain biking? There’s no reason you shouldn’t! This activity offers plenty of benefits: it promotes good heart health, coordination, and balance.

Aside from helping you stay fit, it gives you a chance to get outside and step away from everyday life. It can also be a great way to spend quality time with friends and family.

If you know anything about mountain biking, you know how vigorous it can be. You have to be able to navigate the rough terrain and other obstacles nature throws your way. Even if you tend to stick to the easier trails, you need a bike that will withstand the elements.

Especially if you are new to this venture, you don’t want to spend a fortune to get started. The good news is that you don’t have to. In today’s day and age, mountain bikes (MTB) are more affordable than ever before. What was once a luxury is now available to the average rider.

Of course, there are plenty of products on the market that are inexpensive, but of poor quality. We’ve done the research and found the affordable ones that don’t sacrifice a great ride for a cheap price.

Here we present the best mountain bikes under 500 dollars. Our reviews will help anyone on a budget get the MTB they deserve.

1. Fuji Nevada 1.9 (27.5″ & 29″)

Here’s a Quick Overview of the Fuji Nevada 1.9:

Specifications

  • 21 gears
  • 100 mm of suspension travel
  • 27.5” or 29” wheels
  • Total weight: 31.72 pounds

Features

  • Low-slung top tube
  • Durable and lightweight A2-SL double-butted aluminum frame
  • Vera Eos tires
  • SR Suntour SF19-XCE fork
  • Resin platform pedals

 Pros

  • Less overall standover height
  • Quality braking system
  • High-end Oval Concept components (seat post, handlebars, etc.)
  • Professional overall look

 Cons

  • Doesn’t come with the industry standard of 26” wheels

Here’s a Closer Look at the Fuji Nevada 1.9:

Looking for the best mountain bike under 500 dollars? The Fuji Nevada 1.9 is a great place to start. 

This first product comes from a company that is well-established and respected in the cycling world. Fuji’s Nevada models are known for their good mountain bikes under 500.

The 1.9, in particular, is a great option for beginner cyclists. It comes with many unique features that normally would have a much higher price tag.

For instance, the 1.9 features a low-slung top tube that we usually don’t see on similar models. It makes the frame look fast in addition to lowering the overall standover height. This allows the user to experience increased confidence and performance on tougher terrains.

The SR Suntour SF19-XCE is a crucial component, as it is the fork that holds the front wheel in place. It offers users 100 mm of suspension travel. 

The Tektro M280 mechanical disc brakes offer strong, safe stopping power. The Shimano EF41 brake levers also contribute to safe braking.

Other impressive features include those from Oval Concept. This is a quality brand, and these parts are normally found on higher-end products. You definitely get your money’s worth with an Oval Concept saddle, stem, seat post, and handlebar.

This product comes with trusted Vera Eos tires. Users have the option of either 27.5″ or 29″ wheels. Each has its advantages.

Typically, the industry standard is 26″ wheels. The 29″ wheels allow riders to easily get over most obstacles. They also offer steady momentum but aren’t as maneuverable.

Be sure to check out this 29″ wheel model if you want something that will help you tackle the roughest terrain. It is available in Satin Khaki Green and features accents that make it look beyond its price range.

The 27.5″ model, on the other hand, is a sort of a middle ground. The wheels have good rollover qualities and are easy to maneuver. Some manufacturers don’t see their increasing popularity and, therefore, don’t offer them.

If you are looking for 27.5″ wheels, the Fuji Nevada 1.9 is a great option. It also manages to look like anything but a cheap mountain bike. It comes in Satin Anthracite and has similar accents to those of the 29″ version.

Verdict

The Fuji Nevada 1.9 is the perfect start to our list. With this product, you’ll have everything you need to start and stay cycling for years to come.

2. Finiss Merax

Here’s a Quick Overview of the Finiss Merax:

Specifications

  • Weight capacity of up to 330 pounds
  • Product weight: 33 pounds
  • 26” wheels
  • 24 gear shifts

Features

  • Dual disc brakes
  • Front suspension forks

Pros

  • Lightweight frame
  • Double-walled wheels for durability
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Only one frame size

Here’s a Closer Look at the Finiss Merax:

The Finiss Merax is a great option for beginner cyclists. It runs for under $300 on most websites! This is a great deal for a mountain bike.

You may be skeptical of this super-cheap offer. We’ve found that this product’s features are great for the price. 

It comes with 26” wheels that are double-walled, so they’re more durable than typical wheels. They are a bit heavier than single-walled wheels, but this extra weight is worth it in exchange for reliability. 

This bike comes in a single 19” frame size. While taller riders may need to look elsewhere, cyclists of average height can buy this bike without dwelling over different frame choices. 

Even though it lacks varying frame sizes, it comes in three different color schemes You can choose the one that features your favorite color combination or highlights your personality. 

The weight of this bike, which is around 33 pounds, is great for the price. Merax mostly uses Shimano components in its models, which outperform a lot of lower-level third-party components. 

The Finiss Merax comes with an 80 mm front shock. This offers the rider optimal control during long cross country rides. The 80 mm front shock works best for riders under 200 pounds, but it’s easy to upgrade the front shock if you find it necessary. 

This product comes with easy-to-maintain front and rear disc brakes. 

To get on the road with this cycle, you’ll need to do some assembly work first. The accompanying assembly instructions are easy to follow. However, the assembly process can be tricky if you’ve never done it before. A local bike shop can do it for a cheap price if you don’t feel confident doing it yourself. 

Verdict

The Finiss Merax is one of the cheapest options on this list. It rivals bikes of higher prices and can serve as a trustworthy starter cycle. 

3. Cannondale Foray 3 27.5” for Women

Here’s a Quick Overview of the Cannondale Foray 3 27.5” for Women:

Specifications

  • 27.5” wheels
  • 21 gears
  • Weight: 32 pounds

Features

  • Rack and fender mounts
  • Tires with low-profile knobs

Pros

  • Designed specifically for females

Cons

  • Manufactured for beginners

Here’s a Closer Look at the Cannondale Foray 3 27.5” for Women:

Cannondale is making strides to cater their products towards women and beginner riders. The Foray 3 is a great example of this strategy.  

This bicycle has helped countless women and beginners explore the exciting hobby of mountain biking. The Foray 3 has a durable and lightweight 6061 aluminum frame and a low tube top for shorter riders. 

This bike is appealing to beginners, as it has a large standover clearance. Mounting and dismounting is made easy and won’t deter a novice cyclist. 

The Foray 3 certainly doesn’t lack in aesthetics! It comes in a deep purple color that looks great on the road and gives the bike a unique, customized look.  

The seat is designed with female geometry and features a saddle meant for use by women, so it really is one of the best women’s mountain bikes under 500 dollars.

Even though this is an entry-level bike, it has 21 gears. This is more than enough to find the perfect speed during any ride.

We’ve found that the Foray 3 works well for recreational rides on both moderate and rough road trails. Its suspension is great, as the SR Suntour fork offers 75mm of travel. You won’t need to worry about a bumpy ride, as the shock eliminates vibrations and creates a smooth ride. 

The frame allows for a 2.25” tire width on 27.5” wheels, which is ideal for an entry-level biker. 

If you like to ride on slick roads, this bike’s tires will offer you plenty of grip to keep your riding experience smooth and accident-free.

The Foray 3 uses a Shimano groupset and shifters, which are reliable components for a beginner bicycle. 

The disc brakes, which feature 160/160 mm rotors, offer great stopping power. These cable-actuated disc brakes offer a better riding experience compared to V-brakes found on bikes of lesser quality. 

Verdict

For a great price, you can get the Cannondale Foray 3. It has a beautiful design and comes with several beginner-friendly features. 

4. Co-Op Cycle DRT 1.1 27.5? 

Here’s a Quick Overview of the Co-Op Cycle DRT 1.1 27.5”:

Specifications

  • 24 gears
  • 27.5” wheels
  • Product weight: 32 pounds

Features

  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Co-Op Cycles handlebar, pedals, seat post, etc.
  • 6061 aluminum frame

Pros

  • Unisex and women’s models available
  • Smooth suspension fork with 100 mm of travel

Cons

  • Only accommodates riders ranging from 5’ to 5’9”

Here’s a Closer Look at the Co-Op Cycle DRT 1.1 27.5”:

Co-Op Cycles is an up-and-coming brand in the cycling industry. It’s under the ownership of REI.com, another maker of decently-priced bikes. The DRT 1.1 model from Co-Op Cycles is a great mountain bicycle for under $500.

The DRT 1.1 model is designed for men, though it can be a unisex cycle. Women may find it difficult to mount and dismount a unisex cycle. The DRT 1.1W model is designed to have a low-slung standover height, making it great for shorter women. 

The bike’s 6061 aluminum frame is Co-Op Cycle’s own manufacturing. It’s sturdy and durable while still lightweight. The entire bike only weighs 30 pounds, which is even lighter than some of the other bikes on this list. It’s easy to transport up and down stairs or wherever else you need to store it. 

The SR Suntour suspension fork offers 100 mm of travel for enhanced control even on the longest rides. The hydraulic disc brakes allow you to stop reliably every time. And, you don’t need to exert as much power to operate these brakes as you would need with non-hydraulic brakes. Even if you’re on a particularly rough course in wet conditions, this bike’s brakes provide exceptional stopping power.

This bike is of high quality. The pedals, handlebar, stem, seat post, and saddle are all made directly by Co-Op Cycles. Other parts, like the shifters and rear cogs, are made by Shimano, a globally-recognized manufacturer of cycling components. 

Verdict

If you’re looking for a bike to increase your control and confidence on and off the road, the Co-Op Cycle DRT 1.1 can help. If you’re a female rider, consider purchasing the women’s version for a more customized product. 

5. Diamondback Overdrive 29

Here’s a Quick Overview of the Diamondback Overdrive 29:

Specifications

  • 29” wheels
  • Tektro Aries mechanical disc brakes
  • Shimano EF-51 brake levers (180 mm in the front, 160 mm for the rear rotors)

Features

  • Hardtail frame design
  • Presta valves
  • Schwalbe tires

Pros 

  • Presta valves instead of Schrader valves
  • Great tire quality
  • Easily customizable

Cons

  • Difficult assembly

 Here’s a Closer Look at the Diamondback Overdrive 29:

We might consider the Diamondback Overdrive 29 to be the best hardtail mountain bike under 500 dollars.

One of the neatest things about this 29er is its Presta valves. These are normally found on high-end bikes, meaning you are getting a great deal. One will usually find Schrader on cheaper bikes. 

There’s nothing wrong with Schrader valves, but Presta valves offer much more value. They improve rim strength and can increase spin speed because they are lighter.

Other notable features include great tire quality. The Schwalbe tires are built-to-last and have a double-walled lining. These 29” tires can easily handle a variety of terrains. 

The aluminum frame is very durable but makes your load a little heavier than average. 

Verdict 

When you purchase the Diamondback Overdrive, be prepared to do a little DIY. The assembly is somewhat complicated, but once you put it together, you’ll have a reliable bike that you didn’t have to break the bank for.  

6. Kawasaki Mihara Fat Bike

Here’s a Quick Overview of the Kawasaki Mihara Fat Bike:

Specifications

  • 26” wheels (diameter)
  • Wheels are 4” wide
  • 24 gears
  • Product weight: 39 pounds

Features

  • Front and rear disc brakes (160 mm)
  • Rubber grip
  • Adjustable kickstand

Pros 

  • Easy to maintain
  • Perfect for all terrains

Cons

  • Short handlebars (standard is 720 mm; this model is 680 mm)

Here’s a Closer Look at the Kawasaki Mihara Fat Bike:

You might be familiar with Kawasaki because of the motorcycles they produce. Unknown to a lot of consumers, the brand also makes high-quality mountain bikes. The Kawasaki Mihara Fat Bike is an excellent mountain bike for under 500 dollars.

This fat bike offers riders more control and balance than they would get with a standard bicycle. It can take on any type of terrain, from a smooth course to a bumpy trail. The super-wide tires can seamlessly roll through dirt, mud, and even snow.

The rigid fork is made of durable steel, while the frame is made with aluminum. This integration of different materials allows for the bike to be both sturdy and lightweight. 

The diameter of the wheels measures in at 26 inches. Because this is a fat bike, the width of the wheels is a whopping four inches. These thick wheels provide great stability for novice riders.

Because this product is a fat bike, it’s one of the heavier bicycles on this list. This bike’s extra weight can make it more difficult to break. That’s why Kawasaki incorporated a set of mechanical disc brakes into this product’s design. The mechanical disc brakes require reliable finger strength, but they still work much more efficiently than traditional V-brakes.

One of our favorite things about this bike is its colors. The bright blue and yellow help it stand out from bikes with darker tones. 

Verdict

The Kawasaki Mihara Fat Bike is definitely worth a try. Though it may look more like a children’s toy, it parallels, and in some ways exceeds, the performance of standard mountain bicycles. 

7. Cannondale Catalyst 3

 Here’s a Quick Overview of the Cannondale Catalyst 3:

Specifications

  • SR Suntour M3030 with 75 mm suspension travel (coil-powered front suspension)
  • Total weight: 32 pounds
  • Tire diameter: 27.5”
  • Tire width: 2.25”

Features

  • Cable-actuated disc brakes
  • Integrated fender and rack mounts
  • Shimano components (derailleurs, shifters, etc.)

 Pros

  • Can be used for on- and off-road cycling
  • Easy to maneuver and maintain cycling speed 
  • Made with strong, reliable materials

Cons

  • Not ideal for extreme racing situations

Here’s a Closer Look at the Cannondale Catalyst 3:

The Cannondale Catalyst 3 might be the last product we’re reviewing, but it’s certainly not the least valuable. It makes our top 10 list due to its high-rated performance and overall popularity.

One of its most notable features is its choice of materials. You won’t find off-brand components on the Cannondale Catalyst 3.

Shimano provides many of the components for this product. The choice of shifters and derailleurs are considered entry-level. However, the reputable cycling manufacturer delivers. These parts give you everything you need to have a great beginner mountain biking experience. 

Another great thing about the Cannondale Catalyst 3 is its braking system. Like other products we’ve discussed, this one comes with disc brakes. This is a great find on cheap mountain bikes as this feature is usually reserved for more expensive options. 

The Tektro mechanical disc brakes make all the difference for beginners. It’s important to be able to stop abruptly on trails, especially when you are still learning the ropes. With these mechanical disc brakes, riders can depend on their smooth, safe stopping power. 

Cannondale designed the SmartForm C3 Alloy with relaxed geometry. Riders can take advantage of a relaxed, upright position which translates to less neck and back pain.  

Verdict

In short, this product from Cannondale is great for beginners. That being said, it is not ideal for serious races or difficult terrains. The coil-powered front suspension from Suntour only offers 75 mm of suspension travel. With this option, you should stick to easier courses. 

A Brief Buyer’s Guide

mountain bikes to choose from

Even with this list of the best bikes under 500 dollars, you should still be aware of exactly what to look for when purchasing one. The market is saturated with plenty of cheap, poor quality bikes. The last thing you want to do is invest a couple of hundred dollars in a model that quickly lets you down. 

We will help you find one that has all the features it should in its price range. This buyer’s guide will also help you determine which bike is right for your specific needs. 

Consider the following factors when you make your purchase:

Frame Size

This is perhaps the most important factor to consider. The frame size will ensure that you have comfortable, efficient riding experience.  

It can be beneficial to test out bikes in-person to see if the frame size is right for you. If you are purchasing online, be sure to consult the manufacturer’s measurements. 

You’ll want a comfortable stack (distance from the mid-head tube to the center of the crank) and reach (distance between the bars and the saddle).

You don’t need a lot of standover clearance; a few centimeters is ideal. You’ll also want to make sure you are getting full pedaling height without having to overextend the seat post.   

Hardtail or Full Suspension?  

Most mountain bikes have built-in suspension which makes for a smoother ride. The suspension absorbs forces that generate from landings and lets the bike cruise over uneven ground.  

The bearings, rear shock, and additional manufacturing components of full suspension can be pricey. A hardtail bike is more affordable. Plus, it’s easier to maintain and fewer things to repair in the long run.

However, a full-suspension bike is better equipped to handle downhill treks and bumpy roads. 

woman on a mountain bike in the sun

A lot of riders believe they have to start with a hardtail bike before moving to one with full suspension. Choosing the one that’s right for you is all about personal preference. Both amateur and expert riders can benefit from each type of suspension. 

Wheel Size 

We’ve already mentioned this in one of our reviews, but it doesn’t hurt to stress this again: wheel size is a crucial factor.

The industry standard is 26”, but 27.5” and 29” are becoming more popular. 

When deciding on what size to get, consider what trails you normally ride on. If you are a beginner and tend to stick to easier courses, you probably won’t need the 29” wheel with good rollover qualities. Therefore, the 26” or 27.5” option would be a better option.  

Type of Mountain Bike

No two mountain bike styles are the same. Each is built to suit specific environments. Mountain bikes often vary in their frame shape, which includes the following components:

  • Seat tube angle and head angle
  • The suspension design
  • The amount of suspension travel
  • Brakes
  • Gears
  • Handlebars

Consider if you could benefit from a cross-country, trail, enduro, or downhill bike. 

Cross-Country 

This style is for those who prioritize pedal performance. Cross-country bicycles are meant for tackling tough uphill courses as they are designed with efficiency and endurance in mind.

Trail

The trail style is a sort of “catch-all.” It’s very versatile and perfect for riders who tackle a variety of courses.

trail biking

Enduro

Also referred to as the “all-mountain” style, an enduro is a perfect mix between cross-country and downhill. Riders use this bike, named after a popular type of race, to get uphill and coast down.

Downhill

The downhill style is meant for, well, downhill ventures. Also called the freeride style, downhills are perfect for steep drops and rough, sloped landscapes.

Start Browsing Top Mountain Bikes for Under $500 

As you can see from this list, it’s entirely possible to get a quality mountain bike for under $500. With a little research and comparison skills, you are bound to find the perfect one without spending a fortune! Have fun out on the trail!