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This is a selection of the best mountain bikes under $500 for men & women, suitable for beginners or people with a limited budget.
I asked my friends who do mountain biking or sell bikes for tips and did in-depth market research to save your time looking for the information. You find them all here.
- The best mountain bike under $500 for men is the Marin Bolinas Ridge 29”. Excellent-price value ratio – 29”, 100mm travel Suntour fork, and 3×7spd gearing.
- The best mountain bike under $500 for women is Trek 820 (Step-Through). Women-specific step-through version with rim brakes, comfortable saddle, platform pedals, and gears to tackle any terrain.
Below, you will also learn how to choose a mountain bike under $500, what wheel size is right for you and much more.
What Are the Best Mountain Bikes Under $500?
The best mountain bikes under $500 have aluminum frames and a front suspension fork with roughly 75 to 100mm travel. MTBs at this price range usually don’t have rear suspension. Expect low-end components and mostly a 2X or 3X drivetrain. You can choose from bikes with 27.5″ or 29″ wheels and disc or rim brakes.
Marin Bolinas Ridge (Best Overall)
- Double-wall alloy rims are highly durable
- Shimano Tourney drivetrain with gearing that is perfect for hills and hours on the trails
- Gearing perfect for fire road climbs
- Mechanical disc brakes
The Marin Bolinas Ridge 1 doesn’t fall far from the tree, complimenting the Marin family and being yet another great offering for the budding cyclist – designed for the recreational mountain biker looking to explore the local singletrack, bridleways, and wherever the heart takes you.
It is made from lightweight yet durable aluminum, paired with 100mm travel suspension forks and a reliable Shimano drivetrain. This bike is at home on the trails, helping you push your boundaries with every twist and turn.
Its 29” wheels and 2.25” MTB tires will give you the right balance of comfort, traction, and control through any terrain. You can be confident hitting the trails and cornering at speed without thinking twice.
It is specced with a Shimano Tourney drivetrain, and with the gearing – you’ll be set for the steep hills and long fire roads without leaving you feeling shattered and needing to call it a day early. The brakes are brought to you by the CX7 mechanical discs, providing excellent stopping power that works well in various conditions and at speed.
With the Marin double-wall alloy rims, you’ll be able to point and shoot over rocks and bumps confidently. You’ll be at home with a great entry-level bike.
Make sure also to check out Bolinas Ridge 2. It’s just a little more expensive but has better components and a wider gear range (3x8spd).
Boost your safety on an MTB with one of these cheap mountain bike helmets for under $100.
Trek 820 and Trek 820 Step-through (Best for Women)
- Available as an option for men & women
- Multi-purpose – city and trail weapon
- Worry less with Trek’sLifetime Warranty
The Trek 820 hardtail comes outfitted with many premium features, making it a capable and powerful option for anyone looking for a reliable entry-level bike. It is deemed the ‘do it all’ bike, with it being rugged enough to take off-road whilst being perfect as the city commuter with its racks option on the rear.
For starters, the frame is made from custom stainless that is very durable and stable. This means you can take on hard rides without worrying about the bike’s integrity, giving you endless years of worry-free fun.
You’ll also enjoy other premium features, such as the front and rear Shimano Tourney TY500 & TY300 derailleurs that deliver smooth power throughout the ride.
The Trek 820 is packed with endless impressive features, making this a great bike and a perfect entry-level option.
The 820 is responsive and functional, with both a men’s and women’s model – you’ll struggle to find a reason not to have this on your shortlist when choosing your next bike.
You can learn more in this Trek 820 review.
Batch The Mountain 29″
- Comes with 29” wheels
- Well built
- Rim brakes
- Available in multiple colors and sizes
- Compatible with a rear rack
Batch The Mountain 29” is better at maintaining speed and will provide you with better comfort and traction thanks to the larger wheel diameter. I recommend reading the section about wheel size if you want to learn more.
The 100mm travel Suntour suspension will absorb bumps, and your ride in terrain will be more comfortable.
With the 3×7 gearing, you will always find gear to tackle any terrain. Yes, 2X shifting would be better (it’s easier to get used to and much simpler to use), but at this price range, it is rare.
This bike is also compatible with a rear rack, so you can transform it into a commuter with cargo space for a grocery, etc.
One small disadvantage of this bike is the rim brakes. Rim brakes are known for their lower effectiveness in wet conditions than disc brakes. On the other hand, they are lighter than disc brakes.
Upgrade your new mountain bike with a pair of clipless mountain bike pedals.
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 Bike
- Suitable for men and women
- Rapidfire Plus shifters for smooth shifting
- Hydraulic disc brakes for effective stopping
- 100 mm fork travel for increased riding comfort
- Platform pedals included
Although the Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 exceeds $500 slightly, I decided to include it because it provides an excellent price-value ratio.
It has a unique top tube profile, making it suitable for men and women.
You get efficient stopping power with the disc brakes in all types of weather. So, you can rely on it on almost any type of terrain.
It will also be easy for you to find the right gear because the 3×7 Shimano drivetrain offers a wide range of them. Conquer steep sections and ride fast downhill!
Thanks to 27.5″ wheels with 2.1″ tires that provide enough traction, the bike will perform great even in mud.
It is a very good competitor of Trek 820. DRT 1.1 is a little bit more expensive. But, it offers hydraulic disc brakes, which is an advantage compared to mechanical ones because you don’t have to squeeze the brake levers so hard.
To wrap this up, if you want a good mountain bike with disc brakes for an affordable price, this one is the right for you.
Are you just starting with mountain biking? Then, make sure to get a pair of mountain bike shoes.
Polygon Premier 5
- Modern geometry puts the rider in the action
- Capable on-road or off-road
- Hydraulic disc brakes
- 120mm travel fork
The Polygon Premier 5 is the perfect entry into mountain biking, providing a fantastic build that’ll allow you to dip your toe into off-road riding and fall in love with the sport.
It is made from alloy, making it sturdy and leaving you feeling well-planted on the trails, giving you that confidence to attack with conviction on 2 wheels. Polygon has ensured that it balances weight and strength for longevity and ease of handling.
The Premier 5 features hydraulic disc brakes for all-weather and high-speed stopping power, a quality Shimano drivetrain, and an SR Suntour suspension fork to soften those small bumps off-road.
The 120mm travel on the front is one of the higher travel bikes in this lineup. It will handle forest roads, trails, and much more.
So if you’re looking for a great ‘do it all’ bike, then the Premier is a great bike to consider.
Unfortunately, the discounted Premier 5 only comes in one universal size (M), making it suitable for people 5’4″-5’7″. The other sizes are more expensive.
Are you interested in more mountain bikes? Check this selection of the best beginner mountain bikes.
Rockrider 27.5″ ST 520
- Affordable entry-level bike
- Hydraulic disc brakes for ease of stopping in all weather
- Wide range of sizing options
The Rockrider is a hardtail that delivers, and there is no reason to complain about its price.
Upfront, it has an 80mm travel fork and hydraulic brakes, meaning you’re in control when you need to be.
This model has steep and short geometry, making climbing easy but descending a little trickier, so this is something to keep in mind if you’re looking for a good all-rounder.
The all-terrain tires are great for getting out and on the trails immediately. No need to think about switching tires for different weather types.
This bike is for you if you’re looking for something to introduce you to off-road cycling or are into gentle off-road adventures.
Also available at decathlon.co.uk
Mongoose Status 2.2 (Men & Women Specific Versions)
- Full-suspension bike ready for simple trails
- GripShift for easy shifting
- Knobby tires for on-trail control and performance
- Platform pedals included
Mongoose Status 2.2 is the only full-suspension beginner mountain bike on this list. It is the only exception, and I can’t continue without a little disclaimer. Don’t expect miracles from a full-suspension bike at this price tag.
Yes, this bike is more comfortable and absorbs bumps and vibrations better than front suspension-only mountain bikes in this price range.
I mean, it can handle a lot, but I don’t recommend pushing it too far. The quality of the frame and components cannot be compared with full suspension bikes for around $2000.
However, Status 2.2 offers a 21-speed drivetrain so that you can choose the right gear for steep uphills, flat sections, or descents.
It is equipped with classic rim brakes so the stopping power may be affected in the rain. But you will be fine if you don’t plan to ride in the rain.
The major disadvantage of this bike is its weight. It weighs over 44.3 lb (20 kg), so it requires a lot of energy to make it to the top of the hill. But once you get there, the descent will be quick.
You may also be interested in these Best Mountain Bikes Under $1000.
|Mountain Bikes||Front Suspension||Gears||Wheels||Frame Material||Buy|
|Marin Bolinas Ridge 1||100mm travel||3×7spd||29″||Aluminum||Check Price|
|Trek 820||75mm travel||3×7spd||26″||Steel||Check Price|
|Trek 820 Step-Through||75mm travel||3×7spd||26″||Steel||Check Price|
|Batch The Mountain||100mm travel||3×7spd||29″||Aluminum||Check Price|
|Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 Bike||100mm travel||3×7spd||27.5″||Aluminum||Check Price|
|Polygon Premier 5||120mm travel||2×9spd||27.5″||Aluminum||Check Price|
|Rockrider 27.5″ ST 520||80mm travel||3×8spd||27.5″||Aluminum||Check Price|
|Mongoose Status 2.2||n/a||3×7spd||26″||Aluminum||Check Price|
Marin Bolinas Ridge 1 29” is a perfect mountain bike for under $500 for men. It comes with disc brakes that are more effective than rim brakes in all conditions.
With 29″ wheels and 100mm travel Suntour that roll easily over demanding terrain, you get great comfort, speed, and stability.
And as a bonus, the platform pedals are included, so you don’t have to buy them separately.
By the way, I also recommend checking out Bolinas Ridge 2 29″. It has better components, and it’s just a little more expensive.
Trek 820 (Step-Through) is an ideal choice for women. Thanks to the step-through frame, it will be easy to hop on your bike even if you are tired after a long trip.
It comes with a 3x7spd Shimano Tourney drivetrain, so you will always find the right gear to tackle any terrain.
And, if you decide to go for a longer trip or just to a grocery store, you can add a rear rack to extend your storage capacity. Is this going to be your next “best friend”?
How to Choose a Mountain Bike Under $500?
The following buyer’s guide is written to fit the $500 price range. Please read my fully dedicated guide on How to Choose a Mountain Bike to learn more about mountain bikes.
Mountain Bike Type
Mountain bikes can be divided into 2 basic categories:
- Hardtail mountain bikes have a suspension fork and a rigid rear triangle.
- Full-suspension mountain bikes have a suspension fork and rear shock.
Both types can be found in the below $500 price range. But full-suspension bikes under $500 can’t match the features of full-suspension mountain bikes for above $2000. They are heavy, and the suspension is not very effective. So don’t expect too much from them, and consider getting a hardtail MTB in this price range.
Check the pros and cons of these types of suspension valid for more expensive bikes (above $2000) in the table below.
|Hardtail||• Lower weight of the bike|
• Lack of rear suspension maintenance
• Lower price
• Lower energy loss when pedaling
• Better for climbing
|• Right riding technique for rough terrain needed
• Not as comfortable as full suspension bikes
• Doesn't handle rough terrain as well as full suspension bikes
|Full suspension||• Better comfort in rough terrain|
• More versatile (jumps, drops, rock gardens, roots...)
• Easier to ride in more difficult terrain
• Better for downhills
|• Higher price
• Higher overall weight of the bike
• More parts that can break
• Rear triangle maintenance
Front suspensions differ in suspension travel. It is the distance the suspension can move before it is fully compressed. The longer the suspension travel, the larger impacts it can absorb.
Cheap mountain bikes usually come with 80-100mm suspension travel. It’s not much but enough for bumpy, dirt, or gravel roads.
You can see the suspension travel of individual types of mountain bikes that belong to the higher price range in the table below.
|Type of Mountain Bike||Suspension Travel|
Mountain Bike Type
There are 5 basic types of mountain bikes. But the $500 budget is relatively low, so you won’t have many options. Most mountain bikes below $500 are hardtail, cross-country bikes.
Cross-country bikes (also called XC bikes) have ‘pedal-focused’ geometry. This means they are easier to pedal on than downhill bikes, for example. In addition, they have a shorter wheelbase that allows easy handling.
According to BikeExchange, XC bikes are fitted with 90-100mm of travel at the frame and form, with some models offering up to 120mm.
This type of mountain bike is pretty versatile. You can use it for racing, trail riding, casual trips to the forest, countryside, etc.
The $500 price range made it relatively easy in terms of frame material. You can get a steel or an aluminum mountain bike.
- Steel mountain bikes are stiff, durable, and cheap. Their downside is their higher weight.
- Aluminum mountain bikes are more popular because they are stiff and lighter than steel frames. The downside is their higher price than steel MTBs.
You can learn more about bike frame materials in my fully dedicated article.
Mountain bikes come with 26″, 27.5″, or 29″ wheels. A mountain bike for up to $500 can be equipped with any of these sizes. So which one should you get?
26″ wheels are outdated. Their only advantage is that they accelerate quicker than 27.5″ and 29″ wheels. They are suitable for kids’ mountain bikes or small mountain bike sizes for short people or women. But if you can, go for 27.5″ wheels.
27.5″ wheels are ideal for shorter people or those riders who want an “agile” bike that is easier to handle in tight spaces. They offer better traction thanks to a large surface area and stability than 26″ wheels.
29″ wheels are better for taller riders, but shorter people can use them too. These wheels have bigger inertia, so they maintain speed easily. They are also more comfortable on rougher terrain, stable, and have better traction. Their only downside is that they accelerate slower than the two bike wheel sizes described above.
If you can, take a test ride to see what wheel size suits you best. If you can’t, the general rule of thumb is that shorter riders prefer 27.5″ wheels and taller riders 29″.
NOTE: Some retailers use different wheel sizes for different bike sizes. For example, sizes XS-M come with 27.5 wheels and L & XL with 29 wheels.
The drivetrain is put under pressure every time you pedal. Bikes use 1X, 2X, or 3X chainrings, but mountain bikes under $500 come almost exclusively with 2X or 3X. 1X chainrings are used on more expensive mountain bikes.
2X chainrings have fewer gears and larger jumps between them. On the other hand, they are simpler and easier to operate for beginners. This means you don’t have to think about cross-chaining as much.
3X chainrings offer a large gear selection and smaller jumps between individual gears. Their main downside is the weight, complexity, and more things that can go wrong. There is also a higher chance of a dropped chain.
What is cross-chaining? It’s when you ride on the biggest (lightest) gear in the rear and the biggest (heaviest) chainring in the front or vice versa. It puts the chain, cassette, chainrings, and other parts under bigger pressure. As a result, they wear out more easily. This style of shifting is also not effective.
Mountain bikes under $500 come with rim or disc brakes.
- Rim brakes are cheaper, lighter, and easier to maintain than disc brakes. But their stopping power is easily affected by elements like water or dirt. So, mountain bikes with rim brakes are better for casual riders who don’t push their bikes to their limits.
- Disc brakes provide better stopping power in any conditions and effectivity, but they are heavier and more expensive than rim brakes.
Read this rim vs. disc brakes comparison to learn more.
My opinion is, and I discussed this topic with a few of my friends who ride mountain bikes, that it is better to buy a bike with good rim brakes than with bad disc brakes. If the 2 bikes have the same price and similar components, but the one has disc brakes and the other rim brakes, go for the one with rim brakes.
Mountain Bike Size
The last thing you should consider is the correct bike size to prevent injuries and increase your riding comfort.
If you can’t try it in person because you order it online, don’t worry. Feel free to take advantage of this mountain bike size chart or use my bike size calculator. It will calculate the mountain bike size based on your inseam height.
Mountain Bikes Under $500 FAQ
This post is regularly updated to provide the most up-to-date product tips. If you find a product that is not up to date, please, contact me.