Best Mountain Bike Under $300-500 Budget – What To Choose?
Mountain bike riding has undeniably become one of the most popular outdoor activities.
Apart from giving you a rare opportunity to enjoy the beautiful mountains and other sceneries out there, this off-road biking experience is also good for your health…and good for the environment.
Unfortunately, most people don’t get to enjoy this unforgettable experience due to the high cost associated with mountain bikes.
BUT…how much do you really need to spend to get a quality mountain bike?
Can you get the best mountain bike under 500 or 300?
We pursued the market in search of affordable mountain bikes. And we can assure you that there are high-performance MTB bikes out there with budget-friendly costs.
In today’s post, we’ll give you a rundown of the 10 top-quality MTBs that will usher you into the thrilling world of mountain biking for a little budget of under $300-$500.
Hardtail Or Full Suspension?
BEFORE we get into the intimate details of our top 10 bikes, there’s one crucial thing you need to understand…
Between a hardtail and full suspension mountain bike, which one should you buy?
First, you need to understand the MAIN difference between the two types of bikes:
A hardtail bike features only the suspension fork at the front while the full suspension bike comes with both front suspension fork and rear shock.
For those who don’t know, the type of suspension on a mountain bike will directly affect its control, comfort, and traction…and even how enjoyable it feels to ride.
Let’s take a closer look at the key factors that define each type of bike and separate them from each other:
You’ll have to spend more on a full suspension bike than a hardtail. To get a top-quality, entry-level full suspension bike, you might have to pay over $1000.
As for the hardtail bikes, they come with simpler designs, which means fewer materials go into their construction. This explains why they have an affordable cost.
A lighter bike is good if you’re cycling for long distances or lots of climbing are involved.
It’s pretty obvious that a hardtail will feel lighter than a full suspension model due to the fewer parts used to design it.
However, if you spend more money, you can also get a lightweight full suspension bike (or even lighter than a hardtail).
Type of trail
Full suspension bikes enable you to ride through technical trails with ultimate ease. They combine the front and rear suspension to create a smoother ride with improved traction and handling. This makes it easier for you to cycle through tough terrains
A hardtail, on the other hand, is good if you plan to cycle on smoother trails most of the time. The bike’s front only suspension fork will be able to handle the moderate bumps along the way.
With a less complicated design (with fewer moving parts) maintaining a hardtail will be much easier and cheaper than a full suspension bike which has many moving parts.
The full suspension bike will easily absorb most of the bumps along the trails which would otherwise end up in your body. This will help reduce fatigue and promote longer, faster, and comfier rides.
Lack of rear suspension in hardtails makes them less capable of absorbing back end bumps. This is especially true if you’re riding over longer, technical distances. That’s why we’ve said hardtails are good for smoother terrains.
Faster cycling, you should consider getting a full suspension bike. Since this bike is good at absorbing bumps, it becomes easier to carry more speed through tougher sections of your trail compared to the hardtail.
However, if you’re cycling on flatter sections, with steeper climbs, then you’ll be faster on a hardtail bike as well.
Overall, if you’re planning to hit more technical trails and have money to spend, we advise you to go for a full-suspension mountain bike. If you’re under a tight budget and plan to mostly ride on smoother trails, consider getting yourself a hardtail mountain bike.
Our Best Mountain Bike Under $300-$500
1. Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men's Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike
- Schwinn aluminum full suspension frame with front suspension fork for reliable, responsive riding
- 24-speed trigger shifters and rear derailleur provide a wide gear range and smooth shifting out on the trail
Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men's has established itself as one of the top mountain bikes for those who wish to hit paved roads or go off-road. The bike comes with a price tag creeping right under $400 and a lot of amazing to make it ready to take on any outdoor challenge you throw at it.
One thing that defines this bike is a super-sturdy frame made out of aluminum plus a rear triangle made of steel. This frame is 100% rust resistant and can comfortably support riders as heavy as 220lbs. The solid, dual suspension comes ready to tackle the most technical terrains you can think of.
The bike provides you with up to 24 speeds to choose from as you take on different sections of the terrains.
With the Shimano EF-50 trigger shifters, changing gears becomes fast, precise, and smoother than ever before. Combine this with the Altus rear derailleur, and you’ll have progressive power & optimal control on various types of terrains.
You’ll also love this MTB for its high profile tires and alloy rims. The tires, in particular, are knobby to facilitate excellent grip and increased traction in all riding conditions and terrains. The alloy rims are double-walled for lightweight durability.
2. Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail Mountain Bike
If you’ve got a slightly higher budget (but within 500), then you’d want to go the with the promise of even more impressive features. And one such bike is the Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive Hardtail.
The hardtail boats of an SR Suntour XCT 27 suspension fork with up to 80 mm travel. This fork has greater capabilities when it comes to soaking up bump terrains, giving you more control, increased comfort, and less fatigue.
It also boats of Shimano 3x8 speed drivetrain which offers you a wide range of gears to enable you to tackle different sections of your trail easily—whether you’re cranking up the hills or hammering down the other side.
With big knobby tires, this bike is able to grab every rock and root along the way, boosting your confidence and total control as you explore different trails. The powerful disk brakes translate to reliable stopping power for confident handling in various terrains.
3. Stowabike 26" MTB V2 Folding Dual Suspension Mountain Bike
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While folding bikes are loved by bikers for their compact nature and ease of transport to any place, most of them come with exaggerated prices.
Luckily, Stowabike has jumped in to offer you the same quality folding bikes at a cheaper price. This particular Stowabike 26" MTB V2 won a place on our list as the best mountain bike under 200.
Regarding the build quality, the bike features steel frame construction which makes it feel super-duper sturdy and solid.
At 36 pounds, this is not the heaviest mountain bike around. While its big 26-inch wheels might make the bike still look bigger after folding, it’ll still be able to fit inside your car trunk. Folding the bike will take you approx. 20 seconds, so it’s nothing to worry about.
For the best mountain biking experience, we recommend this bike to riders who plant to do most of their cycling on fairly smooth terrains.
4. Raleigh Bikes Women's Eva 3 Mountain Bike
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For the women riders in the house looking for the best mountain bike under 500, Raleigh Bikes Women's Eva 3 Mountain Bike is for you.
Everything about this bike is specially engineered to meet the needs of women riders—including the women's-specific upright geometry, women-specific comfort saddle, Women's specific grips, and a squishy suspension fork.
Ideal for riding on pavements and light trails, this women’s bike features a sturdy aluminum frame for durability and lightweight feel. Its front Suntour front suspension provides you with comfort and control to enable you to handle all bumps along the trail easily.
The Shimano 21-speed drivetrain works closely with the Shimano shifters and the highly reliable Tektro disc brakes to make the bike even easier to handle when bounding up a trail or cruising down the road, regardless of the weather conditions.
The wide Kenda kadre, 27.5x2.1 tires provide you with greater stability and unmatched traction as you take in different terrains.
5. Merax Falcon Full Suspension Mountain Bike
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Merax Falcon Mountain Bike is designed to be a fully-featured, entry-level economic MTB for meeting all your riding needs. The bike comes 85% installed, so you’ll only need to install the pedals, handlebar, front wheel, and inflate the tires.
Since this is a full suspension bike, we expect it to come with both the front and rear suspensions. The rear shocks work closely with the front suspension fork to enable you to experience a softer ride that most of the impact with the ultimate ease. This means that you’ll enjoy less disruptive ridings, even when riding on the roughest terrains.
As we’ve seen in most of the other bikes above, this Merax also comes fitted with 21 rapid fire derailleurs and shifters. Needless to mention, these allow you to comfortably ride on flat surfaces, power downhills and climb angled hills easily.
Comfort gets better with the high-grade rubber gripped handlebars and bike seats that come with this bike. They’re engineered to assume the natural contours of your body, meaning they’ll offer you a natural fit when cycling.
To complete the bike’s suitability for use in all terrains, the manufacturer equipped it with 100% anti-skid tires and heavy-duty nylon pedals. These will magically boost your confidence as you take on the rougher terrains or ride on slippery conditions.
6. Schwinn Bonafied 29" Wheel Mountain Bike
- The Bonafide Mountain Bike features an aluminum mountain frame and a powerful suspension fork that soaks up bumps and thumps to provide you with a fun, durable riding experience
- 24-speed trigger shifters and front and rear derailleurs make gear changes easy and smooth
If your budget allows you to get a mountain bike under 400, the Schwinn Bonafied 29" Wheel Mountain Bike should be at the top of your list of top options. While the earlier Schwinn we discussed was a dual suspension, this model is a hardtail with excellent mountain bike capabilities.
What really qualifies this bike for the trail? Well, …that lies in its big 29-inch, 2.25-inch wide tires, and double wall alloy rims. The tires will excellently grip all the rocks and roots in the technical terrains while the alloy rims will enhance the wheels’ durability without weighing you down.
Even better, the bike’s lightweight aluminum frame and powerful front suspension fork will actively soak up all the bumps and thumps you come across—providing you with fun-filled, durable riding experience.
The 24-speed Shimano trigger shifters join hands with the Shimano front and rear derailleurs to make it and smooth for you to switch gears.
Other notable features of this fantastic bike include the front and rear mechanical brakes for crisp stopping ability in all conditions and durable alloy cranks for steady gearing and hassle-free maintenance.
7. Merax Finiss 26" Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike
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Another Merax by the name Merax Finiss 26" Mountain Bike appears on our list of the top mountain bikes. This particular model boasts of a lightweight, heat-treated aluminum frame for unmatched quality and increased lifespan.
Like the other Merax, it comes equipped with the Shimano 21-speed derailleurs & shifters which enhance fast and reliable shifting.
Because it features a hardtail design, this bike comes with the front suspension fork only…but that does not make it any less a great MTB. The fork has 80mm travel and is able to absorb bumps along your path, providing you with super-smooth riding experience while increasing your overall bike control.
The 26-inch double wall aluminum rims further contribute to smooth rolling.
Also worth a mention are the front and rear disc brakes which deliver incredible stopping power in all conditions.
8. Mongoose Stasis Comp 26-Inch Full Suspension Mountain Bicycle
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Mongoose is a respected name in the mountain bikes industry. Having been in the game for over 40 years, it’s not a surprise that one of their top-rated bikes by the name Mongoose Stasis Comp appears on this list.
A mountain bike under 300, this is one of the most affordable (but top-performance) full suspension bikes you can get on the market today. It also comes with a total of 21 speeds which give you the versatility you need to tackle the toughest, most technical terrains you can imagine.
The lightweight and agile bike will offer you the ultimate comfort on any riding surface.
The front and rear brakes will provide you with exceptional stopping power when taking on the crazy hills and dusty and slick conditions. The quick release front wheel ensures you get the bike back on track in no time.
With the 3-piece three-piece pedal crank, aluminum frame, and alloy rims, this bikes comes with just the right amount of durability needed for a mountain bike…all while maintaining a feather-lightweight feel (at only 51 pounds).
9. Kawasaki K26 Hardtail Mountain Bike
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Did we say Kawasaki? Yes, Kawasaki…the name associated with superior motorbikes. In the recent years, this brand has ventured into the mountain biking industry, bringing years and years of experience in the creation of one of the most affordable MTBs under $300—the Kawasaki K26 Hardtail.
Designed as an entry level bike, this hardtail will allow you to enjoy smooth and quick rides on just any terrain. It boasts of a durable steel frame plus sturdy front fork, the two of which combine to give you power and control over paved roads and rough terrains.
With an easy pedaling 18-speed drivetrain, climbing hills with Kawasaki is a breeze!
We recommend this bike for starter cyclers or the younger member of the family looking for a reliable bike to commute to school or work with.
10. Huffy 26" Men's Alpine Mountain Bike
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Lastly, but definitely not the least, we have the Huffy 26" Men's Alpine Mountain Bike. With an attractive price tag of just over $100, this is one of the most affordable mountain bikes you can find on the market today…and one of the most stylish MTBs (for riders who prioritize looks).
To be honest with you, we were intrigued by the list of features that come with this bike, which surpass its cost by far.
First, we noted that this hardtail features the same, excellent build quality that Huffy used in its top-end bikes for the 125plus years they’ve been in the industry. In other words, the bike comes with Huffy’s precision crafted hi-ten steel hardtail frame for mountain-sized fun and maximum longevity… and Huffy’s Kolo 1200 suspension fork for excellent shock absorption and greater riding experience.
It also offers you up to 18 speeds for easy adjustment to all types of terrains—including the woods, trails, and neighborhood roads.
The alloy rims that accompany this bike are super-lightweight and weather-resistant for improved bike performance. The front and rear linear pull brakes will provide you with reliable, surefire stopping action. And the comfortable grips will mold to your hands for comfortable riding.
What To Expect Under $500?
You don’t expect a mountain bike under 500 to offer you the same features and capabilities like the high-end models priced over $1000.
If that were the case, then all the bikes would come at the same price.
For the manufacturer to be able to provide you with affordable MTB bikes under $500, they have to make a few sacrifices in the design and quality of these bikes.
Here’s what you should expect to get for a bike under 500:
Affordable bikes will weigh more than the expensive bikes. As you’re already aware, the weight of a bike can affect your performance. The reason why expensive bikes weigh less is that they’re made using the light carbon fibers, unlike the affordable models which usually come with aluminum frames and suspensions. Some affordable models also come with steel, which is even heavier than aluminum.
For under 500, we believe the aluminum frame should be your best option!
Type of Trail
For a mountain bike with a friendly budget, you might find that it might not fare well when riding on all trails. Remember that most of them come with heavier frames and low-quality parts, and taking it on tougher trails can spell doom for them.
Even though most manufacturers assure you that their bikes can handle just any trail, not all of the claims are true. Your bike might tackle an aggressive trail for only a short period before it starts developing tear and wear on its parts.
The bikes under 500 also come with cheaper parts than the high-end models. The downside of your MTB having low-end parts is that it’ll require more upkeep than the expensive bikes.
That said, it’s always advisable that you carefully shop around to ensure you get a bike with the best quality parts…or you can replace the inferior parts with aftermarket ones where possible. Another trick would involve buying your bike from trusted brands for quality assurance.
Most of the affordable bikes would be good for beginner and intermediate riders. As for the experienced riders, they might quickly notice that these bikes do not offer them everything they need for the real mountain biking experience…especially when hitting off-road.
Which One Do We Suggest Under $200 and $400?
If you have set aside a budget of under $200 or $400 for your mountain bike, this is your part.
Let’s start with the under $200 budget…
From our point of view, most of the affordable mountain bikes with a price tag of $200 and below would be good for riders looking for an entry level MTB.
We factor in that a typical beginner would be interested in learning the skill and hitting less demanding terrains so this bike will work for them.
Some of the good bikes we recommend we for you for under $200 include:
1. Stowabike 26" MTB V2 Folding Mountain Bike (best full suspension MTB under 200)
2. Kawasaki K26 Hardtail Mountain Bike (best hardtail MTB under 200)
3. Huffy 26" Men's Alpine Mountain Bike (most affordable mountain bike, stylish looks)
What if your budget ranges from $300 to $400?
In this case, you’ll get a better quality bike that can take on just any terrain. Some of the best bikes we suggest for this price range include:
1. Merax Falcon Full Suspension Mountain Bike (best full suspension MTB bike under 400)
2. Schwinn Bonafied 29" Wheel Mountain Bike (best hardtail MTB under 400)
3. Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men's Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike
What If Your Budget is $600?
If you’ve got a slightly higher budget of $600, your scope of mountain bike options becomes bigger and better. With some proper research, you’ll be able to find a bike that has impressive features and top-performance than what we’ve seen in the MTBs under $500.
For the best mountain bike under 600, consider these two top-rated models:
1. Diamondback Bicycles Overdrive
This is a top-performance hardtail mountain bike, designed with all the hardtail aficionados in mind. Beginners looking for a solid starter MTB will also find this bike a worthy investment.
2. Raleigh Bikes Tekoa Mountain Bike
Also a hardtail, Raleigh price tag sits just above $500. Like all the other mountain bikes from Raleigh, this bike has the build quality to enable you to tackle all types of terrains. It boasts of adjustable suspension forks will easily absorb shock for more fun and more enjoyable biking experience.
So these are the 10 top-quality mountain bikes for riders with a limited budget. If you’ve been doubting whether you can get a good MTB without emptying your pocket, these great bikes are sufficient evidence that you don’t need to break the bank to own one.
As you might have noted, the list consists of bikes with both the hardtail and full suspension designs. All of them are built with quality materials to hold up to different riding conditions and terrains for many, many years.
Whether you’re looking for the best mountain bike under 300-500 budget or anything between them, this list will offer you the most fantastic bikes to choose from.
Grab a mountain bike that fits your budget from today and start enjoying the thrilling, adrenaline-boosting outdoor biking experience!