In this article, we review the top rated mountain bikes priced under $500. Fast and durable mountain bikes don’t need to cost thousands of dollars. In fact, if you’re just getting started with mountain biking, you can find some great options for less than $500. These might not provide the precision and lightweight performance of more expensive models, but they are perfect for beginners and capable of handling most trails.
Units in this price range are nearly always built with aluminum frames, although you can sometimes find the occasional steel model. Most models under $500 are built with branded components, but not from a full groupset. This isn’t a major problem, as it allows the manufacturers to keep the cost low while still providing quality components.
We recommend searching for a hardtail or rigid style bike in this price range. This isn’t because there aren’t any cheap full suspension bikes – there are plenty – but because the quality of these units is usually low. By choosing a hardtail, the money that would have been used on the rear suspension can be spent on higher quality components.
There are hundreds available for less than $500. This can be confusing – especially if you’re new to biking. The good news is that the range of choices makes it possible to find some top rated models for under $500. Many of these perform just as well as more expensive models.
We want to make it as easy as possible for you to get started, so we’ve listed the top three for less than $500 below. Each of these has received positive reviews from buyers, which is one of the best ways to judge a model’s true performance. We also made sure that the components on these can cope with trail riding.
Top 3 – Best Mountain Bikes For Under $500
1. Diamondback Sorrento Mountain Bike
The Diamondback Sorrento is one of the best mountain bikes available for less than $500. It’s built with a durable aluminum frame, Shimano derailleur and front suspension fork, making it suitable for tough trails.
The Sorrento is also built with 27.5” wheels. These make a big difference to the sensitivity and responsiveness compared to 29” wheels. 27.5” wheels are also more effective at smoothing over small bumps in the road than smaller options.
One feature the Sorrento doesn’t have is a lockout on the front suspension. This is a rare feature on models for less than $500, so it isn’t surprising that the Sorrento doesn’t have it, but it can make riding on roads more difficult.
As far as entry-level options for less than $500 go, the Diamondback Sorrento is one of the best around. The mixture of high-quality components and 27.5” wheels provides performance you’d expect from a much more expensive model. If you’re looking for a first bike and don’t know which model to choose, the Sorrento is a great option.
2. Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike
The Schwinn High Timber is a popular model that’s ideal for a first bike. It costs less than $250, yet comes with components such as an SR Suntour front suspension fork, Shimano rear derailleur and SRAM shifters. Other features include alloy pull breaks, quick release saddle and an attractive design.
The High Timber has been designed for a mixture of comfort and speed. The frame promotes an athletic riding position, but is not so aggressive that it becomes uncomfortable on long rides. The lack of disc brakes is a shame, as they are much more effective in wet weather than pull brakes. Even so, the High Timber certainly provides value for money.
If you’re new to mountain biking, the High Timber is one of the best options at the moment. It’s a cheap mountain bike that provides the performance of much more expensive models, and is also capable of being ridden on almost any type of terrain.
Note: The Schwinn High Timber also comes with a Lifetime Warranty.
3. Jeep Comanche Mountain Bike
The Jeep Comanche is elegant and looks far more expensive than it actually is. It doesn’t just look good though – the Comanche provides strong performance considering the low price.
Jeep Comanches are built with an aluminum frame and 29” wheels. The large wheels are great for traversing almost any type of trail, and the front suspension fork absorbs bumps and obstacles with ease. Other features include Shimano Tourney shifters and derailleur, an oversized handlebar and front disc brake.
As with most in this price range, the Comanche is built with an aluminum frame. Unlike more expensive options, however, this isn’t a butted frame, which increases the overall weight. This is a necessary compromise to keep the cost so low, but is something to be aware of.
Like the High Timber, the Comanche is an excellent first bike. Compared to others in this price range, it has high-quality components and strong all-round performance. The attractive copper style is a bonus.
The days of cheap mountain bikes being heavy, slow and likely to break at any moment are gone. Today, even those costing less than $500 can provide great performance. This is good news for beginners, or even experienced cyclists who want to buy a reliable second.
While most in this price range are built with brand name components and an aluminum frame, there are inevitably compromises on quality to keep the price low. Most of the components won’t be part of the same groupset, and are nearly always from entry-level ranges. The frame is also likely to be heavier than more expensive models.
Don’t let that put you off though – quality models for less than $500 can be strong, durable and able to take on almost any trail. If you’re excited about getting started with mountain biking, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. The three listed in this article are all available for less than $500 and can provide excellent performance.