Before we start any list of the best mountain bikes for under £500 we need to make a couple of things clear. Firstly, it is possible to find good bikes at this price but it is not as easy as you might think. The gap between the super cheap bikes that are not really suitable for proper mountain biking and the incredible bikes that the top MTB manufacturers make is huge and reflected in a lack of bikes around the £500 mark.
Also there is an unhealthy fascination with full suspension bikes particularly by people just getting into MTB. Full suspension bikes are great but at under £500 it is just not worth it. The suspension will not be great and it will make the bike heavy making riding harder and less enjoyable. So for this 5 best mountain bikes for under £500 we are looking at font suspension (AKA hard tail) bikes only.
Before we get into the bikes you also need to bear in mind that for under £500, you’re going to lose out on weight. It’s simply not possible to get a mountain bike this cheap that’s light as a feather.
However, what you can get is a solid, reliable and pretty decent quality hardtail that’s suitable for most types of riding. A bike that if you look after it is going to last you the best part of a decade and give you a fair crack at finding out if you enjoy mountain biking without having spent a fortune. Here are our top 5 best mountain bikes for under £500:
Carrera Vulcan – RRP £480
Ok, so most serious mountain bikers probably won’t be getting their bikes from Halfords, but as a beginner or entry level bike the hardtail Carrera Vulcan is a solid ride. It’s a little bit on the heavy side (to be expected) but it’s well balanced and includes hydraulic disc brakes meaning you can stop on a sixpence.
Carrera Kraken – RRP £450
Carrera are doing pretty well in this list, and the Kraken rates particularly highly in comfort and shock absorption. Another hardtail, this is one of the few rides on the best mountain bikes for under £500 where the suspension really improves the ride. The slightly shonky front lock out does let it down but you probably won’t be using this bike for the commute anyway.
This is a bike that offers performance that’s above and beyond its lowly pricetag. It’s a favourite of experienced riders when recommending bikes to new or novice riders because it gives you a glimpse of what riding a more expensive bike might be like.
Diamondback Overdrive Expert 29er – RRP £500
Suitable for even the toughest trails, the high wheels keep the ride comfortable and the (relatively) light frame gives you great control. The basic set up also includes Shimano shifters, double walled rims for increased strength and Hates disc brakes. Although not top of the range, these components aren’t the cheapo variety you’ll find on some inexpensive bikes.
GT Aggressor 1.0 XC – RRP £330
This lightweight aluminium frame gives you a steady ride and pretty much everything else you need for an aspiring rider. It’s got a good spec of components, including 63 mm travel forks, that means it’s more than capable of taking on some tougher trails. The geometric, triple triangle frame has also proved very popular with riders.
The above bikes are not a definitive list of the best mountain bikes for under £500. They are perfect for beginners or anyone looking for a mountain bike that isn’t going to break the bank.
If you’re looking for a more serious ride but don’t have the cash, you could go second hand but you’ll have to be prepared for scratches and components that have already seen slightly better days. Also check out last seasons models and sales as you could pick up a £750 bike for £500 if you get lucky.