The 8 Best Mountain Bikes Under $500 to Buy in 2018

Cycle like a pro on rugged terrain

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Any dedicated mountain biker will tell you how important it is to find a great ride. When you’re tackling sharp inclines or taking on rocky paths and outdoor obstacles, you’ll want a bike that becomes an extension of your body so you can give your complete attention to the trail in front of you. But a lot of the top bikes also cost top dollar, and price can be a barrier to finding one you love.

Luckily, there are affordable options out there. Many budget manufacturers still use top-notch Shimano derailleurs and other high-end parts you’d find on thousand dollar bikes, and with careful assembly and routine maintenance, you can have the same great biking experience for less. Here are the top mountain bikes for your budget.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Merax Finiss 21 Speed Mountain Bike

Merax Finiss 21 Speed Mountain Bike

Courtesy of Amazon

The Merax Finiss 21 Speed Mountain Bike shifts and brakes with the best of them whether you’re navigating an obstacle-filled trail or speeding down a single-track path. This hardtail bike has an 80mm suspension fork for quick, sharp handling on a lower center of gravity. You’ll get the gold standard 21-speed Shimano derailleurs usually found on pricey rides, and the aluminum frame is lightweight without feeling flimsy.

Customers who purchased this bike on Amazon loved that it had the same features as bikes that cost hundreds of dollars more, with gear shifting that provided a flawless experience.

Best Budget: Murtisol Mountain Bike

Mountain bikers on an even more restricted budget can still find the suspension, durability, and comfort of pricier bikes with the Murtisol Mountain Bike. You’ll get smooth mechanical disc brakes, a tough front fork for absorbing shock, a Shimano derailleur for simple, fast shifting, and an adjustable seat for riders of all sizes. It comes in four sharp color combos for showing off your personality on the trail, and the high-end drivetrain and top-grade Unenjoy components take it from a good option to a great one.

Amazon purchasers loved this ride’s quality for the price and found that the rims had good alignment and the lever shifters surpassed their expectations.

Best Hardtail: Schwinn Bonafied Mountain Bike

If you prefer biking on smoother trails, or enjoy taking on large hills to push your cardiovascular endurance, you’ll want to invest in a hardtail mountain bike. These single suspension bikes don’t have the shock absorption of full suspension bikes, but they’re the perfect fit for mountain biking on flatter terrain or shifting up steep slopes. Schwinn’s Bonafied Mountain Bike is a durable ride that helps you tackle single-track trails with ease.

This ride has full-sized 29” tires and 24-speed Shimano EZ-Fire trigger shifters for a gear range that’s ready for varying terrain. Wide knobby mountain tires give you traction when you need it most, and front and rear mechanical disc brakes guarantee impeccable stopping power when you’re out on a ride.

Schwinn customers on Amazon were impressed with this bike’s brisk pace, sharing they reached speeds up to 28 mph.

Best Full Suspension: Mongoose R2780 Impasse

Full suspension mountain bikes are must-haves for tackling tough trails, jumps, and obstacles that a hardtail can’t handle. They tend to be pricier than single suspension bikes, but Mongoose’s Impasse has full-suspension traction and stability for fearless, affordable mountain biking.

This lightweight aluminum pick has an Element Suspension fork for smooth rides over bumpy trails and increased control when you’re navigating a complex route. It’s got the gearing and SRAM twist shifters of significantly more expensive full-suspension bikes, and with full 29” wheels you’ll be ready for any outdoor adventure without breaking the bank.

Reviewers on Amazon were impressed by how well the bike’s ZOOM disc brakes worked, noting that the comfortable seat and full-size wheels absorbed shock well through grassy fields, wood trails, and gravel roads.

Best Single Speed: Nashbar 29er Single-Speed Mountain Bike

Buying a single speed mountain bike sounds a little crazy at first (isn’t shifting to get over hilly terrain a big part of the sport?), but there are lots of advantages to single speed riding. It strips away excessive equipment for a bike ride that’s simpler yet more challenging and it improves your riding skills and forces you to focus on technique instead of relying on gears. Nashbar’s 29er is a budget-friendly pick that’ll introduce you to the world of single speed mountain biking.

This ride’s got a double-butted chromoly frame with a rigid fork for the ultimate in durability. Quality Tektro brakes take care of your stopping power and sturdy 29” tires buffer you from rocky trails.

Single-speed riders on Amazon loved that the bike is “tough as nails” and can handle being knocked around on the trail.

Best Fat Tire: Mongoose Men’s Malus Fat Tire Bicycle

Fat tire bikes might look a little silly at first glance, but they’re a serious pick for riders who love conquering unpredictable ground. The supersized beach tires can take on sand, mud, dirt, and snow, and fat tire bikes have some of the best shock absorption around. Mongoose’s Malus Fat Tire Bicycle is a top choice for anyone looking to broaden their biking horizons.

The Malus has 4” wide tires and front and rear disc brakes for stopping power in the wettest conditions. You’ll clear rocks with ease thanks to the bike’s generous cruiser frame and take on hills easily with seven-speed shifting.

Fat tire aficionados on Amazon said this fat tire beast was a fun ride that they could rely on in all terrains.

Best for Women: Diamondback Bicycle Lux Women’s Mountain Bike

Women who are looking to hit the trail for less should check out Diamondback’s Lux bike. The eye-catching aluminum aqua frame is powerful yet lightweight, with an efficient hardtail design for climbing hills and an 80mm suspension fork for stably traversing rocky paths. It’s created to fit many different body shapes and sizes, and with a 24-speed drivetrain it’s ready for your next adventure.

Reviewers said that this was one of the best bikes they’d ever owned, and that it rode well on both light trails and more intense backwoods trips.

Best for Men: Kent Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

Kent’s Dual Suspension Mountain Bike is perfect for men who need larger bike dimensions without a hefty price tag. This 26-inch, 21-speed bike has a floating beam suspension design for a better shock absorption and a funkier look. Dual suspension bikes tend to be pricier than hardtail rides, but this pick provides the full dual suspension experience for a bargain.

Men who love mountain biking liked this bike’s value for the price, simple assembly, and head-turning good looks.

Our Process

Our writers spent 16 hours researching the most popular mountain bikes under $500 on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 17 different mountain bikes overall, screened options from 15 different brands and manufacturers and read over 25 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

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