Best Hardtail Mountain Bike Under $500

If your budget for buying a mountain bike is under $500, a hardtail mountain bike is a great choice! For this price, you can get a solid bike with a high-quality frame and components. There are plenty of great bikes available in this price range — they are fast, durable and a ton of fun to ride!

This article will share some information about why hardtail mountain bikes are a great choice and then share a few of the best hardtail mountain bikes under $500.

  • Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike with Disc Brakes
  • Rating: 4.9/5
  • Frame Construction: 6061 Heat Treated Aluminum Frame
  • Brakes: Mechanical disc brakes with Shimano aluminum brake levers
  • Drivetrain: Aluminum Triple 42/34/24T crank, Shimano RD-TZ50 rear derailleur, Shimano Shimano FD-TZ30 front derailleur and Shimano 21-speed shifters
  • Front Suspension: Alloy suspension fork with 80mm of travel
  • Price: $$
  • Nashbar AT1 29er Mountain Bike
  • Rating: 4.4/5
  • Frame Construction: Steel Frame
  • Brakes: Linear brakes
  • Drivetrain: Shimano 7-speed drive train
  • Front Suspension:75mm fork
  • Price: $$
  • 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 aluminum 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: $$
  • Diamondback Bicycles Sorrento Hard Tail Complete Mountain Bike
  • Rating: 4.7/5
  • Frame Construction: DB 6061-T6 heat-treated 27.5″ / butted aluminum w/ gusset, replaceable hanger
  • Brakes: Linear brakes
  • Drivetrain: MTB Steel Arm 24/32/42t with Shimano Tourney front derailleur and Shimano Altus 7 speed rear derailleur for 21 gears in total
  • Front Suspension: SR Suntour M3030 27.5″, Coil Spring, 75mm Travel, Alloy Crown and Lowers
  • Price: $$
  • Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive 29er Complete READY RIDE 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
  • Price: $$$
Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike with Disc BrakesNashbar AT1 29er Mountain BikeMerax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain BikeDiamondback Bicycles Sorrento Hard Tail Complete Mountain BikeDiamondback Bicycles Overdrive 29er Complete READY RIDE Hardtail Mountain Bike
Rating: 4.9/5Rating: 4.4/5Rating: 4.8/5 Rating: 4.7/5Rating: 4.9/5
Frame Construction: 6061 Heat Treated Aluminum FrameFrame Construction: Steel FrameFrame Construction: 6061 Heat-treated aluminumFrame Construction: DB 6061-T6 heat-treated 27.5″ / butted aluminum w/ gusset, replaceable hangerFrame Construction: Overdrive 27″ Butted 6061-T6 Aluminum w/ Formed Top / Down Tube, machined headtube, forged drop outs w/replaceable hanger
Brakes: Mechanical disc brakes with Shimano aluminum brake leversBrakes: Linear brakesBrakes: Mechanical Disc with Shimano aluminum brake leversBrakes: Linear brakesBrakes: Tektro Aries Mechanical Disc w/ 160mm Rotors
Drivetrain: Aluminum Triple 42/34/24T crank, Shimano RD-TZ50 rear derailleur, Shimano Shimano FD-TZ30 front derailleur and Shimano 21-speed shiftersDrivetrain: Shimano 7-speed drive trainDrivetrain: Aluminum 24/34/42T with Shimano 21-speed Derailleurs and ShiftersDrivetrain: MTB Steel Arm 24/32/42t with Shimano Tourney front derailleur and Shimano Altus 7 speed rear derailleur for 21 gears in totalDrivetrain: Suntour XCT, 42/32/22T with Shimano Tourney front derailleur, Shimano Acera M360 rear derailleur and Shimano Altus shifters
Front Suspension: Alloy suspension fork with 80mm of travelFront Suspension:75mm forkFront Suspension: Aluminum mountain bike suspension fork with lock outFront Suspension: SR Suntour M3030 27.5″, Coil Spring, 75mm Travel, Alloy Crown and LowersFront Suspension: SR Suntour XCT 27.5 coil spring 100 mm travel, Preload Adjust
Price: $$Price: $$Price: $$Price: $$Price: $$$

Why Choose a Hardtail Mountain Bike?

There most common types of mountain bike frames are:

Rigid mountain bikes

These bikes have a completely solid frame, with no suspension. They can be used for any type of riding, but excel at road riding, cross-country and trail riding.

Hardtail mountain bikes

Hardtail mountain bikes have suspension on the front fork of the bike. This front shock improves control and comfort when riding off-road, making bikes of this type ideal for cross-country and trail riding. There are two disadvantages of having a shock on the front of the bike — additional weight and the loss of some pedaling energy.

Dual suspension mountain bikes

Dual suspension mountain bikes have suspension at the front fork and at the rear of the bike. They are often used for downhill riding or for performing jumps. The addition of a rear shock makes them heavier than hardtail or rigid mountain bikes. Because there are two shocks, a lot of the pedaling energy is absorbed by the shocks instead of being put into the crankshaft — making this kind of bike weaker at pedaling up hills.

Hardtail bikes are a great compromise between rigid and dual suspension bikes. They are comfortable to ride off-road because many bumps are absorbed by the front shocks instead of your arms. Having a front shock can also help you navigate rough surfaces like rocky trails. Other advantages include:

  • Hardtail bikes are easier to maintain than dual suspension bikes. 
Because there is no rear shock and there are fewer pivots in the bike, there are fewer parts to maintain.
  • Less risk of something breaking compared to a dual suspension bike. 
Some rear shocks can malfunction on the trail and make a bike difficult to ride or completely unusable.
  • More pedaling energy goes into the wheels. 
A rear shock absorbs a lot of energy that would otherwise go into the crankshaft. That means a hardtail bike is faster than a dual suspension bike on flat or uphill trails.
  • Hardtail bikes are great value for money
. Shocks are expensive and when you buy a dual suspension bike under $500, a significant proportion of the cost is for that rear shock. If you spend the same amount on money on a hardtail or rigid bike, the other components on the bike will be of much higher quality! When buying a mountain bike under $500, you are usually better off going for a quality frame, brakes, gears and wheel rims instead of a rear shock.

The best hardtail mountain bikes under $500

There are some fantastic hardtail mountain bikes under $500 which will deliver years of fun. Here are a few of the best!

Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike with Disc Brakes

MeraxPrice: $289.99

The Merax® Finiss is a perfect entry-level bike for riders on a budget. Despite being quite cheap, it has a sturdy aluminum frame, double wall rims and mechanical disc brakes. It is a very durable bike that will do well on-road or off-road.

Aesthetically, the bike looks fantastic with the fat main tube, gold wheel clamps and chunky tires. It looks as if it was a $750 bike instead of just $289.99! It also rides as if it was a more expensive bike. The Shimano gears are very smooth, the front shock can handle very bumpy trails with ease and it comes with high-quality off-road tires.

Rating: 4.9/5
Frame Construction: 6061 Heat Treated Aluminum Frame
Brakes: Mechanical disc brakes with Shimano aluminum brake levers
Drivetrain: Aluminum Triple 42/34/24T crank, Shimano RD-TZ50 rear derailleur, Shimano Shimano FD-TZ30 front derailleur and Shimano 21-speed shifters
Front suspension: Alloy suspension fork with 80mm of travel

Pros:

  • Incredibly cheap for a bike that has an aluminum frame!
  • Very smooth Shimano gears
  • Reliable disc brakes tat work well in all weather conditions
  • A design that makes it look like a more expensive bike

Cons:

  • Not suitable for aggressive downhill riding or large jumps

Nashbar AT1 29er Mountain Bike

NashbarPrice: $249.99

The Nashbar AT1 29er is a fantastic bike for riders on a budget. It has a solid steel frame that can weather any kind of on-road or off-road conditions, a Shimano drivetrain and a 75 mm front fork. It is designed for single trails and can perform well on rocky terrain.

The large 29-inch wheels allow for a wider contact area on the ground, which is perfect for outdoor riding on terrain with loose dirt and rocks. The large wheels also allow for greater traction when riding up hills. It is a great starter bike that is well made and reliable!

Rating: 4.4/5
Frame Construction: Steel Frame
Brakes: Linear brakes
Drivetrain: Shimano 7-speed drive train
Front suspension: 75mm fork

Pros:

  • Large 29-inch wheels
  • Shimano components
  • Incredibly cheap!

Cons:

  • Steel frame, which is heavier than aluminum
  • Linear brakes instead of disc brakes

Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain Bike

merax-2Price: $349.99

This bike is next step up in the Merax® Finiss range. It is a hardtail bike with a 6061 heat-treated aluminum frame and 100% Shimano drivetrain. In addition to the light-weight aluminum frame, the wheel rims are made from magnesium alloy — an additional weight-saving.

This bike is a ton of fun to ride, especially if you like speed! The frame is durable, rigid and feels very responsive on the trail. It is a perfect choice for commuting, cross-country riding or trail riding.

This model has excellent mechanical disc brakes which provide great stopping power. It is somewhat unusual for a bike in this price range to have such high-quality brakes.

Rating: 4.8/5
Frame Construction: 6061 Heat-treated aluminum
Brakes: Mechanical Disc with Shimano aluminum brake levers
Drivetrain: Aluminum 24/34/42T with Shimano 21-speed Derailleurs and Shifters
Front suspension: Aluminum mountain bike suspension fork with lock out

Pros:

  • Strong 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

Diamondback Bicycles Sorrento (Hardtail)

Diamondback-Bicycles-Sorrento-(Hardtail)Price: $329.99

Diamondback is another manufacturer that produces many high-quality hardtail mountain bikes under $500. The Sorrento is an excellent hardtail bike that is perfect for trail riding, commuting and cross country. It has some very high-quality components including the SR Suntour M3030 front suspension and Shimano drivetrain.

The chunky Chaoyang Hornet tires combine with excellent XC260 rims to give the bike excellent stability and traction. The best part of the bike may be the heat-treated 6061-T6 aluminum frame. It is an excellent frame which will last for many years.

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

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

Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive 29er (Hardtail)

Diamondback-Bicycles-Overdrive-29er-(Hardtail)Price: $499.99

The Diamondback Overdrive 29er is perhaps the best hardtail bike you can buy for under $500. Diamondback started out with a well-crafted aluminum frame and added some very strong components including an SR Suntour XCT front shock with 100 mm of travel.

The quality of the build is better than most other bikes in this price range. The Suntour and Shimano drivetrain are fast, efficient and reliable, The mechanical disc brakes are outstanding and provide reliable stopping power. This bike has better features than other hardtail mountain bikes that cost hundreds of dollars more! This bike is one to consider if you are more serious about your riding and want a high-performance 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

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