Best Entry Level Mountain Bike Under $500

Finding a great mountain bike that costs less than $500 can be challenging.  While there are some great bikes in this price range, there are also a few clunkers that should be avoided!  This guide will help you find the best entry level mountain bike under $500 so you can hit the trails and have some fun!

  • Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain Bike
  • Rating: 4.8/5
  • Frame Construction: 6061 Heat Treated Aluminum
  • Brakes: Mechanical Disc with Shimano aluminium brake levers
  • Drivetrain: Aluminum 24/34/42T with Shimano 21-speed Derailleurs and Shifters
  • Front Suspension: Aluminum mountain bike suspension fork with lock out
  • Price: $$
  • Diamondback Bicycles Sorrento Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike
  • Rating: 4.7/5
  • Frame Construction: DB 6061-T6 heat-treated 27.5″ / butted aluminum w/ gusset, replaceable hange
  • Brakes: Linear brakes
  • Drivetrain: MTB Steel Arm 24/32/42t with Shimano Tourney front derailleur and Shimano Altus 7 speed rear derailleur for 21 gears in total
  • Front Suspension: SR Suntour M3030 27.5″, Coil Spring, 75mm Travel, Alloy Crown and Lowers
  • Price: $$
  • Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive 29er Complete READY RIDE Hardtail Mountain Bike
  • Rating: 4.9/5
  • Frame Construciton: Overdrive 27″ Butted 6061-T6 Aluminum w/ Formed Top / Down Tube, machined headtube, forged drop outs w/replaceable hanger
  • Brakes: Tektro Aries Mechanical Disc w/ 160mm Rotors
  • Drivetrain: Suntour XCT, 42/32/22T with Shimano Tourney front derailleur, Shimano Acera M360 rear derailleur and Shimano Altus shifters
  • Front Suspension: SR Suntour XCT 27.5 coil spring 100 mm travel, Preload Adjust
  • Price: $$$
  • 2016 Gravity FSX 1.0 Dual Full Suspension Mountain Bike Shimano Acera Suntour
  • Rating: 4.7/5
  • Frame Construction: Hydroformed Aluminum
  • Brakes: Tektro Novela disc brakes
  • Drivetrain: Alloy Crankset with Shimano components — 24 speed
  • Front Suspension: Adjustable rear coil over cartridge shock for rear and adjustable front shock
  • Price: $$
Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain BikeDiamondback Bicycles Sorrento Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive 29er Complete READY RIDE Hardtail Mountain Bike 2016 Gravity FSX 1.0 Dual Full Suspension Mountain Bike Shimano Acera Suntour
Rating: 4.8/5Rating: 4.7/5Rating: 4.9/5 Rating: 4.7/5
Frame Construction: 6061 Heat Treated AluminumFrame Construction: DB 6061-T6 heat-treated 27.5″ / butted aluminum w/ gusset, replaceable hangeFrame Construciton: Overdrive 27″ Butted 6061-T6 Aluminum w/ Formed Top / Down Tube, machined headtube, forged drop outs w/replaceable hangerFrame Construction: Hydroformed Aluminum
Brakes: Mechanical Disc with Shimano aluminium brake leversBrakes: Linear brakesBrakes: Tektro Aries Mechanical Disc w/ 160mm RotorsBrakes: Tektro Novela disc brakes
Drivetrain: Aluminum 24/34/42T with Shimano 21-speed Derailleurs and ShiftersDrivetrain: MTB Steel Arm 24/32/42t with Shimano Tourney front derailleur and Shimano Altus 7 speed rear derailleur for 21 gears in totalDrivetrain: Suntour XCT, 42/32/22T with Shimano Tourney front derailleur, Shimano Acera M360 rear derailleur and Shimano Altus shiftersDrivetrain: Alloy Crankset with Shimano components — 24 speed
Front Suspension: Aluminum mountain bike suspension fork with lock outFront Suspension: SR Suntour M3030 27.5″, Coil Spring, 75mm Travel, Alloy Crown and LowersFront Suspension: SR Suntour XCT 27.5 coil spring 100 mm travel, Preload AdjustFront Suspension: Adjustable rear coil over cartridge shock for rear and adjustable front shock
Price: $$Price: $$ Price: $$$Price: $$

Before you decide on a bike

Before you decide which model to purchase, there are a few things to consider:

What kind of riding will you be doing?

Are you interested in riding off-road on trails or will you be riding on footpaths and roads?  If you intend on taking your bike off-road, you will require a bike with a durable frame and tires designed for off-road use.  If you are performing some off-road riding, you may also benefit from purchasing a bike with suspension.

Rigid, Hardtail or dual suspension?

A bike with a rigid frame has no suspension, a hardtail bike has front suspension and a dual suspension bike has suspension at both ends.  Dual suspension bikes are most often used for downhill riding or for casual riding where comfort is important.  However, a dual suspension bike may not be the best choice if you are focussed on speed.  Having suspension on a bike reduces your pedaling efficiency and most bikes with dual suspension are heavier.

Frame construction

Bike frames are usually constructed from alloy, steel, aluminum or carbon.  You won’t get a carbon-framed bike in this price range, so scratch that one off the list!  You will probably be choosing from alloy (a mixture of metals), steel and aluminum.  They are all durable, however, aluminum is lighter than steel — important if you are interested in speed.

Budget

When considering your bike budget, don’t forget to leave a little wiggle room for components like a bike pump, tire repair kits and spare tubes.  Also, if you can obtain a more durable bike for “slightly” more money, considering raising your budget.  That additional durability can add years to the lifespan of your mountain bike.

Here are a few of the best entry level mountain bikes under $500 to give you an idea of what is out there.

Merax® Finiss 26″ (Hardtail)

Price: $349.99

Merax-Finiss-AluminumThe Merax® Finiss is a hard tail mountain bike that excels at both on-road and off-road riding.  It is a light-weight bike with a very durable aluminum frame and magnesium alloy wheels.  The Finiss is an outstanding choice for cross-country, trail riding or commuter riding.

This bike features high-quality Shimano shifters that deliver fast and reliable shifting.  The Finiss has responsive mechanical disc brakes — unusual for bikes in this price range.  In fact, the entire bike has a build-quality that is usually seen in bikes that are $500 or more.

Pros:

  • Durable and light aluminum frame
  • High-quality Shimano components
  • Disc brakes
  • An eye-catching design
  • Incredible value-for-money

Cons:

  • A bright design that some people may not like
  • Might not be suitable for aggressive downhill riding

Rating: 4.8/5

Frame Construction: 6061 Heat Treated Aluminum

Brakes: Mechanical Disc with Shimano aluminium brake levers

Drivetrain: Aluminum 24/34/42T with Shimano 21-speed Derailleurs and Shifters

Front suspension: Aluminum mountain bike suspension fork with lock out

Diamondback Bicycles Sorrento (Hardtail)

Diamondback-Bicycles
Price: $329.99

Diamondback is well-known for making durable and affordable bikes that perform well in any environment.  The Sorrento is no exception.  It is a hardtail bike with an exceptional heat-treated aluminum frame tough enough for cross country and technical trails.  With  sturdy XC260 Doublewall rims and chunky Chaoyang Hornet tires, this bike is an off-road beast.

It carries components that are usually found on more expensive bikes and will deliver years of fun if well maintained.   The front shock on this bike is a high-quality SR Suntour perfect for cross country outings.  The Sorrento is fast, fun and exhilarating to ride.

Pros:

  • A tough heat-treated aluminum frame
  • Larger 27.5” wheels provide better traction
  • Stylish design that will look great in urban environments and on the trail
  • High-quality Shimano shifters
  • Great front shock made by Suntour

Cons:

Linear brakes are not as reliable as disc brakes

Rating: 4.7/5

Frame Construction: DB 6061-T6 heat-treated 27.5″ / butted aluminum w/ gusset, replaceable hanger

Brakes: Linear brakes

Drivetrain: MTB Steel Arm 24/32/42t with Shimano Tourney front derailleur and Shimano Altus 7 speed rear derailleur for 21 gears in total.

Front suspension: SR Suntour M3030 27.5″, Coil Spring, 75mm Travel, Alloy Crown and Lowers

Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive 29er (Hardtail)

Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive
Price: $499.99

At $499, this bike “just” makes it into the list! The Diamondback Overdrive shares a few similarities with the Sorrento, but has some important upgraded components. It has Tektro mechanical disc brakes instead of linear brakes. These provide more reliable stopping power, particular in wet or muddy conditions.

The front shock is upgraded to a Suntour XCT with 100mm of travel, offering a smoother ride over rough terrain. This bike is an excellent option for riders who are a little more serious about riding. If you really want to do well on cross country rides, this bike is an excellent choice!

Pros:

  • Hand built 6061-T6 aluminum alloy 29er
  • Massive 29-inch wheels will eat up the miles.
  • Simple and attractive frame shape
  • Reliable disc brakes
  • High quality front shocks
  • “Ready Ride” bike which you can set up in minutes

Cons:

  • -None! This is a very solid hardtail mountain bike

Rating: 4.9/5

Frame Construction: Overdrive 27″ Butted 6061-T6 Aluminum w/ Formed Top / Down Tube, machined headtube, forged drop outs w/replaceable hanger

Brakes: Tektro Aries Mechanical Disc w/ 160mm Rotors

Drivetrain: Suntour XCT, 42/32/22T with Shimano Tourney front derailleur, Shimano Acera M360 rear derailleur and Shimano Altus shifters.

Front suspension: SR Suntour XCT 27.5 coil spring 100 mm travel, Preload Adjust

2016 Gravity FSX 1.0 Dual Full Suspension Mountain Bike

2016-Gravity-FSX
Price: $329.95

If you are interested in performing some downhill runs or jumps on your mountain bike, having dual suspension really helps! The Gravity FSX 1.0 is a high-quality off-road bike for a reasonable price. It is perfect for riders primarily interested in exploring trails and performing cross-country rides.

The hydroformed aluminum frame is durable and well-made. It is guaranteed to last many years if properly maintained. The Gravity FSX also features disc brakes for quick stopping and double-walled alloy rims for additional strength. This is a super fun bike that has been constructed to a high standard!

Pros:

  • Setup for downhill fun!
  • Disc brakes
  • High-quality Shimano shifters

Cons:

  • Front shock could be better qualty

Rating: 4.9/5

Frame Construction: Overdrive 27″ Butted 6061-T6 Aluminum w/ Formed Top / Down Tube, machined headtube, forged drop outs w/replaceable hanger

Brakes: Tektro Aries Mechanical Disc w/ 160mm Rotors

Drivetrain: Suntour XCT, 42/32/22T with Shimano Tourney front derailleur, Shimano Acera M360 rear derailleur and Shimano Altus shifters.

Front suspension: SR Suntour XCT 27.5 coil spring 100 mm travel, Preload Adjust