These days you don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on a decent mountain bike that’s ready for some tough off-road riding. If you are in the market for a cheap mountain bike that gives you the best value for money then look no further. Here at Pedaoloff we have put dozens of mountain bikes through their paces so you don’t have to. We have narrowed our search down to the 5 best mountain bike under £500 for you to choose from.
What To Look Out For When Choosing The Best Mountain Bike Under £500
The best frame with the worst brakes does not give you a good riding experience. With any budget you need to get a balance of all the key parts and this is more important with a budget of £500. Here is a breakdown of all the key parts and what you should look out for:
The mountain bikes frame is the main structure of the bike and therefore is often the heaviest part. Along with less weight you also want the bike frame to be as stiff as possible in order to get the most output from your input.
There are three main materials used on mountain bike frames
Steel: although one of the cheaper materials to use is one of the heaviest too. You will find all budget, entry-level mountain bikes will often have steel frames.
Aluminium: Aluminium frames are a step up in price from steel, however, you do benefit from reduced weight and increased stiffness. We strongly recommend aluminium or alloy frames, even for beginners when buying a mountain bike. When choosing the best mountain bike under £500 you wont have to settle for a steel frame.
Carbon Fibre: carbon fibre has an amazing strength to weight ratio which is perfect for creating lightweight, strong bike frames. This of course comes at a cost. You will only find carbon fibre frames on High end, top spec mountain bikes. You wont get a full carbon mountain bike for £500, however, its something to keep in mind for your second or third bike as your riding abilities progress.
The Right Brakes:
When mountain biking, being able to stop is as important as how fast you can go. Even beginners need good brakes to get them out of trouble. There are three main types of breaks on mountain bikes:
V-Brakes – These are the cheapest style of bicycle brakes you can get. They use pads on the rim of the wheels to slow you down. Although they are cheap they are also the worst performing brakes and require regular maintenance. V-Brakes perform best in the dry and aren’t as efficient when braking in wet conditions. Thankfully, unless you are buying a very basic mountain bike, V-Brakes are becoming a thing of the past and with a budget of £500 you can easily find a mountain bike with disk brakes
Disk Brakes – These brakes perform well in both wet and dry conditions as instead of using the rim of the wheel to brake the disk and break system is connected directly to the hub of the wheel. As mentioned above, mechanical disk breaks are pretty much a given when spending over £35o on a mountain bike now, if you want the next level up in brake performance then hydraulic disk brakes are what you need. Hydraulic disk brakes use a sealed fluid filled system to function which gives you much more consistent, controlled stopping ability in all conditions. These do come at a greater cost though and can prove more difficult than mechanical hydraulic brakes for home maintenance.
it’s a common misconception with mountain biking that the more gears you have the better. yes, more gears gives you smaller steps between shifts to help with hills but with a budget of £500 I wouldn’t worry too much if you get a 9 x 3 (27) or and 8 x 3, both will give you the performance you require.
When choosing the best mountain bike under £500 the suspension forks are a real benefit when it comes to off-road control and ride comfort, however, top spec suspension forks can cost upwards of £1000 on their own so be weary of the level of quality you are getting on a £500 full bike budget. 100mm travel is a good starting point and for the more extreme, downhill riders you can get rear suspension but much like the carbon frame this is out of our budget.
Mountain bike tyres are designed to give you good grip and support in muddy, off-road conditions. To do this they have deep knobbly tread to funnel the slippery surface layer through and grip on the firmer surface below. in contrast to slick road bike tyre you will also find that mountain bike tyres are a lot fatter, this is again, help with stability, grip and cornering. Be aware, if you are going to be using your mountain bike to commute on roads then we advise you get some slicker, thinner hybrid tyres as the reduced friction with save you a lot of pedal effort.
Top Features of the Verenti Mesh Acera (2016)
- Hydroformed 6061 Alloy frame
- SR Suntour XCT 100mm travel forks
- Shimano Acera drivetrain
- Alex/Joytech Disc specific wheelset
- Tektro mechanical disc brakes
- Cosine Finishing Kit
Although not one of the more well known brands of mountain bikes the Verenti has made it into our top 5 for good reason. Its the cheapest of our top 5 by a long way but still comes with a decent spec and is able to handle any beginner trials.
with its rigid 6061 alloy frame and 100mm of travel from its SR Suntour XCT suspension forks you get a really smooth ride when riding off-road. Along with this the preload adjustment on the forks covers you for any uphill sections or rolling on smooth roads. Amazingly, for this low priced bike Verenti also throw in a Shimano drivetrain and front & rear disk brakes.
in summary, although the Mesh Acera isn’t the most renowned of brands and doesn’t come with the highest quality spec, you cannot argue with what you get for your money. If you are just picking up mountain biking or you haven’t got a lot of cash to invest then this is the best mountain bike for you.
Pedaloff Rating 7/10
Top Features of the Kona Lanai (2017) Mountain Bike
- Kona 6061 aluminium butted MTB frame
- Suntour XCT 100mm travel forks
- Shimano 3×8 drivetrain
- Kona finishing kit
- Tektro Mechanical disc brakes
- Kenda Slant 27.5″ tyres
This Lanai is the latest and greatest addition to the Kona line up for 2017. Although the top end of the £500 budget this is Kona’s entry level hardtail mountain bike but don’t think that means poor value for money.
The Lanai’s spec ticks all of the boxes with a full, lightweight aluminium frame, Shimano 3×8 drivetrain, 100mm Suntour XCT’s and mechanical disk brakes. This amazing all-round spec makes any winding trail, gravel path or light single track a breeze for even beginners. As always Kona’s design team have kept things simple but effective, giving a sleek quality finish to the bike all round and pulling off the brash, bright green frame.
Although at the top end of the £500 budget, the Lanai will let you ride into the world of mountain biking with style and confidence. The high spec and world renowned reputation from Kona ranks this bike up with many £500+ mountain bikes and that’s why its made our top 5.
Pedaloff Rating 8/10
Top Features of the GT Avalanche Sport (2017) Mountain Bike
- Hydroformed and butted alloy frame
- Triple triangle technology(excludes small frame)
- SR Suntour XCT-HLO 32 suspension forks
- Shimano 3×9 drivetrain
- Tektro Hydrualic disc brakes
- All Terra Cypher 27.5X2.1″ tyres
This is GT’s answer to the Kona Lanai and they have certainly put up a good fight. The Avalanche Sport packs a great off-road punch, weather you’re full throttle down a fire road or single track the manoeuvrability of this bike covers all the bases.
The Avalanche’s alloy frame is hydroformed and butted to give it great all-round rigidity which you can really tell from its responsiveness on the more winding trails. The fully lockable Suntour suspension forks are a real bonus when you hit an up hill section on a ride and the 3 x 9 drivetrain gives you shorter shifts between gears which also helps with the hills. The hydraulic disk brakes give consistently smooth breaking that beginners need along with sharp responsiveness required on the harder trials.
As mentioned before this is GT’s response to the Lanai and although, in my opinion, the Kona wins on looks the spec that you get for your money with the Avalanch is uncontested. This is much more than an entry level bike but for an entry level price.
Pedaloff Rating 9/10
- 6061 aluminium frame and forks
- Shimano 1×10 Deore drivetrain
- Tektro hydraulic disc brakes
- 27Plus charge disc specific wheelset
- RaceFace bar and seatpost
- WTB Trailblazer tyres
- Charge Spoon saddle
The Cooker 1 from British-based manufacturer Charge is our curve-ball entry into the best mountain bike for under £500 category.
The 27Plus wheels give the perfect blend of performance from a 29er, aesthetics of a 26″ along with the cushioning of a fat bike from its 2.8″ thick, tubeless tyres. The 1 x 10 Shimano drivetrain balances performance and durability with reduced weight and reliable shifting. Its worth noting that the hydraulic breaks are a must when trying to slow down those beefy tyres once you get going.
Although unconventional, many see cooker 1 set-up as the future standard of off-road biking. Our view here at Pedaloff is to try before you buy. If you’ve done some mountain biking before than it’ll take some converting but if your’re just starting out then this is a great set-up to get you going.
Pedaloff Rating 7/10
Top Features of the GT Aggressor Expert (2017) Mountain Bike
- 6061-T6 Aluminium triple triangle frame
- Triple Triangle Technology(excludes small frame)
- All Terra suspension forks
- Shimano 3×8 drivetrain
- Tektro hydraulic disc brakes
- All Terra finishing kit
The Aggressor is the second bike from GT to make it into our best mountain bike under £500 list and another brand new 2017 mountain bike from GT. Side-by-side with the Avalanche you would struggle to tell these two bikes apart, however, on paper the specs vary quite a lot.
The Aggressor’s full aluminium, triple triangle frame makes it lightweight and rigid giving a confidence inspiring performance which is a real essential for beginners. This entry level bike packs a weighty spec including hydraulic brakes, 3 x 8 Shimano drivetrain and Terra suspension forks all of which makes the Aggressor’s ride rugged, versatile and comfortable.
As already said, side-by-side its hard to tell the Aggressor and Avalanche apart but for us the Aggressor suits the beginner rider for its ease of use and lower price tag. That being said, if you can afford the step-up in price to the Avalanche then go for it.
Pedaloff Rating 8/10
All of our top five bikes have proven that you really don’t have to break the bank to get yourself a great performing mountain bike, however, the outright winner of the best mountain bike under £500 has to be the 2017 GT Avalanche. The others certainly come close and you wont regret buying anyone of these bikes but the Avalanche’s easy of ride and high spec take the win. We hope that the reviews will help you in finding the right mountain bike for you. If you have any questions or comments then please leave them in the comments section below.
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