Best Mountain Bikes Under $500 in 2021

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Buying a new mountain bike doesn’t have to be an exorbitant expense, even though that’s what most of us have been led to believe.

Undoubtedly, buying a professional mountain bike isn’t going to be cheap. But many affordable options will deliver a ride on the trails just as comfortably as more expensive models.

If you’re looking for the best mountain bikes under $500, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll review five excellent bikes. We’ll talk about what each of them brings to the table and discuss any potential disadvantages.

Comparison Chart

Huffy Hardtail Mountain Bike, Stone Mountain, 26 inch, 21-Speed, Charcoal, 26 Inch Wheels/17 Inch Frame, Model Number: 76818
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Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike, 20-Inch Wheels
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Merax 26″ Mountain Bicycle with Suspension Fork 24-Speed Mountain Bike with Disc Brake, Lightweight Aluminum Frame
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Merax FT323 Mountain Bike 21 Speed Full Suspension Aluminum Frame MTB Bicycle – 26 inch (Blue)
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Roadmaster – 26 Inches Granite Peak Men’s Mountain Bike, Black/Blue

Best Mountain Bikes Under $500 Reviews

Huffy Hardtail Mountain Bike

Right off the bat, we have a trailblazer in the industry. Huffy is a company that has been around since the 19th century, which is an impressive fact in itself.

Along the way, they have contributed to many innovations and continue to do so to this day.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that their Hardtail mountain bike is one of the best mountain bikes under $500 that you might want to consider. In terms of specs, there’s so much to appreciate.

The steel frame is durable and not too heavy. The wheel sizes are available in 20-inch, 24-inch, and 26-inch sizes, and that’s the kind of versatility you don’t get among mountain bikes that are under $500.

Speed-wise, it features 21-speed gearing, but there is a model available in 6 speeds only if you need the bike for a more city-oriented ride. It also has responsive linear-pull front brakes that will safely stop the bike even at a higher speed.

Another feature worth mentioning is the 24 x 1.95-inch knobby tires. A pair of tires that can tear into the ground with plenty of ease is not the standard of more affordable mountain bikes.

But Huffy included them anyway, and that says a lot about the brand itself. Overall, this is a high-quality mountain bike that packs so much quality at a fair price. It’s also attractive and comes in many color schemes and pattern combinations.

Another great thing about this bike is that Huffy has made the assembly process much easier by providing videos with detailed instructions.

Pros

  • Stable and very comfortable
  • Easy to assemble
  • Excellent for trail and city ride
  • High-quality tires

Cons

Slightly uncomfortable seat

Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike

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Even though Schwinn started their journey in Germany at the very end of the 19th century, they have been a US-based company throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. They’re known for manufacturing some of the best mountain bikes in general, but they also have some of the best mountain bikes under $500.

Their High Timber Mountain Bike is a prime example of that. One of the reasons we like this mountain bike, in particular, is that it offers plenty of customization options.

You can also upgrade it if you opt to pay slightly more. So, you can choose between the steel frame or aluminum frame depending on preference or terrain.

The bike is made for both youngsters and adults, hence the option to choose from many wheel sizes, starting with 10-inch wheels to 29-inch wheels, even for the tallest amongst us.

When it comes to speed, the Shimano 7-speed twist shifters are more than enough to provide a smooth but exciting ride along any trail.

Perhaps this is not the model for mountain bike enthusiasts looking for high-speed performance, but it is one of the beginners’ best options, especially for adolescents and teenagers. The bike has both rear and front linear-pull brakes with responsive stopping power.

It’s also relevant to mention that this is a lovely looking bike and, in terms of design and color, probably aimed more towards females, but not exclusively.

Pros

  • Upgrading available
  • Gorgeous design
  • Quick assembly
  • For youth and adults

Cons

Front-wheel bearing often too loose

Merax 26’’ Mountain Bicycle with Suspension Fork

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If you’re looking for a mountain bike that can sustain and tackle all types of rough terrain without losing speed, Merax has a candidate to consider. This is not a full-suspension mountain bike, but it has a suspension fork that provides extra control at high speed.

In terms of the best bikes under $500, this a fantastic option, even if you take out the price component consideration. The combination of the front suspension fork and super-lightweight aluminum frame can give the rider the sensation of flying over the trails.

But it’s also not the kind of high-performing mountain bike that’s simultaneously uncomfortable. No, this bike will have you riding effortlessly on a pavement at a low speed when you’re cruising around the city.

Also, the 24-speed Shimano shifters are efficient when transitioning from slower to faster and vice versa. The dual disc brakes are there to ensure this bike’s stopping power is efficient yet smooth, along with all that speed potential.

And while it’s mostly marketed as the entry-level mountain bike that is also affordable, even more experienced riders might see this model’s value.

The rider’s weight capacity is 330 lbs., which is an excellent feature for a mountain bike in this category – not to mention that the 26-inch wheels with aluminum rims deliver a lot of reliability during the ride.

The pedals provide a stable foot placement, which is essential since many beginners might worry about their feet slipping from the pedals. Overall, this is an affordable and powerful looking mountain bike many riders will enjoy.

Pros

  • Lightweight and durable frame
  • Dual disc brakes
  • Suitable for heavier riders
  • Suspension fork

Cons

Might require professional assembly

Merax FT323 Mountain Bike 21 Speed

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Choosing which mountain bike to buy can be an overwhelming process. There are a lot of options and many different price ranges. If you don’t want to go over $500 but still want something powerful, Merax is the company to pay attention to.

They’re a relatively young operation, but they’ve managed to specialize in delivering excellent bikes at an affordable price. The FT323 is the one that stands out. Not only does it look durable at a glance, but that’s also precisely what it is.

And when you consider that the idea behind it was to offer a fully equipped mountain bike, able to endure even the roughest terrain, the bike becomes even more impressive. It’s not perfect, that’s for sure. You might even have to change the seat right away for better comfort.

However, the aluminum frame and 26-inch wheels are something to admire. Brake style is linear-pull, which is standard. But one of the features we most love about the Merax FT323 is the handles.

It has rubber handles of high-grade quality, which means an excellent grip and more control when steering along the trail. And let’s not forget the dual suspension at the front and the rear, which is precisely what you’d expect from a high-performing mountain bike.

It has a 21-speed automatic Shimano gear shifter, which is the golden standard for mountain bikes. The added kickstand and a Velcro storage pouch are just a bonus. It’s available in two colors, blue and grey/green combinations.

Pros

  • Full suspension
  • Excellent rubber handlebars
  • Useful accessories included
  • High-quality tires

Cons

Gears might be prone to breaking

Roadmaster – 26 Inches Granite Peak Men’s Mountain Bike

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Roadmaster is a recognizable brand, and in the cycling industry, it’s a household name. They have been making excellent bicycles for nearly a century.

The mountain bike line is especially well-known for its quality. The Granite Peak Men’s mountain bike by Roadmaster is an incredibly successful marriage of affordability and quality. Let’s be clear; this is a beginner’s bike designed for men that want to test the water trail biking.

But it’s also a perfectly suitable bike for pavement and casual city bike rides. The 18-speeds available provide sufficient versatility in that department. Another popular feature of the Roadmaster’s Granite Peak bike is that it’s effortless to assemble.

Many mountain bike newbies insist on this because they want to keep things simple and easy. The overall design is relatively compact, and that was the goal. The maximum recommended rider’s height is 6’2”, which means it’s suitable for most adults.

The steel frame might be too heavy for some, but when you consider that it has the suspension for extra stability, it’s easier to accept it.

The linear brakes are of high-quality too, which is essential for many novice riders. The seat is also well-padded, which is not a feature even some of the best mountain bikes could brag about regardless of the price.

There are a few shortcomings, such as the slightly loose handlebar; however, this is a bike for a vast audience and one of the best mountain bikes under $500.

Pros

  • Great price-to-value ratio
  • Very easy to assemble
  • Compact design
  • Padded seat

Cons

Handlebar could be tighter

Final Verdict

Regardless of the price, a mountain bike is still an investment. But unless you’re passionate about mountain biking, there’s no need to spend thousands of dollars to have fun at the mountain trails or ride around your neighborhood.

You might want to consider Huffy Hardtail Mountain Bike, our winner of the best mountain bikes under $500 review. The frame is sturdy, the tires are excellent, it’s easy to assemble, and it looks great too.

If the price tag is still a bit too steep, the Roadmaster’s mountain bike is a fantastic alternative with many high-performing features.

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