Mountain bikes make for a tremendous investment. Not only can you take them out on a trail to have a great time, but they can also accommodate a number of different riding styles. Some can even function as a passable street bike. The only problem is that to find a high quality mountain bike that you can ride for years to come, you’ll find many manufacturers recommending bicycles that cost several thousand dollars.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There are several solid mountain bikes that are under your budget right now – guaranteed. So saddle up because you’re about to enjoy a great ride.
Best Mountain Bikes Under $500
|Merax Finiss 26-inch Aluminum Mountain Bike|| 4.1 || $$$ |
|Diamondback Bicycles 2015 Tess 24 Complete Mountain Bike|| 4.1 || $$ |
|Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike|| 4.0 || $$$$ |
|Roadmaster Granite Peak Mountain Bike|| 4.2 || $ |
|Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hard Tail Mountain Bike|| 4.4 || $$$$ |
|Vilano Ridge 1.0 Mountain Bike|| 4.3 || $$$ |
|Kawasaki DX Full Suspension Mountain Bike|| 4.7 || $$$$$ |
|Huffy Granite Mountain Bike|| 4.3 || $ |
|Gravity FSX 1.0 Dual Full Suspension Mountain Bike|| 4.2 || $$$$ |
|Mongoose Stasis Comp 26-inch Full Suspension Mtn Bike|| 4.3 || $$$ |
Best Mountain Bikes Under $1000
|Montague Paratrooper Mountain Folding Bike|| 4.2 || $$$$ |
|Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive 29er Mountain Bike|| 4.3 || $$$ |
|Montague Paratrooper Pro MTB|| 4.4 || $$$$$ |
|Diamondback Bicycles Recoil Complete Full Suspension Mtn Bike|| 4.4 || $$$ |
|BEIOU Toray T700 Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike|| 4.9 || $$$$$ |
|Polygon Bikes Siskiu29 Hardtail Mountain Bike|| 4.3 || $$$$$ |
|Richbit 601 Folding 26-inch Mountain Bike|| 5.0 || $$$$ |
|SE Bikes Big Mountain 1.0|| 4.4 || $$$ |
|Diamondback Bicycles Line Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike|| 4.3 || $$$$$ |
When it comes to mountain bikes, there is the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. The charts above ignores the latter two so that you can focus on comparing the top-rated models that are available in this category today.
What Style of Mountain Bike Is Right for You?
Many consider a “mountain bike” to be a style of bicycle on its own, but there are several different designs available from which to choose. Each has certain advantages and disadvantages which must be considered. Which option will best suit your needs today?
- Trail bikes. This is the most common type of mountain bike. It meets general riding needs, can handle changing conditions, and places equal emphasis on recreation and efficiency.
- Cross Country bikes. This style of bike is more about speed. It doesn’t climb well, but it has a low overall weight for good maneuverability. It’s also the best flatland trail bike and offers the best ride if you need to take your bicycle on the street for some reason.
- Fat bikes. This style of bike is a great beginner bike if you’ve never been off-roading before. The wider wheels and oversized tires give you a tremendous amount of weight displacement, giving you the opportunity to ride places other bikes can’t go – like the beach, for example.
- All Around bikes. This type of bike conquers mountain trails. They come equipped with technical features, are designed to handle steep descents, yet is still powerful enough to let you pedal uphill. It would be fair to say that this design is the BMX bike of the mountains.
You’ll also be able to find mountain bikes that are designed to meet specific riding needs, such as a downhill racing bike.
What Features Should a Mountain Bike Have?
Your first consideration when shopping for a mountain bike should always be your riding style. Do you prefer riding downhill on your mountain bike? Are you a flat trail rider? Maybe you like to do a little mountain climbing? Each bike style will accommodate your needs to some extent. Look for a frame that is built to cover your specific needs and you’ll have a more consistent ride out of your mountain bike.
Once you’ve settled on frame style, you’re ready to take a look at these additional features which are common to mountain bikes.
- Frame composition. If you’re an uphill rider, you’ll want a carbon fiber frame. Most mountain bikes are made from aluminum to lessen the weight of the bike without affecting its durability. Steel mountain bikes are generally good for flatlands only.
- Many mountain bikes come with a full suspension. This means the bicycle has an equipped suspension to the front and rear wheel. Hardtail bikes have a suspension on the front fork only. Some mountain bikes may have no suspension at all.
- Wheel size. A larger wheel size gives your bike frame more versatility when out for a ride. The standard wheel size on a mountain bike is 26 inches. You’ll also find 27.5 inch wheels to be a common option. The best rides tend to come from 29ers, but it does take some time to get used to riding that kind of mountain bike if you’ve never done so before.
- Gearing and brakes. If you’re cruising down a trail and encounter a surprise turn, you need to shift down and brake quickly. Although mountain bikes are typically built to climb and have disc brakes, there are some other options available that may be more suited to your riding needs.
The best mountain bikes under your budget will include some variation of these features with your preferred bicycle, even at an entry-level price. By incorporating public reviews and trial reports into your shopping experience, you’ll be able to make an informed choice about your next bike without having to worry about going over your budget.
What You Need to Know About Mountain Bike Suspensions
If you’re going to invest cash into a mountain bike, then how much you spend on your suspension will make or break your riding experience. The cheapest bikes in this category are “rigid,” which means they have no suspension at all. This makes the bike easy to maintain and affordable to own, but can be a real pain in the saddle.
Hardtail suspensions are your best compromise option. Mountain riding generally has more vibration and impact along the fork, so having a front suspension makes sense. They’re less expensive than a full suspension bike and transfer power with each pedal stroke quite well.
Full suspension bikes are your best case scenario. Although there are not many that fit under your budget in price, having this level of protection will smooth out a ride dramatically. Beginners especially benefit from this type of suspension because it makes the ride more comfortable and forgiving.
Entry-level mountain bikes can be found in the $100-$300 range. These bikes are not going to be able to handle a gnarly trail, but they can provide you with weekend fun on casual trails with your friends with success. These bikes are also a good option for flatland trails and some cross-country work.
The best mountain bikes in this category are in the $500-$600 range from a value perspective. You’ll receive suspension options, some additional features, and a lighter frame so your bicycle is much more maneuverable.
At the top end of the spectrum are the mountain bikes that are in the $1,000-$1,500 range. For many households, this price may not be under their budget, but you will receive an entry-level professional bike at that investment level.
Here’s Our Reviews:
For Budgets Under $500: Look for a solid frame, quality shifting, and a meaningful suspension. This will provide you with the most versatility.
Diamondback Bicycles [Unisex Model]
This is one of the best entry-level mountain bikes you’ll find on the market today. The frame is constructed from a high-tensile steel, so it’s a bit heavy, but nothing you can’t manage. With a hardtail design, you’ll be able to handle trail obstacles with ease. Linear pull brakes make stopping easy and you’re given 7 speeds for a solid gear range. If you’ve never been on a mountain bike before, you won’t go wrong with this one.
Schwinn [Full Suspension]
This dual suspension frame, constructed from aluminum, is one of the best entry-level investments you could make. Like its more expensive counterparts, you’ll find Shimano components throughout this bike. It also features a front disc brake and MTB handlebar for added steering flexibility. Balance is fantastic with this bike and you’ll receive 24 speeds to explore. Three-piece cranks and double alloy rims make sure you can explore the dirt and dust of the trail with confidence and ease.
This is a great bike because it is stable, forgiving, and gives you a remarkable amount of power per pedal stroke. You will dominate a trail while riding this bike. Front and rear linear pull brakes give you the ultimate in speed control, while the twist shifters give you precise shifting without requiring you to shift hand position. Sit in the saddle and you’ll never want to get out of it.
This 26-inch mountain bike features mechanical disc brakes and an aluminum frame for a value-priced level of control. It still features Shimano components and a suspension fork so you receive a buffer from the impacts of a trail ride. More suited to a casual rider, but it can accommodate some of the more advanced mountain riding skills you’ll need for serious riding. The gears are a little sticky, but overall, we found this to be a pretty good deal.
If you could combine a BMX bike with a mountain bike, this is what the end result would be. The tires are aggressive, as is the frame styling, and that is also reflected in the rider positioning on this bike. It’s slightly higher than most mountain bikes, so it does take a little to get used to it. The twist shifter functions adequately and the front wheel clearance was better than expected. If your budget is tight, this is a solid option to consider.
For Budgets Under $1,000:Expect a premium riding experience. These bicycles are strong enough to compete professionally, so can stand up to an added level of wear and tear from advanced trails.
This folding mountain bike offers you an impressive level of versatility. It takes less than a minute to set up this bike or fold it down for storage. Shifting is smooth and easy, making it easy to transport and store this bike. It’s sturdy for a bike that weighs less than 30 pounds as well and brakes consistently. The pedals may need an upgrade for aggressive riders and we needed to get used to the handlebar position, but otherwise this is a solid investment to make as a first mountain bike.
Diamondback Bicycles [Great Beginner’s Bike]
If you’re not quite ready to step up to a professional mountain bike in the $3,000-$6,000 range, but you want a riding experience that is similar, then we highly recommend this mountain bike. It’s a 29er that comes ready for you to ride. The hardtail suspension does its job well and the seating post is just underneath the handlebars where it should be. The aluminum alloy frame is just the right weight and the Tektro disc brakes give you the quick stops you need. That means the only thing you need to do is get out and ride.
BEIOU [Unisex Option]
This carbon fiber mountain bike is one of the best cross country bikes we’ve seen The 27-speed design matches with a suspension fork and disc brake for high-speed movements. It can also handle most trails with relative ease, though as a downhill bike, this model would be a tough sell. There are also Shimano components included with the bike and assembly is pretty simple. Bottom line: purchase this bike. It gets the job done.
BAMF [Male Frame]
This is another 29er that will make you fall in love with the larger design. The trigger shifters and rear derailleur function as they should, while the hydraulic brakes are comprehensive and responsive. The suspension fork does get the job done, though you’ll feel a tough ride at the end of the day in your arms. The frame is aluminum and a bit heavy, but the components are top notch and gives you a stout riding experience. We feel like it’s worth the investment.
This 29er is another hardtail that puts you in full control of the riding experience. The benefit of purchasing from this manufacturer is that almost everything is controlled in-house and for US customers, is sold exclusively online through one website. This makes the features of the bike more comparable to a $3,000 bike, but you end up paying less than $1,000. Shimano brakes and drivetrain support are featured and function as expected. Upgrade the saddle if you plan on long distance riding.
The best mountain bikes under your budget will help you to explore the outdoors like never before. This is an investment that will keep on giving. Many mountain bikes are still performing well after 10-20 years of use and tens of thousands of miles. Where will you take your new mountain bike?